My Blog

Where Heroes reside. Where Good always triumphs over Evil. As a twenty-year Army veteran, I served on the Korean DMZ under fire, as well as Vietnam. I have always been a voracious reader of many genres, and review books for numerous publishers. The main goal of PULP DEN is not only to showcase my books, but also to promote other writers and their books. I review Mystery, Science Fiction, Action and Adventure – and most everything Pulp. I do not read, review, or promote erotica, alternative lifestyle books, horror, vampire, zombies, or werewolves. Warning, if your idea of good writing is an over use of profanity, you will not get a good rating from me. Please keep that in mind. I do not join groups like Linkedin, Grouply, Grammarly, or other communities, so please, no invitations. As a pulp magazine collector, I have complete runs of the major character pulps, and have read them all. I have been in pulp fandom since 1970, though a fan much longer. I publish my reviews on this Blog, Amazon, and in a print magazine I also write for. If anyone would be interested in reviewing any of my books, most can be found on Amazon – see the Link to Tom’s Books On Amazon. And contact me for pdf copies at fadingshadows40@gmail.com

Friday, April 24, 2015

The Bottom

The Bottom (Murder Mystery)
By Howard Owen
The Permanent Press www.thepermanentpress.com
ISBN #978-1579623920
Price $28.00
208 Pages
Rating 5-Stars

“A Masterful Tale of Murder And Mystery.”

Richmond, Virginia is going through some growing pains at the moment, as an ex senator, now a building contractor, is trying to build a business center on the site where slaves were buried and the black community is up in arms. Newspaper crime reporter, Willie Mays Black is on their side, but he and the ex senator have a past connection that goes back to when the ex senator was caught in bed with a 14-year-old girl, and Willie helped ruin his political career. The ex senator is looking for reasons to sue the newspaper because of Willie and their stand against his building project. But Willie has other problems at the moment. The fourth victim of the Tweety Bird killer was just found at the train station, and Willie is working on that case. The victims are all young girls, runaways, raped and tortured, then tattooed with the image of Tweety Bird on their ankle before they were killed. Willie thinks that maybe the ex senator is the guilty party due to his preference for underage girls. Now, the lawsuit may bring a stop to his investigation.

This was another fantastic Willie Black murder mystery in his little community of Richmond. The author recently retired after 44 years as a veteran newspaper man, and knows the inside and outs of newspaper work The reader is pulled into the story, and the characters come alive; the reader may even want to drop by Penny Lane for a couple of beers and a Camel with Willie, listening to his tales of growing up on The Hill, while he’s taking a break from the office. This is a masterful tale of murder and mystery, and Willie Black isn’t afraid of stepping on toes – publishers, police or perps. Highly recommended.

Tom Johnson

Detective Mystery Stories
Night To Dawn Magazine http://bloodredshadow.com 

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Minister's Shoes

Gambling! Casino deals! Embezzlement! An extramarital affair! Murder! Town gossips! This all happens in Corning, Alabama, a small southern town where Rev. Castle, a Baptist Minister, solves crimes. When Sada Sampson’s husband, Trevor is missing, she asks Rev. Castle to find him. She promises to give him a new pair of shoes if he can find Trevor. The Lord appears to Rev. Castle and gives him clues that help him solve the case. Rev. Castle meets up with a lot of nefarious characters. His quest to solve the case takes him to the Florida Keys and Gulfport, Mississippi. He must prove Trevor’s innocence when he is accused of murdering Cartwright, a partner in the Casino deal. Start reading it! You won’t be able to put it down!

Minister’s Shoes (Christian Mystery)
A Reverend Castle Mystery
Write Word Inc. www.writewordinc.com 
ISBN #978=1613862445
Price $18.95
170 Pages
Rating 4-Stars

“A Good Read.”

Reverend Clayton Castle is the pastor of a church in Corning, Alabama, and often gets involved in detective cases. When one of his members asks to see him, he learns that her womanizing husband has disappeared, and she wants Pastor Castle to find him and bring him home. Finding him is the easy part, but he turns up in jail for murder, and it appears to involve a casino under construction. Now the reverend has to prove he’s not only innocent, but bring him back to his wife and away from his adulterous affairs.

Remember those Scholastic Books we read when we were 10 to 12 years old. These were intelligent authors writing for children on the children’s level of education. “Minister’s Shoes” would have been a perfect fit, even if it does have adult themes. This was a good concept, and I want to encourage the author to continue the series. However, there are several problems with the writing that the author needs to work on. The dialogue was wooden, and didn’t seem real. The bad guys didn’t sound bad, though we have a murderer, an adulterer, gamblers, and gangsters. But everyone acted like good church-going Southern Baptists, praying at every opportunity. God appears in the flesh and talks to the preacher, telling him who to talk to, and what questions to ask, etc. At one point the preacher is captured by gangsters, and even rescued by God. This may not be for everyone, but it’s nice to see Christian books published, and I can highly recommend this for children and Christian readers.

Tom Johnson

Detective Mystery Stories

Monday, April 20, 2015

A Blonde For Murder

ARDINI, the famous Magician, was more pleased than surprised when his hand-picked "volunteer" from the audience was replaced by 110 pounds of lovely glamour running across his stage, chased by a bulky figure waving a pistol. Before long his admiration changed to chagrin, and wonder . . . why did fate have to hand him dynamite wrapped up in a package so alluring that he was helpless to stay away? Before he knew it, Ardini was a suspect, spectator, and detective in a case that startled New York; a case involving jewelry thefts, mystery, magic . . . and murder. Magic, and a better-than-average power of deduction, were on Ardini's side, though, and soon he was giving some crime-busting lessons to the police. He even had time to take some lessons himself, and he learned a thing or two about romance from a beautiful, 110-pound instructor with plenty to teach.

A Blonde For Murder (Mystery)
By Walter B. Gibson
ISBN #978-1505428568
Price $11.67
230 Pages
Rating 5-Stars

A Master Magician Unravels A Murder Mystery.”

John Arden, better known as the Great Ardini is performing to a theater crowd when a young girl being chased by the police rushes on stage, then disappears in one of his famous magic acts. Now the police think Ardini is a suspect in league with the girl in the murder of a private detective working for an insurance company.

It’s up to the Great Ardini to find the girl, uncover the plot, and reveal the true murderer. He’s up again a spiritualist, another amateur magician, and gangsters, one of which may be the real killer. Ardini brings the case to an explosive end with a séance.

This novel was originally published by Vital Publications in 1948, but holds up well almost 70 years later. The author was a magician, and created several magician detectives, including Norgil the Magician, though this was the first Ardini story I had read. He is better known as the creator and author of The Shadow, Highly recommended.

Tom Johnson
Detective Mystery Stories


Sunday, April 19, 2015

Cotton FBI

Cotton FBI was originally a German Dime Novel character, but has been brought back by Bastie Entertainment, with new writers and modern sensibilities. The series is planned to continue under the authorship of several new writers. The story begins when Cotton and his family come to New York from Iowa to visit his sister. He has just finished high school, and doesn’t know what his future holds. A thief steels his wallet, forcing him to chase him down, and delaying his arrival at his sister’s office. When he arrives at the building and starts up, there is an explosion from above. It’s September 11, 2001, and he’s in the Twin Trade Towers during the terrorist attack. His sister and parents are killed, and he is dug out of the rubble, almost dead. It was while lying beneath the debris that he decides to become a policeman and help people.

Cotton FBI Collection #1 (FBI Drama, episodes 1 thru 4)
By Various Authors
Bastei Entertainment
ASIN #BOORTQYBTC
Price $3.99
337 Pages
Rating 5-Stars

“Fast Action, Well Written, With Interesting Characters.”

This collection contains four short novels: “The Beginning” by Mario Giordana; “Countdown” by Peter Menninggen; “Hidden Shadows” by Jan Gardemann; and “Witness Protection” by Alexander Lohmann.

“The Beginning” begins when Patrolman Jeremiah Cotton and his partner stop in a seedy part of the city, and his partner leaves the car to check on Asian prostitutes that are paying him for protection, something that angers Cotton, but he can’t do anything about the situation. More than one cop in the city is crooked. While his partner is away, a Chinese woman passes the patrol car, and he notices a weapon tucked under her blouse in back. Suspicious, he follows her into a building, and hearing the sound of a body crashing to the floor he enters a room to investigate. As he sees the young woman on the floor in a pool of blood, he senses movement behind him then the blur of a hand and he’s knocked to the floor. The assailant escapes before he can get up. Calling for assistance, he’s arrested when patrols arrive on the scene. Taken to the police station, Cotton is interrogated by the FBI.

The FBI have been investigating a serial killer of Asian prostitutes in several States bordering New York, and the woman Cotton had followed into the building was an FBI Special Agent on the case. When he continues to stick his nose into the investigation, he discovers the unit she was assigned to was the G-Team, a special FBI unit. As Cotton comes up with more clues, the Team eventually allows him in, and the story follows their investigation into an even deeper motive than the murder of prostitutes.

“Countdown” begins when terrorists somehow take control of a passenger plane coming into New York. With a computer they have taken control away from the pilot, and using the plane as a weapon to blackmail America into releasing an Arab prisoner. The plane has six hours of fuel on board, so the case must be solved within that short time. Forced to comply, Cotton and his senior partner, Decker, are sent to the prison to pick the prisoner up in exchange. As they are loading him into the van, a silenced shot it fired from the prison, killing the Arab instantly, then the assassin escapes.

As each of their investigations end in failures, the president closes G-Team after five hours, and assigns the job to Homeland Security. They solve the problem in the next hour, destroying the terrorist office and getting the plane down, though the terrorists escaped. Something isn’t right about the whole situation, but Cotton can’t figure what. Returning to his apartment after being fired, he finds a young girl sitting on the steps, abused and crying. Learning that her father is beating her and his wife, he intervenes, and while helping the girl something she does snaps his mind on a clue to the whole case. But will he have time to save the G Team and bring the culprits to justice?

“Hidden Shadows” begins when Cotton and his senior partner, Decker, are called to investigate the death of Dominick Tarbell, the son of Claudia Tarbell, the Secretary of Commerce. He fell from the Brooklyn Bridge, and a bomb followed him down to explode on a boat below.

The case involves illegal drug smuggling to Canada, as well as a terrorist plot against buildings in New York.

“Witness Protection” begins when a woman is found drowned in the New York Harbor with a false ID. The boss of G-Team puts Decker and Cotton on the case, but Cotton doesn’t understand why a mere drowning brings in their FBI team. They soon learn that somebody is offering a witness protection scheme to people who want to disappear with a lot of money, and this interest the chief of G-Team.

Cotton discovers that there have been other strange deaths of unknown people with false IDs, and other people that have come up missing. It may all add up to the same case. Is the head of the racket working two angles on the disappearances?

These four short novels, each by different authors, set the stage for the new series. The stories are fast, well written, good plots, and lots of pulpy action. Highly recommended.

Tom Johnson

Detective Mystery Stories

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Murder In One Take

Det. Blake Ervansky is first on the scene when an Oscar-winning star is shot by his ex-lover. As lead cop on the case, Ervansky has everything he needs to put away Ali Garland: motive, weapon, videos of the murder and a dozen eyewitnesses, one of whom is his partner of less than 24 hours, Sgt. Maureen O’Brien. This is LA, the beating heart of show biz, though, so nothing is as it seems, even Ervansky’s new partner. Ali Garland appears to have been justified in defending herself with lethal force, but could this wide-eyed ingénue be the architect of an airtight double fake? Has she really pulled off the perfect murder? Ervansky and O’Brien will only unravel her skein of deceit when they turn to the same Hollywood magic that convinces audiences aliens can phone home, talking clown fish do search and rescue, and every hooker is just a nice girl waiting for the right millionaire.


April Kelly

Murder In One Take (Police Procedural)
By April Kelly & Marsha Lyons
Flight Risk Books
ISBN #978-0615645339
Price $12.95
324 Pages
Rating 5-Stars

“You’ll really Not Want To Put This Book Down.”

Detective Blake Ervansky has just met his new partner, Sergeant Maureen O’Brien, and their first assignment together is to arrest a felon. But things quickly go haywire. Before they can reach the felon, a woman shoots and kills a man right in front of them. The victim is a popular actor, and the shooter, also an actress, was his lover. It looks like an open and shut case from the very beginning, and the reader knows who the killer is. Making the arrest, the woman tells them she thought the man was a stalker, mistaking her ex-lover for the stalker. All the clues point in that direction, but Sergeant O’Brien tells her partner the woman is lying. They can’t prove it, and the Grand Jury refuses to indict her. The father of the murder victim asks the governor to have Ervansky and O’Brien put on leave from the Beverly Hills Police Department, and into his employ to find the proof of guilt on the shooter.

Marsha Lyons

Although Detective Ervansky and Sergeant O’Brien are the main characters, there are many interesting side characters, well-drawn and fleshed out. There is a lot of good police work, some good guesses on the part of the investigators, and a bit of humor to keep the story from bogging down in too much dark seriousness that clutters so many mystery novels today. The writing is intelligent and excellently paced, the dialogue believable – and humorous. The copy I read was well edited.  There was one big problem, however, the novel had no chapters! I had to read the book in one setting, because I could never find a breaking point! Just kidding. This was a fun read, and I highly recommend it to all mystery lovers. You really may not want to put it down.

Tom Johnson

Detective Mystery Stories