Call Me Deadly by Hal Braham

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Jan 252015
When a bride lost her laughter
met a man who lost a corpse

Cover by Walter Popp
It meant that her twice dead husband had thirteen more days n which to be murdered, again. And that ex cop Jim Dillon would have to come up with a cadaver even is was to be his own!  

Printing History
Written by Hal Braham (1911-1994)

Priory Books 

Graphic Books
 Posted by at 2:42 am
Jan 252015

PIER 13. 20th Century Fox, 1940. Lynn Bari, Lloyd Nolan, Joan Valerie, Douglas Fowley, Chick Chandler, Oscar O’Shea, Adrian Morris. Director: Eugene Forde.

   In this semi-spritely remake of Me and My Gal, a 1932 film starring Spencer Tracy and Joan Bennett, and directed by Raoul Walsh, it’s the chemistry between leading players Lloyd Nolan and Lynn Bari that keeps this otherwise ordinary crime film from sinking far below the water off Pier 13.

   He’s Danny Dolan, the new cop on the beat in the area, while she’s Sally Kelly, the wise-cracking and gun-chewing waitress whom he meets on his first day on the job. He’s attracted to her at once, there’s no doubt about that, but it takes her a while to show that she’s interested too.

   Trouble is, a notorious jewel thief is back in town and he has a hold on Sally’s sister, and he wants her help once again to pull off his next robbery. As I said earlier, there’s not too much to this as a crime story, and of course it all turns out well. It’s only the banter between the two lovers that makes this a movie worth watching. When sparks fly like this, there’s bound to be a fire.

 Posted by at 12:16 am


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Jan 242015

By Derrick Ferguson
Pro Se Press
149 pages

One of the problems faced by any reviewer is simply not having enough time to read all the books delivered to us over time.  In our attempts to examine a wide variety of pulp fiction, we often make choices that relegate even our favorite authors to the back of the line when it comes to deciding which title to read and review next.  We say this because this particular review is one of those we have, much to our own dismay, put off way too long. 

Derrick Ferguson is one of the finest writers of new pulp fiction out there.  If you are aware of the genre at all, then you know him as the creator/author of Dillon.  Dillon is one of the finest pulp hero series on the market today.  Whereas a few years ago, Ferguson went and invented another great character in Fortune McCall for a shared-world put together by Tommy Hancock at Pro Se Press.  The idea was that a handful of new pulp writer would all create original pulp heroes that would operate out of the same fictional locale; Sovereign City.  In this set up Hancock gave us Doc Daye, Barry Reese invented Lazarus Gray and as noted above, Derrick Ferguson whipped up Fortune McCall who makes his appearance for the first time in this book which collects four of his adventures.

From the offset we learn McCall is the royal heir to a powerful family that rules the North African kingdom of Khusra.  Without divulging much of his actual background, Ferguson let us know that Fortune eschewed a pampered life for one of travel and adventure.  This he accomplished by having an amazing seagoing palace built called the “Heart of Fortune,” a combination casino/ hotel on which he resides along with a crew of Otwani warriors from his native land and his personal team of fellow adventurers.  Each of these is as colorful and appealing as our hero; one of which is his own cousin, Tracy Scott, a diminutive beauty who acts as his personal bodyguard and is quite proficient at the job.

Of course the star is Fortune and he is an educated man who is loyal to a fault, loves good food, action and beautiful women; the latter being his one Achilles heel.  In this first volume,  McCall and company battle a twisted brother and sister team who have kidnapped a British agent, attempt to stop a madmen from unleashing a deadly virus on the city, search for a missing stage magician and finally go about retrieving a lost fortune in gold.  Each story is a whirlwind of action with brilliantly painted characters, both heroes and villains and, as ever, Ferguson delivers quality pulp adventure at its best. 

After having finished “The Adventures of Fortune McCall,” we spent a few minutes banging our heads against the wall.  To have waited so long to enjoy these fantastic stories again points out the pitfalls we reviewers do our best to avoid.  Sometimes we fail but that’s no reason you should.  Go pick up this book now!!  You can thank us later. 

Approaching Four Years

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Jan 242015

It was about end of January, 2011, when I first started seriously contemplating self-publishing.

It took another five months to get my ass in gear, set up the infrastructure to do so (find a cover artist, create a website, interview editors, create a Facebook and Twitter presence, decide what to even write about as my preferred genre), and then produce the first book, which I released in the first days of June – Fatal Exchange, which still reads well, I think, if a bit grittier than later tomes.

My, how the landscape has changed since those heady times. Gone are the stories of overnight sensation authors and two million dollar deals, of coming out of nowhere and being discovered at the drugstore, only to have one’s name in lights days later.

Gone too are the easy money promotional aids Amazon seemingly handed out like Viagra at a porn shoot, that could make virtually any book a 10K seller after a free run.

It’s a different world now. A tougher, more challenging world. Many of those who were giddy with success four years ago aren’t doing much anymore – they got used to the crack hit of Select and its resultant high, and never moved past it, only to watch their work fade into obscurity once the promotional visibility dried up.

We now have to contend with services like Kindle Unlimited, with traditional publishers pricing down in the weeds, with a glut of content and a dearth of effective promotional tools. The brave new world we face is one whose promise of endless bounty has been replaced by sobering reality: selling books is frigging hard even in the best of times, and these are no longer the best of times for indies.

My solution is to continue doing what I’ve been doing for 42 months: coming up with what I think are compelling story ideas, and writing them, aiming for a release every couple of months, if not more often, so I’m not forgotten by the time the next one comes down the chute.

It would be super-duper awesome to have one of my series picked up for a movie, be handed F-you money for the privilege, and then sell millions of copies when my creation makes it to the big screen.

That happens about once a year. With Hugh Howey. Now with Blake Crouch. Good for them. I wish for nothing more than to be them, only richer and thinner. But that’s a wish, not a plan. And for the other million or so folks toiling away at this, pushing publish every eighth of a second (I totally made that up, but it could be right), it’s not likely.

I have no answers. My purpose in writing this blog is to articulate my approach, offer my thoughts and moody deliberations, and of course, berate my tasteless critics, who can all die whilst suffering horribly. My approach has worked for a number of other authors who are enjoying more success than ever before. It does not mean it’s a surefire winner for everyone, or for most. It simply is one way that seems to work for those who really apply themselves and follow all the points in my “How To Sell Loads Of Books” blog (not only a few while ignoring the rest).

This year I have a more relaxed publication schedule. I’ll put out a new JET – Ops Files novel in March, a new Assassin in May, a new JET in June. Second half of the year is a bit murkier. Perhaps a BLACK. Probably one more Ops Files, with another JET for Xmas. Somewhere in there I also have a modern treasure hunt series of which I’ve written the first installment and plan on writing more of, as well as two plot ideas for conspiracy novels tentatively outlined, likely also in a new series – and the conspiracies are stunners. Oh, and a dystopian trilogy I’m sort of toying with.

In other words, there aren’t enough hours in the day. But the days have significance, are enjoyable, and there seems to be a point to waking up every morning. I’m delighted that I’m earning my keep writing, and hope to continue doing so for some time to come. But resting on my laurels ain’t how I roll, so got to keep mining the writing vein or it might peter out, leaving me with only tequila, meaningless flings with tipsy tourist women off the cruise ships, dancing in a sequin man thong as featured soloist in the Jalapeno Heat all male burlesque review, and dodging creditors and exes as the primary way to fritter away the time.

I think we can all agree that writing is preferable, although don’t you dare judge me. Until you’ve walked a mile in my thong, you don’t know what it’s like, and I’m not just talking about synthetics chafing delicate skin.

So my my crap so the world’s spared that final indignity. If not for me, do it for U.S./Mexican relations. The Mexican people really don’t deserve any further stains on their reputation.

That’s all I have. Except for the idea that my fine work makes a wonderful gift for birthdays, funerals, circumcisions, V-day, or really any occasion where you want to appear to give a rat’s ass. So buy early and often.



Jan 242015

We all care about reading and writing, passion, education and dreams.  My employer Barnes & Noble embraces the foundation of our great schools and their dedicated teachers.  In March all Barnes & Noble stores will celebrate their local teachers.

Teachers do more than educate.  They listen and make children feel safe and valued, while inspiring them to discover and develop their talents to influence a world of possibilities.  The “My Favorite Teacher” Contest provides students with an opportunity to tell their community just how much their teachers mean to them.

Do you have children in Middle and/or High School and does your child have a favorite teacher?  Students write an essay, poem, or thank-you letter that explains how a teacher has influenced their life and why they appreciate and admire him or her. 

It’s so easy, entries should be about 500 words or less, in English and typed on white paper.  Each entry is submitted with the entry form, just copy and paste this link on the web and print out the entry form.

**All school and individual entries are to be dropped of to you local Barnes & Noble by MARCH 1.   

Once the winner is selected, then the celebration begins!  The student who wrote the winning essay, poem, or thank-you letter will receive a certificate of recognition and be honored at their local store during a ceremony for the winning teacher. The winning Teacher is recognized and receives a special award acknowledging their achievement.  

Next step for the local winner, the teacher is entered into a BN regional contest where the winners receive a $500 Barnes & Noble Gift Card.  Then one winner is chosen BN National Teacher of the Year.  Teacher receives $5,000 and is recognized at a special event at a BN store and the winning teachers school will receive $5,000 as well!

My store is located in East Brunswick, New Jersey and teacher Pat Tursi of South River Middle School is a past recipient of this award and was chosen as a Regional winner as well.  We had two ceremony receptions for Pat Tursi. An overwhelming show of support from students, parents, fellow teachers and local community patrons turned out, it was heartwarming!

I am one of the lucky judges who reads all the submissions and I have to tell you that one day I will be reading a published novel written by one of these students!  Did you know that JANET EVANOVICH grew up in South River, New Jersey?!  YES INDEED

Jan 242015
Reviewed by Mark D. Nevins:

JOHN D. MacDONALD – The Empty Copper Sea. Lippincott, hardcover, 1978. Fawcett Gold Medal, paperback, 1979. Reprinted many times. TV movie: as Travis McGee, 1983 (with Sam Elliott & Gene Evans).

   Some years back an old friend of mine, now sadly passed on, advised me: “The Travis McGee novels are all pretty much interchangeable — until you get to The Empty Copper Sea, when things really begin to shift.” As I’ve been reading this series in order, slowly savoring each one, I admit I was looking forward to seeing what mysteries Copper would hold.

   On a narrative level, the differences are not significant, and in fact, in many ways, the plot of Copper mirrors that of its predecessor, The Dreadful Lemon Sky [reviewed here ]: Trav and Meyer work themselves into the social fabric of a small Florida town (one of JDM’s favorite themes) in order to clear the name and salvage the reputation of a friend who can’t do so for him/herself.

   However, in the case of Copper, Meyer takes more of a lead on the investigation, which gives McGee time to … reflect. And mull. And think about his life, and what it all means, and opportunities missed, and what might have been. We’ve seen philosophizing before (readers have written the series off due to a dislike of it), but for the first time the interior monologues seem to be more McGee’s than MacDonald’s — it’s as if McGee is starting to come off the page as a three-dimensional character.

   The novel is not slow, but the mood is melancholy, and there is a very different sort of ending [SPOILER ALERT] — the lead female character doesn’t die in the end. So, will she be back in the next episode? And is that one of the real markers of the change in the series’s direction?

   Some Travis McGee novels are Superb, and some are merely Good. I’d rate this one Very Good, and am restraining myself from ripping right into Green (hah): I promised I’d only read Travis in warm climates, so it will be late January in Key West.

   And, as always, some examples of JDM’s wonderful prose style:

   I woke up at two in the morning with the light still on and the Guide open and face down on my chest. I stayed awake just long enough to be sure I didn’t sink back into the same dream that awoke me. I had been underwater, swimming behind Van Harder, following the steady stroke of his swim fins and wondering why I had to be burdened with tanks, weights, and mask while he swam free. Then he turned and I saw small silver fish swimming in and out of his empty eye sockets.


   The world is full of contention and contentious people. They will not tell you the time of day or day of the month without their little display of hostility. I have argued with Meyer about it. It is more than a reflex, I think. It is an affirmation of importance. Each one is saying, “I can afford to be nasty to you because I don’t need and favors from you, buster.” It is also, perhaps, a warmed application of today’s necessity to be cool…

   If I were King of the World I would roam my kingdom in rags, incognito, dropping fortunes onto the people who are nice with no special reasons to be nice, and having my troops lop off the heads of the mean, small, embittered little bastards who try to inflate their self-esteem by stomping on yours. I would start the lopping among post-office employees, bank tellers, bus drivers, and pharmacists. I would go on to checkout clerks, bellboys, prowl-car cops, telephone operations, and U.S. Embassy clerks. By God, there would be so many heads rolling here and there, the world would look like a berserk bowling alley. Meyer says this shows a tad of hostility.

 Posted by at 6:29 am
Jan 242015

THOMAS H. COOK – Mortal Memory. G. P. Putnam’s Sons, hardcover, 1993. Bantam, paperback, 1994.

   Cook’s three novels of Frank Clemons, first an Atlanta cop, then a New York investigator, are about as dark and grim a trio as you’re likely to find. I’ve only read one other book of his and it was of the same shade, so I didn’t come to this one expecting a lot of chuckles. Which was just as well, because there weren’t any.

   This is the story of a man whose father murdered his brother, sister, and mother when he was nine. He has buried most of the memories of his childhood, but not so deep they can’t be disinterred, and that is what happens when a lady comes to town to interview him for a book she is writing about family Killers. As he brings the past into the light, its shadows darken the present, and we move along with him to a conclusion that seems at once both inevitable and unforeseen.

   Cook’s prose reminds me at times of David Lindsey in its slow pace and somber tone. When done well — as they each do it — the combination can result in powerful and evocative storytelling. The protagonist is drawn clearly in some ways, and in others we understand him no better in the end than he does himself. The same is true of his parents and siblings. There are questions left unanswered — but then there are those at the end of everything aren’t there?

   The constant shifts between past and present were potentially distracting but well handled. I thought that the character of the writer was either too enigmatic or not faceless enough; as presented, she was vaguely unsatisfying. That is a relatively minor cavil though, and if you like this book well enough to read it through, you won’t be unaffected by it. Cook remains one of the masters of the dark side.

– Reprinted from Ah, Sweet Mysteries #9, September 1993.

 Posted by at 12:54 am