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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

Saturday, October 31, 2015

See You At The Fair Trading Cards

SEE YOU AT THE FAIR is a new retro-style trading card set from Acheron Mint currently crowdfunding on Kickstarter. It features the pulp heroes (Doc Savage, The Phantom Detective), sports legends, robots, futuristic vehicles and other notable personalities (like AMAZING STORIES editor John W. Campbell)  that populated the 1939-1940 NY World's Fair in a card series done in the style of the Goudey Gum and Gum Inc. releases of the depression era. The project is currently funded but looking to expand to a 20 card set. SEE YOU AT THE FAIR closes on November 26.

About this project

Updated 10/28!

On October 27, 1940, the New York World's fair served its last attendees and closed its doors forever. What had started with promise and a symbol of hope of technology, social planning and medicine overcoming poverty and the continuing effects of the Great Depression had ended with a new European war that would soon spread to the entire world. That same technology of the future would soon be used to murder millions of people across the globe. The dreams of flying cars and robotic servants and central databank that could be accessed by anyone with a then-new television quickly faded, victim of the crushing grim reality faced by millions in the first years of World War 2. It wasn't until 25 years later that the small children who had witnessed the fair firsthand, some now parents themselves, could take a nostalgic look at it, now living in the future of THEIR fair. Ironically the 4 wars after 1939 (World War 2, The Cold War, Korea and Vietnam) had brought more change than any fair promoter or civil planner could have ever dreamed of. 
And the social change of the late 1960's was only beginning.
The fair continues to fascinate us as does the pop culture of that era. Aimee Mann wrote a song about it. The popular animated TV show is named after its central exhibit. Almost every blockbuster or genre TV show has some roots in the pulp era of the 1930's and 40's. Is it the teardrop shaped cars or the flying wings? It it the hokey and sometimes laughable predictions of the future? Or is it the personalities of the fair? Almost every high profile guest who attended the fair is now a legend.

Mockup/Prototypes only. Color and details subject to change.
Mockup/Prototypes only. Color and details subject to change.

Mockup/Prototype only. Color and details subject to change.
Mockup/Prototype only. Color and details subject to change.
I wanted to create a set in line with something that Goudey or Gum Inc might have released. These are the personalities of the fair, not pictures of the pavilions. Something that the kids of the era who were already buying Superman Gum and Sport Kings gum would be interested in, as a lot of the high profile guests of the fair had already been featured in sets. It's strange to think why this set was never produced, other than a national gum card set used to promote a regional World Fair at a time when few people could afford to travel didn't make financial sense. Whatever the reason, SEE YOU AT THE FAIR is here, 75 years later. 
As with most of my vintage sets, cards will be non-glossy in keeping with the production methods of the era. Noted fan dancer/burlesque queen Sally Rand was included as the single representative of the 1939 San Francisco Expo, the west coast World Fair. Both Doc Savage and Maximus, the giant "goblin" from Doc Savage Magazine's THE WORLD'S FAIR GOBLIN are included, as Doc and the Phantom Detective were the only pulp heroes to visit the fair while it was open. Two New York Yankees are included. The Fantom of the Fair from Centaur Comics was the only Fair-based superhero of the era. Lou Gehrig had just retired and the Yankees won the Pennant in 1939. Johnny Weissmuller would be well known to kids as Tarzan. Slam Bradley was more established than either Superman or Batman in 1939 When he appeared in World's Fair Comics. Frank Buck was one of the biggest stars of the era and Elektro the Moto-Man is still cool, even today. Finally noted designer Norman Bel Geddes, the architect of GM's Futurama exhibit was the focal point of the fair. I wanted both him and one of his streamlined designs to be represented. As usual the style is very pulp like in keeping with the pop culture of the era. H.J. Ward and Hubert Rogers were the main artistic influences.
Like all of my series these will be limited to 145 sets and will include one sketch card per pack....

Included with the base set, for all pledges $28 and over is an original hand-drawn sketch card of one of the 16 subjects in the set, and maybe even a few others! Sketch cards will be inserted randomly in the retail versions but Kickstarter backers will receive a sketch of their choice!

some sketch cards from previous Acheron Mint sets.
some sketch cards from previous Acheron Mint sets.

Mockup/Prototype only. Color and details subject to change.
Mockup/Prototype only. Color and details subject to change.
 For all pledges $45 and above, a special 12 x 18 inch poster featuring Elektro, The Moto-Man with an Emerald City of Oz theme has been created exclusively for this Kickstarter.

 All pledges $28 and over will receive a special "I HAVE SEEN THE FUTURE" pin like those given out at the GM Futurama exhibit.

As always I will be offering prints for this set. This will be the only time these prints will be available, as I am not in the print business. I usually get requests for prints after the campaign has ended but only print enough to fulfill rewards, so if you want them, pledge now! Hang these stunning 8 1/2 by 11 inch prints in your home, office, den, or perisphere with pride.

Works in progress. All prints will have backgrounds.
Works in progress. All prints will have backgrounds.

An array of rewards is offered for this project. Like my previous projects, prints will only be available through Kickstarter and will not be available for retail. So pledge now if you want them!

Risks and challenges

The artwork is 90 percent complete, aside from color, contrast, brightness correction, correcting eye and hair color, spelling corrections, and minor details of that nature. There is always some frustration and delays from dealing with a commercial printer, but once the funds are released, essentially all there is to do is click a few buttons to send printing orders off. My previous five Kickstarters have all shipped no later than a few weeks off schedule. I've been doing this sort of thing for over a decade now, and shipped to every continent except Antarctica.

Friday, October 30, 2015

Sea Fangs

Bob Sherman has a strength of character and purpose that would make Spencer Tracy proud.  But signing on to the crew of the yacht Bonito, he’ll need every ounce of his strength and courage to overcome the forces arrayed against him—in Sea Fangs.
He’ll take on the forces of nature—a hurricane smashing into the boat off the Venezuelan coast.  He’ll stand up to the forces of ignorance—Bonito’s incompetent captain. He’ll defy the forces of corruption—the boat’s owner, who stripped him of his land years ago. And he’ll fight the forces of evil—a ruthless band of pirates who take all aboard, including the owner’s daughter, to the uncharted Island of Death.
His fate intertwined with a woman whose father stole everything he valued, Sherman is about to discover that there’s one force as powerful, unpredictable and dangerous as the sea itself . . . the force of a beautiful woman’s love.

Sea Fangs (Adventure)
By L. Ron Hubbard
ISBN 978-1592122509
Price $9.95
120 Pages
Rating 5-Stars

“ A Great Tale of Rough Seas and Pirates.”

Bob Sherman had lost everything to a greedy man, and then was held captive among a band of pirates. Escaping from the Island of Death, he made plans to regain what was taken from him, finding passage as a sailor on the Bonito, only to be thrown into a raging hurricane, then cast back on the shores of the Island of Death once more. But this time they have the woman he loves, and win or lose he’ll do anything to save her.

This was another great adventure tale from the imagination of L. Ron Hubbard, a writer who crossed many genres during his pulp career. This action yarn was originally published in the June 1934 issue of FIVE NOVELS. Highly recommended for anyone that loves a great action adventure yarn.

Tom Johnson

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Killer Nashville Noir: Cold-Blooded

This collection of new stories features some of the biggest names in suspense, from bestsellers to ferociously talented newcomers. Grouped around the classic theme of murder, Killer Nashville Noir: Cold-Blooded is a first-class collection and a must-have for fans of the genre.

Killer Nashville Noir: Cold-Blooded (Murder Anthology)
Edited by Clay Stafford
By Various Authors
Diversion Books
Price $15.24
330 Pages
Rating 5-Stars

“A Fun Read.”

IN PLAIN SIGHT by Jefferson Bass.  Bill Brockton, forensic anthropologist, University of Tennessee, teaches students at the Body Farm. Collecting bodies for study, they are kept at the Body Farm and allowed to decompose, and then the students are assigned to gather the bones for extra credit. During one session, an extra body is discovered that shouldn’t be there. The police are called in to investigate, and we follow their clues using the knowledge of the anthropologist. The killer is easily identified from the very beginning, but it’s still a good story and interesting plot.
KISSIN’ DON’T KILL by Catriona McPherson. The husband of an elderly couple married 60 years dies at the table set by his wife. This is a cute short story of a wife getting her revenge on a cheating husband.
RIPPLE by Baron R. Birtcher. Travis, an ex L.A. cop now living in the Hawaiian Islands is visited by an old friend, Rex Blackwood, ex SEAL and now NSA. He and his Vietnam buddy, Snyder, join Blackwood searching for a young man with a manuscript that could prove disastrous to American secrets. The young man’s father was murdered for the manuscript, and unknown agents are after the boy. Travis leads the team into the jungle and run into others after the boy. After a fierce firefight, they discover the boy in a cave with the manuscript and other evidence. Blackwood takes the evidence and leaves the manuscript. Then tells his partners what it’s all about, and why he’s leaving the boy with the manuscript. A good tale. I’ve read this author’s novel, HARD LATITUDES, featuring Travis Kamahale Van de Groot, and loved it. (Reviewed under Virginia E. Johnson).
THE HUNT FOR “SKIPPY” WALKER. Willard Walker married Deborah for her beauty, but her flirtatious actions eventually led to her murder. Willard claimed that his imaginary friend, “Skippy” killed his wife, and his lawyer says he can prove it. True enough, Willard is found Not Guilty, but will Skippy let him live?
RICH TALK by C. Hope Clark. Harlowe Franklin a defense attorney married to Levella O’Hara Frankin is cheating with Harlowe’s law partner, Tucker McKinley. Harlowe is trying to figure a way to keep the affair from destroying the law firm. What could go wrong? You know it will.
MAILMAN by Jonathan Stone. George Waite has been a mailman for 35 years, delivering to the same neighborhood, knows all the people, their routine, and basically their business. When mysterious Alberto Muscovito moves into the community, builds a high fence around his place, and starts receiving strange mail, the neighbors become curious. And so does George. Soon, George is tampering with Muscovito’s mail, altering it, and trying to shake the man up. But someone figures it out, and George is the first suspect, even for the murder and disappearance of Alberto Muscovito.
HIGH NOON AT DOLLAR CENTRAL by Maggie Toussaint. Several burglaries have happened in the small community, but minor business like the Dollar Central, the Art Center, and a liquor store. Baxley Powell’s reporter friend, Charlotte Armstrong, talks her into helping her solve the crimes so she can get a good story for the paper.  Following the crime scenes, they quickly discover the culprit left little angels at the scene of each burglary; angels that Baxley’s grandmother had hand-made. But her grandmother has been dead for years, and the angels were given to her mother thirty years previous. Was someone trying to frame Baxley’s family, or was her mother involved? This was another neat little mystery, though the real criminal was easily spotted from the start.
REPRESSED by Jeffery Deaver. Professor Sam Fogel takes his children to a classic automobile show, and when he spots an old Buick his mind goes into a panic. Something in his past is trying to come forward once more. Some memory his mind had repressed since he was 12-years old. His wife worries about him. He sees a psychiatrist to unlock those repressed memories. Perhaps some of those memories were better left hidden.
THE COAL TORPEDO by Blake Fontenay. Master detective/spy, Allan Pinkerton visits Andrew Johnson shortly after he takes office. He wants to tell him a story about three people: Noah Baggett, Caleb Slayback, and Lucy Wright, three friends who grew up together, and did their part during the Civil War, one of them becoming a mass murderer, and requesting that the President help bring him to justice.
GIVING BLOOD by Jon Jefferson. Preston Holloman ran over George Hartley’s wife a year ago, leaving her to die on the side of the road. His rich parents got him off. But now he’s in the hands of George, who wants a life for a life. He takes him to a Blood Bank for a complete donation. Will the nurse allow it? After all, this is a rare blood he’s bringing her, and Holloman is definitely evil. What would we do?
SHUTTER SPEED by Anne Perry. It’s 18 years after WWI, and England is in turmoil, some groups believing Hitler is a man of peace, while other groups are against him. Jenny McAllister is in the group suing for peace with Germany, holding hope for Hitler. Unknown to her, Intelligence agents have infiltrated her group, and one of them is killed. She had filmed the fight in the dark, and her pictures are blank, except for a small light that she dismisses. Could it reveal the murderer in her group?
HE’LL KILL AGAIN by Heywood Gould. At O’Meara’s bar one night, a janitor from the college sees a man try to kill someone during a bar brawl, but an old man saves his life. Now the janitor feels the killer will strike again, this time killing the next victim. He tries to establish that fact with Detective McVickers, but the officer doesn’t seem to believe him. But maybe something else is going on?
LULLABIES AND LIGHTNING STORMS by Dana Chamblee Carpenter. Sybil is a Bubble girl in the town of Gideon. Her mother cares for her while researchers study her. Town folks come to ask questions, but are frightened by her revelations. A moral tale.
THE KEEPSAKE by Mary Burton. CSI Georgia Morgan, and Homicide Detective Jake Bishop meet at the lounge where Grace Duvall was murdered years ago. Joining them is Grace’s daughter, Emily, and Grace’s husband, Lance, to discuss the cold case file. But everyone already knows who the murderer is, it’s just unwrapping the clues.
PEACE, SOMETIMES by Jaden Terrell. Adrienne Cooper is the lawyer for Waylon Bayard, convicted murderer. Meeting at the psychiatrist’s office, the convict takes Adrienne hostage, leaving the guards secured in the office, taking her with him. But things aren’t exactly as they seem, and tables are turned when they reach a prepared hideout. The plot is easy to figure out, but a good one, nevertheless. I read the author’s novel, A RIVER OF GLASS, and loved it also. (Reviewed under Virginia E. Johnson).
A MATTER OF HONOR by Robert Dugoni & Paula Gail Benson. Sera Aimsley Sims is in the Civil War enactment. One member asks to meet her in a secluded place, but when she arrives someone knocks her over the head. Coming to, she finds the body of the person she was to meet. Killed by Civil War era cap-and-ball round from an antique weapon. Agent B.A. Azevedo learns that a small-time drug pusher was recently killed the same way. Are the cases connected, between high society and the drug world?
SAD LIKE A COUNTRY SONG by Eyre Price: Jimmie Dallas’s career is going nowhere unless he finds that perfect song to catapult him into stardom. When he hears young John Scott West, the Golden Boy, singing that perfect song, he thinks he’s found the solution, even if it means murder. But he doesn’t know he has to deal with the devil.
SECOND THOUGHTS by Steven James: Melissa, raped by three men while a woman watched, now wants her boyfriend to obtain vengeance for her. He does, but feels remorse with each death, until the last one. Does the woman deserve death?
THE VIRGO AFFAIR by Daco: CIA Agent Jordan Jakes is pretending to work with the Chinese on stealing a laser at NASA. They need to get to the inventor, Dr. Benjamin Johnson, who also owns a popular bar. Jordan’s Chinese contact, Jiang, is on hand to watch that she accomplishes the mission. Meanwhile, another group is after the scientist also, and things get a little spooky at the bar one night when things start happening. I would love reading the novels featuring Agent Jordan Jakes.
SAVAGE GULF by Clay Stafford: A complicated love triangle. Supposedly Jack and Heather are planning on murdering Jack’s wife, Marjorie, for her money. Heather’s husband had died leaving her his money. Jack and his partner set up the plan. He’s Jack’s alibi, while Jack and Heather murder Marjorie. But someone else has made other plans.
These short stories were a lot of fun, each different, well thought out, and the best-edited anthology I’ve read in awhile. I love short stories, and these were just right. Highly recommended for mystery lovers.

Tom Johnson
Detective Mystery Stories