Monday, April 22, 2024

Rage on the Page in a Cage

 The barney's done and Carter Brown and Larry Kent bashed the competition, winning for Private Eyes.

Sunday, April 21, 2024

Afrikorps by Bill Dolan

by Bill Dolan
1991, Harper

Set in 2175, after the greenhouse effect ravaged the Earth in 2050. Select people lived generations in biodomes across the world while the survivors outside mutate and turn to savagery. In 2150, the Earth had healed enough for the biodomes to open and tame the wilderness with high technology and solar powered tanks, through mass slaughter and forcing people into reeducation camps. Captain Abe TC Creighton is drafted for a new mission - to stop African Marauders from invading Europe.

Some decent adventure through desert terrain. A little light on action, and since the Afrikorps outnumber and outgun their adversaries, you end up rooting for the Marauder underdogs for their cunning. Dips into horror with the savagery of the Marauders, led by an eyeball eating rapist.

The pacing was a bit off. It didn't feel padded, but it took half the book to get to Africa. It felt like the set up for a multi-book epic, but then hurriedly dispatched the main villains in the last few pages. There are other installments, but it looks to be more episodic.

And then there's the horrifically racist concept. The biodome survivors aren't necessarily valorized, we get the sense that their level of control is stifling, but they're clearly meant to be the good guys. Even when TC goes full Anakin and wipes out a village of women and children, he regains control at the end.

The general premise of African savages threatening to overrun civilized Europe in order to rape their women ain't great, and while Dolan might have thought to temper it by having a South African Afrikaner lead them, the theme is still the superiority of White civilization, even when they're evil.

The book conspicuously avoids mentioning race most of the time, which is odd considering most authors of the era felt compelled to mention a characters skin tone as often as possible if they weren't White. About the only time it is mentioned is to distinguish between a good albino tribe and a tribe of evil mutants who have devolved into primates. Not particularly subtle symbolism there, but nothing spoken directly like, say, the Turner Diaries.

From Amazon

Saturday, April 20, 2024

Black Samurai by Marc Olden

Black Samurai
by Marc Olden
1974, New American Library

Robert Sand is trained as a samurai after being shot by "military racists" and later faces a Vietnam vet trying to bring My Lai to America.

I suspect I'll like further installments more - way too much origin story and seems to be more restrained than later books. This was an interesting experiment in how I process text - listening to the audiobook the action scenes felt glossed over but the rest was OK. Reading the same sections, the action was written fine but the dialogue felt juvenile.

Available from Amazon

Friday, April 19, 2024

Larry Kent 640: Naked Curse by Don Haring

Larry Kent 640
Naked Curse
by Don Haring
1966, Cleveland

Larry Kent started life as an Australian radio show I Hate Crime as a competitor to Carter Brown. Kent is hired to scare off a stalker, pay off a blackmailer, and find a missing son, only to find each client belongs to the same family.

Better than average plotting and better action scenes than most PI novels, with a decent body count. Despite the saucy covers this was less suggestive than a Carter Brown from previous decades, like it was a fade-to-black scene with a couple extra sentences removed on either side.

Available from Amazon

Thursday, April 18, 2024

Al Wheeler 5: Booty For a Babe by Carter Brown

Al Wheeler 5
Booty For a Babe
by Carter Brown
Horowitz, 1956

Al Wheeler solves a mystery at a science fiction convention at a hotel. An eccentric professor who believed aliens controlled the flow of time is killed during a panel, and Wheeler locks down the hotel, mostly so he can drink hit on dames.

Available from Amazon

Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Strange Powers of the Mind by Warren Smith

Strange Powers of the Mind
by Warren Smith
1968 Ace Star

Anecdotal feel to a lot of these entries, with names changed, mostly of predictions. A few good entries.

There's the Copenhagen Hypnosis Murders, in which a man made a fellow prisoner a hypnotized slave and supposedly forced him to kill - they both ended up in jail for the murders.

There's the story of Mrs. Sarah A. Hand who believed if she removed her head, both her head and body would continue living. She attempted to decapitate herself, and failing that, laid across a railroad track. She left a note to make sure her head didn't get squished because then it wouldn't work. Her experiment was a failure.

There are several predictions - all of the clairvoyants' previous prophecies have come true, of course, so let's take a look at the future predictions. Some have no date references, so they could still be true in the future, and some are so vague ("important political figures will be replaced") I couldn't point to any and say if and when they came true.

  • LBJ fails to be re-elected (got this one right, extra points that he didn't lose the election, he didn't run)
  • President Nassar of Egypt assassinated in 1968 (1970, heart attack)
  • Russia and China fight an all out nuclear war in 1970
  • Religious war in India between Buddhists and Muslims at the end of the 20th century
  • Eclipse in July and August, 1999 (got August right), in which a masculine female becomes ruler of Russia.
  • An American will lead England by the turn of the century (Boris Johnson was 19 years too late).
  • NYC and the Eastern Seaboard will be destroyed in the 1990s.
  • Lemuria will rise in 1968.
  • The Soviet Union will lose a war against 10 million Middle Eastern Muslims (closest was Afghanistan, in Asia with about 250k fighters)
  • America wins the Vietnam War in 1967
  • Armageddon by 2024, still time for this one

From Amazon

Monday, April 8, 2024

Rage on the Page in a Cage Round Three

 Piers Anthony gets distracted by some schoolgirls in the front row and gets schoolboyed by Carter Brown, who stays in the ring for team Private Eyes.

Sunday, April 7, 2024

Outrider by Richard Harding

by Richard Harding
1984, Pinnacle

A century or so after the nuclear apocalypse, survivors gradually made their way out of hiding, connected by scouts called Outriders. One such Outrider is our hero Bonner, who survives an assassination attempt by his former buddy turned despot Leather, and learns that his girl is being held captive.

Bonner makes his way to Chicago to New York to DC, seemingly recognizing everyone he meets and joins forces. He ends up with the pyromaniac, Cooker, two mute barbarian types call the Mean Brothers, biker gang the Sisters, among others.

Very juvenile in tone, except for the cussing and violence. Some creative characters, but the action scenes often felt rushed, with a multi-state chase finale crammed into what felt like the last handful of pages. Probably the closest in feel to the Mad Max movies I've come across. Even had Radleps, radiation poisoned suicide troops, which prefigure Fury Road.

The author mainly worked in novelizations, including four Beethoven (the dog) tie-in novels.

Available from Amazon

Saturday, April 6, 2024

Al Wheeler 4: No Harp for My Angel by Carter Brown

Al Wheeler 4
No Harp for My Angel
By Carter Brown (Alan Yates)
Horwitz, 1956

Al Wheeler is on vacation in Florida and stumbles into a mobbed up club owner who may be involved in the disappearance of society girls. A little more serious than other Carter Brown's I've read, but still lots of style.

Available from Amazon

Jason Striker 1: Kiai! by Piers Anthony and Roberto Fuentes

Jason Striker 1
by Piers Anthony and Roberto Fuentes

Guy runs a karate studio. Looks like he enters a tournament, gets hit with the dim mak, and seeks spiritual treatment, but Anthony gets disqualified early on for typing one-handed as he gets vigorously horny over a seventeen year old.

I believe Fuentes provided the martial arts background, and the fights are meticulously detailed descriptions of individual moves which I 100% couldn't follow in my head.

Available from Amazon

Thursday, April 4, 2024

K'ing Kung-Fu 2: Return of the Opium Wars by Marshall Macao

K'ing Kung-Fu 2
Return of the Opium Wars
by Marshall Macao 
1973, Freeway Press

Picks up immediately after the first installment, with K'ing chasing Kak across China. Kak links up with the evil Red Circle, while K'ing recruits the help of the Blue Circle, including a Black kung fu practitioner called The Moor.

The pace picks up, with a wider variety of fight scenes than the first installment, including a fight through an underground opium den while high as a kite, but there needs to be more plot propping it up. I also have an aversion to series in which there's the same villain in each installment who gets away at the end.

From Amazon

Wednesday, April 3, 2024

Multiple Murderers II by Max Haines

Multiple Murderers II
by Max Haines
1995 Toronto Sun

Presumably taken from Haines' column Crime Flashback, shorter than true crime magazine features. A few bigger name serial killers and spree killers, but mostly more low key multiple murderers - the better for me to not hear about Dahmer or Bundy for the millionth time. Haines' writing style clicked with me weird - the first page of each entry was almost unreadable padding that became normal by page two, like he had to go back and fill out word count. He also felt compelled to report on the attractiveness levels of every person in the story.

Nothing remarkable, my favorite was a white trash noir of a woman who arranged a hit on her husband with two dirtbags in exchange for sex, which they exploited for months with no intention of carrying out the assignment, and how they're implicated when the target ends up dead.

From Amazon

Monday, March 25, 2024

The Zone: Hard Target by James Rouch

The Zone 1
Hard Target
by James Rouch

The Zone is a then-future war series set during World War III in the Zone, a stretch of Europe blighted by chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons. Interestingly it's not exactly post-apocalyptical, maybe more mid-apocalyptical.

A brief novel, we open with a tank battle, the middle has half the cast reconnoitering a refugee whorehouse while the others hang around, and ending with a raid on an underground tank garage.

The crew are a combined force of American and British troops fighting Russians in a hovertank called the Iron Cow. It's presumably written from the British point of view, or at least by a Brit, what with the US Armoured Infantry Division.

Like historical exploitation fiction, a lot of war fiction uses real life historical atrocities as a cover - "war is hell" and "that's the way it really was". Some of the more vicious stuff you get the feeling that the author, or the intended audience, have more of an attitude of "I wish I was in a war so I could do atrocities." The Zone is that kind of book.

The characters are similar to the Piccadilly Cowboy characters, ranging from amoral to psychopathic. They all have disdain for non-combatants and refugees and bemoan the fact that they can't mow them down. A good chunk of the text takes place in a whorehouse with descriptions of how diseased and disgusting the women are taking as much space as how horny the men get. I wonder if that's a particular British thing. I saw it in the Commander Amanda series, where they felt the need to counterbalance the sex scenes with shame and STDs.

When the series was reissued around 2012 it was marketed as alternate history

Available from Amazon

Sunday, March 24, 2024

Last Ranger 4: Rabid Brigadier by Craig Sargent

Last Ranger 4
Rabid Brigadier
by Craig Sargent (Jan Stacy)
1987 Warner Books

Martin Stone and his dog Excalibur join forces with an insane military dictator, who in a shocking turn of events turns out to be the wrong kind of insane military dictator. Stone starts a war with the mafia and biker gangs and has to stop a nuclear missile.

More restrained this time, with most of the story stalling during training sequences and Stone being tempted by the illusion of stability. It's becoming increasingly apparent that it takes some plot convolutions for Stone to end each story with his bike and dog intact.

Available from Amazon

Saturday, March 23, 2024

K'ing Kung-Fu 1: Son of the Flying Tiger by Marshall Macao

K'ing Kung-Fu 1
Son of the Flying Tiger
by Marshall Macao (Thaddeus Thallejah or maybe Sandy Sidar)
1973, Freeway Press
Cover by Barry Smith

Chong Fei K'ing is the orphaned half-American, half-Chinese son of the Flying Tiger, an American pilot who assisted the Chinese in World War II. He's being trained in Kung Fu by master Lin Fong, mostly just hanging around the desert.

K'ing is joined by another boy, Kak, who is more impulsive and has a dark side. They are challenged by an evil American master and things get very Jedi. There's a backstory involving an Atlantis/Shangri-La city destroyed in a war between the good Blue Circle and evil Red Circle. Fong warns the kids not to kill the Red Circle challengers or they will turn to the dark, um, red side. This despite the fact that they've killed scores of Stromtr-, er, opium smugglers.

It's all very, very Star Wars, three years early. I doubt very much that Lucas was inspired directly like he was by, say, Far Out Space Nuts. I imagine both were influenced by episodes of Carradine's Kung Fu.

We're in origin story mode, with little else going on, so I suspect future installments will have more plot. The fight scenes worked well for me, not quite blow for blow, but it didn't rely on one-strike kills like Mace. The fight prose combined exotic martial arts moves with brutal violence, can't go wrong with that.

This series was advertised as having monthly releases. There were six in the series, with a phantom seventh that was announced but never released.

Years ago this was one of the first books I bought for Kindle, probably available as a bootleg in the more wild west days of ebooks.

From Amazon

Friday, March 22, 2024

Matthew Scudder 1: Sins of the Father by Lawrence Block

Matthew Scudder 1
Sins of the Father
by Lawrence Block
HarperCollins, 1976

Scudder is a former cop turned unlicensed private detective. After a sex worker is killed and raped by her roommate, who promptly kills himself, her estranged step-father hires him to find out more about her life. I'm torn on this one, as it has excellent writing and characterization and horrible plotting.

Scudder is the tormented alcoholic type, upset by an accidental death, though also unashamed of being corrupt (accepting bribes, framing suspects, etc). Instead of dark secrets, Scudder's digging seems to make the situation less sordid as he went, and the accompanying dime store Freudianism didn't help.

The mystery, such that it was, was a complete cheat - no evidence, not even motive, just pulled it out of thin air.

From Amazon

Thursday, March 21, 2024

Strange Talents by Bernhardt J. Hurwood

Strange Talents
by Bernhardt J. Hurwood
1967, Ace Books

Two different people predicting world wars and getting the dates wrong. A psychic IDs a coat thief, unconfirmed as it was return anonymously. A psychic directs a man to where he can buy a treasure map which he then doesn't dig up. A mom who worries about her child constantly happens to be right a couple times.

A couple move from house to house, mysterious fires following them wherever they go that have no rational explanation. The book leaves out their kids.

Captain Gerald Lowry was the first soldier blinded in World War I, but can steer a boat, play cards, and walk around unaided. Almost like he wasn't blind. He became an osteopath and claimed to have special healing powers, which didn't help when he lost a malpractice case for breaking a girl's leg.

Alexander Jacob is covered here for his magical abilities, including generating grape vines and being able to stab swords through people with no effect. No mentioned is his claim to fame in the mundane world, being involved in a scandal selling the 7th largest diamond, an affair that inspired the novel Kim by Rudyard Kipling.

From Amazon

Wednesday, March 20, 2024

Tuesday, March 19, 2024

Kung Fu: Year of the Tiger by Lee Chang

Kung Fu
Year of the Tiger
by Lee Chang (Joseph Rosenberger)

Eurasian martial artist Mace is visiting from Hong Kong to find his uncle is being forced to pilot his boat for mafia drug runners. Mace and his cousin decimate the gangsters with their Kung Fu skills and recruit the Coast Guard to make a rescue, leading to a Rosenberger trademark of a fight on a large boat.

Mace's style is to use exotically named moves that maim or kill in one strike. At one point Mace kills his enemy by screaming at the right pitch, which hits a vibration that melts his enemy's brains, which begs the question of why he doesn't just do that all the time.

From Amazon

Monday, March 18, 2024

Last Ranger 2: The Savage Stronghold by Craig Sargent

Last Ranger 2
The Savage Stronghold
by Craig Sargent (Jan Stacy)

Martin Stone is a post-apocalyptical survivor wandering the wastelands of America on his bike with his dog Excalibur, looking for his kidnapped sister. He encounters fat cannibals, bikers, cultists with stun guns, and his nemesis The Dwarf.

The Church of the New Darkness rules Pueblo, which Stone infiltrates to rescue his sister. He meets up with local resistance and takes on the church with an old stash of dynamite.

Over the top, like the rest of Stacy's work, maybe a touch more juvenile with the tough guy talk.

Available from Amazon

Sunday, March 17, 2024

Shell Scott: Blood Ballot by Richard Prather

Shell Scott
Blood Ballot by Richard Prather
Menace, Nov 1954

Scott assists a political candidate against his mob connected opponent. More action than mystery, and slightly less horny than Mike Shayne as far as dames with their legs.

Dead Giveaway
Shell is hired by a mousey newlywed to find her missing husband, and who has been poisoning their milk. Shell hooks up with a mermaid act along the way.

Hot-Rock Rumble
Shell's hired to recover jewels from a mistress and gets framed for hit and run for his troubles.

Saturday, March 16, 2024

Unsolved Mysteries ed Rose G. Mandelsberg

Unsolved Mysteries
ed Rose G. Mandelsberg
From the Files of True Detective Magazine
1992, Pinnacle

Twenty five articles from True Detective and associated true crime magazines. Ranges from well know serial killers like the Cleveland Torso Murderer and the Green River Killer to local cases. One of the traits of the unsolved reports is that they spend more time on dead end leads and the messy nature of investigation, while solved cases tend to report more of a straight line.

Mostly solid, though it slips briefly into tabloid territory - one British article refers to urban myths of widespread sex trafficking from Europe to the Middle East as well as child snuff film rackets. Another has an undercover vice detective navigating the Portland lesbian scene.

A handful have been solved in the subsequent thirty years, notably the Green River Killer Gary Ridgway and serial killer Patrick Baxter. The Green River article has an anonymous psychic who claims to have directly discovered skeletal remains in the woods, but I couldn't readily find another claim for this outside the book.

Available from Amazon

Friday, March 15, 2024

Rage on the Page in a Cage

Time for the main event - a Rage in a Cage match between four teams. The rules are as follows: one author of each team fights it out in a four-author cage match. Defeated authors are handcuffed to the outside of the cage, while the survivor moves to the next round, joined by the next four authors (including one from their team). The team still standing at the end is declared the winner.

Let's meet our four teams:

Stranger Than Truth: True crime and the unexplained

Private Eyes: Series detective fiction

Karate Kids: Martial arts series

Road Warriors: Vehicle centered post-apocalyptical series.

Thursday, March 14, 2024

RPC US Title Match: Startling Detective vs Derrick Ferguson


Ferguson lost the Young Guns title, but makes up for it by defeating True Crime titan Startling Detective and becoming the new US Champion.

Sunday, March 3, 2024

Startling Detective Yearbook 1966

Startling Detective Yearbook 1966, Vol 1, No 4

Blood Bath for a Baby-Sitter by Stanley Churchill - a babysitter is brutally stabbed with a bayonet

Rape and Murder Ends a Pep Pill Binge - A hairdresser on bennies kidnaps a couple teenagers in Dallas, raping and killing one, tormenting the other until he passed out and she escaped. Sentenced to death, but was commuted when the Supreme Court temporarily overturned the death penalty in 1972. The killer was alive as of at least 2019 and is still registered as a sex offender at his nursing home.

Bluebeard's Wife - Historical quickie of a career criminal who buried several people under cement

Cold Corpse in a Hot Car by Lawrence Gardner - capri pant wearing wife and her ex-con lover kill her doting husband

Love Had a Bitter Taste by Andre Connor

Heavily padded tale of an elderly arsenic wielding black widow.

Blue-Eyed Blonde Under the Bridge by Hal White

Multiple killings of women in Montana, though only one conviction is mentioned. An internet check shows the rest were unsolved as of a few years later.

Riddle of the Twisted Love Triangle by Keith Ramsey

A woman steps out, separates from her husband who promptly moves in with her lover. Hubby disappears while her boyfriend is shot to death by cops after a robbery.

When it Snows, It's Murder by Harold Edwards

A killer hires a teenage girl as a babysitter, posing as a client.

I Had To Kill by Ace Bushnell

Door to door salesman turned killer. Creepy detailed confession.

Murdered Teacher at Battle Mountain by D.L. Champion

A woman is killed after her car runs out of gas. The killer had a failed appeal, had his last parole hearing in 2009 and is now deceased.

None of the cases are particularly compelling, many of them invented narrative devices like internal monologues or details only known to the dead, and each story is compelled to describe the victims as attractive, or at least shapely, at every opportunity.

Saturday, March 2, 2024

Dillon and the Alchemist's Morning Coffee by Derrick Ferguson

Dillon and the Alchemist's Morning Coffee
by Derrick Ferguson
2013, Pro Se Press

Dillon witnesses the theft of the mysterious Alchemist's Morning Coffee at an auction and goes on the hunt to recover it. Excellent bike on jeep chase scene through the interior of a massive palace riddled with explosions. Ferguson excels at cinematic action, and for me this one had almost a Lupin III feel.

Available from Amazon

Friday, March 1, 2024

RPC US Title Match: Startling Detective vs Derrick Ferguson


After winning multiple defenses, Startling Detective and Derrick Ferguson have each earned a title shot at the vacant US title.

Wednesday, February 28, 2024

Rogue Cop by William P. McGivern

Rogue Cop 
by William P. McGivern
1954 Dodd, Mead & Company

A crooked cop tries to warn off his clean cop brother, who witnessed a murder the mob wants hushed up. There's a decent novella in here underneath the clich├ęs, padding, and moralizing. Gets dark when a gangster gets fed up with his moll lush, drops her off with some boys to be gang raped, then wants to get her back.

I'm not one that requires likeable main characters, but I also had no interest in this heel being redeemed. Could also do without the Irish priest.

Available from Amazon

Tuesday, February 27, 2024

Darklings by Ray Garton

by Ray Garton
1985 Pinnacle

A black worm falls out of serial killer's nose as he dies in the emergency room. Soon after, people begin pursuing their darkest violent desires. Splatterpunk with monster b-movie roots. The killings are very dark, though this peaks in the middle, and a good balance here of how much of the premise to explain.

Available from Amazon

Monday, February 26, 2024

RCP: Intercontinental Title Match - Ray Garton vs William McGivern

Rage on the Page in a Cage: Intercontinental Title Match - Can William McGivern unseat powerhouse Ray Garton?

Friday, February 23, 2024

Thursday, February 22, 2024

Bounty Hunter 2: Blood Money by Aaron Fletcher

Bounty Hunter 2
Blood Money by Aaron Fletcher
1977, Leisure Books

Bounty Hunter Jake Coulter collects some bounties and beds some ladies. On the surface a generic adult western, slower paced and more repetitive than most, but I had a hard time getting a handle on this one. Slow moving, though more like Fletcher was taking his time rather than padding things out. We don't get anything resembling action until well into the book.

Most of the time it feels purposeful, the dreary tedium of frontier life punctuated by occasional violence and cruelty. The repetition reinforces this atmosphere, but certain specific story elements are repeated that it almost feels like two or three drafts strung in sequence. Grindingly realistic for the most part, then Coulter acts the white knight giving most of his money away to women in trouble.

Given what I know of Fletcher's other books, it almost feels like an historical novel set in the wild west more than a western, genre-wise. Well researched with little tidbits like - when you hang your dead bounty from a tree overnight so that critters don't chew his face off, make sure he's bent at an angle so when he freezes in place you can still mount him on a horse.

Like a lot of historical novels of the period, it gets dark. Dead bodies are kept in the icehouse until the ground thaws enough to bury them, and a grieving mother is desperate to keep her dead daughter away from the necrophiliac undertaker. An elderly man tells the story of drunks torturing his trained wolf to death. Coulter using a shovel to smash off the fingers of an elderly man he's trying to bury alive.

One of the most miserable books I've ever read. I'll cherish it always.

From Amazon

Wednesday, February 21, 2024

Blaze of Glory 1: Death From on High by A.M. Van Dorn

Blaze of Glory 1
Death From on High
by A.M. Van Dorn 
2021, Cedar Ledge Publishing

A.M. Van Dorn is one of a few contemporary authors marketing their work as Adult Westerns. These are typically action based westerns with at least three graphic sex scenes shoehorned in, distinct from western romances.

Kit Blaze and his sidekick help a ranch widow before getting involved with Mexican revolutionaries. 

The sex is flat and juvenile. What little action we get is rushed through. Some research was put into the history and the plot may have been fine, but I could not get through the prose. It wasn't bad grammar so much as the words were strung together so awkwardly for me that it was a chore to get through. 

Available from Amazon

Tuesday, February 20, 2024

Edge 1: The Loner by George G. Gilman

Edge 1
The Loner 
by George G. Gilman (Terry Harknett)
1972 New English Library

Josiah Hedges returns from the Civil War to find his brother has been tortured and killed. Where this would merely send other western heroes on a path of vengeance, Hedges has a complete psychotic break and goes on a murder spree. Can't exactly say his victims were innocent, but there's not even a pretense of self defense.

The series remains at least as violent, though with somewhat more motive. This one ends with him ending up a Sherriff of a border town - not sure if Harknett knew where the series was going at this point.

From Amazon

Monday, February 19, 2024

Bunco Brawl - First Hand Edge vs Blaze vs Bounty Hunter

Western authors ante up three books at time for the Bunco Brawl!

First Hand - Edge vs Blaze vs Bounty Hunter

Tuesday, February 6, 2024

RPC European Title: Joseph Rosenberger vs Paul Dale Anderson


Rosenberger didn't bring his A game, but it was still more than enough to keep hold of the belt.

Monday, February 5, 2024

Claw Hammer by Paul Dale Anderson

Claw Hammer
by Paul Dale Anderson
1989 Pinnacle

A girl who survived her family being claw hammered to death is at the center of a series of claw hammer murders. An ineffectual detective teams up with an even more ineffectual pathologist.

Occupies that in-between world of psychological thrillers - there are grisly murders but it doesn't feel like horror, it could be a mystery but the killer is revealed halfway through, could be a procedural but the cops don't do much.

Bad profiling (the killer is a woman because men use guns, whereas women use kitchen implements, like claw hammers). Bad criminal justice (the DA takes the police off the case and indicts a defendant overnight). Bad psychology (the killer kills due to a corpus callosum, which renders them barely functioning but highly cunning).

There's only one brief, half sex scene, but lots and lots of leering, mostly at teens. Bad mix of incest and child molesting with titillating skinning dipping and bikini wearing.

Available from Amazon

Sunday, February 4, 2024

COBRA 4: Nightmare in Panama by Joseph Rosenberger

Nightmare in Panama
by Joseph Rosenberger
1987, Critic's Choice

Jon Skul, Debbie, and a couple of COBRA agents who get even less coverage than usual, team up with a pair of Russian agents to stop a Libyan/Columbian missile strike on the Panama canal. If you think Rosenberg is going soft by going all Red Heat, it doesn't stop there. Jon refuses to torture a prisoner and doesn't want to kill any cops, not even Panamanian ones. The narrative follows secondary characters more than Skul, there are no insane politics, there are multiple sex scenes, and we get a bit of romance.

The first Rosenberger that doesn't feel like a Rosenberger, which is odd as so far the series hit harder than even Death Merchant.

Available from Amazon

Saturday, February 3, 2024

Monday, January 29, 2024

RPC Tag Team: Startling Detective Adventures vs Tan Confessions Third Fall

Startling Detective

The Pockmarked Killer by W.C.I. Hallowell

Detectives catch a communist jewel thief.

Tan Confessions

My Japanese Romance

A GI marries a Japanese woman.

Startling Detective Adventures takes the third fall and retains the belt.

Startling Detective Adventures started as a romance magazine, then true romance, then crime fiction, then true crime. This July 1930 issue is supposedly the first true crime installment, though the second half is fiction.

Tanned Confessions wasn't as bleak or exploitive as the issue of Bronze Thrills I read, more standard romance.