Friday, December 30, 2011

Forgotten Books: Bill Lennox novels by W.T. Ballard - Now FREE

W.T. Ballard was one of Joe Shaw's Black Mask boys, and his number one hero, Hollywood troubleshooter Bill Lennox, starred in more than two dozen stories. Now, 78 years after his debut, Bill Lennox is still around, and his first three novel-length adventures are FREE for Kindle and other eReaders at (Once you reach the Munsey's site, just click on each cover to choose your download format.)

Get the lowdown on more of this week's Forgotten Books at SWEET FREEDOM.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Doc Savage is Back! HORROR IN GOLD by Will Murray (2011)

Will Murray has done it again. Another brand new WILD adventure with Doc and the gang is now available from Altus Press. And yeah, this one is wild.

Horror in Gold opens with two men's heads exploding, blasting blood and brains over the streets of New York. This spectacle is followed in short order by mysterious decapitations of fingers and hands - and yes, more heads. And Doc Savage takes it in the shorts, too, as the rear end of one of his favorite roadsters vanishes into thin air.

What's behind it all? I'm not telling. You should find out for yourself. Along the way you'll meet some amazing characters: A quirky but deadly female with the abilities of an escape artist; a scientist seeking the lost secrets of the ancient world; a weird figure slinking around in a purple robe and a Musketeer's hat; and Doc's merry crew of assistant heroes.

The idea behind this series of WILD adventures is to bring us tales that may have been a bit too extreme for the original Kenneth Robeson (Lester Dent) to get away with in the pulps. Luckily, our new Kenneth Robeson (Will Murray) is more than up to the task.

The writing style is right on, the humor hits the mark, and the action jumps off the page. Horror in Gold is everything you could want in a Doc Savage adventure, and the best news it's only the second in a series of at least seven new novels.

The first WILD adventure, The Desert Demons, is still available too. Click HERE for the Almanack's review. 

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

GRIMM TALES - Available at Last!

Grimm Tales is now available for your eReading pleasure from Untreed Reads. 17 crime stories based on Fairy Tales (Grimm or otherwise) for a mere $4.99. And if you're one of the few folks in the universe without a copy of Discount Noir, you can nab that at the same time for a whopping 50% off. Click HERE to order.

Here's what's in it:
Introduction by Ken Bruen
Joseph and Jasmine by Patricia Abbott
You Dirty Rats by Absolutely*Kate
The Flying Trunk by Jack Bates
Coal Black by Eric Beetner
Sing a Song of Sixpence by Nigel Bird
King Flounder: A Monologue by Loren Eaton
Henry, Gina, and the Gingerbread House by Kay George
Han and Greta by Blu Gilliland
Gato by Seana Graham
Mary by Erik Gumeny
Candy House by R.L. Kelstrom
The Master Cat by John Kenyon
The Bacon Blues by B.V. Lawson
Skyler Hobbs and the Magic Solution by Evan Lewis
Interview with the Pram Driver by B. Nagel
Divided We Stand by Sean Patrick Reardon
Taking Back by Sandra Seamans

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Two Days Remain! Adventure Library SALE from Black Dog Books

Tom Roberts at Black Dog Books has been doing us all a great service by reprinting lost tales from the greatest of all pulp magazines - Adventure. And right now, in a deal that expires tomorrow at midnight, he's offering a package of these three books for a measly $45 (a $65 value). Details HERE!

Friday, December 16, 2011

Forgotten Books: The Simon Bolivar Grimes Collection by E. Hoffman Price

Way back in the Olden Days, circa 1999, Black Dog Books issued these two chapbooks featuring the rip-snorting adventures of Simon Bolivar Grimes. As you Howardians no doubt know, E. Hoffman Price was one of REH's pals, and an admirer (as am I) of his two-fisted mountain man, Breckenridge Elkins.

After Howard's death, Price created a character inspired by Breckenridge and sent him forth to battle frontier villains and female virtue in over two dozen issues of Spicy Western (and Speed Western) Stories. Price couldn't duplicate Howard's style, and didn't try. But he did manage to capture something of Breck's wide-eyed exuberance and passion for grabbing life by the throat.

These two chapbooks, each containing four stories, are tough to come by these days, but all eight stories - and four more to boot - are collected in Black Dog's deluxe trade pb, Nomad's Trail. Check it out HERE, and be sure to peruse the rest of Tom Roberts' amazing line of pulp classics.

Get a snootful of Forgotten Book action each week via pattinase.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Overlooked Films: The Sign of Four (1932) starring Arthur Wontner

Before Basil Rathbone became THE Sherlock Holmes in 1939, the screen's busiest Holmes impersonator was Arthur Wontner. The Sign of Four was the third of five films, preceded by The Sleeping Cardinal (U.S. title Sherlock Holmes' Fatal Hour), and The Missing Rembrandt (a lost film), and followed by The Triumph of Sherlock Holmes and Silver Blaze (U.S. title Murder at the Baskervilles), all made in the UK.

As Holmes, Wontner is a mixed bag. He looks the part. If he were a few inches taller he might be mistaken for the model of the illustrations that appeared in The Strand. And he shows flashes of humor that make him almost believable. Unfortunately, his voice is a bit high and squeaky, and he sometimes sounds like he has a lisp. Wontner does a good job portraying Holmes in disguise, first as an old salt (seen in the lobby card below), which fools police detective Athelney Jones, and later as a carnival patron, fooling Watson. The main problem, I guess, is that he simply is not Basil Rathbone.

Ian Hunter makes an okay Watson, though he looks more like a leading man than a sidekick. He has a couple of nice humorous moments with Wontner, but for most of the film he's merely drooling over their client Mary Morstan, whom we all know is fated to become Mrs. Watson.

It's been a coon age since I read the book, so I can't offer an in-depth comparison. But the major difference seems to be that the book opens with mysterious goings on, and we follow Holmes as he figures things out, while the film opens with the back story, showing us whodunnit and why. The only mystery left is how Holmes is going to catch the villains. The weirdest deviation from the book (and the entire canon) is that Holmes lives at 22A Baker Street.

Bottom line: The Sign of Four is far from a great film, but for hardcore Holmes fans (like me) it has certain points of interest that make it required viewing.

See SWEET FREEDOM for this week's batch of other Overlooked Entertainment.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Forgotten Stories: "So Dark for April" a Paul Pine story by John Evans

Twenty-odd years ago, when I first read and grokked on the four Paul Pine novels (Halo in Blood*, Halo for Satan and Halo in Brass by John Evans, and The Taste of Ashes by Howard Browne), I didn't know there had also been a short story, published in the February, 1954 issue of Manhunt. When I finally found out, of course, there was only one thing to do. I had to track it down and possess it.

The story appeared five years after the third novel, and since it's one of a kind, I have to wonder what possessed Browne/Evans to write it. Here's a guess . . .

This was only the second issue of Manhunt, and in order to make a splash on newsstands, it's possible the editor, whose name is strangely absent from this issue, requested stories from folks he knew, like Spillane, MacDonald, Deming and Browne. Whatever happened, I'm glad it did, because it's a fine little story, chock full of Browne's brand of similes and metaphors.

I also have to wonder if it was this story that got Browne back in the Pine groove, prompting him to write the fine novel, The Taste of Ashes, published in 1957.

As far as I know, "So Dark For April" has been reprinted twice. First in the Dennis McMillan book The Paper Gun (the title story being an unfinished Paul Pine novel), and then in the Pronzini/Greenburg edited anthology, The Mammoth Book of Private Eye Stories. For those of you who don't have either of those volumes, or would like to see what it looked like in Manhunt, I offer the following . . .

(click on each page to SUPERSIZE. If it takes you to Blogger's new image-scrolling
format,you may have to right click and select "View Image" before you can enlarge.)











Forgotten Books (and occasionally Stories) is a pattinase presentation.

* My take on Halo in Blood is HERE

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Overlooked Oaters: The Rider of the Law (1935) starring Bob Steele

I've seen a lot of Bob Steele westerns over the past few months. Not because I wanted to, exactly, but because I've been working my way through the 50-film cheapo public domain collection, The Way West, and he stars in a lot of them. None have been bad. As a cowboy hero, he's a scrappy little guy with no more personality or acting ability than is absolutely necessary. Get me? He's just okay. 

The Rider of the Law is really no exception, but I single it out because for at least the first 15 minutes, I found it more amusing than the standard Steele entry. The film opens with rowdies shooting up the town and the city fathers moaning that they'll never find a sheriff willing to stand up to them. Enter a scruffy, Gabby-esque buffalo hunter (played by Si Jenks) who takes the job. Then the stage rolls in, and off hops a dude in a fedora and horn-rimmed glasses who appears to be straight from the East. You guessed, it, it's Bob Steele.

For the first few minutes of the movie, Steele displays an aptitude for slapstick humor that's missing from the other films I've seen. He attempts to mount a horse with all the acrobatic ineptitude you'd expect from Charlie Chaplin. And when he's cornered by two outlaws with guns, he flounders around until he stumbles between them and cause them to shoot each other dead. Good stuff.

We soon discover, though, that he's a federal marshall sent to clean up the town, and the dudishness is all an act. The film then falls into the usual pattern, complete with cowardly townspeople, a good girl Steele is smitten with and a bad girl who's smitten with him. 

After making a ton of these cheapies in the 30s, Steele went on to make a lot more in the 40s (many as Billy the Kid, before Buster Crabbe assumed the role). In the 50s, along with more films, he did guest stints on various TV Westerns, and in the 60s had small parts in such films as McLintock!, The Longest Day and 4 for Texas before settling into a regular role as Trooper Duffy on F-Troop

More Overlooked Films & Stuff await you, as usual at SWEET FREEDOM.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Forgotten Books: Zorro Rides Again by Johnston McCulley

I’ve been meaning to post a Forgotten Books piece on the second Zorro novel, “The Further Adventures of Zorro,” but James Reasoner beat me to it. That’s HERE.

So . . . I’ll skip ahead and tell you about the third novel, "Zorro Rides Again." Unlike “The Further Adventures,” which was reprinted in both hardcover and paperback as The Sword of Zorro back in 1928, this one has yet to be collected in book form.

This four-part serial, featured in Argosy from October 3 to October 24, 1931, takes place after the events of “The Further Adventures,” and I’ve long been curious how McCulley went about it.

For those who don’t know, the first novel, The Mark of Zorro (aka “The Curse of Capistrano”) ended with our hero publicly revealing his identity and announcing he planned to marry the senorita of his dreams. In “The Further Adventures,” before the wedding takes place, she’s kidnapped by pirates, and Diego dons the mask to put him in the mood to rescue her. (The curious thing about these early tales is that he truly thinks of himself as having two personalities. Diego is mild-mannered, while Zorro is romantic and adventurous.)

“Zorro Rides Again” picks up three years after “The Further Adventures,” and Diego is still single. Seems his betrothed took ill and returned to Spain for her health. She has recently returned, and wedding plans are once more in the works. Yep, it looks like Zorro’s riding days are over.

Thankfully, an imposter shows up. A new Zorro is terrorizing the countryside, and this one is cruel to both cabelleros and peons alike. Since everyone knows Diego is Zorro, he takes the blame, and everyone’s after his head. His only way out is to dig his costume out of mothballs and ride to restore his name.

As noted in James’ post, “The Further Adventures” will soon be reprinted by both Beb Books and Black Dog Books. Hopefully one or both has plans for “Zorro Rides Again” too. In the meantime, I have it in a Word document, making it friendly for Kindle and other eReaders. If you’d like a copy, zip me an email at

Forgotten Books is a cunning and free presentation of pattinase.