Category: Books

“Lawson” – The Poster and 1st Teaser are Here!

Here we have the first poster and teaser for Lawson.  I don’t know much about this film but it has me interested.

This is the first official movie teaser for LAWSON, a covert operative for a race of living vampires, as he battles a sinister conspiracy to resurrect an ancient god and an old enemy who resurfaces from his shadowy past in this supernatural espionage film based on the bestselling novel Lawson Vampire series by Jon F. Merz.

Starring Brandon S. Stumpf as Lawson, Shahjehan Khan as Wagner, Liz Eng as Atara, Steven Triebes as Niles, Jose Gonsalves as Arthur, Jam Murphy as Lilith, Jay Street as Newby, Morgan Barnsley as Quinn, Pamela Jayne Morgan as Sari, Logan Raposo as Grom, Christian Carrigan as Welch, Thomas Goze as Stefan, Brian McDonald as the Assassin, and Jon F. Merz as Crawford.

Proteus Entertainment presents: LAWSON, coming in 2024.

DON’T LET THE DEVIL RIDE by Ace Atkins is Coming!

Ace Atkins has a new book coming out June 25th.  Here’s the lowdown…

Addison McKellar isn’t clueless—she knows she and her husband Dean don’t have the perfect marriage—but she’s still shocked when he completely vanishes from her life. At first Addison is annoyed, but as days stretch into a week and she’s repeatedly stonewalled by Dean’s friends and associates, her frustration turns into genuine alarm. When even the police seem dismissive of her concerns, Addison turns to her father’s old friend, legendary Memphis PI Porter Hayes.

Porter and Addison begin to dig deeper into Dean’s affairs and quickly discover that he was never the hardworking business owner and family man he pretended to be. As they piece together the connections between a hook-handed mercenary, one of Elvis’s former leading ladies, and a man posing as an FBI agent, it becomes clear that Dean was deeply enmeshed in a high-stakes web of international intrigue, and Porter and Addison aren’t the only ones looking for him.

Dean angered some very dangerous people before he disappeared—people who have already killed to get what they want—and they won’t hesitate to come after his family to even the score.

Don’t Let the Devil Ride is a thrilling adventure about what can happen when you pull back the curtain on your life. Ace Atkins, long known for gritty Southern noir with a witty edge, has crafted an ambitious, globe-hopping story that comes home to Memphis in explosive fashion.

“Stamped from the Beginning” (2023) / Z-View

Stamped from the Beginning (2023)

Director: Roger Ross Williams

Writer: Ibram X. Kendi, David Teague

Stars: Ibram X. Kendi, Angela Davis.

Tagline:  None.

The Plot…

Stamped from the Beginning is based on Ibram X. Kendi’s book of the same name.  Both explore the racist tropes, symbols and imagery ingrained in American culture throughout history.

Thoughts (beware of spoilers)…

Often we get documentaries that are padded to fill out 4 or more episodes.  Stamped from the Beginning clocks in at a brisk 85 minutes.  The history of racism in the United States exploring racist tropes, symbols and imagery almost certainly could use a season (or more) of episodes.  With that said, this documentary is informative in a fashion that keeps the viewer watching.  I learned some facts and information about history (and historical figures) that were new to me.

Stamped from the Beginning (2023) earns 4 of 5 stars.

Best of 2023: Films, Books & Posts

As we start 2024, let’s pause for a look at the BEST OF 2023. I hope you see something that you enjoyed or gets you interested to check out. Here we go…

Movies and Limited Series

In 2023, I watched 409 movies and limited series. That number is up 04 from last year. None were seen in a theater! My favorite films and limited series released in 2023 included (in alpha order):

  • 1923
  • Agent Elvis
  • AKA
  • Bill Russell: Legend
  • Bye Bye Barry
  • Dark Winds: Season 2
  • Extraction 2
  • Fall of the House of Usher, The
  • Family Stallone, The
  • Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny
  • Joe Pickett: Season 2
  • Justified: City Primeval
  • Knock at the Cabin
  • Lawman Bass Reeves: Season 1
  • Leave the World Behind
  • Night Agent, The
  • Perry Mason: Season 2
  • Sly
  • StarTrek: Strange New Worlds Season 2
  • Tulsa King: Season 1

Books

In 2023, I read 21 books (16 down from last year, but considering the year we had, that’s not bad). My favorites from this year included (in the order I read them):

  • It Dies With You by Scott Blackburn

  • Blood Standard by Barron Laird
  • Chasing the Boogeyman by Richard Chizmar
  • Black Mountain by Laird Barron

  • Worse Angels by Barron Laird (A) 5.29
  • The Last Action Heroes by Nick de Semlyen
  • All Sinners Bleed by S.A. Cosby
  • Too Many Bullets by Max Allan Collins

  • But Enough About Me by Burt Reynolds

  • Things Get Ugly: The Best Crime Stories of Joe R. Lansdale by Joe Lansdale
  • Dirty Words by Todd Robinson

  • Everybody Dies by Lawrence Block
  • The Big Bundle by Max Allan Collins

My Most Popular Posts of the Year

I continue to find some surprises in what became my most popular posts each year. Here are the top ten for 2023 and some thoughts for each…

10. Top 10 Most Iconic Horror Movie VillainsHung in the 10th spot for the second year in a row.

09. RIP: Rachel Welch. New to the list

08. The Different Covers for David Morrell’s First Blood. Same spot as last year.

07. Meeting Sly Stallone. New to the list!

06. Paul Gulacy Week: Day Four. New to the list!

05. Red Sonja, Conan and Dan Panosian. New to the list.

04. Louis Meyers: Evidence He was the Zodiac Killer. Same spot as last year.

03. Dracula Through the Ages. Same spot as last year.

02. Schwarzenegger in “King Lear& Robin Williams in “Jack and the Beanstalk. Fell from the first spot last year.

01. SYFY’s 2023/2024 TWILIGHT ZONE New Year’s Eve Marathon is Up! The most popular post last year.

My All-Time Most Popular Posts

The top 4 didn’t change and only one new post broke in to the All-Time most popular posts. Let’s see how things shook out…

10. Joel Osteen in Jacksonville – held on to the 10th spot for two years in a row.

09. Gadot & The Rock Strike a Pose – was in the 9th spot for the last three years.

08. Steve Reeves as Superman – No change.

07. TOP 10 MOST ICONIC HORROR MOVIE VILLAINS! – from 5th to 7th.

06. Dracula Through the Ages – still in the 6th spot. Vampires are in.

05. New Billy the Kid Photo Discovered – No change!

04. SYFY’s 2023/2024 TWILIGHT ZONE New Year’s Eve Marathon is Up!

03. Zodiac Killer Code Cracked? – No change!

02. Louis Meyers: Evidence He Was the Zodiac KillerNo change!

01. Schwarzenegger in “King Lear” & Robin Williams in “Jack and the Beanstalk” – was #1 last year and continues to be our most popular post of all-time.

It’s always interesting to see which topics resonate with fans and continue to be popular long after their initial post.

MAGIC CITY BLUES by Bobby Mathews

MAGIC CITY BLUES by Bobby Mathews just came onto my radar.  It checks all the right boxes for me.  Maybe it will for you as well…

When low-level legbreaker Kincaid takes on a new assignment, he discovers it’s not really a step up — it’s a setup. The deal was supposed to be this: Protect Abby Doyle, the daughter of Birmingham, Alabama’s most dangerous crime lord. But when Abby’s fiancé is found murdered, Kincaid is forced to team up with BPD detective Laura D’Agostino to find the killer and protect Abby at all costs … even from her own father.

The killer’s trail winds through Birmingham — the city streets, the back alleys, the world-class food scene and the hole-in-the-wall clubs and bars — and the white-flight suburbs that surround the city, as Kincaid and D’Agostino uncover secrets that everyone would prefer left alone. But Kincaid doesn’t care about secrets. He’s been hired to do a job, and he’ll see it through or die trying.

Thrown together by circumstance, Kincaid and D’Agostino explore their unexpected feelings for one another while chasing down the killer and untangling a land swindle in North Birmingham that’s been in the making for more than a decade. But their relationship may not survive the explosive ending that sees Kincaid stand alone against the toughest crime lord the city has ever known.

If this sounds like you’re jam, you know what to do.

FAREWELL, AMETHYSTINE by Walter Mosley!

Any time a new Walter Mosley novel is announced, it is cause for celebration.  If it is an Easy Rawlins tale, the party goes to the next level.  Get ready to go to the next level.  FAREWELL, AMETHYSTINE drops June 4, 2024.  Here’s the synopsis…

Easy Rawlins’ latest client sends him down a warren of memory and nostalgia, blinding him to reason and risk, from “master of the genre,” (Washington Post) Walter Mosley.

January 1970 finds Ezekiel “Easy” Rawlins, LA’s premier Black detective, at 50 years of age despite all expectations. He has a loving family, a beautiful home, and a thriving investigation agency. All is right with the world… and then Amethystine Stoller, his own personal Helen of Troy, arrives. Her ex-husband is missing. A simple enough case. But even as Easy takes his first step in the investigation he trips. He falls into the memory of things past. Little things, like loss, love, a world war, and a hunger that has eaten at him since he was a Black boy on his own on the streets of Fifth Ward, Houston, Texas.

The missing ex, a young white man named Curt Fields, is found dead. Easy’s only real friend in the LAPD, Melvin Suggs, has gone into hiding rather than allow his femme fatale wife to go to the gas chamber. And that’s only the beginning.

Easy finds himself pressed into a reckoning. All of his success cannot succor his heart. The 1970’s have ushered in new expectations of men and women, Black and White, and Easy has to make a choice that will almost certainly hasten a permanent descent, one that might sunder his soul.

Deal me in.

TRIPWIRE by Lee Child / Z-View

TRIPWIRE by Lee Child

First sentence…

Jack Reacher saw the guy step in through the door.

The Overview:  Beware of Spoilers…

Jack Reacher lives off the grid, traveling from place to place with just the clothes on his back. Reacher, a few years retired from the military at age 39, is enjoying life in Key West.  For the last few months, he’s made his living digging pools during the day and bouncing at a local strip club at night.

Life is good.

Then one night a private eye named Costello shows up at the club looking for Jack Reacher.  Costello is sent on his way after being told there’s no “Jack Reacher” there.  A little later a couple of thugs show up at the club’s door.  They’re also looking for Jack Reacher.  Like Costello, they’re sent packing,

The next day a P.I. named Costello is found murdered.

Reacher decides to find out more about Costello and the two thugs looking for him.  The trail leads back to one of Reacher’s former commanders, recently deceased, and his daughter, now a fully grown woman.  While Reacher is meeting with her an attempt is made to kill them both.  Reacher has no idea who is behind this or why.  As he investigates, he learns the answer dates back three decades.  As Reacher sorts out the mystery, a rich, badly burned, one-armed sociopath continues to work behind the scenes, torturing and murdering all in his path, to reach his final goal.

+++++
The villain of TRIPWIRE is a worthy adversary for Reacher.  He breaks people mentally and then abuses them physically before slowly killing them.  He’s rich, powerful and has thugs to do his bidding when he doesn’t want to dirty his hand.  Yep, hand.  He has just one.  One the end of his other arm is a sharpened hook.  Which he loves to put to “good” use.

Bravo to Lee Child for creating a satisfying ending that resolves the mystery with enough action to satisfy the most hardcore fan.

Rating:

“Black Angel” (1946) starring Dan Duryea, June Vincent, Peter Lorre & Broderick Crawford / Z-View

Black Angel (1946)

Director:  Roy William Neill

Screenplay: Roy Chanslor based on the novel THE BLACK ANGEL by Cornell Woolrich

Stars: Dan Duryea, June Vincent, Peter Lorre, Broderick Crawford, Wallace Ford, Robert B. Williams and George Ford.

Tagline: DURYEA! …that fascinating tough-guy of “Scarlet Street”!

The Plot…

Martin Blair (Duryea) wants to see his estranged wife, Mavis Marlowe.  It’s their anniversary and he’s sent Mavis a large ruby brooch in an effort to win her back.  Yet, she’s told the doorman to NOT allow Martin up.  Dejected and rejected, Martin goes to get drunk.  He then stumbles to his room, where a friend locks him in for the night.

Later, Kirk Bennet goes up to see Mavis.  He finds her on the floor.  She’s dead.  Kirk notices she’s wearing a huge ruby brooch.  When Kirk hears a noise in the apartment, he realizes he’s not alone.  As he carefully makes his way through the bedroom, he hears someone running out.  Kirk goes back to find the brooch missing and the front door open.  Kirk realizes he’s in a bad spot and runs to the stairwell.  He’s seen as he flees.

When the cops pick up Kirk, it becomes clear that he was having an affair with Mavis, despite being married.  Kirk’s wife, Catherine (Vincent) doesn’t believe her husband is a killer.  Kirk claims Mavis was blackmailing him. This just gives the cops more reason to think he killed Mavis.

Catherine is grasping at straws to find evidence to clear her husband when she meets Martin.  Catherine believes he could be the killer.  Martin says the police thought so too at first.  Except he couldn’t have killed Mavis since he was knock-down drunk and locked in his room when the murder occurred.  Martin takes pity on Catherine and offers to help her find the killer.

Kirk is on death row and the clock is ticking.  What chance does a housewife and functioning alcoholic have of finding the real murderer?  Tick tock tick toc…

Thoughts (beware of spoilers)…

Black Angel is loosely based on Cornell Woolrich’s novel of the same name.  Woolrich is said to dislike the film because of the changes made.  Since I haven’t read the book, I wasn’t hindered by expectations. I thought I knew how it would play out.  Boy, was I wrong.  I was surprised by twist ending.

This was the last film directed by Roy William Neill.  He died shortly after the release of Black Angel.  Neill is best known as the director of several Sherlock Holmes‘ films as well as the classic Frankenstein Meets the Wolfman.

Dan Duryea, on the other hand, had a career that was heating up.  He’s even the subject of Black Angel‘s tagline.  Broderick Crawford has a small but important role.  Four years later Crawford would win an Academy Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role for All the King’s Men.

Black Angel (1946) earns 4 of 5 stars.

YOU LIKE IT DARKER by Stephen King

Stephen King has a new book of short stories, YOU LIKE IT DARKER coming out May 21, 2024.  Before we get to the synopsis, how about that cover?  That’s a clever design.  Is it land that looks like an alligator, or an alligator that looks like land?

From legendary storyteller and master of short fiction Stephen King comes an extraordinary new collection of twelve short stories, many never-before-published, and some of his best EVER.

“You like it darker? Fine, so do I,” writes Stephen King in the afterword to this magnificent new collection of twelve stories that delve into the darker part of life—both metaphorical and literal. King has, for half a century, been a master of the form, and these stories, about fate, mortality, luck, and the folds in reality where anything can happen, are as rich and riveting as his novels, both weighty in theme and a huge pleasure to read. King writes to feel “the exhilaration of leaving ordinary day-to-day life behind,” and in YOU LIKE IT DARKER, readers will feel that exhilaration too, again and again.

“Two Talented Bastids” explores the long-hidden secret of how the eponymous gentlemen got their skills. In “Danny Coughlin’s Bad Dream,” a brief and unprecedented psychic flash upends dozens of lives, Danny’s most catastrophically. In “Rattlesnakes,” a sequel to CUJO, a grieving widower travels to Florida for respite and instead receives an unexpected inheritance—with major strings attached. In “The Dreamers,” a taciturn Vietnam vet answers a job ad and learns that there are some corners of the universe best left unexplored. “The Answer Man” asks if prescience is good luck or bad and reminds us that a life marked by unbearable tragedy can still be meaningful.

King’s ability to surprise, amaze, and bring us both terror and solace remains unsurpassed. Each of these stories holds its own thrills, joys, and mysteries; each feels iconic. You like it darker? You got it.

THE ABRUM FILES: A BISHOP RIDER BOOK by Beau Johnson

THE ABRUM FILES: A BISHOP RIDER BOOK by Beau Johnson

First sentence…

I tell him I was a child when my father is ripped apart.

The Overview:  Beware of Spoilers…

Marcel Abrum was the worst kid of predator, a human trafficker.  Rich and powerful, he thought that made him safe. But when Marcel Abrum brutally murdered Bishop Rider’s wife and sister, he discovered the truth,  Bishop Rider extracted a payback on Abrum equal to the horrors Abram had inflicted on so many women and children,

Then Bishop Rider made it his mission to hunt human traffickers and end their lives in ways that would make his name whispered in fear by those who targeted the weak.  Along the way others joined Rider’s cause. But nothing prepared Bishop Rider for the day when Jeramiah Abrum, the son of Marcel Abrum became a part of Rider’s group.  It took time for Rider to fully trust Jeramiah.  But the fire for vengeance that burned in Rider also blazed in Jeramiah.  For years they worked together brutally wiping out pedophiles and human traffickers.  The mission looked to be over when Rider’s cancer finally finished him.

But it wasn’t.

Jeramiah Abrum decided the operation would continue.  He and other like-minded individuals would carry on Bishop Rider’s work.  They would hunt down and brutally murder those that preyed on the weakest members of society.

THE ABRUM FILES: A BISHOP RIDER BOOK by Beau Johnson is a series of short stories detailing the work of Jeramiah Abrum.  It’s violent, brutal and bloody.  One reviewer called it “chainsaw noir”.  I like that description.

Every review speaks of the book’s violence.  It permeates each story.  Thankfully, Johnson adds just the right amount of humor to take the edge off. He also has his main character, Jeramiah Abrum, realize that he’s not a good guy.  He’s wanted by the police.  The ways he kills are terrible.  But Jeramiah is doing these things to perverts and criminals who do much worse to their victims.  It’s old school, medieval, old testament justice.  And I like it.

The stories are self-contained.  When all are read the bigger picture forms.  Johnson has a unique format that usually takes us right to the start of the criminal’s certain demise.  It’s amazing how many unique ways Johnson comes up with for Rider to get justice.  The book is a fast read.  Because of the brutality and violence readers may want to pace themselves.

This was my first book by Beau Johnson.  It won’t be my last.

Rating:

Meet Eric Beetner!

Eric Beetner has made his living in the film and tv industry for over 30 years.  In addition, Beetner is a musician, an artist and a writer.  He’s written over 30 novels and 100 short stories.  If you’re a regular reader here, you know I’m a huge fan of Eric Beetner’s crime yarns.

Over at Canvas Rebel, Eric Beetner talks about his career, the “mission” of his creative journey, the importance of resilience and more.  It’s worth a read.

“Masters of the Air” – The Trailer is Here!

I said it before and I’ll say it again, “Deal me in!”

From the executive producers of Band of Brothers and The Pacific comes Masters of the Air. The 9-part series event premieres January 26 https://apple.co/_MastersOfTheAir

Based on Donald L. Miller’s book of the same name, and scripted by John Orloff, “Masters of the Air” follows the men of the 100th Bomb Group (the “Bloody Hundredth”) as they conduct perilous bombing raids over Nazi Germany and grapple with the frigid conditions, lack of oxygen, and sheer terror of combat conducted at 25,000 feet in the air. Portraying the psychological and emotional price paid by these young men as they helped destroy the horror of Hitler’s Third Reich, is at the heart of “Masters of the Air.” Some were shot down and captured; some were wounded or killed. And some were lucky enough to make it home. Regardless of individual fate, a toll was exacted on them all.

The series features a stellar cast led by Academy Award nominee Austin Butler, Callum Turner, Anthony Boyle and Nate Mann, who are joined by Raff Law, Academy Award nominee Barry Keoghan, Josiah Cross, Branden Cook and Ncuti Gatwa.

Hailing from Apple Studios, “Masters of the Air” is executive produced by Steven Spielberg through Amblin Television, and Tom Hanks and Gary Goetzman for Playtone. Amblin Television’s Darryl Frank and Justin Falvey co-executive produce alongside Playtone’s Steven Shareshian. In addition to writing, Orloff co-executive produces. Graham Yost also serves as co-executive producer. Anna Boden & Ryan Fleck, Cary Joji Fukunaga, Dee Rees and Tim Van Patten serve as directors.