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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

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

The Midnight Guardian

WHO PROTECTS YOUR CITY IN THE HOUR OF DARKNESS? In the days of Prohibition, mobster and racketeer Nicholas Diamond—aka Nicky Dynamite—held Union City in an iron grip of fear. But in a heroic moment on a summer night in 1922, one good cop stood his ground and sacrificed his life to stop Diamond’s relentless advance and protect his city. More than a decade later, Diamond is back and determined to reestablish power by building an organization even more widespread and nefarious than his alcohol empire of old. Leaving an explosive calling card wherever he strikes, his exact whereabouts remain a mystery to the police. Enter Jack Hunter, Union City’s up-and-coming assistant district attorney. He’s fiercely committed to taking Diamond down by any means necessary, even if he has to bend the rules to do it. When Hunter acquires advanced technology that pushes his natural abilities to a level that’s more than human, he dives headlong into the gray area between law and justice and becomes a defender of a different kind. Will Hunter be strong enough and fast enough to stop a madman so obsessed with controlling the city that he’s willing to destroy it? The answer lies somewhere in the Hour of Darkness. Join author John C. Bruening for New Pulp thrills and adventure in his debut novel, a work Jim Beard (SGT. JANUS, CAPTAIN ACTION) calls “pulp world-building at is high-octane finest!”

The Midnight Guardian: Hour of Darkness (New Pulp)
By John C. Bruening
Flinch Books
ISBN #978-0997790306
Price $16.99 (Paperback)
416 Pages
Rating 4-Stars

It’s 1936, and after more than a decade, Nicky Diamond is out of prison and back in Union City. He had tried to take over the town during Prohibition, but a police officer had stopped his men before they killed him. Now that police officer’s son, Jack Hunter, is the Assistant D.A., and he wants to put a stop to the crime lord for good. The police have proven ineffective against the mob boss, and the D.A.’s office needs proof to put Diamond back behind bars. Jack and his cousin, Buzz Hunter have always been good at making things and working with equipment, and Buzz has invented a battery operated mask with goggles that gives the wearer heightened abilities, such as seeing in the dark, able to anticipate movements, and the ability to move faster than normal, and react with lightning reflexes. Jack tries them on one night and is impressed. Now maybe he can do something the police can’t do, like get evidence.

This well written novel is plot driven, and the characters seem secondary, but they are interesting. The first 150 pages give us a close look at Nicky Diamond and his psychotic behavior. He is hooked on Benzedrine, better known to truck drivers and entertainers today as Bennies. His actions are a mixed bag, even among his own men. Even after the first 150 pages we still follow Diamond more than the hero. It is the villain running the show. We do see the hero in action, but the author uses descriptive narrative extensively, and the action is slowed down while rooms and areas are described during the action. Don’t get me wrong, I love good descriptive narrative, but in this instance, the pace of the action bogs down, and the story fails to flow, making this 400-page thriller hard to read.  The reader is tempted to put the book down and do something else, which is not what an author wants to happen. There are more than a few editing errors, but they don’t harm the story line. They could have used a few proofreaders to eliminate the problem, however.

I enjoy seeing a good villain in these new pulp hero novels, but I would like to see more of the hero. We see everything that this villain does, and are privy to most of his plans, so there is little mystery for the reader. Our hero pulls a real boner that no good hero should ever do. He is captured and unmasked by the enemy. However, no one recognizes him, so he reveals his identity to them! Heroes don’t reveal their identity if they want to fight crime behind a mask. Regardless, this is an excellent story, the author is a master of words, and I highly recommend it to new pulp readers.

Tom Johnson


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