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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

Friday, December 30, 2011

Pulp Echoes Review

Pulp Echoes (Pulp Thriller)
By Tom Johnson
ISBN #978-0-9826795-8-6
230 Pages
Price: $15.50
Rating: 5-Stars

This short story collection consists of seven stories of varying lengths. Each pits a heroic figure against some evil mastermind out to do some dastardly deed. In the first entry, we have a story between novelette and short novel featuring the costumed crime fighter known as The Black Ghost. In this fast-paced yarn, “Carnival of Death”, a British intelligence operative is following a large drug shipment from India to somewhere in the States. The city is never named, but probably on the East Coast. Wounded, the operative seeks out The Black Ghost for help, and the city’s paladin learns that an old nemesis is protecting the drug shipment, and she’s determined to destroy The Black Ghost. This is a sequel to “The Spider’s Web”, published in 2010.

The second story, novelette in length, features an interesting heroine this time in her debut adventure, “A Cat Among Dogs”, and is set in the 1930s. Crime lords are extending their dirty hands across the city, and innocent people are victimized. Donning a strange costume with a Robin Hood hat, she raids the dens of iniquity, taking money from the pockets of the mob bosses. War is declared against her, and the mob and police alike are after the woman behind the mask of The Black Cat.

“Blind As A Bat” is an interesting short story about a character from the 1930s that was the forerunner of Bat Man. Framed by crooks on a murder charge, a famous detective is sent to death row. But honest men conspire to fake his execution, and in doing so The Bat was given life. In this story an insidious Chinaman is kidnapping young white women for white slavery. The Bat is quick to respond.

The fourth story, “Till Death Do Us Part”, is another character from the 1930s. Tough man, Nibs Holloway is assigned to safeguard the arrival of a famous necklace worth a fortune, but when he meets the ship he finds the carrier dead, and the jewels missing. Plus, it seems a notorious master crook called Doctor Death, is also after the necklace. People die during the hunt for the missing jewels, and Nibs Holloway plans for the evil doctor to meet his demise.

The next story is a debut adventure also, though it takes place in the mid 1940s. “Terror In The North Country” features Captain Anthony Adventure and his team of world adventurers. A Canadian girl seeks help from the Adventurers in finding her missing father in the wilds of Canada. After telling the girl to contact the authorities, they quickly change their mind when she tells them her father was kidnapped by a Sasquatch. It doesn’t take the team long to unravel this mystery!

“The Crimson Clown – Killer” features another gentleman thief from the 1930s who robs from dastardly crooks. The money goes to charities, except for a small operating fee that he pockets. However, this time the Crimson Clown is accused of murder, and must escape the law and find the real killers. It might take a real magician to pull the rabbit out of this hat!

The last story is an interesting tale of Old California. In late 1700s, with Spain ruling Mexico, Spanish soldiers kill a young girl’s husband and family, and take her land. A master with sword and bullwhip, she dons a mask and leads Mexican bandits against the Spaniards, taking their gold amidst a lot of swordplay. She is called Senora Scorpion by the Spaniards, and her sting is with whip or sword. Though the bandits she leads wishes only gold, her dream is to drive Spain out of California. This has similarities to Zorro.

I am selective in the books I review, and normally don’t read multiple author anthologies or short story collections. Seldom do you find either that will hold up, due to the variety of material, and different author contribution to the content. As an independent book reviewer, I have the option of selecting what I read, not what is pressed upon me. Being familiar with this author’s past work, I was willing to take a chance on PULP ECHOES, and I’m glad I did. The stories do hold up in this short story collection, and the author keeps the reader entertained throughout.

Originally titled ECHOES FROM THE PULPS, the author takes the reader back to the 1930s and ‘40s, when fantastic characters dominated the print media called “pulp magazines.” Added to the book is information on the history of pulps, and its current status among followers, with listings of research books and new stories of old characters. This is an intelligent overview of a little known print media that has influenced other medias over the years, and appears to be evolving into the electronic age today.

Entertaining And Highly Recommended.

Terry Roberts
Reviewer (SF, Etc.)

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Grottos of Chinatown

Grottos of Chinatown
By Arthur J. Burks
ISBN #978-1935031086
Off Trail Publications
189 Pages
Price: $16.00
Rating 5-Star

After returning from the Far East, Dorus Noel becomes an undercover agent for the police department in New York City. He had spent years in the Far East, and had the torture scars to prove it. But once touched by China, he was unable to give that world up. Manhattan's Chinatown contains the most insidious crimes and criminals imaginable, and is a society of strange alliances, a place of dark menace and mystery. It is an urban nightmare of secret passageways riddling the district like rabbit warrens, a new world under the shadow of China's past.

This volume collects the eleven Dorus Noel stories from the pulp, All Detective Magazine (1933-34). Also included is extensive new information on All Detective and the fascinating career of pulp-writer Arthur J. Burks by John Locke.

Burks’ stories are short, with little time to truly examine the characters, but they are presented with clear images of evil. Fu Manchu like masterminds, with insidious murder inventions, including mysterious poisons and venoms, along with unimaginable death traps. All Detective aimed at the short story, with strong villains and heroes, and endings with a twist. The author was a retired Army Lt/Col from WWI who had traveled extensively in the Far East, and brought his knowledge of the East to the stories with him.

Dorus Noel works for a mysterious “Chief”, whom he has never seen. He does know the police commissioner, but none of the police know he is an undercover agent. However, all of Chinatown knows who Dorus Noel is, and though most respect him, the oriental villains fear and hate him. In each story someone is out to kill him before they start their insidious crime wave.

A great read, and thoroughly enjoyable.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Horror In Gold

Horror In Gold
By Kenneth Robeson (Lester Dent & Will Murray)
ISBN #978-1618270238
309 Pages
Price: $24.95
Rating 5-Star

A sudden wave of deadly explosions in New York brings Doc Savage into the case. The heads of innocent people explode. Hands or fingers fall from their body. It appears that someone is using a machine to make gold explode. Bank vaults are destroyed. Gold becomes too dangerous for people to own. A mysterious woman is seen in a purple robe with what looks to be a newsreel camera at every scene. The first 200 pages of the adventure take place in New York, but moves to Alaska for the final 100 pages where a mysterious scientist, John Merlin is working near a volcano. He is the inventor of the machine that is causing such havoc in New York.

This is another topnotch Doc Savage adventure Will Murray has put together using notes left by the late Lester Dent. There was some dialogue and text that seemed very odd. It just did not sound like Dent or Will Murray at times. Sadly, Pat is ordered, over the telephone, to Florida and doesn’t make an appearance except by radio at the end of the story, which was another disappointment for me. Evidently, Pat isn’t scheduled to be in the next story, either. Also, Renny and Johnny are in Alaska and don’t join the team until the last 70 pages of this 300-page adventure. Nor would Dent have Monk actually strike Ham in anger, which he does at the end of Chapter 19!

Of the two stories so far, “Desert Demons” is my favorite. With all the oddities in this story, I couldn’t help but wonder if Murray isn’t giving us a peek at what’s to come with Doc’s new image? But that being said, everything about “Horror In Gold” is another fantastic adventure of the Man of Bronze, and highly recommended.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Double Danger Tales #64


Compere had not been able to get Peggy away from the door leading to the stairwell, and he knew that danger lay in that direction. He increased his deadly fire, but had become a non-moving target himself. A bullet from one of the gangster’s guns clipped the little gas container on his belt, and suddenly two skull-faced apparitions appeared, one on each wrist of his hands. With a slight movement of his wrists, the gas-filled balloons were disconnected and flew from his outstretched arms with a loud hiss, each flying in opposite directions.
The appearance of the banshees was so sudden, gangsters turned their fire on the two escaping gas balloons, and Compere accounted for another four hoodlums as their guns had been diverted from him.
Unfortunately, his luck was running out. He heard a light sound from behind, a short sigh from Peggy, and then he felt the cold hard steel of the barrel of a revolver digging into his spine. A vicious voice grunted from behind, "Drop your cannons, friend, or this girl gets a bullet in the head!"

Friday, December 23, 2011

Cold War Medal

A friend of mine just notified me that the Cold War Service Medal has been approved. I added a link to the article in the "Links" menu. The website is just in case the link doesn't work. CONGRATULATIONS ALL YOU COLD WAR VETERANS!!!

Finally, a medal after all these years!!!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Betrothal, Betrayal, And Blood

Betrothal, Betrayal, And Blood (Crime Novel)
By JoAnna Senger
ISBN #978-1-937769-08-6
Price: $15.50
205 Pages
Rating 5-Stars

“A Smooth And Entertaining Read.”

In San Tobino, a small town on the Central Coast of California, the popular resort hotel, Milady’s Manor becomes the scene of gruesome murders. Leads are few in this sleepy little community, and the police are stymied. It seems the murders are set up to follow the popular rooms different décor. The DinoWorld Room is set up as a prehistoric landscape, and then there are the Marie Antoinette Room, the Gibraltar Room, and the Lucretia Borgia Room. Each murder is enacted according to the rooms’ décor. What could be the motive, the authorities wonder?

The negatives of this book are cosmetic for the most part. There is little mystery, as we meet the killer before half way into the book. However, even that wasn’t necessary. The title alone tells us the plot. If it didn’t, the cover would have. A broken wedding ring, with a husband and wife inserted within the circle of the ring, and a handsome stranger standing alone outside the ring’s perimeter.  If I had seen this book on a paperback spinner rack, I would have passed it by for I knew the story without opening it. And that would have been a shame.

The author’s writing is superb, and the story keeps the reader’s interest from the opening page to the final chapter. We follow the police investigators, as well as the sordid adulterous affair that leads to the gruesome murders. An added compliment to the tale is the diary entries of a witness. Another nice aspect is the inclusion of a female private detective, and I would be surprised if we don’t see her in future novels of her own series.

The plot is good, though over-used in these type crime novels, but Ms Senger’s story-telling ability, and characterization is what captures the reader throughout. I can’t help but wonder what a new title – say, “Murders At Milady’s Manor”, or a simple “Murder In Room 313”, and a cover illustrating the crime scene from one of the picturesque rooms would do for the book? But with or without a cover, this novel is topnotch, and well worth the read!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Pulp Echoes Now Available

PULP ECHOES by Tom Johnson presents seven new stories in the pulp tradition, both new and original characters: The Bat returns in “Blind As A Bat,” The Crimson Clown returns in “The Crimson Clown – Killer,” and Nibs Holloway battles Doctor Death in “Till Death Do Us Part.” The Black Ghost is back in “Carnival of Death,” Captain Anthony Adventure in “Terror In The North Country,” The Black Cat in “A Cat among Dogs,” and Senora Scorpion in “Senora Scorpion.” If you like the real thing, you’ll love PULP ECHOES.

The long awaited pulp anthology is now Available on NTD and Amazon. Print copies at $15.50. Ebooks will be available soon. This 238-page short story collection is pure pulp action and fun.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Tales of Masks & Mayhem V4

Coming soon from NTD

Edited by Ginger Johnson, the long awaited fourth volume in the popular pulp anthologies, Tales of Masks & Mayhem will finally be released. This large volume contains "The Hooded Hunter" by Max Scarlatti, "Prophet of Peril" (a Masked Avenger story) by Lamont Wentworth, a new Crimson Mask story, "The Crimson Mask's Justice" by Frank Johnson, Doc Atlas returns in "His Master's Voice" by Michael A. Black and Ray Lovato, and Tom Johnson's Black Cat story, "Partners In Crime" rounds out the issue. With a great cover by Matt Lovato, this is a must for all pulp fans.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Doc Savage Review

Doc Savage: The Desert Demons
By Kenneth Robeson (Will Murray & Lester Dent)
ISBN #978-1618270016
Price: $24.95
270 Pages
Rating: 5-Stars

After twenty years, Doc Savage and his crew are back to fight evil and punish evildoers in a brand new adventure. Using notes from the late Lester Dent, Will Murray brings a rip-roaring, fast-action, grand slam tale for readers of the Man of Bronze. Something like a red tornado is descending on people, planes, and automobiles, turning them into salt. Doc, while at his Fortress of Solitude sends his aides to California to investigate. Meanwhile, his adventurous cousin, Pat Savage is already there. And to make matters worse, it appears the demon has killed her.

Doc and his aides are in top form, and Murray’s writing style captures Lester Dent’s perfectly. Six more novels have been announced, but Murray says there will probably be more. A special note should be made of the fantastic cover by Joe DeVito. It’s great to see the Man of Bronze, Monk and Ham, Pat, and all the gang back in this new series. Highly recommended.