Greetings from The Raven!

Mar. 13, 2018

Doc Savage: Mr. Calamity by Will Murray writing as Kenneth Robeson

The long-awaited new novel, with the addition of a second!

Mr. Calamity was announced last year and has finally been released! This latest addition to the adventures of Clark Savage, Jr. is a tale highly to be honored and a must read for all fans of the Man of Bronze!

As Mr. Calamity opens, Long Tom Roberts has inherited a small ranch in the badlands of Wyoming. Deciding it is the perfect remote location for his electrical experiments; Long Tom moves in and hires a foreman named Laramie. Not that a foreman is needed since the ranch has only one cow!

Pat Savage shows up at Long Tom’s door which doesn’t exactly make his day. Pat wants to use the ranch as a base for her prospecting. Long Tom is edgy, but he allows Pat her way.

There is a gang operating in the area that is stealing mules. The problem has reached a breaking point, and Long Tom and Pat find themselves nearly lynched, shot at, and even kidnapped. Pat even finds time to be placed in jail!

Pat watches in horror as a man is spotted swimming in midair near the stratosphere! His desperate moves are similar to a man trying not to drown! When his body eventually crashes back to earth, it is accompanied by a deluge of water—from a cloudless sky. He is very, very dead…

Then there is the strange man hanging around the area. Dressed in a laughable green jacket, he calls himself Mr. Calamity. When he fires a shot from his ancient shotgun all hell breaks loose. Something has been discovered and death is a long tip of falling up…

I found this book incredible! Will always puts so much action and adventure into his novels, and this one is no exception. He has woven together so many villains who might be behind the Mr. Calamity crimes that discovering the truth is a real joy!

One thing I love about Will’s Doc Savage novels is his detail in research concerning the locale where the adventure takes place. For example, in this novel, there is mention of coal seams burning out of control. They are really there in the badlands of Wyoming.

To Will personally, I got a kick when Long Tom grabs the medical kit for Doc Savage and the kit contains Mercurochrome! I used to look like an ad for the stuff all summer back in the late 60’s!

The Valley of Eternity

Anyone familiar with Doc Savage’s backstory will recall how his father had him raised by teams of scientists and instructors. Even Doc has stated that he didn’t have much in the way of a childhood. He had very few friends. He was also totally ignorant of women. He has very few contacts in the original pulp magazines. When he does have to interact with the female of the species, to call him awkward is putting it mildly…

Then on Doc’s birthday, his father’s lawyer shows up with a letter. It seems that the elder Savage isn’t finished trying to interfere in Doc’s life. The letter tells Doc it is time to marry!

Both novels were terrific! I give them both five stars plus!

Quoth the Raven…

Buy It Here>

Mar. 4, 2018

For This, we left Egypt? A Passover Haggada by Dave Barry, Alan Zweibel, and Adam Mansbach

When I ordered this book, I knew what I was getting into. Dave Barry is quite likely the funniest man in America, if not the world. I have the vast majority of his books, so I had a pretty good idea concerning the humor. Then too, his co-authors, while being Jewish, are also involved with humorous sitcoms and books. They have a wicked way of matching the humor of Dave Barry!

When the book came, I thought what is it with this cover? Then I remembered using Google Translate to translate something into Hebrew. The way the letters are written is from left to right. That explained things before I opened the book.

I would not have purchased this book except for the fact that the humor is being written or approved by people who are actually members of the Jewish religion. They are welcome to make jokes about their traditions and religious practices because they have been through the Seder themselves. They write knowing they will likely continue to celebrate the next Passover. Even Dave Barry, who has never tried to hide that he is not particularly religious, has written about attending Seder with his wife and her family.

Someone who was poking fun at someone else’s traditions and beliefs would be unacceptable to me. And you know what? I did manage to learn about the real Passover Haggada and the observation of a Seder! Even between the humorous relating of why the Israelites wandered in the wilderness for forty years, (Moses wouldn’t ask directions!) the solemn nature of this feast comes through!

I give the book five stars.

Quoth the Raven…


Mar. 4, 2018

The Final Page of Baker Street by Daniel D Victor

My thanks go out to Steve and Timi at MX Books for my copy of this book and the dozens they have provided me over the past several years. Thanks a lot, guys!

Watson mentions once that there was more than one page boy at Baker Street, but they all were referred to as “Billy.” I recall once reading Watson refer to him as “the boy in buttons.”

When Holmes finally retired from Baker Street (and notice I did not say from being a consulting detective) there was no need for a page boy in his isolated cottage on the Sussex Downs. Yet there was one just prior to Holmes exit to beekeeping.

"The Adventure of the Mazarin Stone" features Billy the page boy prominently. It is one of the stories that doesn’t feature Watson as the author. We are told in this book that the story was actually written by the page boy himself! That is because the page boy would go on to be the writer for another detective, Philip Marlowe. The page boy is named Raymond Chandler…

Holmes is visited by Chandler’s mother, who is worried about her son disappearing for hours at night. Holmes solves the secret Billy has been hiding and takes him on as the page boy at Baker Street.

After Holmes goes to Sussex, Billy shows up unexpected at Watson’s home after his wife has retired for the night. He has a drunken friend, one Terrence Leonard, whom he met at the man’s father-in-laws. The father-in-law is Lord Steynwood, an extremely rich and powerful editor. Billy has published poetry and essays in various papers overseen by his Lordship.

The night has ended with the very drunken Leonard falling out of his carriage, upon which his wife leaves him in the road. When she is later found murdered and Leonard flees the house, he seeks out Watson hoping to hire Holmes. Then Billy is also arrested…

The mystery is filled with false starts and red flags, as well as a red herring or two. There is the excellent return of an old foe. Sylvia Leonard’s murder sets off a string of other crimes. Holmes agrees to investigate but is later asked to drop the case. If you think he did you have never read Holmes! The building of suspense and the final review are well worth the read! Bravo!

One note: I found the following line fabulous! “His Lordship continued stroking the white cat.” Excellent!

I give this book five stars!

Quoth 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…

Buy It Here>




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…