Reviews

Western Fiction Review—Nomad's Trail

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Nomad's Trail—a review by Steve Myall

Hit the owlhoot trail as naïve Simon Bolivar Grimes, tassel-headed youth from Georgia, sets off for Crockett County, Texas searching for his Uncle Carter. Grimes will boast, brawl, ramble and roll his way from outlaw to hero, whilst learning a little bit about loving along the way.

nomads_trail_website_slideshowAfter a very informative introduction by one of today's most respected western authors, James Reasoner, Nomad's Trail then presents the reader with the first twelve stories in the long-running Grimes saga, which made their debut in the very first issue of Spicy Western Stories in November 1936. These early tales have strong links to each other as the storyline of searching for Uncle Carter ties them together as do a number of other reoccurring characters. Once his Uncle has been found and left behind new characters move along with Grimes from tale to tale.

Grimes makes for an engaging hero, his inexperience placing him in some dangerous situations that only his super-fast ability with his guns get him out of alive. Due to being written for Spicy Western Stories Grimes comes into contact with many young women who seem to lose their clothes at some point. Grimes also makes some amazing discoveries about women, like that they have legs! (You'll have to read it to fully appreciate that comment.)

Descriptions are well written and most of the plots are fairly straightforward although many contain a twist or two. The dialogue is of the times, and I must admit I did have to read some of it more than once to fully understand what was being said, but this all adds to the charm of these stories. There's plenty of action too, be it using guns or fists.

This really is a great collection of stories and as the subtitle is The Saga of Simon Bolivar Grimes, Volume 1. I can only assume that Volume 2 will soon follow. I for one will be looking forward to that being published.

Steve Myall

 


 

This review originally appeared at Western Fiction Review. You may read it here.

To purchase a copy, visit our listing for Nomad's Trail.

Western Fiction Review—Lust of the Lawless

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Lust of the Lawless By Robert Leslie Bellem—A review by Steve M.

lust_of_the_lawless_thumbnail_websiteWay back before I was born there was a pulp called Spicy Western Stories and this book brings together all of Robert Leslie Bellem's output for them, the first, "Powdersmoke Passion," being published in December 1936, and his final story "Gold—and a Girl," appearing in December 1938.

Contents:

  • Meat Hunter
  • Killer's Brand
  • Powdersmoke Passion
  • Bait for a Mantrap
  • Brand of the Question-Mark
  • Lust of the Lawless
  • Coward Man's Size
  • Gold—and a Girl

 

The above titles are sandwiched between an excellent introduction by James Reasoner, and a fascinating couple of pages about the author written by Tom Roberts, owner of Black Dog Books.

All these stories move forwards at tremendous pace, they are filled with action and terrific characters. Many of the women being nearly as tough as the male leads—and being as these stories appeared in a Spicy pulp, they all seem to loose their clothes at some point, often whilst seducing the hero so they can steal his pistol. In fact most of these stories do seem to follow a similar pattern so when one didn't it came as a great surprise, this tale was written in the first person whereas the others are all in the third. A number of these stories also contain a twist or two but overall they have straightforward plots.

I was surprised by how little these stories come across as dated, true there is some dialogue of the times, particularly when Mexicans speak, and there are plenty of terms we don't see that often in today's Westerns. Some of the violence is quite graphic in its description. All this, for me, adds to the charm of this great collection of short stories.

I'd originally planned to read these stories over a few days but found myself reading one then thinking ‘just one more' and before I knew it I'd read the lot. For me, it really is a shame that Robert Leslie Bellem didn't write more westerns, as I found all of these to be highly entertaining and I'd certainly recommend this book to all fans of the genre.

 

Steve M.

This review originally appeared at Western Fiction Review.


To purchase a copy of this book visit our Lust of the Lawless listing.

 

Broken Bullhorn review—Dead Men's Bones

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Dead Men's Bones - The Air Adventure Stories of Lester Dent — A review by Richard Robinson

This is volume 1 of Black Dog Books Lester Dent Library, a series of (so far) five books.

dead_mens_bones_thumbnail_websiteThis collection of eight stories by the author of Doc Savage—most written before that character appeared in print. Lester Dent was a pulp writer with great imagination and he could really pound out the stories; a very prolific writer in his years writing pulp stories, novelettes and novels. These are good examples, and show the promise later fulfilled in the Doc Savage stories and novels.

These stories all have some things in common: they all feature a pilot as the good guy hero, they have some kind of fight or battle in the air, they all have a pretty girl in distress and of course they have a happy ending. That's all good.

Aside from that, the plots vary but there are similarities. The stories weren't written to be read back-to-back, and quite honestly I pictured the same heroic pilot in all of them though the name differed in each. There's plenty of shooting, handguns and machine guns abound, bad guys get killed at a sometimes alarming rate, good guys get shot and also sometimes killed, the hero gets wounded but fights through, planes are patched up, plots revealed, fortunes in jewels, gold or furs discovered. These stories, and thus this collection, is a kick in the pants; fun and full of action, highly recommended.

Another winner from Black Dog Books.

Ricahrd Robinson

This review originally appeared at The Broken Bullhorn.

 


To purchase a copy of this book visit our Dead Men's Bones listing.

 

Behold: The Best of Adventure

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The Best of Adventure—A review by John J. Miller

best_of_adv_v1_thumbnail_websiteBehold: The Best of Adventure
December 4, 2010
by John J. Miller

The pulp magazines of the early 20th century were full hack writing, but also the works of writers such as Harold Lamb, H.P. Lovecraft, and Robert E. Howard—men with powerful imaginations and the ability to tell good stories. One of the top pulps was Adventure, which began publishing almost exactly a hundred years ago (November 1910) and continued to 1953 for a total of 753 issues. Sinclair Lewis was once an editor. Most of the magazine's contents are forgettable, but there are plenty of diamonds in the rough. Black Dog Books, an independent publisher, is now putting out The Best of Adventure, a series of books that collect the greatest hits. The first volume, which covers 1910 to 1912, has just come out. It includes stories by William Hope Hodgson, Talbot Mundy, Damon Runyon, and Rafael Sabatini. Geeks like me will regard it as a treasure trove.

John J. MIller

This review originally appeared at National Review Online.


To purchase a copy of this book visit our Best of Adventure, Vol. 1 listing.

Blogcritics Best of Adventure vol.1 review

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The Best of Adventure, Vol.1, 1910-1912—a review by Gordon Miller

Adventure was a fiction magazine that ran for 811 issues from 1910 to 1971, and in 1935 Time magazine dubbed it the "No. 1 Pulp." During its first two years of existence, Trumball White served as editor, and it is that period which is the focus of Volume 1 in what is a planned series to be presented by Black Dog Books. Author/researcher Doug Ellis is well versed in pulp magazines and he selected the 24 stories that came from the magazine's first 26 issues.