Friday, July 7, 2023

Black Eye

According to publisher Bold Venture Press, Tony Masero was born in London, attended art school, and trained as a graphic designer. He eventually began illustrating book covers for the major publishing houses and agencies. Masero has created artwork for Dr. Who, Edge the Loner, Indiana Jones, and countless fanzines and paperbacks. Along with illustrating, Masero also writes men's action-adventure, crime-fiction, and western novels. My first experience with his literary work is Black Eye, published by Bold Venture Press in 2020.

In first-person perspective, Phil Black explains to the reader that he does favors for people. He served in WW2's Pacific Theater, and now hangs around San Francisco reading the paper, smoking, and gazing out the window. He has an old Marine buddy that camps out at the local bar, a guy nicknamed Gunny, that can quickly get the word from the street, the city's gossip, and the ins and outs of localized crime. So, it's no surprise when a beautiful woman named Linda crosses Black's path. 

Linda's husband served with Black in the war. Now, he's gone missing, she's filed a missing persons report with the police, and she wants Black to look into it. Semper-Fi and all of that. Black agrees to the opportunity and begins his search by scouring the man's boxing history, specifically finding his corner-man. With Gunny's help, Black weaves in and out of clues and amateur gumshoe tropes to learn that the man's disappearance connects to a heist made during the war.

On Iwo Jima, some of Black's unit were involved in heisting some treasures through an undercover operation. Later, the Chinese became involved, mostly with a Syndicate attempting to recover a sacred tablet. The book's first half is a violent, pulpy romp as Black attempts to locate the tablet and its owner while combating the nefarious individuals out to stop him. Surprisingly, the book's second half is sort of a different story that places the hero and Gunny in Argentina working with the FBI. This second half is more of a prison breakout as an espionage-styled adventure. 

Masero pays homage to plenty of mid-20th century crime-noir and men's action-adventure, but mostly his entertaining story is like something exploding right out of the pages of Black Mask. By placing the story in the late 1940s/early 1950s, his emphasis on style and pulpy characteristics really stands out. The violence wasn't over-the-top, but still offered enough brutality to keep the pages flying by. 

In some ways Masero's writing style, complete with the genre tropes we all love, reminds me of author Will Murray (Doc Savage). While not necessarily original, it still compliments the genre and offers fans exactly what they want – story and style. Black Eye has it all in spades and I highly recommend it. 

Buy a copy of this book HERE.

1 comment:

  1. This sounds right. I will add this to August's list. Thanks.