bullets broads blackmail and bombsLet’s get right into the meat of the matter: This week’s column is all about the female persuasion, be they college friends, a office worker or even “just” a blonde. There is nothing quite like the ladies, and if these books don’t live up to the what the covers promise, at least the art is cool.

HUCKSTERS’ WOMEN by Rick Lucas — Think of this 1954 book as the real MAD MEN, since it revolves around a group of women who work for an advertising agency during the 1950s. Surprisingly, some portions read like the TV show, with all the backstabbing and seducing. But to be honest, just stick with the TV show.

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bullets broads blackmail and bombsHello, and welcome to this week’s column, brought to you by the fine folks of the Dharma Initiative. If you haven’t figured it out by now, the theme is the now-finished-up TV series LOST. It’s one of the few dramas I stuck with for its whole run — for me, a highly enjoyable ride. I’ve found three books whose titles have a LOST connection: The first and third should be pretty obvious, while the second could fit into so many episodes, but I’ll go with Jack and Locke. And for those who care, Ben Linus was the greatest character of the whole show, with Sawyer a close second. Now all I have left is THE BIG BANG THEORY and COMMUNITY.

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Pulp: A Collector’s Book of Australian Pulp Fiction Covers

When pulp fiction is discussed, most people focus on the American magazines. But what about the overseas work, of which I know very little? Well, PULP: A COLLECTOR’S BOOK OF AUSTRALIAN PULP FICTION COVERS focuses on the Aussies’ output. Toni Johnson-Woods’ well-researched book is sort of a primer to that time Down Under, when their own pulp was sold on the cheap and gave Australian writers a chance to make some quick cash.

One of them is A.G. Yates, better known to us as Carter Brown, whose books are still being read today. But Yates can’t even compare to G.C. Bleeck, whose output is more than 300 books, but is someone whose work never seemed to make it to our shores.

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bullets broads blackmail and bombsIt’s the column that was sure to happen at some point: nothing but books about one Steven Urkel. And if you believe that, then have I got a bridge for sale in Brooklyn. All right, enough of this joshing around and onto this week’s theme. All the titles have some connection to family life, be it sons, daughters or a unit as a whole.

TRUE SON OF THE BEAST! by Carter Brown — This 1970 effort really shows what happens to a writer grabbing at straws to continue his output. No longer do the novels feature light and fun travelogue-like mysteries. Now, they’ve become very graphic in their depiction of sex and bizarre situations, like some bizarre mash-up of Gothic stories and a PENTHOUSE FORUM letter.

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bullets broads blackmail and bombsZeldaThis being the last column for September, I could not pass up using that Big Star song for the title. Plus, all three books not only share the same theme of women, but also the same author: Carter Brown. Mainly because I can fly through his books in no time flat. (Fun fact: Put together, all three books still come under the page count for the first book of next week’s column.) So let’s have fun with my favorite Australian author who likes to write about the dames, all featuring great covers from Robert McGinnis.

ZELDA by Carter Brown — Another in the Rick Holman series that all take place in the glitzy world of Hollywood, this 1961 novel actually has more to do with an Agatha Christie motif than the globetrotting, hard drinking and constant bedding that usually goes on.

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bullets broads blackmail and bombsThe gold I’m speaking of is Fawcett Gold Medal books — a line of novels that are highly sought after and well worth reading. They’re a who’s who of crime authors, with the added bonus of always having great covers. So let’s see if this is truly a gold mine or just fool’s gold.

ALWAYS LEAVE ‘EM DYING by Richard S. Prather — Another entry in the long-running series of Shell Scott mysteries is this early 1954 one. Shell is hired to find a girl named Felicity Gifford, who has hooked up with a bizarre cult run by a man named Trammel. Now, for anyone who has read Jonathan Latimer’s SOLOMON’S VINEYARD — aka THE FIFTH GRADE — take a wild guess who else has read it. That’s right: Prather.

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bullets broads blackmail and bombsI had a plethora of titles I could have used for this column of books that all fit the day-of-the-week motif, but I figured I’d go with that tried-and-true tune from Lynyrd Skynyrd, a band you don’t hear much on classic rock radio anymore. If you believe that, I’ve got some oceanfront property in Arizona to sell you. This week brings back some names that have a laid a bit dormant in my reading, including a detective couple of sorts that never disappoints and a rabbi who takes after Columbo. But to start things off is one of the many creations from that prolific Australian with the coolest covers.

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bullets broads blackmail and bombsMurder! That’s usually what brings our three books’ heroes into action, be it a lawyer who is looking out for a client, an investigator who seems to always be smarter than the criminals themselves, or even another attorney who uses the law to his own advantage — in other words, three authors I really enjoy, with two series creations that never disappoint.

MURDER IN THE FAMILY WAY by Carter Brown — The fastest reading I ever do has to be Carter Brown books. Even people who don’t like to read could plow through one of these before you can say THE DA VINCI CODE. Our hero for this 1971 tale is young lawyer Randy Roberts, who by chance is at an accident scene where a driver was killed by running their car off a cliff. The driver also happens to be a client of Roberts’ by the name of Birrel — not just any Birrel, but the Birrel matriarch herself who was loaded and had a very strange clause in her will.

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bullets broads blackmail and bombsIt’s too damn cold here in Massachusetts, to where I just want to snuggle under a blankie and veg out with the TV on. So my reading has been suffering a bit. But to get back on the horse, here’s some simple, fun reading of authors we know and characters we love.

THE DESIRED by Carter Brown — Nothing says comfort more than the novels of Carter Brown. They are fun and breezy and can be devoured like a plate of just-baked cookies. This time out, it’s not the far-world-traveling set, but Brown’s straight-ahead detective, Al Wheeler, who literally crashes into his newest case — that of a runaway car with a barley dressed woman inside and a dead body in the trunk.

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bullets broads blackmail and bombsmona intercept reviewIt’s coming to that time when all my reading takes place on the porch so I can enjoy the summer breeze. To mark that occasion, I’ve picked three books that deliver in the fun-in-the-sun variety, be it a story about ships, an old pulp hero or a thief who never, ever seems to get caught.

THE MONA INTERCEPT by Donald Hamilton — At more than 500 pages there is one word to describe this 1980 effort: sprawling. Giving John D. Macdonald a run for his money on the paperback original front, Hamilton came up with a multicharacter story that tells this adventure from a variety of perspectives … which is also its downfall, in my opinion, since it hits the point of overload.

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