Greetings from The Raven!

Aug. 30, 2018

Tarzan and the Revolution by Thomas Zachek

This is a story in the Wild Adventures of Edgar Rice Burroughs series. Tarzan has forsaken England and now lives on his African estate.

The book has everything that makes for a good Tarzan adventure. The lost city of Opar, the Waziri, an ancient witch-doctor, Tarzan’s temporary capture, and a ruthless dictator create the backdrop for the story.

The new dictator, a man known as General Obutu, is causing havoc in central Africa. His men raid local villages, taking boys to train as Obutu’s army. Other children are held hostage to force the villagers to cooperate.

When the dictator’s troops raid the Waziri villages, they have a different scheme in mind. Obutu knows that the Waziri have access to the gold stores of Opar. What he doesn’t know is where the city is located. By kidnapping the children he wants to make the Waziri bring the gold to him. He is demanding a huge amount.

Not content with kidnapping scores of African children, Obutu has also seized Americans. Some are members of the Peace Corps. One is a reporter who came to Africa hoping to interview Tarzan…

I found it a bit odd that Opar has no sign of habitation. Of course, La would be dead by now, but there should be descendants of the original people of Opar, one would think...

The action is well paced, and the storyline is strong. The only thing I didn’t like was that Tarzan is going gray and seems to have lost his sense of danger. Part of the mystique of Tarzan is that he doesn’t age, but maybe his potions ran out. Who knows?

He is knocked unconscious by someone who managed to sneak up on the Ape Man. At one point he is so injured that he must seek out witch-doctor Azi. He is so far gone that he cannot reach Azi before collapsing. Fortune favors the brave, and Azi is able to find and treat Tarzan.

I do salute the author for making Tarzan a tad less superhuman. But amnesia and madness would fit more into the original series. This happened from time to time in the series. During his battle with Kerchak, king of the apes, he was badly wounded. This makes him susceptible to periods of madness. Often this is caused by further blows to the head. In this story, age makes him more vulnerable.

The story does make interesting reading. I give the book four stars…

Quoth the Raven…

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Aug. 30, 2018

Sherlock Holmes Adventures in the Realms of HG Wells Volume 1 edited by Derrick Belanger and C Edward Davis

My thanks go out to Derrick Belanger for my copy of this book. I appreciate his continued faith in my reviews.

Taken as a whole, this volume is fabulous! Each author has blended Well’s worlds into the world of Holmes like an expert bartender. They are excellent Holmes stories while remaining also fitting for the Time Traveler, Dr. Moreau, the Invisible Man, etc.

Now, let’s move on to the stories:

 “The Case of a Natural Solution by MM Elmendorf is a pleasant romp into The War of the Worlds. In a London ravaged by the Martians, Holmes is working on something to destroy their army…

 “The Pigeon’s Rest” by Emma Tompkins takes the reader into Holmes’ investigation into a jewel theft. He works the case for a rival detective named Asquith. I must confess that I liked this story the least. Unless I missed something, I had a difficult time with the link to HG Wells…

 “The Curious Case of the Sleeper” by Stephen Herczeg delves into a tale more reminiscent of Washington Irving than HG Wells. I did enjoy this story, bravo!

 “The Manor House Horror” by Michael Silverling ties for Best-in-book! It combines nuances of The War of the Worlds, The Island of Dr. Moreau, and The Invisible Man! The flow is seamless and the action is superb! My hat is off to the author!

 “An Adventure in Darkness” by Daniel D Victor combines Holmes with “The Country of the Blind.” Holmes undertakes the case for a blind woman married to Juan Carlos Nuñez from that story…

 “The Adventure of the Traveler’s Bootstraps” by Campbell Powell has Holmes meet the Time Traveler. The twist in the tale is quite amazing!

 “The Mystery of the Last Martian” by GC Rosenquist takes place in a London ravaged by the tripods and heat rays of the invading Martians. Now, one has invaded 221B…

 “The Affair of the Red Opium” by John Linwood Grant deals with the fallout from The First Men in the Moon…

 “The Adventure of the Invisible Man” needs no explanation about its source material. The story goes somewhat further than Well’s story, and casts doubt upon the death of Griffin…

 “A Matter of Some Gravity” by Derrick Belanger is an excellent read! People and events from The First Men in the Moon weave in and out of the story. I’ve seldom seen the type of narration this story presents. Some people may accuse me of kissing up, but this story ties for best-in-book!

I couldn’t with a clean conscience give this exciting book anything less than five stars plus! It is a refreshing blend of Holmes and Wells!

Quoth the Raven…

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Aug. 24, 2018

A Mask of Shadows by Oscar de Muriel

The play’s the thing…

My thanks to my contacts at Pegasus Books, Iris Blasi, Katie McGuire, and Maia Larson, for my copy of this book! Rock on!

Shakespeare’s Macbeth is fraught with superstition, to the extent that Scottish Play. Any mention of the name Macbeth by any actor inside the theater requires actions said to lift the curse.

Oscar de Muriel’s mismatched detectives have a new assignment. A banshee lurks beneath a bridge in Edinburg. The banshee seems involved with the production of Macbeth the Royal Lyceum Theater. Actor and producer legend Sir Henry Irving is currently staging the play there. The author states that the cast is genuine. All of the names were taken from a program at an actual performance.

Bram Stoker, manager for Sir Henry, frets about the safety of the cast. There have been accidents before, which left a young girl disfigured by fire. Stoker seeks help from the police. Superintendent Campbell laughs and passes on the case. He sends Stoker to Inspector “Nine Nails” McCray and Inspector Frey.

True to each man’s way of thinking, McCray believes the banshee to be real and Frey is certain that it is no such thing. Even so, it leaves messages scrawled in blood in and near the theater. They are lines from a sonnet, with prophetic promises of death and mayhem. Both mayhem and death soon follow in short order.

I enjoyed the lines that Stoker would use in his masterpiece Dracula that show up from time to time. One of them would be “The dead who travel fast" for example. Oscar Wilde also appears, adding yet another historical figure to the mix. One of Wilde’s sonnets plays a part in the mystery.

The mystery is wonderful, composed and action-filled start to finish. Danger, death, and destruction threaten on every hand. One interesting revelation comes only in the epilogue! Last minute reveals has been de Muriel’s style over the two previous books in this series, and he delivers big time! This is quite an enjoyable book!

I give it a resounding five stars plus!

Quoth the Raven…

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Aug. 19, 2018

The Spider: The Doom Legion by Will Murray

In this new adventure of The Spider, Richard Wentworth is joined by two other long-running pulp heroes.

First is Jimmy Christopher, otherwise known as Operator 5 of the US Intelligence agency. He has a trademark flexible rapier in his belt and a skull ring with a deadly poison. He needs this should he be captured and there is no other way out. The Operator 5 magazine ran for 48 issues between 1934 and 1939.

The second hero joining the Spider is America’s Flying Spy, the mysterious G-8. A pilot, Spy, master of disguise and more; G-8 faced many foes during a magazine run of 100 issues from 1933 to 1944. He was a deadly force during WWI, fighting strange sky-battles against foes like Herr Doktor Kruger of the Kaiser’s war machine.

The Spider magazine ran for 118 issues from 1933 to 1943. The Spider was incredibly violent, preferring to kill his foes and mark their heads with a blood-red spider. He is aided by girlfriend Nita van Slone, gigantic Sikh Ram Singh, and Wentworth's chauffeur Raymond Jackson. Professor Brownlee makes some of the Spider’s equipment, and Harold Jenkyns the butler presides over the Wentworth Mansion.

As Richard Wentworth, the Spider is a close friend of Police Commissioner Stanley Kirkpatrick. Kirkpatrick is positive that Wentworth is the Spider, officially wanted for many murders. Should he ever be able to prove it, he will send Wentworth to the electric chair.

In this novel, a green-glowing meteorite slams into Central Park on Halloween.  Anyone who gets too close to the space stone falls victim to a horrible fate. They become mindless zombies. Even worse, they have glowing green eyes that emit rays that cause fires wherever they happen to gaze. People are going up like human torches as the radiation zombies fill the streets. The only way to stop the zombies is to kill them. The body count grows and grows.

Two foes of our intrepid three are using the meteorite as a deadly weapon. One is the almost seven-foot-tall German madman known as Stahlmaske, or Steel Mask in English. He is an old foe of G-8 and nothing would please him more than eliminating the flying spy. The other fought the Spider as the Dictator and is equally ready to destroy the Master of Men. Gaining control of the glowing stone is their plan, total mayhem is their game.

Operator 5 still regards the Spider as an outlaw, despite his recent pardon by the President. He makes it very clear that he doesn’t want Wentworth anywhere around the crime scenes either. G-8 is a military asset, allowed to investigate only if supervised by Operator 5. This makes for problems with the three men working together…

I think that part of the charm of this novel is that dissension in the ranks of our heroes. In the end, all three will have to fight to the end of their strength to battle an enemy that can create weapons from anyone…

The novel is action-packed from start to finish. If I had one issue with the story, it would be that having three heroes makes it hard for all of them to really shine. There are a lot of chapters where one or the other of them is temporarily out of action. The remaining two manage to team-up with startling results.

At the end of it all, this story is a true winner! I give it five stars plus!

Quoth the Raven…

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Aug. 18, 2018

Intermittent Blasting: The Simple Truth behind Consistently Losing Weight and Keeping It Off… for Good! by William King

I agreed to review this book at the request of the author, who kindly supplied me with a copy. I took this book because I have a weight problem myself, and have tried many things to lose weight. What could possibly be wrong with trying something new, right?

I am not a nutritionist, so I cannot speak for the nutritional value of Mr. King’s suggested methods. There is a foreword written by Doctor Maurice Werness, who explains the way the body reacts to the reduction of calorie intake. To be honest, I found the foreword to be more enlightening than the entire rest of the book.

It could be that I somehow missed the entire point of Mr. King’s methods, but it seems too good to be true. It reads more like the dream of someone who is trying to lose weight than as a “how to” book.

I am not saying that this method did not work well for Mr. King. I would have liked to see before and after photos. Visuals do far more to encourage others to lose weight than anything else. To have the comparison photos might very well be the catalyst required to gather disciples to follow this dietary plan.

It is not that the volume is written too much from a technical standpoint, it simply is not a miracle cure. I would say the same for any author hawking his or her own special weight loss plan. I am glad it worked for the author, yet it has nothing special to separate this method from any other.

I have dreams of losing a good deal of weight, and I hope it will work out. I just cannot fully endorse this plan. I give the book a neutral score of three stars.

Quoth the Raven…

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