Phone Call from Hell and Other Tales of the Damned

phonecallhellI’m always up for a collection of short stories, and the new collection from Jonathan Woods, PHONE CALL FROM HELL AND OTHER TALES OF DAMNED, is not disappointing one iota. Take the title to heart, folks, because for the bulk of the contents, someone usually winds up dead or at least shot.

To kick things off, we are treated to a history of a gun from the weapon’s perspective, “The Handgun’s Tale.” The gun talks of his owners and their peculiarities. “Phone Call from Hell” deals with a man who helps out prisoners in a special way: leaving his phone on as he was being satisfied. The caller in question is none other then Charlie Manson. Woods also inserts real-life characters into “Writers Block,” where we find Ernest Hemingway and Graham Greene on the hunt for spies and adventure in Havana.

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amanlaydeadbullets broads blackmail and bombsDetectives of all sorts make up this column — two new to it, even though I reviewed a later book in one of the series. You’ll also note two familiar faces who have been missing from my reading too long. Kicking things off is the first entry from the prolific Ngaio Marsh and her creation of Inspector Alleyn.

A MAN LAY DEAD by Ngaio Marsh — Marsh was always one of those authors who, whenever I would go to used bookstores, had a row or stack of her books, all with some truly cool covers. I just never had a clue to where to start. Then, of course, it would slip my mind when I got home to look it up. Well, now all that’s changed.

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Promises Made and Broken

promisesmadePROMISES MADE AND BROKEN gathers 11 pieces of Christine Matthews’ work that have appeared in a variety of publications, while also including two new pieces strictly for this collection. The first few stories are all centered around Robbie Stanton, a P.I. who has a few family issues she must deal with, like putting to rest a case involving her skydiving grandmother — yes, you read that one right — or those where her father caused problems.

But the cases she handles are not just her family, although some involve people she has known for her life. These cases are not the “here are the clues” or the ever-popular “spring this on the reader at the last moment” type of nonsense. They are very well thought-out and will provide readers with a different take in the P.I. genre.

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Scream Queen and Other Tales of Menace

screamqueenA new collection of short stories by Ed Gorman is definitely a reason to celebrate. Gorman knows his audience, and the contents in this Perfect Crime collection, SCREAM QUEEN AND OTHER TALES OF MENACE, truly fit the title. The 14 tales range from straight-up crime to peeks into a bizarre future. What will really shock some readers will delight others. Personally what I loved is how in some stories the leads seem so normal until Gorman takes that one little turn and we see the real truth in these characters.

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No Hero

noheroCreepy twin girls, a secret government agency, monsters, aliens, a sword-wielding redhead and the magic wars of the 1970s. Have I got your attention yet? If so, you are about to enter the world of NO HERO, with a tagline of “What would Kurt Russell do?” An amalgam of science fiction and cop drama, this debut novel from Jonathan Wood is sure to please the BOOKGASM crowd, and with its eye-catching cover, it only gets weirder. And it’s now in mass-market paperback from Titan Books.

Arthur Wallace, an Oxford police detective on the trail of a serial killer, stumbles into a world he never knew existed: the agency referred to as only MI37. Think of it as a literary TORCHWOOD, minus all the sex and DOCTOR WHO references. The killer he has been tracking down all these months is actually a member of the group, whose members have been fighting the tentacled monsters known as the Progeny.

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BULLETS, BROADS, BLACKMAIL & BOMBS >> Standing on the Moon

pr-001bullets broads blackmail and bombsLet’s take a trip in my rocketship. You are going to the great beyond this time out as I cover some old-school science-fiction action. Kicking things off is a series that is still continuing in its origin country, so get your space helmet, kick back and wait for the countdown. I just hope you don’t suffer any “space madness,” you eediot!

PERRY RHODAN #1: ENTERPRISE STARDUST by Karl Herbert Scheer and Walter Ernsting — Growing up, I was a sci-fi fan. I still am — just not as strong a one as I was in my teen years. Back then, I would always come across the PERRY RHODAN series, which is so long, it has more than 100 paperbacks. The problem is I never found a jumping-on point, aka book number one, until now.

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Raising Steam

raisingsteamTechnology is coming to Discworld, whether the inhabits like it or not. Said improvement should be a dead giveaway from the title and cover art of RAISING STEAM. The latest from the prolific Terry Pratchett is another entry in the Discworld series for the charming and charmer Moist von Lipwig, the man responsible for giving this world the post office in GOING POSTAL and a uniform currency in MAKING MONEY.

That’s not to say Moist has a hand in developing the steam engine, but he is present to help out in other ways. The engine is the brainchild of a young man named Dick Simnel, who is a lot more savvy then he lets on.

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The Chase

chaseA follow-up to Janet Evanovich and Lee Goldberg’s THE HEIST from last summer, the duo’s THE CHASE picks right up with the exploits of internationally known thief Nicolas Fox and FBI Special Agent Kate O’Hara. For those who enjoyed the first entry, know that this continues with the fun, and actually is a more enjoyable ride with not just one con, but four, each more daring than before.

The reason for these little excursions centers around a former White House chief named Carter Grove, a man who makes Dick Cheney look like Mister Rogers. Grove is now in charge of a firm called Black Rhino, a private army for hire à la Blackwater.

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Fargobullets broads blackmail and bombsIt’s time once again to saddle up and ride into the Old West. This trip to the frontier will be a little different, since the first two books covered are ebooks from the fine folks of Piccadilly Publishing, who have been putting out some solid reissues. I figured it was damn time to cover a few. The third book is from a long-running series that a friend of mine who is not a fan of the genre swears by.

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NYPD Puzzle

nypdpuzzleCora Felton, aka The Puzzle Lady, is back for NYPD PUZZLE, her 15th entry in Parnell Hall’s charming series. When Cora is hired by young attorney Becky Balwin to accompany her to New York City for a meeting, she accepts. The meeting is actually a mystery to Becky herself, who never has met the person or even knows why they are to meet.

Things take a drastic turn pretty quick, when they arrive to find what would have been her new client dead, and the killer still in the large apartment. Cora takes things into her own hands by taking a shot at the intruder with her gun. The blast kicks off this cat-and-mouse game of a read.

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