Wednesday, February 3, 2016


by Logan Winters (Paul Lederer)
5 installments 1978-1981

Click cover for review if available.

Doc Spectros was shanghaied to the Orient, where he fell in love with a woman named Kristina. Kristina is kidnapped by the evil wizard Blackschuster. Spectros spends years learning the occult arts to face Blackschuster and rescue Kristina.

He is joined by three companions:

Ray Featherskill - womanizing gunfighter
Montak - giant mute and knife expert
Inkada - Also a gunfighter, wields a kris.  Might be an eastern Moor or East Indian.

There's some room for some Doc Savage style cast of colorful backup characters, but this hasn't been developed much in the installments I've read.

The series formula is in the Fugitive model.  The team comes to town chasing after Blackschuster and his henchman Wango.  They involve themselves in two stock western scenarios, one of which involves Blackschuster trying to get silver for his magic fumes he uses to keep Kristina in a trance.  One of the team will be briefly separated from the rest before rejoining them later without incident.  It ends with Blackschuster basically being allowed to escape and nobody making any effort to rescue Kristina.

Not a lot of magic going on.  Doc Spectos can turn himself into young gunfighter Kid Soledad for brief periods of time, and both wizards can turn themselves into animals for the two sentence animal fight that throws down each installment.

Lederer basically weaves three stories together in not much space.  The first book has a kindle page count of 138 pages, and 20% of that is an excerpt from the next book.  What he leaves out are backstory, characterizations, and decent action scenes.  What's left seems to be characters just going from point a to b to c to move the story along.

The numbering is a bit confusing for this series. The first is Showdown at Guyamas published in 1978 as a standalone for Manor books.  The series started again with number one for the next four installments at Tower, all published in 1981 with better covers and branding.

Being used to the Piccadilly Cowboys around the same era I found Spectros very old-fashioned, more Tom Mix than Clint Eastwood.  I like my westerns violent and/or gimmicky, and this wasn't enough of either for me.

The third book has Bigfoot and the fourth has zombies, so I might come back to this series later.

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