Tuesday, 31 March 2020


Author: George Axelrod
First Published: 1952
File size/Pages: 394KB / 202pp
Ebook Publisher: Hard Case Crime
Ebook Date: November 2011

Let me make it clear that the publishers of Hard Case Crime books introduced me to Crime novelists and books that I might never have known about. This range of books and the Facebook Group Men's Adventure Paperbacks of the 20th Century are the reason I got back heavily into noir and genre fiction a few years back.

Although I had always greatly admired Chandler and Hammet, I never had the opportunity or knowledge to seek out or source more books in a similar vein. It wasn't until I saw some of their great covers on the bookshelves of a Waterstones in central Manchester that my interest was able to be satisfied by new stories by Block, Westlake and Goodis. This lead me to searching the internet with the names of some of the authors, and suddenly I was finding reviews by bloggers, articles on web-sites and reading posts from people on Facebook talking about the same kinds of books, their authors and other types of novels I might like. Joining the brilliant Facebook Group Men's Adventure Paperbacks of the 20th Century was a turning point and really opened my eyes to the fact that so many other stories were being published in eBook format and even reprinted in paperback by other publishers such as Black Gat.

Blackmailer by George Axelrod, was reprinted by Hard Case Crime in 2007 with cover art by Glen Orbik. It was the thirty-second book to be issued by them, and is presented as being 'complete and unabridged' (although at only just over two hundred pages, unabridged is not much of a stretch). It was his only published crime novel.

Saturday, 28 March 2020


Corgi 1974 UK Edition
Author: Oliver Strange
First Published: 1933

If I had done a little bit of basic research before starting to read Sudden, I'd have realised that it is in actual fact the third book in Oliver Strange's Western series, rather than the first. I mean, it seems logical that the opening book would be named after the central character doesn't it? Not in this case it isn't. Well, that's taught me a valuable lesson that I won't take for granted anymore!

The original novels of Oliver Strange are not available in eBook format. However, after his death in 1952, the series was still selling rather well into the sixties, so a set of follow up books was commissioned by Corgi Books in the UK. These have been released as eBooks by Piccadilly Publishing. They are written by Liverpudlian author Frederick Nolan under the pen name of Frederick H. Christian.

I could find very little information about Oliver Strange the man. Other than a quote on Wikipedia telling us that he was an English author, there is not much else about. I guess him being English perhaps explains some of the odd things about the style of the writing and the language which I'll go into in a bit. (Maybe he could be considered as the first Picadilly Western Author!). The Sudden books under Strange began in 1930 and lasted till shortly before his death, with the final book published in 1950.

The Range Robbers (1930)
The Law o' the Lariat (1931)
Sudden (1933)
The Marshal of Lawless (1933)
Sudden—Outlawed (1934)
Sudden—Gold Seeker (1937)
Sudden Rides Again (1938)
Sudden Takes the Trail (1940)
Sudden Makes War (1942)
Sudden Plays a Hand (1950)

Wednesday, 18 March 2020

The Plague of Silence (Dr Palfrey #20)

1966 Edition
Author: John Creasey
First Published: 1958
File size/Pages: 776KB (Omnibus) / 190pp
Ebook Publisher: House of Stratus
Ebook Date: October 2013

The usual disclaimer: Although many Creasey books are readily available in eBook format, I saved some pennies and picked mine up (the one pictured) at a local used bookshop for just £2.

I think you can safely call John Creasey a 'prolific' writer.

He penned a staggering amount of novels, over six hundred. He was born to a family of limited means in 1908 in Surrey, England, and died in 1973. An author of ostensibly crime and science fiction thrillers, who had his first book published in 1930 - there was no holding him back from that moment to produce some of the most famous and long-lasting series of books starring some memorable characters who are still lovingly collected by bibliophiles across the world today.

No stranger to the pseudonym, Creasey used twenty-nine of them. Among his most notable pen-names are; J. J. Marric, Gordon Ashe, Michael Halliday, Anthony Morton and Jeremy York.

Due to polio as a young man he was unable to take part in the War, so he determined to write as many books as he could to support the soldiers and their families during those hard times.

In order to have written and published quite so many books, Creasey had to have been successful right? Well, yes indeed. His most popular books were those that had recurring roles for his creations such as The Toff (an amazing 59 novels over the course of forty years), Chief Inspector Roger West (43 novels), Commander George Gideon (21), Dr Stanislaus Alexander "Sap" Palfrey (34 science fiction novels), The Baron (47 books and an adaptation into a TV Series by ITC) and the Patrick Pawlish series (50).

Sunday, 8 March 2020

The Running Man

1983 NEL UK Edition
Author: Richard Bachman (aka Stephen King)
First Published: 1982
File size/Pages: 978KB (Omnibus) / 317pp (Individual)
Ebook Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
Ebook Date: March 2010 (Omnibus)

I wonder how some publishers had the cheek to put covers like the one highlighted here for Richard Bachman's, The Running Man. Its a total missrepresentation. At no point in the book does anyone approach anything near to dressing up like an extra from the 1975 film Rollerball...and the cover is too early to tie into the 1987 film version starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, so what gives?

However, putting that to one side the book is the fourth and last published novel that Stephen King issued using this pen-name before he was 'outed' as Richard Bachman with the release of Thinner.

King has quoted (and has written in various introductions) that he wrote the entire novel in a single week. In some ways this is an amazing achievement - and in others its a shame because you can tell when you read The Running Man. Its much the inferior novel to the other Bachman book I reviewed recently, The Long Walk.

The premise of the novel is, in a similar vein to The Long Walk, quite simple. Ben Richards, husband and father with a sick child, out of work and suffering poverty with the masses in a dystopian future America of 2025 (scary though that its not that far away), decides to try to enter the Games Network, a government-operated television station that is responsible for free-to-air "Free-Vee" violent game shows. The most notorious of which is "The Running Man". In this show the contestants are presented as crazed citizens and enemies of the state; they are to be hunted down and killed by the Games Networks security forces. All of this with the help of the general public - who are actively encouraged to assist in the contestants capture and public execution with the promise of lucrative rewards should they bear fruit.