Earl Norman

The Earl Norman books are becoming extremely rare, and publishers don’t seem to be interested in reprinting the series. The only way some of us may ever have all the stories is for collectors to scan and type the stories into PDF to swap with other collectors. I have already completed PDFs of HANG ME IN HONG KONG and KILL ME IN ROPPONGI. I am working on KILL ME IN YOKOSUKA. If other collectors would do the same for some of the other books, we could eventually have PDFs of all ten books. Why not help? I can be contacted at fadingshadows40@gmail.com

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

The Imam of Tawi-Tawi

The Imam of Tawi-Tawi (International Intrigue)
By Ian Hamilton
Spiderline
ISBN #978-1487002749
Price $10.97 (Paperback)
Price $9.99 (Kindle)
400 Pages
Rating 4-Stars

Uncle Chang Wang calls Ava asking for a favor. A business he and Tommy Ordonez are in with Senator Ramirez in the Philippines are having trouble in Tawi-Tawi, an area heavy populated with Muslims, and the senator feels the Zagat college is training young men for terrorism. The senator connects Ava with a member of the Muslim Brotherhood who will work with her in uncovering the truth. But now that she is no longer in the old business, she no longer has all of her old contacts to access banks. She’s forced to recruit a CIA agent to help here, and this brings American power down on her. She must see the situation through to the end, no matter what the outcome, and her life might even be at stake

I pre-ordered this book, as the synopsis led me to think this would an action-packed adventure with Ava Lee and a CIA agent against a terrorist organization. The writing was still smooth, and the characters interesting, and Ava was very proficient, but I was disappointed in the lack of action. And the Muslims all turned out to be good guys, while the Americans were evil. There is a really big twist at the end, which was nice, but not very logical. The book is called the Triad Years, but this does not include the Triads, though Ava does talk to Xu on the telephone once, so it’s hardly a Triad novel. This is basically Ava Lee and the CIA. Personally, I hope the author brings in more action, if he wants to keep readers following the Ava Lee sagas. She is better than this book shows, in my opinion.

Tom Johnson

Author of THE MAN IN THE BLACK FEDORA

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Concubine

“Concubine” by Elsie Dean: Part of a double novel from Universal Publishing in 1953. The second novel, “Savage Mistress” by Jon Hartt, I haven’t read yet. The title is a bit misleading, as this is not the story of a concubine but a play on Shakespeare’s “Romeo & Juliet”. Little Flower, of the House of Chiang is left without a family and taken to live in the House of Wong. The old Wong has a mistress named Morning Glow, but she’s becoming too old, and tells Little Flower she must escape before Wong calls her to his bedchamber. She tells her about an American missionary in town that will help you people, and then devises a plan for her to escape.
         Little Flower escaped and the missionaries take her in. Tom and Celcilia give her a room, but Celilia does not approve of her, while Tom helps does. Staying with them is their young nephew, Almose, who they want to study and become a missionary also. But young Almose has other plans; he wants to be an artist. When Almose and Little Flower meet they are instantly attracted to each other, and eventually become lovers. Almose has married her before God through a painting, but telling her he must leave shortly for school, but will come for her once he becomes a master artist and created his masterpiece.
         After he leaves, Little Flower discovers she is pregnant. The story now takes on the harsh reality of betrayal and heartbreak. Tom & Cecilia take Little Flower and her daughter to America where the young daughter, Mara (named after the Virgin Mary), has artistic talent like her father. Little Flower learns that Almose has married another artist and will never return to her. Lee Yuen, who had met her on the boat to America, knows the ways of Americans, and their hatred of non-whites, and tells her that she will eventually need his help. The time comes when her only ally, Tom, dies of cancer, and Cecilia moves in with her sister, and there is no place for Little Flower and her daughter.
         She goes to Lee Yuen, and he treats her good. She does not have to share his bed, but keeps house for him, and he promises to wait till she loves him. However, Mara grows cold against Little Flower for the trouble her mother has caused her. It has not been easy for Mara being a half-caste. After graduating high school Mara leaves for New York and art school.
Now the story comes full circle, as Mara meets her father, and Little Flower discovers that Lee Yuen is running the largest drug cartel in San Francisco, and she is little more than a prisoner in the house as Lee Yuen’s madness is now apparent, and she learns the truth behind the disappearance of Almose, and who was behind it from the very beginning.

This was a sad story of two young people torn apart by the madness of someone else, and their love destroyed for evil purposes, but the ending is heart-warming, and touches the heart. It is really nothing like I thought it would be, and yet much better than advertised.

Friday, December 22, 2017

Hong Kong After Dark


“Hong Kong After Dark” by William Fitzpatrick. I bought this thinking it was a fiction novel set in Hong Kong, as I tend to like Hong Kong stories, but it turns out this is a history and guide not only to Hong Kong, but Canton, Taiwan, Macao, and Mainland China. In fact, authors who wish to write stories set on the Pearl River, and these areas, should read this book first to get the feel of them, and especially the night spots and ladies of the evening. It’s an interesting book. The author lived in Hong Kong for several years while working with a company dealing with the Orient and the Chinese. During this period he sampled plenty of the merchandise, and explains the business first hand. Not a bad history, and the novel is fairly mild, and a bit humorous at times.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

The Scottish Banker of Surabaya


Ava Lee #5: “The Scottish Banker of Surabaya” by Ian Hamilton. Ava’s mother talks her into meeting with a Canadian Vietnamese girl who claims to have lost a lot of money. She doesn’t want to, but to please her mother she talks with the girl and learns that the Vietnamese community invested thirty million dollars in a bank that might be a scam. Speaking with Uncle he advises they accept the job, with their usual 30% fee. Unfortunately, in her early investigation she uncovers Italian mobsters involved, and this poses problems for them. However, Uncle sees a way to get their money without the Mafia discovering their involvement, so Ava continues. Besides, by this time she wants to punish the Scottish banker for a personal reason. As usual, the novel is smooth reading, and keeps the reader turning pages to the end.

Friday, October 20, 2017

The Princeling of Nanjing

Ava Lee #8: “The Princeling of Nanjing” by Ian Hamilton. Ava Lee is with May Ling and Amanda, her partners in the Three Sisters business in Shanghai, as they start their clothing business. Their benefactor, Xu is on hand, but he reveals that a powerful Chinese family is forcing him into the drug business, and they won’t take no for an answer. He is truly between a rock and a hard spot. Drugs are a business he doesn’t want in, and if he says no they could destroy him. Although he doesn’t ask Ava for help, she feels obligated to look into the family’s financial dealings. What she finds is proof of bribes and illegal money laundering, something that might look bad within the other Chinese power structures. She begins following the money, and things get more complicated when the head of the family discovers who is doing it.


The writing continues to be smooth and topnotch. The story is character driven, and the characters actually become part of the reader. We feel a kinship to Ava, May Ling, Amanda, Xu, Sonny, Suen, and everyone involved. They are like our own family.