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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, January 31, 2018

The Imam of Tawi-Tawi

Ava has spent two nights luxuriating in a hotel in Yunnan Province with the actress Pang Fai, with whom she has begun a secret relationship. She receives an urgent phone call from Chang Wang, the right hand to the billionaire Tommy Ordonez and one of Uncle’s oldest friends. Years ago, Ava and Uncle helped Tommy recover $50 million in a land swindle.
Uncle Chang asks Ava to fly to Manila to meet with his friend, Senator Miguel Ramirez. Ramirez asks Ava to investigate a college in Tawi-Tawi, an island province in the Philippines, which he suspects is training terrorists. Ava’s investigation leads to a partnership with a CIA agent, and together they attempt to stop an international plot, horrific in size and scope, only to have it turn on them. Ava’s judgment and morals — which Uncle helped her forge — are tested like never before.

The Imam of Tawi-Tawi (International Intrigue)
By Ian Hamilton
ISBN #978-1487002749
Price $10.97 (Paperback)
Price $9.99 (Kindle)
400 Pages
Rating 4-Stars

Uncle Chang Wang calls Ava asking for a favor. A business he and Tommy Ordonez are in with Senator Ramirez in the Philippines are having trouble in Tawi-Tawi, an area heavy populated with Muslims, and the senator feels the Zagat college is training young men for terrorism. The senator connects Ava with a member of the Muslim Brotherhood who will work with her in uncovering the truth. But now that she is no longer in the old business, she no longer has all of her old contacts to access banks. She’s forced to recruit a CIA agent to help here, and this brings American power down on her. She must see the situation through to the end, no matter what the outcome, and her life might even be at stake

I pre-ordered this book, as the synopsis led me to think this would an action-packed adventure with Ava Lee and a CIA agent against a terrorist organization. The writing was still smooth, and the characters interesting, and Ava was very proficient, but I was disappointed in the lack of action. And the Muslims all turned out to be good guys, while the Americans were evil. There is a really big twist at the end, which was nice, but not very logical. The book is called the Triad Years, but this does not include the Triads, though Ava does talk to Xu on the telephone once, so it’s hardly a Triad novel. This is basically Ava Lee and the CIA. Personally, I hope the author brings in more action, if he wants to keep readers following the Ava Lee sagas. She is better than this book shows, in my opinion.

Tom Johnson

Sunday, January 28, 2018

The Velvet Wasp

Noted author H. David Blalock enters the world of New Pulp and masked heroes with THE VELVET WASP, a brand new collection of short stories featuring his own original Pulp Heroine! A nightclub entertainer named Adele Fornost has been found dead, an apparent suicide. Her friend, another entertainer named Diane Green, is convinced that she was murdered and that the Outlander Mob is behind it. Known for racketeering, prostitution, and money laundering, the Outlanders are run by a man known only as Sir. Diane is unable to convince the police to take on the case and decides to take matters into her own hands. Although she is able to get the goods on the Oultlanders, she has to fake her own death to do it. Thus, Diane Green dies, but the Velvet Wasp is born to take flight in four adventures, courtesy of H. David Blalock and Pro Se Productions.

The Velvet Wasp (New Pulp Fiction)
By H. David Blalock
Pro Se Press
ISBN #978-1979273268
Price $14.99 (Paperback)
Price $2.99 (Kindle)
159 Pages
Rating 4-Stars

There are four stories in this volume, running from 1927 to 1934: O Death, Where Is Thy Sting; Stinging Nettle Tea; The Sting of The Saboteur; and The Sting of The Lash. In the first story Diane Green is singing at the Angel Club in Olympus City under the stage name of Charlene. Her roommate is murdered and Diane finds diamonds hidden in Adele’s powder compact, she discovers that the local mob, The Outlanders are behind the murder. With the aide of her boss, the owner of the Angel Club, Walter Evanston, she becomes the Velvet Wasp. In the following stories she and Walt pair up to hunt down killers or solve a murder or crime.

The story was well written despite a few minor editing problems, mostly missing words. The Velvet Wasp grows a little with each story, but that did make the early stories a bit slow. We don’t really see her grow, she just does. We’re told she studied jiu-jitsu and karate, and learned pressure points in order to put people to sleep. But these were all behind the scenes. Men in high city political positions run the Outlanders Mob, but I think the author could have come up with a better sobriquet for the leader than just, Sir. Still, I liked the characters, and the Velvet Wasp reminded me a bit of Domino Lady. Since she was a singer, I kept expecting the Velvet Wasp to use that talent to create a buzz as she enters a room to frighten the crooks, but this never happened, and I was a little disappointed. I do highly recommend this book for those looking for new pulp heroines. I certainly liked The Velvet Wasp.

Tom Johnson

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Doctor Death

Fiend of diabolic genius, Doctor Death, whose calling card was a death warrant, he--and you--meet for the first time Nibs Holloway, baffling "front man" for a jewelry king, whose specialty was crime. A facsimile reprint of the All Detective Magazine Doctor Death stories.

Doctor Death (Pulp Mystery)
By Edward P. Norris
Pulp Tales Press
ISBN #978-1449545130
Price $12.95 (paperback)
150 Pages
Rating 5-Stars

There is a lot of Dime Novel Nick Carter in Nibs Holloway. He is a master of disguise, lightening fast on the draw, and tough as nails. There are five stories in this volume, reprinting the stories that appeared in ALL DETECTIVE MAGAZINE. Doctor Death, July 1934; A Deal In Phonies, August 1934; Cargo of Death, September 1934; Death’s IOU, October 1934; and 13 Pearls, January 1935. The five stories follow Holloway as he takes orders from his boss, jewel king, Joseph Calweiner. There was a previous story featuring Nibs Holloway published in RAPID FIRE DETECTIVE, plus another one promised, but didn’t appear. However, this book concerns these five stories from ALL DETECTIVE MAGAZINE. In the first story we are introduced to the villain, Doctor Death, but he’s killed at the end of the story. In the second story Nibs Holloway is back, this time with a simple mystery and new villain. But suddenly, in the third, a fourth, and fifth novel, Doctor Death is back. My guess is the author truly killed him off in the first story, but the editors wanted more Doctor Death stories, so Norris had to bring him back. And each time he is killed, only to return again and again.

Personally, I thought Nibs Holloway was a fantastic character, and enjoyed the author’s writing, even if it did appear to be written to formula and a throwback to dime novels. The series takes on a new oddity after the fifth story. The short stories ceased, and Edward P. Norris disappeared from ALL DETECTIVE MAGAZINE. A new Doctor Death is created, with a new hero to fight him in three published novels, and one unpublished yarn. The new author was Harold Ward, and I missed Nibs Holloway and Edward P. Norris.

The story gets stranger still. There are six more stories by Norris in several other pulp houses after he leaves ALL DETECTIVE MAGAZINE. I read his very next published story after the last one in this volume, published in SECRET AGENT X, and it was definitely a re-written Nibs Holloway yarn, minus Doctor Death, just the names of the characters are changed. The author only had a small body of work in the pulps, and I would love to see PULP TALES PRESS gather the rest of his work in a second volume. Highly recommended.

Tom Johnson

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

The Pulp Den Awards for 2017

The 2017 PULP DEN AWARD for the best stand-alone one-shot SF book Pulp Den reviewed in 2017 goes to John Paul Cater for his novel, NEAR-EARTH OBJECT 2017AP. I read many great science fiction novels in 2017, but John Cater’s novel of discovery of an abandoned alien base on the moon took this novel above all the others. Congratulations, John. Keep them coming.

The 2017 PULP DEN AWARD for the best New Pulp novel reviewed in 2017 goes to Michael Howard for his novel, MANHATTAN MASQUERADE. I read many New Pulp stories and novels in 2017, but Michael Howard’s novel outshined them all. Congratulations, Michael. Keep them coming.

The 2017 PULP DEN AWARD for the best SF/Horror novel reviewed in 2017 goes to Chris Botragyi for his novel, BLURRED VISION. I only read a few Horror stories in 2017, but this one left a lasting impression on me. Congratulations, Chris. Keep them coming.

The 2017 PULP DEN AWARD for the best Spy series I read in 2017 is the Tana Standish female psychic spy from Britain. There is good action in this well written series, and the stories flow smoothly. This is a great new series for spy fiction fans.
The 2017 PULP DEN AWARD for the best Mystery/Thriller/Suspense novel I read in 2017 is Maggie Thom’s SPLIT SECONDS. There is good action and writing in this awesome yarn of hidden secrets and the mystery of twins separated when young. The book kept me turning the pages.

The 2017 PULP DEN AWARD for the best Fantasy novel I read in 2017 is DS Johnson’s REALMS OF ENDENOUCHT. Although Fantasy isn’t one of my favorite genres, this story kept me interested and turning the pages. A great read.