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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, April 13, 2015

Double Trouble

Double Trouble (Action/Adventure)
By Jerry Gill
Ann Darrow Publishing
ISBN #978-150258829
Price $12.54
416 Pages
Rating 4-Stars

“Old Style Fun & Adventure.”

This actually contains the first two novels in the Vic Challenger series, “Time Doesn’t Matter” and “Mongol”. The first story has Victoria Custer and her brother, Barney visiting Lord & Lady Greystoke’s ranch in Africa, where Tarzan allows Vic to hunt water buffalo and other game. The natives and white men are all in awe of Vic, and Tarzan tells them that the girl is a capable hunter. One day when Vic is out hunting, slavers capture her. Barney, Tarzan and his Waziri take the trail to rescue her and kill the Arab slavers. Amidst this early tale, Vic dreams about Nu and Nat-ul, a couple in love 100,000 years ago during the Stone Age. We learn their story, and how they influence Victoria Custer in 1919. In truth, Vic and Nat-ul seem to be attached, and Vic may be Nat-ul reincarnated. With this knowledge Vic feels she must find her lost lover, Nu, son of Nu, chief of the Nu people, dwellers in caves.

The story is episodic, with Vic falling into traps, escaping, fighting against great odds, and always showing the strength and fearlessness of the stone-age tribe of Nu. The author’s writing style captures that of Edgar Rice Burroughs. And, indeed, we have the cameo of Tarzan at his African ranch, and chapter titles like “Back To The Stone Age”, etc. In this story, Vic meets Ann Darrow who tells her about her adventure on Skull Island.  She also meets an “Indiana” Jones. Victoria obtains a job with a big newspaper to supply stories and photographs of her adventures, using the byline of Vic Challenger, her homage to Professor Challenger from The Lost World.

In “Mongol”, the second, and weakest, novel in the book, it reads a bit like a travelogue, with some episodic adventures. Lin Li, her pharmacist friend, joins Vic and they meet Evelyn Chan, the niece of Charlie Chan in San Francisco. She is a private detective involved in a murder mystery. The mystery follows them on board The Red Dragon, a ship heading for Hawaii before the mystery is solved. As they enter China, heading for Mongolia, they pick up a guide and learn about food and travel through the desert. They run across a band of Red Beards and have a shoot out, then giant worms come out of the ground and attacks everyone. Then they discover an underground city with space aliens, and rooms filled with gold, jewels, and silver. Escaping seconds before being killed, they return to their guide’s home to find Mongol warriors killing all the people. Alone, Vic, Lin, and their guide take on the Mongol horde in a fierce fight defeating them just as the Cavalry shows up.

Overall, this is a fun series so far, but the author needs to have better structure to the novel, instead of short episodic adventures, it needed a real plot the reader could follow. And with the travelogue in the second novel, the action slowed down a bit too much. For me, the story of Nu and Nat-ul, which took up a good portion of the first novel, was the best portion of the two books. The writing definitely captured Edgar Rice Burroughs in that segment. I like the character of Victoria Custer and Lin Li, although a lot of the dialogue was wooden in the second book. However, it is written in the old pulp style, and I think readers of adventure heroes like Doc Savage and Indiana Jones will enjoy it. Highly recommended.

Tom Johnson

ECHOES Magazine

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