Showing posts with label WW2. Show all posts
Showing posts with label WW2. Show all posts

Wednesday, March 13, 2024

Bamboo Camp #10

According to his obituary in The Washington Post, author Franklin M. Davis Jr. (1918-1981) served with U.S. armored forces in Europe during WWII. He earned a Bronze Star as an operations officer in the armored regiment and later commanded a tank-infantry force. In 1967, Davis joined the 199th Light Infantry Brigade for combat in the Vietnam War. He was wounded in action and won a Purple Heart and four decorations from the Republic of Vietnam. He retired as an Army Major General. 

What better author than Davis to write harrowing adventure paperbacks like Spearhead (1957), A Medal for Frankie (1959) and Kiss the Tiger (1961). As a longtime combat specialist, Davis used his experience to write over 10 paperbacks in the 1950s and 1960s. My first experience with the author is his 1962 Monarch (#236) WWII novel Bamboo Camp #10. Knowing nothing about the author, I admit I purchased the book due to artist Bob Stanley's captivating cover art. 

This relatively short paperback (143 pages) features protagonist Harley Frazier, a U.S. Army Lieutenant, who is mired in the war-torn jungles of the Burmese Campaign during WWII. As the novel begins, Frazier and his men are attempting recon in the dense swamps and fields. They find one of their men brutally tortured, murdered, and hung like a scarecrow as a warning to any foes of the Japanese. After some back and forth action, Frazier's forces are cut to pieces in a grueling firefight. With no way to repel the hordes of Japanese soldiers, Frazier and the few remaining men are forced to surrender.

The rest of the book is reminiscent of any good prison-break story. Frazier and the men are transported long distances and arrive at a Japanese prisoner-of-war camp, just like the title suggests. Frazier learns there are 300 prisoners broken up into groups of 20-30 men in various camps. Thankfully, Frazier befriends the Australian forces and quickly learns the ropes to survive in the brutality of captivity. As time goes on, and his health continues to decline, Frazier and the Australians hatch a plan to escape.

I love the author's descriptive storytelling and the quick pace of the action. However, one of the real highlights to his story is the relationship between Frazier and his superior, Lieutenant Captain Macey. In a 15 page side-story in the middle of the book, Davis tells readers about Frazier and Macey growing up in the same city and attending school together. Later, when both join the military, they end up on the same base. Frazier meets a beautiful woman named Zona and the two strike up a friendship. Frazier learns that Zona is actually married to Macey. The two learn that Macey is having numerous affairs with various women in town, so Frazier and Zona engage in a heated secret romance of their own. 

The element that Davis uses for the book's narrative, and the inspiration for Frazier to live, is the fact that he feels he must protect Macey. He feels that his romance with Zona means that he owes Macey his life. Additionally, as Frazier weakens and borders on bad health and near-death, his memories of Zona eases the burden and forces him to fight the good fight to escape his torturous conditions.

I absolutely loved this book, although it doesn't really cover any new ground in terms of the traditional prison-break story. There are a few torture scenes, but nothing too graphic. Davis creates two prison leaders that are evil and fully committed to debauchery. They make perfect enemies for Frazier and the heroes. In some ways, with the jungle atmosphere, the book is similar to the dozens and dozens of Vietnam War POW/MIA novels. In other ways, it seems like a longer tale that would fit snugly in the pages of a Men's Action-Adventure Magazine (MAMs). Again, that Bob Stanley cover art is just so awesome. Bamboo Camp #10 is recommended for readers and collectors.

Buy a copy of this book HERE.

Wednesday, February 28, 2024

The Eagle Has Landed

Henry “Harry” Patterson (1929-2022) became a household name using the pseudonym of Jack Higgins. The British author was prolific from 1959 through 1974, producing 34 novels including a six-book series of spy-fiction starring secret agent Paul Chavasse. Patterson used pseudonyms like Jack Higgins, Martin Fallon, Hugh Marlowe, James Graham as well as variations of his own name. But, the author didn't achieve global success until 1975 when he produced the WW2 thriller The Eagle Has Landed, written under the Jack Higgins name. The book has sold over 50 million copies and was made into a film of the same name in 1976.

Surprisingly, the novel begins in the present day with Jack Higgins himself discovering a hidden grave inside a British cemetery. This concealed grave states that Lieutenant-Colonel Kurt Steiner and 13 German paratroopers were killed in action on November 13, 1943. How these Germans were killed in England is the bulk of the novel's narrative. The author takes the reader back in time to relive the events that led up to the concealment of this mysterious grave. 

Without digging too far into the details, the book is about a secret German mission to capture, or kill, English Prime-Minister Winston Churchhill. The concept begins with a sort of lackadaisical whim pitched by Adolph Hitler. But, Obertst Radl (translation is basically Colonel Radl) begins to experiment with the idea, eventually bringing the whole plan to fruition. To accomplish the feat, the Germans rely on a disgraced Colonel named Kurt Steiner (a real badass!) and a captured IRA terrorist named Liam Devlin (an even badder badass!). 

Higgins takes some time to flesh out the backstories of both Steiner and Devlin, both of which will appear in more Higgins novels in the future. In fact, Liam Devlin is probably the high-water mark for Higgins repeat characters, appearing in this book, it's sequel The Eagle Has Flown, two other novels and cameos in the Sean Dillon series. The backstories are developed well and place most of the book's action on the shoulders of these two characters. But, it isn't fair to really say anyone is a main character considering the story is so crowded with emphasized personnel.  

At 390 paperback pages, The Eagle Has Landed is one of Higgins' most ambitious novels. It's quite complex in the structure of the mission and all of the moving parts in Germany and England. With 12 characters, the narrative consistently changes location and scenery as the reader is thrust into high-level military strategy and politics within this robust cast of characters. If you want just straight-up action, I'd stick with Higgins' prior 34 novels. This book is a real beast.

Buy a copy of the book HERE.

Thursday, July 20, 2023

Blood Red Sun

Stephen Mertz cut his teeth writing hard-nosed action-adventure fiction set in Don Pendleton's Mack Bolan literary universe. In the 1980s, while penning some of the very best Executioner novels, Mertz expanded the scope of his writing by elevating genre fiction into a much broader scale. That successful experiment was Blood Red Sun, a novel first published in 1989 by independent publisher Diamond Books, a company funded by The Destroyer author Warren Murphy. The book was later reprinted by Crossroad Press in 2012, and is now available in a sleek, revised new edition from Wolfpack Publishing.

Unlike many WWII military-fiction novels, Blood Red Sun is unique in its premise and timeline. The narrative takes place in September, 1945, after Japan's formal surrender to the Allied forces following the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The book's protagonist is savvy Sergeant John Ballard, a thirty-five year-old fighting man who has spent the majority of the war engaged in combat in the Pacific Theater. What's left of his unit is ultimately just two men, Tex Hanklin and Wilbur Mischkie, both of which play important roles in Ballard's next assignment – preventing the assassination of U.S. General Douglas MacArthur.

In the book, Japan's surrender leads to a fragmented state of affairs for the country's military leadership. Within the ranks of the upper echelon, conspirators exist to prevent Japan's formal surrender to MacArthur. These conspirators refuse to accept defeat and feel that Japan's Emperor, Hirohito, is doing an injustice and disservice to the proud Japanese people. The schemers, all defined as opposing forces of Hirohito, are secretly building their own alliances to counter each other. It's essentially a den of snakes that also involves a proud Japanese flying Ace named Baron Tamura. The Baron's portion of the narrative involves his niece Keiko, a twenty-four year-old woman sympathetic to the Allied force initiative. Keiko also plays a prominent role as a potential love interest for Ballard. 

As a fan of Stephen Mertz's pulpy writing style, and his masterful grip on men's action-adventure writing, I was savoring the opportunity to read Blood Red Sun. Mertz draws on his prior experiences and strengths to create the story. As a fan of his M.I.A. Hunter series, I could see some similarities. 

The characters Ballard, Hanklin, and Mischkie reminded me of M.I.A. Hunter trio of Stone, Wiley, and Loughlin. Like a great M.I.A. Hunter novel, the same type of setup presents itself here when Ballard's team enters the Japanese jungle to retrieve a military leader. They rely on a small band of Filipino guerrillas to help them with the mission. This same sort of scenario was often used as Stone's team entered Asian jungles with an assist from Laos, Cambodian, or “South Vietnamese” guerrillas. Mertz even introduces ninjas into the story, an element that M.I.A. Hunter co-writer Joe Lansdale seemed to fixate on, shown in the series' fourth installment, Mountain Massacre. Additionally, the characteristics of Tex Hanklin was similar to Stone's Texan teammate Hog Wiley. 

These similarities to other Mertz creations doesn't make Blood Red Sun unoriginal or any less enjoyable. Quite the contrary. In fact, it illustrates how Mertz is cohesive and continuous, using his strengths and experiences as a genre storyteller to broaden the narrative. In fact, this is Mertz's most ambitious novel as it incorporates a lot of fine details surrounding WWII, the political landscape of Japan and the U.S. during that era, and famous, historical figures that are featured as characters in the story. Mertz takes some liberty with these characters, but left me feeling as though what he presented in terms of command, dialogue, and behavior, was probably art imitating real life.

In terms of action-adventure, Blood Red Sun has it all. The white-knuckled scenes of Ballard storming a landing strip with all guns blazin' was ripped right out of the pages of a vibrant Men's Action-Adventure Magazine. Mertz's descriptions of walls descending in bullet-hail, prison breaks, Kamikaze dives, ninja attacks and jungle warfare are balanced well with the political, backroom brawling conducted by various Japanese and American military leaders. 

Mertz's novels like Blood Red Sun are positioned on a grander international scale like The Castro Directive (Cuba) and The Korean Intercept (Asia), but still possess the men's action-adventure tropes that make the books way more enjoyable than a bestselling Tom Clancy ghostwritten tech-thriller. Mertz's literary mojo is authentic, extremely enjoyable, and saturated with human emotion that easily conveys to his readers. Blood Red Sun is a scorching red-hot read and I highly recommend it. 

Buy a copy of this book HERE.

Thursday, June 29, 2023

The Daring Daylight Raid on Germany's Mile-High Fortress

When I was a kid, a film my father seemed to always have on was The Devil's Brigade. It was originally released in 1968, but played consistently on cable television in the 1980s. The movie starred William Holden, Cliff Robertson, and Andrew Prine as rugged Canadian-American commandos ascending a “mile-high” fortress occupied by the Nazis during WW2

Surprisingly, I was thumbing through the December, 1960 issue of Male and stumbled on a story titled, “The Daring Daylight Raid on Germany's Mile-High Fortress”. The title connected me to the movie, and after diving into the story, I realized it was the same real-life account of “the devil's brigade”, complete with artwork by the legendary Gil Cohen (The Executioner). The author is Martin Luray, a name that I'm not familiar with.

Luray's story is more like a traditional MAM informative piece detailing the true story of Major General Robert Tryon Frederick and his leadership of the hybrid Canadian-American military force known as 1st Special Service Force. The team was comprised of 2,400 men culled from prior-military professions like loggers, forest rangers, woodsmen, game wardens, and prospectors. The recruitment for the U.S. volunteers took place in the American Southwest and on the Pacific Coast. 

At 3,000 feet high, Monte La Difensa (known as Hill 960) was a strong-point in the defensive German line strung across the high peaks of Italy. To train for the extraordinary climb and fight, the 1st Special Service Force trained in Helena, Montana, Camp Bradford, Virginia, and Forth Ethan Allen in Vermont. 

In December 1943 and January 1944, the 1st Special Service Force conducted a series of operations at Monte la Difensa, Monte la Remetanea, Monte Sammucro (Hill 720) and Monte Vischiataro. The 1st Special Service Force attacked and captured the enemy forces at the impregnable Monte la Difensa. 

This informative piece authored by Luray inserts various quotes from infantrymen and leaders, including Major General Frederick. While not a stirring, action-adventure narrative, the short story provided an education on this chapter of American-Canadian history while provoking me to read more high-adventure literature. 

Friday, June 9, 2023

Sheba

Jack Higgins (real name Harry Patterson, 1929-2022) was just getting his feet wet as an author when Seven Pillars to Hell was published. It was printed in 1963 by Abelard-Schuman under Patterson's pseudonym Hugh Marlowe. Mostly, the book went unnoticed and remained out of print for decades. Long after Jack Higgins became a household name, the author made revisions to his earlier works and saw them reprinted. Such is the case with Seven Pillars to Hell, which was revised into the 1995 novel Sheba, published by Berkley. I chose to read and review this version.

The book begins in Germany in 1939 with a select group of advisers meeting with Hitler on his plans to invade Poland. To avoid British interference, the men devise a method to blow up the Suez Canal. But, the problem arises with the immense distances required to fuel and attack the strategic location. When a colleague proposes that he has discovered the location of the legendary Temple of Sheba, buried in the ruthless Empty Quarter desert, the Germans create Operation Sheba to utilize this lost ancient structure as a supply depot for aircraft. 

A few months later, Higgins introduces Sheba's star hero, Gavin Kane, an Indiana Jones type of adventurer that is an archaeologist and nautical smuggler. After one of his illegal sea-run trades, Kane meets a woman who offers to pay him to locate her husband. Coincidentally, her husband is the professor that originally discovered the Temple of Sheba. Chances are that the man was killed, but Kane is a businessman and accepts the job. 

Sheba is saturated with fast-paced action sequences, most of which culminate in the hot desert sands as Kane, his associates, and his employer are on the run from Nazis. Like King Solomon's Mines, for example, the book's second half is mostly presented as a treasure hunt in the temple's underground passageways and secret tunnels. But, a brutal survival element is introduced that places characters forging for freedom through the harsh elements. 

Higgins is one of the best adventure writers of all-time, so his imagination and storytelling is superb as the book kicks into the third and final act. In some ways, a lot of his novels have a similar theme with WW2 historical vines weaving in and out of iron-fisted, strong-armed heroic fantasy (swords traded for machine guns). Once again, Higgins knocked my socks off with one of the better books I've read by him. This one was really something special and I'm glad it now exists in multiple formats for lifetimes to come. Highly recommended! 

Buy a copy of this book HERE.

Monday, May 29, 2023

Beardless Warriors, The

Richard Burton Matheson (1926-2013) was a multi-genre author best known for his horror and science-fiction works. In 1944, Matheson was 18 years-old when he joined an American combat division during WW2. He drew upon this harrowing experience to write his 1960 war novel, The Beardless Warriors.

The entire book takes place in December 1944 after Everett Hackermeyer from Brooklyn joins the ten-man platoon of C Company, a true fighting outfit just inside the German borders. Four of the ten soldiers are only 18 years old, including our young hero. The novel wastes no time thrusting Hackermeyer into his first combat experience nose-to-nose with German soldiers.

Instead of fearless killing machines, the soldiers of C Company are mostly portrayed as scared teens just trying to stay alive in a confusing and chaotic place far from home. When they get their first taste of combat, Matheson underscores the terrifying muddle that combat seems to an unseasoned soldier. There are moments of bravery, but very little of the heroism we often read in fictional depictions of front-line fighters.

This is a powerful novel, but not a pulpy adventure in the manner of Len Levinson’s The Sergeant or Rat Bastards books. There’s tension and excitement to be sure, but Matheson is clearly trying to give the reader a reality check rather than a swashbuckling yarn. Rather than tracking a single mission, the book reads like a ride-along over a month of an American infantry soldier behind Germany’s front lines.

Ultimately, The Beardless Warriors is a coming-of-age tale where a scared boy matures into manhood and leadership in the most harrowing circumstances. As long as you understand what you’re getting, you’re bound to appreciate the novel as a vivid account of what it was like for the young men prepared to sacrifice it all when the stakes were unimaginably high.

Buy a copy of this book HERE. 

Monday, April 10, 2023

Tortured for Christ

Right off the bat, let me just say I review vintage paperbacks. I love paperbacks. Bestsellers, Lowsellers, Nosellers, it makes no difference to me. But, I also do enjoy reading and reviewing paperbacks that were a sensation at the time of their publication. Books that flew off of shelves for no real reason other than just “you had to be there” sort of thing. 

Before you roll your eyes and think Paperback Warrior is now Paperback Priest, I'm reviewing Tortured for Christ because it is a vintage book from 1967, it was a sensation in multiple countries and languages, and for the most part it has everything I love - high adventure, military combat, WW2 history, good guys fighting bad guys, espionage prison, and escapism. So, if I'm going to read The Great Escape, If I Die in a Combat Zone, or Yet Another Voice, there's no reason to avoid Tortured for Christ. I believe everyone should have the freedom to believe what they believe and read what they want to read. Which is ultimately the premise of Tortured for Christ. If you are a believer or nonbeliever, it honestly doesn't matter. This is just a great book. 

The book is like an autobiography written in the third person by Richard Wurmbrand. As a fascinating history lesson, Wurmbrand chronicles his life growing up in Romania and the effects World War I and II had on his life and his country. The events of those wars are well documented in the book, but Wurmbrand goes behind the lines and really presents a human element to the madness of war and its effects on women, children, and families. 

Due to Wurmbrand being a Christian pastor, he immediately becomes a target of the Nazis. After World War II, his life and those of others in Romania seemed to have finally reached a bright spot. But, Stalin and communist forces took control of Romania and transformed it into a puppet government for Russia. Wurmbrand and his wife go on the run, working incognito and underground to avoid the brutal regime. Unfortunately, Wurmbrand is caught by the secret police and is shuffled through multiple prisons for 14 terrifying years.

I'm a veteran of the 70s, 80s, and 90s team-combat books, the military fictional men's action-adventure novels, the high-numbered installments of your favorite vigilante or supermerc, so I'm accustomed to heroes undergoing torture by evil governments, villains, drug dealers, etc. It isn't anything new. But, when it comes to real-life descriptions of torture, it's a different thing completely. 

The horrors that Wurmbrand endured, and his unbending faith in God, really had an impact on me. It made me question why I'm complaining about my coffee being served cold in the drive-thru lane when people like this suffered, and are still suffering, daily for various reasons. I'm not sure how Wurmbrand was able to do the things he did (which in itself might be hyperbole on his part), but the book's overall development from freedom to prison to liberation was simply mindblowing. 

If you do enjoy reading this sort of thing, I do recommend Yet Another Voice, which I reviewed, and also Faith of my Fathers, both of which depict real-life horrors of prison in North Vietnam. If you want to skip this book completely, the novel was adapted into a film this year by the same name. Buy a copy of the book HERE.

Thursday, January 12, 2023

Men's Adventure Quarterly #05

I can remember watching all of the old war films on TBS as a kid. My father had them on and I always camped out on the living floor to watch all of the action. I can remember repeated watches of The Dirty Dozen, The Wild Geese, Attack Force Z, and Devil's Brigade. Heck, my parents just celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary and “their song” is Mike Curb Congregation's “Burning Bridges”, the closing credits theme music of Kelly's Heroes. Needless to say, the team-based, do-or-die missions was ingrained into my childhood.

I was happy to learn that Bob Deis and Bill Cunningham's fifth issue of Men's Adventure Quarterly (MAQ) was dedicated to the team-combat “Dirty Mission” sub-genre of military-fiction and men's action-adventure. 

In the issue's opening pages, Deis traces the history of the concept, citing the 1965 novel and 1967 movie The Dirty Dozen as a possible catalyst for the numerous stories that appeared in men's adventure magazines. As Deis illustrates, the story that inspired The Dirty Dozen, “The Filthy Thirteen”, was published in 1944 in True: The Man's Magazine. Deis's opener is punctuated by glorious vintage artwork by Frank McCarthy, Norm Eastman, and popular Spanish comic book artist Vincent Sagrelles. 

The magazine's opening pages also features a short article by Bill Cunningham. He spotlights various films that featured unusual, unfortunate heroes partaking in dangerous military missions. Kudos to Cunningham for including one of my favorites, Uncommon Valor

Paperback Warrior is a big fan of Justin Marriott's magazines focusing on vintage books, pulps, comics, and more. One of his most recent projects is a series of fanzines dedicated to the British war comics and comic strips of the mid to late 20th century, Battling Britons. Using simple terms, he explains that the bigger British comic companies were Fleetway IPC and DC Thomson. These are like the Marvel and DC companies in the U.S. One of the things I found most interesting is that British monthly publications featured “pocketbooks”, 64-page stories that were sometimes written by military veterans. This provided a sense of realism and technical detail. Marriott's article is laced with spectacular comic panels from the likes of Battle Picture Weekly and Warlord as well as covers of Commando

The bulk of MAQ5 is dedicated to Eva Lynd, an iconic model that posed for MAM artists like Al Rossi, James Bama, and Samson Pollen. One of her most popular pairings was with artist Norm Eastman, which is a working relationship that Deis expands upon. There are numerous art panels and magazine covers to feast your eyes upon, including several that feature both Lynd and iconic male model/actor Steve Holland. In addition, Deis also briefly covers Lynd's work with artist Al Rossi, which was something I honed in on as a paperback fan. Book covers include Orrie Hitt's Women's Ward, Don Bartell's Strange Lovers, and one of the best books I read in 2022, Nude in the Sand, by John Burton Thompson. I really enjoyed the inclusion of fake movie posters portraying Lynd and Holland in action-packed military yarns. These are “fan” movie posters created by Vance Capley and David Goode, originally featured on a now defunct blog called Goode Stuff. Personally, I'm dying to see Fortress of the Damned. But, one can only dream of a film matching the power and vivid imagery of the faux poster.

Glorious Trash blog superstar Joe Kenney offers up a unique insight into his childhood. Kenney explains how he was submerged into the men's action-adventure genre, specifically MAMs and how they spawned his undying love for late 20th century paperbacks. I enjoy Kenney's blog and it was interesting to learn more about his life and what brought him to this wild dance. 

Most of the book's second half is dedicated to outrageous dirty mission stories, a majority featuring scantily-clad women. Stories like “The Captive Stalag”, “Lace Panty Guerillas”, “The Wild Lace Panty”, “Death Doll Platoon”, and the “Nazi Sex Circus”. The vivid artwork from Fernando Fernadez, Bruce Minney, and Gil Cohen enhances these stories and articles. These tales also feature female models like Lisa Karan, Carole Landis, and contemporary photographer/model Mala Mastroberte.

I seem to say the exact same thing after reading each new issue of MAQ: This is their best issue! I don't know where Cunningham and Deis find the time, energy, and dedication for all of these vintage magazines, artwork, reference material, books, the MAM CULTURE, to be featured in such a classy, professional way. This duo has side-projects, blogs, their own enjoyment, and families to tend to on top of what appears to be a full-time job creating these MAQ volumes. My hat remains tipped to their labors of love. MAQ #5 is...well Hell, it's their best issue yet! 

Buy a copy of this book HERE.

Wednesday, December 28, 2022

Drop Into Hell

Lou Cameron (1924-2010) mastered so many genres of written entertainment from comic books to westerns to mysteries and so on. Drop Into Hell was a 1976 WW2 combat adventure “in the breathtaking tradition of Allistair MacLean” released by Fawcett Gold Medal.

The year is 1944 and Paratrooper Captain David Evans has been given a secret mission. Hitler has developed a new super-tank and fighter jet that could cause some real problems for the Allied Forces. The plan? Hit Germany’s fuel refinery capabilities, leaving the Kraut’s new war machines with their gas tanks on empty.

The specific target is a refinery that shares space with a Red Cross Hospital housing injured American and British POWs. Conveniently for the novel, the hospital/refinery is right next door to a Concentration Camp filled with Jews and Gypsies working as slave labor in the refinery. Bottom line: Bombing the refinery into the stone ages isn’t an option.

Enter Paratrooper Dave and his crew of commandos, which includes the mandatory American Indian soldier. Their mission is to parachute into Nazi turf, sabotage the refinery, and get back across the lines safely into the warm embrace of the Allied forces. The problem? No one really has any idea how to get the saboteurs out of Germany once the damage is done.

The entire paperback is a very smooth and easy read as the cast of characters tackle problems and obstacles along the way. However, the novel‘s action lagged a bit in the middle. For my money, I think Len Levinson’s The Sergeant series is a stronger choice, but if you’re looking for Allistair MacLean Lite, this paperback will more than suffice. 

Buy a copy of this book HERE.

Monday, October 31, 2022

Left to You

Independent American horror author Daniel Volpe created a critical hit in 2021 with his self-published novel, Left to You. The paperback combines a modern-day occult story with extended flashbacks to the horrors of a WW2 concentration camp.

The main protagonist is Robert Sinclair, a twentysomething stock clerk at a big box store who attends community college while caring for his cancer-ridden mother at home. He strikes up an unlikely friendship with an elderly Polish customer named Josef Lazerowitz who, we quickly learn, is a survivor of the Auschwitz concentration camp during WW2.

The reader is treated (?) to an extended flashback to Josef’s time at Auschwitz as a young man. There’s plenty of ripped-from-the-history books horror as the Jews are subjected to murder, torture and indignities at the hands of their Nazi captors. We also learn how Josef survived when so many of his cohorts did not. The dynamic between Josef and the camp leadership was one of the novel’s strongest attributes largely due to the questionable ethics baked into the situation.

There is very little supernatural horror here in the paperback’s first half. If you are good enough at math, you’ll begin to understand that there’s something weird happening with old Josef who does not appear to be aging normally. Leave it at that.

Once we learn how the death camp story ties into Robert’s contemporary story, we are fully in the muck of a gross-out, bonkers, demonic horror novel. The author does a nice job of creating a parallel between the monstrous choices made by men during the war and the real-life monsters of contemporary horror fiction.

This is a very compelling - but very grim - novel that is definitely not for everyone. It reminded me a bit of Stephen King’s Apt Pupil. You need to make peace with moral ambiguity and the idea that stories don’t always need to have a happy ending for everyone. The writing is crisp and you’ll never be bored. But, man, this isn’t for the squeamish. Consider yourself warned. 

Buy a copy of this book HERE.

Friday, September 16, 2022

The Guns of Navarone

Alistair MacLean's The Guns of Navarone was an eight-part WW2 serial that first appeared in the September 22, 1956 issue of Saturday Evening Post. It was compiled into a hardcover novel in 1957 by Collins. It was then printed in paperback in 1957 by Perma (M-4089) and reprinted multiple times since then. The book was adapted into a blockbuster film in 1961 by Columbia. In 1968, MacLean reunited some of the characters for the book's sequel, Force 10 from Navarone. That book was adapted to film in 1978. Never seeing the movies, my voyage into this story begins with MacLean's original novel, The Guns of Navarone

On the fictional island of Kheros, 1,200 British soldiers are marooned. Off the nearby Turkish coast, the Nazis have installed massive, radar-controlled guns that can fire upon any Royal Navy ships attempting to rescue them through the deep water channel. The only hope of rescuing these British troops is by eliminating the guns. That's where Captain James Jensen steps in.

Jensen's plan is to recruit an international special ops team that can climb the staggering 400-foot cliff to penetrate the island's defenses and detonate an explosive device. The team is led by Mallory, an excellent mountain climber with plenty of military experience in Crete. He is in command of an explosives expert, a savage fighting-man, an engineer, and a navigator. It's the perfect team for this harrowing journey through the snowy mountains into the mouth of Hell. 

Having read MacLean's Where Eagles Dare (1967) first, The Guns of Navarone seemed similar in nature, but missed the cloak-and-dagger style. MacLean makes up for it in a big way by adding a hefty load of high-adventure action. At nearly 300 paperback pages, this novel has nearly everything, including mountain climbing, boat battles, gunfights, hand-to-hand combat, drama, and an exhilarating pace that glues the reader to these epic challenges. 

The most interesting aspect of MacLean's storytelling is that he is constantly evolving these characters by placing them in extreme situations. The characters the reader meets at the novel's beginning are grossly changed by the last page. The experiences of war, overcoming adversity, and the trials and tribulations of defying death itself affects these men. I really enjoyed watching the transformation and specifically how Mallory's leadership was modified when faced with an injured team-member. 

Lastly, as a fan of David Morrell's Rambo II character (read my review), it was fun drawing comparisons to MacLean's character of Andrea. The description that Mallory provides of this seemingly immortal, savage fighter, was similar to Colonel Trautman's description of Rambo. Andrea's exploits throughout the novel fighting the Germans, mostly as a loner hero, was a true highlight. I'm not sure this novel is quite the same without the addition of Andrea. It was an integral portion of the story.

The Guns of Navarone is an absolute masterpiece of high-adventure, and I give it the highest recommendation. You won't be disappointed with the story, plot development, or characters. MacLean deserved the heaps of praise his early and mid-career novels received. He was a master craftsman and you owe it to yourself to read one of his best. Whether this one is as good, or better, than Where Eagles Dare is up for debate. I love them both equally.

Note - British author Sam Llewellyn was commissioned to write two additional sequels - Storm Force from Navarone (1996) and Thunderbolt from Navarone (1998). I've read disparaging remarks about those two novels. 

Buy a copy of this book HERE.

Thursday, August 4, 2022

Thirty Pieces of Lead

It's hard to believe that just down the road from me, here in the Sunshine State of Florida, the Nazis invaded. It's a little known fact, something that isn't often discussed in the history books. But, on June 16th, 1942, a submarine assisted four German spies to step on the sands of Ponte Vedra Beach, just south of Jacksonville. Their mission was to destroy bridges and the parts of the railroad system using dynamite. Thanks to the efforts of the FBI, they were captured and executed before their mission was accomplished.

Using this unique piece of history, Frank Kane, author of the successful Johnny Liddell private-eye series, constructed a short-story called "Thirty Pieces of Lead" for the September, 1945 issue of Crack Detective Stories. To my knowledge the story has never been reprinted, but you can read it for free HERE or scrolling below.

At the story's beginning, an Italian prisoner-of-war named Musico is being interrogated by a Gestapo colonel. Musico has served time in a concentration camp, along with his mother and wife. The bullish interrogator suggests that Musico was separated from them at some point, and would probably wish to visit with them again. Musico tells himself that he already knows the fate of his loved ones. But, he plays along. The colonel explains that a group of highly trained professionals is planning a landing on the American coastline, and they want Musico to assist them. In return, Musico will get to see his wife and mother again. 

Musico is an ex-mob runner that ran bootleg products out of Chicago ten years ago. Musico tells the colonel to call his old mob boss, and explain the landing operation and ask that they pave the way with the police and Coast Guard. To insure the request is legit, Musico provides his interrogator a password so the mobster will know the request came from him. Musico says the mob has no loyalty to America and will work with the Nazis. Further, Musico volunteers to join the landing in an effort to accomplish the mission and to see his loved ones again. But, Musico has a clever plan for revenge in mind. 

At just a few pages, this story has so much life in it. It explodes with detail and ties into this little piece of history in a really unique way. I love the mobster aspect to it, and the idea that the mob and the Nazis are featured in the same story – two despicable factions that are being combated by this courageous, yet defenseless prisoner. Short stories can really be hit or miss, but this one was a sure-fire winner. Recommended!

Tuesday, March 29, 2022

A Handful of Hell: Classic War and Adventure Stories by Robert F. Dorr

Back in 2016, Robert Deis and Wyatt Doyle teamed up for a book titled A Handful of Hell: Classic War and Adventure Stories by Robert F. Dorr. It is part of the duo's The Men's Adventure Library, published by New Texture. We've covered a number of these volumes, including I Watched Them Eat Me Alive, Barbarians on Bikes, and Cuba: Sugar, Sex, and Slaughter. Deis remains active with this project as well as his Men's Adventure Quarterly publication co-edited by Bill Cunningham. 

In A Handful of Hell's opening pages, Deis explains that he had received an email message from Dorr in November, 2009 concerning the recently-launched MensPulpMags.com blog. Dorr had explained, with exclamation, that he wrote hundreds of articles for the men's pulp adventure magazines and wasn't aware that there was still a large fan base for those vintage publications. Deis was aware of Dorr's work and the two struck up a friendship which led to the creation of this book.

The book includes a 20 page chapter written by Dorr titled “My Plan Was To Be a Writer and an Adventurer...” Dorr writes that he had two main interests since childhood, the Air Force and writing. His first paid publication was in Air Force Magazine's November, 1955 issue. Although he couldn't be an Air Force pilot due to a hearing impairment, Dorr still served in the military in a very unique role. He enrolled in Army Language School and studied the Korean language for 20 months. He was then sent to Korea to listen to North Korean radio communications between 1958-1960. 

After his military stint, Dorr actively pursued writing and sold “The Night Intruders” to Real for their April, 1962 publication. He states in the book that this was the first of what became several hundred men's pulp adventure stories. Thankfully, Deis and Doyle include the story in this volume. In fact, the duo collected 17 stories (by my count) that are written by Dorr and culled from vintage magazines like Stag, Man's, Bluebook, Male, Real, and Man's Illustrated. Handful of Hell also includes color scans of the magazine covers and interior artwork that accompanied these original stories. That in itself makes the book wildly entertaining, but I'm a reader and here are a few short reviews of included stories.

“5 Downed GIs Who Gutted Ambush Alley”

This story was featured in the June, 1967 issue of Men. The setting is South Vietnam's Ia Drang Valley, a hotbed of violence controlled by The People's Army of North Vietnam. San Diego native Sid Reeder and his crew plunge into the valley when their chopper is shot down. As the helicopter lies upside down, the soldiers inside formulate a plan. The enemy forces are descending from the hillside to destroy what's left of the downed chopper. They have to choose whether they want to call in support and risk another chopper being shot down or just call in the coordinates and go on killin' and dyin'. When Reeder thinks about the helicopter's two ground-to-air rockets, he comes up with a new plan. I loved the story and the frantic pace in which it is told. Dorr showcases a distinct understanding of helicopter aviation and protocols and is able to transport that to the printed page in a way that isn't technically jarring for the reader. This was such a great story.

“The POW General Who Tried to Kill Himself”

In the November, 1965 issue of Man's, Dorr tells this real-life account of U.S. Major General William F. Dean's harrowing ordeal as a prisoner-of-war in North Korea. Dorr explains to readers that Dean was on the run through the Korean countryside after narrowly escaping incoming enemy forces. Separated from his men, Dean's journey took him through jungles, fields, and villages desperately searching for food and medial supplies. Eventually, he's betrayed by a Korean and turned over to the North Korean People's Army. After months of starvation, dehydration, and lack of medical treatment, Dean reached the point of physical torture. After endless rounds of interrogation, for weeks and weeks, Dean is instructed that he will be tortured to gain information about American forces, locations, and strategies. Dean knows that he has reached a tipping point where he may divulge information under the harsh treatment. His only rescue is suicide. Honestly, this is really a tough story to read considering the levels of violence and torture. However, Dean's real life account is vividly told by Dorr as a tribute to his perseverance, patriotism, and internal fortitude. Dean is an American hero and I love that Dorr had the courage to write this. It's a true testament to human endurance and honor. Note - For more information, read Dean's autobiography titled General Dean’s Story.

“The Impossible Raid”

Stag, January 1966 featured this WW2 aviation story about a solo run by a lone B-17 bomber piloted by Captain Barry Helm. His mission is to utilize thick fog to make a daring bombing run on a German base. By targeting a large fuel supply, the bombing can create maximum damage to the Germans. But, in order to execute this nearly impossible assignment, the bomber must enter the airspace at tree level. This avoids field-swept radar that picks up higher elevation aircraft. Combining the low entry level with the thick fog makes it a valiant opportunity to strike a major blow to the German offense. This is just a classic, simple aviation tale that utilizes Dorr's descriptive storytelling. I liked the story's presentation from both the American forces as well as the Germans. In a short story, the narrative's presentation of events in the air and on the ground was just so epic and compelling.

You can buy this book and other collections HERE. Don't forget to check out Men's Adventure Quarterly for even more fantastic vintage stories and artwork.

Monday, October 25, 2021

The Dawn Tide

Author Victor Rousseau Emanuel (1879-1960) was a British novelist that authored a number of short stories for the early magazines and pulps. He used pseudonyms like Victor Rousseau, H.M. Egbert, and V.R. Emanuel for publications like Strange Tales of Mystery and Terror, Super-Detective, Weird Tales, and Argosy. Under the pseudonym Lew Merrill, he authored more sexually suggestive work. It's under this name that I first discovered the author. I found the May, 1944 issue of Speed Adventure Stories online and it contains a short story by Emanuel called "The Dawn Tide". 

On Eastern Canada's St. Lawrence Gulf Coast, Yvette and her husband Armand are lighthouse keepers. The windswept coast is battered by brutal storms and piercing ice, making life very difficult for 27-year old Yvette. To complicate matters more, her husband Armand lost the use of his leg in WW1. Thus, Yvette is mostly administering all of the lighthouse's functionality. When faced with a German prisoner, her burden becomes an overbearing weight she's forced to contend with.

Due to WW2, the lighthouse serves as a beacon for many Allied ships coming and going. Most of these ships are floating prisons for German prisoners of war. On a clear night, Yvette hears a man screaming for help in the treacherous sea. When she brings the man inside, she learns that he is an escaped German prisoner. 

The man introduces himself as Volksmann, then becomes increasingly belligerent when he discovers there's only one bottle of brandy on shore. The tension increases when the man states he will be stealing one of their boats the next day for an escape attempt to New York. Armand is crippled and can do very little to stop this German soldier. But, when Volksmann drags Yvette upstairs to rape her, the story takes a very violent, yet thrilling turn.

Merrill's descriptive locale really enhances this moody, suspense thriller. The idea of these two people trapped with a maniacal Nazi soldier is terrifying. The author's use of Yvette as the primary hero is admirable considering the 1940's era. It's stylish, unique and a compelling read. You can read the story for free right HERE.

Thursday, June 24, 2021

Where Eagles Dare

In addition to being a catchy anthem of heavy metal and a hit movie, Where Eagles Dare is perhaps also Alistair MacLean's most beloved literary work. The Scottish writer enjoyed a prolific career with such incredible novels as Ice Station Zebra (1963) Breakheart Pass (1974) and The Guns of Navarone (1957). So, choosing the most recognized and loved MacLean novel is rather difficult. But, Where Eagles Dare, originally published in hardback in 1967, definitely seems to stay timeless with generations of fans and readers.

This World War II adventure novel begins in high altitude as a group of Allied paratroopers prepare their descent into Bavaria, Germany. The team is led by British Major John Smith and the objective of the mission is rather vague in the first chapters of the book. The beginning of MacLean's narrative has the group embark on the perilous landing high on a snowy Bavarian mountain range. After one of the members is mysteriously killed on the ground, Smith suspects there may be a traitor in the ranks. In addition, Smith conceals key information from the team regarding the radio transmissions and hides that another team member jumped from the aircraft to secretly accompany the mission.

The majority of this novel unfolds over a 24-hour period. Ultimately, the mission unveils itself as a retrieval assignment. A U.S. General who devised part of the strategy of the Western Front was captured by the Nazis. He is being held at the Gestapo headquarters in a castle named Schlos Adler. The Allied team has to disguise itself as German soldiers and infiltrate the castle. In doing so, they will save the General and preserve the opportunities of the Allies to continue building the Western Front. 

Needless to say, MacLean's novel flourishes with a number of high adventure scenes in the mountains, numerous car chases and gun fights. The iconic cable car scene from the book's cover is impressive and consumes much of the book's furious finale. However, my favorite aspect of MacLean's story is simply the secret agent formula of these men convincing many senior officials in Germany that they are indeed German. There is such tension in some of these intimate scenes involving a myriad of characters. 

There are also entertaining and funny exchanges between Smith and the U.S. Army Ranger Lieutenant Morris Schaffer (represented by Clint Eastwood in the movie adaptation) who help to lighten the mood. As one would expect, there are so many twists and turns that the story evolves into a completely different type of mission. In doing so, these two consistent and likeable characters really dominate most of the book's narrative.

Where Eagles Dare is as good as it's supposed to be. This is the iconic, captivating novel of high adventure that has been promised. Highest recommendation available. 

Buy a copy of this book HERE

Wednesday, June 23, 2021

Dive in the Sun

Douglas Reeman (1924-2017) is a British author of nautical fiction, mostly about the Second World War. Before becoming a writer, Reeman served as a Midshipman at the young age of 16 and participated in heavy combat in the North Atlantic and was present at D-Day. He was injured twice during the war before joining the Metropolitan Police and later the Royal Naval Reserve, where he remained Lieutenant-Commander. In early 1958, Reeman launched a successful career writing realistic nautical adventure stories, some under the pseudonym of Alexander Kent. My first experience with this author is his second novel, Dive in the Sun, originally published in 1961.

Lieutenant Ralph Curtis' mission is to pilot a miniature submarine on the Italian coast to detonate a massive dock used for German infiltration and deployment. Three men will provide assistance to Curtis - Duncan, Taylor and Jervis. Once the wharf is ready to explode, Curtis will retreat from enemy waters and end up with a larger transport submarine. This mission will require supreme leadership, but Curtis is in doubt due to the recent loss of one of his men in battle. Feeling responsible, Curtis now struggles with weariness and self-confidence in his own abilities.

The first 50 pages of the book carry out the mission as well as the initial retreat. However, having planned the exit incorrectly, the miniature submarine is damaged. With no periscope or radar, the men decide the best course of action is to go further down the coast, beach the submarine and take their chances on foot hoping that Allied forces will begin a coastal assault and eventual rescue. The middle chapters of the book focus on Jervis captured on the coastline and inevitably questioned by Italian and German forces. Hoping to free Jarvis, the three men find an unlikely ally in a young Italian woman with a secret agenda.

As one might expect, Reeman's writing is permeated by realism and gravelly violence. Before going into the book, I hoped that the technical aspects of underwater nautical service would not take precedence over the rapid adventure of WW2. Fortunately, Reeman keeps the plot propelling forward with many changes in the story and the locale. From the initial shore survival mission to a swirling nautical adventure, Reeman delivers the action in spades. 

I also found Curtis's imperfect character intriguing. The emotional rollercoaster he had to endure in terms of loss, regret and self-doubt were extraordinary. His chemistry with the three men, the mysterious woman and the decisions he is forced to make solidified what was already a strong story. 

In terms of comparison, I would speculate that this particular book could be compared to Hammond Innes - imperfect hero, war-related plot, nautical adventure, sweeping locales, etc. But, most of these tropes could be attributed to any of the high adventure style writers of the early to mid-twentieth century. In this case, Douglas Reeman is another wonderful voice to turn to when you're looking for the next great adventure novel.

Buy a copy of this book HERE

Monday, June 7, 2021

Paperback Warrior Podcast - Episode 90

It's Episode 90 and we're bringing you a two-fisted 1970s WW2 paperback series called Sgt. Hawk by Patrick Clay. Also, Tom hits the road hunting for books in Alabama while Eric checks out new books from Justin Marriott and Robert Deis. Also, Robert Silverberg, John Jakes, William W. Johnstone, Warren Murphy and disaster fiction! Listen on any podcast app, paperbackwarrior.com or download directly HERE

Donate to the show HERE 

Listen to "Episode 90: Sgt. Hawk" on Spreaker.

Friday, April 30, 2021

Sgt. Hawk #02 - The Return of Sgt. Hawk

In 1979, Belmont issued the eponymous Sgt. Hawk, the first of four published novels authored by Patrick Clay featuring a gruff, tough-as-leather Marine Sergeant named James Hawk. Like Len Levinson's Rat Bastards, the series is set in WW2 on the chain of islands making up the bloody Pacific Theater. That campaign continues in 1980's Return of Sgt. Hawk, the series' second installment.

The novel begins as American Army and Naval forces are thrashing the Japanese occupied Philippine Islands. The assault is bureaucratically led by Kravanart, a bullheaded General who despises the U.S. Marine Corps. In an effort to assault the beach, Kravanart is persuaded to allow three companies, including Hawk, to hit the beachhead and engage the enemy. This heavy lift is welcomed by Hawk. Bloody, battered and shirtless, he scorches his Thompson extinguishing the bad guys while chomping on a plug of tobacco. After the assault, Hawk and the rest of the Marines are ordered to simply camp and wait while the Army and Navy clean up the mess and take the spoils.

In a small village, Hawk befriends a young American woman named Amelia and her cowardly fiance. The trouble begins when Hawk and company are left to “camp” for weeks on end simply waiting for Kravanart to allow them to fight. Eventually, tempers flare and Hawk storms a dense jungle hill, kills everything and stacks the bodies despite the orders to stand down. While the Marines are dishing out the damage, the village is captured by the Japanese forces and Amelia is taken. To complicate matters, Kravanart becomes angered with Hawk's defiance and orders an Army strike-force to search and kill the Marines.

Unlike the series debut, which combined a murder-mystery with gun-blazing action, Clay really branches out here and diversifies the narrative with a variety of subplots across multiple locations. The most interesting of these is a unique fantasy element that presents itself in what is otherwise a war-torn plot. Hawk learns that not only was Amelia captured, but that she was sold to a race of primitive men. In true Robert Howard fashion, Hawk breaks into a castle, fights enemies in a temple and even rescues Amelia from a dungeon filled with poisonous gas. There's really something for everyone – nautical adventure, military missions, shoot 'em ups, a heist, team-based combat and romance – through 225-pages of suspense and action.

I just can't say enough good things about this Sgt. Hawk series thus far. These first two installments are well-written, clever and fairly unique with a  central character who is just a tough son-of-a-bitch. His mannerisms, dialogue, finesse and firepower should appeal to fans of rough 'n rowdy action novels no matter if it's a World War or a range war. He's a lovable, violent white-hat hero clearly created by a fan of those genres. Track this one down as it is truly something special.

Buy a copy of this book HERE

Friday, February 19, 2021

Killer Tank (aka Strike Force)

Norman Daniels found enormous success authoring various pulp characters like The Masked Detective, The Black Bat, Phantom Detective and even Doc Savage. After the pulps gave way to paperback originals, Daniels transitioned into a prolific author of crime-noir, romance, television novelizations and military-fiction. In 1965, Daniels wrote the WWII novel Strike Force for low-end publisher Lancer. In 1969, the equally low-brow publisher Magnum reprinted the novel as Killer Tank with the sales tag of “In the blazing tradition of Guns of Navarone.” Loving most of Daniels' literary work, as well as military-fiction, was enough motivation to spend a few bucks on this old paperback.

The book is set in Germany during WWII. The U.S. military formulates an idea that they can create a huge, powerhouse diversion on the German border. Using a number of planes, tanks and troops, they will fake an impending invasion and engage the enemy just long enough for a team of 30 tanks to slip in over the border and become a mobile task force. This task force, led by Colonel Hagen and Sergeant Dixon, will orchestrate hit-and-run attacks on German forces, towns, bases and airstrips. By disguising the tanks as German, and using old, overgrown roads, the force plans on creating as much undetected destruction as possible. The problem with that strategy? Hagen and Dixon despise each other.

The adventures of a WWII tank battalion operating in Germany can be an entertaining read with enough attention to the action. What makes Killer Tank different is that Daniels creates this really interesting back story between Hagen and Dixon. Through the first 100-pages the readers can easily determine that the two have history with each other. But, when Hagen begins to romance a beautiful French woman, Dixon becomes Hell-bent on destroying any hopes for Hagen's happiness. What is the history between these two American commanders? How could anything warrant this much hatred and animosity? I won't ruin the story for you, but the tension and suspense eventually percolates to a hot, boiling inferno. Just when I thought I had it figured out, the last few pages came out of left field with a right hook. I was dumbfounded.

With the focus on character development and a thick tension between Dixon and Hagen, Killer Tank serves as a hybrid of WWII and crime-noir storytelling. While I wasn't necessarily bored with the plotting and pace, I will say that Daniels never fully commits to either genre. When I wanted a more serious action novel the story slowed to a conversational tone. When I needed the characters to come to blows, the military action consumed the story. I couldn't quite walk the high beam that Norman Daniels built for me. The balancing act didn't work as well as I had hoped for. But, nevertheless Killer Tank is an entertaining read that probably could have been improved with a few precise touch-ups to the storytelling. You won't hate it, but I'm not sure how necessary this paperback really is. There are far better crime-noir and WW2 books out there.

Buy a copy of this book HERE

Friday, January 29, 2021

Maddon's Rock (aka Gale Warning)

Ralph Hammond Innes (1913-1998) is considered one of the founders of the men's action-adventure genre. As a pioneer, Innes began constructing high-adventure yarns as early as 1937, often setting his novels in exotic and breathtaking locales to create harsh conditions for his heroes to overcome. After reading my first Innes novel, 1947's The Lonely Skier (aka Fire in the Snow), I was underwhelmed by the author's slower pace and long, drawn out dialogue sequences. Refusing to accept defeat, I attempted another of the author's works with 1948's Maddon's Rock, also known as Gale Warning in the US.

This suspenseful adventure is set during the last days of World War II. The novel introduces readers to a British Corporal named J.L. Varny and his brother-in-arms Bert Cook. In the opening chapter, these two soldiers are within a small company of troops in Murmansk, Russia awaiting departure on the Queen Mary. However, their arrival to the ship's departure is late so they are ordered to join the crew of a British freighter called the Trikkala. On board, the troops are assigned the tedious task of guarding a small cargo of crates day and night as the ship journeys through arctic cold fronts on its journey back to England.

Immediately Varny senses that something is strange about the ship's crew. Their captain is a notorious trader who’s experienced a number of mysterious casualties to his crew. The orders suggest Varny and his men to simply stay out of the way. But for what purpose? As the weather becomes more frigid, the boat and its crew are attacked by a German U-Boat. Within minutes, Varny suspects that something is amiss about the attack. Further, upon inspecting the lifeboats he finds that someone on board has disabled the boat's inner planking. Is this a heist, a surrender or simply the war's stress on Varny's exhausted mind? Thankfully, the author uses these options to propel the book's thrilling narrative.

At 220 small-font pages, Maddon's Rock resembles a more dynamic, epic-styled journey. The plot is filled with excitement as Innes injects war, nautical adventure, island peril and even prison into the exciting plot. Unlike The Lonely Skier's heavy dialogue, Gale Warning is brimming with suspense and tension that thrusts the reader into cold and exotic regions. This is truly a masterpiece of adventure storytelling and one that proves to me that Hammond Innes was truly impressive. With over 30 novels to his credit, there's sure to be a clunker or two. Maddon's Rock is absolutely not one of those. If you are new to this author, I highly recommend starting with this one. It's the perfect kick-starter into what surely will be a pleasurable reading journey through the author's robust catalog.

Buy a copy of this book HERE