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Michael R. Parker "mikep606"
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High Plains Lazarus: A Weird Western
High Plains Lazarus: A Weird Western
Price: 1.21

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars weird western, short but fun, 18 Jun 2014
It took me about 45 minutes to read this novelette about a good-natured but dim-witted cowboy and his Navajo companion Jim who battle a town's population that have been turned into zombies. Less grisly than Heath Lowrance's Hawthorne series and not as whimsical as Lansdale's Flaming Zeppelins but stands comparable with either for entertainment value. A bargain at twice the price.


The Raven's Banquet
The Raven's Banquet
Price: 5.99

4.0 out of 5 stars compelling historical fantasy, 2 Jun 2014
This dark historical fantasy tells the story of Sir Richard Treadwell in two parts. The first, set in 1625, documents his first year as a soldier. Richard has neither the temperament nor inclination to enter into the proper pursuits expected of somebody from his class, namely business or politics, and has decided as a young man to seek his fortune fighting for a noble cause. He has decided to join the protestant Danish army as an officer to fight in Germany against their papist king, the Hapsburg Emperor.
The second strand of the story is set twenty years later during the English Civil War. Sir Richard is arrested by Oliver Cromwell’s New Model Army and taken to the Tower of London where he will face trial for treason. It is alleged that Sir William has acted for the catholic cause, urging Duke Frederick of Denmark to petition his father King Christian to come to the aid of his relative Charles Stuart, a pretender to the English throne. Sir Richard knows a guilty verdict means the gallows, and death seems likely, even with his brother’s counsel, not least since the charge is true.
The book’s structure, in which, chapters from the two time periods alternate is highly effective in showing Sir Richard’s downfall. He begins as an innocent naif, and as the realities of war strip away his boyish idealism, we see how he ends bitter and humiliated. The young Sir Richard joins a small troop of cavalry men who teach him there is little bounty to be found in war, and that which there is is not given freely but taken by sacking and looting, and by rape and torture. As his campaign progresses, Richard’s soul is increasingly corroded, initially by sins of omission as he is too scared to intervene as his companions torture a local landowner to find his hidden wealth, then later by sins of commission as he murders his retainer then finally as he betrays the woman who saved his life on the battlefield and has grown to love.
There is a satisfying supernatural element which takes the book into fantasy territory. Sir Richard would have visions as young boy which scared him and embarrassed his family. He was encouraged not to talk about them and they seemed to recede during adolescence. As his crimes mount up though, he begins to see his victims brought back to life. The tortured farmer returns as a horrid spider-like creature, his retainer a kind of tree-man, and he sees his comrade, the psychopathic Christopher, pursued by the hounds of hell.
The author is unflinching in showing the horrors of war, and at no point gives his (anti-)hero an easy time. Sir Richard is made to face up to every one of his actions, and when at the end of the book, he is offered a choice - to lie and use the soldier’s defence, that is to say he was just following orders, and maybe escape with his life, or to admit the truth and risk the gallows but perhaps salvage some self-respect - I didn’t know which he would take. To find out, you will have to read the book for yourself. I hope that you will.
This review first appeared on the science fiction, fantasy, and suspense website mybookishways.com


Winter Kill: 1 (The Pack)
Winter Kill: 1 (The Pack)
by Mike Oliveri
Edition: Paperback

4.0 out of 5 stars Fast-paced thriller worth your time and money., 27 Feb 2014
i read this supernatural thriller in just two sittings, not because its short, though it is a little, but because it has a great start and Oliveri built on this, never losing my interest. More thriller than chiller, despite the werewolves and occasional gore, the set up is a classic of crime fiction, with good guys who have a secret to keep caught between villains and the police (here it's the FBI) and forced into taking the law into their own hands. Clearly Oliveri is a guy who knows his onions. The book builds to a cracking finale in the woods that cries out for a movie adaptation. The ending is a satisfying conclusion to the story but also leaves a cliff-hanger for the second in the series. Recommended.


Hawthorne: Bad Sanctuary
Hawthorne: Bad Sanctuary

5.0 out of 5 stars Gruesome weird western., 2 May 2013
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Hawthorne returns in perhaps Lowrance's best effort in this series of weird westerns. For those who haven't read any of the previous books, Hawthorne is a kind of man-with-no-name figure, a mysterious bringer of justice. But it's a harsh justice Hawthorne delivers to sinners and demons alike. For the first time there are small hints as to what drives his pitiless brand of vengeance, with the promise of more to come.
This time the setting is an old Army fort, long-since abandoned and now home to criminals, and of course demons. The Sisters are a kind of telepathic giant leeches feeding on the men, and they have been expecting Hawthorne....
The story is as nasty, brutal, and lacking in sentiment as our are hero himself, and all the better for it. I really can't fault it.


Stormheart Legend: Pulp Line #5
Stormheart Legend: Pulp Line #5
by Edward Drake
Edition: Paperback

5.0 out of 5 stars Dark Fantasy Pulp, 30 Mar 2013
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This is no. 5 in Anachron Press' Pulp Line and the first that is from the sword and sorcery genre. The crime pulp is more my taste normally but this was an exceptional read. Great pacing, plenty of thrills and spills and genuine emotional bite. Recommend.


The Wrong Goodbye (Collector)
The Wrong Goodbye (Collector)
by Chris F. Holm
Edition: Mass Market Paperback

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Retro pulp thrills, 22 Sep 2012
The Wrong Goodbye - written by Chris F Holm. Chris Holm comes with some serious pedigree as a short story writer. Nominated for the Anthony and Derringer Awards,winner of the Spinetingler in 2008, his stories have appeared in numerous on-line and print anthologies including The Best American Mystery Stories 2011. Now he's turned his hand to novels, and his first, Dead Harvest, was published earlier this year. It's mix of pulp thrills, noir stylings and supernatural intrigue helped it find an audience in fans across many genres. It was a fast, fun read, but believe me when i say it, The Wrong Goodbye is better.
The Dead Harvest introduced us to Sam Thornton, a good guy who had some bad luck and made some bad decisions ( can you feel the noir yet?), and ended up making a faustian bargain to keep his wife alive. That was many years ago, Sam and his wife have both died, and now he has to do the devil's bidding. He's a collector of souls, his spirit inhabiting the recently dead ( or meat-suits, as he calls them), as he hunts his mortal prey, the damned. It's a job that corrodes his soul, he's already got sixty years behind him, and he's got an eternity infront of him. Against the wishes of his masters, over the years Sam has secretly befriended some other collectors in an effort to keep some shred of humanity. In The Wrong Goodbye, this becomes his downfall.
Sam, Danny, and Ana had, at one time, been particularly close, but the strain of, out of necessity,having to keep their friendship secret eventually took it's toll and the three split, Sam going one way, Danny and Ana another. Now Sam is dragged back into their world when he is beaten to the soul of his next target. Danny has gotten their first and this is bad news. For a collector not to return with his target's soul is to face years of the kind of torture only hell can provide. The question for Sam is why danny has done this, is it to get back at Sam for perceived wrongs, or just a cry for help as the troubled Danny has gotten into too much trouble, or do Danny and Ana have something more ambitious and deadly in mind?
In this second book in the collector series, Holm's crime roots become more obvious. Sam is a supernatural P I in all but name, a Knight Errant, travelling across the U S in search of adventure to prove his human qualities. Chandler's famous description in The Simple Art of Murder fits Sam to a tee. He has to go down some very mean streets indeed. If thats a bit too dry for you, let me rephrase. He travels cross state lines in a stolen cadillac, a kidnapped stripper-loving oil exec hog-tied in the boot, hunting demons with a doomed mobster and his trans-gendered, grifter lover. Sound better? Thought so. These books are fast and a hell of a lot of fun, and if the covers don't win some prizes, then they've been robbed. Making them up to look like golden-era paperbacks is a great touch.
This series just keep getting better.


Bullets for a Ballot (Cash Laramie & Gideon Miles Series Book 5)
Bullets for a Ballot (Cash Laramie & Gideon Miles Series Book 5)
Price: 0.77

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Pulp (western) Fiction, 18 Mar 2012
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Veteran western writer Nik Morton takes Edward Grainger's heroes into dark territory with this fifth instalment of the Cash Laramie and Gideon Miles series. Murder, rape, and sadism feature in this tale of women's suffrage and electoral fraud. What I enjoy particularly about this series is that the writers don't shy away from making their heroes complex, and dare I say it compromised. This is a western series that delivers pulp thrills alongside depth which ensures the books live long in the memory.


The Dame (The Hunted Series Book 2)
The Dame (The Hunted Series Book 2)

5.0 out of 5 stars More great crime fiction from The Factory, 11 Mar 2012
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The sequel to The Hunted and Willis begins his criminal career in an attempt to fund his war against the shadowy Factory, the quasi-governmental agency Willis worked for as a hit man. There are many parallels to Richard Stark's Parker series and Zeltserman is too good a writer not to be aware of them. Willis is one of the names Parker uses for his civilian life, there is frequent mention of plastic surgery, and the format of heists gone wrong, double crosses, and the theme of one man against a larger criminal organisation are just some examples. It is the author's skill though that prevents homage slipping into parody. I suggest reading both in order.


The Hunted (The Hunted Series Book 1)
The Hunted (The Hunted Series Book 1)

5.0 out of 5 stars The start of another great series., 8 Mar 2012
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Let me start by saying I have been a fan of the author ever since Serpent's Tail published Small Crimes, and I have just about everything of Mr Zeltserman's available in print. These are mostly noir and more recently horror. His e-book output appears much more varied, including noir, hardboiled, fantasy ,horror as well as tributes to the cosy mysteries of the past.
The Hunted is the first in a series of thrillers featuring disillusioned assassin Dan Willis. Recruited after a period of demoralising unemployment by a shady government agency known as The Factory, Dan is trained as a killer in the secret war against homegrown insurgents. I don't want to spoil the plot so won't say anything further except to say things aren't how they first appear.
The pacing for a thriller is critical in it's success and here the book just zips along. The ending sets up the next in the series well and allows us to connect emotionally with the main protagonist despite his earlier actions. Characterisation is not as in depth as in his novels but this is to be expected in shorter stories and I'm sure will be built upon in further books.
I got this book free as a special offer, and if the idea behind such things is to tempt me into buying the next in the series it has certainly worked. Recommended without reservation.


Adventures of Cash Laramie and Gideon Miles (Cash Laramie & Gideon Miles Series Book 1)
Adventures of Cash Laramie and Gideon Miles (Cash Laramie & Gideon Miles Series Book 1)
Price: 0.77

4.0 out of 5 stars great western pulp, 20 Feb 2012
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this collection of Western pulp short stories would suit fans of Leonard, Reasoner and Estleman. Like these three authors, Grainger ably combines western and crime fiction tropes seamlessly in an entertaining package. I devoured them in one night. Strongly recommended


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