Cabot Cain #2: “Assault On Ming” by Alan Caillou (Alan Samuel Lyle-Smythe). Cain is hired by an ex mobster, now going straight, whose daughter has been addicted to heroin by one of his old partners in the business. Now his daughter is missing, and he wants Cain to find her before Ming kills her. All may not be as it first appears. Ming’s headquarters is in Macao, and he has a large Chinese organization controlling the drug and smuggling in the East. Thinking that the girl is after Ming for what he has done to her, Cain hires an American prostitute in Hong Kong to impersonate her, hoping to draw Ming out of hiding to capture the bait. The prostitute comes with her own bodyguard, a small Chinese martial arts expert named Mai. Things immediately go haywire, and the prostitute is captured before Cain can put his plans in effect, and he and Mai now have to rescue the prostitute, and still find the missing girl. This was another topnotch story featuring Cabot Cain, a giant of a man in size, strength, and education. Although the author still hasn’t got his size straightened out. In issue #1, he went from 6’9” and 240 pounds one minute, to 6’7” and 210 pounds the next. In this novel, he’s 6’7” and 200 pounds. The actual description of thick legs, arms, chest, and shoulders sound more like the 240 that we first were told. But the stories are fantastic, and I hope we see more of Mai in future stories. She added some nice karate and judo action to this one.
Sunday, October 19, 2014
Sunday, October 12, 2014
The Girl Factory #1: “The Girl Factory” by Robert Franklin Murphy. Su-Lin is quickly tossed into a strange case when one of her friends, an independent agent, is murdered. Leaving her two pictures of what at first appear to be the same girl, but turns out to be a cloning process; one is real, the other a clone. And now someone wants Su-Lin Kelly dead.
The story starts out very similar to a Modesty Blaise adventure, but quickly turns into a Baroness adventure instead. There is lots of descriptive sex that has nothing to do with the story, and weakens the plot. She is as rich as Modesty and The Baroness, of course, but is supposed to be Chinese – or at least Eurasian. She has a Hawaiian maid, and two men, Zero and Joe Zen, also of Oriental background, I believe. Su-Lin was trained in the martial arts and the Kama Sutra in a Tibetan monastery, and equally expert in both. Yet, no one seems the least bit Asian. Marrying a rich spy, when he’s murdered she is left with money and his network of agents, and decides to follow in his footsteps. This was a fun read, and a good plot if you take out all the unnecessary sex and erotic scenes that distracts from the story.
Saturday, October 4, 2014
China Coaster by Don Smith. Captain Michael O’Connor has lived most of his life on the China coast, working on ships in some capacity, until becoming the captain of a ship owned by a Shanghai company. When the communists move into China, foreigners lose their standings unless they become Red. Mike finds himself without a ship, and out of a job. Then it gets complicated. A Russian agent believes he is an American spy and tries to kidnap him and take him to Russia, but he escapes. A White Russian girl hides him, and he cares a lot for her, but she is murdered by the Russian agent, and his only chance now is with the help of a Chinese gangster. Obtaining passage on a ship, he finds out too late that it’s rigged for a pirate take over. His suitcase contains weapons he wasn’t aware of, and when the pirates take control of the ship, he is forced to steer it to their coordinates. With other American and British on board, he must obey or the passengers could be killed. The pirates loot the boat of Red China gold, and take it ashore at Bias Bay, where it is then secreted away in care of the Chinese gangster. Now the book takes on the plot of “Lost Horizons”, as he is taken to a mountain valley ruled over by the pirates, and headed by Pao Chu, a 25-year-old beautiful American girl. She had been shipwrecked as a child, and a Mandarin (the Chinese gangster) had raised her as his daughter. They fall in love and he wants to take her to San Francisco, and leave China waters, but first he wants to kill the Russian agent who had murdered the girl in Shanghai. He goes after the Russian, and while away, the Chinese gangster dies, and chaos reigns in Chingfoo, the Shangri-la-like village. Returning for his love, Pao Chu, he finds one of the pirates in charge, holding her a prisoner. Now they must escape this paradise and make their way to Hong Kong and America, if they don’t get killed first. This was an action-packed novel, and predates the author’s more popular Secret Mission spy series. The story is copyright 1952, but my copy is dated 1953. A good plot, and a fun read.
Saturday, September 27, 2014
Nick Carter #6: “Saigon” by Michael Avallone/Valerie Moolman. Madame Claire La Forge, the widow of French intelligence agent La Petite Fleur, still cares for their plantation in North Vietnam, with her trusted bodyguard, Saito, a Japanese servant. When a French agent stumbles into her plantation, dying, he claims to have a hidden message for Intelligence, and she sends Saito to Saigon to contact the French Intelligence Service. Hawk is also notified, and with Nick Carter already in Vietnam disguised as a doctor with the World Health Organization, he is alerted to respond to the case. This was a topnotch Killmaster story. It appears there is some question about the authorship, however. Michael Avallone submitted “Saigon”, as the third story in the new series, but it was delayed until the sixth issue, with Valerie Moolman taking over the writing of the series from Avallone. “Run Spy, Run” was the first book in the series, and a good entry by Avallone, but his second story, “China Doll” was awful. I’m guessing that he was fired after “China Doll”, and “Saigon” was turned over to Valerie Moolman for rewrite. “Saigon” seems all hers, though she may have used Avallone’s original concept, but heavily rewrote the manuscript. Very little, if anything, seems to remain of Avallone’s writing in this one.
Sunday, September 14, 2014
Mark Hood #13: “The Invisibles” by James Dark (James E. M MacDonnell). Mark Hood is sent to a small Caribbean island where he encounters voodoo and murder. Intertrust believes someone on the island may be building a nuclear bomb. What he finds is Shango, the power behind the island voodoo, and possessor of a heat-exchanger unit powered by nuclear fission. This machine can create hurricanes, and Shango wants to blackmail the world with his power. This is a nice entry, with some good karate to take care of the bad guys. A fun read over all.
Saturday, September 6, 2014
Kill Me In Roppongi & Kill Me In Atami
Burns Bannion #9: “Kill Me In Roppongi” by Earl Norman (Norman Thompson). In this final novel of the “Kill Me In …” series, Hedges sends ex-Stars & Stripes newspaperman, Addis Racquets to him for help. Racquets now runs his own small paper, and has received a death threat along with an ad. He hires Bannion to answer the ad, and find out what’s going on. Although Inspector Izawa and Hedges are mentioned, they have no active part in this story. It involves the IOON (International Order of Nationalists) Nazi organization. They are running an illegal abortion scheme in Japan, bringing women from all over the world that need an abortion, then blackmailing them to work as their sex spies. Unfortunately, this was the final Burns Bannion novel. Not a great series, but definitely a fun one with sex and karate as the main theme. The series was published by Berkley in the U.S., but distribution in the Far East must have been poor, so Norman Thompson, who had contacts with the military and Stars & Stripes, had the series printed by a Japanese publisher under his ERLE BOOKS Logo. This enabled him to get his books on the racks in the PX system of military bases, where millions of G.I.s became familiar with them. I don’t know if Berkley was aware of this double-dealing or not. Sadly, the ERLE Editions seem to have been printed without editing or proofing, so there are many typos in them. If readers have a choice, buy the American editions published by Berkley instead. Actually, I’m not sure if Berkley even published the last two stories or not. This one is only 49k, kind of short for a paperback. I have a pdf of this one for trade.
Burns Bannion #6: “Kill Me In Atami” by Earl Norman (Norman Thompson). This one could have been a Bud & Lou comedy film. Bannion is hired by a wealthy widow, Mrs. Hikonami. She wants a renter removed from her estate. Legal action would take years, but she wants Bannion to see that he leaves early, even if it means a karate chop to back of the neck. But there’s more to the case, as he soon finds out. The widow’s husband was murdered by a karate blow to the back of the head, forcing the head into a sharp instrument, but everybody says it was a suicide. En route to the estate, Bannion picks up a ‘wooley booger’ girl (read the book to find out) who loves sex, but someone hangs him and pins a suicide note on his chest. Arriving at the mansion, he finds the widow’s sister, Fujiwara, and Mrs. Hikonami’s daughter, Asako. The three women are exact images of each other. Over the next three nights, the power goes off, and one of them enters his room to seduce him, but he never knows which one. Except that it isn’t the 300-pound maid, who also knows karate. There are hidden passages behind a bookcase, tunnels beneath the mansion, and monsters lurking about the tunnels and an abandoned sanitarium nearby. More supposed suicides happen, men hanging in the tunnel, and Bannion’s wooley booger girl inside the sanitarium. This is one of my favorites in the series. Thought Hedges is mentioned, he isn’t in this story. Inspector Ezawa introduces Bannion to Mrs. Hikonami, and then we don’t see him any more. Oddly, this is the only Burns Bannion novel not reprinted in the ERLE Edition in Japan. It’s only available in the American Berkley 1962 printing. I might add at this point that the Berkley editions were well edited, while the Japanese ERLE editions were not. This Berkley edition paperback is for trade.