So did you get my little joke I was doing. What do you mean you don’t get it. Well if you go back a few columns starting with ‘Mexicali Blues’ it might dawn on some. I had myself a little idea. To use Grateful Dead song titles as my column titles. Now I did give myself some rules. I could not use the super obvious ones – Truckin’ or Touch of Grey would have been Dead giveaways. Also as much as I would have loved to use certain titles they had to actually fit and work. So sadly there is no China Cat Sunflower, Sugaree or Stella Blue.
Rocket number nine ready for blast off. Are you ready to take a trip in my rocket ship. Space is the place this time in Bullets and Broads land. Be it a seriously retro trip, or a voyage in a famous blue box. Or maybe a very sexy vistor to our planet. These tales are definitely different from one another. So strap on your rocket packs as we peruse the skies for aliens and other goodies.
ONCE UPON A STAR: THE ADVENTURES OF MANNING DRACO, VOLUME 1 (2013) – Kendell Foster Crossen
When I say we are going retro. I mean we are really going retro and what a way to start. This is science fiction of the old pulps. Yes thats when these stories were first published. I’m talking women shooting ray guns while wearing a mini skirt facing off alien frog men type of stories. Yes seriously old school fun.
In the nick of time they come a running and usually a gunning. This column in the never ending run of reading is about Spies and those super agents that we have come to know and love. Well actually this column will feature three new characters to this column that is. So let’s get started with what is one of the most obvious double entrendes ever. Ladies and Gentlemen I present …
THE COXEMAN #5: IT”S GETTING HARDER ALL THE TIME (1968) — Michael Avallone
Don’t let the name on the cover fool you folks. This is Michael Avallone plain and simple. Also this book seems to be one of his Men From UNCLE entries or at least an aborted plot idea. Just with the hint of sex. Oh there is sex in the book and talk of all kinds of kinky things. But to be honest its a whole lot of slap and tickle. Sure they talk about things but it never goes full bore so to speak in the descriptions.
Cards are a central point of these three entries. Actually all three books make up a series from the prolific James Hadley Chase. Mainly tyne whole car motif deals with having an upper hand. Or worse a joker in the deck that pops up. So lets settle in for the adventures of Helga Rolfe.
AN ACE UP MY SLEEVE (1971) by James Hadley Chase
Helga Rolfe is the central figure in this story. That has more double crosses in its short length then most series have in their whole run. The book starts out innocently enough. We find Helga in Europe on one of her yearly trips for her husband. A crippled buisnessmen who controls an empire. She is there to meet up with their investment banker. And maybe find someone to help her pass her time.
This column could easily have a new title of Swords, Sandals, Sorcerers and Spelunking. We travel the world of reading this time in a definite fantasy world. Be it just under the earth’s crust. A far away land and even a far off world that is ruled by swords. To start things off will keep it local. And by local an entrance through a volcano.
JOURNEY TO THE UNDERGROUND WORLD (1979) – Lin Carter
I’ve never read any Lin Carter in my sic fi loving youth. No reason why mind you. Was always intrigued, just never did. Now this book falls into the Lost World genre. You know a group of explorers come face to face with dinosaurs and cavemen who are living under the Earth’s crust. That sums up this book.
H.P. Lovecraft never knew what he wrought. In the sense only a few of his works actually saw publication in his time. And the growing cult of his followers grows to this day. So here we have CTHULHU LIVES!, another collection of short stories that enter the world of the Old Ones. I’ll be honest I have never read any of these authors before. And only recognized S.T. Joshi a Lovecraft expert whom I met many years ago at a Lovecraft event while I was in High School.
Now most of the stories play rather nicely in the world of cosmic horror. Now Cthulhu never makes an appearance but some of his compatriots are there. More to the fact the insanity that follows really shows their presence known. Now with a collection like this there are always a few stand outs which will definitely give these authors a set of new fans.
Alexander L’Hiboux is a man who never sleeps and has a penchant for vengeance. This being the first in a two book series. Will remind some readers of another series staring a main character who can’t sleep. That of one Evan Tanner by Lawrence Block. And that is where these two series share one common idea. Since the rest of THE OWL: JUSTICE NEVER SLEEPS is truly over the top mens adventure.
Bob Forward’s story goes from zero to sixty pretty quick. On his way to meet his client the Owl is already attacked by an unknown assailants. And it just goes from that point on to total 80’s action movie fare.
In FLYING BLIND, its a new adventure for PI Crag Banyon. A detective barely scrapping by whose cast includes one of Santa’s former elves as an assistant. And a secretary whose picture is part of the definition of incompetence. This entry James Mullaney sets his sights on the world of superheroes.
Well actually one hero a new one by the name of Minus. Who in his short time in the job already has an arch nemesis. The problem being he only seen fleeting glimpses of him and that of mainly white hair. So whats a hero to do. Well hire a PI to do all the leg work of course.
Coming from new imprint Brash Books comes TREASURE COAST, a new title from Tom Kakonis. As much as I enjoyed reading this book. There was just a little thing nagging at me through it all. Just a sense of that I’ve read this type of story. Where a group of people are pretty much thrust together from various backgrounds to pull off a score.
The story mainly focuses on Jim Merriman. A former gambler who hit a run of bad luck. That he ends up working in a book store. But now he is in Florida to see his sister who is losing a battle with health. Then add to the fact she asks him one favor. That to look after her son who is in deep with the local bookie.
A political thriller from the vivid mind of Max Allan Collins, SUPREME JUSTICE is a nice welcome. Joseph Reeder a former Secret Service agent who took a bullet to protect the president. But would lose that position because of his criticism of that said President. Something no agent is supposed to do. But he just could not stand still as the President was packing the Supreme Court with an hard right type of judge. Reeder who is nicknamed Peep for his power of observations will be called upon to help out the current President on a task force.
The reason for the task force has to deal with what seems like a robbery gone horribly wrong. How wrong you might say. Well the robbery had a body count of one. That of a current Supreme Court Judge. What looks like just being in the wrong place at the wrong time looks vastly different to Reeder. That is what an elaborate set up assassination. But who and why is leaving everyone scratching their head.