Tagged: Dark

Reviews: “Crazy in the Blood” and “Fangtabulous”

A nutty-crunchy cult, a human-gorgon PI, a family fit for My Big Fat Greek Wedding, hot god guys (not a metaphor), Federal spooks, zombie minions, and a dreamy Italian detective… welcome to San Francisco and Lucienne Diver’s second installment of her Latter-Day Olympians series, Crazy in the Blood, which delivers all that and a gaggle of ghouls (Samhain, $15 trade, July 2013). The story picks up at its usual breakneck pace soon after the events of the first installment and Hell (literally) hath no fury like a pissed-off mom—putting the whole earth and human race in danger in this family feud between god parental units with Dionysus, maenads, and health food in the mix for good measure. Shredded dead bodies are showing up and Uncle Christos has disappeared and his fav niece, part-gorgon PI Tori Karacis, is determined to find him and discover the links, if any, even addicted to ambrosia and…well…Apollo (blond, bad-boy god) vs. her Detective Armani.

Conflicted romance! Dark and light hot dudes! What’s a gal to do?

But Tori is not alone—BFF blonde starlet Christie won’t let her go alone and Hollywood’s made her tougher than she looks. Grandma Yiayia plays air traffic control—she never appears in the novels, so far, save for on the phone. Fabulous office assistant Jesus is the…well…fabulous assistance. Hermes wants a front row seat to the chaos, of course.  And then Thanatos, the Grim Reaper, shows up on papa Hades’ orders, slashing his scythe like the boss that he is. But there is a bit of anti-deus-ex-machina when the Three Fates step in and twist the threads of the plot even twistier. Demeter is the eternally spurned mom. Hades can’t get along with the mother-in-law, and he and Persephone have their marital problems. Bring in Dr. Drew or Phil or…nope.  Bring in the gods and the spooks and Tori’s Scooby gang. There is a fair dose of Buffyverse flavor here, still—hey, learn from the best!—which makes it fun and familiar even for those who’re new to the Blood series. The Romance tropes’re still there, all adult-like, so those fans will stay happy, but this is a cross-genre work that many can enjoy at almost any over-13 or so age. Let the party begin!

And speaking of parties… we find Gina, Bobby, Marcy, Brent, and the rest of the vampi-nista gang in Salem, Massachusetts (y’know, home of the witch hysteria and trials of old made famous in Arthur Miller’s The Crucible) on the run from the Feds who want them as experimental weapons, battling the Salem Strangler, in Fangtabulous (flux, $9.99 trade/$11.50 Canadian, 2013) #4 in the Vamped series. And it’s all about the magic…from the stage magician to the haunted tours of Salem to the Goths to…the real Big Bads. This volume has all the fun you’d expect from Diver and her gang, but a bit more grit and angst and a dialogue on racism, government corruption, and child abuse that is present but not so heavy-handed as to spoil the fun for younger readers, but surely to be noticed by most readers with a clue. This is not a bad thing, but it does lend the tale a more serious tone amongst the mayhem and quips that are this series’ hallmarks. This is definitely PG-13, with genuine gore and violence, but not gratuitous…no Tarrantino-ing here. And if you know Salem you’ll have the extra bonus of the veracity of the setting. I enjoyed this, in a thoughtful kind of way. The characters growing up. It’s cool. I won’t say more as to keep this a spoiler-free zone.

PRO SE’S LATEST ANTHOLOGY, BLACK FEDORA, AVAILABLE FOR ADVANCED REVIEW!

Pro Se Productions, a leader in New Pulp and Genre Fiction, announces digital advanced reader copies of its newest anthology!

Pro Se Productions proudly presents BLACK FEDORA! Following a Classic Pulp tradition, the stories under the BLACK FEDORA all feature villains in the lead role! Authors B. C. Bell, Phillip Drayer Duncan, and Kevin Paul Shaw Broden pen stories where Bad is Good, Dark is Light, and Wrong is Better than Right! From hardcore crime noir to Super Villainy at its Worst and beyond, BLACK FEDORA proves that one crime is another person’s glory!

Reviewers established with websites, print media, or other formats may request a review copy of this volume. Also, reviewers who consistently post reviews on their own personal sites may also request a copy. To get your review copy of BLACK FEDORA, email Pro Se’s Director of Corporate Operations Morgan Minor at MorganMinorProSe@yahoo.com.

BLACK FEDORA will be published in mid September.

For more information on Pro Se Productions, go to www.prose-press.com

Can the Dead Man Survive the Crucible of Fire?

Best-selling author, Mel Odom chronicles the latest adventure of The Dead Man as Crucible of Fire ebook adventure is released.

About The Dead Man: Crucible of Fire–
Matt Cahill was an ordinary man leading a simple life until a shocking accident changed everything. Now he can see a nightmarish netherworld that exists within our own. Now he’s on a dangerous quest for the answers to who he is and what he has become…and engaged in an epic battle to save us, and his soul, from the clutches of pure evil.
Matt Cahill is part of a team of smokejumpers who are dropped into the heart of a raging forest fire that is fueled by a flamethrower wielding madman under the sway of Mr. Dark. Almost every living thing in this hellacious inferno, including Matt’s fellow firefighters, are falling prey to Mr. Dark’s evil touch and bowing to his furious command: Kill the Dead Man!

The Dead Man series created by Lee Goldberg and William Rabkin.
Learn more about The Dead Man here and here and is available for purchase here.

It was a Dark and Shadowy Night.

Cover Art: Alex Ross (L) and John Cassiday (R)
Art: Howard Chaykin

The Shadow Fan returns for Episode 41! This week, Barry Reese talks about Howard Chaykin’s return to the character, responds to some listener feedback, and then dives into the first issue of The Shadow/Green Hornet: Dark Nights # 1. It’s another action-packed episode devoted to the greatest crimefighter of the pulp era!

If you love The Shadow, this is the podcast for you!

Listen to The Shadow Fan Podcast Episode 41 now at
http://theshadowfan.libsyn.com/the-shadow-the-green-hornet-dark-nights

FORTIER TAKES ON MODESTY BLAISE!

ALL PULP REVIEWS-Reviews by Ron Fortier
MODESTY BLAISE
(Lady in the Dark)
By Peter O’Donnell
& Enric Badia Romero
Titan Books
One of the great pulp heroes of all time was the comic strip character Modesty Blaise created by writer Peter O’Donnell with artist Jim Holdaway for the British newspapers back in 1963.  It was remarkable when one considers she arrived on the scene when most newspaper action strips were dying out.  After Holdaway left the strip, several new artists took over to include Enric Badia Romero featured in this volume.  Over the years Modesty & Willie appeared in several movies and series of 13 novels and short story collections. 
Now Titan Books is collecting these daily strips in large, handsome packages each containing three complete storylines; all of which are filled with humor, suspense, mystery and tons of explosive action; all traits that have become synonymous with the deadly brunette lovely.
This volume starts with “The Girl from the Future,” wherein Modesty and her loyal sidekick Willie Garvin come to the aid of their American friend, Paul Gant.  Gant, a rich tycoon, has been asked to construct two massive spheres of gold valued at millions of dollars.  His customer is an eccentric sci-fi publisher who believes he has been visited by a beautiful young woman from the future.  Of course both Modesty and Willie know the so-called time traveler is working some kind of scam.  Their challenge is to unravel the con and expose the conspirators before innocent people get hurt.
In “The Big Mole,” Modesty and Blaise are on holiday when they learn a group of terrorists known as the Paladins are holding a dozen nurses hostages in a nearby country retreat where they have fled with their prize, a wounded espionage agent working for a foreign government.  Hiding out in the retreat, the Paladins have orders to kill the spy rather than let him be recaptured by the British S.A.S.  Thus a double dilemma is posed; how to attack the facility, rescue the nurses while somehow preventing the spy from being assassinated at the same time.  It seems an impossible task until Modesty learns that an historical military reenactment between the Cavaliers and Roundheads is scheduled for that same area.  Can she and Willie adapt the old Trojan Horse gambit in a new, modern twist and save the day?
It all wraps with “Lady in the Dark.”  Dinah, a blind woman and close friend of Modesty and Willie, possesses a remarkable dowsing gift which allows her to find underground water sources and mineral deposits.  No one is surprised when she is hired by the widow of European count to help find a century’s old Roman treasure worth millions said to be hidden in an underground cave on her estate.  When Dinah’s husband, Steve, injures his back, Willie offers to accompany her on the assignment leaving Modesty to nursemaid Steve back to health in England.  But no sooner are Dinah and Willie settled into the old castle then the ever suspicious Garvin discovers they have been duped by Salamander Four, a secret criminal organization.  They are holding the true countess prisoner, having replaced her with one of their own agents, and want the Roman treasure for themselves.  Can Willie foil their plot while at the same time protect a blind girl and innocent countess?  Or can he somehow get word back to Modesty in time for her to fly to the rescue?  “Lady in the Dark” is a typical Modesty Blaise adventure that zips like hot lead and never misses its target.
We applaud Titan Books for this beautiful designed and packaged collection in their efforts to preserve one of the greatest newspaper action strips of all time.  Modesty fans should be thrilled at the opportunity to collect the entire run at such an affordable price in such gorgeous, easy to read books.  As for those of you who have never met the lovely and dangerous Ms. Blaise, we can’t think of a better way for you to do so.

YOU’RE A DEAD MAN, MATT CAHILL!

Cover design by Jeroern Ten Berge

On November 27, 47 North released Dead Man Vol 4 (Freaks Must Die, Slaves to Evil, The Midnight Special) by authors Lee Goldberg, William Rabkin, Joel Goldman, Lisa Klink, and Phoef Sutton. 

After dying in a freak accident, Matt Cahill inexplicably “wakes up” three months later with the disturbing ability to see things—terrible things—that others cannot. Drafted as a warrior in the battle between good and evil, Matt will stop at nothing to destroy the malevolent Mr. Dark. In The Dead Man Volume 4, a trio of sinister new stories tracks the reluctant hero on his nightmarish quest.

On a quest to find a kidnapped child, Matt discovers an underworld of people with uncanny powers living in the shadows of New York City, trying to elude a ruthless force that’s vowed that the Freaks Must Die. Matt must run a deadly race against time to save the child, and the entire “freak” community, from bloody annihilation.

Matt goes to a town where all the cops are corrupt Slaves to Evil, terrorizing everyone and allowing crime to run rampant…but before he can battle them, he’s shot by a gun-toting teenager out to avenge Matt’s killing of her brother. Now Matt is trapped between hordes of deranged, killer cops and an innocent girl hell-bent on revenge.

The re-release of a cheesy 1970s zombie flick is sparking horrific bloodshed whenever it’s screened…and Matt Cahill is determined to stop it. His quest takes him to a grindhouse theatre in L.A., where a screening of The Midnight Special begins a night of unmitigated terror that will either put an end to Mr. Dark’s reign of evil…or mark a blood-soaked new beginning.

Is available in paperback and Kindle from Amazon.

Learn more about Dead Man at http://thedeadmanbooks.blogspot.com.

HANCOCK TIPS HIS HAT TO JASON DARK VI-‘FROM A WATERY GRAVE’!

TIPPIN’ HANCOCK’S HAT-Reviews of All Things Pulp by Tommy Hancock

FROM A WATERY GRAVE
by Guido Henkel
Published by Thunder Peak Publishing
2010

A tragic shipwreck, all hands and a horde of treasure lost a century ago off the English Coast literally returns to haunt the countryside and entice Supernatural Investigator Jason Dark and his partner Siu Lin to investigate!  Throw in another consulting detective, a rather ominous Asian crimelord, pirate ghosts, cursed gold coins, and an invisible wall of death and you have the sixth Jason Dark Adventure from Guido Henkel-FROM A WATERY GRAVE!

The midpoint of the Dark series, this sixth novella is definitely a step up from its predecessor.  It veers back toward the first four books from Henkel, shimmers with a bit of the same imagination, glistens with a hint of tight plotting and decent pacing.   The most fascinating part of this story was the care Henkel gave to the doomed crew of the sunken ship, both as they died and when they returned as ghosts.  These ‘monsters’, though there was more tragedy than terror attached to them, were wonderfully realized and intriguing, much more so than most of the human cast around them.

One of the aspects of this book, however, that was extremely laborious was the name dropping.  Henkel had, until FROM A WATERY GRAVE, rather creatively peopled the Dark stories with hints and glimpses of famous historic and literary characters, particularly a handful associated with London’s best known Consulting Detective from the Victorian Era.  In FROM A WATERY GRAVE, however, the subtlety that Henkel wielded so masterfully in the earlier tales is completely gone and some of the references and inclusions of famous characters are ham handed and seem to be inserted simply for effect.  One completely makes no sense at all and adds nothing to the story.    I am definitely a fan of tales that ‘cross over’ characters from other works, but I had become such a fan of Henkel’s silken approach to it in previous books that the way it was handled in this one disappointed me.

THREE OUT OF FIVE TIPS OF THE HAT- There’s a progression back toward the greatness that Dark 1-4 possessed and I truly hope later volumes return to that with gusto!

HANCOCK TIPS HIS HAT TO DR. PROMETHEUS-JASON DARK V!

TIPPIN’ HANCOCK’S HAT-Reviews of All Things Pulp by Tommy Hancock

DR. PROMETHEUS
by Jason Henkel
Published by Thunder Peak Publishing
2010
Momentum is a hard thing to keep up in any endeavor and especially hard to do so with recurring characters in series fiction.   Some authors succeed marginally well for a long time, making their central cast interesting in every new installment, filling the plot with unigue traits, and giving fans both something similar to what came before and yet in its own way totally different.  Some authors succeed, but most eventually come to a point to where the story falls apart, the rock stops rolling forward, and what results is essentially a literary train wreck.
It even happens to series where the first four books were nearly the best of their type a reader could read.  
DR. PROMETHEUS, the fifth Jason Dark tale from Guido Henkel, tackles an interesting development in English history.  Due to laws passed regulating use of cadavers and how professionals acquire them, grave robbing has become quite the black market business for types who would engage in that.  And the best customer of these thieves of the dead, a doctor secluded in his own home, isolated by his own choosing- Dr. Prometheus.   Selling his soul to the Devil, it seems, Prometheus seeks to discover the secret of life, first extending it, then renewing it to the dead.  It’s this travesty against humanity that brings him into contact with Dark and his partner, Siu Lin and threatens the living of London with murder at the hands of the undead!
The premise of the story is interesting, with shades of Frankenstein being present as it opens.  As a matter of fact, the opening pages are the only satisfying parts of this tale.  Very quickly, the story descends into confusion.  There are way too many points of view being juggled, very little descriptive tissue connected to the narrative, and a complete lack of cohesion within the story.  The villain of the piece is poorly realized and his motivation even moreso.  Dark and Siu Lin seem inserted into this almost accidentally and work their way through it in a plodding manner, not typical of Henkel’s previous tales.   Even the introduction of Herbert, Dark’s oft mentioned ally, into the story doesn’t help much, but in fact only adds to the confusion due to it just being accepted and not suitably explained to possibly new readers just who Herbert is.
My biggest complaint with this story is how Henkel portrays Siu Lin.  Or more to the point, doesn’t portray her.   She’s not a major component in this fifth Dark tale, which is fine, but for what little we do see her, it seems as if she’s someone else, as if Henkel has disregarded what I took to be careful building of interest in her.  This added the biggest disappointment in a story that held little else that I found interesting.
TWO OUT OF FIVE TIPS OF THE HAT- I thoroughly enjoy the series as a whole, but this installment gives me a lot of reason to worry about what follows.

HANCOCK TIPS HAT AS HENKEL SETS ‘HEAVENS ON FIRE’! JASON DARK IV!

TIPPIN’ HANCOCK’S HAT-Reviews of All Things Pulp By Tommy Hancock

HEAVENS ON FIRE
by Guido Henkel
Published by Thunder Peak Press
2010

Supernatural Investigators stumble over all sorts of Monsters and Mysteries in the world of fiction.  But if you look particularly close, when you tie the word paranormal or supernatural to the word investigator, often those tales revolve around monsters we’d expect to see- Vampires, Ghosts, Furry Beasties on Two Legs, and so on.   I enjoy it when someone gets it right, though, and by right I mean when a writer realizes that by tying those words together, it opens up a whole realm of possibilities beyond Hollywood creatures and bump-in-the-nighters.

In the fourth installment of his Jason Dark series set in Victorian England, Guido Henkel leaves behind the terrestrial fear bringers and applies the term of ‘terror’ and ‘monster’ to something more ethereal, holy even.   This novella finds Dark and his wonderful partner Siu Lin literally in the middle of a war between Heaven and Hell.  The earth is being assaulted by demons who have found a portal into our world. These hellish invaders are led by a vile creature who has the ability to essentially continually manifest demons as necessary.  And his intent is not simply to destroy the world, but to quite literally bring the Heavens, and all who reside there, crashing down at his feet.

I have been continually impressed with the twists and takes Henkel applies to the entire genre he’s exploring with the Jason Dark series.   Although the battle between angels and demons has become somewhat cliche, Henkel brings a level of actual humanity to it.  There are reasons the Demon is after God and there are reasons the Angels stand in the void and those reasons on all sides are not simply black and
white, they are in fact very…human.    Couple that with the usual fast pacing, tight plotting, and bits of tension fraught throughout a Henkel book and this is a great read.

Something that struck me as off, however, was the characterization, particularly of our two main characters.  I’m not sure if its simply because Henkel has settled into the characters of Dark and Siu Lin after four volumes, but there’s something missing.  I’m fairly certain that instead of adding nuance and depth to both the individuals and the two as a team as he has in the first three volumes, Henkel has basically brought Dark and Siu as they were in the third book into this one.  That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but it does take a bit of unique vitality out of the tale that its predecessors displayed.

FOUR OUT OF FIVE TIPS OF THE HAT- Great story, fantastic pacing, and enough supernatural hijinks to satisfy any fan of paranormal escapades with a good mystery thrown in to the mix.

HANCOCK TIPS HIS HAT TO ‘GHOSTS TEMPLAR’! JASON DARK III

TIPPIN’ HANCOCK’S HAT- All Things Pulp Reviewed by Tommy Hancock
GHOSTS TEMPLAR
by Guido Henkel
Published by Thunder Peak Publishing
2010
Even though this novella is Guido Henkel’s third outing with his now trademark Paranormal Investigator Jason Dark, GHOSTS TEMPLAR stands out as the perfect storm for not only Henkel’s talents and imagination, but is also the pinnacle example of a moody, gothic Victorian revenge ghost story.
Dark and his ever enticing, extremely interesting partner Siu Lin are asked by a newly promoted Yard Inspector by the name of Lestrade (yes, that one, Pulpsters!) to look into the disappearance of a constable in a small town.   Of course for Dark to be involved, there has to be more than just an absent human.  Such as a band of phantom knights appearing each night and killing people.  Not randomly murdering the masses, but instead handpicking their victims and gruesomely dispatching them.   Dark and Siu Lin stumble onto not just a missing persons case nor simply a ghost story, but a quest that will lay souls, both living and dead either to rest or damn them to Hell forever.
Although the first two Dark novellas are excellent in their own rights, GHOSTS TEMPLAR proves them to be nothing but setting the table for the right blend of horror, mystery, tension, intrigue, and character development.  Henkel’s use of Lestrade as a catalyst even adds a depth to that literary figure that he doesn’t often get elsewhere.   Dark is at his moody, masterful best and Siu Lin blossoms completely into a fully realized character and one who more than holds her own in a series focused on her mentor.  
Not only do we get a full rendering of the characters we’ve now followed through three volumes in GHOSTS TEMPLAR, but Henkel provides us with an intricate, beautiful canvas which he wraps both characters and readers in.  The descriptions of the village and particularly one particular area where much of the story actually is revealed are haunting and definitely had an impact.   Henkel captures the atmosphere, the strangling, almost choking presence of evil and the desperation of good to overcome in wonderful, wonderful ways, in everything from how the ghosts in question carried out their killings to the way the village unfolded with every descriptive word from Henkel.
FIVE OUT OF FIVE TIPS OF THE HAT-  One of the best novellas of its type or possibly in my top best of novella list ever.   Can’t use enough Terrifics to describe this.