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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, February 20, 2012

TOM&M V4 Review By JoAnna Senger

Tales of Masks and Mayhem v. 4
Edited by Ginger Johnson

 During and after World War II, pulp fiction captured the imagination of the America public with its clear distinction between good guys and bad guys with nothing less than the safety of the Western world at stake.  Most stories take place in a gritty American metropolis.

The protagonists are men (usually) of action, all-but-impervious to physical pain, and single-minded in their determination to rid society of dangerous undesirables.  Unencumbered by domesticity, they are wealthy or have no need of paid employment for some other reason.  When fighting crime or Nazis, they must conceal their identity.  Villains usually die in a hail of bullets.

Ginger Johnson has assembled five stories of varying lengths which celebrate the genre.  Like planets circling the sun, the stories share a literary focus but are sufficiently varied to make each story distinct and worthy of exploration.

“The Hooded Hunter” by Maxentius Andor Scarlatti proceeds at a breakneck pace without excessive backstory.  The interaction of the Hooded Hunter with the Texas Rangers was particularly fascinating, and this reviewer arrived at the end feeling vicariously exhausted.  A real adventure!

“Peril of the Prophet” by Lamont Wentworth departs from the genre through a female central character, a reporter, and a mysterious nun who appears at unexpected moments.  The protagonist, the Masked Avenger, and the famous special rings worn by his allies were celebrated in Woody Allen’s movie Radio Days.  Taking a real physical beating, the Masked Avenger hasn’t lost his touch.

“The Crimson Mask’s Justice” by Frank Johnson varies the theme by introducing us to a kindly father-figure pharmacist who is, in fact, the crime-fighter known to law enforcement as the Crimson Mask.  This plot cleverly entwines politics, a famous necklace, and the double-cross leaving the reader hanging on by the fingernails, still surprised by the ending.

“His Master’s Voice – A Doc Atlas Adventure” by Raymond L. Lovata and Michael A. Black takes place behind enemy lines in Germany rather than in an American city.  The authors are particularly adept at taking the reader through the Nazi medical experiment lab deep in a stone castle on a mountaintop.  The Golden Avenger, Doc Atlas, works with the United States military to thwart the brilliant but evil Dr. Von Strohm.

“Partners in Crime” by Tom Johnson treats the reader to a most unique protagonist: The Black Cat, not only a woman but also a thief.  Her prowess with weaponry including archery and knife throwing make her formidable in combat without the need to throw a punch.  She may be the most devious and ethically flexible of all the crime fighters.  In this story, the shortest in the anthology, the author has created an exceptionally nuanced crime fighter.  The reader is swept along with both plot and protagonist.

As the years go by, there are fewer and fewer people who can tap into personal memories of the American culture as it was in the heyday of pulp fiction.  This reviewer wants to thank Ms. Johnson and all the writers for continuing this uniquely American literary tradition.

Review by JoAnna Senger 

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