Saturday, December 29, 2012

Noteworthy Reads: THE SILVER ALIBI by James Reasoner

"Big Earl" Stark earned his name and reputation as a stagecoach guard back in the day— and now, as Federal Judge Earl Stark, he is expanding that reputation and still living up to his name by cutting a big swath through the West and taking on big, action-packed cases. He dispenses his own unique brand of justice with a gavel in one hand and a LeMat pistol (capable of firing one shotgun blast and then nine conventional rounds) in the other.

I thoroughly enjoyed the three Big Earl novels (STARK'S JUSTICE, THE HAWTHORNE LEGACY, and THE DIABLO GRANT) that came out in the mid-90s and considered the character to be among Reasoner's best. Now it is a delight to have him back in action. And THE SILVER ALIBI is a fine entry in the series. Action, double-dealing, stubborn will and hot tempers, forbidden romance, and a strong dose of mystery — what's not to like?
(Aside: I ordinarily don't try to figure out the "whodunit?" part of a mystery story or novel. Number one, I'm not that clever and, number two, I'm usually more interested in the characterizations and interactions. In THE SILVER ALIBI, however, I smugly thought I had the mystery element all figured out about a third of the way through. But then James came along with a totally legitimate swerve that caught me flat-footed and off base by a mile. So, back to concentrating on the characters and the action for me — until the next time I get suckered in.)

Bottom line: THE SILVER ALIBI is a most welcome return for Big Earl and, one hopes, the impetus for more appearances soon. Fast-paced, engaging, well worth your time and money.
Strongly recommended.

Friday, December 28, 2012


From now (actually started on 12/26) through New Years Day 2013, all titles in the popular Fight Card series are available for 99-cents each.
Tight, tough, action-packed thrillers harking back to the sports pulps of the 30s and 40s, as authored by some of the most exciting writers working today.
Just click on the following link for access to all:
Proud to say that I have a title --- COUNTERPUNCH --- in the mix.
At this price, you can afford to check out all of 'em. You won't be sorry you did.
This fine period mystery by my pal John R. Lindermuth is also available on Kindle for a limited time at the bargain price of 99-cents. I reviewed this when it first came out and if you didn't check it out then, now is the time to correct that oversight. Again, you won't be sorry.
Here's the blurb:

Sylvester Tilghman is the third in his family to serve as sheriff in the small Pennsylvania town of Arahpot, a generally peaceful place as the 19th century winds to a close. His biggest problems are lack of a deputy and the refusal of his girlfriend to marry him despite many proposals.

When Conrad Runkle, a stranger in town, is fatally stabbed Tilghman’s attention is drawn to another party new to town, Valentine Deibert, an obese man with a wife half his age. Tilghman had seen Deibert react with obvious fear in a recent encounter with the stabbing victim. When questioned, Deibert denies knowing or fearing the victim.

Runkle’s wife arrives in Arahpot and informs Tilghman her husband was in pursuit of a man who had scammed him, bankrupting his business. Suspecting a connection, Sylvester pays another visit to Deibert only to discover him dead of arsenic poisoning. Sylvester is plunged into a flurry of unusual activity and danger. And Lydia is pushing her obnoxious cousin on him as a candidate for deputy. Things continue going from bad to worse until Sylvester finally unravels the mystery.


Thursday, December 27, 2012

Noteworthy Reads: THE SHAOLIN COWBOY ADVENTURE MAGAZINE by Andrew Vachss and Michael A. Black

The lead feature here is the Shaolin Cowboy in "The Way of 'No Way". This violent, humorous, energy-charged homage to the hero pulps of the past hits the mark dead-on. More precisely, I should say it hits the marks, plural, because author Andrew Vachss uses the high-adventure format to take aim at numerous targets ranging from current pop culture to established conventions, all of whose bubbles are due (or past due) for some bursting.
The message never gets in the way of the action or the fun and surprises, however, as the stoic, plump, baggy-pantsed Cowboy—with his ever-present Chicago Cubs ball cap, his talking mule (whose sarcasm is matched only by his horniness), and a seemingly endless arsenal of weapons strapped to the mule's back—plods doggedly onward through the Endless Desert and the Terror-tories beyond to face each new danger. His goal is to pick up a payment from the boss of the Terror-tories, a grotesque blob known as "T.A." (short for "Totally Awesome", according to the blob himself, but more commonly interpreted as "Toxic Amoeba", which everyone calls him behind his back). The payment is actually triple the amount the Cowboy has already been paid by the Noir Boys to take out T.A. For that kind of dough, the Cowboy is perfectly willing to pull a double-cross—but only after he gets the money up front.
The trick, then, becomes getting to the Toxic Amoeba to pick up his pay. This sets up a series of bloody confrontations with everything from land sharks, to biker gangs, to feral forest defenders, to in-bred swamp dwellers under the protection of a true swamp horror called Monda Conda, to a three-ton Komodo Dragon with a ferocious appetite for anything in its path … Just to name a few.
Along the way, Cowboy and Mule also rescue a little girl from the clutches of a brutal white slaver and deliver her to the security of the Protect compound just beyond the edge of the forest. This sequence shows the compassionate side of the Cowboy, not to mention the Mule, who the little girl insists on calling "Horsey".
Through it all, plenty of laugh-out-loud one-liners and wry observations, mostly by the mule, add a layer of tongue-in-cheek humor to the proceedings that provide a nicely balanced counterpoint for the over-the-top violence that reaches an ultimate climax once the Cowboy makes it to where the Toxic Amoeba awaits in T.A. Town.
The secondary feature is a tight little science fiction piece entitled "Time Factor" by Michael A. Black. It is reminiscent of some of the best science fiction movies and books from the 1950s and tells a tale of time travel, complete with some harrowing adventure and a just-right touch of human emotion.
The overall package that is THE SHAOLIN COWBOY ADVENTURE MAGAZINE has just the right mix of ingredients: Gaudy cover complete with a monster and a babe in peril, exciting interior illustrations, corny ads and filler material, even the perfect pulp paper with a faintly gritty feel and that woodsy smell when you ruffle the pages. Not to mention the quality of the previously detailed stories.
Looking for some reading material that is fun and exciting and just a little different from standard fare available these days? You can find it right here.
Strongly recommended.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Guest Blog: JACK REACHER (movie) by C.J. Henderson

Much has been blogged and commented upon about the soon-to-be released JACK REACHER movie starring Tom Cruise. Much of it not very flattering, mostly due to the casting of Cruise in the title — and all without actually having seen the film.
I read some of the early Reacher books and liked them well enough, but for some reason never stuck with them. I've seen a few Tom Cruise movies that I liked, a few I didn't, and a whole bunch that I never bothered checking out. So I've got no horse in the race. If the movie is good, it's good — Li'l Tommy's height notwithstanding. It is, after all, possible for the right actor to "act big" … anybody remember a fella by the name of Alan Ladd?
So when my friend C.J. Henderson recently saw a screening of JACK REACHER and wrote the following review, I thought it made an intriguing contrast to all that previously has only been speculation compared to the critique of somebody who's actually seen the finished product.
Here's what Chris has to say:

Ladies and gentlemen, this is to announce that I received my Christmas present early this year. This night, in fact, when I saw the screening of "Jack Reacher" the first good novel that has been correctly adapted by Hollywood in years. The movie is based on British author Lee Child's book, "One Shot," one of the novels in his Jack Reacher adventure/thriller series. Let me just say this up front, that one of his books not only made it to the screen, but in such good condition, is the miracle of the ages. I will, or course, explain. But right now, let's get to …
 The story: The place is downtown Pittsburgh. For some unknown reason, a sharp-shooting assassin murders five people in cold blood in broad daylight. Thanks to expert police work, a suspect is named and captured in record time. The man is given a choice: confess, and get a life sentence, or cost the city the expense of a trial and assure himself of getting the death penalty. Taking the papers he has been handed, the man scrawls across them in large letters--GET JACK REACHER.
 This confuses the authorities because no one knows who this Reacher is. Oh, they find out who he was quickly enough. He was a military policeman with an excellent record. But, for the preceding two years since he left the Army he has been completely off the grid. No phone, utility bills, screen name--nothing. Then, with no idea how to find Reacher (Tom Cruise), suddenly  he walks in the door having come to see them.
 What unfolds from that point on is a complex game filled with multiple layers of lies and misdirection. It would be practically criminal for any reviewer to give away more of the plot. And, there is no need. One could only ruin for an audience the overwhelmingly terrific experience ahead of them.
 This is top-flight entertainment. Based on one hell of a book, the filmmakers have managed to make one hell of a movie. They did this mainly by not mucking around with what was already an incredibly tight, tremendously nuanced story. The film, which just tops two hours, is the tensest, most heart-pounding film made since the turn of the century.
 Now-a-days, Hollywood doesn't have faith in this kind of story. The film is not filled with explosions. It has action, but it has no hero--at least, not the kind of "hero" that the film industry understands. The industry likes cookie-cutter heroics, the kind of asinine crap Stallone and his ever-increasing crew of knuckleheads are making fun of in his remorselessly trivial "Expendables" series.
 Reacher is not that kind of character. Most of the time, when someone in a movie talks about playing by their own rules, they're talking about the usual paint-by-the-numbers bilge that we'll most likely see highlighted in Schwarzenegger's grand return to the screen. Reacher is more than a mere refreshing breath of air. He is a return to the kind of character you would think that only a young Clint Eastwood, or Lee Marvin, possibly, might be able to portray with any conviction. That Tom Cruise was able to pull this off so successfully is, to myself at least, practically unbelievable.
 I would like to simply give him the credit for a fantastic performance and let it go at that. However, it would remiss of me to not mention that if he did have any help, it might have been from the film's director, Christopher McQuarrie, who previously brought us "The Usual Suspects." Taking that into consideration does help explain the movie's unrelenting tension level. On the other hand, McQuarrie also brought us "Valkyrie," another Tom Cruise vehicle in which the star did not so much stand out as he did stand around.
 So, credit where credit is due, this is a terrific film. First because there was an incredible book to adapt, and second because when he wants to be, Tom Cruise can rise to the occasion and be one of the best actors working today.
 As for everything else, the film has all other bases covered. There is nothing overly sensational about the cinematography, editing, special effects, costuming, et cetera. Everything else works fine, and helps keep the movie barreling along to its conclusion.
 This may or may not be a see-in-the-theater film for you, but if you like action, brutal fight scenes, intelligent characters, a story with evil in it that is as realistic as possible, and a main character like you've never seen before, this is the holiday picture for you. There is no sex, the usual cursing is held to an utter minimum, and the overall effect is fantastic. See it at home if you have to, but this is one definitely worth seeing.
 Our final word: 5 stars out of 5.

In addition to writing reviews for Black Cat Media and other outlets, C.J. Henderson is a prolific and popular author who writes in many genres. He's written extensively in the Lovecraft mythos, has recently written the first Spider novel in 65 years, has done a number of stories and novels featuring Kolchak: The Night Stalker, etc. He also does the Jack Hagee, hardboiled PI series; as well as the Teddy London, occult detective series.

Thursday, November 29, 2012


Lengthy, interesting (hopefully) interview with yours truly up today in the Belly Up To The Bar feature on Thomas Pluck's entertaining "PLUCK YOU, TOO!" blog. You can check it out here: 

Please have a look, and feel free to leave a comment.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Guest Blogger: Michael A. Black, co-author, THE SHAOLIN COWBOY ADVENTURE MAGAZINE

Mike Black recently retired from the Blue Island, Illinois, police force with too many decorations and citations to count. He is also a kick-boxer and multi-talented author with numerous stories, articles, and books to his credit, including the Ron Shade PI series, the Leal and Hart police procedurals, and the fantastic adventures of Doc Atlas, his homage to the legendary Doc Atlas.
Recently, Mike teamed with award-winning artist Geof Darrow and best-selling author Andrew Vachss to try and capture the wildly adventurous pulp-style heroics of the 30s and 40s. Resurrecting Darrow's previously heralded "Shaolin Cowboy", the results are to be found in THE SHAOLIN COWBOY ADVENTURE MAGAZINE (available everywhere, including this Amazon link: I'll turn it over to Mike now to tell you how this whole undertaking came about:           



The Shaolin Cowboy Rides Again by Michael A. Black

The first time I officially met Geof Darrow I thought he looked familiar. He must have remembered me as well because he asked, “Have we met before?” It turned out that we had crossed paths previously, but neither of us remembered. It took our mutual good friend, mentor, and brother, Andrew Vachss, to make the formal introduction. Andrew was on one of his book tours and had stopped in Chicago. As part of “The Wolf Pack” (Andrew, Mike McNamara, Zak Mucha, and me) I always spend as much time as I can with him when he visits. This particular day he wanted to pay a visit to another good friend, Geof Darrow, who also lives in Chi-town.
I was familiar with Geof’s work. He’s an enormously talented artist and has illustrated several best selling graphic novels and comic books. His work on Hard Boiled (with Frank Miller) and The Big Guy and Rusty Robot were legendary in the comic book field, as was his satirical take on the “chop sockie” martial arts movies, The Shaolin Cowboy. Fascinated by Darrow’s incredible artistic ability, I’d purchased all of these works before I met him. But I didn’t put it together that this was the same Geof Darrow until Andrew introduced us. That’s when Geof and I kind of stared at each other, both thinking we’d met somewhere before.
We’d actually met a few years prior at a pulp con in the Chicago area. I’d rented a table there and was hawking copies of my new Doc Atlas novel, Melody of Vengeance. I’ve always been a fan of the pulps and Melody was my homage to the genre. It was a labor of love—a pastiche of the traditional, larger than life pulp characters told with a retrospective hindsight. It turned out to be a long day in which many people stopped by to chat about the pulps. One such guy was a big dude who looked to be about six-foot-six if he was an inch. He looked at Melody and mentioned he’d always been a fan of Doc Savage and the Shadow. I don’t remember much about our conversation, except that the guy’s quiet manner kind of reminded me of Ron Ely, who had played Doc Savage in the George Pal’s ill-fated production, The Man of Bronze.
I thought no more about the pulp con or the conversation with the big guy until a few years later when Andrew introduced us.
“You two guys should get along great,” he said. “You’re both fans of the old pulps.”
Geof showed us his impressive collection of pulp magazines and the more we talked, the more I felt that we’d met somewhere before. Finally, I mentioned my Doc Atlas stories and Geof snapped his fingers. “Weren’t you at the Windy City Pulp Con a few years ago?” he asked.
Then it dawned on me: he was that big guy who’d stopped by my table to chat. We’ve been fast friends ever since.
“What? You two know each other?” Andrew asked. This was one of the few times that I can remember him being surprised by anything.
In addition to working in the field of comics and graphic novels, Geof also does work for motion pictures. He did the concept designs for the immensely popular Matrix movies and even had a cameo in one of them. (I’ll leave it to you to find him, but he’s the only guy in the movie who’s wearing glasses.)
Fast forward a few years to the present. Geof called me and asked if I was interested in writing a story as a back-up feature for his latest project. “We’re doing a knock-off of the old pulps for Dark Horse,” he said. “It’ll be called, The Shaolin Cowboy Adventure Magazine, and Andrew is writing the main story.”
I told him I would be honored to be part of it.
Originally, we wanted to use a Doc Atlas story, but the Doc novellas tend to run a bit long, just like the old pulp versions, so we had to select something else. Geof had already sent me a prototype of the cover, which was beautifully painted by Scott Gustafson, and it featured the Shaolin Cowboy battling a Tyrannosaurus Rex with a nunchauk. The T-Rex was holding a beautiful babe in its claw as its serpentine tongue flicked toward her.
“There’s no damsel in distress in the actual story,” Geof told me, “but this is supposed to be an homage to the old pulps. They always had a beautiful girl in danger on the covers.”
I understood completely, and thought that the cover was reminiscent of those grand paintings by the great artists of the thirties and forties.
“It just so happens I have a dinosaur story myself,” I said. “It’s called ‘Time Factor’.”
Geof asked to see it and the rest, as they say, is history.
“Time Factor” is my first published sci-fi story and I think it would have fit perfectly in one of the old pulp magazines. It features a military squad sent back in time to the Cretaceous period where they encounter some real, live dinosaurs. Geof got his friend, artist Gary Gianni, to do the illustrations and they are magnificent. When I first saw the galleys I thought I’d been sent back in time to the 1930s and was looking at one of the original pulp magazines.
Andrew did a fabulous job writing the main feature, “The Way of No Way,” featuring the Shaolin Cowboy and Geof provided his customary, excellent illustrations. He also put in some other witty bits of satire giving the mag the appearance of an actual pulp from a bygone era. Andrew said he had a lot of fun writing the story, and if you read it, you’ll see why. And as I said before, I am honored to have been part of this one.
Michael A. Black

If you like your reading wild, wooly, pulpy, and imaginative, be sure to check out this collaboration. You won't be sorry you did.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Available Now: BODY COUNT - The Joe Hannibal Case Files, Volume I

My blue collar PI Joe Hannibal made his debut in the Fall 1982 issue of Spiderweb Magazine, marking this his 30th year in print and making the Hannibal stories and books one of the longest-running, still-active series on the fictional PI scene.

In recognition of this, we have just released a collection of Hannibal stories that span his 30-year (so far) career, starting with his first appearance in the never before reprinted "The Fancy Case" through to "The Hard Side of Heartbreak", an original tale written exclusively for this collection. Also included is the Edgar-, Anthony-, and Shamus-nominated title piece, "Body Count."

The cover blurb reads: "Six short stories, thirteen homicides, five hot dames, and one tough PI ... "

For the sales copy listing on Amazon, Hannibal himself lays it out this way:

"My name's Hannibal. Joe Hannibal.
When you've carried a PI ticket for as many years as I have, you're likely to have run up against plenty of different kinds of trouble in plenty of different places.

It might come in the form of a runaway Illinois wife whose flight ends up making her a target for far worse than what she was trying to run away from … Or it might be a couple of former partners in the bodybuilding racket whose competitiveness triggers a jealous rage neither of them ever saw coming … Or maybe a high priced call girl whose client list turns into a hit list when the obsession of a highly dangerous man turns lethal.

In laid-back rural Nebraska, a thick late-night fog can hold more danger than even the spooky conjuring of an overly imaginative young boy … Or a planned hike through a stretch of remote "badlands" can turn into a life-or-death struggle with a predatory psychopath … And a country western band on the brink of elusive stardom might find their success blocked yet again when deep, simmering secrets from within its members suddenly and destructively boil to the surface.

You don't have to take my word for it. I've opened up my files and laid bare some of my most memorable cases spanning the past thirty years. Get ready to discover that there are 'mean streets' to be found everywhere—not just in the bowels of a big city."

All told, there are almost 50,000 words of hardboiled action here --- for the super-bargain price of only $0.99!
The intent is to hopefully revitalize readers' interest in the Hannibal series and whet their appetites for the new full-length Hannibal novel, BLADE OF THE TIGER, coming in December.
Both BODY COUNT and BLADE will be initially released in eBook format, with print versions to follow in a few weeks.

If you're already familiar with Joe Hannibal, I think you'll enjoy another look at these stories and the new one alone ought to be worth the 99 cents.
If you haven't read the Hannibal series before, this is a good place to start. And if you're a mystery/PI fan I'm counting on you wanting to check out some more titles in the series.
You can follow the link at the top right hand corner of the page or simply click on this: to find a complete listing of my Hannibal books as well as my Westerns and other work.

Hope you give some of 'em a try, I don't think you'll be disappointed.

Persevere --- WD


Friday, November 16, 2012

Noteworthy Reads: RANCHO DIABLO-THE HOLD UP by Colby Jackson
THE HOLD UP is the seventh entry in the popular RANCHO DIABLO series and is yet another fine example of exactly why the series is so popular. Writing chores under the "Colby Jackson" byline alternate book to book between authors Bill Crider, James Reasoner, and Mel Odom—with Mr. Odom being the one wearing the Jackson hat this time around.
The trick to keeping any good series fresh to have some growth, some change, some evolvement within the recurring cast of characters as well as new characters that wander in and out of the various storylines. Again, all those things are present here as evidence of what makes this series so entertaining.
There has always been a strong bond, usually quickly formed, between Sam Blaylock and his family and the hands who come to work for then on the Rancho Diablo ranch. This is important because there also has always been friction between the townspeople of nearby Shooter's Cross and anyone associated with Blaylock's brand. Much of this is due to jealousy over the success of the ranch and the sawmill connected to it. These hard feelings ("as constant as chiggers in high grass," Marhsal Everett Tolliver muses early on in this book) are stirred at every opportunity by Mitchell McCarthy, owner/editor of the town newspaper, who harbors his own personal grudge against  "those barbaric cowboys from Rancho Diablo."
All of this figures into the plot of THE HOLD UP when one of Rancho Diablo's newer hands, Randy Post, is found kneeling beside the dead body of Jessie Holden, a popular saloon girl, in the alley out back of the Wooden Owl. Prior to this, Randy had been seeing Jessie regularly and had convinced himself that she had genuine feelings for him. But tonight he had arrived in town displaying a jealous rage over reports that Jessie had been seeing other men. This was enough to convince everyone who converged in the alley after hearing gunshots that the boy—even though he was found at her side trying to provide aid and comfort—was guilty beyond any doubt of being her killer.
Yet Marshal Tolliver isn't so easily convinced. For starters, there were reports of two gunshots but Randy's gun was only fired once. Who fired the other shot … and why?
From this instantly intriguing start, the rest of this reader-grabbing tale only picks up momentum.
Naturally refusing to believe that their friend and co-worker is guilty of cold-blooded murder, Sam Blaylock and several of his key hands—including Randy's cousin Bob, and Mike Tucker, Sam's quietly deadly best friend since their days together as Army scouts—ride into Shooter's Cross to help resolve the matter. To the surprise of no one more than themselves (since the marshal has previously tended to side with his town when previously caught in the middle of tensions between Shooter's Cross and Rancho Diablo) Tolliver and Sam end up forming an edgy alliance to get to the bottom of who really killed Jessie—and why.
Before they are through, an amazing amount of double-dealing will be revealed, guns will blaze, a merciless slaughter of innocent people will take place, and not one but two attempted bank robberies will have to be thwarted … until the whole shebang culminates in a frantic shoot-out that finally delivers justice but paints the streets of Shooter's Cross bloody red in the process.
Don't miss this one!
Highly recommended.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Noteworthy Reads: A BOMB BUILT IN HELL by Andrew Vachss

The whole thrust of Andrew Vachss's "fiction"—and, indeed, his life's work—has been to hold up a mirror reflecting back upon society the monsters it is producing every day by the abuses allowed against the young and the vulnerable.
A BOMB BUILT IN HELL was his first attempt to utilize crime fiction as a means to reach a wider audience with this message. The lean, tight prose that would become his trademark was very much in evidence and already honed to a fine edge. Wesley, his protagonist, an ice-cold killer forged by the kind of neglect and abuse Vachss wants the world to recognize for the danger it can create, is as chillingly memorable as any character you'll ever read about.
But for all that—for all the skill and passion that went into the message BOMB was intended to be—no publisher would touch it back in the early 70s when it was first offered. The overriding consensus was that it was simply "too" … too violent, too harsh, too extreme. And plot elements that included events like revolt in Haiti, the rise of Chinese street gangs, and someone entering a high school heavily armed for the sake of blowing away everyone in sight—waaay too outlandish.
All of the foregoing is detailed by Andrew himself in an Author's Note at the start of this newly released edition (available in both print and eBook format, from Vintage Books).
Yet, for too long, A BOMB BUILT IN HELL languished, largely unread and unheralded.
Vachss altered his approach (but never his aim) slightly, and went on to write the extremely popular "Burke" series, starting with FLOOD in 1985. Elements of BOMB, as well as the character of Wesley himself, were worked into the Burke books, most notably in BLUE BELLE and HARD CANDY. And the presence of Wesley, even though he was officially considered dead at the end of CANDY, was felt through the remainder of the series until its conclusion in 2008.

Still, Wesley's complete story needed to be told. In fact, the subtitle of A BOMB BUILT IN HELL is now "Wesley's Story". And while some versions of the novel (including a free download at one point, and a prior eBook) have been available before now, these Vintage versions mark its first professionally done edition.
Although something of a "period" piece now, BOMB has lost none of its impact during the intervening years. In many ways, it is as current as today's headlines.
Vachss's writing skill is just as powerful … And Wesley is every bit as chillingly memorable.
Strongly recommended. Don't miss it.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

FIGHT CARD Interviews - Part I - Now Up on PULPED!

Tommy Hancock and the good folks at PULPED! have put up the first of the FIGHT CARD interviews.
Part One features an informative conversation with FC founders Paul Bishop and Mel Odom, followed by a segment with yours truly. Then, in weeks to come, there will be additional interviews with Eric Beetner, Kevin Michaels, and more. Be sure to check this out and then check back often to see ongoing features from PULPED!
Just follow the narrative and the links below:

PULPED! The New Pulp Podcast
PULPED! is a Podcast dedicated to the creators and fans of New Pulp! New Pulp, heroic fiction by modern artists written with the sensibility and in the tradition of the Pulp genre! Pulp creators Barry Reese, Derrick Ferguson, Ron Fortier, and Tommy Hancock are the helmsen of this venture and will bring New Pulp discussion, guests, debates, news, and even New Pulp's very own spokesperson, The Pulptress, to PULPED! each week! If you like your fiction heroic, if you seek adventure and action in every word you read, then come on in, take a seat, and get PULPED! PULPED! will post each Monday!
Tommy Hancock beings a multipart saga featuring the Creators, Writers, and Artists behind the New Pulp phenomenon known as FIGHT CARD!  This series of boxing focused Sports Pulp tales was created by veteran writers Paul Bishop and Mel Odom and in the space of a year has taken New Pulp by storm!  Listen as Bishop and Odom talk about the concept, how they put together so many writers, and why people WILL read stories of gloves, rings, punches, and black eyes!  Also Tommy talks to writer Wayne Dundee about his contribution to the series as well as vampires, Private Eyes, and Westerns!  Tune in at least the next two weeks for more FIGHT CARD!  And listen tonight as New Pulp works by David C. Smith, Jeff Deischer, Joe Bonadonna, and Stephen Jared receive special attention!
Check out New Pulp on at and on Facebook and at
Tommy Hancock-
Ron Fortier-
Barry Reese-
Derrick Ferguson-
ALL MUSIC used in Pulp is under a Creative Commons License. Opening and closing themes performed by the Red Hook Ramblers. Other music, including that used in commercial production, by Kevin MacLeod (
Direct download: FIGHT_CARD_PULPED_PART_1.mp3
Category:New Pulp -- posted at: 12:09 AM

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Guest Blogging Today at KMNBOOKS

I have a guest post up today at Karen Michelle Nutt's blog site. Karen is a fine writer of paranormal/time-travel stories and books. I recently did a review, you may recall, of her highly entertaining time-travel Western, STORM RIDERS.
You can check out her site and view my 10/27/12 post, along with previous October entries, all containing horror-Halloween themes this month, at:

My post relates some quasi-amusing events that resulted from having the crap scared out of me at age 10 after seeing Hammer Films' Horror of Dracula.
But, having endured the fright and subsequent nervous nights, like all writers I took that what did not grind me into hamburger and eventually injected it into my writing. The whole thing eventually played a part in my vampire novel, NIGHT SPOOR, from earlier this year.

I hope you drop over to Karen's blog and check out my post as well as some of the othre features.
If you do and if you're interested, there is even a contest to win a signed copy of NIGHT SPOOR.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Another Look: THE BORN LOSERS starring Tom Laughlin

I saw this 1967 film when it first came out, as one half of a drive-in movie double bill. I don't recall having seen or heard anything about it prior to the viewing, nor can I recall what other movie was playing with it. So I suspect it was probably just another "biker flick" (which was how Born Losers was originally promoted, part of a sub genre that was quite popular during the mid/late 60s) double feature. Which meant neither the titles or stars really mattered, you went to see the action, the bikes, and some gratuitous sex and violence.
In retrospect, the best of these were pretty bad, the rest were downright terrible. Yet the studios (American International primarily) kept cranking them out—eternal classics such as The Glory Stompers, The Mini Skirt Mob, the enticingly titled Chrome and Hot Leather, etc.—and we ended up seeing most of them over the three or four year period they remained popular. (I say "we" meaning my wife and I; in most cases she obligingly went along with whatever movie fare I selected and it was only years later that I found out how much she actually loathed these violence-laden, particularly-abusive-to-women turkeys—which was one more example where her maturity and good taste far exceeded mine, especially in those early years of our marriage.)
But there was something different about The Born Losers. I recognized it right away. Yeah, it had all the trappings of your typical biker film, so it wasn't lacking in any way for those who came merely for that. But it also had more—primarily in the form of its protagonist Billy Jack, the half-breed former Green Beret who only wanted to be left alone but continued to get inadvertently drawn in to a series of confrontations with the Born Losers, a local biker gang led by Danny, a boyhood acquaintance of Billy's. The subtle depth of characterization for these two and the acting skills of those portraying them (Tom Laughlin as Billy; Jeremy Slate as Danny) lifted the film to another level. The rest of the cast mostly turned in performances ranging from wooden to barely adequate. Three additional exceptions were: None other than Jane Russell in a gritty, memorable cameo; the quirky interpretation of Elizabeth James as the college girl targeted by the bikers and subsequently rescued by Billy; and Jack Starrett as the psychotically macho sheriff's deputy. ("All I need is for one witness to identify you—and I'd settle for a liar," he threatens Danny at one point.)

In the end, though, it was the introspection and ultimately reluctant heroics of Billy that, for me, made the film a cut above what I expected to see. Basically, Born Losers is a Western utilizing motorcycles instead of horses. Billy is the lone gunslinger wanting to mind his own business and stay on the periphery of things; Danny and his Losers are the rowdy outlaw gang shooting up the town and terrorizing its innocent citizens, thereby not allowing the loner to just ride away and ignore the situation. There is even a scene in the middle of the film where the Losers are gathered in a pack, getting ready to ride out, when Danny leads the charge, so to speak, by whirling his cap above his head and shouting, "Losers—yeeoww!" to which each of the other bikers gun their hogs in turn and give out with their own yells before roaring away. To me, it was instantly reminiscent of the famous "yee-hah!" scene in Red River when the cattle drive is first starting out.
For the anti-hero enthusiasts, Jeremy Slate's portrayal of Danny fills the bill nicely, giving the character his own strengths and (minimal) values, even though he is destined to come up short at the end. And his slow-motion death scene at the climax (hitting the screen months ahead of the slow-motion death dance in Bonnie and Clyde that was so widely heralded when Warren Beatty's film debuted nearer the end of the year) was truly jolting.
For all that, The Born Losers may have faded away with little fanfare other than from the handful of viewers like me who recognized it in passing as something special. Also, there was the little-known fact that it stood as American International's top box office earner until 1979's The Amityville Horror.
But everything changed when Tom Laughlin released his 1974 follow-up film, titled simply Billy Jack, in 1974. Although he used pseudonyms on the screen credits, Laughlin was the co-writer (along with Elizabeth James, who later had success as a mystery author), director, and producer (along with his wife Delores Taylor) of The Born Losers. According to one account, it was James who created the Billy Jack character and later sold it exclusively to Laughlin when he recognized its potential. The more popular version of late is that Laughlin created the Billy Jack character and the basic plot of Billy Jack as far back as the mid 1950s but couldn't get any studio interested in doing a story that touched on the plight of the American Indian. So, at the suggestion of his wife, he took the character and melded him into a biker gang actioner that would be more marketable, then took the profits from Born Losers to finance Billy Jack on his own. Although not without some initial struggle, Billy Jack of course turned out to be a phenomenal success. So much so that it resurrected The Born Losers, causing it to be re-released with claims of: "The film that introduced Billy Jack" and "The original screen appearance of Tom Laughlin as Billy Jack".

After that, Billy Jack established the ranks of popular cinematic heroes (leading the way for the likes of Dirty Harry and Rambo) whose mere name, when mentioned, carries universal impact and meaning to the point of becoming part of our popular language—such as: "You don't watch out, I'm gonna go all Billy Jack on your ass!"
I'll refrain from commenting much more on Billy Jack, the film, except to say I was one of its biggest fans when it first came out and for some years thereafter. This was partly due to the validation it gave my Billy Jack, the one from The Born Losers, I'd first recognized as something special seven years earlier.
I wasn't yet thirty when I first saw Billy Jack. It seemed like great stuff then. Now, from the perspective of thirty-five added years, it no longer holds up as well for me. It still has some fine moments and Delores Taylor (Laughlin's real-life wife, going before the cameras for the first time) turned in a truly Academy Award-worthy performance that got completely overlooked. But too many aspects of the "hippie school" sub plot, particularly many of the bratty, disrespectful kids who populate it, tend to make me feel annoyed, even pissed off, rather than sympathetic these days. Chalk it up to cranky old age perhaps, but, for whatever reason, much of it now falls flat for me.

The Born Losers, on the other hand—which I watched again for the umpteenth time the other night on TCM—still holds up pretty damn well. If you haven't seen it in a while or maybe have never have seen it at all, I recommend giving it a try. If you can't catch it on cable, you can buy a DVD copy fairly cheaply on Amazon. You can even buy the whole "package" of Billy Jack films (The Born Losers, Billy Jack, The Trail of Billy Jack, and Billy Jack Goes to Washington). The package deal might be worth your time strictly as a scholarly excercise. It saddens me to say this, inasmuch as I greatly admire the creativity and gumption Laughlin showed in getting his initial films made, but the franchise grew progressively worse (Washington is barely watchable) due to an ego left unrestrained as the result of Laughlin's early success.
My advice is to watch The Born Losers for the sake of seeing Billy Jack at his best; and then Billy Jack to see what struck a chord with the public and made the character an American folk hero. Skip the other two, you'll thank me.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Noteworthy Reads: SAVAGE BLOOD by James Reasoner

A new story or book by James Reasoner is always good news.
And SAVAGE BLOOD, his latest Western novella, is exceptionally good—in a tough, gritty, moody, hardboiled kind of way … And, much as it pains me to resort to the term since it is so widely (and erroneously) overused these days, SAVAGE BLOOD also stands as a prime example of Western noir.
Eva—Tom Brodie's beautiful, calculating, seductive wife—is at the center of everything that happens in this fast-paced, brooding yet action-packed gem of a tale. Allegedly believing that Tom had been killed in the war, Eva took off with a mutual acquaintance, Martin Caney. Brodie returned after the battles were over, alive but minus his left arm, only to discover he was also minus a wife. Embittered, he never went looking for her but instead fell into an empty life sustained by a series of menial jobs that could be handled by a one-armed man.
Now, as this story opens, ten years have passed. Eva dramatically re-enters Brodie's life when a gut-shot dying man arrives at the saloon where Brodie is tending bar. With his last words, the stranger blurts Eva's name and tells Brodie she needs his help in the town of Salt Crossing, some hundred miles to the north.
For reasons he doesn't completely understand, Brodie finds himself compelled to respond. Upon arriving in Salt Crossing, Brodie soon learns that Eva and Caney are at serious odds with the local power baron, a man named Flannery. It seems Eva fairly won Flannery's saloon from him in a card game and the man's ego not only can't handle the embarrassment but neither is he willing to tolerate the competition of his former saloon continuing to run successfully while he has the rest of the town in his grasp.
Before Brodie can make up his mind whether or not he might be willing to help Eva and Caney, a trio of hardcases in Flannery's employ attempt to brace the new arrival and the confrontation that ensues results in making up his mind for him.
From there the tensions mount quickly and lead starts flying on a regular basis. Everyone soon learns that underestimating Tom Brodie because he is missing one arm can be a deadly mistake. There is plenty of action, some deep emotional undercurrents, and a couple of nifty plot twists before everything is finished. In the end, the scheming, bewitching Eva is forced to face the fact that, even though men have once again risked their lives to gain her favor, the only man she may ever have really wanted can no longer be counted among those she is able to wrap around her finger.
Strongly recommended.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Dundee Interview at ROMANCING THE HEART

Writing-wise, my byline may not be the first one you'd think to look for under the heading of "Romance", right?
Aw, come on—you don't need to agree so quickly. Just wait until I come out with my sure-hit best seller, Fifty Shades of Viagra, then you'll see.

But in the meantime, I hope we can agree that there often are romantic elements to a sweeping Western. And the same can hold true for a detective mystery, even the hardboiled kind. Romance—strong feelings of the heart, in other words—are frequently what makes the tough protagonists of these tales do what they must do.

So there's my story and I'm sticking to it.
And if you need any more convincing that my byline and the kind of stuff I write can be included with the word "Romance", just check out my interview at the fine blog: Romancing The Heart.

Hope you have a look. Enjoy. Leave a comment.

Persevere — WD

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Bullet-Fast eBooks Available Now!

In my humble opinion, the Western fiction landscape is as rich and exciting these days as it has been in a long time. Perhaps, inasmuch as I've put my own brand on a few of the titles roaming around on that landscape, I am somewhat biased. Or maybe just hopeful.
But I think it's more than that.
I think the reality is undeniable, and I think eBooks are playing a big part in why this is taking place.
But don't take my word for it. I offer, as back-up, the following evidence.
Here are a few recent titles that present a wide range of styles and plot devices that demonstrate some of the skill and freshness that is helping to revitalize the genre:

Here is a gritty traditional Western, a novella featuring Wesley Quaid, who has appeared previously in a number of short stories by Pizzolato. Quaid is the quintessential anti-hero, the outlaw of the title. Specifically, he is a bank robber, a wanted man in Texas who arrives in the quiet town of Leesville, Kansas, seeking to change his life—after he makes one more "forcible withdrawal" as he dubs his bank transactions.
But Quaid has barely climbed down from his saddle before he is caught up in a series of events that end up diverting him drastically off course from his simple plan. First he backs down a snot-nosed punk who turns out to be the spoiled son of the area's wealthiest and most powerful rancher; then he encounters a lovely brown-eyed young woman who stirs deeper feelings in him than he thought possible; and then—even more surprising and unlikely—he signs on as Leesville's new deputy marshal.
But Pizzolato is only getting warmed up with these initial plot twists. There are plenty more as the story propels along. Without spoiling too much, let me just say that Quaid goes from outlaw to lawman to hero and, ultimately, back to outlaw again before the conclusion is reached. But even Quaid the Outlaw is likable, in a cockeyed kind of way. And certainly in comparison to the evil scum he must overcome at the climax.
The action is relentless (including dalliances with some lovely and willing females), the characters colorful (in addition to the aforementioned females), and the passages of introspection on Quaid's part give the reader a welcome dose of insight into the man.
A real (electronic) page-turner. Recommended.
This is an exciting Western made even more so by having it play out within a paranormal/science fiction framework. And the best part—thanks to author Nutt's clever characterizations and writing skill—is that the elements of all genres utilized are handled in a respectful, wholly satisfying manner.
The setting is Bodie, California, 1879. At the last possible second, Ace McTavish is saved from hanging for a pair of murders he is innocent of committing. His rescuers are two "Storm Riders"—operatives from the future, sent by a government monitoring agency to mend "rifts" in time that, if left uncorrectred, will have disruptive affects on the space/ time continuum. The rift in this case would be allowing McTavish to be executed; exactly what future disruption this would cause is unclear.
But things turn out not to be as simple as just rescuing McTavish from the hangman's noose. In addition, you see, he is supposed to stay alive. And, since he immediately states his intentions to go back to Bodie in order to try and clear his name, there is every reason for the Storm Riders who rescued him to believe he will be apprehended and end up on the gallows all over again. That means that, in order to completely fulfill their mission, the Riders—Samantha and Denny—must help McTavish clear his name and set things right.
What ensues is a series of twists and turns that meshes Old West shoot-outs and cunning with futuristic gadgetry and intrigue. Along the way, Samantha and McTavish begin to develop feelings for one another. Storm Riders are forbidden from ever interacting with a "package" (someone they've time-traveled to save from a fate gone askew) in even the slightest way—let alone get romantically involved with.
There is a slam-bang climax, a final surprise twist at the end, and plenty of action along the way. All seasoned with sharp dialogue and straightforward descriptive passages, as a testament to Nutt's writing talent.
A very well done change-of-pace Western. Or maybe a change-of-pace Science Fiction adventure … Depending which angle you're coming at it from, I guess.
In any event, a fun read that I strongly recommend.
And, last but not least, the sure hand of Peter Brandvold proves itself once again with this recently released novella featuring Gideon Hawk, one of Mean Pete's many recurring characters. Dubbed the "Rogue Lawman" due to his relentless pursuit of lawbreakers and evil-doers following the savage murder of his wife and son, Hawk's ruthless handling of the worst scum on the frontier—often outside the boundaries of strict legal procedures—at times puts him on the wrong of "the law". But that doesn't deter him from still doing things the way he sees fit.
Case in point: The recent stagecoach robbery pulled by the Bobcat Jack Bunch. After successfully seizing all the money and valuables they were after, the Bunch mercilessly ran the coach over a steep cliff, sending the two women and children who aboard to a bruising, bloody death.
One by one, Hawk has tracked down four of the five gang members and dispatched them in his coldly efficient way. The trail of the final killer leads Hawk high into the mountains where the warmth and hospitality of a lonely widow who has buried her own loved ones offers welcome respite from the manhunter's trail … If, that is, everything is as it appears on the outside.
Brandvold writes gritty, blood-spattered action and evocative imagery as good or better than just abut anybody who's ever worked in the genre. This fast-paced yarn is proof that he shows no signs of slowing down. Things start off with a bang (or, more literally, a "BOOM!") and the pace never lags after that. Mean Pete can damn sure still pack a punch and he can also pack a nifty surprise or two.
Highly recommended.

Persevere --- WD

Wednesday, September 26, 2012


Had an interesting, enjoyable, quasi-weird afternoon yesterday.

It started out with my oldest grandson and I going to see the Clint Eastwood movie, Trouble With The Curve. Liked the movie a lot. It's in the vein of Grand Torino, with Eastwood playing a widower again, this time a grouchy, stubbornly old-school baseball scout suffering from failing eyesight.

 Before his sight problems fail him completely(and reveal him to the ball club's higher-ups just as his contract is coming due), Clint is assigned to assess a hotshot batter who is in contention for a number one draft pick. Through some mildly far-fetched plot mechanisms, his estranged daughter, now a high-powered attorney on the brink of making partner at her law firm, takes leave to accompany him for a few days in order to find out the truth about his condition and to try and patch up their sketchy relationship.
There are few surprises in the predictable storyline (young romance, betrayal, ultimate retribution) but the whole thing is nevertheless quite satisfying and superbly acted (especially by Amy Adams, as Clint's daughter). Our local little theater has a $4 Tuesday matinee—all ages, all movies—so it was sure as hell worth that and good enough so that I don't think I would have squawked too much even at a higher price at a bigger venue.

After the movie, Bill and I drove out to the lake to a bar we frequent called the Sand's Edge. I'm past my drinking prime and Bill is still too young, so we go there for their burger menu. If you don't know about bar burgers … well, I feel sorry for you but I won't go into a long dissertation on what you're missing.

Suffice to say that bar burgers tend to be the best eatin' you're apt to find anywhere you go. We've tried a few different ones off the Sand's Edge menu but the one we currently prefer is the Cowboy Burger—a 1/3 lb patty, topped with cheese, bacon, and a fat onion ring all pressed between two toasted buns. You can get it with barbecue sauce but we both opt out of that. Far as I'm concerned, barbecue sauce in most instances is like ketchup—it's for hiding cooking mistakes, not really for enhancing the flavor.
But I digress …

So the movie and the burgers were great.
Now for the quasi-weird part: Seated at the bar when we got there were six or eight laborer-type guys. Bill and I took seats at one of the little tables off to one side. I'm not sure if the guys were construction workers or railroaders or what. They weren't ranchers, I'm pretty sure of that. This was about four o'clock in the afternoon and it was a little rainy outside, but mostly only a faint mist. Maybe these guys were done for the day, maybe the rain (such as it was) caused them to knock off early. I got the impression they sort of knew one another, but weren't necessarily all from the same crew.
Anyway, back-to-back rerun episodes of Friends were playing on the TV behind the bar and these guys—all of these guys—were intently watching them. There was a bit of conversation here and there, but for the most part they were locked on Ross, Rachel, Joey and the gang. And there was one guy who had a laugh like a cross between Horschack (sic?) from the old Welcome Back Kotter show and a sick mule. First he'd repeat the punch line and then he'd cut loose with "Neeyah … Neeyah … Neyah-ha-ha!" The others would laugh, too, but this guy out-brayed the whole bunch.

It was the damnedest thing I ever saw. These sorta gritty-looking, outdoor-labor types so completely transfixed by Friends— and Donkey Laugh square in their midst honking his ass off.
I'm half tempted to go back again today just to see if that bunch congregates daily. But if they do, then I'd have to listen to "Neeyah … Neeyah … Neeyah-ha-ha!" some more and I don't know if I could take it.
It might even be catching …

Persevere --- WD