Friday, November 20, 2015

Secret Mission To Bangkok

Colonel North #20: “Secret Mission To Bangkok” by Van Wick Mason. The plane from Hong Kong to Bangkok, Thailand, carried a variety of personages. Colonel North, of Army G-2 was interested in one man however, Hans Bracht who was traveling incognito as Harry Barrows. Bracht was a rocket scientist on America’s Project Galaxy program. His wife, the beautiful Tao Muong was missing, and suspected of being kidnapped by the Reds to get the scientist in their hands. North was there to see they didn’t. Someone on the plane may be the Red handing the kidnapping: Miss Lita Naline, a Hollywood star of mysterios background; Mr. Anton Carss, Hollywood producer; Mr. John Wallen, another Hollywood actor; Mr. Lex Ross, a Hollywood actor who once had been a Red agent; Millionaire Chu Hoong, a big shot businessman in Bangkok; M. Georges Marchet, a Frenchman now of South Vietnam, and drug addict; Fraulein Mary Hollberg of West Berlin; and Mr. Boris Salenkov of Moscow. It was up to Colonel North to protect Bracht, and unmask the Red agent. The story was a bit slow, as we’re introduced to all the suspects, and though things are happening, Colonel North doesn’t do too much until the climax. But it’s a slam-bang ending, with a air fight between plans when the Red agent tries to flee to North Vietnam with Bracht. There are actually two mysteries in the story, the second interfering with the first, mudding the waters for the G-2 operative.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Secret Mission: North Korea

Secret Mission #8: “North Korea” by Don Smith. Phillip Sherman, an American computer expert is in Japan to sell computers, is arrested in a bar when his drinking partner kills a girl that stole his wallet. Unknown to Sherman, the guy was employed by the CIA to take a boat into North Korean waters with a bomb on board. Now his old CIA buddy, Ross McCullough tells him he’ll take care of his arrest, but Sherman must take the ship now that the other man is facing trial for murder.  The mission fails as soon as they near North Korea, as a stowaway girl was a spy working for the North, and they were expected. But she didn’t know about the bomb, and when it goes off, Sherman and one of his men, accompanied by the girl, escape. They don’t get far, and are captured again by Pak Kuk Chung. He has a harem of Blonde Scandinavian women in a fortress guarded by well-armed Koreans.  He served the Japanese in WWII as Colonel Ozaki, a Japanese born in Korea,; he was known as Po Sung Chul during the Korean War. He forces Sherman to contact the CIA, requesting amnesty for his war crimes in turn for their release. In a coded reply, Sherman knows Ozaki will not receive amnesty, and they plan an escape from the stronghold. This was another good story featuring the non-CIA agent, who seems to be caught up in the agency’s secret missions. A fun read.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Macao Mayhem

Crown #2. Macao Mayhem by Terry Harknett. Hong Kong is a hot bed of secrets, and a new gang is using prostitutes and call girls to gather information. Senior Superintendent John Crown and his partner, karate champ Chang Po are assigned the case. When a call girl Crown had helped before turns up dead, they quickly discover there may be something bigger in the works. It’s a case that may involve the Chinese and an American diplomat. The investigation takes them from Hong Kong to Macao. This is the second of the three novels featuring the pair of Hong Kong investigators. Although the third novel is the best in the series, this one has a lot of humor, but not so much of the karate action. Still, a fun story with lots of other action. 

Friday, September 25, 2015

Under Cover of Night

Under Cover of Night by Manning Lee Stokes. Originally published in 1957/58 by DELL, then reprinted in 1969 by MacFadden Books during the men’s adventure craze. Bob Fitzhugh had worked in Korea prior to the war, and now that it’s over he works as rewrite for the Cleveland Bulletin. His pal on the paper gets him an assignment back to Korea to write a series of articles on G.I.s stationed in Korea after the war. His pal has hidden plans for Fitzhugh, however. During the war he had been assigned to help a finance officer carry a million dollars from Seoul to a forward base to pay troops. They were attacked by rebels and driven into the mountains, only to be attacked by an allied fighter plane that killed the rebels. His pal had hidden the money, then made his way back to the front lines. Now that the war was over he wanted that million dollars, but a heart condition kept him from returning. That’s where Fitzhugh comes in. They will split the million dollars, if his pal will retrieve the money. He will tell Fitzhugh where it’s hidden.

The million dollars sounds good to Fitzhugh, so he agrees. Only things aren’t as easy as it appears. The C.I.D., Korean rebels, and Korean commies also know the rumor and story behind the hidden cash. His pal had been kept under surveillance and it was known the minute Fitzhugh reached Korea, and he doesn’t know whom he can trust. This was one of the early novels by Manning Lee Stokes. He would write many of the men’s adventure novels through the 60s and 70s, under numerous pseudonyms and house names. Most of them would be hit and miss. My main complaint with many of them was his lack of knowledge of the countries where his stories were set; usually the settings seemed false. But in “Under Cover of Night” he knowledge of Korea appears very believable, and I’m guessing he spent time in Korea, or knew someone that had. Although the story fairly slow, the characters were interesting, and it was definitely a fun read.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Danger In Paradise

Danger In Paradise by A. S. Fleishman. (Gold Medal Books, 1953) Jeff Cape, an oil geologist recently of Java, is on a stopover in Buleleng, Indonesia, on his way back to America. While the boat is in Port for a few hours, he decides to get a beer at Father Jon’s Bar. He’s approached by a beautiful woman he suspects is a White Russian; she wants him to carry a message to the CIA for her and gives him a card. It’s written in Russian, so he can’t read the message. Leaving the bar he sees a fat man trailing him, and decides to ditch the tail, but misses the boat, and has to hide. Things get worse, and he wants to find the girl again, but others are searching for her too.

This was very similar to those Dan Cushman novels, but without the great dialogue Cushman was noted for. Rebels are terrorizing the island, and someone is selling them guns. If the terrorists don’t kill him, the gunrunners might. A nice plot, with good action, and a fun read.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Hang Me In Hong Kong

HANG ME IN HONG KONG by Earl Norman. This is a Rick Shaw novel, published in 1976 by JADE ORIENT. Earl Norman (Norman Thompson) wasn’t a polished writer, but his novels set in Japan and Hong Kong were lots of fun. Thompson, a karate black belt himself, wrote excellent fight scenes, with some nice plots. Berkley Books published six of his Burns Bannion novels in the US, then Norman self published five of them in Japan, plus three not released in the US, and sold them through the military bases PX and Stars & Stripes to US military personnel in the Orient. Nine novels in all, featuring Burns Bannion, then a final novel featuring Rick Shaw that is extremely rare. Does anyone have this book for sale, trade, or will photocopy it for me if they don’t want to sell it?