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

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Angkor Cloth Angkor Gold

Cambodia, An ancient Kingdom of Wonder. After the devastation of the Khmer Rouge regime, hundreds of thousands of refugees – victims and Khmer Rouge soldiers – flee into Thailand as the Vietnamese invade Cambodian in 1979. In the disorder of one refugee camp, a killer targets young women. But with so much chaos in the camps, nothing is done and no one seems to care. With many refugees expatriated to France, the killer is among them, and continues to strike, in Paris and across Europe. Three decades later, and two murders in Phnom Penh have the same modus operandi as those previous deaths. Could it be the same killer? Can Brigadier General Chamreun and Lieutenant Sophie Chang discover the murderer's identity before they claim another victim?

Angkor Cloth Angkor Gold (Murder Mystery)
By Steven W. Palmer
Saraswati Publishing Cambodia
Price $5.99 (Kindle)
196 Pages
Rating 5-Stars

Cambodia, 2017: The Minister calls in Brigadier General Hoen Chamreun, a young military man, and introduces him to young police officer, Sopheak Chang. They are being assigned to a recent murder case that may involve the killer of the Minister’s sister four decades earlier. The killer is targeting young Khmer prostitutes, and the modus operandi matches murders committed in Cambodia, Thailand refugee camps, France, and Italy. The minister’s sister was not a prostitute, but also killed by the same person. And he wants closure, and the murderer brought to justice.

This was an interesting case, both a current homicide and a cold case investigation, and the investigators dig into the background of the old murders, hoping to find some clue that will tie the person to the current murders. Chamreun is an experienced soldier who has made a name for himself and his unit, and now working with Sophie, a Cambodian that was raised in America and trained as a homicide detective before returning to Cambodia. Both are experienced and want to bring the case to a close.

Readers are cautioned to pay attention to the dates. I didn’t and was confused through half the story until I decided to go back and look at the dates. The investigators bring in Sue Chapman from Interpol, plus use a computer hacker to help uncover records not easily obtainable, and correlate lists of names into a possible list of suspects. The narrative has two main POVs, that of the murderer, and that of Chamreun, but head hop a few times to Sophie and Sue Chapman. I’ve read numerous murder stories set in Cambodia and Thailand, all set in the sex industry, but this novel is more in-depth than mere sex. It goes deeper into the criminal mind and why the killer is targeting prostitutes. The title gives us a clue, but I won’t go into that. Too much detail could give the story away. There is a nice twist at the end of the story. Highly recommended.

Tom Johnson


Sunday, October 7, 2018

No Shelter

Holly Lin is living two lives. To her friends and family, she's a pleasant, hardworking nanny. To her boss and colleagues, she's one of the best non-sanctioned government assassins in the world. 
But when a recent mission goes wrong causing one of her team members to die, she realizes she might no longer be cut out for the work — except the mission, as it turns out, is only half over, and to complete it will take her halfway across the world and bring her face to face with a ghost from her past. 
Things are about to get personal. And as Holly Lin's enemies are about to find out, she is not a nanny they want to piss off.

No Shelter (Spy/Assassin)
By Robert Swartwood
RMS Press
Price $15.00 (Paperback)
Price $      (Kindle)
338 Pages
Rating 4-Stars

In this first novel featuring Asian-American Holly Lin, we learn her background and that she works as an assassin for the government, her boss is Lieutenant-General (3 stars) Walter Hadden; she also is employed as his family’s nanny, which gives her total access to the general. She is the daughter of a Japanese mother and Chinese father. She had joined the Army after high school, and while overseas her friend was raped and beaten by a soldier. She took it on herself to get even when her friend committed suicide, and she was arrested for murder. General Walters got her out of jail and brought her to work for his assassin unit. This is a complicated plot in which her task originally was to retrieve a flash drive from an arms dealer and take him out. There was a party with prostitutes that night and she is brought in as one of them. After killing the arms dealer and his guards, she gets the flash drive and rescues one of the girls. The Mexican girl tells her there is a ranch holding thirty or more illegal Mexican girls slaves for prostitution, and she takes it on herself to rescue them. Naturally, this upsets a cartel and they want her dead. And so does terrorists who were after the flash drive that is now in the hands of the American government. People who are supposed to be dead show up very much alive, which complicates the plot – and her life – even more.

This is a good story with plenty of action, and Holly Lin takes a lot of beatings before it comes to an end. My one big complaint with the story concerns the character of Holly Lin. The author does everything right with her, but he fails making her a female Asian assassin, instead she comes across more as one of the boys. As good as this story is, I’m hoping the sequels bring out both her femininity and Asian background. There are male authors who write feminine leads quite well. For instance, Ian Hamilton’s Ava Lee; Thatcher Robinson’s Bai Jiang; The Black Stiletto by Raymond Benson; and K.W. Jeter’s Kim Oh. However, Holly Lin is highly recommended for its great plotting and action.

Tom Johnson


Wednesday, May 9, 2018

The Ming Inheritance

The Ming Inheritance (Murder Mystery)
By T. Hunt Locke
Independent Publishing Platform
ISBN #978-1482680638
358 Pages
Price $12.99 (paperback)
Price $3.99 (Kindle)
Rating 3-Stars

Sam Collins, a former Boston City police detective, is happily retired in Chiang Mai, Thailand when his world is turned upside down. Innocently helping a friend track down a colleague Sam suddenly finds himself entangled in a mystery over 600 hundred years old. From the picturesque mountains of Mae Hong Song to the seedy go-go bars of Pattaya, Sam is lured into a race against time and history

When a drug lord murders Detective Collins’ family, Sam Collins kills him vigilante-style, and is forced to retire from the Boston Police Department where he worked undercover to stop drug trafficking. Instead of retiring to Florida, where 99% of these retired police detectives seem to go, Sam goes to Thailand, and that caught my interest in the story, as I was tired of all the retired detectives in Florida and wanted to see if Thailand would work out. New York city attorney, Jon Brochstein also retires and moves to Thailand where he opens a private detective agency. He and Sam Collins are old friends. One of Jon’s local detectives is missing and Jon asks Sam to look into the case. Oddly there seems to be a buried treasure involved and people are being killed to protect the secret.

The novel is well written, but could have used an editor. The author turns this little mystery into a travelogue and history lesson of Thailand, which made me want to go back to the Florida detectives. I’m not sure how old Collins is supposed to be, but remember he’s retired from the Boston Police Department, plus he goes through several colleges for diplomas, so I’m thinking he’s no youngster; yet his description and actions make him sound young and vibrant. Big, tough, and handsome of course: all the girls want to make love to him. So there is lots of descriptive sex added to the story, giving even less space for the mystery. Plus his desire for messages throws the mystery even more into the background. Another point that upset me the author gives special names to the villains. The villains are Wayne Travers and William Attenborn; their special names are Tun Perak and Iskandar. So now we have to remember who’s who when these four names pop up. If that wasn’t bad enough we have Professor Jiriporn Chaisaen who is given the name of Ajarn Lak. Personally, I wasn’t impressed with this first Sam Collins mystery set in Thailand. I’m hoping the sequels are better. However, if you want to learn about Thailand and it’s ancient history, then I highly recommend this as a travelogue and history of the country, with a little murder on the side.

Tom Johnson

Thursday, April 19, 2018

The Garonsky Missile

Colonel Tobin’s Private Army #7: “The Garonsky Missile” by Alan Caillou. Colonel Matt Tobin was killed in battle during the last private war, and what’s left of the private army has drifted away. Major Paul Tobin, the colonel’s son, is living in California when an airline stewardess comes to his farm with news that Clara Abbyad, an Israeli female agent he worked with once, is in Cambodia en route to meet up with General Quong Trek, a ruthless military leader that kills and tortures people he doesn’t trust, or who don’t please him. Paul, afraid for her life, calls in Pamela George to find some of his men for a rescue mission. Soon he leads a handful of men, including a couple new soldiers, into Cambodia to find and rescue the girl. The final plot is weak, and though the do rescue the girl and kill the general, there isn’t much else accomplished. Besides Clara and Pamela, Paul Tobin, Rick Meyers and Cass Fragonard are all that’s left of the old crew. Two new men are brought in, Seth Karem and a pilot named Bob Fellowes. It was time the series came to an end.

Monday, March 26, 2018

PDF Copies

I’ve now got Earl Norman’s HANG ME IN HONG KONG, KILL ME IN YOKOSUKA, and KILL ME IN ROPPONGI in PDF format. It’s up to others to put the rest in PDF for the rest of us.