Showing posts with label Hall of Shame. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Hall of Shame. Show all posts

Friday, October 27, 2023

The Kill

New York native Alan Ryan (1943-2011) graduated from Regis High School in Manhattan and from Fordham University in The Bronx. He was an English teacher, book reviewer, and later an editor. In his writing career, he produced at least five horror novels and three short-story collections. My first experience with his literary work is the novel The Kill, which was originally published in paperback by Tor in 1982. 

The book begins with a nine year old girl running away from home during a storm. Readers learn that she is on the outskirts of the small town of Deacon's Kill. Something grabs and jerks her head, creating instant death. Then, whoever or whatever killed the girl moves back into the forest. End scene. But, unfortunately the book continues. 

A couple named Megan and Jack work and live in Manhattan and are tiring of their hectic schedules. They are invited by a friend to visit a farm in Deacon's Kill, a sort of all-night party involving another 30 or 40 city yuppies. At the farm, a woman is murdered by this same unknown person or thing when she ventures too far into the forest to urinate. The murder (and urination) is caught on tape by a voyeur/party participant and presented to the local sheriff. The odd thing is that who, or whatever this thing is, was completely invisible. Like the book's plot. 

Megan and Jack, in their infinite wisdom, decide that this farm – which just hosted a murder by an invisible monster in the forest – is an ideal place for them to move to. WTF! They both quit their jobs and move into this ordinary run-of-the-mill farm house in the middle of nowhere. They befriend the sheriff and everything seems fantastic (read that as mundane and lifeless) for the next 250 pages of this horrific 294 page paperback. The couple make love, establish new businesses, have dinner with the sheriff and his wife, make friends with the town doctor, and engage in mindless, completely dull antics for a painful amount of pages. Just when my knuckles were white from anger, something finally happens. 

Apparently, the former owner of the farm dug up some old bones that resembled a prehistoric man. How the man is now alive, invisible, and is able to track all over the forest without anyone noticing isn't relevant, so no real explanation is offered (or I slept through it). Instead, you have the girl at the beginning of the book and the chick at the party as the only main victims while the sheriff watches endless loops of the VHS tape that captured the one piss/murder. The rest of the novel is just a complete waste of time and I wish I could erase it from the annals of time. 

If I'm locked in a room by a maniac and forced to watch endless Medicare commercials or read this book...brother pass the popcorn and crank the tube up. I'd do just about anything to avoid the literary nightmare of Alan Ryan's The Kill. So should you.

Buy a copy of this book HERE.

Wednesday, May 17, 2023

The Mall

Back in the late 1970s and early 1980s, the concept of a shopping mall was still a relatively new thing. Who knew that an outdoor plaza of shops could magically transform into an inside oasis for buyers and sellers to mingle regardless of the weather. In America, the neighborhood shopping mall was the place to be for food, friends, arcade machines, and photos. But, it could also host a number of terrors for parents hoping to shield their children from kidnappers, drugs, and perverts. In the 1983 Pocket Books novel The Mall, authored by an unknown dude named Steve Kahn, the idea of shoppers being ransomed for money becomes a plot destined for greatness. Think of Die Hard in a mall. What could possibly go wrong?

At over 300 pages, The Mall is unfortunately a bloated pile of trash. The author introduces dozens of characters, which required a pen and paper to keep track of who's who in the sea of Saturday shoppers. The plot develops into a semi-heist novel when a guy named Prince rounds up five other people to take over the busy Green Meadows shopping mall in Connecticut. They seal up the doors with a special “as seen on television” super-duper glue, then take control of the mall's security room and chief officer. Once this is done, they simply make a demand to the local police chief that they will release the shoppers once they receive millions of dollars in ransom money. 

At some point, by like page 250, I was hoping an Able Team or Eagle Force would show up to liberate the mall in a hail of bullets and blood. But, none of that happens. Instead, the author spends pages and pages fixated on a birthday party for the mall's owner that is simultaneously taking place on an upper level while the mall is being commandeered by criminals. When a message is announced on the PA system that hijackers have overtaken the mall and are asking for millions in ransom money, 40,000 shoppers do absolutely nothing. In fact, it is mostly business as usual as long as they don't attempt to leave. It was kinda, “I'll have a slice of pizza and a TRS-80 game cartridge while I wait for the supposed carnage to end.” It was utterly ridiculous. 

My poor shopping led to a miserable reading experience. It's The Mall of Shame and our newest inductee into the Hall of Shame.

Buy a copy of this book HERE. 

Tuesday, September 6, 2022

Killinger #01 - Killinger (aka The Turquoise-Yellow Case)

I read something online the other day that said Hell will be attempting to insert a USB into your computer for eternity. The catch is that no matter which side you place up, it will never properly fit. While that form of Hell would certainly warrant good behavior for a lifetime, I have a different version of Hell. It would require the condemned party to be placed on a small deserted island for eternity with an indestructible copy of Keith Parnell's paperback novel, and Hall of Shame inductee, Killinger

The front-cover blurb of the 1980 Pinnacle version, placed cleverly beside a rifle-toting, fit-as-a-fiddle Steve Holland, says this about Killinger:

“He likes his wine good, his women bad, and his enemies dead.”

What it fails to mention is that the book is nearly 250 pages in length and that anyone subjecting themselves to one page of this nonsense will suffer unimaginable horrors. This is Roadblaster bad, which is the epitome of bad literature. Whether it slides into the fiction-abomination, smelly cesspool as that novel is in the eye of the beholder, or nose of the sniffer. 

Jedediah Killinger III is retired and lives on a large yacht called Sybaris, docked in uneventful Santa Barbara, California. The boat has a secretary, a Japanese houseboy, 13 flavors of ice-cream, wood carvings of sexual positions, and lots of wine and fresh fish. In his spare time, he works as a maritime insurance investigator. Which brings him into an assignment to look into a shipping junk called Katja that was damaged at sea. Conveniently, the damaged vessel is docked near his own boat.

Killinger's investigation is basically just trying to bed down the daughter of the vessel's owner. He never leaves the dock area, has no actual purpose in the book, and just stands by eating, drinking, and partaking in intercourse with various characters. But, there's a heavy wooden crate on the damaged vessel and two people desire the crate. 

The plot is so dull and boring that it pains me to even outline it here. Two criminals, K.Y. Smith and Count Vaclav Risponyl, both want the crate. But, they feel like they must steal the crate. Think of the old roadrunner and coyote cartoon. There's elaborate attempts to steal the crate, which requires a giant crane, that end in disaster. These attempts are unintentionally comical, convoluted, and completely uninspiring. It's like how a great action installment, like Executioner or M.I.A. Hunter, would have a plot like this for about a half-page just to further the actual plot. Unfortunately, Parnell uses this simple plot for a full 250 page novel. 

Killinger should be avoided at all costs. It's tough, because Pinnacle released two versions, one in 1974 with a different cover and title as The Turquoise-Yellow Case, obviously cashing in on John D. MacDonald's nautical private-eye series Travis McGee and its color-coded naming convention. The 1980 version is simply Killinger. To add lemon juice to the wound, there is a second Killinger novel called The Rainbow-Seagreen Case. Essentially, three opportunities for you to have a Hellish reading experience. Stay alert in the book stores for this literary danger. Handle with care. See something, say something. 

Buy a copy of this book HERE 

Thursday, November 19, 2020

John Easy #01 - If Dying Was All

Pop-culture historian and multi-genre author Ron Goulart wrote four novels and three short stories starring a swinging Hollywood private eye named John Easy in the 1970s. Thanks to Mysterious Press, the novels remain in print today, so I’m starting the series with the first installment, If Dying Was All, from 1971.

An Oscar-winning screenwriter named Mr. McCleary hires Easy to solve a family mystery. The client’s daughter Jackie committed suicide by jumping into the Pacific Ocean five years ago, yet Mr. McCleary just received a letter from the girl. Fortunately for the plot, Jackie’s body was never recovered. In the letter, Jackie says she’s in trouble, but she can’t come into the open just yet. Jackie drops a lot of inside info, and the handwriting looks right. Convinced that his twentysomething daughter is alive and in trouble, the old man hires Easy to find Jackie.

Easy isn’t convinced Jackie is alive, but he follows logical leads - gossipy news clippings, the post-office, her friend-group, etc. This brings him in the orbit of many quirky California types, but Easy is himself is rather generic. In fact, he makes fictional detectives like Mike Shayne and Johnny Liddell seem downright charismatic in comparison. Instead of imbuing Easy with personality, Goulart chooses to make him a competent professional among scads of California stereotypes (“The classical string quartet at the cafe is nude!”).

Man, this was a by-the-numbers tedious and boring book. It’s possible that Goulart was trying to lampoon the private eye genre, but he forgot to actually make it funny. Characters do wacky California things like grab Easy’s crotch while he’s interviewing them, but these attempts at promiscuous edginess fell flat to me. The entire novel is just a series of interviews Easy conducts with witnesses and possible suspects who may have knowledge of Jackie’s death or disappearance. By the time we arrive at a solution to the central mystery, I was way past caring.

If any of this sounds like your thing, please just read any of the Carter Brown mysteries. He did the same thing so much better. If Dying Was All isn’t even bad enough to be noteworthy. The novel is blessedly short, so you won’t need to suffer through much tedium to reach the ending. Better idea: just skip it altogether.

Buy a copy of this book (if you must) HERE

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

The Butcher #07 - Death Race

The Butcher was a Pinnacle series of men's action-adventure novels that ran 35 installments from 1970 through 1982. While it's a bit confusing on who wrote the novels, the series is mostly authored by either James Dockery or Michael Avallone under the house name of Stuart Jason. While I despised The Butcher debut, Kill Quick or Die, I loved the 23rd entry, Appointment in Iran. I've always enjoyed action novels set in Alaska, so I was curious about the “cold weather” premise of the series' seventh novel, Death Race, published in 1973.

The novel's first 14-pages outlines the origin of The Butcher – real name Bucher (one word). He was a Syndicate killer who left the mob and then became a high-priced target for his former employers. Bucher joined a secret branch of U.S. Intelligence called White Hat and now serves his country by globetrotting to foreign locales and eliminating criminals. For Death Race, Dockery places the quick-draw crime-fighting hero in southwestern Alaska to complete a rather bizarre assignment.

White Hat has learned of a grave threat at a remote military installation called Dewline. The outpost is maintained as a joint venture between Canada and America to provide an advanced warning in the event of an enemy's attack by land, sea or air from the northern part of the world. The shadowy organization informs Bucher that Dewline's key personnel have been murdered and replaced by sinister doubles. Bucher is to learn why and how this invasion began and to provide pertinent details to White Hat regarding how to alleviate the situation.

Bucher makes the journey by snowmobile to the remote outpost. There, he infiltrates the facility as a research scientist and begins to dig into the details about the facility's origin, it's key components and the ultimate betrayal of American and Canadian intelligence. Dockery's utilization of Bucher's Syndicate killing power is vividly displayed as he targets the sinister doubles and fights the resistance man to man. Eventually, Bucher is able to eliminate....wait! Hold up. Let me stop right here.

The above paragraph was wishful thinking on my part. Here's what really happened...

Upon arrival in an Alaskan village called Kasynguk, Bucher visits a woman named Sonya Rostov hoping to learn about her brother's murder at Dewline and his subsequent replacement with an “evil twin”. However, Bucher falls in love with Sonya and leaves her house twice over the scope of 184-pages. Dockery spends pages and pages having Bucher confess his wants and needs to the needy, sexually-starved Sonya. Bucher and Sonya do the nasty at her place and at a relaxing bath house. Eventually, Bucher decides to marry Sonya and the two engage in an Alaskan ritual that most of the world calls a wedding ceremony. Bucher plans to leave White Hat and live off of his savings, learn to fish and bump uglies with Sonya for the rest of his life. Oh, and he leaves her house once to go to Dewline and kill an old foe named Dr. Wan Fu who fakes his own death in the syndicate because he had an extra brain growing on the side of his head that made him wicked and motivated him to attempt to destroy the lower 48 states by taking over Dewline while raising ravenous dogs to devour humanity. Yeah, Bucher goes and shoots that guy.

Death Race is a waste of paper. I wouldn't trust it to be a beer coaster for fear that it's awe-inspiring stupidity could somehow poison my beer and make me as stupid as the book's storyline. My personal bucket list entry #2 of “Visit Alaska” has been ruined by this preposterous, insanely written piece of literary garbage. It's clouded my frosty, wonderful visions of this snowy beautiful region of Earth and replaced it with the memory of this literary Hell. Reading Death Race was a race to the final page begging for the awfulness to end. Counting pages, counting paragraphs, counting the number of words to reach the end of a page. I took one for the team and read what could be one of the worst books of the series. Kill Quick or Die, as shitty as it was, could have been written by John Steinbeck compared to the steaming pile of trash known as Death Race. Stay away readers...for God's sake stay away. Hall of Shame...open the doors wide for this fat load of crap.

Buy a copy of this beer coast...book HERE and don't tell anyone you own it.

Saturday, April 25, 2020

Swamp Sister

Robert Edmond Alter (1925-1966) sold dozens of short stories to crime-fiction digests including Manhunt and Mike Shayne Mystery Magazine in addition to authoring several children’s books. However, his long-form fiction for Fawcett Gold Medal consisted of only two novels, Swamp Sister and Carny Kill, both of which were published in the year of his death, 1966. America’s fascination with noir fiction involving sexy and unsophisticated women from the backwoods continues to fascinate me, so I decided to try my luck with Swamp Sister.

The paperback opens with a two-person plane - a Piper Cub - destined for Jacksonville, Florida crashing in the remote swampland due to an engine failure. The crash kills two men including a passenger carrying a briefcase filled with a $80,000 in cash.

Four-years later, “The Money Plane, ” as the locals call it, is a thing of legends among swamp people. 20 year-old Shad Hark has been searching the swamp for years looking for any sign of the downed aircraft with no luck. A New York insurance investigator tickled the town’s imagination after the crash with the news that there is wreckage somewhere out there containing $80,000 among the alligators and Spanish moss. Most locals have long since given up the hunt and some have died trying to find it on their own.

Persistence pays off for Shad one day when he finds the Money Plane deep in the watery woods protected by aggressive gators and cottonmouth snakes. He crawls into the tiny cabin, and recovers the briefcase. Because he’s a moron, he uses his Bowie knife to slice the briefcase to ribbons to get at the money. Because of this bad idea, Shad has $80,000 but no way to carry the cash back home. He decides to stash the majority of the cash in the jungle with the plane and fills his pockets with what he could carry.

The author makes the unfortunate literary choice to write the dialogue in the patois of dipshits from swamp county. This makes for a condescending and cumbersome read filled with sentences like, “Shaddy, you ain’t forgit you’n me is going gator-grabbing?” This crappy writing bogs down the plot considerably. To be honest, it’s a fairly lousy plot to begin with, but Alter’s tin ear for dialogue certainly doesn’t help.

Shad’s in love with a swamp girl named Margy with a heart of gold, and he takes her into his confidence about his plan to recover the stashed funds. Meanwhile, Shad’s spending of $10 bills recovered from the wreckage attracts the attention of a different group of shotgun-toting dipshits from town - as well as a trap set by the man from the insurance company who alerted the locals to the existence of the money plane four years earlier.

This book mostly sucks. Some of the jungle scenes with the characters dodging gators and cottonmouth snakes were somewhat exciting, but overall Swamp Sister should have been left to rot among the fetid, torpid waters of history. It’s been reprinted a couple times over the years, but new cover art failed to put a glossy sheen on this turd of a book. It’s still early, but this is the worst book I’ve read in 2020 thus far. To the Hall of Shame with thee!

Buy a copy of this book HERE

Sunday, April 5, 2020

The Enforcer

Maine native and US Army veteran Ovid Demaris (1919-1998) dedicated a majority of his literary work to non-fiction accounts of Mafia operations. Between 1957 and 1988, Demaris also authored a number of crime-fiction novels, two of which were adapted to film - “Hoods Take Over” as the film “Gang War” and “Candyleg” as “Machine Gun McCain”. Based on the author's research on organized crime, it's no surprise to find “The Enforcer” in his published works, a mob-themed crime-noir originally released by Fawcett Gold Medal in 1960 and now available as an affordable reprint through Cutting Edge.

Bender is a ruthless mob enforcer living in a bright and cheery apartment complex in Hollywood. When he's not breaking the legs of debtors and traitors, Bender spends his time with a stripper named Nicki while also lusting over a nearby resident named Eileen. However, the police are on to Bender and have him under investigation for a neighborhood double-homicide. To finalize their case, the police ask Detective Mark Condon to go undercover as a resident at the apartment complex. While it's never really explained what Condon is hoping to discover, readers will forget the story-line due to the narrative's abundant sleaze and sexy oscillation. The apartment complex’s pool is like the porn palace of Los Angeles. Resembling a dirty episode of “Friends”, roommates spend 127-pages attempting to get laid. There's also the sex-starved whacko who observes from afar with one hand on his...windowsill.

“The Enforcer” was my first experience with author Ovid Demaris and by all rights should be the last. I'm a sucker for punishment and unfortunately bought a four-pack of his vintage novels on Ebay. But just to be fair, Demaris may have intended this to be a smutty romance novel and Fawcett just dressed it up to resemble a vengeful crime-fiction offering. Even the book's title may have been something entirely different. We'll never know. But that doesn't dismiss the notion that Demaris is a good author. His fragmented, multilayered narrative has way too many shallow characters. The author spends multiple pages on poolside antics and immature jokes that hinder the pace. Nothing is remarkable, and Demaris doesn't have a story to tell. It's just a random amount of nonsense about young hotheads stripping, dancing and boning.

It goes without saying, but I'll state for the record that “The Enforcer” has joined the Hall of Shame. Avoid this one like a scorching case of California Clap. 

Buy a copy of this book HERE

Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Bomb Squad

“Bomb Squad” is a 1977 men's action-adventure paperback published by Leisure Books. The author is Mark Andrews, a name that I can't seem to place online. The only other literary work I can  locate matching this time frame is a 1970s paperback entitled “Return of Jack the Ripper”, also by Mark Andrews and also published by Leisure. One and the same? Probably, but we may never know.

The novel is broken into three sections - “Deadly Letters”, “Bomb Factory” and “The Hell Bomb”. The author's only attempt at creating a protagonist for the book is Tom Gilbert, a lowly alcoholic who works on a New York City bomb squad. He's having an affair with a woman named Mary Jo, who's in love with another man. Tom's wife is a raging alcoholic and the two have a one-month old child. In the book's opening chapters, Tom is suspended from the force due to his alcohol abuse. It's quite the conundrum considering the only main character (loosely) isn't an active member of the “bomb squad” for the duration of the paperback. 

In pulpy fashion, a network of 10,000 operatives calling themselves American People's Liberation Army have began mailing letter bombs throughout New York City. That’s a lot of stamps. The first one is delivered to Tom's lover Mary Jo who dies in a fatal explosion. Tom isn't terribly affected by it and later digs through the rubble to find a letter opener that he always wanted. Huh? While he's searching for buried treasure in the debris, his wife is at home in a drunken stupor shaking the baby and eventually dropping it. This should have been an important moment in the book's narrative, but it is quickly forgotten.

The novel then shifts gears to the newspaper business as they chase stories about the bombings. I believe the author was attempting to cash-in on the “thrilling reporter” sub-genre that saturated the market post-Watergate. While “Bomb Squad” doesn't present the newsroom suspense of “All the President's Men”, it does spend about 50 pages focusing on a reporter named Brown hunting clues about the mad bombers. Instead of spinning the narrative as a procedural investigation to discover who is behind the bombings, the author gives us whole chapters dedicated to the various terrorist members. There's no mystery or intrigue as we're introduced to leftover Vietnam War protesters that now want stock market winners to donate all of their profits to the needy. So, they make bombs to kill innocent people.

The author takes readers into an old church where an evil pastor is building bombs. He also takes us into a college auditorium as a professor explains to his class (and you...the reader) specifically how to make a basement level atomic bomb. He even provides the names of real books that show lunatics the step by step instructions. The horror! Furthermore, the author introduces a seasoned bomb squad member named Fingers McCoy to provide a complete tutelage on making pipe bombs to a new member of the force (again...that's for you, the reader). I pray that I'm holding the only remaining copy of “Bomb Squad” on the planet and that this crappy paperback doesn’t fall into the wrong hands. 

You're never going to read this book, so I'm giving you spoilers (just exit if I'm somehow stealing your joy). Not only does the book fail to produce one hero, by the end of the novel there isn't anyone in the bomb squad stopping the terrorist army. By the last page – guess what!?! 600,000 people die as New York City is nuked from the Earth. I have a suspicion that Andrews wrote this in a particularly bad part of his life – like a child dying or a downward spiral into financial ruin. That is my hope. If not, then this guy has a hard-on for destroying people and property and channeled his maniacal depression through some sort of how-to guide masquerading as a men's action-adventure novel. Make no mistake, “Bomb Squad” is the nuttiest thing I've ever read. And extremely dangerous. Consider yourself warned. 

Buy a copy of this book HERE

Friday, March 27, 2020

The Mercenaries #01 - Black Blood

British author John Harvey's most notable literary work is a series of police procedural novels starring Detective Inspector Charlie Resnick. The series began in 1989 with Lonely Hearts and ran an impressive 13 installments through 2014. In the early 1970s, Harvey wrote two biker-adventure novels under the name Thom Ryder and also authored a three-book WW2 series called Death Shop. My first experience with the author is his The Mercenaries series of team-based combat novels written under the pseudonym Jon Hart. The series ran five total installments with the debut paperback, Black Blood, published in 1977 by Mayflower.

Black Blood has an auspicious beginning as the author introduces a character named Dick Thompson, a young boy who's being brutalized by his peers. After the beating, Thompson returns home where he discovers his mother is having adult-relations with a man. As Thompson runs out of the house, he collides with his father. Fast-forward to present day and we find Thompson working in Africa as a mercenary. Through thick foliage, Thompson spies a black woman breastfeeding her baby. Cautiously, Thompson enters the hut, rapes the woman, threatens her baby at knife-point and then leaves. The odd thing is that Thompson is a Lieutenant in the author's band of mercenaries called Five Commando.

I was hoping for something remarkable considering Harvey's respectability as a talented author. However, once another character was introduced as antisemitic and the son of a Nazi soldier who assisted in the mass extermination of Jews, I was immediately turned off. With Black Blood, the author's idea was to establish an action-adventure series starring criminals. Five Commando is made up of despicable characters that are led by a cunning negotiator named Major Kane. The debut mission is Kane's contract with an African leader who is attempting to resist a strong rebellion. After hiring Kane's mercenaries for 70 pages, Five Commando kills all of the rebels and take on a second mission of protecting a monastery of nuns. By the 100th page, I had completely lost interest.

At 125-pages, this book was the pits. The writing was disjointed and unnecessarily gory. Often I had trouble placing where the team members were in battle and in some cases I couldn't ascertain whether Kane had just five Mercenaries or five-hundred. There were brief portions of the narrative where team members are interacting with other allies. This was extremely confusing from a reader's perspective and left me disenchanted with the storytelling. The end result is a low-brow fictional effort that shouldn't be in your hands on or on your bookshelf. We have a special place for these abysmal literary efforts – the Paperback Warrior Hall of Shame. Black Blood, welcome to your permanent home.

Friday, February 28, 2020

S-Com #01 - Terror in Turin

By the early 1970s, the team-based commando theme had become a popular market for men's action-adventure paperbacks to explore. The idea probably stemmed from military fiction, but became increasingly more prevalent after Don Pendleton's second 'Executioner' installment, “Death Squad”. By the 1980s, the sub-genre hit its pinnacle with titles like 'S.O.B.', 'M.I.A Hunter' and 'Phoenix Force” among others. To capitalize, Warner Books launched their “Men of Action” line of paperbacks and one of their creations was an obligatory team-based series called 'S-Com' (short for Strategic Commandos). The publisher hired freelance writer Robert McGarvey to author all six volumes under the house name Steve White. The series debut, “Terror in Turin”, was published in 1981.

The five-member team is led by Stone Williams, a Yale graduate who excelled as a soldier in Vietnam and later inherited his father's lucrative business. After contemplating a mercenary life, Williams forms S-Com to fight the good fight internationally. The team is rather diverse:

Myles – African-American who served with Williams in 'Nam. Martial arts.

Leah – Israeli, the only female member.
Acrobatic and uses throwing stars.

Lucky – Cuban defector. Explosives.

Rod – Australian mercenary. Comedic big man.

The “Terror in Turin” stems from a terrorist group called “Seventh Mao Force”. It's leader, Vincent Teresio, introduces readers to his communist ideology by blowing up an Italian post-office. Partnered with his girlfriend Gina, Teresio then murders Turin's police chief before shoplifting celebratory bread and wine from a nearby grocery store. However, readers quickly learn that the terrorist group is actually just one guy – Teresio. The explosives used to demolish the post-office were just some sticks of dynamite stolen from a construction site. In fact, other than an AK-47, Teresio has no fighting ability or any other weaponry. How could the author possibly validate such a weak foe for a team of five hardened heroes?

Teresio targets the owner of an Italian auto company, Salvatore DiGrazia. In a botched kidnapping, Teresio grabs Salvatore's daughter Maria and scampers off to his crumbling residence to make the ransom call - $50 million in cash for Maria's safe return. With the police written as just foolish fodder, Leah becomes involved and the entire team quickly hits Turrin to stop the terrorist. Due to the author's weak villain, the majority of the book focuses on S-Com picking a fight with the local mob. While the team searches for a formidable foe, Teresio spends his days playing grab-ass with Maria while threatening rape. Thankfully, on page 154 the team actually confronts Teresio and the whole book mercifully concludes on page 159.

Needless to say, “Terror in Turin” is the first Hall of Shame entry of 2020. Don't waste your life reading a page of this nonsense. I've already sacrificed enough time for the both of us. This series is abysmal.

Buy a copy of this book HERE

Monday, December 9, 2019

Paperback Warrior Podcast - Episode 23

This episode of the Paperback Warrior Podcast celebrates the worst 20th Century novels the publishing industry had to offer. From TNT to Phoenix, we explore how bad things need to get before a reader will throw a paperback into the ocean. Don’t miss the fun as we discuss the absolute pits in vintage genre fiction. Stream below or on any podcast platform. Download directly HERE.


Listen to "Episode 23: Hall of Shame" on Spreaker.

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Brannon!

Daniel Streib (1928-1996) was a heavy contributor to the men's action-adventure genre in the 70s and 80s. After authoring a 'Nick Carter: Killmaster' novel, “The Night of the Avenger” (1973), Streib wrote a two-book series entitled 'Grant Fowler' (1971-1973) along with stand-alone titles like “Operation Countdown” (1970) and “House of Silence.” The 80s proved to be the author's most productive era with the 14-book series 'Hawk' (1980-1981), the 9-book run of 'Counter Force' (1983-1985), and two installments of 'Phoenix Force.” My first experience with Streib is a sleaze-vendetta paperback entitled “Brannon!” published by Pinnacle in 1973.

The book introduces readers to the small town of Timberland. It's a dying, rural community built from the lumbering industry by Alan Ward. The opening chapter (which is also detailed on the book's back cover) is set in 1952 and begins with four poorly-educated men that are sexually frustrated, all nearly fondling themselves in sheer boredom. The group of men, including the more mentally challenged Alfie, have a carnal desire for Alfie's hot sister Catherine. While she rejects their advances repeatedly, a new opportunity arrives.

A young American soldier named Brannon steps off the train and asks the men for directions. The group of men convince Brannon to seduce Catherine, so they can spy and masturbate from the bushes. The handsome, uniformed Brannon has no problems seducing Catherine and escorts her to a nearby lake to do the deed. However, it turns out Catherine is Alan Ward's daughter. To enhance the evening's activities, one of the men runs and tells Ward and his men that Brannon is raping Catherine at the lake. When the men arrive to assault Brannon, Catherine saves face by screaming, “RAPE!” After beating Brannon's brains out, one of the men whips out a knife and...cuts off Brannon's genitalia making “Brannon!” the first novel I've experienced where the male hero literally has no penis.

After these events, the book flash-forwards to 1973 and Brannon has become a tycoon in the paper industry despite stiff competition. Suave, wealthy and powerful, Brannon is frustrated with his...lack of a penis. He later says it's “the end of his immortality” and describes his sexual experiences as gazing at whores through windows. However, the thing that raises Brannon's interest is Timberland. Not only does he want to enact revenge on the town, but he's still madly desiring Catherine. His one encounter with the woman 21-years ago keeps him up (read that as sleepless) at night. Determined to have his revenge, Brannon erects a plan to cut off Ward's resources while also locating the group that castrated him.

It's hard to appreciate Streib's writing considering the dumbed down material the author was working with. Timberland's men are neanderthals, seemingly spending their days pondering sex. Catherine is a shallow idol, Ward's character isn't convincing and Streib seems to focus a lot of his creative direction on Alfie's sexual escapades with himself. Brannon is the only hero, but he's a racist multimillionaire that I hated.

“Brannon!” is a sleazy endeavor, yet lacks any graphic sex. It's like taking a blind man to an aquarium. Where's the enjoyment if we can't see it? “Brannon!” isn't even the bitter revenge yarn it aspires to be. Instead, it's just a limp effort that never peaked my interest. Slice this one from your reading list.

Buy a copy of this book HERE

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Raker #01 - Raker

Have you ever started a men’s adventure paperback just knowing it’s going to suck? The ‘Raker’ series was a failed, two-books outing from Pinnacle published in 1982 under the pseudonym of Don Scott. The actual author was Lee Hays, whose prior claim to fame was writing TV tie-in novels for ‘Columbo’ and ‘The Partridge Family,’ so he must have thought that landing an original Pinnacle series was his ticket to the big time.

The cover art for the paperback did nothing to instill confidence as it depicts a very Aryan looking Raker exchanging gunfire with black people under the tag-line, “The American Hero Who Believes in America First.” Presumably, the lady with the bullet headed for her Afro is from Canada or Sweden. The plot synopsis on the back did little to assuage the sickening feeling as I opened the big-font, humongous margins, 185-page novel.

Raker works for a shadowy organization called The Company - sometimes called The Department - in New York City. It’s not clear if this is a governmental entity or a private outfit. He receives his assignments and a briefcase full of cash with an unnecessary level of spy tradecraft. The current assignment is to investigate the ambush murders of several police officers across the nation over the past five months. All of the murders have occurred in black neighborhoods, so at least we are starting with a promising lead. Raker’s job is to investigate the killings and neutralize the almost certainly black threat.

The author may or may not have been personally a bigot, but he sure wrote a book for that audience. In Raker’s universe, the “coloreds” live like animals. A wrong number to Raker’s phone sounds like a “fruit,” and Raker imagines the caller wearing a tight t-shirt, a bracelet, and an earring. On his commute to work, Raker notices a “Jap with a camera.” Chinese-Americans are “chinks” and probably reds. Raker is basically Archie Bunker meets Charles Bronson. Could this have been intended as parody? Somehow I doubt it. Parody books have some element of fun, and “Raker” is just a loathsome drag.

Raker does have a college-educated - Harvard, in fact - black man who serves as his partner or informant - the business relationship isn’t clear. His name is Lawson, and it’s explained to the reader that he’s a real Oreo - black on the outside but white on the inside. Lawson is the perfect partner for Raker because he can “talk black, speak jive” but otherwise he’s without black “speech, gait, or behavior.” Lawson’s theory is that the police assassinations are the work of the Black Liberation Army (BLA), and Raker tells him to hit the streets and uncover the truth. A better author would have made the BLA thing a red herring and developed a clever twist at the end, but that would have involved way too much effort for the untalented Mr. Hays.

Raker is a badass, and the reader is reminded of this fact several times in the first few chapters. If I were writing the book, I might have shown the reader how tough and cool Raker is by having him do some tough and cool stuff, but that’s not how this author rolls. In order to anticipate the time and location of the next cop killing, Raker does some guesswork coupled with social engineering in which he places some calls to police stations pretending to be a black man while talking like Amos-n-Andy.

The novel is essentially a parade of liberal and minority strawmen for Raker to hate and occasionally kill. A flashback to his college years depicts anti-war protestors as flag burning domestic terrorists looking to “off some pigs” and smoke reefer. All this is done without the gentle nuance and subtlety that William W. Johnstone’s ghost writers bring to the right-wish fulfillment school of men’s adventure fiction.

Here’s the thing: even if “Raker” wasn’t filled with tone-deaf racial tropes, the paperback would still suck. The action sequences were lame and tired, and the pacing of the novel was an abomination. Raker spends the majority of the paperback driving around, meeting with potential sources with pages upon pages of talk, talk, talk to fill out this paltry, crappy book. Every now and then, he gets to break a mugger’s arm, but those scenes felt like they were added in later drafts to appease Pinnacle editors dumb enough to pay Mr. Hays for an action novel.

“Raker” was easily the worst book I’ve ever read to completion. We read a lot of cheesy, bad books at Paperback Warrior, but I can’t recall one as joyless as this piece of literary excrement. There was a sequel published - also in 1982 - called “Raker #2: Tijuana Traffic.” However, I’d rather jog home from my own vasectomy than read a single word of it. You’re on your own.

Buy a copy of this book HERE

Thursday, July 25, 2019

Decoy #01 - The Great Pretender

In 1974, Signet debuted a short-lived series entitled 'Decoy.’ The concept was in the vein of 'Death Dealer' and offered a hero who would don disguises for the government to foil criminals. The debut novel, “The Great Pretender,” was a commercial failure and Signet would cancel the series after the second entry, “Moon Over Miami.” Series author Jim Deane never made a large footprint in the men's action-adventure genre. Other than Decoy, the only other known work is the 1972 sex-book “The Mistress Book,” later re-titled as “The Fine Art of Picking Up Girls.” Classy guy.

Series protagonist Nick Merlotti is a high-profile criminal known to the public as The Great Pretender or the Clown Prince of Crime. Specializing in theft, Merlotti's most acclaimed work was stealing a priceless museum painting and inserting his own photo in its place. Eventually he was captured and prosecuted, but Merlotti's talents led to prison escapes, only to be re-captured again.

In the opening chapter of “The Great Pretender,” Merlotti is approached by the feds and asked to infiltrate mobster Gianfreddo's circle. In an effort to locate the police officers who are tipping off the mafia, Merlotti's skill-set is apparently in demand. With absolutely no backstory on Merlotti, the author lazily explains that our hero has a computer brain allowing him to quickly quell and escape conflicts, decipher the most complex problems and perform a heroic display of self-defense tactics. There's no mentioning  of Merlotti's past until page 134 of 166 – he's a former U.S. Marine. Partnering with Merlotti is a “gadget whiz” named Waves who will assist in recording and monitoring the mission.

The second chapter has Merlotti surrounded by mounds of titties on a New York beach. Picking Jane at random, the two flirtingly swim before heading to Merlotti's temporary residence to bone six times before dinner and once more afterwards. His sexual prowess is extraordinary, leading Merlotti to “ball” Jane repeatedly, as well as another babe named Faye. None of this is particularly interesting.

In a one of the most incomprehensible strategies you'll find in a men's action-adventure, Merlotti hatches a plan to intercept a yacht filled with heroin intended for Gianfreddo. By stealing the heroin, he'll then go to Gianfreddo and explain he didn't know it was intended for the mob kingpin and then give it back to him to earn respect and trust. To do this, he plans on just borrowing a U.S. Coast Guard cutter and a machine gun. There's absolutely no mention of how he manages to steal a government boat or where he obtains a machine gun (there's not even a mention of what kind of firearm it is). The next chapter just has Merlotti on the Coast Guard boat with a machine gun. The plan works out perfectly and Merlotti easily intercepts and steals the boatload of heroin, which is revealed to be a load of sugar.

Meeting with Gianfreddo, Merlotti explains that he stole the shipment of heroin for the feds in an effort to infiltrate Gianfreddo's empire. In a reversal of the mission, Merlotti explains that he now knows Gianfreddo knew about his plan all along and lured him in with the sugar (huh!?!). Now, Merlotti offers to work for Gianfreddo to reveal the informants that the feds have planted to spy on Gianfreddo's operation. This is baffling – if the feds already had informants within Gianfreddo's ranks, why did they even need Merlotti? Regardless, Gianfreddo accepts Merlotti's offer. Only Merlotti then goes back to the feds and explains that he has told Gianfreddo of the plan and that he will use this as his advantage to find the police leak. This narrative is both confusing and moronic at the same time - no small feat.

The focus of the book's last 100-pages is simply Merlotti interviewing various cops to discern who's being bribed by Gianfreddo. In a shocking sequence of events, Merlotti decides the best course of action is to dress the part of a city social worker, visit every cop's residence and perform a sex survey with their spouses. By asking detailed questions like how many times they perform oral sex, favorite positions and what bedroom fetishes they desire, Merlotti will be able to quickly inspect the homes to determine who has lavish décor, because surely if they have expensive draperies, they are on the take. Wow!

Jim Deane's short-lived literary career is completely explained by the piss-poor storytelling in “The Great Pretender.” In fact, I would speculate the book's title was a recycled adjective that the author had received by publishers when submitting drafts. This novel makes very little sense due to it's overly complicated plot-development. Further, there are entire dialogue scenes where quotes with characters are mistakenly inserted into scenes where the character isn't even in the room or a part of the scene. At one point Merlotti speaks to Faye in a restaurant but she's not even in the building! Instead, he's talking with mobsters while Faye is at her place. Did Signet edit this or just publish a shitty first draft, sight unseen?

“The Great Pretender” is hereby inducted into Paperback Warrior's Hall of Shame. The only positive aspect is the phenomenal cover art, which may have been created by Jack Faragasso, a popular paperback artist who worked for Pinnacle, Lancer, Signet and Belmont among others. Based on the overwhelming failures of this novel, there is zero chance I'll ever read the sequel. You shouldn't either.

Buy a copy of this book HERE

Friday, July 5, 2019

Stark #01 - Funeral Rites

UK publisher Sphere launched in 1966 and rose to prominence with the 1976 printing of “Star Wars: From the Adventures of Luke Skywalker” by Alan Dean Foster (as George Lucas). But, action-adventure readers know the publisher's work through the myriad of 'Conan' and 'The Executioner' releases. The publisher gained the rights to release Don Pendleton's Executioner series, beginning with “War Against the Mafia” in 1973. Losing the series to rival English publisher Corgi, the company emulated 'The Executioner' motif for a new series entitled 'The Revenger'. 

The Revenger would run for 12 total books, the first ten written by Terry Harknett ('Adam Steele', 'Edge', 'Apache') and the last two by Angus Wells ('The Eagles', 'Jubal Cade'). The house name used by Sphere is Joseph Hedges. Later, Pyramid Books acquired the rights to reprint the books in the US but changed the series name to 'Stark' to avoid confusion with another The Revenger series written by Jon Messman. 

“Funeral Rites” is the debut novel of the series and was released in the UK in 1974 with a printing in the US a year later. The book introduces us to the criminal John Stark, a prison inmate in England. He robbed an electronics company while being employed by a criminal organization called The Company. To keep Stark quiet behind bars, they promise to continue the heroin drop into Stark's lover Carol. The Company henchmen aid Stark in his escape from prison so he can continue to do jobs for them.

After these events transpire in chapter one...this book turns into a real turd. 

Stark is brought to sea and reunited with his arch enemy Ryan. Oddly, Ryan provides Stark a bedroom and a nympho named Sheri. In my opinion, Stark loses credibility when he pounds away at Sheri while thinking of the love of his life, Carol. This just seems incredibly selfish, but considering the lack of depth in the book it makes sense the character is easily disliked. Shockingly, Ryan leaves Stark alone so he can set fire to the boat and escape with Sheri.


The author completely loses direction and focus and dedicates the next 100-pages to Stark sleeping, eating...and sleeping and eating. He goes on tangents about how Stark is ravished from hunger but there's no reason for it. He has money and there's food all over London! Ryan, being the book's villain, does nothing. Instead, the author has our antagonist thinking about his lover Jay and how he misses his vibrator. Ugh. In one astonishing, scene Ryan has a mistress flail him with a tree branch before “impaling” herself on him. It's absolutely bonkers.

Action? Well, there's a little here and there. In one wild scene we have Stark's Colt Python against the bad guy's Tommy – with Stark obviously the immortal hero. In a hilarious scene Stark accidentally elbows Jay, knocking him into a sink where he bleeds to death. To get answers to some question (I stopped following the senseless plot), he thrust Sheri's face into the wound while threatening to drown her in the gash if she doesn't tell the truth. Ridiculous.

I hated this book. And it isn't because the English spell “Pajamas” as “Pyjamas” or that they insult the good guys here by calling them a “Tinker's Cuss” (?). No, it isn't that. This character has absolutely no talent. Stark is a thief who was caught. End of story. There's nothing else to it. The Company wants to capture him, there's a bad guy named Ryan, a lover named Carol Burnett (!) and an effort on the author's part to bury 120+ pages in dialogue and trivial descriptions of tea cups and wall décor. 

How this series lasted 12 entries is beyond me. Why Pyramid felt the need to reprint it, God only knows. For me, this series lasted one book.

Buy a copy of this book HERE

Monday, April 22, 2019

A Texan Came Riding

Frank O'Rourke (1916-1989) was a Denver native who received his call for writing during WW2. His first novel, “E Company”, was released in 1945. He went on to write over 60 novels, three of which were adapted for film - “The Bravados”, “A Mule for the Marquesa” (film name “The Professionals”) and “The Great Bank Robbery”. My first sampling of his work is the 1958 Signet paperback “A Texan Came Riding”.

A hired gun named John Kearney arrives in the southwestern border town of Taos with a stack of letters. He presents these letters, some written by attorneys, judges and even a governor, to town sheriff Adolfo Montez. Kearney is searching for a criminal named Charles Malcolm, who's chosen Taos as a place to park all of his wealth. As the owner of the mine and half of the area farms, Malcolm is a significant citizen. While never fully explained to the reader, apparently Malcolm raped a woman in the mid-west and cheated hundreds of God fearing farmers out of land and stock. 

We are introduced to Charles Malcolm and quickly realize he's a lunatic. Further, he keeps a witch by his side to cast spells and curses on his enemies. Malcolm has laid over half of the women in town, some carrying his offspring over to Mexico, others...well he doesn't even know about. His most prized possession is Rachel Perez, who's he most recently knocked up and placed at a nearby ranch. 

Kearney aligns with a sheep herder named Ed Shaffer, Rachel and sheriff Montez to uncover Malcolm's corruption in the town. Discovering an important upcoming transaction between Malcolm and businessman Don Roberto proves to be the key to uncovering Malcolm's corruption. The book's finale has Malcolm on the run as Kearney and his allies hone in.

Despite its mere 128-pages, “A Texan Came Riding” is an exhaustive effort to digest. The narrative is just implausible. Kearny has authoritative letters from  various branches of jurisdiction citing Malcolm is a criminal. Why isn't he apprehended by the law? Why would Kearney, a rancher from Nebraska by trade, even be involved in this whole debacle? There's pages and pages of dialogue – displayed in lengthy paragraphs – between Malcolm, his witch and Don Roberto. Further, Kearney doesn't display any heroic traits whatsoever. Did I mention there is a damn witch in this book? 

“A Texan Came Riding” is terrible. I weep for the cover artist that designed this reprint. The contents doesn't match the impressive cover.

Buy this book HERE

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

A Cold Night's Death

Author Barbara Harrison is mostly known for historical literary works and contemporary romance novels. In 1973, Award Books assigned her the job of creating a novelization of an ABC made-for-television movie entitled “A Cold Night's Death”. Typically, movie novelizations are reserved for big screen releases or higher budget films needing additional marketing. It's a mystery on why Award wanted an ABC “movie of the week” in print, but alas here it is. I haven't seen the film (it's on YouTube) but couldn't resist the cover and promises of “Icy terror, suspense and violence”. 

Again, I haven't seen this film. But based on what I endured for 156-pages...I will never watch it. Perhaps Barbara Harrison was welded to the film's restraints, but reading “A Cold Night's Death” felt exactly like the novel's title. This is a lethargic, dull narrative where two scientists are literally thousands of miles from civilization and have nothing else to do but bicker with each other. And they drag you and I into it against our will. I wanted the suspenseful mystery that was teased to me during the novel's opening chapters.

Tower Mountain sits 14,000 feet into the thin air of Northern California. It's a snowy, wind-swept Hell where a small research station houses a lone scientist. For reasons the reader doesn't know (spoiler: you never know), this scientist is at the peak of madness and broadcasting on the short-wave radio for help. Why? What has happened? 

In chapter two we are introduced to the book's two protagonists, Frank and Robert. Both are esteemed scientists that have worked together for a number of years on a dozen projects. Dr. Horner, the research leader (at ground control), has asked that Frank and Robert fly to this frozen wasteland to determine what has happened to the missing scientist and the monkeys that are being used for the grant experiment - the effects of high altitudes and stress on humans. Against their better judgment, both agree to the assignment.

Chapter three begins with Frank and Robert arriving at the ice station and learning the whereabouts of the missing scientist. The mysteries here are aplenty – who locked the scientist in, why is there a window open, who destroyed the interior and how did the scientist die. I was hoping for an engaging hybrid of sleuth, murder and locked room mystery. The end result is nearly a three-month stay for Robert and Frank that includes a lot of experimentation on monkeys, radio dialogue with Dr. Horner and the two main characters jousting at each other like The Honeymooners. 

Barbara Harrison has nothing to offer more than Aaron Spelling and Leonard Goldberg's screenplay (no it isn't our beloved Lee Goldberg). That's the whole issue here...there's nothing to add because nothing really ever happens. There's some bump in the night suspense here and there, a few items knocked over and a lot of accusations tossed about. At the end I was dog-tired from this pointless exercise. Absolutely steer away from “A Cold Night's Death”. It's a soul killer.

Thursday, December 27, 2018

Track #01 - The Ninety-Nine

Gold Eagle originally had the idea for 'Track' as 'Hunter', which would have made more sense overall. At the time NBC had the 'Hunter' name branded for television, thus 'Track' is given as this series name. It had a 13-book run from 1984-1986 and had a mythology of protagonist Dan Track “tracking” down 99 stolen nukes. 

According to the “Brian Drake at Large!” blog, and comments Drake made at Trash Menace, Ahern had less than favorable opinions of the Track series. According to Drake, Ahern had publishing constraints and disliked the series' title. Perhaps his lack of enthusiasm is the driving force behind the debut's failure. “The Nintey-Nine”, the series opener, is a lethargic read that left me wishing the book length was the standard 180-pages instead of 220. It was a bear to get through. 

Dan Track is a retired Army Major and former member of the branch's Criminal Investigation Division (CID). The beginning of the book has Track undercover and under covers with arms dealer Desiree Goth. After investigating her robbery of Wiesbaden arsenal, Track decides to break cover and detain her. Unfortunately, Goth and enforcer Zulu overpower Track and the prologue's closing pages has Track fighting drug runners in a North African desert. 

Early chapters introduce us to series villain Johannes Krieger and his liberation of terrorist bomber Klaus Gurnheim. Krieger's “super power” is that he can alter his appearance to look like anyone. This Nazi sympathizer even becomes a woman in one ridiculous scene where he recruits a pilot at a gay bar. Krieger has the plans to capture 99 nuclear warheads from a military installation...because anyone can do this with a little planning, right? 

Track teams with a global insurance underwriter, Sir Abner Chesterton, and his truck-driving nephew George to stop Krieger. So, what's so bad about the veteran good guy facing the mad bomber? The fact of the matter is that it's so utterly ridiculous that it's hard to even throw out logic to enjoy simple 80s fun. In one scene we learn that an IRA terrorist has captured the top floors of a department store. They have threatened to blow up the building if their demands aren't met. Intelligence, led by a Sir Edward Hall, advises that the terrorist has 80 people AND...there's a girl in a wheelchair. It's this sort of nonsense that is maddening. As if terrorists planning on bombing a building filled with Americans isn't enough to warrant Track's attention, the author has to add a handicapped child into the equation to really heighten the sense of urgency. Why?

The ridiculous notion that Krieger can walk into a military installation and force a General to hand over nuclear warheads is just too easy. To dumb down the reading even more...NO ONE but Track, George, Chesteron and an assemblage of 10,000 black mobsters even know the warheads are missing! The finale has Track saving the city of Chicago by stopping a train but my brain checked out with 40-pages left. It was truly an exercise of internal fortitude to get through this much nonsense. Don't track 'Track'. Just leave this series alone in the wild.

Buy a copy of this book HERE

Thursday, August 9, 2018

TNT #01 - TNT

'TNT' debuted in 1985 in the US via Charter Books. It ran seven volumes in the US, but the book's origin is in France where the idea ran for an additional two installments. In fact, this book was originally released there as early as 1978 (under “Les Sept Cercles”). Author Doug Masters is actually Pierr Rey and Loup Durand, and this US edition was translated by Victoria Reiter. Regardless of who developed it and country of origin, this book is absolutely a steaming turd. In fact, there are three levels of really horrendous turd fiction that might better explain where 'TNT' lies:

The most abysmal, senseless garbage is the top tier – 'Roadblaster'. 

The middle is a guaranteed turd but could have an enjoyable chapter. It is best represented by the series 'Phoenix'. 

The barely manageable level is 'Swampmaster'.

'TNT' is on the “Phoenix” level of underwear skid marks.

Anthony Nicholas Twin is TNT (call him Tony and it works). While we don't know how he became wealthy...he just is. The author takes great liberty with Marvel Comics and the early 1950's atomic frenzy that fueled pop culture at the time. TNT, being this rich reporter, globe hops to a barren island to photograph an atomic bombing. Miraculously, he hides behind a cement slab and survives the bombing...because concrete will definitely protect against 15 kilotons of TNT. Ask the Japanese. Because he was exposed to radiation, he becomes super-powered like Peter Parker, the Fantastic Four and Hulk. His new superpowers allow him to see in the dark, have Spidey-Sense and the ability to withstand an erection for days. That's the most important weapon...the woody. If the normal man has an erection for more than four hours, the commercials advise us to consult medical help. TNT just keeps on piledriving – so much that he brings one woman to orgasm 15 times. But, more on that later.

TNT is taken to some secluded military hospital where he lies in a coma only to awaken and t-bone the tending nurse. While we never read one single line of TNT's thoughts, we get the idea that he really has no idea who or where he is. He just mentions the term “October”, which we later learn is the name of his mentally challenged daughter. The baddie is Arnold Bennedict (get it?), a commander of some undisclosed military branch that wants to use TNT for secret missions. The first assignment? Break out of the hospital and escape. 

The middle has TNT align with some strange transcending Apaches in Mexico. There's a female character called Mercedes that makes books of human skin, enjoys lavish parties and plays with little boys using bobby pins. The author has no idea why, only that he has TNT jackhammer Mercedes until she begs for the orgasms to stop (before she dies from too many of them). Later, TNT is moved to some European castle where the military has taken October hostage. It is odd, because TNT can interact and walk with her hand in hand...but can't escape? There's a promise that the military can “heal” her, but none of it makes any sense...it doesn't have to. The authors had no idea anyone was reading this trash. TNT is asked to penetrate a compound and kill a man who can make vehicles run on water. Really?? 

Once inside he finds that this is all “The Running Man” game where levels are presented as wacky win or die routines. It is utterly absurd. He teams with a few other chosen representatives and penetrates the compound only to find there will be seven circles for TNT to win, each one consisting of cumbersome traps like insects, rotting corpses, razor blades, electricity and poisonous gas. However, the wildest part is that TNT must bring caged women to orgasm in order to advance to the next level. This tests his enormous, long-lasting erection and pushes him to his sexual peaks. My God, the horror.

At the end of the day, I'm never reading another 'TNT' novel. I made that promise with David Alexander's 'Phoenix' and I'm doing it here. I would have to contemplate the sanity of anyone holding this in high regard as a men's action-adventure entry. It is horribly written, with characters that serve no purpose or reason to exist. TNT becomes a shallow character because the reader is offered no insight on his condition or feelings. I just can't say enough bad things about this book. Stay away...for God's sake just stay away.

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Swampmaster #03 - Unholy Alliance

If Paperback Warrior celebrated a Hall of Shame, then two of the three books in this 'Swampmaster' series would absolutely be inducted. David Alexander's hog piss 'Phoenix' would be in as well as the 'Roadblaster' atrocity committed by Paul Hofrichter (also known here as He Who Creates the Horror). I despised Jake Spencer's (real name Jerome Preisler) series debut (“Swampmaster”, Diamond 1992) and its 232-pages of utter nonsense. The author redeemed himself with a quality sequel called “Hell on Earth” the same year, moving the action from St. Augustine, Florida to the Gulf Coast. The book, while wildly ridiculous and equally nonsensical, had a good story to propel its over-the-top violence and mayhem. The third and final book in the series is “Unholy Alliance”, once again released by Diamond in 1992. 

Jerome Preisler, my God man. Why? Why did you write this?

In theory, a book showcasing a drug deal between post-apocalypse criminal factions at an abandoned Disneyworld is tantalizing. It's a fascinating concept – bad guys running around the most famous amusement park in the world while a war party featuring acrobatic twins and a Seminole (they are the good guys mind you) are attempting to stop them. Just for shits, throw in 8-pages of Black Bear vs Doomsday Cowboy, a gladiator game of motorcyclists mowing down human heads and a drooling wheelchair bound madman residing in Cinderella's Castle. 

I mean...Jerome, how do you screw this up? 

It's essentially like Peter North just showing up on the set and having no idea where to put it. This should be an easy one. Instead, it's pages and pages and pages of junk. Gun porn galore, mindless conversation about Cuban cartels, pointless backstories on meaningless characters that become decapitated in throwaway “cut” scenes. This is absolute garbage. It's worse than garbage. If garbage had a waste can that they put their own garbage in, then this book would be the filth-ridden wallpaper adorning its inner aluminum shell. 

Thankfully, this series was trash-canned, thrown onto the back walls of garage sales worldwide, finding solace in its obscurity and staying away from unknowing readers who might seek out the answer to “Who is Swampmaster”. He's John Firecloud and he'll rain on your Macy's parade every single Thanksgiving. He's the guy who hid the chocolate bunny on Easter and told you asparagus tastes great. He only left you a quarter for pulling that bloody stump of a tooth out of your pink gums and John Firecloud is the guy who crapped in the work toilet and left it there to dissolve knowing you'd see it and never unsee it. 

Jerome Preisler did all of that too. 

'Swampmaster' is the warning label for bad fiction: Contents inside may put you at risk of blindness, erectile dysfunction and lethargic bouts of coma-like fatigue. Do not operate heavy machinery if you are reading 'Swampmaster' and contact your physician or nearest urgent care if you reach page 10. In other words, don't read this, don't look at it, don't buy it...pretend it doesn't exist.