The Prefect Plot by Glen Canary.
Pinnacle Books, Copyright 1974
Looking at the cover, I thought this was going to be something similar to "The Destroyer" or "The Butcher" series. It is not. It's an interesting international suspense story, that starts in a prison in the USA and ends in the Middle East.
After botching a bank robbery, Alan Prefect and his wife Ann are doing twenty years in prison. A secret U.S. agency offers them a deal-help out Uncle Sam and you're free from your prison sentence. They are to infiltrate an extreme Muslim terrorist group in the Middle East and obtain information about a planned detonation of nuclear bombs in L.A. and NYC. The agency makes it looked like they escaped from prison, and are on the run with $500,000 in cash to "buy-in" to the Muslim terrorist group.
It may sound a little far fetch, but it works. Plenty of twists and turns. People are not what they make out to be and groups have other agendas then what you expect. Alan Prefect is by no means a hero-type. In fact he is a mild, unsuccessful writer. He's stuck in the middle between two powerful organizations and even commits adultery while his wife is kidnapped. The secret government characters come off convincing. And, there is a Bin Laden type called Mahdi, leading the terrorist group. Written in 1970's, the terrorists come off a bit soft compared to what is happening in the Middle East today. Also, the ending has a little letdown, mainly because everything works out for Alan Prefect. But, it doesn't take away from the novel.
Glen (Glenn) Canary is a pretty good writer. I know he wrote some short stories in the 60's for Manhunt and AHMM. There are some other novels out there, two are the Monarch Books "The Damned and the Innocent" and "The Sadist" I liked his novel and would like to know whatever happened to him.
Monday, December 31, 2007
The Prefect Plot by Glen Canary.
Saturday, December 29, 2007
Old Time Radio - a trip back
There are many OTR sites on the web, but I've been visiting the OTR.Network Library lately. All free and stating they have over 12,000 shows. I'll download and listen when I have a long drive, raking leaves, taking a walk or sitting at home with the lights off. During times you need a hardboiled fix, this nostalgic media provides it. Good scripts, sound effects and moody background music. The LUX Radio Theater has: The Maltese Falcon, The Thin Man, The Phantom Lady, Angels with Dirty Faces, This Gun for Hire, etc...
Adventures of Philip Marlowe
Adventures of Sam Spade
Broadway is My Beat
Richard Diamond, Private Investigator
The Mysterious Traveler
But there are so many more.....
The Appaloosa by Robert MacLeod.
Gold Medal s1330, Copyright 1963
Having seen the Brando movie many times, I decided to give the novel a read. I wasn't expecting anything great, I was wrong. The Appaloosa is a marvelous novel.
Matt Fletcher is a buffalo hunter, fighting off the Comanche and Cheyenne at Adobe Walls. He pulls out with an Appaloosa pony taken from a dead Comanche, which he plans to stud on his ranch.
Chuy Medina, a Mexican gun-hawk, admires the pony and wants it. Fletcher ragged from his journey from Adobe Walls, shows the power of the buffalo gun to change Chuy's mind. Eventually, Chuy steals the pony off his ranch to save face. Fletcher sets out on a journey to retrieve the horse and his dignity.
It's a wonderful story. From the Texas Panhandle to the deserts of Mexico, descriptions of the landscape are beautifully told. MacLeod historically tells of the Battle at Adobe Walls, using men who actually fought the battle in the story. What makes "The Appaloosa" special is how Fletcher confronts relationships. Relationships between a man against a man, a man hoping for prosperity through the pony and a relationship between Fletcher and Trini, a Mexican whore-which is heartwarming. Traveling to Mexico and returned to Texas with the pony, we see Fletcher fighting inner conflicts within himself. During the final "shoot out", we witness him confronting them.
Plenty of action and violence in the novel. Which is pretty descriptive for the date it was written.
I believe, Robert MacLeod only wrote a handful of western books. I grab them, when I see them.
Note: As for the movie, The novel (as always) is better.
Friday, December 28, 2007
The Fugitive -starring David Janssen
Unbelievable. Started the Season One, Vol. 1 series (Christmas present) and can't keep the DVD player off. The 60's had the best TV dramas and this may have been the best. Created by the great Roy Huggins, The Fugitive ran from 1963-1967. The B/W cinematography creates a moody, shadowy and bleak atmosphere for the world of Richard Kimble. He goes on his lonely journey, job-to-job, city-to-city to find the murderer of his wife-while being compulsively hunted by Lt. Gerard . Approx. 50 min. per episode, with William Conrad narration. Each episode Act I, Act II, Act III, Act IV and Epilogue-fine memories came back. Great guess stars. The first episode "Fear in a Desert City" has Vera Miles and Brian Keith in it. Keith playing a real bad dude. Of course, we have David Janssen as Kimble-nuff' said.
I hear Season One, Vol. 2 comes out in Feb. 2008. As for Roy Huggins, don't miss reading his 1946 novel "The Double Take." It's a good Hardboiled PI story.
All we need now is for "Harry O" to be released on DVD. Please........
Wednesday, December 26, 2007
I was reviewing a list of all the famous people that passed away in 2007, one man shined above the rest-Paul Tibbets. Tibbets was the commander and pilot of the Enola Gay, the B-29 Superfortress that dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima in the final days of World War II. Like many of our fathers and grandfathers, he lived in a time that is forgotten by many now and removed from history books in public schools. Men like Tibbets were given missions and they performed their duties with honor and high distinction. Yet later in life, he unfairly became a target by anti-American and anti-war activists for performing his duty for his country.
Years ago, I read Bob Greene's excellent book "Duty: A Father, His Son, and the Man Who Won the War." The book parallels Greene; understanding and paying tribute to his late father, with understanding the life and career of Paul Tibbets. It's a fine read for anyone who had a father in WWII, to understand the times they had to live in and get a true picture of the man-Paul Tibbets. It hit home to me because my father was in the 40th Infantry Division. They were to be one of the first troops to hit the beach in the invasion of Japan under Operation Olympic. Japan refused to surrender. Projected American casualties for the invasion were 400,000 to 800,000. Japanese fatalities were projected as five to ten million. Because of Tibbets and his crew members, many lives were saved. Japan surrendered and the invasion did not have to take place.
“I viewed my mission as one to save lives,” Tibbets said. “I didn’t bomb Pearl Harbor. I didn’t start the war, but I was going to finish it.” “There is no morality in war. A way must be found to eliminate war as a means of settling quarrels between nations.”
As Bob Schieffer stated so well; "Tibbets became a national hero, and he expressed no regrets, then or later. He felt the bomb had saved more lives than would have been lost had the war gone on. But as the years passed, the bombing became so controversial that he asked that he be cremated when he died for fear protesters would deface a gravestone. In a nation where the median age is now 35, the name Paul Tibbets meant nothing to many. Yet, when he died, his passing drew little comment. His obituary was buried deep inside the major newspapers, and TV gave his passing less coverage than the death of singer Robert Goulet. Not so for those of a certain age. For us, it is a somber reminder that the war we can still remember is getting to be a long time ago".
God Bless Paul Tibbets
Murder in the Raw by Bruno Fischer.
Gold Medal #694, Copyright 1957
"The first time I saw her she was in trouble" opens this Bruno Fischer novel and the vacationing Clem Prosper gets his own troubles throughout the 157 pages. Fischer uses his standard plot that made him successful with Gold Medal-average man relaxing away from the city, trouble falls in his lap and before he knows it there are tough guys pulling guns, a voluptuous widow, a wacko family and murder. This works again for the author. People are not what they seem to be and events in the past are not what we thought they were. Clem Prosper is not the strong hero type we see in books from this era. He has his flaws, comes across scared at times and has trouble understanding events that should be clear to him. Hey, Just like an average guy!
Not up to Fischer's best Gold Medal books: "House of Flesh" and "Fools Walk In". But still an enjoyable novel. If you read "The Lady Kills" or "Run For Your Life", this is on par.
I hear nice things about his last novel "The Evil Days." I have a copy and will give it a read in 2008. I've never been disappointed having read a Bruno Fischer novel.
Sunday, December 23, 2007
Dust Devils by James Reasoner.
Point Blank Press, Copyright 2007
What a story! I'm keeping this one on my shelf. This is fast action, in your face noir crime fiction. The reader meets Toby McCoy after thumbing a ride from a pickup driver and we go on a journey of violence, crime and bloody killings. It's 150 pages and moving faster than the classics from the 50's Gold Medal, Ace and Lion publications. But since it is 2007, Mr. Reasoner doesn't shy away from slapping us with intense aggressive destruction. (moral and physical destruction) Just when you think things are going to settle down, there is another twist and we start going again. There is a new type of femme fatale for modern crime fiction and James Reasoner busted it wide open! For the sake of anyone who hasn't read "Dust Devils" yet, I will not reveal any of the plot-line in this blog. Let's hope James Reasoner writes more Texas crime novels in the future. As the years go by, we will be calling this a vintage hardboiled classic.
Note: I'm probably the only one out there that hasn't read "Texas Wind". I'll take any suggestions on how to get a hold of a copy. I hear finding an original copy is impossible.
Visited the local Salvation Army store and picked up the following 2 hardcovers for a buck.
Ride the Pink Horse by Dorothy Hughes. I saw the Robert Montgomery movie a few times and really enjoyed it. I never read any of Hughes books, but I heard good things about her. Will have to read this over the winter.
Grave Error by Stephen Greenleaf. Another author that I haven't read yet. The series has very good reviews. After glancing through the book, John Marshall Tanner might deserve a read. If anyone has thoughts on the novel and series, drop me a note.
Secret Agent X-9 Just finished the 13 Chapter DVD serial . This was the second serial from 1945, there was an earlier one from 1937 with Scott Kolk as SECRET AGENT X-9. (different storyline) Lloyd Bridges is the title character in this one and you can't take it too seriously-but it was fun and had a noir-ish style. Might check out the earlier serial. Yearly, I will view 2-3 movie serials from that era. Since each chapter is approx. 15 min. , you can fit them in your schedule. Knowing that Dashiell Hammett and Alex Raymond created SECRET AGENT X-9 as comic strip, I sent for some reprints of the early strip. Hope they are as good as Lee Falk's The Phantom daily strips.
Dick Tracy Films from the 1940s
Went to a "dollar store" and found a DVD that featured all four Dick Tracy movies from the 40's. Dick Tracy Detective, Dick Tracy vs. Cueball, Dick Tracy's Dilemma and Dick Tracy Meets Gruesome. I enjoyed them as a kid when I first saw the films on TV and I know I'll enjoy them again. Ralph Byrd played DT on the last three and Morgan Conway on the first. DT Meets Gruesome is the best of the four, with Boris Karloff playing Gruesome. It is film noir and not a bad movie.
Whatever happened to Hollywood
Didn't get a chance to see the Coen's "No Country For Old Men", wasn't playing in our area. Cormac McCarthy's novel was the best book I read in 2005. I've had it with Hollywood-I go to one movie a year (if that) A good movie like this should be shown in the major theaters. I guess people want to see crap......
Saturday, December 22, 2007
Stool Pigeon by Louis Malley.
Avon 551, Copright 1953
Whenever I find a hardboiled paperback that takes place during the Christmas season, I set it aside and save it for December to read. This is one of my favorites.
The setting is Little Italy in Manhattan and Detective Vincent Milazzo grew up in these tough streets. Someone blew the brains out of small time hood Tony Statella's head and guess who gets the case. It leads the Homicide Detective through hookers, rapists, junkies, dirty cops, dirty picture takers, stoolies, ex-cons, street punks and the neighborhood mob. This is all on Christmas Eve-talk about putting a damper on the festive season!
Reading, we discover that Detective Milazzo is also on a journey. One that starts with him telling himself, "He was getting tired. If they push too hard he'd tell them where they could stick his badge." Will he climb his way out of the urban filth, with its broken people in their dilapidated tenements?
Malley's creates a bleak, dirty and depressed setting for the streets of Little Italy in the early 50's. He does it so well, the reader wishes for snow to come to clean the place up.
This is an excellent novel.
Friday, December 21, 2007
The Big Caper by Lionel White
Gold Medal #470, Copyright 1955
Flood is a SOB, but he knows how to plan a bank heist. He sends his girl Kay and Frank Harper to Florida to play husband and wife, so they can case the job for a few months. Frank and Kay like the married couple routine, fall for each other and sort of want out of the bank job. But, they know once you're in with Flood, you have to follow it through ...or else. Flood arrives along with a couple of his "nasty" accomplices and things get moving.
In the 50's Lionel White wrote some of the best caper novels and this may be his best. The characters are realistic. The reader can sympathize with Frank and Kay, at the same time really hate everyone else involved in the caper. I always thought White's stories were like smashing two beer bottles against the wall. One bottle being the people stuck in a situation they want out of and the other bottle being the evil guys keeping them in that situation. The reader finds them mixed together dripping to the floor.
Also, Lionel White's cop-turned-bad stories are excellent, especially "To Find a Killer" & "The Money Trap."
Thursday, December 20, 2007
So Dark for April by John Evans
Short Short in Manhunt Feb. 1953
John Evans of course is the pseudonym for Howard Browne and he created on the the best PIs in literature-Paul Pine. Pine is more than your girls, guns, and guts PI, he cares about the people he gets involved with and the reader cares about him. He eats at the drugstore lunch counters, fires up the smokes and takes his lumps along the way.
"So Dark for April" came out in Manhunt in 1953. Browne published three Paul Pine novels before that: Halo in Blood (1946), Halo for Satan (1947), Halo in Brass. (1949) After the short story in Manhunt was published, Browne wrote the fourth and last Pine novel The Taste of Ashes (1957). All four novels are highly recommended.
As for "So Dark for April", Pine has to find a murderer to clear his name as the suspect. The short story is a gem that reads like one of Browne's Pine novels. I found it more hardboiled than the novels and I enjoyed that. As Pine finishes the case, the reader wonders why people do these things and risk losing so much. Few short stories can capture this. Manhunt had many great short stories throughout its publishing years and "So Dark for April" is one of the best.
I'm not one to recommend what others may want to read, but the Paul Pine series is excellent and classic noir literature. There is a line in Halo for Satan, "Whoever was behind the blackjack must have been an old hand at the game. I never heard a thing."
Well Mr. Browne I heard -loud and clear.....
Tuesday, December 18, 2007
Kiss The Babe Goodbye by Bob McKnight
ACE D-447, Copyright 1960
First novel I read by Bob McKnight. Fast paced and takes place in one day. Flyguy Jim Case is asked to look into the death of ex-friend Brad Bradley. The one doing the asking is Bradley's wife. We have smuggling, murder, guns, sleazebags and dames in this 112 page story. Since the story takes place in the late 50's South Florida, there are numerous references to the Cuban revolution and the Americans that ran planes in the area. Excellent rap-up in the 'Glades. I believe good stories should be told in less than 200 pages and this one delivers. Will be reading more of the ACE novels by Bob McKnight.
Note: The "flip" novel in the ACE Double is "The Hot Chariot" by J.M. Flynn. Another good author and more on him in the future.