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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

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Black & White

It's 1959, and Judy Cooper, the Black Stiletto, sets out to confront a dangerous gangster known as the heroin king of Harlem when the teenage daughter of her beloved martial arts instructor ends up a prisoner in an uptown narcotics den. The Stiletto has troubles of her own- a shady filmmaker is threatening to reveal her identity to the world- a close friend of her landlord and substitute father may be in cahoots with the Harlem criminals- she's fighting for racial equality- and she has fallen in love again- this time with an FBI agent who has standing orders to arrest her. Meanwhile the Stiletto's son faces his own blackmail crisis when he finds out that there is a second copy of an 8mm film he found in his mother's strongbox - showing the Black Stiletto unmasked in a film studio dressing room. As he tries to stop the filmmaker's son's extortion plot, he learns that his daughter, Gina, has been brutally assaulted in New York City. The past and the present meet.

Black & White (Pulp Action)
By Raymond Benson
Oceanview Publishing
ISBN #978-1608090419
312 Pages
Price $99.80
Rating 5-Stars

This is the second novel in The Black Stiletto series and it’s 1959, and Judy Cooper is trying to stop a Harlem gangster from bringing drugs in. The Mafia boss, don Franco DeLuca, who has a contract out on her, wants her to work with him in removing his Harlem competition, and he’ll drop the contract. This, after several hit men try to collect on the contract. But when her karate and judo trainer Soichiro Tachikawa is murdered by the black gangster, she goes after the kingpin. In the present day, her son, Martin Talbot finds an 8mm film in the secret closet at the old home in Arlington Heights. The son of the photographer also has a copy of the film, and it captures Judy’s face, and he wants a million dollars for the film. Martin must stop the release of the film while other problems continue to follow him.

This was another nice entry in the series. The Black Stiletto was a costumed vigilante who operated in New York from 1958 to 1963, fighting petty criminals, the Mafia, communist spies, as well as drug lords. Fast-forward to the current time, and 73 year old Judy Talbot, nee Cooper, is in a nursing home suffering from Alzheimer’s. Her son, Martin was not aware of her past until discovering a secret closet in their old home, and finding The Black Stiletto’s black costume and mask, along with her diary telling about her deeds as the masked vigilante. A secret he must keep without fail.

The novel contains lots of action and of fun, and highly recommended to lovers of pulp adventure and masked vigilante fiction.

Tom Johnson


Sunday, August 24, 2014

Reservation Ravaged

Professionalism is one thing, confidence another. A local Indian tribe, the Kanache, asks California P.I. Hermione Daggert to find the man who camped out on their reservation over a year before. Filled with confidence, her qualifying exam behind her, she sees only a find-the-man assignment. How hard can it be? However, over the past year, that section of the reservation has gone from withered and uninhabitable to aggressively hostile. When the land claims the life of a beautiful San Tobino socialite in a fiery car crash, Hermione gets a new client. Her job? Find out why.

Reservation Ravaged (Cozy Mystery)
By JoAnna Senger
ISBN #978-1937769338
Price $11.66
183 Pages
Rating 5-Stars

“Entertaining And Easy Reading.”

The mythical town of San Tobino, California, and characters from “Betrothal, Betrayal, And Blood,“ return in this new mystery. Denning & Daggert Investigations is hired by the Kanache Indian tribe to investigate a possible curse on their land. The land of the reservation appears ravaged, and nothing will grow there except thorny weeds, scorpions, and rattlesnakes. A young boy falls into a ravine, losing a leg in the accident, and the land seems cursed. Newly licensed private investigator, and partner in the investigative company, Hermione Daggert is assigned the case.  Following leads, she discovers that the chief – Broken Drum – had ran a Gypsy family off the land the previous year, and since then their land has been dying, and the accident of the young boy happened. Hermione finds the family, and learns that they did, indeed, place a curse on the reservation. The Kanache accepts her findings and sell the land. The new owner sets up an Institute of Holistic Health school, but more accidents happen. The police think there may be murder involved. Again, Hermione is hired to investigate the new accidents on the land, this time by the new owner.

Hermione was a waitress at Milady’s, the setting of JoAnna’s previous novel, but now works with P.I. Emma Denning, and assisted by police detectives Karl Kelly and Vito Kostowski. The story was easy reading, and the characters interesting, but the mystery unraveled a bit too easy. To be honest there was a lack of suspense, and I’m not sure if the case was actually solved by anyone, or just by dumb luck. However, it was a good mystery, and the writing is superb. Cozy mystery lovers will find it a lot of fun. Highly recommended.

Tom Johnson

Detective Mystery Stories

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Bill Wood

Bill Wood

Bill Wood of Stanford, Texas stopped by Seymour for a book signing on August 14th. The Baylor County Free Library hosted him. Seymour author Tom Johnson stopped by to visit with Bill, and talk about writing and publishing. Bill has three novels in print, “The Circuit Riders”, “The Defenders”, and “And Nothing’s Been The Same Since”. Leta Slaggle, librarian, Baylor Country Free Library, took photographs.
The Circuit Riders

As America began to expand westward, a group of itinerant preachers rode across the plains and mountains to spread the Christian faith. They endured heat and cold, rain and drought, despair and loneliness to fulfill their calling They traveled from town to farm to stage-stop to anywhere people had settled, preaching the Gospel. These saddlebag-preachers spoke to anyone who would listen. They were rugged individuals who allowed neither rough terrain nor menacing weather to sway them from their appointed areas of service. These unsung heroes of the West helped bring true civilization to the American frontier. There would be little or no reward beyond the spiritual. This book is a fictionalized story of three such country preachers on the frontier of Texas and the problems they faced bringing the message of Christ to wilderness areas. Bill Wood was born and raised in a small town in Texas. Since 1975, he has pastored ten country churches in either Texas, Louisiana, or California or taught in a small Christian school... or both at the same time. When not preaching or studying or writing, Bro. Bill enjoys visiting antique stores, festivals, and historical places. He's been known to pick and grin some in church and is partial to anything having to do with the Old West (movies, artwork, decor, clothes, rodeos). Dr. Wood has been described by friends as "an old-fashioned, Southern gentleman with just a touch of John Wayne". In May of 2012, he became the pastor at Central Baptist Church in Stamford, Texas. A graduate of Baylor University in Waco, Texas, and Baptist Christian University in Shreveport, Louisiana, this is Bill's second book to be published through Xulon Press... the first being a fictional account of the birth of Jesus entitled "And Nothing's Been the Same Since".
Bill Wood & Tom Johnson

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

The Papers of Tony Veitch

The Papers of Tony Veitch (Noir Mystery)
By William McIlvanney
Europa Editions
ISBN #978-1609452247
Price $16.00
274 Pages
Rating 5-Stars

“The Formula Is Tough, And So Is Jack Laidlaw.”

Glasgow Detective Inspector Jack Laidlaw is called to the deathbed of Eck Adamson, a old wino he had once befriended. In the hospital he learns that the old man was poisoned, and Eck mumbles something about it being in his wine. Who would kill an old bum that had never harmed anyone? A piece of paper contains a poetic message in an educated writing, while Eck wrote names on the same paper. These names lead Laidlaw and his partner, Detective Constable Brian Harkness into the underworld and to people living in mansions. Is the murder of a gangster and a missing university student tied into the same mystery?

Jack Laidlaw is a maverick within the Glasgow police department, following his own instincts instead of police procedural. Where the police know the names of city streets, Laidlaw knows the city. It is part of him, and he of it. He’s not afraid to venture into the badlands if it will bring him information to a murderer, and he knows the underworld as well as himself.

The author doesn’t just write mysteries, his stories penetrate the lives of the people involved.  Jack Laidlaw is human, he feels the loss of life, the waste of humanity in the dark side streets where men kill, and others struggle to survive.  He’s not perfect, as he is estranged from his own family, and struggles with his own failings. But like a bloodhound, he keeps to the trail until the case is solved, and a killer is brought to justice. Mystery fans will love the Jack Laidlaw noir series.

Tom Johnson

Detective Mystery Stories

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Denver Doll

Denver Doll and Yankee Eisler are a likely pair, both pursuing the scoundrel road-agent John McParland. One is a legendary scrapper and lover, the other is all business. Together they unravel the mystery of an orphan child and her murdered mother. Along the way we encounter Doll's three stooges Walt, Yakie and Chug; femme-fatale the mysterious Mademoiselle Zoe, bumbling reporter Charles Pygmalion Jones, righteous merchant Crystal Carrol and the slimy Valentine Verner. The very existence of the mining town Shining Bar is at risk if Doll and Yankee fail. This volume reprints the original 1882 novel plus a new version updated for modern audiences.

Denver Doll (Dime Novel Mystery)
By Edward Lytton Wheeler & Joseph Lovece
ISBN #978-1499716467
Create Space
Price $10.48
290 Pages
Rating 5-Stars

“A Fun Read.”

When one of Denver Doll’s three sidekicks discover what they think is a murdered woman and a crying baby, they bring the child to their mining camp. Upon returning for the woman’s body they discover it is missing. The case gets more complicated when someone steals the baby from them. Denver Doll, one of the original – if not the first – female detectives in fiction, is after road agent and scoundrel John McParland, who may have the baby. It seems the child is to inherit a huge fortune on a certain date, and must be brought forward by that time. But things aren’t going to be easy for Denver Doll. A crook in Shining Bar also wants the inheritance, and McParland’s pals turn against the road agent, while Yankee is after him for murdering his wife.

This book contains the original Dime Novel version as it was published in 1882, and written by Edward Lytton Wheeler, the author of the popular Deadwood Dick series. It also contains a rewritten version by Joseph Lovece, with modern sensibilities (tightened, and the use of profanities). Although the original Dime Novel version has a number of typos, it was still a lot of fun reading this version. I was a huge fan of the Nick Carter Dime Novels, and though outdated, they were a lot of fun, and so is Denver Doll, the Queen of Detectives. Denver Doll is known as a tough gal, not afraid of anything, and can whip most men; she’s also a master of disguise. Her three pals are also something of a curiosity. Walt Christie is a black man of African descent, while Yakie Strauss is of Dutch-German descent. And then there’s Chug, a Chinaman; these three provide the comedy element to the story – think Three Stooges or Bowery Boys, and you’ll be close. There were only four Denver Doll novels, and they are not easily available. For lovers of early American literature, or just the excitement of pre-modernistic writing, you’ll enjoy Denver Doll and her cohorts. Highly recommended.

Tom Johnson
Detective Mystery Stories