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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

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Bones of Brooklyn

Bones of Brooklyn continues the saga of Howard "Windows" Fenster, the reluctant gangster extraordinaire. In Debasements of Brooklyn, Howie fights his way out of Sheepshead Bay, using insights gleaned from his father's collection of Penguin Classics and an automatic handgun provided by his late boss Vinnie Five-Five. Accompanied by his girl Ariel, they mean to make a brief stop at her studio in Greenwich Village before they escape to points west, north, south or east, anywhere out of the murderous precincts of non-gentrified Brooklyn. But inertia and post-traumatic stress nail them in place. Howie grows a top-knot and finds Bohemian cafĂ©, while Ariel loses herself in the enticing winter scenes painted inside the Grey Goose bottle. It doesn't take long for Pauli Bones, Howie's psychopathic patron, to track him down. Howie owes Pauli, and Pauli needs Howie because war decimated the old crew and his new crew consists of inept second stringers and unreliable mercenaries. The journey to self-discovery brings Howie to the very point where he started, this time with a new awareness of his powers. Shock and disappointment overwhelm Howie when he learns just how skilled a gangster he is. Pauli Bones, Rose Spoleto (widow of Vinnie Five-Five,) and the Slavic Goddess Alexandra Rachmaninoff all rely on his professional competence to take care of business. Is this it for Howie? Is his dream of living the life of the mind over for good? Can Ariel, whose career in marketing is only tangentially related to extortion and murder, adjust to Howie's new/old life? And if she can, can Howie still love her if he loathes the gangster in himself? The answer to these questions may not satisfy Howie, but they will amuse and horrify everyone else.

Bones of Brooklyn (Mob Fiction)
By Ira Gold
The Permanent Press
ISBN #978-1579625269
208 Pages
Price $25.60 (Hardback)
Rating 3-Stars

Jewish gangster, Howard Fenster and his girlfriend Ariel, between sexual romps, decide to leave Brooklyn. However, Pauli Bones has other plans for him. Pauli, a mob boss without top men under him, wants Howard to kill Russian, Ivan Rachmaninoff. Howard owes Pauli, but he doesn’t want to kill the Russian.

The publisher sent me a copy for an honest review. I think this novel was supposed to be funny, but I found it anything but comical. The sex and profanity running throughout the story left little time for good world building, and I just couldn’t relate to any of the characters. I’m sure it will bring smiles to many, but I found it crude and of little interest.

Tom Johnson

Sunday, November 18, 2018

No Victory Without Scars

A crusading reporter out to prove her worth. A burgeoning hero in denial about his.
When a Mob Boss is gunned down by police, Daily Crusader reporter Vicky Rose is the only one who suspects he was unarmed. Desperate to justify her promotion to the crime beat, her search for the truth leads her into a cesspool of corruption deeper than she ever imagined.
Brent Gregor, his existence as The Black Spectre still a deeply-held secret, only wants to use his newfound powers to win back what he has lost. And to take revenge on those who took it from him.
Both face unexpected consequences that could cost them their lives. And both have to decide if what they wanted was actually worth the price.
No Victory Without Scars is the second book in the Black Spectre Origins series, detailing the rise of the masked pulp hero The Black Spectre. If you like Agent Carter, the Rocketeer, and The Dark Knight, then you’ll love Roger Alford’s gritty noir mystery that effortlessly combines new pulp with a classic 1930s style.

No Victory Without Scars (Pulp Action)
By Roger Alford
Black Hood Press
ISBN # 978-1949352016
177 Pages
Price $9.99 (Paperback)
Price $3.99 (Kindle)
Rating 5-Stars

All of the regular players we met in the first novel are back. Brent Gregor goes to California to welcome Abigail’s return from a world event flight only to discover to his sadness that she is now married. Meanwhile, back in Terminal City the mob still rules the city and the police. Upon his return, Brent decides it’s time to stop mob boss, Big Jack Torrisimo, and donning the cloak and hat of The Black Spectre he invades the new nightclub where the mob has gathered. Unfortunately, his automatics are no match for the mob’s machine-guns, and Brent is almost killed in the gun battle. He’s hidden in Chinatown at the end of the story where he remains between life and death. Redheaded reporter, Vicky Rose is forced to work the society page while she recovers from the ordeal at the Asylum, and misses out on the big battle.

This is a fun series, character driven, with lots of mob activity. Our hero, The Black Spectre is still trying to understand his new powers, and how to successfully battle the mob with all their firepower. Highly recommended.

Tom Johnson
Author of THE COBRA

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Angkor Cloth Angkor Gold

Cambodia, An ancient Kingdom of Wonder. After the devastation of the Khmer Rouge regime, hundreds of thousands of refugees – victims and Khmer Rouge soldiers – flee into Thailand as the Vietnamese invade Cambodian in 1979. In the disorder of one refugee camp, a killer targets young women. But with so much chaos in the camps, nothing is done and no one seems to care. With many refugees expatriated to France, the killer is among them, and continues to strike, in Paris and across Europe. Three decades later, and two murders in Phnom Penh have the same modus operandi as those previous deaths. Could it be the same killer? Can Brigadier General Chamreun and Lieutenant Sophie Chang discover the murderer's identity before they claim another victim?

Angkor Cloth Angkor Gold (Murder Mystery)
By Steven W. Palmer
Saraswati Publishing Cambodia
Price $5.99 (Kindle)
196 Pages
Rating 5-Stars

Cambodia, 2017: The Minister calls in Brigadier General Hoen Chamreun, a young military man, and introduces him to young police officer, Sopheak Chang. They are being assigned to a recent murder case that may involve the killer of the Minister’s sister four decades earlier. The killer is targeting young Khmer prostitutes, and the modus operandi matches murders committed in Cambodia, Thailand refugee camps, France, and Italy. The minister’s sister was not a prostitute, but also killed by the same person. And he wants closure, and the murderer brought to justice.

This was an interesting case, both a current homicide and a cold case investigation, and the investigators dig into the background of the old murders, hoping to find some clue that will tie the person to the current murders. Chamreun is an experienced soldier who has made a name for himself and his unit, and now working with Sophie, a Cambodian that was raised in America and trained as a homicide detective before returning to Cambodia. Both are experienced and want to bring the case to a close.

Readers are cautioned to pay attention to the dates. I didn’t and was confused through half the story until I decided to go back and look at the dates. The investigators bring in Sue Chapman from Interpol, plus use a computer hacker to help uncover records not easily obtainable, and correlate lists of names into a possible list of suspects. The narrative has two main POVs, that of the murderer, and that of Chamreun, but head hop a few times to Sophie and Sue Chapman. I’ve read numerous murder stories set in Cambodia and Thailand, all set in the sex industry, but this novel is more in-depth than mere sex. It goes deeper into the criminal mind and why the killer is targeting prostitutes. The title gives us a clue, but I won’t go into that. Too much detail could give the story away. There is a nice twist at the end of the story. Highly recommended.

Tom Johnson

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Road Games and Other Weird Tales

This short story collection is a cocktail of one part Twilight Zone, one part Tales from the Crypt, one part Outer Limits with a splash of just plain weird then blended together smoothly to satisfy the eclectic reader's perusal palate.
Lickety Split: Murder and mayhem kicks off this collection when desperate Coaly Banks strikes an outrageous deal to shed some unwanted pounds.
Life Form: Brenda Vascar and Daniel Bankum make a terrifying discovery in deep space while on the run.
Them: A group of restaurant patrons take matters into their own hands when they discover that space aliens may be right here in their little town.
The Killing Kind: Don't take rides with strangers. Ever.
The Same Old Nightmare: Wake. Work. Sleep. Repeat.
Boucherie: The LAPD takes on some of the most iconic monsters of Hollyweird.
The Agency: Give that guy an Oscar! This is an old, washed—up Hollywood star's last shot.
Lint: Who, or what, is lurking in the shadows of the basement of the Glendale Hotel?
Cracked: Coaly Banks faces her demons once again.
Road Games: With no job, a bleak future, Nathan Wilder is on a path that quickly turns into a deadly game of cat and mouse.

Road Games and Other Weird Tales (Horror & Imaginative Tales)
By Marlin Williams
Independent Publishing Platform
ISBN # 978-1977513854
Price $8.47 (Paperback)
Price $2.99 (Kindle)
314 Pages
Rating 5-Stars

This short story collection contains ten stories of road adventures through The Twilight Zone. The first, Lickety Split features a fat woman whishing to instantly dissolve all that fat and become a skinny chick again. When she signs a contract with Lickety Split, she does just that, but she should have read the contract first!
         Life Form is our second short story, and this time we visit the spaceways. When an asteroid slams into their space ship Daniel doesn’t have time to alert the crew and passengers, he awakens Brenda Vascar and they escape in a pod, but they don’t have enough life support to last for long. Sighting a blip on their screen they wait for it to arrive, hoping it might be their salvation.
         Them is our next entry, and it’s all about old men sitting in a diner talking about flying saucers and little gray men, and what they want here. Suspicion is within each as to just who might be an alien.
         Next up is The Killing Kind.. Gracie meets a handsome young man in the Twilight Lounge. He tells her he writes thrillers, but was out for a walk ad twisted his foot and needed a ride home. During the ride he describes his next thriller, about a young handsome man picking up an older woman for romance, but he kills her instead. Now, she wonders if he isn’t writing her epitaph. 
         The Same Old Nightmare was an odd entry that made little sense, except how we are slaves to things in our life.
         Boucherie is set in Hollywood where weird things happen. A patrol unit dispatched to a district to write tickets actually discover a body and chase the killer. They find two puncture marks on the neck, plus a stake driver into the man’s chest. Odd. They report the murder to their boss and are ordered to their original assignment again, but follow a lead to a nightclub and what appears to be a den of vampires. Following more leads they search an old abandoned house that may be haunted and are attacked by vampires. Then their boss shows up again and they discover there are werewolves in the police department.
         The Agency is ready to collect on an actor’s contract. But the actor isn’t ready to die. There’s still a chance for an Oscar, if all goes right.
         Lint can be a problem, it seems. In an old tenement basement where the laundry room is located, tenants come to do their laundry. Sharon is aware that many apartment dwellers have disappeared, but she figures they left for better places. But could there me another reason for their disappearance – like the lint?
         Cracked. Everyone has a phobia, Coaly Banks is afraid of sidewalk cracks.
         Road Games, the final story in this collection is probably the best of the stories. It’s all about a game of death on the highway conducted by the devil using humans as pawns.
In truth, I love short stories, and prefer them to long novels. This collection was fun to read, and gives us a look at things that go bump in the night – or in this case the bumps are on the roads. Highly recommended.

Tom Johnson
Author of THE COBRA