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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

Friday, October 31, 2014

Fading Shadows Presents NEW PULP

Fading Shadows Presents
Edited By Tom & Ginger Johnson

NOT FOR SALE. This anthology of New Pulp novels is collected for--and available to-- a few close friends in hope of keeping the stories on file for the future. Currently, each story is available for sale in their original publication, as long as those copies exist. But once they are gone, the stories may be lost forever.

The victims died with their faces eaten away by a mysterious, insidious power. A fiendish mastermind had decreed these ghastly murders--and, guarded by an army of killers, he thought himself safe from retribution. But a strange grey shape glided through the shadows, sworn to bring justice to . . . THE FLESH-DESTROYERS  (features the Night Star) By Steve Mitchell

Sneering, Talking Skeletons, Formally Clad, Prophesy Doom For Members of The Swank, Exclusive Aegis Club, Turning It Into . . . THE CRIME CLUB a Complete Adventure of The Visage By Shawn Danowski.

CARNIVAL OF DEATH, a complete adventure of The Black Ghost By Tom Johnson. When a new menace rears its ugly head in his Great City, The Black Ghost finds that he may be up against an old enemy. One that refuses to stay dead! But why is Spider back, and who – or what – is Cipher, the team of ex soldiers that accompany her? And why is an agent of British Intelligence on the case? Plus, it seems the British government may know the identity of the intrepid fighter in black!

Thursday, October 30, 2014

End Of Life Planning

End Of Life Planning

End of life planning may sound macabre, but we should all think about it. Ginger and I are basically alone now. Our son and his family live in Kansas, and will likely never return to Seymour, and our immediate families are now gone. Only distant relatives live nearby, and none are truly close. My dad was a cowboy and cook, and we lived an itinerant lifestyle, moving from place to place over the years. I attended three different grade schools, one junior high, and two high schools, making few lifelong friends. Ginger was born in a small farm and ranch community also, and then after we married, travelled all over the US with me. Although we returned to the area we were from, retiring in Seymour, my birthplace, it was decided we would be buried in Ginger’s hometown. Thus, we purchased our plots and headstone in Goree, Texas, where her family is buried.

Now don’t get me wrong, we’re still not ready to be laid to rest, but someone has to make the arrangements for our final resting place, and who better than ourselves? Our son will inherit our property, and all my pulp, paperback, and digest magazine collection; what he will do with any of it, no one knows. On the humorous side, as a twenty-year military veteran, I am well trained in evade and escape, and I’ve already figured my way of escaping from that place! Although Ginger told me to forget it, she was paying for a concrete cover after we’ve been put under – sigh. Clicking on pictures will enlarge them.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Hold On!


Two lovers! A deadly conspiracy! A race to freedom! 

When Carringby Industries, a government-contracted arms manufacturer, is raided by what appear to be terrorists, the CEO’s secretary, Belinda Reese, is rescued by Brandon Drake, a dashing young AWOL soldier. Using an experimental test aircraft, he flees with her to his remote, isolated cabin in the mountains of Aspen. 

While assisting in the design of military weaponry, Brandon discovered a plot within his own government to attack its own facilities, under the guidance of immoral politician, Senator Garrison Treadwell. Belinda’s body was not found among the dead at Carringby Industries, and Treadwell suspects that Drake was responsible for rescuing her. In an effort to entrap him, Treadwell arranges for an all points bulletin to be placed on Belinda. 

Deeply in love, Brandon and Belinda attempt to escape from America, only to endure one harrowing experience after another as they try to evade and expose Treadwell’s corrupt faction. 

But on the run, with danger around every corner, Brandon makes a discovery so devastating that it shatters the very foundations of his reality.

Hold On (Romantic Suspense Thriller)
By Peter Darley
Soul Mate Publishing
ISBN #978-1619355026
Price $2.99
290 Pages
Rating 5-Stars

Belinda Reese, a secretary for Carringby Industry, a company with military contracts, is waiting for quitting time when masked men come into the building with military efficiency; start shooting everybody, then set bombs to destroy the building. She has hidden in the bathroom, and now tries to escape through the engulfing fire. A figure appears suddenly through all the smoke, and takes her to safety, but from then on life becomes a dangerous peril. Her rescuer, Brandon Drake, an AWOL soldier, hides them from rogue government agents, while attempting to foil their attacks against America.

This was an exciting read, with plenty of action, some chapters ending in cliffhangers, and amazing escapes. It even took me by surprise when Brandon is called The Scorpion, and a chapter heading is titled “Sting of The Scorpion”, oddly the name of a new pulp character, and coincidentally title of the first novel, by Warren Stockholm (the pseudonym of a woman author). My one major complaint with the story is that it ends on a cliffhanger. Stories should have a beginning, middle, and end, and I felt cheated. I don’t care if there is a sequel; I want a story to conclude, then bring on your sequel. However, I understand this was written as a television cliffhanger series, so it makes sense. The writing is good, and the story is topnotch, so anyone looking for a novel that will keep you turning the pages, this one will satisfy you. Highly recommended, if you can accept the cliffhanger ending.

Tom Johnson
Detective Mystery Stories


         [Belinda] dropped to the floor and pushed the door open only to be met with a wall of flame, causing her to instinctively recoil. She gave herself a moment to compose herself before seizing a break in the fire. 
Darting to the left, she found herself in the maintenance stairwell.
Below her was an inferno. It wasn’t possible for her to go back down. 
In a desperate effort to escape the fire, she ran up the steps, but the smoke continued to engulf her. 
By the time she’d reached the next flight of stairs, only a few steps from where she’d started, she fell to her knees in a coughing fit. Her eyes stung, watering from the smoke, but she persisted. 
Despite her initial determination, she became convinced she wasn’t going to make it. She couldn’t see anything ahead of her, and her consciousness was slipping away . . .
She thought she could see a dark shape coming down the stairwell toward her, through the smoke. As it came closer, she could make out a human decked-out in black. It has to be one of them, she thought. 
Through her squinted eyes, she could see he wore a shiny black helmet, similar to the type worn on a motorcycle, although far less bulky. It seemed to cover his head with a slender, streamlined fit, and there was a reflective visor covering his face. 
In her weakened condition, she resigned herself to the belief that she was going to die. The fight was leaving her, and smoke inhalation stole her consciousness. She couldn’t be certain whether or not she was dreaming the man in the black helmet. 
And then, she felt strong, gentle hands cradling her face for just a moment. “P-please don’t kill me,” she mumbled.
“I’m not going to kill—” 
Belinda passed out.
She woke without a sense for how long she’d been out. Had she been unconscious for seconds? Or days? Why was everything upside down?
She felt a tight grip on her legs below the knees, and she was moving quickly with a jerking motion. The smoke seemed to clearing, and the blood rushed into her head, bringing her back to consciousness. She saw the white surface of the steps from her inverted position, and she suddenly understood. He was running up the stairwell while carrying her over his shoulder.
Moments later, the ground turned black and she sensed herself being turned upright in the freezing cold. In her dazed state, it took her a few moments to realize that she was outside. 
The stranger knelt down beside her and she shivered. “W-who . . . are you?” she asked.
“Your only way out of here.” 
“Where . . . where are we?”
“We’re on the roof. We can’t go back down. The place is a torch.”
Belinda couldn’t place his tone, but there was a masculine depth to it that was genuine and sincere.
“Please, trust me,” he implored her. “Can you stand up?”
“Y-yes, I think so,” she said, but her coughing resumed.
He waited for the attack to abate before speaking again. “I’m going to get you out of here. There’s only one way.” 
As he helped her to her feet, she realized how high up they were with the skyscrapers all around them.
“I need you to listen to me,” he said. “What’s your name?”
“B-Belinda. Belinda Reese,” she answered quivering, and hugged herself tightly against the chilling effects of shock and the brutal February wind.
“All right Belinda, I need you to come over here with me.” He motioned toward the edge of the roof. “There’s nothing to worry about, trust me.”
As a show of good faith, he walked toward the edge before her. Once he was standing on the ledge, he reached out and beckoned her to join him. 
Trembling, she placed one foot in front of the other, but she froze when she saw him taking a gun-like device from his tool-belt. 
“It’s OK,” he said in a reassuring tone. “This isn’t what you think it is. I swear to you on my own life, I’m not going to hurt you.”
With great trepidation, she resumed her steps toward him.
“That’s it,” he encouraged her. “Just a little closer.”
As Belinda stopped inches away from him at the ledge, he aimed the device toward a skyscraper opposite and brought a small targeting sight to eye-level. Although it bore a resemblance to a gun, it didn’t have a barrel, but rather a tennis ball-sized bulb held fast by his palm. 
He depressed a button on the top of the metallic casing and a thin, high-tensile steel cable jettisoned from the nozzle toward the building opposite. The cable reached the other side and a small steel claw at the end of line clasped a maintenance rail in the center of the roof. He pulled on the cable to ensure that it was secured, and stepped away from the edge.
He hurried across to a maintenance stairwell next to the entrance and climbed three steps. Once he was in position, he wrapped the wire around an iron step above him repeatedly. From the height of the roof’s ledge, the step would be approximately twelve inches above his own height. Reaching height. 
With a flick of a switch on top of the bulb, the cable was locked inside the casing.
Belinda watched him, bewildered. “What are you doing?” 
Intensely focused upon his task, he didn’t reply.
He returned to her and took another device from his belt–a black metal tube, approximately fourteen inches in length, from which he pulled out two hand-grips from either side. 
Belinda noticed a small pulley wheel on the underside of the tube, which he clipped onto the wire. He created a zip-line between the two buildings. 
Upon that realization, she panicked, believing that he intended for her to hang from the hand grips and glide across to the adjacent building. “I can’t do this. Please, I’m begging you. I can’t do it.” 
He stepped back up onto the ledge. “You don’t have to. I do. Now, take it steady and join me here.”
She raised her right leg so slowly that she thought she would never put it down, but eventually, the tip of her shoe settled onto the ledge. 
He gently placed his hand upon her shoulder. “All right, now grab hold of me.”
She permitted him to grasp her under her armpits and lift her onto the ledge. She trembled with vulnerability and vertigo. “Oh, God, please don’t let me fall.”
“You’re not going to fall.”
He carefully placed her arms around his chest. She immediately detected the solid base underneath his black, bullet-resistant attire. It was clear that, beyond the Kevlar; he was muscular, heightening her sense of safety with him. With shaking hands, she held onto him for dear life.
He gripped the pulley with his left hand and lifted the visor with his right. Belinda looked into his deep green eyes. He looked exactly the same to her as his voice sounded: strong, but kind. 
The moment ended and he pulled the visor back down into place. 
Holding the right hand grip, he looked at her again and gave her the most unnecessary piece of advice she had ever heard:  “Hold on!”

Link: Give Away

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Review For The Spider's Web

Reviews For THE SPIDER’S WEB by Tom Johnson

Rating: 5-Stars

In 1980, a young Chinese girl becomes involved with a young man connected to the Italian mob. When she becomes pregnant, her father allows the marriage between his daughter and young man, but secretly conspires to separate them as soon as the baby is born. Throwing a big party for his son-in-law, the Tong places his daughter on a ship for China, while the baby is left under the care of the Chinese.

Thirty years later, the young man now runs his own mob, coming under the scrutiny of the city's paladin, a mysterious crime fighter called The Black Ghost. In a deadly gun battle between the hero and gangsters, the mob is wiped out, the mob leader killed during the fight. Seeking revenge, the child, now thirty years old, gathers a new gang to go up against the Black Ghost. Trained in the martial arts from childhood, the new mob leader dons the regalia of a ninja and begins robbing banks and killing citizens randomly, hoping to bring the nemesis to them.

With the city streets running red in blood, The Black Ghost and his aides mount a campaign to stop the ninja's mob. The action is furious, and sometimes quite violent as the Black Ghost matches guns with the gangsters. In a final encounter between The Black Ghost and the ninja, a martial arts battle between the foes ends with only one victor!

When I was asked to review this novel, at first I hesitated. I wasn't that familiar with "Pulp Thriller" as a genre, just remembering the movie, PULP FICTION from a decade ago. I wasn't a fan of the movie, and feared "The Spider's Web" might be a reflection of the movie. However, I had read this author in the past, and have been a big fan of his work for several years, so I promised to look at the book without making a commitment. I was pleasantly surprised by the plot and mystery elements of the story, and the writing style of the author. Plus, I discovered that The Black Ghost was modeled after the Bat Man and The Shadow; I vaguely remembered the Shadow from radio, but I grew up reading Bat Man comics, and was quickly drawn into the story. The characters came alive, and I was not disappointed in the story telling ability of the author. Even with the violence, this story was top notch!

Terry Roberts, Reviewer (SF/Etc At A Glance)

Rating 5-Stars

In The Spider’s Web, Johnson transports the Golden Age of comic books to the modern day: good guys vs. bad guys, unequivocal conflict between the just and the unjust, and characters who act in ways we can admire or disparage untroubled by vexing shades of gray.
The protagonist is the Black Ghost, a vigilante hero whose identity is known to very few. Johnson takes a real chance when he pits the Black Ghost against The Spider, a female antagonist. Having a near-superhero slug it out with a small woman requires that the woman possess exceptional physical skills—and evil. The Spider is every inch worthy of the Black Ghost’s maximum effort, and the reader is swept up by whirlwind combat.
Great read!

JoAnna Senger

Rating 5-Stars

Tom Johnson has a great imagination. I loved the Spider's Web. What makes it superb reading for me is that it is written in the old pulp style of the '30's and '40's. The Spider's Web is a highly recommended read.

Wayne Greenough

Rating 5-Stars

This book is a collection of Tom Johnson's original, modern, pulp hero. Tom has been working in the neo-pulp movement as a publisher and writer (Echoes and related zines). His writings has included new stories of classic characters and stories of new characters.

His Black Ghost character is one of his original characters. Unlike other neo-pulp characters, this character is set in modern times. Another change is that he marries his girlfriend, which was unknown with the pulp heroes who either had no girlfriends, or they were pinning for the time they could retire and settle down. And his now wife helps him out in his activities as the Black Ghost, sometimes disguising herself as the BG to throw off the villians.

The Black Ghost is really young Jimmy Malone. His father was a cop, killed in the line of duty, and his stepfather is a police detective. At a young age, he was trained by an elderly couple, who were retired super spies (these characters are based on a pair of obscure pulp characters. Since Altus Press has reprinted all their stories, with a new one by Johnson, there is little excuse to be ignorant of them). He created the persona of Compere, but the underworld calls him the Black Ghost. He wear an all-black outfit, carries guns, and has other items to scare and throw off his foes, as well as being an expert fighter. In many ways he is an attempt at creating an original, Shadow-like pulp hero.

This book collects 2 stories. One is "Black Ghost", when the character was a kid. This was a combination of 4 early stories into a single novelette. The 4 stories appeared in issues of "Pulp Fiction Magazine", while the novelette appeared in an issue of Tom Johnson's "Classic Pulp Fiction Stories". While not quite an 'origin' story, but more of a 'young Black Ghost' story, which also explains how he met those old ex-spies.

The "The Spider's Web" is a long story that fills most of the volume. Not sure if this is long enough to be a novel, maybe a novela. It is a sequel to one of the stories in the first Black Ghost collection ("Guns of the Black Ghost"). We have the Black Ghost go up against a very strong foe, whose identity is not known (there are a couple of red herrings). And he adds to his network of agents. Its clear that this story leaves it open to further Black Ghost stories. I look forward to it.

Now for some negatives. There are a couple. One is I saw a few typos, something I see too much with the small presses. The second is the cover. When I first saw the book at Tom Johnson's website, I wasn't interested in the book, not realizing it was a Black Ghost work. At least some text to say "A Black Ghost Adventure" might have helped.

Michael R. Brown