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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

Monday, September 25, 2017

The Case of The Invisible Souls

The Case of The Invisible Souls (Mystery)
By R. Weir
Independent Publishing
Price $0.99
53 Pages
Rating 5-Stars

Private Detective Jarvis Mann of Denver returns to his office after a brief workout in the December cold of the Mile High City. Shortly there’s a knock at his door and he finds a homeless man standing there. After a few minutes debating what he should do, he lets him in. Parker Turner is an ex-Army vet down on his luck, but he’s not looking for anything for himself. Some of his friends are missing, and he wants Jarvis to find out what happened to them.

Starting his investigation at the Invisible Souls Mission, he meets a black woman named Pastor Sam (Samantha), also an ex-Army vet, who tough as nails. He learns that men have been coming to the Mission to recruit workers with the promise of money, but they never return. It’s up to Jarvis to uncover the plot, even if he has to become a homeless person himself to discover the truth.

This was a really nice story, written by a writer who can use words to tell a good story without a lot of profanity and violence. It’s almost Christmas, so we know it will end okay, even after a confrontation that leaves one of the homeless in the hospital. The kind of story we might have seen as a Christmas movie on TV back in the 1970s. For those of you, like me, who enjoys a well-written mystery without all the vulgar scenes and profanity we have today, I can highly recommend this for a family mystery.

Tom Johnson

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Fighting Crime One Dime At A Time

Fighting Crime One Dime At A Time (Hero Pulp Fiction)
By Ed Hulse
Murania Press
ISBN #978-1976273452
Price $24.95
220 Pages
Rating 5-Stars

This 8.5 x 11 inch production is a fun read, covering the hero – or single-character pulp titles that began with The Shadow in 1931 and dominated the newsstands until 1953, 22 years that saw good versus evil in literature, and good always triumphed. The heroes began after the Roaring Twenties, when readers were fed up with gangster rule, and the Depression laid low the working class in our society. Aimed at young audiences, they offered masked crime fighters who sometimes wore colorful or eclectic costumes that intrigued youthful minds. Their reign would end only after a world war, and an economy bouncing back from the abyss, and youngsters grown and looking for more mature fare. This book discusses the rise of story papers to dime novels, and eventually the pulp magazines, and finally the pulp hero. Most of it has been written before by earlier researches, but the writers involved visit the history again, in their own way, and I enjoyed every page.

Edited by Ed Hulse, who also writes the Introduction and some of the articles; we have these subjects: “The Great Transition: Story Papers and Dime Novels Yield To Pulp Magazines by Larry Latham; The Man In The Black Cloak: Did This Story Paper Character Influence The Shadow? By Joe Rainone; Reminiscences of Nick Carter: The Dime-Novel Precursor of Pulp Heroes by John Coryell; The House of Heroes: Street & Smith’s Single-Character Pulps by Ed Hulse; The Hero-Pulp Revolution Continues: Standard, Popular, Ace, and Fiction House Titles by Ed Hulse; Dithering Over Doc: Launching One of The Most Famous Hero Pulps by Will Murray; Disposable Heroes: Pulpdom’s Forgotten Crimebusters by Mark Trost; Archie Bittner and The Spider: The Case of the Missing “Master” by Will Murray; How Not To Write A Hero Pulp-Novel: Anatomy Of A Phantom Detective Outline by Mark Trost; Masked Rider of The (Pulps) Plains: A History of The Lone Ranger Magazine by Albert Tonic; The 20 Most Underrated Shadow Novels: Overlooked Entries From The Long-Running Series Chosen by Blood ‘n’ Thunder’s All-Star Panel of Judges; The Strange, Sad Story of Zarnak: The Pulp Hero Everybody Hated by Mark Trost; Three Aces In One Draw: Pulp Heroes In Comic Books by Mark Trost; Last Hurrahs: The Twilight of The Hero Pulps by Ed Hulse and Mark Trost; Appendix: Four-Color Fakery Reprinting Two Comic-Book Stories Adapted From Hero Pulps: The Mask and Major Mars.

It was nice seeing familiar names like Larry Latham and Albert Tonic in new publications once more. Their names were part of pulp fandom for many years. Will Murray and Joe Rainone have continued to be involved through the years, while Ed Hulse and Mark Trost - who began the Blood ‘n’ Thunder fan magazine in 2002 - have published ever since. Perhaps what is missing from the book are credits – there are many research books that preceded this tome that details Story Papers, Dime Novels, and the Hero Pulps, and should have been mentioned, if not credied. However, I highly recommend this book for any fan of the Pulp Heroes, be they Doc Savage fans, or Shadow fans, or any of the other heroes. It’s not only a good read, it gives insight to some of the happenings behind the scenes, and that’s always fun.

Tom Johnson


Sunday, September 17, 2017

Early Autumn Giveaway

Early Autumn Book Giveaway: Marie Lavender is offering a huge giveaway of several authors’ books on her Blog over the next few days. I am offering one print copy of TALES OF MASKS & MAYHEM V #1, and five PDF copies of it. It is under Action & Adventure. There are many more books available. Stop by and enter for free giveaways. No one has asked for my book yet (hint, hint).

Thursday, September 14, 2017

The Good Life

In this powerful new book from an esteemed novelist and acclaimed short story writer, Marian Thurm expertly draws a chilling portrait of a marriage and the downward spiral of a loving husband and father who has bought a handgun as the novel opens.

Stacy and Roger seem to have it all: a wonderful marriage, a luxury Upper East Side apartment with all the accoutrements of the wealthy, and two endearing young children enrolled in private schools. But what appears to be "the good life" to their family and friends is not what it seems in this fast-paced, suspenseful novel that shows the sinister effects of a destructive marriage and the pursuit of the privileged life.

Thurm, who according to the New York Times Book Review, "writes brilliantly of the battle of the sexes," has done so again in The Good Life.

The Good Life (Literary Fiction)
By Marian Thurm
The Permanent Press
ISBN #978-1579624286
Price $29.00 (hardback)
278 Pages
Rating 3-Stars

“A Well Written Story”

Stacy and Roger are a family on the way up. Both are educated, she is a social worker, and Roger is a real-estate developer. With two children, they seem a happy couple, but that isn’t the case. Roger is failing, and the good life is not what it seems. This was a strange story, one that I would not normally read. We know there are dysfunctional families in all walks of life, and marriages often titter on the brink of ruin, ending sometimes in violence.

The publisher sent the book to me for an honest review. The author’s writing was what held the story together for me, but it wasn’t a book I really cared for. They say there is a genre for everyone, and I’m sure there are readers for this type of fiction. I’m sure others will find the book more impressive than I did. It wasn’t a book that should have been sent to me, however. If you are interested in reading about families living the good life – or wanting to live the good life, then I can highly recommend this book to you.

Tom Johnson


Saturday, September 9, 2017

Nakamura Reality

To understand Japanese culture requires reading between the lines. This is
Hugh Mcpherson's challenge in Nakamura Reality, a beguiling blend of mystery, odyssey, inconsolable loss and obsession.

Absenting himself for a brief intimacy with a former girlfriend, Hugh leaves his surfing-obsessed sons on an isolated California beach. When he returns, the eleven-year-old twins have vanished. A ferocious riptide has swept Takumi and Hitoshi out to sea, their bodies unrecovered.

Devastated by the loss, Hugh and his Japanese wife Setsuko divorce. Severing all ties to America, Setsuko returns to Japan to live with her father, Kazuki Ono, a prominent author of mind-bending novels.

After grieving for ten years and longing for Setsuko, Hugh swims out to sea to drown himself. As he sinks, his sons appear to him, holding the last letter that he had sent to their mother, begging her forgiveness.

Abandoning his suicide, Hugh swims back to shore. The incident awakens memories that throw doubt on the accepted version of his sons' deaths. His doubts are intensified when he learns that Kazuki Ono has come to California to finish a novel called Fingal's Cave, the tale of a brash American who marries a Japanese woman against the wishes of her father, a powerful businessman with ties to the Yakuza.

Provoked by his memories and obliquely revealing passages found in Kazuki's books, Hugh begins a Quixotic journey across the California landscape, encountering numerous characters of ill-will and cross-purpose, but who inexorably lead him toward a film-industry firm called Nakamura Reality, and a labyrinth that challenges him to separate reality from fiction to find his way out... and perhaps back to his sons.

Nakamura Reality (Mystery)
By Alex Austin
The Permanent Press
ISBN 9781579624095
272 Pages
Rating 4-Stars

“Will Test The Reader’s Imagination”

Leaving his sons unattended on the beach, Hugh McPherson returns to find them missing, believed to have been swept away while surfing in the ocean. The loss of his sons breaks up his marriage with his Japanese wife, Setsuko. She returns to Japan, leaving Hugh to suffer his loss alone. Ten years later he decides to join his sons, swimming into the sea to die, but a vision of his two boys makes him see other possibilities. But when chance presents itself Hugh searches out Setsuko’s father who is visiting to finish his novel. Could his sons still be alive?

This was a strange mystery novel, leaving the reader questioning reality as truth or fiction. What we see as real may not be the truth. The author delves into the Japanese thought process, as well as reading between the lines for deeper meanings. A good read, but there were times I wasn’t sure I was following the story line, and that posed a problem for me. It all works in the end, but expect some odd roads to the final destination. Recommended to test the reader’s imagination.

Tom Johnson