The Guns of Santa Sangre

gunssantaEric Red kicked in the doors and smacked me around in the mid-1980s. His scripts for NEAR DARK and, in particular, THE HITCHER were the stuff of geek dreams. His writing had precision-tooled, B-movie mechanics and plots built with a merciless, gleeful desire to give the people what they want in ways that surprised us.

His best work, in my humble opinion, emerged when he directed his own hit-man masterpiece, COHEN & TATE, where mean and funny and brutal and thrilling all hold hands and sing “Kumbaya” as Roy Scheider (fucking Roy Scheider!) and Adam Baldwin duke it out over the delivery of a 12-year-old eyewitness to their mafia bosses.

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Legacy: The Killing Fields

legacy2Featuring the adventures of Remo Williams, the long-running DESTROYER novels were not known for continuity. Sure, a few enemies would pop up every once in a while, and characters would come and go — but mostly go.

Things are different with Warren Murphy and Gerald Welch’s LEGACY spin-off series that has now come out with its second installment, THE KILLING FIELDS. The action picks up a few weeks after the events of the first book, FORGOTTEN SON, with characters still dealing with that outcome.

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Rio Bravo

riobravoThe men of Fort Bellew have had a tough go of it. They have asked for reinforcements multiple times to no avail. Now they come back from a treacherous expedition only to come face-to-face with their new commanding officer, Capt. Boysen, a no-nonsense type who believes his way and command are the only thing keeping people in line.

Boysen soon learns that his iron ways are just problematic, but he will not bend. Add to the fact that his wife, who has arrived, years ago had a relationship with one of his officers, and Boysen’s not having the best of times. That is only small thread to this quilt of storylines, which also includes an AWOL soldier and, of course, the much larger problem of the Indians.

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Early Crimes

earlycrimesWith so many successful and noteworthy titles to his credit, it’s easy to forget that even an author as creative and prolific as Max Allan Collins had his fair share of formative works. EARLY CRIMES gives us an opportunity to experience some of these determining works, as well as witness the influence of the crime authors who shaped Collins’s work.
The Perfect Crime Books collection contains two previously published short stories and one novella appearing in print for the first time. In his introduction, Collins recalls the time and circumstances of each work, as well as the authors who guided his inspiration.

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Corporate Asset

corporateassetMy favorite undercover mountie is back in CORPORATE ASSET. And this time, he is entering the corporate working world. Like previous entries in this series, Don Easton sets up the baddies pretty quickly. “How quickly?” you might ask. How about by the end of chapter one, we are well on our way.

This is a great jumping-on point for people who have never tried this series. There are only very small references to previous books, but nothing that will spoil anything for a new reader. So all you readers who have had their fill with series that seem to recycle the same single plot, take a turn into the world of badass Jack Taggart.

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Horror Films FAQ: All That’s Left to Know About Slashers, Vampires, Zombies, Aliens, and More / Armageddon Films FAQ: All That’s Left to Know About Zombies, Contagions, Aliens, and the End of the World as We Know It

horrorfilmsfaqJohn Kenneth Muir’s HORROR FILMS FAQ will appeal most to those who have read his many, many books on scary movies before, yet they will gain little from it. There are better starting places for newcomers to the genre, many of whom I would bet already know more about the likes of Dracula and Frankenstein than this guide assumes.

To be fair, the Universal Monsters and their archetypes are hardly the only cinematic bad guys the book covers; also under the spotlight are aliens, animals, serial killers, zombies, ghosts, kids and ol’ Scratch himself (aka Satan).

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Song of Spider-Man: The Inside Story of the Most Controversial Musical in Broadway History

songofspidermanWhen all the behind-the-scenes drama surrounding the yet-to-open Broadway musical SPIDER-MAN: TURN OFF THE DARK was being reported by the mass media, I thought, “That’s going to make a helluva book someday.”

Someday has arrived with SONG OF SPIDER-MAN, penned by none other than the play’s scriptwriter, Glen Berger. He packs six years worth of unbearable turmoil into 384 vastly readable pages. The result should be required reading for not only theater majors, but business majors in colleges nationwide.

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Bandette Volume One: Presto!

bandetteI spend an inordinate amount of time sorta despairing over comics. They’ve been such a huge part of my life for basically all of it that it’s tough now that comics don’t want me around anymore. It can take something big to remind me that well-crafted fun can still be had in little square panels, even when the character wears a mask and cape.

Look, it would be irresponsible of me to say that BANDETTE will save comics. But holy cats, you guys, a bunch more books like BANDETTE would save comics. Real talk.

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USA Noir: Best of the Akashic Noir Series

usanoirWith more than 60 books in its geography-based NOIR anthology series since 2004, the folks at Akashic Books thought it was time to step back and highlight the best of the original stories from 32 titles focusing on various American states, cities and locales. The result is USA NOIR, a hefty, 548-page collection of stories from the country’s finest crime-fiction authors. Talk about your embarrassment of riches!
In his introduction, editor Johnny Temple recalls, “From the start, the heart and soul of Akashic Books has been dark, provocative, well-crafted tales from the disenfranchised.” After a brief history of the publication house’s early days in the late 1990s, he tells how they launched the award-winning series with BROOKLYN NOIR.

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The Best American Comics 2013

bestamercomics2013THE BEST AMERICAN COMICS 2013 represents the final volume for series editors Jessica Abel and Matt Madden as they move on to new projects. For their sake, I wish they could have gone out on a higher note.

That’s not to say the latest edition of the annual collection is bad, but it’s my least favorite since the first, in 2006, when guest editor Harvey Pekar let his dour worldview influence his selections.

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