Wednesday, 16 October 2019

Gun Law at Hangman's Creek (Shane and Jonah #1)

Author: Cole Shelton (aka Roger Norris-Green)
First Published: 1978(?)
File size/Pages: 3201kb / 111pp
Ebook Publisher: Piccadilly Publishing
Ebook Date: October 2019

October is a good month if you follow the release schedule of Piccadilly Publishing. Of the ten eBooks being published, three of them are the first novels in new series. It's always good to get in at the beginning of a run of books that you are following, so I have decided to give all three a chance beginning with Gun Law at Hangman's Creek, the opener for the Shane and Jonah sequence, which  I am led to believe via Wikipedia ran up to 25 novels.

The Shane and Jonah stories were authored by Roger Norris-Green, writing as Cole Shelton. As of the time of writing I've not been able to track down a list of the novels or their publication dates, but my guess is they began during the late seventies. Roger was born in Brighton, UK and emigrated to Australia with his parents when he was only thirteen years old. The family settled in the south of the country where Roger eventually began his writing career by submitting short stories to his school's magazine. He went into advertising and became successful enough to run his own agency. Following his marriage, and a period of study that led him to become a lay preacher in the Christian faith, Roger started writing professionally for the Cleveland Publishing Company. As well as writing around 140 westerns for Cleveland and Black Horse he has also published six novels about the Copper Coast and Christian faith books.

Monday, 14 October 2019

The Doomsday Bag (Ed Noon #20)

Ebook cover
Author: Michael Avallone
First Published: 1969
File size/Pages: 477kb / 141pp
Ebook Publisher: Story Merchant Books
Ebook Date: March 2014

I decided to test whether or not you could just pick up an Ed Noon mystery novel and wade in regardless of the number of the book in the series. I had been disappointed with Avallone's Satan Sleuth opener Fallen Angel, but I was already a fan from my youth via his Planet of the Apes and Man from U.N.C.L.E. novels and had promised to look into Ed Noon in the Satan Sleuth review so had to give him a second chance - I figured he earned it just for being Michael Avallone! So I had a browse through the Kindle store at the Ed Noon books that were available (pretty much all of them) and settled on one that had a slightly different, but original looking, cover scan with a naked lady and a classic James Bond pose.

The Ed Noon series ran from 1953 to 1990 comprising of over thirty novels. Noon debuted with The Tall Dolores in 1953, where his character begins his career as a down and out private investigator with a small office in Manhattan, New York which he refers to as his 'Mouse Auditorium'. He is ably assisted by secretary Melissa Mercer. By the sixties Avallone made a strategic move to tie in with the current trend of spy-related media and Noon became the go-to-guy for the President of the United States when ever he needed some investigative work done without the knowledge of the Secret Service or the FBI. Ed Noon became the "Spy to Mr President" and his capers veered more into that world, getting more and more outlandish as the years went by.

Tuesday, 8 October 2019

Doctor Orient (Doctor Orient #1)

Author: Frank Lauria
First Published: 1970
Pages: 224

Doctor Orient is the first in a series of Occult Adventure books by Frank Lauria. Published in 1970, the books are imbued with a strong sense of the late sixties and seventies, groovy cars, clothes made of exuberant materials, flamboyant characters that use words such as " jive", disco queens, rock chicks and pop idols.

The titular hero, Dr Owen Orient has been practising magic to defend against the dark arts for many years. But his youthful exterior belies the hidden depths to his former 'selves'. Along with his assistant, Sordi, he lives a relatively quiet life in New York below the radar of the paparazzi and the suits in government.

The opening novel centres around a favour requested by one of Orient's friends and former psychic students, Hap Prentice a former baseball player. Hap contacts Orient and requests that the Doctor conducts a telepathic investigation into the condition of his current girlfriend, Malta. Malta has been locked in a state of demonic possession for some time and Hap cannot revive her, physically or mentally. Orient agrees to help and they transport her to his house for further examination.

Sunday, 29 September 2019

The Pass Beyond Kashmir

Author: Berkely Mather (aka John Evan Weston Davies)
First Published: 1960
Pages: 252

This is another thriller reprint in eBook format from Ostara Publishing, in their Top Notch Thriller range. My review of The Eliminator by Andrew York was from the same company. They have been putting some very good novels into the  platform.

The Pass Beyond Kashmir was written by Berkely Mather, a thriller writer whose reign during the sixties has somewhat been forgotten all these years later by the general public.

His first novel-length thriller was The Achilles Affair, published in 1959 when he was 50 years old. It was critically lauded - Ian Fleming was quoted as describing it as “one thriller which I can unreservedly recommend”. However, with his second book, The Pass Beyond Kashmir, he drew on his mysterious experiences in India and it established Mather as one of the top thriller-writers of the period. He went on to have fifteen fiction novels published into the eighties.

Mather was born in Gloucester, England in 1906 and died in 1996. His writing career tailed off in the early eighties when he completed a family saga trilogy. The success of The Pass Beyond Kashmir brought him a lot of attention, notably from Ian Fleming, who suggested that Mather should write the script for the first James Bond film, Dr No. A script was already in existence by that time, so Mather took a look and lightened it considerably, injecting some camp satire into the character of Bond. As we all know, under other writers, this was exaggerated enormously in later films. Although he was offered a percentage of the take for his work, Mather disastrously decided to accept a flat fee.

Friday, 20 September 2019

Return to the Planet of the Apes #1 - Visions from Nowhere

Author: William Arrow (aka William Rostler)
First Published: 1976
Pages: 183

Planet of the Apes was massively popular in the UK when I was still in primary school. I can remember being with my classmates and re-enacting chase scenes from the 1974 television series in the playground. I had dark curly hair and my best friend was blonde. So we had to be Peter Burke and Alan Virdon, with someone else playing the part of chimpanzee Galen - whilst every other boy in our year pretended to be part of General Urko's gorilla army and chase us down repeatedly. We used to regularly be 'caught' in the gorilla's nets and tumble over and over on the dirty concrete. Those were the days!

By 1975, the short-lived TV series had gone (I was devastated) and was replaced by a children's animated series, Return to the Planet of the Apes. This new venture did not fare very well and lasted only 13 episodes. I'm pretty sure, at that time in my life, I was of the same opinion that it wasn't very good, and the animation was "rubbish". I would have much  preferred the TV series back and already had copies of the novelisations by George Alec Effinger (one of my favourite genre authors by the way). A number of novelisations of the animation episodes were released, I have no memory of seeing them in the UK, so when I recently was made aware that they were available in eBook format I decided to indulge myself in some nostalgia.

Tuesday, 17 September 2019

The Eliminator (Jonas Wilde #1)

Author: Andrew York (aka Christopher Nicole)
First Published: 1966
Pages: 196

In my last blog I reviewed the first Jonathan Anders novel Operation Destruct by Christoper Nicole. This book was aimed at the young adult market in the early seventies. It sparked my interest in Nicole's other work and pretty quickly I landed upon a series of espionage novels he wrote under the pen name of Andrew York (one of Nicole's many many pseudonyms) that involve the character of British spy Jonas Wilde.

There are nine books in the series, all of the with very similar titles ending in "..ator", such as The Dominator, The Predator, The Deviator etc. Published regularly between the years of 1966 and 1975, ending with final book, The Facinator. They were published in the U.S. by Berkley Medallion Books with some great artwork covers. I could not find any U.S. Berkley version of the The Eliminator other than the film tie-in pictured below. If anyone has a copy, I'd love to see it?

Friday, 13 September 2019

Operation Destruct (Jonathan Anders #1)

Author: Christopher Nicole
First Published: 1969
Pages: 209

There is an old saying, "never judge a book by its cover". George Eliot used the phrase in The Mill on the Floss in 1860. It was further popularised in a 1946 murder mystery novel by Edwin Rolfe and Lester Fuller, Murder in the Glass Room, when they had a character utter "You can never tell a book by its cover." It feels most appropriate for Operation Destruct by Christopher Nicole.

I was drawn to this novel by the rather attractive cover with its title design vaguely reminiscent of Doc Savage paperbacks by publisher Bantam Books. A seated man that looks to me like actor Lee Majors with a pistol in his hand, an attractive young woman behind him, and a burning boating slowly sinking. Looks like it might be up my street I thought. A little investigation turned up information; there are three Jonathan Anders books in the series by Dell. This being the first, the second being Operation Manhunt and third Operation Neptune. All three were produced with the same composition (see foot of this blog entry). I think you'd agree they are quite attractive.