Greetings from The Raven!

May. 17, 2018

The Spider: Slaughter Incorporated by Grant Stockbridge

The Spider was Popular Publication’s answer to Street and Smith’s The Shadow. Richard Wentworth is the merciless stalker of criminals, who does not shirk from putting them down permanently. Most of the Spider’s foes did not survive their battle with the creepy hero, or perhaps anti-hero.

The Spider wears black clothing and features a cape and slouch hat much like the Shadow. That is where the similarity ends. The Spider wears a fright wig, has a strange face and hunched back and flashes fangs! He does shoot because there is no other alternative, he shoots to kill. The Spider novels are filled with blood and bodies. The Spider also marks his kills with a crimson spider on the forehead and is wanted for many murders by the police.

The majority of the Spider magazines were authored by Norvell Page, writing under the house name of Grant Stockbridge. The house name allowed other authors to write the Spider when Page was unable to produce a novel, either because of some unforeseen problem or because he was burned out and needed rest.

This particular novel was written by Donald G Cormack and was purchased by Popular Publications. It was slated for publication. However; it fell through the cracks. Comics were competing with pulp magazines, and there was a paper shortage due to WWII. Many pulp magazines got the axe, and The Spider was among them.

This volume is printed as a facsimile of an actual pulp magazine down to period ads. Along with the novel length, Spider story are three short stories from the world of pulps, and Will Murray opens the book with The Web, explaining the reasons that this story never made it to the magazine.

A group of racketeers is terrorizing New York, very much in the style of Murder, Inc. No one is safe from sudden death and the Spider is determined to bring them down regardless of cost. The usual supporting characters, Nita van Sloane, Ram Singa, Jackson, and police commissioner Stanley Kirkpatrick are here for the last magazine appearance of the Spider!

I give this book five stars plus!

Quoth the Raven…

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May. 17, 2018

The MX Book of New Sherlock Holmes Stories part X 2018 Annual edited by David Marcum

 

The tenth collection of fabulous stories!

My thanks go out to Steve and Timi at MX Publishing for my copy of this book. Upshaw forever!

It is totally amazing that this exciting series has reached ten volumes! This means over 140 stories, articles and words of wisdom from the world of Sherlock Holmes’ finest! David Marcum has pulled all the stops out on continuing to deliver volume after volume of sterling work. We sincerely hope that this volume is not the last!

I’d like to touch on each story briefly. I have no desire to ruin the stories for anyone. I give hints, no spoilers, however; people have shown appreciation for warnings!

  • The stories start with a very nice poem by Derrick Belanger entitled “A Man of Twice Exceptions.” Lovely!
  • Next comes the story, “The Horned God” by Kelvin Jones. This is a very unusual story about an ancient barrow…
  • “The Coughing Man” by Jim French features Holmes refusing to take a case!
  • “The Adventure of Canal Reach” by Arthur Hall features Mycroft sending one of his employees to Holmes…
  • “A Simple Case of Abduction” by Mike Hogan deals with Doctor Watson being attacked on the way to the Strand to deliver a manuscript. Kudos for the choice of the manuscript! It would explain a lot!
  • “A Case of Embezzlement” by Steven Ehrman features Inspector Hopkins bringing his prisoner to Holmes hoping to track the money. Kudos for Holmes’ reaction, as it is very canon!
  • “The Adventure of the Vanished Diplomat” by Greg Hatcher is quite a story. Mycroft has vanished! ‘Nuff said!
  • “The Adventure of the Perfidious Painter” by Jayantika Ganguly features Holmes’ giving aid to three young people in a manner most strange …
  • “A Revenge Served Cold” by Maurice Barkley deals with a locked room mystery! Kudos for the method, it is quite ingenious!
  • “A Brush with Death” by Dick Gillman has Mycroft sending Holmes and Watson to investigate the death of Sir Charles Fort. Neat title-twist!
  • “The Case of the Anonymous Client” by Paul A Freeman features a client who is attacked right on Baker Street just down from 221B!
  • “Capitol Murder” by Daniel D Victor is about a Pinkerton Agent who is asking help of Holmes and Watson. Kudos for the surprise of the villain! The story is at least partially real history! Congrats, this is “Best in Book!”
  • “The Case of the Dead Detective” by Martin Rosenstock is my least favorite in this volume. A young man is discovered dead, and he seems to be basing his career on Holmes’ work. There’s a weird note here on page 249. Watson says he is wary of quoting Scotsmen. Watson was Scottish, from Stranraer, Scotland according to the bio given on page 29. Why would Watson be wary of quoting his own countrymen, or am I missing something?
  • “The Musician Who Spoke from the Grave” by Peter Coe Verbica deals with a dead man and a very strange code…
  • “The Adventure of the Future Funeral” by Hugh Aston is in vogue with Aston’s usual stories from the Deed Box of Doctor John H Watson. This is the story of Wilson, the Notorious Canary Trainer, mentioned in BLAC…
  • “The Mystery of the Change of Art” by Robert Perret deals with a lady whose necklace apparently been replaced with a fake and an artist who draws portraits at a hotel…
  • “The Problem of the Bruised Tongues” by Will Murray has the pulp author taking on Holmes! A man is discovered dead, his tongue an awful bruised color. And he is only the first! Kudos for the remarkable twist in the tale!
  • “The Parsimonious Peacekeeper” by Thaddeus Tuffentsamer deals with a flower-seller and other street people who find themselves being arrested and fined over and over!
  • “The Case of the Dirty Hand” by GL Schulze deals with Crown affairs. The Boer Wars are over and there will be a meeting of kings hosted by King Edward. The story is told by Holmes, not Watson…
  • “The Mystery of the Missing Artifacts” by Tim Symonds is about a case Holmes refused to take that may be coming back to haunt him. Kudos for the opening segue, but Holmes seems to be acting totally out of character…

All I can say, David Marcum, is keep them coming! The book is definitely five stars plus!

Quoth the Raven…

Buy It Here>

May. 17, 2018

Serenity (Firefly Class 03K64) Those Left Behind by Joss Whedon and Brett Matthews

This book is a graphic novel featuring Serenity and its ragtag crew of misfits in a future where the Earth has been left behind for life in the far reaches of space. It is based on the TV series Firefly, which ended far too soon. The crew came back for a feature film, but now they live in reruns and the occasional book.

An old foe returns to battle Mal and the crew; angered over the fact that Mal shot his eye out and left him to die. He wishes to return the favor. He should have remembered that Mal does not play games, and he aims to misbehave…

It is a nice little tale. I give it four stars…

Quoth the Raven…

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May. 17, 2018

The Complete Tales of Jules de Grandin, Volume 3: The Dark Angel by Seabury Quinn

Jules de Grandin was an occult detective in the same vein as Carnacki the Ghost-Finder and John Silence. The stories were published in Weird Tales, a 1930’s and 1940’s pulp magazine that also featured the stories of HP Lovecraft (Cthulhu Mythos) and Robert E Howard (Conan.)

De Grandin is a Frenchman, small and blond haired with tiny feet. He is irascible and totally convinced of his own importance. He appears to be expert in any type of monster hunting, from vampires to ghosts. He knows strange lore from many lands, having actually lived for a time in such far-flung locations as Laos and Tibet.

As a detective, he is a former member of the French Sûreté. The stories in this book happen to feature a colleague of de Grandin, the diminutive Inspector Renouard.

According to an official list of Jules de Grandin stories, there is perhaps enough left for one more volume. I’m looking forward to it. I want to touch briefly on each tale. I try to give no spoilers, but a warning here soothes the folks who fear them!

•         “The Lost Lady” features a villain very much in the vein of Fu Manchu!

•         “The Ghost Helper,” asks the question of love beyond the grave…

•         “Satan’s Stepson” deals with a woman attacked by a Russian named Konstantin—who was just recently executed by firing squad!

•         “The Devil’s Bride” is a novel-length story that was published in its own paperback. A group of satanic worshipers wants to make a young woman their personal gift to the devil. I give this story the honor of being “Best in Book!”

•         “The Dark Angel” features a murderer stalking the night who appears to be an angel from hell…

•         “The Heart of Siva” deals with a play that features the Hindu god Siva. Death and horror ensue…

•         “The Bleeding Mummy” features the unwrapping of a mummy, a late 19th century-early 20th-century pastime. This one is different…

•         “The Door to Yesterday” is about a family whose death mystery might lie in their past…

•         “A Gamble in Souls” features identical twins, an inheritance, and a lady…

•         “The Thing in the Fog” features a dark shape in the mist…

•         “The Hand of Glory” features a devilish device. Made from the left hand and hair of a condemned murderer after execution, the Hand of Glory is a powerful artifact that laughs at locks and holds people captive!

I give this latest volume of chills and thrills five stars plus!

Quoth the Raven…

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May. 1, 2018

Colonel Sun: A James Bond Adventure by Kingsley Amis

Bond, James Bond, is back and better than ever in this reprinting of Amis’ iconic book!

My thanks to my contacts at Pegasus Books, Iris Blasi, Katie McGuire, and Maia Larson, for my review copy of this book. You ladies rock!

Amis takes on the mantle of Ian Flemming! The story is very much in the style that Flemming made famous! An adventure of James Bond that echoes the voice of his creator is a rare treat!

I try not to give any spoilers, but this is a warning!

The titular character is Colonel Sun Liang-tan, a tall Chinese Man who calls himself a special agent for the People’s Liberation Army. His unusual eyes suggest he might have European or American blood as well. He is the official interrogator of British or American prisoners…

A meeting is planned between various Soviet and Chinese diplomats and generals. M has been drugged and kidnapped. Bond has escaped the same fate only by luck and training. You could cut the espionage with a knife!

Of course, there is a Bond Girl in this story as well. Her name is Ariadne Alexandrou and she works for the USSR’s GRU division…

The story is great Cold War fiction! I give it four stars…

Quoth the Raven…

Buy It Here>