Greetings from The Raven!

Aug. 6, 2019

Operator 5 #1 The Masked Invasion by Curtis Steele!

Operator 5 is Secret Service Agent Jimmy Christopher, a young man with a lot of raw skill. He works directly under an agent known only as Z-7. As the story begins, Operator 5 is tracking an oriental agent. Discovering the man’s hiding place, Operator 5 puts on a mask and silently battles his way in using a variety of fighting techniques and his ever-ready saber that he keeps inside his belt.

The weird then is, why mask up? He announces himself by name! Why would a crook not trace him by name, regardless of what he looks like? To further seal this discrepancy, the criminals use his twin sister Nan as a hostage against his cooperation with their demands. At least in the Secret Agent X stories, no one knows who X is, but here? Wow, it isn’t much of a secret who this agent is…

New York is attacked via blackouts every Friday that stop electrical power, automobiles, trains, and even airplanes!  Each period of darkness grows longer, and they all end abruptly at 10:00! As of this story, the darkness has struck 11 times! People are fleeing the country due to these blackouts.

To be honest, I bought this to check on the new format. I had forgotten how dry and boring the Operator 5 stories could get. Outside of the Purple Wars saga, that is. This is likely the reason why there are few reviews on amazon. It’s an uphill battle reading this. And this isn’t due to this format, on the contrary, I find the format easier to read than the original reprints. The story lacks a lot…

I will give it three stars…

Quoth the Raven…

Buy it Here>

Aug. 6, 2019

Hunt the Avenger by Win Scott Eckert     

POSSIBLE SPOILERS

This book consists of five short stories. Three have been previously published and two are new. The new ones are written to tie the whole story together so that the result is one story in five chapters.

It begins with…

The Glass Lady tells of Benson’s first encounter with the enigmatic and sultry Ellen Patrick, aka the Domino Lady. Werner Konrad resurfaces at a masked ball stealing jewels from the attendees. The Domino Lady sends for Justice Inc. (Note: see The Glass Man by Ron Goulart writing as Kenneth Robeson, Warner Paperbacks) Werner is apparently working for someone else. Just who is exposed when The Iron Skull, Baron Blau-Montag shows up, along with his daughter! (Note: see The Iron Skull by Ron Goulart writing as Kenneth Robeson, Warner Paperbacks)

Death and the Countess deals with a deadly new weapon and a femme fatal, known only as The Countess. She is brokering a sale of the weapon to the highest bidder.

Happy Death Men concerns men made almost unstoppable a super-soldier drug. The brain behind it all belongs to Dr. Carl Walden and Lilya Zarof, who is the Countess from the previous story. Walden wants an elixir he hopes Benson can help him discover, a drug to extend life and youth. There is something odd about the Countess…

According to the Plan of a One-Eyed Trickster continues the tale of Walden and the Countess. The real truth behind the Countess is exposed, something too unusual to spoil here. Walden is still after the elixir and makes strange hints about the Avenger’s deadened face and white hair!

The wrap up comes in Toil and Trouble. The Iron Skull and his daughter, Lenni Blau-Montag have captured Benson, replacing him with one of the Iron Skull’s lifelike robots. Also captured is the Domino Lady. Lenni is largely robotic and wants Benson to place her brain in Ellen Patrick’s body…

As usual with Win Scott Eckert, the stories are filled with cameos and locations from other literature, some so subtle that you might miss them! Honestly, Win, I didn’t like the ending. But hey, everything is flexible in fiction and who knows the ending may not be what it seemed!

I give the book four stars…

Quoth the Raven…

Buy It Here>

 

 

Jul. 18, 2019

The Spider Pulp Doubles #1 Prince of the Red Looters and The City that Dared Not Eat by Grant Stockbridge

The Spider is Richard Wentworth, a wealthy criminologist. Backed up by his manservant Ram Singh, his old war pal Jackson, and his fiancé Nita van Slone, Wentworth takes on crime at the street level.

The Spider has no scruples about killing. The criminals who cross the Spider die and their foreheads are marked with a scarlet spider.

The Spider is wanted by the police, and his friend Commissioner Kirkpatrick suspects Wentworth. Hardly surprising, as everyone seems to know the Spider’s secret. Proving it is another thing entirely…

Prince of the Red Looters is the 11th novel, originally published in August 1934. It’s another winning tale by Norvell Page!

In this novel, the villain is known as The Fly. The Spider meets this bad guy when he is challenged by him! The Fly invites the Spider to “step into his parlor! They have a deadly duel with sabers—to the death!

The Fly robs a bank of a million dollars, killing people with an oddly shaped soundless pistol. He then sends presents of cash to various gang lords, wanting to unite crime under his leadership.

I believe that it isn’t Page at his best, but it isn’t bad.

The City That Dared Not Eat is the 49th novel, originally published in October 1937. This story is the second one written by Wayne Rogers.

The Spider was recently exonerated of all of his crimes. But a trial the law counted on goes wrong, and the newly freed men are attacked, one killed, one abducted in Wentworth’s own Daimler limousine! Tossed out dead into the street, the Spider’s symbol is upon the man's forehead! A gun is also dumped, with Wentworth’s fingerprints! Not only did the gun kill the man with a spider emblem, but it was also used to kill two cops!

Across the city, restaurants explode killing or maiming everyone inside. Food stores are destroyed, and people starve. Poison milk kills children everywhere, and when the Spider tries to intervene, he draws the blame for the poisoned milk as well!

There were several stories dealing with people destroying food supplies to corner the market. This one isn’t written by Page, but it is an exciting story!

I give both stories and the book as a whole four stars!

Quoth the Raven…

The book is pricey, but you can find a few deals here>

 

Jul. 18, 2019

The Spider Pulp Doubles #2 Death’s Crimson Juggernaut and Claws of the Golden Dragon by Grant Stockbridge

The Spider is Richard Wentworth, a wealthy criminologist. Backed up by his manservant Ram Singh, his old war pal Jackson, and his fiancé Nita van Slone, Wentworth takes on crime at the street level.

The Spider has no scruples about killing. The criminals who cross the Spider die and their foreheads are marked with a scarlet spider.

The Spider is wanted by the police, and his friend Commissioner Kirkpatrick suspects Wentworth. Hardly surprising, as everyone seems to know the Spider’s secret. Proving it is another thing entirely…

Death’s Crimson Juggernaut is the 14th novel originally published in November 1934. This is another smashmouth pulp novel by Norvell Page.

People are tortured to death across the city, some being nailed to walls in a wicked crucifixion. Blocks of tenements burn with no regard as to who dies in the conflagration. The criminal is known as the Murder Master, the minions serving him called the Torture Trust.

This story is interesting because the Spider is actually blinded and uses Apollo as a guide dog!  The story is another bloodbath from Norvell Page!

The Claws of the Golden Dragon is the 64th novel, originally published in January 1939.

The villain in this saga is painted in the style of Sax Rohmer's Fu Manchu. The Golden Dragon, AKA The Prince of Darkness uses a variety of poisonous spiders, scorpions, snakes, etc.

The worst weapon in this oriental madman’s arsenal is the Blood Orchid, a flower that grows inside of humans and bursts through their throat and chest a la Alien! The Spider is brought into the case by a friend in Chinatown, Fu Chang whose daughter is one of the victims of The Blood Orchid!      

This one is excellent, and not overtly an imitation of the Fu Manchu tales! I like it!

I give both stories and the book as a whole five stars!

Quoth the Raven...

You can find a few offers to buy it here>

Jul. 18, 2019

The Spider Pulp Doubles #3 Slaves of the Crime-Master/The Spider and the Fire God by Grant Stockbridge

The Spider is Richard Wentworth, a wealthy criminologist. Backed up by his manservant Ram Singh, his old war pal Jackson, and his fiancé Nita van Slone, Wentworth takes on crime at the street level.

The Spider has no scruples about killing. The criminals who cross the Spider die and their foreheads are marked with a scarlet spider.

The Spider is wanted by the police, and his friend Commissioner Kirkpatrick suspects Wentworth. Hardly surprising, as everyone seems to know the Spider’s secret. Proving it is another thing entirely…

Slaves of the Crime-Master is the 19th novel, originally published in April 1935. Written by Norvell Page, it is hard-hitting pulp!

The Tempter is a soothing voice over the radio, urging youths as young as eleven to take up crime. The Spider cannot just shoot them as he might and adult criminal, so he seeks to win them over to his side.

Then there is the Doctor, a man disfigured by horrible burns. He has created a way to spread infantile paralysis through food. He also invents an antitoxin—by growing it inside living babies he kidnapped! The antidote is available—to those who can pay the Doctor’s price!

An excellent story with two villains to conqueror!

The Spider and the Fire God is the 71st novel, originally published in August 1939. It is another Norvell Page masterpiece!

A giant of a man with a huge red beard, Kalki declares himself the avatar of Vishnu. He calls for worship both of Vishnu, and himself as Vishnu’s prophet! Those who disobey are consumed by the flames of Vishnu, which destroy starting with their eyes! How do you combat a man who calls fire down from heaven!?

The Spider is in a battle with the NYPD again, under acting Commissioner Dane, so he goes undercover as Casimir Belotti, a street violinist, apparently the same disguise he formerly called Tito Caliepi. Perhaps Page simply forgot the name of this character, who knows?

The story is good, with decent action. I just don’t think it is Page at his best.

I give the first story five stars and the second three stars. The book overall gets four stars.

Quoth the Raven…

There are copies available Here>