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Book Reviews
Sentinels of Fire, by P.T. Deutermann

Historically accurate and VERY technically detailed (a bit too much, at times).
Takes place before/during/after the Pearl Harbor attack, and features (among others) Jap kamikaze planes.
Kind of feel it glosses over action parts, and goes into much more detail describing the detail of the ships and its hardware.
Bit of a hard read if you're looking for more Pearl Harbor-style action and less of an A-to-Z tech sheet of that era's battleships.

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A Little Aqua Book of Creature Tails by David Schow

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Novella sized book of horror short stories.
Breaking with the current preference for bloodlust and incest, these are all vintage stories.
Haunted movie houses, showing uncut horror films with "lost" footage reinserted.
The local bar, where Frankenstein, Dracula and Wolfman gather yearly.
The sunny mansion where the Creature (Black Lagoon) negotiates new contracts.
By turns wistful and humorous.
Quick read, did not feel like I had to wash my hands afterwards.
Now reading short novel Judge Dredd: Year One.

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Very good book on the first years of Judge Dredd's infamous career.
Also involves his brother Rico. You read all about everything starting up around him, the Psy-Ops division, the decay of Mega City, drugs being introduced, him not being as highly regarded as he will be in the future, ...

Definite must read for Dredd fans, same vibe and gore as the comics. Never feels off.
edited by Rosemary Pardoe

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Second collection of M R James related stories.
Ghost tales written in extended prose, typical of the late Victorian/Edwardian eras.
Familiarity with James not necessary, but patience is.
Narratives play out slowly, and resolutions are more often than not, disappearances.
These may read better for those whose imaginations can still create internal visions and scenes.
Noir City Sentinel #3 - edited by Eddie Muller

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Printed collection of the choicest articles from the ezine. #3 is from 2010.
Not an overview of Noir, nor an introductory book, and perhaps not the best for novices.
The publication assumes reader possesses passing familiarity with the genre.
Deeply entertaining for film buffs, covering a lot of interesting ground.
Articles include Brit-Noir, lesbian characters, the Whistler (OTR series),
Book vs Film comparisons, Greenstreet & Lorre, Modern Noirs ...
Packed with photos and drawings.
Anatomy Of A Killer by Peter Rabe

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Cold, remote story of professional hit that goes slightly askew.
The killer, perhaps too long in the game, has grown obsessive about procedures and habits.
When preliminary groundwork isn’t quite perfect his nerves start to jangle.
His employers, the Mob, Rabe shows as little more than sketches. No descriptions, just dialogue, as they realize their man has grown unpredictable, and perhaps a danger to the organization.

Rabe’s career bolted from the gate, and big things were predicted.
After a brush with death, however, his writing became more impersonal, and not surprisingly sold less.
Easy Death by Daniel Boyd

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Action layered, tongue-in-cheek, robbery caper set during winter blizzard. Circa 1951.
Plus one, narrative told from multiple points of view and in jumbled chronological order - though with dates and times in each chapter to help guide the reader.
Plus two, intelligent characters, most with a droll sense of humor.
Plus three, the caper goes wrong in numerous directions and for almost all parties.
Negative, the lead character uses syntax akin to a hillbilly Yoda. Not affected dialect, just peculiar phrasing that was noticeable.
A romp of a seasonal story, nevertheless, that scatters in several directions but connects nicely by the end.
The Terror by Dan Simmons

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Historical fiction of the doomed Franklin expedition, circa 1845.
Ships Erebus and Terror had sailed into Canada, searching for the fabled Northwest Passage.
Both ships were frozen in the ice for several years, before being crushed and destroyed.
All hands disappeared.
The submerged wreckage of HMS Erebus was discovered in 2014.
Simmons’ tale charts the story more or less chronologically, shifting points of view from various individuals. One chapter will follow Captain Fitzjames, then surgeon Goodsir’s diary entries, Captain Crozier, third lieutenant Irving, and so on.
Using actual members of the expedition lends the narrative an authentic touch.
Nevertheless, this is a Horror story, as trapped crewmen soon realize something unnatural is hunting and killing them.
Story circles and adds myths and legends from the native Esquimaux.

A lengthy read, over 600 pages, but perfect for this time of year.
Warning, the crew of the Franklin ran out of food and resorted to eating what was at hand.
Squeamish souls, consider yourself on notice.
The Men Upstairs by Tim Waggoner

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Middle aged, divorced man notices young woman weeping on the floor of a movie theater lobby.
Misgivings aside (he realizes his grown daughter is older than the girl), he reassures her, then offers to let her stay at his place for awhile.
Before you can warn, “Dude, what are you thinking?” he realizes the girl is an exotic breed.
Her features are unusual and she is fragrant to the point of distraction.
And he is distracted, and drawn. He holds back, however, because she had been abused.
By a handful of men who soon move into the empty apartment upstairs.
Then the narrative turns, by shifts, sexual and claustrophobic.
Dark horror, brief novelette, that reeks of the bedroom and butcher block.
A Gathering Of Saints by Christopher Hyde

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A few months earlier, I read Max Collins’ London Blitz Murders, fact based fiction about an actual serial killer, busy during WWII.
I grabbed Hyde’s book as a “travel book,” and once I began reading I experienced a bit of deja vu.
Once again, a serial killer strikes during attacks, once again Sir Bernard Spilsbury is a key player.
Fortunately, the narrative veers in different directions.
The victims are males, perhaps closeted homosexuals. Also, after a hundred pages, Spilsbury disappears from the story. In addition, there is no participation by Agatha Christie. In the last quarter of the book, the investigative team is aided by one Ian Fleming instead.
This is a solid thriller. Multiple agencies pursue the murderer: Scotland Yard, the SIS (later to become MI5), the budding OSS (later CIA), and a clandestine Nazi agent working directly for Reinhard Heydrich.
The action is tight, characters fairly well drawn. Wasn’t keen on the resolution - felt rushed - but enjoyed the book overall.

Being a “travel book” I finished it while on a trip and left it in Gate CE for someone else to enjoy.

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