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

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Trail of Crosses

Jane Mannering can shoot a rifle and handle a knife as well as any Englishman. However, she is no match for the red-painted warriors who ambush her section of a Colonial caravan the moment she and her comrades reach the shores of Virginia.
Jane plots their escape during a forced march inland, leaving a trail of maltese crosses carved on the trees – their pre-agreed upon signal of distress. All the while, she fumes over what interest their captors could possibly have in a twenty-three-year-old spinster and a rugged band of brick masons, sawyers, and farmers.
When the ruthless Chief Wanchese intercepts them at the crossroads of the Great Trading Path, Jane is shaken to discover their greatest enemy plans to keep her for himself. It’s a pity he’s the only man on two continents who’s ever stirred her heart. Alas, she has an entire colony to save, and capturing his attentions is not part of their escape plan.

Trail Of Crosses (Historical Romance/Action & Adventure)
By Jo Grafford
Book Two of The Lost Colony
Clean Read
ASIN #BOONFGAEIQ
Price $3.99 Kindle
378 Pages
Rating 5-Stars

“Impossible To Put Down.”

We first meet Jane Mannering in Book One, “Breaking Ties”, learning that she is a 23 or 24-year-old spinster, not catching men’s eye, nor wishing to. Tall and thin for a woman, she was raised as a hunter and trapper, she is equally skilled with a gun, bow, and knife, and can usually best any man; in fact, she carries three knives on her person at all times. I liked her immediately, as she reminded me Davy Crockett, and many of our early tamers of the land. In this novel she takes front stage. Captured by slavers in asavage attack, she and several companions are taken to a slave market to be sold. Chief Manteo, who was leading the colonists at the time, sends his cousin Chief Wanchese to rescue her.

Chief Wanchese has been smitten with the tall woman ever since the colonists’ arrival, so eagerly trails the slavers. Rescuing her and several others, he leads them back to his village instead of reuniting them with their fellow colonist’s. Being her independent nature she refuses to easily adjust to the role of a woman, wishing to be recognized as a hunter, trapper, and fighter, but Chief Wanchese is determined to tame this proud woman, and make her his mate.  All this while slavers and enemy tribes persists in causing problems, a fierce cyclone, and smallpox plaque the village, as well as unrest within the camp itself. Believe me, this is not just a romance novel, we have plenty of action, and the characterization is wonderful. I did get a chuckle when Jane kills a hooded cobra (native of Asia, not America) in the New World.

Most often reality is harsher than fiction, but it’s in our nature to hope terrible situations end with a positive outcome. Many rumors still contend that The Lost Colony was slaughtered by the indigenous peoples in the New World. However, some facts do remain to lead us in the opposite direction that some may have survived. During the early 17th Century to mid 18th Century natives were found with light skin, blond hair, and blue eyes, a strong indication that the survivors of The Lost Colony intermingled with the local native tribes; many claimed their forbearers originally arrived from the sea in great boats. Whatever the truth of the 115 colonists that disappeared, we want to believe the best in their disappearance. Although Jo Grafford’s novel is fiction, we can still hope that her Romantic tale about the Lost Colony is at least partially true. This was a wonderful read, and I highly recommend it to readers of historical romance, and high adventure. There is never a dull minute in this great action adventure novel of another period. There is one problem with the book, however - I didn’t want to put it down!

Tom Johnson
Echoes Magazine



Monday, March 23, 2015

Omari And The People

In an ancient time, a people made homeless by a devastating fire are led across a treacherous desert by a thrill-seeking thief, to a land he doesn't believe exists - and he started the fire. In a squalid ancient city on the edge of a desert (based on descriptions of the African Sahara’s Empty Quarter,) a weary, thrill-seeking thief named Omari sets his home on fire to start anew and cover his many crimes. When the entire city is unintentionally destroyed by the flames, the cornered thief tells the displaced people a lie about a better place to which only he can lead them, across the desert. With the help of an aged, mysterious woman who knows a better place actually does exist, they set out. The disparate people must come together to fight their way through bandits, storms, epidemics, and more. As a result of Omari's involvement with Saba, a fiercely independent woman who is out to break him in the pay of a merchant whom he has offended, his ability to lead - his very life - is jeopardized.

Omari And The People (Epic Adventure)
By Stephen Whitfield
Sherlie Castle Press
ISBN #978-0964429031
#12.10 Paperback
366 Pages
Rating 4-Stars

“In The Style of The Old Classic Adventure Literature.”

In The City, located on the Sea of Providence, somewhere in the Empty Quarter of the Sahara Desert during the `13th Century, a rogue known as the Phantom Thief takes pleasure in robbing the wealthy ruling class; He lives high on his takings, as well, but has a good heart. An old woman in the square begs for food, which he buys for her when he visits the poor section. Returning to his home one night, he discovers that his wife has betrayed him, and has revealed his identity to the authorities. Burning his mansion, the fire also destroys The City. When he notices the old woman is still inside the flames, he rushes back to rescue her. Now he’s tasked with leading the survivors of The City to a fabled Paradise somewhere in the desert.

Omari was that mysterious thief, a young rogue, good with a sword and tricks, who enjoyed stealing the government’s tax money, even though he did not need it. But what, or who has chosen him to lead the exodus to the Promised Land? The handsome young rogue attracts the eye of a number of young women on the caravan, but he has fallen in love with Saba Khan, a warrior woman possessing some magic of her own, though the real magic belongs to the old woman he had saved from the fire.

This was a very interesting story, and kept my interest throughout. The characters were fascinating, the magic was brilliant, and the story telling was smooth.  Truthfully, however, I felt that Omari the Phantom Thief was more interesting than Omari the caravan leader. And at times the story does slow on the journey through the desert. This novel could have been serialized in ARGOSY or ADVENTURE in the 1930’s. There is no language, and sex is kept off screen. For anyone wishing to read a family adventure classic, I can highly recommend this book to you.

Tom Johnson
ECHOES Magazine

Excerpt
   
    As was his way, bin Aswad took no part in the celebration, and actually enjoyed his time alone as everyone else danced, sang and ate. Indeed, he had always found great pleasure in his love of numbers – calculating expenses, inventories and ultimately, profits. Despite Omari’s warnings about making money from the needs of others, bin Aswad had found it profitable to provide specialty clothing for those who could afford it. He found that some people paid well for themselves and or their family to look good in new clothing, and he was very clever in the re-use of old clothes to make new garments, as his cloth supply dwindled. Instead of being rich in coin, he now had more than his share of food, water, tools and other valuables.
    He was happily humming a tuneless melody while he sat counting a number of small gems, when his tent flap flew open. A stunning young woman moved in quickly and stood over him. Astonished, he scrambled backwards with his eyes and mouth wide open, spilling the gems onto the tent floor.
    “Ho, bin Aswad. Easy,” said the woman in a husky voice, and a bright smile that revealed white, even teeth. “I wish you no harm.” She raised her palms to calm his fright and sat down. “In fact, I believe I might be of some service to you.  My name is Saba Khan. Did you drop something?”
    No longer terrified, bin Aswad was still too surprised and embarrassed to form any reply, except to start picking up his gems while glancing up at the stranger. At first glance, Saba Khan possessed what might be called an extraordinary beauty – enough to turn heads, and very pleasing to the eye. In bin Aswad’s lamplight, her complexion was a satiny smooth, golden brown that seemed to blend into the darkness. Her finely sculpted face framed dark amber, almond-shaped eyes, which made him pause. For the brief moment he held her gaze, he was so struck by their sheer intensity, intelligence and perceptiveness that he stopped picking up his gems. His attitude changed to awe and he was willing, even eager to hear what she had to say.
    “How do you know my name?” he mumbled, too awestruck to ask all the questions in his mind.
    “You are well-known, bin Aswad. You have many customers—people you talk to and trade with. Some of the things you receive in trade are precious gems, such as that one you missed, just there.” She pointed a slender finger at a ruby behind him.
    “That gets people’s attention. Some of the things you’ve said are bound to get even more attention – such as the fact that you are unhappy with Master Omari’s leadership.” She leaned forward and opened her eyes wide. “Allow me to offer you some free advice – trade your gems away and keep your opinions to yourself.”
    Bin Aswad noticed the hilt of a dagger in her waistband. As the idea of danger began to form in his mind, beads of sweat broke out on his upper lip. “That’s some strong advice,” he said, in an effort to sound self-assured. “What do you have to do with my opinions or my gems?”
    Saba Khan chuckled. “I’m not here to harm you, bin Aswad. I’m here to suggest that I might be able to help you solve your problem with Master Omari…for the cost of some of your gems.” She raised her brow and tilted her head to the side. “Are you interested in seeing someone else in charge of the caravan? Someone more sensitive to your business interests?”
    He frowned and leaned forward. “And how would you…”  
    “You don’t need to know that,” she said.  “All you need to know is if you pay my price, your satisfaction is guaranteed.”
    He stared at the woman in amazement. “What do you do?  Are you some kind of killer? I don’t want to kill anyone.”
    “I make things happen,” she replied. “And don’t worry; you don’t have enough gems for anyone to be killed. Not even that great blue jewel you have hidden in your robe.”
    Bin Aswad’s eyes widened again. “You know about the jewel?”
    “That is why I’m here,” she said in a low voice.  “Remember my first advice? You’re not going to be able to hang onto such a stone much longer anyway. Too many people know about it. Right now, all you have to do is say ‘yes’ to the deal. If you do, I will give you more details later.  Of course, whether you agree or not, I must refer you back to the second advice – keep your business to yourself. Now, do we have a deal?” She leaned forward and smiled as if she knew the answer.



Tuesday, March 17, 2015

The Argosy Library From ALTUS PRESS

Altus Press Announces The Argosy Library

The First Series of Releases Features Popular Authors Such as Lester Dent, Otis Adelbert Kline, W.C. Tuttle, and George F. Worts

March 18, 2015: Altus Press today announced the premiere of its new line of books: The Argosy Library series.
Founded at the end of the Nineteenth Century by publishing tycoon Frank A. Munsey, Argosy Magazine quickly became one of the most popular—and prestigious—fiction magazines of its day and spawned a publishing revolution.
Known as one of the most literate pulp magazines, Argosy published thousands of short stories and novels, many of which features some of the most influential series characters in popular fiction.
With the inauguration of The Argosy Library, Altus Press plans to bring back into print the best of the Frank A. Munsey Company, sourced from its suite of sibling titles such as Argosy, The All-Story, and Flynns Detective Fiction Weekly, among others.
The Argosy Library expects to showcase the varied mix of genres that made Argosy one of the most popular pulps of all time, and Series 1 does just that by showcasing adventure, mystery, western, science fiction, fantasy, and crime stories by some of Munseys most popular authors such as Lester Dent, W. Wirt, Otis Adelbert Kline, W.C. Tuttle, George F. Worts, and Theodore Roscoe, among others.
The Argosy Library will be released in series of ten books at a time—in matching trade dress—and will be available in softcover, hardcover, and ebook editions. In addition to being available separately, each series of releases can be purchased as a single, heavily-discounted set.
Series 1 of The Argosy Library is expected to be released in May. For more information, please visit Altus Press.com.

Titles in Series 1 of The Argosy Library:


Genius Jones by Lester Dent, introduction by Will Murray

The gold-dusted saga of a red-bearded young giant, raised in the Arctic on seal-meat and encyclopedias, who descends on civilization with a loud and solid crash. In his search for wisdom and adventure, the man Jones doesnt have Aladdin’s lamp—but he doesnt really need it…. Never before reprinted, its the longest novel Lester Dent ever published, and one of the most famous. This edition restores text cut from its original publication. Part of The Argosy Library of classics. 271 pages / $19.95 softcover / $29.95 hardcover

 When Tigers Are Hunting: The Complete Adventures of Cordie, Soldier of Fortune, Volume 1 by W. Wirt


The sagas of Jimmie Cordie and his crew were among Argosys most popular series when it was brought to that magazine during its early 30s renaissance. Quite clearly an inspiration for the creation of Doc Savage, this edition collects his first nine adventures. Part of The Argosy Library of classics. 240 pages / $19.95 softcover / $29.95 hardcover

 The Swordsman of Mars by Otis Adelbert Kline


Harry Thorne, explorer and swordsman, had scarcely more than heard of the Red Planet, Mars—when an amazing thing happened…. Otis Adelbert Kline is well-known as one of the best fantasy/adventure contemporaries of Edgar Rice Burroughs. This edition is sourced from the original magazine text and includes all of the original illustrations. Part of The Argosy Library of classics. 237 pages / $19.95 softcover / $29.95 hardcover

 The Sherlock of Sageland: The Complete Tales of Sheriff Henry, Volume 1 by W.C. Tuttle, introduction by Sai Shankar


Once voted Adventure Magazines most popular author, W.C. Tuttle introduced the world to one of his longest-running, and most popular series characters, Henry Harrison Conroy, in the pages of Argosy. Collected here are the first four stories. Part of The Argosy Library of classics. 269 pages / $19.95 softcover / $29.95 hardcover

 Gone North by Charles Alden Seltzer


When Jim Fallon started for the Hudson Bay country, he wasnt sure whether he was on a man-hunt or a wild goose chase—but he found his quest was fraught with real enough peril. Among the best novels ever written by one of Argosys most popular authors. Part of The Argosy Library of classics. 220 pages / $19.95 softcover / $29.95 hardcover

 The Masked Master Mind by George F. Worts


One of Argosys most popular authors pens this never-before reprinted novel of a trail of crime that ran from sleepy Maple Hollow to Steel City. Part of The Argosy Library of classics. 265 pages / $19.95 softcover / $29.95 hardcover

 Balata by Fred MacIsaac


Trees of living gold in the Amazon jungles, guarded by alligators, poisoned darts and rival hunters—such was the lodestone that drew an American expedition, and the unwilling Pete Holcomb…. Part of The Argosy Library of classics. 216 pages / $19.95 softcover / $29.95 hardcover

 Bretwalda by Philip Ketchum


Twas the mightiest weapon the eyes of man had ever beheld; its mystic name meant “Ruler of Briton.” And from over the Northern Sea came a Vikings thrall—the only man in the world who could wield that fearsome steel—to save good King Alfred and the homeland he scarce remembered. Collecting—for the first time—all 12 stories of the Bretwalda saga. Part of The Argosy Library of classics. 479 pages / $29.95 softcover / $39.95 hardcover

 Draft of Eternity by Victor Rousseau


A groundbreaking science fiction, post-apocalyptic & time travel classic from the early days of The All-Story by an underrated writer. Part of The Argosy Library of classics. 183 pages / $17.95 softcover / $29.95 hardcover

 Four Corners, Volume 1 by Theodore Roscoe



Mystery runs rampant in the quiet, upstate New York town of Four Corners…. Easily one of Roscoes best-written series, Volume 1 collects the first half of this lost masterpiece of the pulps. Part of The Argosy Library of classics. 201 pages / $19.95 softcover / $29.95 hardcover

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Breaking Ties

In 1584, Sir Walter Raleigh dispatched an expedition to the shores of the New World, where they were to establish a base. In 1587, he dispatched a second expedition with 115 Colonists on board to colonize the area.  On arrival they discovered local natives had killed the men of the first expedition. Due to severe storms and the Anglo-Spanish War, the new Colonists were stranded without supplies.  When ships finally reached them, none could be found, and they become one of our deepest mysteries in the Americas. All evidence points to the colonists leaving peacefully, yet rumors exists that they were slaughtered. Others believe they had to merge into a local native village to sustain their lives. They are known today as The Lost Colony.

Portsmouth, England - April 26, 1587
Intelligent and well ahead of her times, Rose Payne's world is shattered after a secret betrothal to the duke's son costs her job as a clerk in his father's household. Without a letter of recommendation, she becomes an easy target for recruiters to the Colonies. Desperate for work, she signs up for a risky overseas venture and sails for the New World, vowing never again fall for a wealthy gentleman. 
Returning from a diplomatic tour in London, Chief Manteo is bewitched by the elusive, fiery-haired ship clerk and determined to overcome her distrust. He contrives a daring plan to win her heart - a plan he prays will protect her from a chilling conspiracy involving murder, blood money, and a betrayal of their fledgling colony so terrifying it can only be revealed in BREAKING TIES. 

Breaking Ties (Historical Romantic Adventure & Survival)
By Jo Grafford
Clean Reads
ISBN #978-1500379612
410 Pages
$3.99 Kindle
$11.51 Paperback
Rating 5-Stars

“A Wonderful Account of The Lost Colony.”

When Rose Payne boards a ship heading for the New World, she’s fleeing from a failed romance, and seeking to put it far behind her. But she wasn’t prepared for the danger and intrigue that awaited her as clerk on board a ship bound for danger, leaving the colonists in a mysterious land where their survival is threatened by starvation and savage natives.

The first half of the book covers her journey on the sea with new friends she’s met, as well as a handsome savage, bronzed and muscular, who sends her heart fluttering once more. Here we are introduced to the players in the story, and the intrigue that holds their lives in the balance.

Sailing for Raleigh, on Chesapeake Bay, they are dropped instead on Roanoke. The second half of the book deals with the hardships on land, as they try to survive amidst warring savages and the fast depletion of rations. Two men pursue her heart, one a British gentleman the other a bronzed savage, but she can only choose one, and will they even survive to fulfill that love?

Written in 1st person, we see the world through Rose’s eyes. Some of it is violent, but it was an untamed period, and the violence in today’s real world is much worse. Knowing the rough language of sailors, I was pleased that there was no profanity or sex, showing that a good book can be written without such to sell them. Based on a real event 500 years ago, the author gives us a well-written romanticized version of what could have happened. Her thorough research of the incident gives us a word-picture of the period and people, and we want to believe that some of it could really be true. Highly recommended for action readers, as well as romance fans. The writing is smooth; the romance is light, and the action breathtaking.

Tom Johnson
ECHOES MAGAZINE