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

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Omari And The People

“Omari And The People” by Stephen Whitfield. In The City, located on the sea of Providence, somewhere in the Empty Quarter of the Sahara Desert on the African continent, during the `13th Century, a rogue known as the Phantom Thief takes pleasure in robbing the wealthy ruling class; He lives high on his takings, as well, but has a good heart. An old woman in the square begs for food, which he buys for her when he visits the poor section. Returning to his home one night, he discovers that his wife has betrayed him, and has revealed his identity to the authorities. Burning his mansion, the fire also destroys The City. When he notices the old woman is still inside the flames, he rushes back to rescue her. Now he’s tasked with leading the survivors of The City to a fabled Paradise somewhere in the desert.
Omari was that mysterious thief, a young rogue, good with a sword and tricks, who enjoyed stealing the government’s tax money, even though he did not need it. But what, or who has chosen him to lead the exodus to the Promised Land? The handsome young rogue attracts the eye of a number of young women on the caravan, but he has fallen for Saba Khan, a warrior woman possessing some magic of her own, though the real magic belongs to the old woman he had saved from the fire.
This was a very interesting story, and kept my interest throughout. The characters were fascinating, the magic was brilliant, and the story telling was smooth.  Truthfully, however, I felt that Omari the Phantom Thief was more interesting than Omari the caravan leader. And at times the story does slow on the journey through the desert. This novel could have been serialized in ARGOSY or ADVENTURE in the 1930’s. There is no language, and sex is kept off screen.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Hard Latitudes

Mike Travis #4: “Hard Latitudes” by Baron R. Birtcher. May Ling is raped and held captive as a sex slave in Hong Kong. Unknown to her, this will culminate in violence and death as events move to the US, where she is to be a pawn in a deadly duel between the Chinese and a pharmaceutical giant.
Mike Travis Kamahale Van de Groot gave up his name and position in the Van de Groot family-empire to become his own man. After a career as a police detective in L.A., he moved to Kona, Hawaii to live on his sailboat. But trouble continues to follow him. His brother is his latest problem. Valden Van de Groot is a predator of women, and he’s in a mess again. It seems he picked up a 17-year-old girl in an L.A. hotel lounge, and their bedroom activity was videotaped. Now someone is blackmailing him for three million dollars, and Valden wants his brother to take care of the problem.
After taking care of the L.A. problem in the first half of the book, Mike Travis returns to Hawaii, where he encounters the pharmaceutical giant of industry, Phillip Lennox and his son, J.R. Someone has kidnapped J.R.’s son, and Phillip’s grandson, and J.R. wants Mike to find him. Now the three stories come together, as the boat May Ling is on flounders in the sea, and the crew has abandoned ship. It’s being towed to Hawaii, and may prove disastrous to Phillip Lennox’s empire, and Mike Travis fills in all the blanks from his brother’s blackmail to the child’s kidnapping, and the Chinese connection with Lennox’s pharmaceuticals and the tragic story of May Ling.

A very complicated plot that all comes together in the end. This story is well written, and keeps our interest with believable action, and memorable characters.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Tokyo Kill

Jim Brodie #2: “Tokyo Kill” by Barry Lancet. During WWII, Japanese soldiers occupying China hid the Last Emperor’s treasure, then it disappeared. Now, it appears some of the missing items have surfaced, and people are being murdered for the information. When an ex-Japanese soldier seeks help from Brodie Security, Jim Brodie reluctantly takes the case, not sure what his people can do. Some of the old soldiers are being murdered, along with their families, and he thinks he’s next. Putting guards on the old soldier, he’s shocked and amazed when the old man’s son is murdered. The signs point to Chinese Triads, but the Chinese say it’s not them. When Brodie breaks into a local Kendo club the son belonged to, he is attacked by men wearing masks, and beaten badly, throwing some suspicion on the martial arts club. Then he hears about a mysterious Japanese secret society called Black Wind that operated in China during the war.
This sequel to “Japantown” is another fast paced thriller with good action and mystery, and a nice twist at the end. I like the idea of these secret societies trained in killing techniques, and Japan seems to be filled with such groups. We get a lesson in Japanese and Asian culture, without it distracting from the pace of the story, and the author continues to introduce fascinating characters that I want to see more of, like the high ranking Chinese spy, and, of course, the new love interest for Jim Brodie. The story is not stuck in Japan, but moves to Miami and a South American country for the final confrontation with a sword-wielding master. Great action, good plot, and interesting characters. What more could the reader ask for? Highly recommended.