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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 fadingshadows40@gmail.com

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

HILI

HILI is a science fiction about abduction and contact with intelligent extraterrestrial life. The theme is not new for fans of the genre, but the book also talks about the limits of sanity and what a person is able to do to preserve her life and the existence of her race.
With many surprises and twists throughout the narrative, HILI begins with the traditional method of abduction. Madison DeMarco, a former top model, disappears from her mountain cabin after spotting a strange light in the sky. Madison wakes up in a metallic room and with her is a man who, although attractive, has an almost inhuman appearance.
After the initial shock, Madison learns why she is in that spaceship, and where she is going. Besides been taken from her planet, she later discovers that things are not exactly as they seem and she will have to face a great danger in the ship to survive.


Hili (SF)
By Lu Evans
Independent Publishing Platform
ISBN # 978-1979848831
Price $6,99 (Paperback)
Price $0.99 (Kindle)
145 Pages
Rating 4-Stars

Madison  DeMarco’s husband has just asked her for divorce, and she is angry and heading for her cabin in the hills. Madison is a famous model, and drives a Ferrari GT4, and she’s burning up the road. Arriving at the cabin she no sooner settles in than a bright light appears overhead and she blacks out. When she awakens, Madison discovers a space alien has abducted her and they are headed for his world where she will become the queen of the world, and mate of the alien.

The alien is the last of his kind. For the last five thousand years or so, he has been cloning his body until he is now the perfect specimen of man – large, muscular, and extremely handsome. He is known as Etana – or more exactly, Lord Etana. He claims to be the only person on the ship, and calls her by the pet name of Hili, but Madison senses another creature in the shadows, one that is small and thin, and knows that Lord Etana has been lying to her. But what could be at the bottom of those lies?

This was a wonderful and unique tale. Madison talks to herself, which is quite humorous at times. Plus Etana also abducted her Ferrari and added AI to it, so the car can now talk to her. She does discover the thing in the shadows is a female robot named Hili, which causes more problems between her and Lord Etana, since the robot has been Etana’s companion for thousands of years. Etana is a cyborg, half man, half machine, and she may not be the only Earth woman he has abducted. Things spiral out of control for both Madison and Etana, and drastic measure must be taken.

The writing was extremely odd, as if English is not the first language of the author. Words are missing from sentences. The use of “on” and “in” is often at odds with what it should be. And “being” usually comes in as “been”. I would say it was poorly edited, but a lot of more advanced words are okay. Either English is a second language for the author, or she used an interpreter who is not proficient in English. Whatever the case, the story is still good, and I highly recommend it for SF readers.

Tom Johnson

Author of THESE ALIEN SKIES

Saturday, January 19, 2019

The Legend of Black Dove

An African orphan raised as the protege of a right-wing vigilante in the 80s, returns to New York City twenty years after a supernatural entity killed his mentor, to help the daughter of a slain hero cop track a faceless killer.


The Legend of Black Dove (Superhero Prose)
By Mallon Khan
Independent Publishing Platform
ISBN #978-1720331063
Price $12.95 (Paperback)
182 Pages
Rating 3-Stars

In this confusing tale nothing is as it seems. The story begins as two heroes, White Falcon and Black Dove invade what they believe is a Satanist group performing the sacrifice of a beautiful girl to bring a Demon among them. A monster does appear and kills White Falcon, Black Dove’s mentor. Black Dove attempts to save the girl, but instead it’s she that saves him. Dubbed the DOB (Disciples of Baphomet) Murders, a local cop, Detective Victor Rodriquez is also killed. Two decades later, his daughter, Cynthia Rodriquez is now a detective, and when the killings start again, she wants to investigate the murders, but her lieutenant, Greg Wells, says no. She will investigate on her own to bring closure to her dead father. Black Dove returns to the scene after spending time in Nigeria, as he wants to help Cynthia.

The story is confusing, and names change for no reason. A group of killers appear in the current time targeting the original nine masked villains at the beginning of the story. Their leader is called Levy, sometimes Ze, and is from the past. With Levy there is a giant and a midget, and a Japanese girl name Hisa, and they are after the Disciples of Baphomet. Or how about this: He heard the sound of a six-shooter and knew six rounds had been fired? Really? Rounds go pop, pop, pop, and he could distinguish a six-shooter from another gun? Amazing.

Spoiler Alert: In the end, we are told the truth and the confusion is replaced with chaos. There were no Satanists. Just rich bankers who had bought an alien monster from the Army. They knew White Falcon thought himself an arm of God, and would crash an organization worshiping Satan, so set the fake party up to trap White Falcon, then bring their alien monster in to kill the hero. Levy is the young prostitute they were torturing (her name is Jessica Morris). She almost died in the resulting fire, but lived and plotted the deaths of the nine DOB members. In the end, everyone dies, except Cynthia Rodriquez who wasn’t around in the final confrontation. The alien monster took over Black Dove’s body and merged with him, and they live beneath the ground, away from military control and everyone else.

Personally, I thought this novel wasn’t worth three stars. It was too confusing throughout the story. A drug addict gives Cynthia a clue, a Monarch butterfly. It appears the DOB nine want to go by the name Monarch for some reason. The clue was as dumb as most of the story. And truthfully, Cynthia could have been left out of the story and she wouldn’t have been missed. At one point Black Dove calls Lt. Wells, Sparrow, which makes him a behind the scenes hero, I guess. And Edmund White’s (White Falcon) chauffeur and man servant, Nasir Dajani (Muslim) is Gray Crow, another hero. Black Dove is black, of course. Did I mention all the profanity? This is a comic book prose novel, and leaves the story open for a sequel, in which we will learn if Black Dove will remain a hero, or be a villain now that he is merged with the alien creature. There is no way I can recommend this book, it just wasn’t worth it.

Tom Johnson

Author of THESE ALIEN SKIES

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Dangerous Aliance

United Nations’ sanctions are crippling North Korea. China has turned her back on her malevolent partner. The North Korean military machine is crumbling, unable to function. Oil reserves are minimal and the government seeks new alliances.
Cargo and tourist ships are disappearing along the Somali and Kenyan coastline at an alarming rate. Speeches abound, but inaction emboldens Al-Shabab to seek their next prize: Kenya. The terror organization controls land but requires weapons.
Bedlam Bravo team leader Colonel Trevor Franklin (Ret.) leads the small international team into East Africa. Tempers flare as the team is embroiled in a political quagmire. The axis must be stopped to avert an international crisis but at what cost?


Dangerous Alliance (International Thriller)
By Randall Krzek
Independent Publishing Platform
ISBN # 978-1730912412
409 Pages
Price $18.99 (Paperback)
Price $4.99 (Kindle)
Rating 4-Stars

While a North Korean politico is attempting to trade weapons for oil with Somalia pirates, England has put together the Bedlam Bravo team to ride ships hoping to stop pirates from capturing ships and holding them for ransom. But there is a lot more going on in this international intrigue than meets the eye.

The author’s writing style captures the reader from the first page to the final end when everything comes together nicely. My only complaint, and it’s a minor one, for its length the story was slow and easy to put down when I should have been reading. For over 400 pages you need a lot of action to keep the reader interested. The viewpoint switches too often, breaking up sequences that should have been followed through. There’s nothing wrong with switching viewpoints, though I wasn’t all that interested in the pirates’ viewpoint, and felt the over all story slowed when viewpoints jumped around. There’s not enough action early on. Oh, the Bedlam Team trains in maneuvers of taking hostages from terrorists on ships to help with their real job in the future with pirates, but the training seems too pat, and we know the real thing is never as easy as the training. Training is a necessity, but you must train for every scenario to be efficient in any given task, and people get killed when real bullets are flying. However, the intrigue cannot be overlooked, and I highly recommend this international thriller.

Tom Johnson
Author of ASSIGNMENT NINA FONTAYNE

Saturday, January 12, 2019

The Spider Slaughter, Incorporated

Originally slated to appear in The Spider Magazine in the 1940s, "Slaughter, Incorporated" was ultimately shelved when that magazine was cancelled. Never before published directly from author Donald G. Cormack's original manuscript, this edition has been faithfully reconstructed as an exact copy of the never-published February 1944 issue of The Spider Magazine, complete with vintage interior illustrations. In addition, The Spider: Slaughter, Incorporated (Facsimile Edition) marks the first publication of the never-before-published lost Red Finger story, "Red Finger and the Murder Trio," penned by Arthur Leo Zagat. Also including a story by longtime Spider author, Norvell Page. Rounded out by an introduction by Spider scholar, Will Murray, The Spider: Slaughter, Incorporated (Facsimile Edition) is the most important pulp publication of the year.


The Spider Slaughter, Incorporated (Pulp Reprint)
By Grant Stockbridge (Donald G. Cormack)
Altus Press www.altuspress.com
ISBN #978-1618273178
Price $19.95 (Paperback)
96 Pages
Rating 5-Stars

This was the last Spider novel written in 1943 for Popular Publications, scheduled for publication February 1944. It was obvious that PP had decided to drop the series, as the main author, Norvell Page, was working for the government now. They had hired Donald G. Cormack to write the final entry, but the series ended before Slaughter, Incorporated was published. There wasn’t much of a plot; it was all about the ending. The Spider and Richard Wentworth in a fight to the death. It was a plot to kill The Spider once and for all, and as the story ends we see The Spider dead and Richard Wentworth standing victorious above him. Even Police Commissioner Kirkpatrick buys the finale. I had read this story years ago when Robert Weinberg published it in paperback under the title of Blue Steel.

It took many years, but Altus Press has finally published this important novel in the style of the old pulp magazines, including interior artwork, with short stories in the back pages. One of the short stories is an unpublished Red Finger story that was rejected during the pulp period, Red Finger And The Murder Trio, so readers are not getting just one unpublished story, but two in this lost volume featuring The Spider. There is also a Norvell Page and Wayne Rogers short story in the back. This book is a must for any pulp fan, and highly recommended.

Tom Johnson

Author of THE BLACK BAT COMPANION

Sunday, January 6, 2019

Complete Adventures of The Domino Lady

“Compliments of the Domino Lady!” In order to avenge the murder of her father, socialite Ellen Patrick donned a domino mask, an evening dress and packed a .45. Running for six rare stories in mid-1930s pulp magazines, these stories remain elusive. Now, these are collected in an affordable edition, complemented by an all-new Afterword by pulp historian Tom Johnson.


Complete Adventures of The Domino Lady (Pulp Reprint)
By Lars Anderson
Altus Press www.altuspress.com
ISBN #978-1618273581
Price $19.95
176 Pages
Rating 5-Stars

This beautiful volume produced by ALTUS PRESS reprints the complete run of six issues of this popular pulp heroine; only the second masked heroine to fight crime on her own merits. Yes, there were several women detectives in the pulps, as well as the women who fought beside their men, like The Spider’s Nita Van Sloan, or The Shadow’s Mira Reldon, etc. In this volume are: The Domino Lady Collects; The Domino Lady Doubles Back; The Domino Lady’s Handicap; Emeralds Aboard; Black Legend; and The Domino Lady’s Double. The exciting cover is from the November 1936 issue of Mystery Adventure Magazine, which contained The Domino Lady’s Double.

The Domino Lady is in reality, a young socialite named Ellen Patrick. When her father, District Attorney Owen Patrick is murdered, Ellen dons a black domino mask and goes after the criminals of the city. She’s smart, sexy, and carries a .45 automatic, and a syringe containing a knockout serum.

The six novelettes have interesting plots, and Ellen Patrick follows in the footsteps of Johnston McCulley’s The Masked Lady from 1921, the first woman to wear a mask and evening dress to go after criminals more than a decade before The Domino Lady. Personally, I don’t know why The Domino Lady wasn’t given her own magazine, and a longer run? The stories were a lot of fun. New pulp authors have certainly carried her over in modern day pulpy action, though they have her jumping in bed with any and everyone. They really need to read the original stories to get a real feel for the character. With this collection it is possible to finally read the series in one setting, and I highly recommend this book to pulp fans, and future Domino Lady scribes. Now you can read the real Domino Lady.

Tom Johnson

Author of The Man In The Black Fedora