My Blog

Retirement. Publishers, thank you for the many years of reading pleasure you gave me, but all good things must come to an end. Due to failing eyesight I am forced to retire. I can no longer review your books, and any that you send will be donated to the local library, unread. Do not send any more. I can only read for a couple hours every day, and this does not allow me to finish a book in reasonable time. I will be devoting time to my own books from now on, and reading on a personal level. Books that interest me. I prefer paperbacks and hardbacks, not eBooks. My eyesight has been failing the last few years, and I cannot handle hundreds of review books any more. My books are still available for review. Anyone interested in reviewing any of them, they are found in the Link to Tom’s Books On Amazon. Contact me for pdf copies at fadingshadows40@gmail.com

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Path of Justice

In the years since the Bakzen war, Wil and Saera have raised a family on Earth outside the purview of the High Dynasties and Priesthood. Except, it's almost time for their teenage twins, Raena and Jason, to begin telekinesis training and they have no idea such abilities even exist. With the Bakzen threat eliminated, Wil hopes the TSS can offer them training without the need to commit to a lifetime of military service. Just as the twins come to understand the life on Tararia that was kept from them as children, the family discovers that there's always another layer of secrets guiding their lives.
Path of Justice is the sixth installment in the Cadicle series. This novel lays the foundation for the plan to finally bring down the Priesthood.


Path of Justice (SF Adventure)
“Cadicle Vol #6
By Amy DuBoff
BDL Press
ASIN # B01NCZ15M9
Price $3.99
362 Pages
Rating 5-Stars

“A New Generation.”

Saera is several months pregnant, and they decide the children will be raised on Earth after they’re born on TSS Headquarters. The story then jumps sixteen years and we meet the twins, Jason and Raena, who know nothing of their heritage. Then, suddenly, Raena has her Awakening, the onset of abilities, and hears voices as she picks up what her classmates are thinking. Jason calls their dad, and the kids are quickly taken from the Earth to the moon headquarters where they are introduced to their heritage – and future. The Priesthood and the Aeiser are also aware of the situation and both want Raena for their own purposes.

The author’s writing is excellent, and the story is interesting. Unfortunately, it moves slowly, as we follow the twins and their activities in a new environment. There is the expected kidnapping and rescue towards the end, and we wonder why the TSS doesn’t destroy the Priesthood once and for all, but the author isn’t finished building her universe yet. In fact, we see a lot of changes in this latest novel, as commands are repositioned and we watch the next generation move forward. As much as I like the series, I think the author needs to throw away the current formula and invent some new and more exciting ideas to the series. Each story is starting to sound like the previous one, with just a change of characters, i.e., the next generation. Still, this is one of the best new SF series I’ve read in awhile, and I highly recommend it to those who like good world building in science fiction.

Tom Johnson
Author of WORLDS OF TOMORROW



Saturday, February 18, 2017

The Disciple of Las Vegas

Fifty million dollars has disappeared into thin air from the accounts of one of the richest men in the Philippines, Tommy Ordonez. His one hope is Ava Lee―sleek, capable forensic accountant and sleuth. With the help of her Triad-connected partner, Uncle, Ava follows the money trail from San Francisco to Costa Rica to the casinos and illegal gambling dens of Las Vegas. Meanwhile, a vengeful adversary from Ava's past has put out a contract on her life, and the shadowy hit man is close at her heels every step of the way. Will Ava recover the stolen cash without stepping into the crosshairs of a growing list of enemies? The first book of an electrifying new series, Ian Hamilton's The Disciple of Las Vegas introduces Ava Lee: a deadly martial artist with a taste for luxury and a mind like a steel trap.


The Disciple of Las Vegas (International Thriller)
“Ava Lee Book #2”
By Ian Hamilton
ISBN #978-1250032430
Picador
Price $25.00 (hardback)
338 Pages
Rating 5-Stars

Ava Lee lives in Canada, and is a forensic accountant and detective. She has teemed with an older Chinese man in Hong Kong, she calls Uncle. Uncle has the contacts, and Ava has the investigative ability to run crooks down. They hire out to clients who have lost great sums of money, and Ava knows how to get the money back for them, and their percentage is taken from the amount she recovers. A martial artist, she is often called upon her ability to defend herself against some violent people.

In this second story, and I might say there is some confusion to the numbering system of the series, Tommy Ordonez, of the Philippines Chinese organization, has lost sixty million dollars due to his brother’s gambling problems. Ava discovers that an online gambling group cheated the brother. Connections lead her to Las Vegas and London. As she follows the leads, she is also alert to a death-contract placed on her by a man from a previous case.

The case moves slowly, and everything seems to fall into her grasp with little effort, though the story is interesting and keeps the reader turning the pages. Ava is not timid in the use of torture to get what she wants. She will ask nicely, but if they refuse to cooperate, she will result to torture, and it isn’t pretty.  Overall, I found the story and characters highly interesting. Although the main character is gay, there are no sex scenes in the story. Highly recommended, just be aware of some torture scenes, however.

Tom Johnson

Author of ASSIGNMENT NINA FONTAYNE

Thursday, February 16, 2017

The Adventures of Jimmie Dale

The Adventures of Jimmy Dale by Frank L. Packard (468 Pages), in two Parts: Part One – The Man In The Case (eleven novelettes); Part Two – The Woman In The Case (sixteen short stories).
Part One: #1) The Gray Seal, in which we learn all about Jimmie Dale and The Gray Seal, plus, it appears that a young man has stolen money from his boss that should have been put in the safe. It’s up to Jimmie to make the theft look like the work of The Gray Seal, for the boy’s wife lies ill, in need of medications. 2) The Proxy, in which a police official claims to have found a murder victim of The Gray Seal, and will turn over the murderer shortly for the huge reward the newspapers have offered. #3) The Mother Lode, an old miner down on his luck, a crooked financier, and a diamond necklace worth a quarter million dollars, if real. It’s up to the Gray Seal to put things right. 4) The Counterfeit Five, has Secret Service Kline after the gang of counterfeiters. They’ve stolen a cracked printing plate from the government, which was supposed to be destroyed, and blaming a young man from the Mint, the gang started printing out counterfeit fives. The Gray Seal had to catch the real culprit with the goods in order to clear the young man, and escape the clutches of the greatest secret service agent in the government. 5) The Affair of The Pushcart Man is an odd affair. Jimmie is still hiding in his sanctum, with Secret Service agents watching the area. They think The Gray Seal may still be in the house, for that’s where he disappeared in the last story. Unable to go home as Jimmy Dale, he goes as Larry the Bat to burgle his Riverside mansion and obtain money to live off of while disguised as the Bat. Plus, there is another letter from the mysterious woman, ordering him on another job. Known as the Pushcart Man, the fellow has a string of diamonds worth fifteen thousand dollars hidden under his pillow, and the Skeeter gang learned of this and plan to rob and kill the old man. The Gray Seal must steal the diamonds in front of eyewitnesses, to insure the gang believes the diamonds are now gone, and will leave the old man alone. 6) Devil’s Work has The Gray Seal first chasing two pickpockets. His mysterious woman friend has left him another envelope as he’s leaving the theater, but the pickpocket gets the letter and his wallet, and now knows the identity of the Gray Seal. Trailing them to Chinatown, a fight between the two smalltime hoods ends in one’s death, but allows Jimmy to get the envelope and wallet back. Now, he learns what his new assignment is. A bank has been robbed of $100,000.00, and the blame placed on an ex-con. 7) The Thief is a young man who is forced to steal rubies from his employer to give to a jewel fence because he was set up in a frame, thinking he had murdered someone. But The Gray Seal knows everything. In fact, his mysterious contact has given him a name, perhaps by accident, and he calls her Tocsin, French for alarm. Sonnes le Tocsin, sound the alarm! 8) The Man Higher Up is running a criminal organization, but has signed a statement naming all his men and locked it safely in his safe against any attempt to eliminate him. This is what The Gray Seal wants, to send to the DA to prosecute them, but he’s almost caught and killed in a shoot-out, but saved by Tocsin while in a dizzy condition. 9) Two Crooks And A Knave has The Gray Seal intervening in crooks trying to steal the map to a rich mine owned by a deceased man whose wife is destitute. But there is a double-cross going on that almost catches Jimmie unawares. 10) The Alibi is a curious story. Larry the Bat accidently loses his burglary tools, and a crook finds the kit. He tells a detective he knows who The Gray Seal is, and will identify him with the detective’s help. In the meantime, Tocsin has left Jimmie another assignment, and it brings them all together in the end. 11) The Stool Pigeon – an old man is killed for his savings, and one of the Bowery regulars is framed for the murder, but The Gray Seal, as Larry the Bat becomes a Stool Pigeon to help set the record straight.
Part Two: #1 Below The Dead Line is chaos. Someone is following Larry the Bat. He enters Chang Foo’s opium den, then a police raid. Escaping, he finds a bar, only to encounter gunshots and riot, then blackness as lights are extinguished. Suddenly, an envelope is thrusts into his hands and Tocsin’s voice from the darkness. She needs his help. #2) The Call To Arms. Jimmy takes a taxi driven by an agent of Tocsin, but they are intercepted, and a car crashes. 3) The Crime Club. When Jimmie awakes he is in a strange house a prisoner of the Crime Club. 4) The Innocent Bystander: Questioned and threatened with death, Jimmy claims his innocence even with possible death staring him in the face. 5) On Guard: He’s released, but not sure why. 6) The Trap: Discovering his home is being watched he can do nothing at present. 7) The “Hour”: Jimmy works out a plan, hides in the sedan as Benson drives into town. 8) The Tocsin: She is finally identified as dead millionaire, Peter LaSalle’s daughter, Marie La Salle. 9) The Tocsin’s Story: Her father and uncle were murdered, and she was to be next. Jimmy learns of the five years Marie LaSalle has been forced to hide, living in the badlands where she has discovered small crimes she passed on to The Gray Seal. 10) Silver Mag: Marie is known in the badlands as Silver Mag. 11) The Magpie: Slimmy Joe, the Magpie, has a plan to steal half a million from the man who murdered Marie’s father. 12) John Johansson – four-two-eight: Jimmie enters Spider Jack’s, but too late to get the evidence against the Crime Club. 13) The Only Way: Jimmie must enter the mansion and kill the murderer. 14) Out of The Darkness: The safe reveals little, but now he has found the Crime Club. 15) Retribution: The Magpie and Crime Club members shoot it out. 16) “Death To The Gray Seal!”: Magpie alerts the underworld to Larry the Bat’s duel role as the Gray Seal. He and Marie are caught in Larry the Bat’s room with the building set fire, and the cry, “Death to the Gray Seal!”
Thus, supposedly ends the Crime Club and the Gray Seal. But the series would continue in the pulps and four more books.
The Gray Seal was the son of a safe manufacturer, and could open any safe. Wearing a black domino mask and black slouch hat, he would leave a gray seal at all the scenes of his crimes to mock the police. He always returned the loot. It was just excitement and adventure he was after. He had a secret Sanctuary in the badlands, where he stayed at times as Larry the Bat. Until a mysterious woman discovers his identity and uses the information to force him to stop crimes by others. That woman would eventually be identified as Marie LaSalle, but he only knew her as Tocsin for most of the early stories. She also lived in the badlands, as Silver Mag. They are in love. Jimmy Dale, the Gray Seal, was one of the earliest masked crime fighters. Even Johnston McCulley would draw a lot from the Gray Seal for many of his masked heroes and gentleman crooks. The stories are dated, but a lot of fun, and you can see the influence in The Shadow’s Sanctum, and Doc Savage’s Fortress of Solitude. I will read the other four novels this year.

Tom Johnson

Author of THE MAN IN THE BLACK FEDORA

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

BEHIND THE MASK Volume One

BEHIND THE MASK Volume #1 By Tom Johnson. Published by FADING SHADOWS. Cover titles, design, and logo created by Tom TV Powers. A string of murders and kidnappings lead the Masked Detective on a manhunt that could result in his own death. Follow the intrepid crime fighter as he attempts to unravel these hideous crimes as he embarks on a deadly trail of mystery …
            Clues lead the The Black Bat to theorize that small time crime originates with a traveling circus. He turns his information over to the police department, through his alter ego, blind Tony Quinn. However, the case is not pursued  until a murder is reported at the circus. Now, the Black Bat, nemesis of the underworld, takes flight to find the killer and bring the criminal activity to a close. But at every turn the Black Bat and his team of crime fighters find that they are faced by a super mind working behind the scenes.
When a new inhuman terror strikes the Slums of Akelton City, leaving the acid mark of a Skull on victim’s foreheads, can the Purple Scar uncover the diabolical scheme of a madman, and protect the innocent citizens before death also finds the woman he loves?
Private detective Sam Doyle took the case because he needed the money, but he knew the dame’s husband would never cheat on such a classy doll. But what he turns up is more than he bargained for – Hoodlums, snakes, and a cute kitty!
The Legend disappeared in 1953, and now it’s a decade later, and Carlos Donatti wants to be a Big Shot. What Carlos doesn’t remember is Legends never die.
Available on Kindle format only, for $2.99, at https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01N5VKAZG/ref=sr_1_fkmr0_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1485976339&sr=1-1-fkmr0&keywords=behind+the+mask+%231+by+tom+johnson




                             

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Storm Rising

When a murder investigation turns Detective Kelli Storm’s attention to a drug kingpin, the last thing she expected was to find a link to her father’s killer from twenty years earlier. The Washington Height's neighborhood has turned deadly for NYPD detectives Kelli Storm and Bill Hayes. A young woman is murdered and Kelli tracks the killer to a Gentleman’s Club in Manhattan. After an unwilling witness is assaulted and left dying, Kelli and Bill turn their investigation in a new and more dangerous direction. When the DEA steps in and takes over, Kelli is forced off the case. Working behind the scenes, she pulls out one of her father’s old case files and starts making connections she never would have dreamed possible. An old gun, new witnesses and danger lurking in the shadows have storms rising all over New York City.


Storm Rising (Police Procedural)
By Kenneth Hoss
Fountain Blue Publishing
ISBN #978-1628681826
Price $13.95
302 Pages
Rating 4-Stars

Detective Kelli Storm works out of the 33rd Precinct. Her father was also a detective before he was murdered twenty years previous. Kelli and her partner are looking for a local drug lord named Carlos Rodriquez for questioning, but when a young Puerto Rican prostitute is found murdered it swings her investigation away from Rodriquez. Yet the investigation doesn’t stray far. Plus, she learns that this case may lead to more information on her father’s death.

I really wanted to like this novel more. I love stories with strong female leads. This was supposed to be a police procedural, but it comes off like Dirty Harry. Remember Inspector Callahan? That series was intended as a police procedural also, but it was purely a men’s action series instead. Harry was always in trouble with his boss; he often took the law into his own hands, breaking down doors without warrants, shooting it out with the bad guys, and usually suspended for something he did, yet continued investigating the case on his private time. Kelli Storm is very similar. Remember, she is after Carlos Rodriquez for questioning. The police believe he is involved in drug distribution, and possibly several murders, but have no evidence and can’t prove it. Detective Storm would like to “talk” to Carlos. A stoolie reports seeing him enter an apartment building, and his Escalade is parked nearby, so that’s enough for Kelli and her partner to call in reinforcements (this happens at least twice early in the story). They bust into the building, kick doors down, and end in a shoot out. She even kills Rodriquez’s girlfriend during one invasion. Carlos has slipped out someway. No judge in his right mind would issue this woman a search warrant. They even find one man with dope and arrest him. Does illegal search and seizure sound familiar? How long will that arrest stick? Now I did believe Kelli was tough (for awhile). I mean she acts it with her partner and back up, but when two thugs break into her house, and she has a weapon in hand, instead of blowing the creeps away like Dirty Harry would do, she hides from them. No, Kelli Storm doesn’t come across as a police procedural for sure, and she also fails as Dirty Harry. Overall, this isn’t too bad, I recently read one mystery where a Wyoming sheriff drives his official car to North Dakota where he places a ND police chief under arrest, and deputizes local citizens to hold weapons on other citizens. The Wyoming sheriff would need a federal warrant just to pick up a prisoner already in ND custody. His jurisdiction ended in Wyoming, so we are getting some strange police procedural books today. I did like the author’s writing on Storm Rising, and the characters were well thought out. Kelli Storm would work a lot better if the author threw away the badge and made her a private detective. As a female lead I think she would work better that way. Still, a good read, and if you like female leads, I think you will like Kelli Storm. Give it a try.

Tom Johnson

Author of BEHIND THE MASK