Category: Books

DARK OF NIGHT by Jonathan Maberry & Rachael Lavin!

Jonathan Maberry is one of the best and most prolific writers working today.  His Joe Ledger series is my favorite.  Others prefer his Dead of Night/Fall of Night or Rot & Ruin series.  I’ve read them as well and wouldn’t argue against someone liking them better.  With his new novel, Dark of Night, Maberry does something he’s not done before: He collaborates with Rachael Lavin and combines characters from all three of his series!

Dark of Night: The dead rose. We fell. The survivors are trapped in a world of monsters who prey on the helpless. Some of them are zombies…but they are not the only predators who feed on pain and suffering. DARK OF NIGHT is a story of worlds in collision. Three heroes who have survived the apocalypse are in a deadly race to save a busload of children from ravenous zombies and ruthless human scavengers. This brand new novella brings together three of New York Times bestseller Jonathan Maberry’s award-winning novel series. Captain Joe Ledger (PATIENT ZERO and CODE ZERO), Officer Desdemona Fox (DEAD OF NIGHT and FALL OF NIGHT), and Rachael Elle (BITS & PIECES, a Rot & Ruin novel) are caught between an endless wave of the living dead and an army of corrupt men who want to enslave the last human survivors. Jonathan Maberry teams with debut novelist Rachael Lavin to tell a sweeping story of adventure, horror, and heroism. Flesh and Fire: In the midst of a midlife crisis, Todd is haunted by Chloe, the lover who died not long after their relationship ended. When Chloe escapes Hell in search of the peaceful rest that has eluded her, a demon named Samael is on her trail and she needs Todd’s help. While on the run Todd and Chloe face demons real and personal, soul-threatening danger, and their long-buried feelings for each other.

Dark of Night Paperback
Dark of Night Kindle

ROBERT B. PARKER’S IRONHORSE by Robert Knott / Z-View

Robert B. Parker’s Ironhorse by Robert Knott

Hardcover : ‎ 374 pages
Publisher: ‎ G.P. Putnam’s Sons

First sentence…

Virgil was sullen.

The Overview:  Beware of Spoilers…

Territorial Marshall Virgil Cole and his Deputy, Everette Hitch are on a passenger train after delivering prisoners.  On board, in addition to Cole, Hitch and various passengers are the Governor of Texas, his wife, two daughters, a few bodyguards and $500,000.00 in cash!  When Bloody Bob Brandice and some cutthroats attempt steal the cash, Cole and Hitch disrupt their plans.

As the train barrels through the rainy night, Bloody Bob matches wits and blazing six guns with Cole and Hitch.  Things are looking bad for the thieves until they do something unexpected — they disconnect the train cars from the engine!  Cole, Hitch and passengers are on a runaway train as the cars with Bloody Bob, his crew and the Governor’s daughters get farther and farther away!

Robert Knott was an excellent choice to continue Robert B. Parker’s Cole & Hitch series.  Ironhorse is an easy read and starts off like a, uh, runaway train.  I’m a fan of the series and this book.  It rates 4 of 5 stars.

Robert B. Parker’s Ironhorse Hardcover

Robert B. Parker’s Ironhorse Kindle

Robert B. Parker’s Ironhorse Paperback

“The Wizard of Oz” (1925) / Z-View

The Wizard of Oz (1925)

Director: Larry Semon

Screenplay:  Larry Semon, L. Frank Baum Jr. based on The Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum

Starring:  Larry Semon, Dorothy Dwan, Frank Alexander, Charles Murray, Josef Swickerd, Oliver Hardy, Mary Carr and Spencer Bell.

Tagline: The Thrilling Comedy Cyclone! The Wonderful Land of Oz! The Den of Man Eating Lions! The Famous Scarecrow and Tin Man! The Startling Airplane Rescue! The 100 Foot Leap for Life! All combined in the greatest screen novelty ever made.

The Overview:  Beware of Spoilers…

The movie begins with a toymaker reading The Wizard of Oz to his granddaughter…

Dorothy (Dwan) is a just-turned 18 year old who was left on Auntie Em’s (Carr) doorstep as a baby.  In reality, Dorothy is the rightful heir to the throne in the land of Oz.  When a tornado deposits Dorothy, and three farmhands in Oz, the evil Prime Minister Kruel (Swickerd) realizes that the true ruler has returned.

Kruel sends his soldiers to do away with Dorothy and crew.  To escape, one of the farmhands disguises himself as a scarecrow, another a tin woodsman and later the third ends up in a lion suit.  Will Dorothy survive and be crowned queen?  Will Prime Minister Kruel and Lady Vishuss be deposed?  (Psst!  It’s a kid’s book, so what do you think?)

Larry Semon was a popular comedian of the day.  Semon wrote, produced and starred in this version of The Wizard of Oz.  The Scarecrow gets most film time and he’s played by, you guessed it, Larry Semon.  Semon had a love for big budgets and tons sight gags. The Wizard of Oz has both.  We get a lot of visual gags, and the ending even features Semon climbing and swinging between towers while being shot at with a canon, a leap to a rope ladder from a passing plane and more.

A young pre-Laurel & Hardy, Oliver Hardy appears in the film playing the farmhand who becomes the Tin Man.  Spencer Bell (an African-American actor) is billed a G. Howe Black and appears in a few scenes that even at that time were thought as demeaning as his billing.

The Wizard of Oz (1925) earns a 3 of 5 star rating.

RIGHTEOUS by Joe Ide / Z-View

Righteous by Joe Ide

Hardcover: ‎ 336 pages
Publisher: ‎Mulholland Books

First sentence…

Isaiah was seventeen years old when his older brother, Marcus, was killed in a hit-and-run..

The Overview:  Beware of Spoilers…

Isaiah Quintabe, who everyone calls IQ because of his superior intellect, is back.  Ten years have passed since IQ’s brother, Marcus, was killed.  Isaiah gets by taking on “cases the police can’t or won’t touch.”  They don’t pay much, but Isaiah doesn’t need much.

Out of the blue IQ gets a call from Sarita Van.  Sarita was Marcus’ girlfriend back in the day.  IQ and Sarita haven’t spoken in years.  Now she needs IQ’s help.  Sarita’s sister, Janine and her boyfriend Benny, are degenerate gamblers.  Not only are loan sharks closing in, but they’ve done something to get a Chinese crime cartel after them as well.  IQ agrees to go to Vegas to rescue Sarita’s sister and try to work out something with the Chinese cartel.

In IQ’s mind, he’ll save Sarita’s sister, come back the hero and maybe have a life with Sarita.  If only.

Lucky for IQ, his occasional partner (and former gang banger), Dodson agrees to accompany him.  Things are much worse than IQ could imagine.  Soon he finds himself at odds with a loan shark and his seven foot enforcer, the Chinese cartel and Seb, a crime lord who uses a cane made from a human femur and whose intellect rivals IQ’s.   Janine and Benny are on the run and it is up to IQ to find and save them.  He’ll be lucky if he can save himself.  Oh, and now he has information that his brother was targeted to be killed.  It wasn’t a simple hit-and-run!

Joe Ide has another winner.  Righteous rates 5 of 5 stars.

Righteous Hardcover
Righteous Trade Paperback
Righteous Kindle

Mike Flannigan’s “The Midnight Club” Teaser is Here!

Normally, The Midnight Club wouldn’t be high on my list, but Mike “Midnight Mass” Flannigan is behind this!

To those after.
To us now.
And to those beyond.
Seen or unseen.
Here but not here.

At a manor with a mysterious history, the 8 members of the Midnight Club meet each night at midnight to tell sinister stories – and to look for signs of the supernatural from the beyond. Based on the beloved Christopher Pike book series, and brought to life by the creators of The Haunting of Hill House.

RIP: Ken Kelly

Ken Kelly died yesterday at the age of 76.  No cause of death was reported.

After serving four years in the marines, Ken Kelly decided on a career in art.  He studied under his uncle, the legendary artist Frank Frazetta.  Ken Kelly’s first professional assignment was for Warren’s Vampirella magazine.  That assignment led to Mr. Kelly becoming one of Warren’s most popular and used artists.  Soon other magazine and book publishers were seeking out Ken Kelly to produce covers for them.  His art was especially suited to science fiction, horror and heroic fantasy.

Then in 1975, Mr.. Kelly was commissioned to create the cover for Kiss’ Destroyer album.  The popularity of the Destroyer cover opened up new opportunities.  Soon Ken Kelly’s art was in demand for more album covers, games, calendars, book & magazine covers and books solely dedicated to his art.

I’ve always enjoyed Ken Kelly’s artwork.  My favorites were his barbarian paintings. He made warriors that didn’t look like they’d just come out of the gym, but had instead spent time on the battlefield.

Our thoughts and prayers go out to Ken Kelly’s family, friends and fans.

“My Name Is Julia Ross” (1945) / Z-View

My Name Is Julia Ross (1945)

Director:  Joseph H. Lewis

Screenplay:  Muriel Roy Bolton, based on the novel  The Woman in Red by Anthony Gilbert

Starring:  Nina Foch, May Whitty, George Macready and Roland Varno

Tagline:  She went to sleep as a secretary … and woke up a madman’s “bride”!

The Overview:  Beware of Spoilers…

Julia Ross (Foch) is getting desperate. She’s out of work and behind on her rent. The man she loved, Dennis Bruce (Varno) has left to marry another.  Julia has applied for jobs, without luck.  When she sees an ad for a personal secretary, Julia heads to the agency.  Mrs. Hughes (Whitty) says the job pays well, but requires a dedicated person. She asks if Julia has family or a boyfriend.  Julia has neither and is hired on the spot.  Mrs. Hughes needs Julia to come to her house immediately.

Julia returns to her apartment to get her personal items.  As she is leaving, Dennis Bruce shows up.  He’s come to his senses and realizes he loves Julia.  She is happy and explains that she’s starting a new job.  She gives Bruce Mrs. Hughes’ address and agrees to meet him the following evening for dinner.

Julia goes to Mrs. Hughes’ house, is greeted and shown to her bedroom.  Julia wakes up two days later in a different bedroom.  This one is on the upper floor of a mansion.  Julia learns that she’s in a different town and her name isn’t Julia Ross. Her name is Marion and she’s suffering from a mental illness.  Mrs. Hughes is her mother-in-law!  She assures Julia that she and her son Ralph are going to do everything in their power to nurse her back to health.

Julia cannot understand why this is happening.  Why would Mrs. Hughes and Ralph take such extreme measures to make her think she’s crazy?  Either Julia has suffered a nervous breakdown and is Marion, or Ralph and his mother have plans that put Julia’s life in danger.  But why?  Julia will find out if it kills her.

I would have never watched My Name is Julia Ross if it wasn’t for Turner Classic Movies Noir Alley hosted by Eddie Mueller.  My Name is Julia Ross is that rare breakout film that deserves more attention.  Originally released as a “B” movie, it became the first feature on many double bills.

My Name is Julia Ross wastes little time setting up the plot and moves at a brisk pace throughout.  Clocking in at just 65 minutes, the film packs in plot twist after plot twist and ratchets the tension as Julia comes to realize she’s not crazy, but is trapped by a madman and his mother!  Hats off to George Macready as the insane and sadistic Ralph Hughes who can’t wait to kill Julia (and is ready to kill his own mother)!

I also appreciate the ending.  Although it wraps things up quickly, there is a moment that will bring a gasp from audiences.  Nina Foch had a long career as a tv actress.  I’m surprised she didn’t do more features.

My Name is Julia Ross rates 4 of 5 stars.

IN the CUT by Frank Zafiro / Z-View

In the Cut by Frank Zafiro

Trade Paperback: ‎ 248 pages
Publisher: ‎ Code 4 Press

First sentence…

Rolling up on trouble shouldn’t feel so cold.

The Overview:  Beware of Spoilers…

Boone has been a prospect with the Iron Brotherhood for a year.  The life of a prospect sucks, but offers a great reward if you can withstand the crap jobs and disrespect full IB members give you.  The payoff is that you become a full member of the Iron Brotherhood.

A couple of months ago, Boone met Faith.  She’s not a motorcycle club groupie and not really like any other woman Boone’s ever known.  He may be in love with her.  Maybe.

That’s not the only indecision in his life.  Boone sometimes wonders if a life in the Iron Brotherhood will give him want he wants.  Then something happens that forces his decision and there’s no turning back.  Things heat up when rumors that someone around the club is feeding cops information.  The Iron Brotherhood is on full alert and has greenlit the rat for execution.

Frank Zafiro is back with the second story in his SpoCompton trilogy.  It’s cool that Jake Stankovich (from At Their Own Game) shows up a couple of times.  As In the Cut unfolds, we see the hell that a motorcycle gang club prospect goes through to become a member.  We also come to understand why a person would be willing to go through that (the gang becomes family) and why the club needs to harshly vet potential members.

Zafiro set In the Cut up so that the first “mystery” is will Boone get in the club or not.  As a reader, we feel the pain of Boone’s indecision about that and his relationship with Faith.  Once word comes that the club has a rat, the tension escalates and I couldn’t read the pages fast enough.  And, oh THAT ending.  I didn’t see it coming and loved it.

In the Cut rates 4 of 5 stars.

In the Cut TradePaperback

In the Cut Kindle

Rating:

Quentin Tarantino’s CINEMA SPECULATION is coming!

Quentin Tarantino’s Cinema Speculation is coming and sounds like something many of us will like.  Here’s the lowdown…

The long-awaited first work of nonfiction from the author of the #1 New York Times bestselling Once Upon a Time in Hollywood: a deliriously entertaining, wickedly intelligent cinema book as unique and creative as anything by Quentin Tarantino.

In addition to being among the most celebrated of contemporary filmmakers, Quentin Tarantino is possibly the most joyously infectious movie lover alive. For years he has touted in interviews his eventual turn to writing books about films. Now, with Cinema Speculation, the time has come, and the results are everything his passionate fans—and all movie lovers—could have hoped for. Organized around key American films from the 1970s, all of which he first saw as a young moviegoer at the time, this book is as intellectually rigorous and insightful as it is rollicking and entertaining. At once film criticism, film theory, a feat of reporting, and wonderful personal history, it is all written in the singular voice recognizable immediately as QT’s and with the rare perspective about cinema possible only from one of the greatest practitioners of the artform ever.

Cinema Speculation by Quentin Tarantino pre-orders are available now!  (And if you prefer Cinema Speculation by Quentin Tarantino on Kindle)

AND SOMETIMES I WONDER ABOUT YOU by Walter Mosley / Z-View


And Sometimes I Wonder About You by Walter Mosley

Trade Paperback: 288 pages
Publisher: Vintage Crime/Black Lizard; Reprint edition (April 19, 2016)

First sentence…

Taking the local train from Philly to New York’s Penn Station may not be as smooth as the Acela’s ride but it gets the job done for a few dollars less and sometimes, like that Monday afternoon, the car is nearly empty and a man has time to think.   

The Overview:  Beware of Spoilers…

Leonid McGill is a legitimate tough guy.  He’s a former boxer, a full time PI and sometime criminal.  While riding the train from Philly, a beautiful woman, Marella Herzog asks McGill to get her safely to a cab.  He says he will for a price: if he walks her to the cab and there is no incident, the price is a handshake and kiss on the cheek.  If he has to play bodyguard, the price is $1,500.00.  Marella asks, “Isn’t that price high?  “I couldn’t be trusted for less” is McGill’s response.

McGill has to take action when a man with a knife attacks Marella.  McGill leaves the man unconscious with a broken arm and gets Marella to a cab.  The attraction between Leonid and Marella is undeniable.  She invites him up to her hotel for payment.  He agrees to come by later.

As And Sometimes I Wonder About You unfolds, McGill becomes more involved with Marella.  She’s beautiful, smart, as lustful as McGill and cannot be trusted.  Why are people after her?  She has something they want, but what?  McGill realizes that she’s everything he could want in a woman (if she doesn’t kill him), but McGill has so much going on…

  • There’s his wife who is currently wasting away in a sanitorium.
  • Hiram Stent, who yesterday wanted to hire him to find his cousin, was found murdered.  Mr. Stent said his cousin was set to inherit a million dollars.  McGill felt the case was fishy and declined.
  • Then last night McGill’s office was broken into and one of the building’s security guards killed.
  • Plus, McGill’s adult son has gotten himself involved with a mysterious “underground” gang that the police have been trying to take down with the only result being more dead bodies.
  • Oh, and McGill’s estranged father is about to show up.

If this sounds like too much going on, it is for Leonid McGill, but not the reader.  Mosley keeps all plot threads going without any confusion.  Don’t think that everything all ties together and is resolved with a bow.  A couple of the plot threads are related, but others aren’t.  This seems realistic.  Too often in detective novels there is one case and nothing else comes up until it is resolved.  (If only life would cooperate like that.)

McGill is a tough guy, but he isn’t invincible.  He doesn’t have a heart of gold and has done some pretty terrible things in the past.  McGill is flawed, but has a (tarnished) code of honor.  Walter Mosley has written so many excellent novels.  And Sometimes I Wonder About You is one of them.  It rates 5 of 5 stars.      

Rating:

And Sometimes I Wonder About You Trade Paperback

And Sometimes I Wonder About You Kindle   

GUNSHINE STATE by Andrew Nette / Z-View


Gunshine State by Andrew Nette

Trade Paperback: 306 pages
Publisher: Down & Out Books (February 12, 2018)

First sentence…

The high-pitched whine of the power drill tore through the confined space of the back office.

The Overview:  Beware of Spoilers…

Gary Chance is an ex-military truck driver, part time bouncer, and part time thief.  What he isn’t, is a killer.  When an in-and-out robbery ends with two people dead, Chance is on the run and forced to go back to work for the Chinaman.

Chance is quickly offered a job.  A crew is in place to rip off Freddie Gao, an extremely wealthy man who is flying into town for a weekend of gambling (he always loses) and whoring.  Gao has security and his father is a well-connected and feared criminal.  Chance can see holes in the crew’s plan, but there are holes in any plan.  All Chance has to do is drive… and hope there are no hiccups.

When members of the crew pull a double-cross a lot of people die and Chance is set-up to take the fall.  Now on the run from the police and Gao father’s gangsters, Chance looks to clear his name and get revenge on everyone who set him up.  Odds aren’t good, but there’s a Chance.  ; )

Andrew Nette has written a fast paced crime story populated by believable characters.  Chance is a likeable (anti)hero.  The story flows with the action moving between Australia to Thailand, but never becomes a travelogue.  Nette puts Chance through the ringer, but the story and twists don’t seem forced.  Gunshine State is a crime story that entertains from start to finish.  It earns 4 of 5 stars.    

Rating:

Gunshine State Trade Paperback

Gunshine State Kindle   

“The Gray Man” Ryan Gosling & Chris Evans – The New Poster and Trailer is Here!

The Gray Man trailer is here and it looks awesome.  Deal me in.

Ryan Gosling is THE GRAY MAN and Chris Evans is his psychopathic adversary in the Netflix/AGBO spy thriller directed by Anthony and Joe Russo – available globally July 22 on Netflix.

Also starring Ana de Armas, with Regé-Jean Page, Billy Bob Thornton, Jessica Henwick, Dhanush, Wagner Moura and Alfre Woodard. Based on the novel The Gray Man by Mark Greaney, the screenplay is by Joe Russo, Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely.

THE GRAY MAN is CIA operative Court Gentry (Ryan Gosling), aka, Sierra Six. Plucked from a federal penitentiary and recruited by his handler, Donald Fitzroy (Billy Bob Thornton), Gentry was once a highly-skilled, Agency-sanctioned merchant of death. But now the tables have turned and Six is the target, hunted across the globe by Lloyd Hansen (Chris Evans), a former cohort at the CIA, who will stop at nothing to take him out. Agent Dani Miranda (Ana de Armas) has his back. He’ll need it.