As BOOKGASM aficionados may have noticed, I am a fan of pulp fiction — the real pulp fiction, the stuff that first saw print in the pages of the magazines that colored newsstands and magazine kiosks during the first half of the last century.

I’ve never met another person who has the same love of that stuff that I have, which is one of the reasons I took to Bill Pronzini’s Nameless Detective when I first read about the character, lo, all those long years ago. Nameless loved the pulps and usually had a few of them in the glove compartment of his car so he’d have something to read on long stakeouts.

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Black Jack: Volume 12

Although all of them are nuttier than a Payday bar, BLACK JACK: VOLUME 12 is the craziest compilation of Osamu Tezuka’s medical manga I’ve read yet. To the uninitiated — and what the hell are you waiting for? — Black Jack is the pseudonym of Kuro’o Hazama, the orphan boy who grew up to become the No. 1 bodily scarred, unlicensed, rogue doctor in all of Japan (despite the all-American colors of the cover)!

In these 13 adventures, Black Jack is asked to treat a variety of unusual patients. But asking is fruitless; he demands exorbitant fees — and gets ’em! Among his cases here are a boy raised by wildcats, a CEO who fell down a hole in the ground, a hunter mauled by a giant bear, and an insufferable school bully. There’s even a story involving a seance … and that’s not even the weirdest!

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BOOK WHORE >> 8.31.10

book whoreShe’s back each Tuesday, pimpin’ out notable new releases to place on your radar, so let the tempting plot descriptions begin!

THE THIEVES OF DARKNESS by Richard Doetsch — Michael St. Pierre, a reformed master thief, thinks he has left his criminal days far behind him, when he receives word that his best friend, Simon, has been locked up and sentenced to die in a brutal desert prison. Breaking into jail for the first time in his checkered career, Michael is stunned to discover that his new girlfriend, KC, is connected to Simon’s case. With a madman on their heels, the three adventurers make their way to Istanbul in search of the mysterious artifact that landed Simon behind bars in the first place: a map containing the location of a holy place lost to the mists of time, a repository of knowledge and treasure predating Judaism, Christianity and Islam.

LADY LAZARUS by Michele Lang — Descended from the legendary witch of Ein Dor, Magdalena Lazarus alone holds the power to summon the angel Raziel and stop Hitler and his supernatural minions from unleashing total war in Europe. The Nazis have fighters more fearsome than soldiers, weapons more terrifying than missiles, and allies that even they are afraid of SS werewolves; the demon Asmodel who possesses a willing Adolf Hitler, and other supernatural creatures all are literally hell-bent on preventing Magda from possessing the Book of Raziel, a magical text with the power to turn the tide against Hitler’s vast war machine.

GARY JENNINGS’ THE 2012 CODEX by Robert Gleason and Junius Podrug — In the arid canyonlands of Mexico the race is on for the ultimate end-of-the-world codex — the final 1000-year-old prophesy of the god-king, Quetzalcoatl, who ruled Mexico 1000 years ago. Rita Critchlow and Cooper Jones hunt for that sacred codex in those scorching desert canyons, while 500 years ago, Pacal, a young slave-scholar, sets out on the same deadly quest.  He too must find those apocalyptic writings, knowing that his era — the Age of the Aztecs — may well come to an end if he does not find them. For Pacal, the End-Time is at hand.

SACRIFICE: MORTAL PATH — BOOK TWO by Dakota Banks — A demon’s enslaved executioner — a ravager of lives and souls — Maliha Crayne has been reborn, willing to sacrifice her immortality for a chance at freedom … and salvation. Now she has an opportunity to prevent the death of thousands to make up for the countless lives she has obliterated over the centuries. To do so, she must locate and destroy an evil cabal of madmen in possession of a weapon of unspeakable power — and survive the immortal assassins who are now after her blood. But it means reverting to the old ways and surrendering once more to the darkness.

THE BLACK PRISM by Brent Weeks — Gavin Guile is the Prism, the most powerful man in the world. He is high priest and emperor, a man whose power, wit, and charm are all that preserves a tenuous peace. But Prisms never last, and Guile knows exactly how long he has left to live: Five years to achieve five impossible goals. But when Guile discovers he has a son, born in a far kingdom after the war that put him in power, he must decide how much he’s willing to pay to protect a secret that could tear his world apart.

THE WATERS RISING by Sheri S. Tepper — Long ago was the Big Kill, a time when the slaughterers walked the earth unseen, killing, departing, returning to kill again and again. Since then mountains have risen, deserts have fallen, the last of humankind has scattered; myth, superstition, and legend have replaced knowledge; and the great waters rising are changing the world. In the west, the people of Norland live in small kingdoms, unaware that a hideous evil from ages past has been revived. Powers are being used. Curses are being laid … and the waters are rising as never before.

Buy them at Amazon.

Cut, Paste, Kill

A serial killer who is also a master at scrapbooking is the basis for CUT, PASTE, KILL, the fourth in the Lomax & Biggs series by Marshall Karp. What is truly original is how the killer decides upon her victims: via numbered ping-pong balls chosen by cats. Each one is associated with an intended target and a scrapbook to go along with it. Now, these victims are no innocents, but people who have bucked the law and never been prosecuted, making the killer out to be some sort of Charles Bronson vigilante with a Martha Stewart touch.

The novel opens with a murder of Eleanor Bellingham-Crump, who killed a young boy in a hit-and-run, but got off scot-free, due to her husband’s diplomatic immunity. Our detectives are sure they can solve the case, figuring it must be connected to the child’s parents. But things are never that simple.

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The Switchback Trail

Rancher Dan Sanson had experienced a lot of tragedy; the death of his wife and a good chunk of his herd had died the summer before to a mysterious sickness, but he was determined to continue on and make go of the ranch. Bad thing for Sanson is that he owned the water rights in between two powerful ranches — and it appears, at the beginning of Terrell L. Bowers’ THE SWITCHBACK TRAIL, to have cost him his life.

On top of Sanson’s murder, add in an arranged marriage between the two ranches, both in financial trouble, a ranch hand who may be more or less than he pretends, a kidnapping for ransom, and a pair of despicable hired guns, and you have a familiar, traditional Western that, in the end, is a highly entertaining read.

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From Jon Scieszka, creator of THE STINKY CHEESE MAN, comes SPACEHEADZ, a combination of ye olde print novel and new media technology. Michael K. just started fifth grade at a new school. As if that weren’t hard enough, the kids he seems to have made friends with apparently aren’t kids at all. They are aliens. Real aliens who have invaded our planet in the form of school children and a hamster. They have a mission to complete: to convince 3,140,001 kids to BE SPHDZ. But with a hamster as their leader, “kids” who talk like walking advertisements, and Michael K as their first convert, will the SPHDZ be able to keep their cover and pull off their assignment? We have three copies to give away.

To enter:
1. E-mail us your name and mailing address (U.S. only; no P.O. boxes) with “Headz up” as the subject line, to editor at bookgasm dot com.
2. Await Friday, Sept. 3, when we announce the randomly chosen winners.
3. Or, just buy it at Simon & Schuster.


Do you know:
• Why do we knock on wood to ward off bad luck?
• When did brides start throwing bouquets over their heads at weddings?
• How did Friday the 13th become so unlucky?
• Is chocolate actually bad for the skin?
• And dozens more fascinating, quirky, pop cultural anecdotes about where the “old wives’ tales” first originated?!?

Harry Oliver, expert on the origins of our everyday superstitions, knows — and soon you will, too, with his new book, BLACK CATS & FOUR-LEAF CLOVERS: THE ORIGINS OF OLD WIVES’ TALES AND SUPERSTITIONS IN OUR EVERYDAY LIVES. We have three copies to give away.

To enter:
1. E-mail us your name and mailing address (U.S. only; no P.O. boxes) with “She sits on a throne of lies” as the subject line, to editor at bookgasm dot com.
2. Await Friday, Sept. 3, when we announce the randomly chosen winners.
3. Or, just buy it at Amazon.

The Baddest of the Bad, Volume 1: The Very Worst of the First Three Issues of the Underground Pulp Zine, Out of the Gutter

Pay no attention to the self-loathing subtitle of THE BADDEST OF THE BAD, VOLUME 1: THE VERY WORST OF THE FIRST THREE ISSUES OF THE UNDERGROUND PULP ZINE, OUT OF THE GUTTER. (The length, well, that’s another story.) Because there’s nothing sucky about this anthology, the debut release of Gutter Books, which, like the killer OUT OF THE GUTTER mag, comes from the effed-up head of Matthew Louis.

It’s just like any given issue of OOTG, but twice the size, minus illustrations, fake ads, lewd cartoons and in-your-face crossword puzzles. So that means stories, hard as bricks and tough as Spanish bulls, organized by the time it will take you to consume them, from flash fic to half-hour reads. Imagine if Louis could organize them by awesomeness — his head would explode from the pressure.

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The Man from Hell

THE MAN FROM HELL is a new collection of nine stories by Arthur Leo Zagat writing as Morgan LaFay, one of those pulp writers who is known by every fan of the form, but is completely unknown by everyone else. Which is a shame, because at his best, Zagat wrote well, at times even approaching a Bradbury-esque poeticism. Seven of the stories in this volume were originally published in SPICY MYSTERY between 1936 and 1938, and the final two are from THRILLING MYSTERY in ’36 and ’39.

SPICY MYSTERY was a weird-menace pulp plus sex. In weird-menace stories, the supernatural doings would be explained away at the end as the machinations of a villain out to get the money/girl/property/MacGuffin for himself. Think of it as SCOOBY-DOO with Daphne and Velma flashing their boobs all the time. Mmmm … Daphne and Velma flashing their boobs …

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Fist Pump: An In-Your-Face Guide to Going Guido

As if New Jersey didn’t have a bad enough reputation already as an instant pop-culture punchline, these yahoos from JERSEY SHORE have doomed the Garden State to be forever associated with society’s weeds.

Guido DiErio and Rick “The Happenstance” Marinara take full advantage of “the situation” — or should we “shit-uation”? — with FIST PUMP: AN IN-YOUR-FACE GUIDE TO GOING GUIDO. It’s like an expansion of DiErio’s rather amusing blog,, but with more words than your average WWW surfer cares to see.

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