Saturday, 29 February 2020

The West End Horror

Author: Nicholas Meyer
First Published: 1976
Pages: 222hb
Publisher: Dutton

This is another in my occasional series of reviews for books that are not currently available in the eBook format - but probably should be.*

The West End Horror, published in 1976 and written by Nicholas Meyer was published after the success of his first Holmes pastiche titled The Seven Per Cent Solution in 1974. It was followed by a third novel, titled The Canary Trainer in 1995. Meyer has returned to the memoirs of John H. Watson M.D. once more in 2019, with the novel The Adventure of the Peculiar Protocols. The fourth book is the only one that is currently available in eBook format. I wonder why only this installment has been converted considering the success of the earlier works has enabled it to be released in the first place?

Nicholas Meyer produced an adaptation of his first Holmes novel into a screenplay for the movie version in 1976. Directed by Herbert Ross and starring Alan Arkin, Robert Duvall, Nicol Williamson and Laurence Olivier, the script by Meyer was rewarded with an Oscar nomination. Meyer never looked back from there (he'd apparently only written The Sever Per Cent Solution while waiting for the writers strike of 1973 to be resolved) and went on to direct Time and Again, Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, Volunteers, wrote the screenplay for Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home and also wrote and directed Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country. He is also listed as an uncredited writer for Pierce Brosnan's James Bond film, Tomorrow Never Dies.

The West End Horror begins in the winter of 1894, Holmes is displaying manic tendencies and is currently obsessed with English Charters, even planning a trip to Cambridge so that he can develope his knowledge and consult with other experts in the field. Watson isn't so enthusiastic and so the interuption of a new case is a bit of a relief from his perspective.

Saturday, 22 February 2020

The Long Walk

1st Edition cover, 1979
Author: Richard Bachman (aka Stephen King)
First Published: 1979
File size/Pages: 978KB (Omnibus) / 384pp (Individual)
Ebook Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
Ebook Date: March 2010 (Omnibus)

During the 1970s Stephen King experienced literary success with a string of novels such as Carrie (1974), 'Salem's Lot (1975) and The Shining (1977). He was due to release The Stand in 1978, but had another older manuscript from 1966 languishing in his trunk. Thus was born Richard Bachman's Rage (now pulled from circulation due to its subject matter. If you can track down an old version of The Bachman Books omnibus you'll find Rage still included).

His test of the reaction to a non-King book with Rage resulted in the request for a folllow up by Bachman from the publishing house, so he delved back in to his trunk and out popped The Long Walk in 1979.

King has written that he was asked if he published as Bachman because he thought he was over saturating the market with 'Stephen King' books - his reply is categorically 'no' - but his publishers did want to limit his output at the time and he was reduced to launching a single book a year. Therefore writing as Bachman would allow him to issue a second book, as well as finding out if his success was due to genuine writing skills or simply buyer association to a famous name/brand.

The Long Walk has a wonderfully simple plot at its heart. In a dystopian future version of America, the country is transfixed by a competition run by a mysterious military 'Major'. Each year 100 teenage boys (called 'Walkers') are picked from a pool of volunteers to take part in a gruelling walk where they must maintain a pace of a least four miles an hour. They are not allowed to stop or take breaks for any reason, including eating, sleeping or bathroom breaks - everything must be done without stopping or slowing down below 4mph. If they slow down, they are Warned. They have only three Warnings. They can 'lose' a Warning by maintaining a pace above the speed limit continually for one hour, thus effectivly regaining a life. If they attract a fourth Warning they are eliminated from the competition - literally. They are ruthlessly shot dead by a group of soldiers who have been tracking them since the start line. The last Walker left alive wins whatever they wish for.

Saturday, 15 February 2020

Aliens: Earth Hive

Author: Steve Perry
First Published: 1992
File size/Pages: 3368kb / 277pp
Ebook Publisher: Titan Books
Ebook Date: January 2016

Back in 1992, the motion picture Alien 3 was released. In an attempt to tie in with this new movie, Titan Books released Aliens: Earth Hive by Steve Perry. Earth Hive was a novelisation of the Dark Horse Comics story Aliens written by Mark Verheiden, which had orignally been published in 1989 and simply titled "Book One" when released in collected graphic novel format.

At the time of it's comic run, the story was fully intended to be a continuation of the story from the end of the second film, Aliens. Chracters and settings from the first two films, rescued child Newt, Colonial Marine Hicks and the planet LV-426 were used. However, Alien 3 changed the fate of Newt and Hicks so in Earth Hive Perry avoided confusion and changed the character names to Billie and Wilks and the planet they encountered the alien creatures on became Rim.

By 1992 Steve Perry had written a number of well respected science fiction novels in his Matador series and had also contributed to continuing the Robert E. Howard Conan series with five novels of the Cimmerian sword and sorcery adventurer. Perry went on to write another couple of books in the Aliens series, which form a trilogy of sorts. He also collaborated with other authors, including his daughter, S.D. Perry on a Aliens vs Predator trilogy.

Saturday, 8 February 2020

Two Guns to Apache Wells (Shane and Jonah #2)

Author: Cole Shelton (aka Roger Norris-Green)
First Published: 1978(?)
File size/Pages: 3253kb / 110pp
Ebook Publisher: Piccadilly Publishing
Ebook Date: December 2019

Back in October 2019, I had fully intended to read all three of the first installments of Piccadilly Publishing's new release roster. But due to my terrible habit of being distracted by the lure of a new book (rather than sticking with the ones in my 'to be read' pile) I only got around to reading the opening book in Cole Shelton's series of stories featuring Shane Preston and Jonah Jones. My review of that book can be read here, and I was very surprised and honoured to have the author himself (Roger Norris-Green) comment on the Piccadilly Publishing Facebook page. Book 2 came out at the end of 2019, and I had already pre-purchased it based upon the opening book, Gun Law at Hangman's Creek. After finding myself having to abandon a rather unengaging book I was planning on reviewing, I wanted to quickly get into something I knew I'd be happy with - so I'm glad to be here with a review of Two Guns to Apache Wells.

I'll start off by saying this ebook has a much nicer piece of art on the cover. I didn't like the first cover, but this one is a lot better. I'm still not sold on this version of Shane Preston having a white hat, but at least he's wearing some black and the action could be taken from a scene in the story. Not that that should effect your reading experience I hasten to add, but it makes me happy so it might make you too. This could very well be art from the original paperbacks, but I am finding it hard to track images down on the internet, so cannot confirm.