Truth Always Kills

truthalwaysDedicated followers of Stark House Press’s excellent series of reissued fiction are already familiar with Rick Ollerman as the author of several in-depth introductions to notable noir works. Then last year Ollerman proved his talents as an author himself with his first two novels – TURNABOUT and SHALLOW SECRETS – published by Stark House as a twofer edition.

TRUTH ALWAYS KILLS, Ollerman’s third and latest crime novel, demonstrates a new sense of maturity and authority, as he combines a complex murder mystery with a penetrating character study of his protagonist.

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slavemakersSLAVEMAKERS is Joseph Wallace’s sequel to his INVASIVE SPECIES, in which the apocalypse comes not in the form of a nuclear war, or an invading alien species, or a zombie virus outbreak…

Well, that’s not entirely true. There is an invading species, and the invaders are able to turn humans into zombies (of a sort). The apocalypse, in this case, is a soft one, and it involves a species of wasp that work together to attack humans, implant them with larvae that take over the person’s mind, and essentially turn them into drones for their “hive mind.” In essence, the humans become mindless slaves for the wasps. Those that fight back or attempt to escape or murdered in horrific ways.

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EURO COMICS ROUNDUP >> The Cosmos Awakens

brooklynlineIn honor of STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS opening, I thought it was only appropriate to review another Valerian and Laureline book.

Hold. Wait. That’s wrong. Reverse it. In honor of a new volume in Jean-Claude Mezieres and Pierre Christin’s galaxy spanning saga that the original STAR WARS trilogy so gleefully ripped off, J. J. Abrams has decided to open a new STAR WARS movie. Yeah. That’s more like it.

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For the Dignified Dead

fordignifiedMichael Genelin’s latest is the fifth novel in his mystery series featuring Commander Jana Matinova of the police force in Bratislava. Like its predecessors, FOR THE DIGNIFIED DEATH is a police procedural distinguished by intriguing characters and a setting unfamiliar to most fans of crime fiction. This time, however, the central crime is part of a vast series of offenses that take Matinova beyond the borders of her home country.

A woman’s body is pulled from the frozen waters of the Danube in Bratislava, and Commander Matinova is immediately called in to investigate. At first glance drowning seems to be the cause of death. But a closer look reveals the signs of a sinister and sadistic murderer Matinova has dealt with before – one who slipped away from her. This time she is determined to capture the killer.

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Too Soon Dead

toosoondeadMichael Kurland has started a fascinating new crime series with TOO SOON DEAD, featuring newspaper columnist Alexander Brass. Set in mid-Thirties New York City, Brass is a syndicated columnist for the New York World, writing stories of the Big Apple, its nightlife and its citizens. He is phenomenally successful, and his work appears across the country in newspapers, successful enough that he can hire a right-hand man, one Morgan DeWitt, from whose first-person point of view the story is told.

Brass and DeWitt are in their office one day when a portly and seedy man leaves them a packet of photographs, pornographic photographs. He refuses to provide his own name, but insists on leaving the images with Brass as some form of insurance. Intrigued, Brass has one of his newspaper men follow the pornographer when he leaves the office. Shortly thereafter, that poor soul is dead.

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Bryant & May and the Burning Man

BRYANTburningChristopher Fowler treats us to another wonderful mystery featuring Great Britain’s Peculiar Crime Unit and its senior detectives, Arthur Bryant and John May – two of the most unlikely heroes to ever star in a crime fiction series. While BRYANT & MAY AND THE BURNING MAN is slightly darker in its overall atmosphere, it still features generous helpings of the characteristics that have made this one of the most unique and entertaining series on either side of the pond.

London is a city of unrest as the novel opens. A prominent banker convicted of inside trading gets away without so much as a night in jail, and thousands of Londoners have taken to the streets in angry protests, often resulting in riots. In the midst of the unrest a young homeless man is discovered burned to death when a Molotov cocktail explodes in the entryway of a bank where he was sleeping.

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The Temptation of Elizabeth Tudor: Elizabeth I, Thomas Seymour, and the Making of a Virgin Queen

temptationtudorAt first glance, Elizabeth Norton’s THE TEMPTATION OF ELIZABETH TUDOR is a book that seems not to have needed to be written. Surely by this date, we have enough books on Queen Elizabeth I who ruled England from 1558 until 1603. But on a closer look, we realize that this is not just another potted biography, but a very detailed investigation of the young Elizabeth and her infatuation with Thomas Seymour. It was a relationship, a convoluted one, that sent Thomas Seymour to the grave.

Elizabeth was the daughter of Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn. When the king died, succession passed to Edward VI, Elizabeth’s half-brother. At this time, the boy king seemed in fine health and would potentially rule England for some time. Fourteen-year-old Elizabeth eventually came to live with Catherine Parr, the widow of Henry VIII. Catherine married Thomas Seymour, uncle of Edward VI and brother to the King’s Protector, Edward Seymour.

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Quarry / Quarry’s List

quarryWith the Cinemax series debuting in 2016, Hard Case Crime has begun reissuing Max Allan Collins’ novels starring the hit-man character Quarry.

From 1976, the first book, QUARRY, sets the stage perfectly for the character Quarry. You know full well in the opening chapter what kind of man he is, watching him come upon his prey in an airport: a man dressed as a priest. In the restroom, the man pleads for his life, but Quarry has one thing on his mind: recover a package and then take care of this sniveling victim.

Yup, Quarry is a cold-blooded hit man who makes no bones about his vocation. What upsets him the most is the package itself: two packets of heroin. So when Quarry meets with his boss of sorts, aka the Broker, he makes it known that he is not one to push around, let alone screw with.

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questtimebirdIf one were to give this beautifully produced volume a quick glance, it might visually suggest a darker Jim Henson influence, but a closer examination of the content moves it to the realm of Robert E. Howard adaptations by Roy Thomas. Reading QUEST FOR THE TIME BIRD reminds me of the glory days of SAVAGE SWORD OF CONAN, with its unusual mixture of lusty humor and melancholy fantasy, all wrapped in a blanket of cosmic wonder.

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The Last Armada: Queen Elizabeth, Juan del Águila, and Hugh O’Neill: The Story of the 100-Day Spanish Invasion

lastarmadaDes Ekin’s THE LAST ARMADA: QUEEN ELIZABETH, JUAN DEL ÁGUILA, AND HUGH O’NEILL: THE STORY OF THE 100-DAY SPANISH INVASION OF ENGLAND, is a triumph of readability, although the invasion in question is more of Ireland than anywhere else. This is a well-researched, and fairly balanced, account of the Battle of Kinsale, where del Águila and a Spanish force inhabited the Irish town, and were besieged by an English force led by Charles Blount.

Irish insurgent forces, led by Hugh O’Neill and Red Hugh O’Donnell, were to hook up with the Spaniards and lay waste to the English. This never quite occurred, and the contentious nature of either the Irish failure or the Spanish incompetence has vexed historians ever since.

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