Sunday, August 16, 2015


In the late 60s/early 70s, one of the “adult” paperback houses – Beacon I think, or maybe Midwood – published three or four books featuring an Old West protagonist called only “Chance”. These were not lighthearted parodies or anything like that. These were fairly traditional shoot-em-ups with lots of action and tough confrontations --- and plenty of graphic sex (although perhaps somewhat tame by today’s standards). They were, in fact, the precursors to the Slocums, Longarms, etc., that would eventually follow in a wave of what would come to be known as “adult Westerns”.

But, as far as packaging, the Western aspect of the Chance books was downplayed almost to the point of nonexistence. The titles were generic teasers that could have applied to almost any storyline and not even the cover blurbs, as I recall, gave much of a hint as to what was inside. It was only after you started reading that you realized you were in an Old West setting with a tough hombre named Chance whose guns --- the one riding in a holster on his hip as well as the one, er, located nearby --- were fast and always loaded for actin.

Various relocations over the years have resulted in the copies I had of these books being long lost. I don’t remember either the titles or the byline of the author. I just remember enjoying them … I was a lot younger then and still full of you-know-what and vinegar so I admittedly bought them, at least in the beginning, for the sex but also recognized that there was a pretty decent writer at work here spinning pretty good Western yarns around all the humping and bumping.

Somewhere, a while back … as a result of immersing my own writing and reading more and more into the Western genre, I guess … the memory of these books crawled out of a dusty corner of my brain and I’ve been thinking about them, on and off, ever since. I’d like to get my hands on a copy or two and see how they hold up after all this time. Maybe I’ll be disappointed, maybe I’ll still find them to be pretty good.

So I put it out to any all Western fans out there who happen to be reading this:
Anybody else there remember these books? The titles? The writer (or writers) behind the byline? Any background, any light that can be shed I would greatly appreciate.

Saturday, August 15, 2015


Sherlock Holmes faces perhaps the greatest challenge yet in his long-running war with his arch-enemy Professor Moriarty—the living dead walk, hungry for flesh and doing the bidding of the evil professor!

From a dirigible carrying a deadly cargo high in the sky over London to a sinister castle lurking in the beautiful English countryside, the Great Detective and his friend Dr. Watson battle to thwart Moriarty's latest scheme to wreak havoc and loot one of the world's great cities. Thousands of lives hang in the balance, and it will take all of Holmes' incredible deductive skills to figure out just what a young writer named H.G. Wells and the German teenager Albert Einstein have to do with Moriarty's plans!

Legendary thriller writer Stephen Mertz takes on some of the world's most iconic characters in this fast-paced tale that is part mystery novel, part horror yarn, and part steampunk inventiveness. It's a breathless adventure that's sure to entertain from first page to last! 

WD here: I had the pleasure of reading an ARC copy of this, and enjoyed the heck out of it. Having dabbled a bit in the mystery/detective genre with my own writing, it's probably near-sacrilege to admit, but I've never read many of the classic Holmes stories. I've read enough to know, however, that author Mertz does a fine job of capturing the character and speech patterns of the main characters along with the time period and locale. After establishing that, he quickly (and basically non-stop) stirs in the action, excitement, horrific menace, a handful of subplots, a bit of humor, and plenty of surprise twists. 
Strongly recommended!

Friday, August 7, 2015

Available Now: TRIPLE CROSS by John Hegenberger

It's 1988, and small-town P.I. Eliot Cross is searching for his long-lost father. Then, a CIA informant says that Dad has been in deep cover for over twenty years. Now, the informant's been murdered and Eliot is on the run. Scrambling to clear his name, Eliot journeys from Washington D.C. to Havana, Cuba, struggling against deadly drug-runners, syndicate hit-men and his own violent nature. But the worst is yet to come, as Eliot discovers his father is at the center of an international conspiracy, a nuclear threat and a double cross...or is that a triple cross? Veteran author John Hegenberger spins a yarn that is both an exciting thriller and a compelling piece of "noirstalgia", expertly recreating a sense of late-Eighties paranoia and double-dealing and painting a vivid picture of Washington and Cuba during that era, as well as saving a shocking twist for the very end. TRIPL3 CROSS is pure reading entertainment.

Above is the  "cover blurb" for TRIPL3 CROSS.
Advance praise, based on ARCs provided by the publisher, was also provided by a couple fellows who have taken a lap or two around the PI track themselves. They had this to say:

"It’s 1988, and when p.i.  Eliot Cross finds out that his father didn’t die the way Cross had been told long ago, Cross decides to find out the truth.  He winds up in Cuba where nobody wants him to be, and he discovers not only the truth about his father but about secrets that others would rather have hidden.  It’s a fast-moving tale of mystery and espionage that will engage you right from the start.  Check it out." – Bill Crider  

“In TRIPL3 CROSS, John Hegenberger skillfully blends elements of the traditional PI genre with those of an espionage thriller and comes up with an exciting, entertaining tale sure to please a wide spectrum of readers. Eliot Cross is a tough Columbus, Ohio PI with depth and complexities beyond the norm. At the core of his hard exterior and too-quick temper is the emptiness he feels over a father long thought dead. What ensues after he learns that his father may actually still be alive, makes for a fast-paced thrill ride that propels Eliot relentlessly in search of the truth, all the while dodging the Syndicate, the CIA, and ultimately Castro’s thugs in the heart of 1988 Cuba. A great debut for a protagonist readers are sure to want to see more of!” - Wayne D. Dundee

You'll want to check this one out. You'll be glad you did.