Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Devil's Heart by William W. Johnstone

Devil's Heart
by William W. Johnstone
1983 Zebra Books


"I'm gonna shove this meat up where I think your God lives."

It's twenty-twoish years after the end of part one.  Jane Ann has given birth to Sam Jr., and Nydia (now Roma) gave birth to twins, Sam and Nydia.  The two Sam's are college roommates, and Sam Jr. has been invited to Black's family resort in Canada, where he meets his sexy half-sister and her sexy mom, who constantly wonders if Jr. is equipped like Sr.

Back in Whitfield, Sam's stepfather Tony King has joined the forces of darkness, along with 850 of a population of 1050.  Of those, aside from weak-sauce Christians who don't count, the only really faithful are Jane Ann, Miles and Doris, and Wade and Anita.

Sam Sr. communicates with his family though cheesy parlor tricks, like glowing bibles and crosses.  He sends a radio message to Sam Jr. to go to the airport, where he mystically manifests a long letter, telling Jr. to kill all the Satanist at Falcon house and destroy the magic tablet I'm not sure what it does, and that Nydia is his half-sister.  Sam and Nydia load up on holy water and head back to the Falcon House.

Sam and Nydia can now block the psychic powers of Falcon and Roma, and can communicate with each other telepathically, probably because of the fact that they're brother and sister, and the grace of God's will.  So they start banging.

More college kids are invited to Falcon House.  Most are coven members, but a few are innocents who will be either recruited or victimized.  Being a brave Christian soldier, Sam risks his life to save those he can.  JK - like his Dad, he blows off the weak as a lost cause.

Meanwhile, Sam Sr. hangs out with his old friends in the form of a mist while Miles creates an eight foot high golem.

Sam Jr. reveals that he was a secret government assassin and is able to kill without feeling or remorse.  Nydia asks him what it means to be a Christian.  Sam Jr. has no idea, and then talks about how he's going to kill her family.  Time for her baptism!  God feeds the words to Sam Jr. as he baptizes his half-sister who he's sleeping with.  Sam Jr. just starts knowing things.  Meanwhile, Black is seducing one of the college virgins with his "angry red glans."

Sam Jr. and Nydia check out a shrine of rocks around a Beast cave.  They have a vision of Sam Sr. being raped by Roma/Nydia mom, and Sam Sr. throws his gun through a timewarp to his son.

Back in Whitfield, the spirit mist of Sam Sr. tells his wife that she will be raped to death and that God will do nothing to stop it.  Might have been nice to tell her this when she could still get out of town.

The coven needs a virgin for a ceremony.  They ran out of women, so Black rapes one of the male guests, which pisses off Satan, who's a total 'phobe, it turns out.  He materializes, calls them all losers, and decides to bring in reinforcements.

In Whitfield, the couple hundred Christians who somehow weren't Christian enough are being slaughtered while astronomers are seeing the face of God in the stars.

More cultist show up at Falcon House, with extra young victims in tow.  Time to lay the cards on table: they won't harm him for the next five days while they try to turn them to the dark side.  The archangel Michael flies through space and destroys an altar with a sword.

Sam Sr. floats around being annoying and cryptic.

"Is there pizza in heaven, Sam?"
"In a manner of speaking.  But the toppings are not like those known to mortals."
"Do they have pepperoni?"
"In a sense, they do.  And they do not.  I've...said too much."
"Too much about what?"
"Just telling you that I've said too much is...saying too much."
Sam Jr. hangs around Falcon House listening to children being raped and claiming there's nothing he can do.  It's not like he's some highly trained government assassin or something.  Nydia wants to have sex again, so Sam Jr. slaps her around.  He's assaulted by erotic visions of her mons veneris, which is not a spaceport in Star Wars, it turns out.  He gets ready to "enter the wetness of woman ready" when they come to their senses and read the Bible until the horny goes away.

Sunday comes around, and the coven cannot make a move towards Sam Jr. or Nydia.  Not that they've done anything anyway.  A perfect time for Sam to slaughter the lot, only he "knows" that it isn't the proper time yet.

In Whitfield, the Coven make a final assault on the two couples and their golem before giving up.  The coven is trapped in town in an invisible force field and they know God has defeated them.  In other words, no action here for a few days either.

At Falcon House, where nobody can harm Sam Jr. and Nydia, Sam is knocked out and Nydia killed.  He comes to her funeral and the Coven has had a change of heart.  Roma asks Sam to baptized them all, even though it would mean certain death.  This is, of course, a ruse.  Roma's perfume intoxicates him and she rapes him, while Falcon rapes Nydia's corpse.

Nydia comes back to life and the voice of God demands that the siblings quickly have sex - "May your seed be strong."  He showers, she douches, and he hopes his sperm is stronger than Falcon's to knock her up first.  Roma knows she is pregnant, and will die giving birth to an immortal demon, a demon that can only be killed by a chosen one, who would have to be conceived by the same father during the same time period, and yes, Johnstone's setting up the next sequel.

Falcon and Roma try to get permission from Satan to break the rules and kill Sam, while Sam and Nydia marry themselves in the woods.  The voice of God appears and tells Sam he shouldn't fight yet and - look, I'm no going to keep track of all this.  It's all just an obnoxious plot contrivance to explain away why Johnstone doesn't want to write more than a couple action sequences at most.

Some action heroes stay alive despite facing overwhelming odds by depending on their skills and cunning.  Sam Jr. stays alive because all the villains want him to be alive.  Satan has a double agent in his own camp who has been tasked with keeping Balon and his newly conceived child alive.  We don't know who she is, but on a completely unrelated note, young college student Linda has come to Sam Jr. and Nydia for protection.  The pentagram on her chest is totally a birthmark, no reason to be suspicious.

Roma is already having pains from her demon pregnancy, while the Falcon and Sam's sperm are still fighting it out in Nydia's womb.  Her egg might not be fertilized until after the baby is born, which says a lot for the state of sex education.

After a good night sleep in the mansion filled with satanists that just raped and beat them, Sam, Nydia, and Linda need to be prepared for an attack.  In a few hours, plenty of time to talk things out first.  They head to the forest with a good viewing platform of the altar.

At midnight the Coven have a ceremony, gang-raping a preteen and drinking her blood.  A merman/goat shows up.  Bats poop over them.  Imps run around.  A second girl is sacrificed, then Sam figures maybe he could actually use his Tommy gun on the unarmed coven who won't fight back, but no.  He just knows it's not time yet.

More creatures appear in the sky.  Johnstone pulls a Lovecraft and doesn't describe them lest we all go mad.  A third child victim, Janet, manages to sneak away and join up with our trio.  Sam finally gets to shoot something, a griffon, and Janet is attacked by rats.  They run until they reach a point that they are protected, and the voice tells Sam the monsters won't be able to kill him if he believes in God.

Guess Sam knows the time is right and guns down ambushing cultists, takes their rifles, and starts sniping.  He sets up traps in the woods while the archangel Michael slays all the mythological creatures.

In Whitfield, Jane Ann is taken and gang-raped by the whole town, just like God wants her to.  Sam Jr. is told by the voice that Satan has the tablet, the tablet that we don't know what it does and if Satan can just grab it whenever he wants why does he send archaeologists digging for it.  Sam has 24 hours to finish the rest of his mission, but he has to be away from Falcon House in 22 hours, so really 22 hours.  Sam takes a nap while his mom gets raped for a few more pages.

Jane Ann converts some of the Coven back as she hangs on a cross.  They beg God's forgiveness and are crucified and skinned alive by the rest of the coven.  At Falcon House, Sam Jr. finally cuts loose, massacring the coven with holy water and his Tommy gun.  Falcon shoots him as Sam throws holy water in his face.

Nydia drags Sam out of the burning house, having dispatched Linda offpage.  In Whitfield, Sam Sr.'s friends transform into spirits and go to heaven with Jane Ann.  A fireball destroys the town while Sam Jr. recovers from his wounds.

Epilogue:
Roma dies giving birth to a demon baby.  Nydia has her own child, and Janet offers to help raise him, but oh, no!  She has vampire teeth.

Duh duh duuhhhh.

Highlights: Definitely the porniest of the series, and also the most overtly religious, often at the same time.  If you read only one Devil book, this is the one.  It's all downhill from here.

Lowlights: More page length devoted to why characters can't explain the things they aren't explaining than there is to shooting down mythological creatures with a Tommy gun.

We'll take a look at the third Devil book another time.  I'm not allowed to say when, but you will receive a sign, and know when the time is right.  I've...said too much.

Available for Kindle from Amazon.

Click here to read a sample.


Monday, February 13, 2017

Zebra Books 1974-1982 - Men's Adventure

Zebra didn't do a lot of Men's Adventure in the 70s, but the ones they did were among the genre's most unusual.  The 80s brought us more standard (and longer lived) titles.  I've left out western series and war memoirs.

1974

The Killers by Klaus Nettson (Netzen in the UK), 7 books 1974-6
Simon Rack by Laurence James, 5 books 1974-5

1975

The Big Brain by Gary Brandner, 3 books,  1975-6
Pepperoni Hero by Bill Kelly, 3 books, 1975
Su-Lin Kelly / Girl Factory by Robert Franklin Murphy, 3 books,  1975-6

1979

Chameleon by Jerry Laplante, 3 books 1979

1980

Dog Team, 4 books (last 3 under different publisher)
The Sergeant by Len Levinson, 9 books 1980-2
Soldier for Hire by Robert Skimin and Mark K. Roberts, 8 books 1980-3
Survivalist by Jerry Ahern, 27 in original run 1981-93
They Call Me Mercenary by Jerry Ahern as Axel Kilgore, 18 books, 1980-4

One offs and thrillers (some based solely on the title):


1973

The Beaufort Dossier by David Mariner
The Yaroslav Incidnet by David Mariner

1974

71 Hours by Michael Mason

1976
The Zinger by Lou Marco, Len Davidov, and Bob Mooney



1978

The Cathedral Option by Ron Montana
Monopoly on Terror by Bruce Buck

1979

The Big Needle by Ken Follett
Cop Killers: Hunter Group 1 (One) by Max Rabinowitz
Dead Survivor by Neal Pizinger
Goering Treasure by Len Levinson
Hostage Game by Mark McShane
The Hostages of Hell by Ralph Hayes

1980

Ghost Sub by Roger E. Herst

Friday, February 10, 2017

Zebra Horror 1974-1982

Despite it's second title being horror, Zebra didn't really get into gear until 1979.  The below are paperback originals, with maybe some first reprints of hardback.  There were also several Weird
Tales reprints from H.P. Lovecraft and Robert E. Howard that I'm not including, along with plenty of gothic romances.

1974
Dementia by Keith Parnell, 0-8468-0002-0

1975
Satan's Daughters by Othello Peters, 0-89083-104-1



1977
Hell Hound by Ken Greenhall, 0-89083-303-6
The Soul by Ron Gorton, 0-89083-321-4

1978

Replica by Lionel Saben, 0-89083-370-2
The Ashes of Tamar by Elizabeth Wade, 0-89083-412-1

1979

Dracula in Love by John Shirley, 0-89083-443-1
Benediction by Joseph P. Furek, 0-89083-505-5
There is a Serpent in Eden by Robert Bloch, 0-89083-514-4
Long Night by P.B. Gallagher, 0-89083-515-2 (might be more thriller, or even romance)

Image result for Long Night by P.B. Gallagher

The Rite by Gregory Douglas, 0-89083-529-2

1980

Caly by Sharon Combes, 0-89083-624-8
Wild Violets by Ruth Baker Field, 0-89083-635-3
The Nest by Gregory Douglas, 0-89083-662-0


Cherron by Sharon Combes, 0-89083-700-7

1981

Moondeath by Rick Hautala, 0-89083-702-3
The Devil's Kiss by William W. Johnstone, 0-89083-717-1



Act of Love by Joe R. Lansdale, 0-89083-735-X
The Witching by Fritzen Ravenswood, 0-89083-746-5
Great Liquidator by J.V. Grombach, 0-89083-749-X - Don't know if this is non-fiction or "based on a true story"
Unholy Smile by Gregory A. Douglas, 0-89083-796-1



Death-Coach by J. N. Williamson, 0-89083-805-4
Mysteries of the Worm by Robert Bloch, 0-89083-815-1 (Short story collection)
Unholy Goddess by Baker Stein, 0-89083-846-1
Halloween II (Novelization) by Jack Martin, 0-89083-864-X
The Spawning by Fritzen Ravenswood, 0-89083-866-6
Ghost Mansion by J. N. Williamson, 0-89083-884-4
Death-Angel by J. N. Williamson, 0-89083-909-3
Sweet Revenge by Dick Beaird, 0-89083-911-5

1982

The Uninvited by William W. Johnstone, 0-89083-933-6
The Unblessed by Paul Richards, 0-89083-949-2
The Evil One by J. N. Williamson, 0-89083-966-2
The Initiation by William W. Johnstone, 0-89083-967-0
The Witching by Fritzen Ravenswood, 0-89083-975-1
Death-School by J. N. Williamson, 0-89083-981-6

See also Vault of Evil's list.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Zebra Books - Overview - 1974-1982

Zebra Books
Overview
1974-1982

Zebra books is an imprint of Kensington Publishing Corp, active from 1974 to today. It was infamous for it's line of horror books in the late 80s, and now seems to almost exclusively publish romance.

They began with the ISBN prefix 0-8468- for the first 35 titles before switching to 0-89083-. That prefix got filled up by 1982, at which point they switched to 0-8217-.

Zebra published a variety of genre titles in the 70s, such as fantasy, sleazy tell-alls, the unexplained, etc.  By the later 70s they settled into Western and Romance, a trend I've seen with other publishers.

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

The Uninvited by William W. Johnstone

The Uninvited
by William W. Johnstone
1982 Zebra



A tanker spills experimental fertilizer that causes cockroaches to grow to 6-8 inches and hunger for human flesh in two isolated Louisiana parishes.  Cockroach bites cause human brains to turn to puss and turn their owners into homicidal maniacs.

The town is sealed off by the government, some journalists are gleefully killed, and some rebellious Green Berets rescue the few remaining uninfected townspeople before napalming the entire area.  But wait!
Epilogue
Late August. Click.
ClickClickClick.
ClickClickClickClickClick.
Duh duh duhhhhh.

Not Johnstone's first book, but there's a ton of rookie moves here:

Don't Tell, Show:

Johnstone tells.  Almost every scene that isn't dialogue is telling.  We're told a dozen times that the town has been besieged by rape gangs, but we're not shown one save for a quick roadblock scene.  He also tells too much, and tells and then shows.  We know in the first couple pages that the fertilizer will create killer mutant roaches, that they are immune to pesticide and have a hive mind, and that the government is behind it.  We're introduced to characters like "Here's Bob.  He's going to be eaten by roaches later."

Do Your Research, or at Least Fake It:
Slick opened the door with a special tool policeman carry...
Slim Jim, Y Tool, or jimmy.
 He rattle off a series of chemical names, then smiled.  "Forgive me.  Probably those names mean absolutely nothing to any of you."
Hydral Cloxate, Potanium Flouridimide, or Phlenial Sodimate.  Yes, those are made up.  You're a writer, you're allowed to.

Don't Rely on Coincidence:

There are three separate truck crashes.  The tanker carrying the fertilizer, on it's way to the ocean to be disposed, is hooked up to an unlocked valve which jars loose during a minor accident.  The parishes can only be accessed by three bridges.  For the first, a truck driver is stun by a wasp, has an allergic reaction, and crashes the truck on bridge one while the FBI agent investigating the roaches is driving the other direction.  Then bridge two collapses because nutria are digging up the ground around the supports.  Bridge three is closed off by the military, who could have closed the other two just as easily - the two collapsing bridges had no impact on the plot.

The world's foremost entomologist lives in town.  Two characters know the Lieutenant Governor personally and one knows the President.

There are a few things that are off-formula, but I actually appreciate those.  For example, two characters are developed early on as main protagonists before being mostly forgotten.

This is going to sound weird coming from me, but the whole thing was way too short.  The cockroach killings last a line or two each, and there are sometimes three scene changes in a single paragraph.  This combined with the "telling" made it come across flat and lifeless.  It's okay to linger a while on cockroaches eating out eyeballs, it's what we came for.

Most bibliographies list The Uninvited for 1988, but I confirmed the first edition was 1982.  This would be the first of Johnstone's in a long line of generic titles that have nothing to do with the book, though to be fair, nobody invited the cockroaches to eat them.

Available for Kindle from Amazon.

Click here to read a sample.


Sunday, January 29, 2017

ISBN Hunt

In the quest for the truly obscure, I've looked for comprehensive checklists of Horror and Men's Adventure books with limited success - Vault of Evil has some good ones by publisher.  I've also flipped through most of the covers on BookScans, though that site ends with 1979.

I've started doing a deep dive on some of the more specialized publishers, one ISBN number at a time.  Publishers tend to buy ISBN numbers in blocks, as they get way cheaper in bulk.  Starting with the number range from ISFDB, I look up the ISBN numbers one at a time.  The last digit is a check number, which can be calculated here.  I then type the ISBN directly into the url as the product code for Amazon.  If anyone knows an easier way, I'd love to hear it.

There are lots of ISBN databases, but none are nearly as comprehensive as Amazon.  I double check Google if Amazon comes up empty, but if the 'zon doesn't have it, it rarely comes up anywhere else.  I take our information age for granted, but there are so many books with zero information.  Some have no cover and maybe a partial title and author, and I have to dig around for enough information to guess at a genre.

I hope to rectify some of that, and I'm grabbing some of the re-discovered horror novels as I go, provided they're cheap enough.  I'm only hitting up certain publishers: Zebra, Pinnacle, Leisure, Gold Eagle, Critic's Choice, etc, ones that only go through a couple hundred ISBN numbers a year.  Some of the larger houses easily go through thousands a year, and I'm not that crazy.