Greetings from The Raven!

Feb. 23, 2018

Carnacki: Heaven and Hell by William Meikle

In this new volume starring William Hope Hodgson’s supernatural detective, William Meikle follows the same layout. Carnacki invites his four friends Arkwright, Jessop, Taylor, and Dodgson to his home for a dinner and to listen to a tale of his adventures. The story is narrated by Dodgson.

Carnacki uses occult means to solve hauntings. His famous Electric Pentacle, the “Sigsand Manuscript," and the powerful “unknown last line of the Saaamaaa Ritual" are used by Carnacki in his battles. Sometimes the cases are real but manageable; sometimes completely fake, and sometimes so dangerous that Carnacki would have died if not for a presence that watches him.

I found these stories to be a welcome addition to the Carnacki canon. Meikle has managed to develop the character while remaining true to the original stories. If I had one complaint, it was that no story was deemed to be something manufactured and therefore not supernatural. In the original stories, some had solid earthly causes, such as the gang in "The House Among the Laurels" using a legend to cover their crimes.

Now onto the tales. A note of warning, I don’t think I spoil the tales but others may.

In “The Blooded Iklwa,” a man is attacked in the night by a weapon that is permanently attached to a wall. There is blood on the weapon in the mornings…

In “The Larkhill Barrow,” the test-firing of a military weapon awakens something dark…

In “The Sisters of Mercy,” mysterious nuns haunt an old folks hospital…

“The Hellfire Mirror” involves Carnacki with a mirror from Lord Francis Dashwood of Hellfire Club infamy…

“The Tomb of Pygea” takes Carnacki to a construction site which dug up a sepulcher with dark magic repercussions…

In “The Beast of Glamis,” Carnacki is called to Scotland where a young girl is haunted by a bogle…

“The Lusitania” features disturbances on the ship long before its fatal date with a German torpedo…

In “The Haunted Oak” a vicar has a problem with a tree in the part of the churchyard where unclaimed poor and convict bodies are buried…

“The Shoreditch Worm” has a Lovecraftian monster raised by a very unusual means! Best in Book!

“The Dark Island” is a novelette. The titular island conceals a dark past…

William Meikle has two other volumes of Carnacki tales out, which I also recommend. I think William Hope Hodgson would be very proud!

I give the book five stars!

Quoth the Raven…

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Feb. 17, 2018

 Nightveil: The Quiet Girls by Barry Reese 

Laura Wright, daughter of a member of the United States Senate, is a masked heroine who originally went under the code name Blue Bulleteer, and later transitioned into Nightveil. The mystic maid is part of a group of superheroines known as the Fem-Force.

I vividly recall the Fem Force, who were ladies who fought crime dressed in clothing that left very little to the imagination. For a teenage boy, that was a draw to sell the comics. But I also remember thinking: “OK, wow, they are sexy! But they couldn’t actually fight in those costumes.” So I was a bit of a realist. So sue me.

When the Blue Bulleter became Nightveil, she actually covered more skin with the new costume. Still, she was drawn, as heroines in comic books usually are, as very sexualized.

As to this book, I have mixed emotions. I am no longer a young man, and I think this book doesn’t actually feel like it is for adults. I am sure that nostalgia will attract readers among the older generation, but it is very juvenile. It also comes across more tongue-in-cheek than serious pulp. It is neither comic book script nor prose novel, it hovers somewhere in between.

That said, I did like the idea of the Quiet Girls. To have as deadly an enemy as Baron Mort totally taken off his guard by such innocent-seeming kids is priceless! They were out and away the best part of the book!

I like Reese’s idea of writing characters that fit the timeline of the pulps. There are many out there that would fit pulp fiction very well. Nightveil could make a good fit for pulp fiction, but this book doesn’t get it for me. Sorry, Barry.

I will give the book three stars for bringing Nightveil into pulp. May further writings by Barry Reese be more in the vein of his Lazarus Gray and The Peregrine.

Quoth the Raven…

























Feb. 15, 2018

Sherlock Holmes before Baker Street edited by David Marcum

My thanks go out to Derrick Belanger of Belanger Books for my copy of this volume of Holmes stories.

Some of these tales involve Holmes when he had rooms in Montague Street. Some of them take place during travels before Holmes settled in Baker Street. One even purports to be Holmes’ first case! In any advent, all of these stories predate Watson…

I could not make a decision on which story I liked the least because all of them are well thought out and expertly written! There simply isn’t a bad tale in the lot! I will name a “Best in Book” when we get there. On to the tales themselves:

In “The Adventure of the Bloody Roses” by Jayantika Ganguly—which may be Holmes’ first solving of a real case—a person has been murdered in Holmes’ childhood home! Kudos for the Oscar Wilde reference!

In “The Vingt-un Confession” by Derrick Belanger, the story is told in a confession booth by a man Holmes has aided. Kudos for a truly unique way to tell a story! Nice!

In “The Adventure of the Gloria Scott” by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, the father of one of Holmes’ college friends is highly upset at Holmes’ reading of his person! Kudos for including the original artwork by Sidney Pagent!

In “The Affair of the Aluminum Crutch” by S Subramanian, we have a very good version of the tale mentioned in passing in “The Musgrave Ritual!” Loved the take on this story!

In “The Adventure of the Dead Ringer” by Robert Perret, a suspect visits a grave where the “dead man’s bell” to prevent premature burial is ringing… Kudos for the double meaning of the title! “

In “The Devil of the Deverills” by SF Bennett, a village Vicar seems obsessed with a local lady and talks of seeing the Devil in various places about the town… Kudos for the reveal of what’s happening! Very good!

In “The Painting in the Parlour” by David Marcum, the author has taken an actual painting he admired in an actual room in Montague Street and wrote his story around it! This gets “Best in Book” for taking an inspiration and writing a solid story! I might get accused of being a sycophant, but most who read my reviews know nothing could be further from the truth. This story is deserving, believe me!

 In “The Incident of the Absent Thieves” by Arthur Hall, art thieves strike the same home twice and then vanish without a trace. Kudos for an excellent twist in the story!

In “Mr. Chen’s Lesson” by Derrick Belanger, we meet one of the three men Holmes admits to being beaten by. (There was also a woman, of course, Irene Adler—The Woman!) Kudos for the unusual Mr. Chen!

In “The Adventure of the Amateur Emigrant,” Holmes encounters Robert Louis Stevenson while acting in a play in New York. Kudos for all the Treasure Island references!

In “The Adventure of the Musgrave Ritual” by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Holmes solves a family riddle for another friend from college. Again kudos for the original illustrations from the Strand Magazine!

“A Day at the Races” by Mark Mower features something very like hell freezing over! Holmes takes a case that involves affairs of the heart! Will wonders never cease!

In “The Strange Case of the Necropolis Railway” by Geri Schear, we have the case Holmes was working on the day he met Doctor Watson! I cannot think of a better way to wrap up what has been one of the best anthologies ever! Encore!

I give this exciting volume five stars plus!

Quoth the Raven…

Buy It Here>

Feb. 13, 2018

The Complete Adventures of the Moon Man Volume 7 by Frederick C Davis

This is volume 7 of the Complete Adventures of the Moon Man. The Moon Man, in reality, Detective Steve Thatcher, first appeared in Ten Detectives Magazine, June 1933. He stole from the rich who were involved in crooked politics, landowners who cheated their tenants, and racketeers in Great City. Every dime he took was distributed to impoverished families by his associate Ned “Angel” Dargan. Dargan and Thatcher’s fiancé Sue McEwen are the only two that know his secret.

At police headquarters, his father is the Chief of Police. Sue’s father, Gil McEwen is hellbent on taking the Moon Man down. He is joined by perhaps a more fanatical policeman in Detective Mark Keanan. Where McEwen is simply motivated by the law, Keanan isn’t above framing the Moon Man for more crimes.

This has been about the best volume of the Moon Man. All of the stories in this book are really good! Let’s look at the stories:

In “Preview to Murder,” a nasty trio is blackmailing Steve Thatcher with a film that catches both Steve and Sue in compromising circumstances!

In “Ghoul’s Carnival,” Angel is taken by the police, then seized by crooks, then apparently killed in a gunfight… BEST IN BOOK!

In “Skeleton Snare,” the Moon Man is expertly framed for murder        

In “Murder for Pastime,” a crook tails Angel then captures Sue. He will turn her over to the police as the “Moon Man’s Woman” unless the Moon Man pays a very high ransom. McEwen thinks The Moon Man is a policeman when he finds blood on the Moon Man’s costume—when has been locked in the safe at HQ! And this time, Steve Thatcher knows he didn’t take it…

In “Blackjack Jury,” Police Chief Thatcher is threatened with dismissal. The Chief goes on his own hunt for the Moon Man to prove he still has it…

And here the stories from the old magazines end. The Moon Man has appeared in at least one cameo, this one coming in the Peregrine stories by Barry Reese. Hopefully, more stories are yet to come!

I give this final volume of the Complete Adventures of the Moon Man five stars!

Quoth the Raven…

Buy It Here>


Feb. 13, 2018

The Domino Lady Sex as a Weapon edited by Lori Gentile

A slinky white dress, a black cape, and a domino mask…

The Domino Lady originally appeared in the May 1036 issue of Saucy Romantic Adventures. She had just six adventures in the pulp magazines, all attributed to house name “Lars Anderson.” The frisky adventuress was considered racy in those days, while today her original stories would not make a Priest blush.

She is Ellen Patrick, daughter of DA Owen Patrick. Her father was gunned down for refusing to knuckle under to organized crime. Ellen decided to take matters into her own hands, becoming the Domino Lady. She stole from rich people with shady interests and donated the bulk of her takings to various charities. The rest funded her lavish lifestyle, as her inheritance could not support the lifestyle she was accustomed to.

She played the part of a slightly loose-morals society girl. She knew she was beautiful and sexy, and it became part of her war on crooks, every bit as much as her small automatic and her hypodermic with its powerful knockout drug.

These are eight new stories by some of the best in the new pulp world:

“The Domino Lady and the Red Dragon” by KG McAee is the story of the escape of an Oriental girl from human traffickers. The Domino Lady seeks the person behind the kidnapping…

“Blondes in Chains” by CJ Henderson explores another kidnapping. This time several high-class blonde women have vanished without a trace… Kudos for the Black Bat cameo!

“Target: Domino Lady” by Bobby Nash finds the Domino Lady rather expertly framed for murder…

“Stealing Joe Chick” by Chuck Dixon gets “BEST IN BOOK!” from me. Kudos for the Airboy and Birdy appearance as the Domino Lady’s friend eccentric inventor Joe Chick is kidnapped…

“The Claws of the Cat” by Ron Fortier is a kidnapping with a twist—the kidnap victims are all feline… To tell the truth, I liked this one the least. Sorry, Ron!

“The Strange Case of the Domino Lady and Mr. Holmes” by Nancy Holder features a cameo by the Great Detective when someone steals Doctor Jekyll’s Hyde Formula…This is great!

“The Devil, You Know” by James Chambers finds the Domino Lady kidnapped by the Cult of Asmodeus…

“Masks of Madness” by Martin Powell finds the Domino Lady shipwrecked on the coast of Bangalla. She now teams with The Phantom against pirates! Kudos for the great description of the Skull Cave!

Eight stories, eight authors, and eight totally unique stories make for a wonderful read for lovers of pulp fiction. I give the book five stars…

Quoth the Raven…  

Buy It Here>