Tuesday, January 31, 2023

Pre Show Match - Garbage Men vs Night Wind

The Garbage Man makes a great showing in his debut, while Night Wind is out of its element. Garbage Man covers for the 1 2 3.

Sunday, January 29, 2023

Night Wind by Stephen Mertz

Night Wind
by Stephen Mertz
2002 Four Winds

A single mother moves to a small town which is being plagued by violence. Her son and her author neighbor love interest seek to find the truth.

A good example of how a novel can change genres by turning various elements up and down. The first half reads like a Zebra Horror novel with the murders cut out - there's a serial killer, but it's all in the background. There's a bunch of  foreshadowing things like a haunted house, a psycho ex-husband, and evil native American spirits before settling down half way through.

The second half is more of a thriller, which is a weird middle category in itself - not scary enough for horror, not enough fighting for action, not enough mystery for mystery. There's a dash of hinted supernatural in the form of a wolf who might be a reincarnated wise man.


The official category for Night Wind is romantic suspense, of all things. Not my expertise, but the only romantic elements were that the male lead was described as handsome more than once and we get a couple quick "maybe we can be more than friends one day" lines


Reminds me of pulp stories where they'd add "her blouse ripped and you can see her boob" to an unsold story of any genre and they could sell it to the spicys. This feels like a trunk novel from a prior decade (payphones and answering machines figure in the plot, along with the obligatory "we don't get cell reception in the mountains") that got updated and tweaked for the market.

Available from Amazon

Friday, January 27, 2023

Garbage Men: Wrestling in Shadows by Anthony Adams

Garbage Men: Wrestling in Shadows
by Anthony Adams

Book version of the twitter feed @garbagemania and the story of the Garbage Man, a wrestler who went from 90s Japan to the Arkansas indies to a mall food court pretzel shop. He's making a comeback in a side yard fed filmed in VHS for Dutch investors while trying to manage single fatherhood.

I tend to be suspicious of any book that started line online, much less from twitter, but the flow works better in long form while keeping the concision of the original format.

Hilarious, great stuff, though granted it's niche to the point that it feels like it was custom written for me. Check out the twitter feed, and if you dig the vibe check out the paperback, which has new material.

Paperback from Amazon

Wednesday, January 25, 2023

Pre Show Match - Garbage Men vs Night Wind

Opening our event in non-title action, a Men's Adventure veteran faces off against a veteran of the Tokyo Dome. It's Garbage Men: Wresting in Shadows by Anthony Adams against Stephen Mertz' Night Wind.

Monday, January 23, 2023

Bloody Pile of Horror Wrap Up


Forgotten Realms claims the TV title from Alien Nation.

Derrick Ferguson defends the Young Guns Title against Hunter Shea.

Startling Detective Adventures defeats Fantasy Tales to retain the Tag Team Title.

Returning horror authors defeat new reads in the Chamber of Horrors in a contested match. All beefs will be squashed when David Sodergren and Ray Garton settle their difference in the steel cage. The winner claims the Intercontinental Title and gets a shot at the World Title.

John Maddox Roberts defeats Sigfridur Skaldaspillir and keeps hold of the European Title.

Mike McQuay vacates the Intercontinental Title in a no-contest match against Jack Slade's Gatling.

Kevin Randle and Vietnam Ground Zero keep the high ground and save the United States title from Donald Hamilton's Matt Helm.

Richard Stark's Parker defeats Robert Faulcon's Night Hunter and is our new Trash Fiction Championship World Champion.

Joe R. Lansdale wins the dubious honor of first place in the 30 author Reading Rumble for the Cruiserweight Championship, coming to a social media platform near you.

Saturday, January 21, 2023

Bloody Pile of Horror - World Title Match Results


I like Parker's style, but it challenges the limits of my patience at times. But the Night Hunter got complacent, and Parker sneaks up with a schoolboy, rolling him up for the pin. Donald E. Westlake is our new World Champion.

Thursday, January 19, 2023

Parker 2: The Man With the Getaway Face by Richard Stark

Parker 2
The Man With the Getaway Face
by Richard Stark (Donald E. Westlake)

Parker gets a face job from a black market plastic surgeon and plans an armored car heist, which is complicated by threats to reveal his identity to the outfit.

This is a heist novel but it also has the feel of a police procedural, only from the criminal side.

The prose has a lack of affect that mirrors Parker's sociopathy, and reminds me of early Bret Easton Ellis or Dennis Cooper. I like this kind of style, but when it's utilized for page upon page of Parker buying a used car it can get to be a bit much. Others could find it lifeless and padded and I couldn't really argue.

The way the story is lined up is unusual. Not a lot of planning for the heist, but a lot of preparation, along the way foreshadowing point by point what was going to go wrong: a curious state trooper, vehicles about to break down, etc. Then the heist goes more smoothly than it had any right to.

The story is then taken over by a side plot from the point of view of the plastic surgeon's chauffeur, Stubbs, a brain damaged former Communist organizer. Parker's involvement seems convoluted and ultimately futile, as he goes to great lengths to avoid killing some people and drops others without a qualm.

I'd rather Stubbs had gotten a series, as he was a more interesting and likeable character. Parker gives lip services to having a code, which would put him in anti-hero territory, but then he'll do something like enjoy hurting sex workers, not because he's a sadist, but because he wants them to pay attention. A couple notches further into bad guy territory than a Walter White, but not full blown Freddy Kreuger either.

Currently criminally overpriced for Kindle, check your library.

Tuesday, January 17, 2023

Night Hunter 5: The Hexing by Robert Faulcon

Night Hunter 5
The Hexing
by Robert Faulcon (Robert Holdstock)
1984 Arrow

Dan Brady investigates Judge Dredd obsessed children who stumble upon Arachne activity and are menaced by spectral dogs. Far and away the weakest of the series.

Paperback from AbeBooks

Sunday, January 15, 2023

Blood Pile of Horror - World Title Match


The World Champion mounts its psychic defenses against the nihilistic onslaught of Richard Stark's Parker.

Friday, January 13, 2023

Wednesday, January 11, 2023

Matt Helm 2: Wrecking Crew by Donald Hamilton

Matt Helm 2
Wrecking Crew
by Donald Hamilton
1960 Fawcett

Matt Helm is assigned to take pictures for a journalist in Sweden with the expectation he will be given a target to "touch". In the meantime he's been ordered to not take action, and lets himself get beat up to avoid arousing suspicion, which doesn't help thrill levels. Every cover is blown from the start, and Helm jus kind of hangs around while those around him are occasionally murdered.

The Helm series feels like a reaction to idealistic trends in the genre, like grimdark is to fantasy, but this is years after James Bond and decades into hardboiled and noir crime fiction, and I have no idea what he's reacting to. The whole "I might eventually kill someone, do you find that upsetting?" attitude seems a bit tired by 1960.

The attitude towards women is tiresome - one has to put up with at least a little chauvinism in these kinds of books, but it felt like half the word count was Helm judging women's appearances. Some folks go in for the non-PC, "when men were men" stuff, but here he's complaining about their shoes. Pretty much all the secondary characters are women, but they just exist for Helm to brutalize. He even brags about torturing a woman in the first novel. It's not that I disapprove of women in action settings, but it's written to be edgy years after I the Jury started that trend.

Another take is that Helm the character is actually sentimental and trying to convince himself, unsuccessfully, that he isn't. Either way, these kinds of themes are better delivered while the action is going on - here, we get themes instead of action.

Available from Amazon

Monday, January 9, 2023

Vietnam Ground Zero 4: The Fall Of Camp A-555 by Eric Helm

Vietnam Ground Zero 4
The Fall Of Camp A-555
by Eric Helm (Kevin Randle)
1986 Gold Eagle

While the bulk of the troops are on a mission to rescue a VIP downed behind enemy lines, traitors among the South Vietnamese troops allow a takeover of Camp A-555, with journalist Robin Morrow taken captive.

The re-taking of the camp plays out as a series of small skirmishes. This series works better on a smaller scale, and I didn't get a sense that hundreds of people were involved. This is the second book in a row in which Morrow is captured and tortured, this time with even less emotional impact than the last - hopefully this doesn't become part of a formula.

Available from Amazon

Saturday, January 7, 2023

Bloody Pile of Horror - United States Title Match


Vietnam Ground Zero shores up its defenses against challenger Matt Helm.

This match brought to you by Black Coat Press, publisher of French science fiction in translation and modern Wold Newton tales. Visit them at blackcoatpress.com and buy their stuff at Amazon

Thursday, January 5, 2023

Bloody Pile of Horror: Intercontinental Title

Two interesting titles, one pro-corporate violence, one with anti-corporate violence. Interesting, but not enough to continue either series. The referee declares no contest, and the Intercontinental Title is vacated.

Monday, January 2, 2023

Book of Justice 1: Genocide Express by Jack Arnett

Book of Justice 1
Genocide Express 
by Jack Arnett (Mike McQuay)
1989 Bantam

William Lambert is William Justice, CEO of Lambert International and ruler of his own island nation Haven. After a man dies in his UN office, he takes his entourage to Uganda and involves himself in a civil war. Gaddafi is trying to reinstall Idi Amin as ruler, using biological weapons developed in a cola plant.

Justice fulfills a white savior prophecy of Mama Alice, the spiritual leader of an opposing tribe, and leads a charge to destroy the factory, releasing the biological agent that kills the defending army.

Not great on action - a handful of scenes of Justice's crew running from soldiers before the final raid, for which Justice is naked throughout - but some interesting elements. In the fake bio in the back for McQuay's pseudonym, it states this book is "the bulk of his message to the world".

McQuay is slow dripping Justice's background, which would be great if I intended to read the other books. His family was killed, and sometime after that he created Lambert International, a company that does business. LI liberates an island from the French and starts its own country of Haven. Justice rules as CEO, and citizens are also shareholders and employees. This maps out to either Libertarianism or Communism. Other than standing against injustice and wanting corporations to rule everything, we don't get much more of Justice's politics.

Probably best to read Justice as a lunatic wreaking havoc wherever he goes, not so great at traditional heroics. He leads hundreds of unarmed tribesmen to their death as a distraction (if that), kills 10,000 soldiers who probably aren't involved with the biowarfare, all to maintain power for Museveni, who is technically an improvement over Amin.

Available from Amazon