Duane S. - Reviews

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Big Lobo
Big Lobo
Author: Marshall McCoy
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3/5 Stars.
 1
Review Date: 1/2/2010


If you like the reading-experience equivalent of watching an episode of a TV western from the late 1950s or early 1960s -- for example, a show like CHEYENNE or THE RIFLEMAN or MAVERICK -- you should try the novels of prolific Australian western writer Leonard Meares, who wrote around 700 novels under a variety of pseudonyms. One series, featuring Big Jim, or Nevada Jim, written under the Marshall McCoy name, is a great action series with well-defined characters that really captures that "TV show episode feeling within a mass market paperback cover." The action is swift, the pacing quick, the writing smooth and flowing. Big Jim is a tough, thoughtful but action-dominated character, whose description reminds me a lot of Cheyenne Bodie, played on TV by Clint Walker. The James Bama cover paintings are great complements to the writing and the well-plotted narratives. Great western entertainment in a small package!


The Bobby Jones Story: The Authorized Biography
The Bobby Jones Story: The Authorized Biography
Author: O. B. Keeler
Book Type: Hardcover
  • Currently 3/5 Stars.
 2
Review Date: 12/29/2011


Nice look at Bobby Jones. Not a scholarly biography about every bit of minutiae in his life, but a popular biography that most weekend golfers will enjoy.


The Brother's O'Brien (Brothers O'Brien, Bk 1)
The Brother's O'Brien (Brothers O'Brien, Bk 1)
Author: William W. Johnstone, J.A. Johnstone
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.8/5 Stars.
 15
Review Date: 4/14/2012
Helpful Score: 1


Good pacing, nicely drawn characters, evil villains, excellent action scenes, fine-flowing prose. This is the debut entry in a new series under the William W. Johnstone umbrella of books, and all the modifiers in the first sentence are great reasons to read this western. Set in an authentic historic period -- the great blizzards of 1886 and 1887 that wiped out a lot of the cattle ranches of the West -- the pseudononymous author of The Brothers O'Brien kicks off the family saga of a ranching dynasty with panache. There's pain and sorrow, joy, heroism, and humor. Recommended.


Buchanan Says No
Buchanan Says No
Author: Jonas Ward
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 2.8/5 Stars.
 2
Review Date: 7/1/2014


The second entry in the long-running western series about big, amiable, but deadly Thomas Buchanan is a diverting read. The character of Buchanan doesn't come across quite so strongly in this novel as in its predecessor, The Name's Buchanan, nor as in nearly all the subsequent books in the series. But Jonas Ward's excellent storytelling skills still come through to provide an entertaining tale. Ward is the pseudonym for accomplished writer William Ard, who created Buchanan as a series character for Gold Medal/Fawcett Books in 1956. (The first story in the series was filmed as a Randolph Scott movie, Buchanan Rides Alone.) Ard wrote the first five novels in the series, and Robert Silverberg finished the sixth after Ard's death. Brian Garfield wrote the sixth, Buchanan's Gun; William R. Cox, a very talented wordsmith, ably picked up the Buchanan reins and wrote the next 16 entries in the series. Buchanan Says No isn't the best story in the series, and might not be the best place for a newcomer to start the series, but anyone who's enjoyed a Buchanan novel in the past will enjoy renewing Buchanan's acquaintance in this tale.


Chance (Chance, No 1)
Chance (Chance, No 1)
Author: Clay Tanner
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.5/5 Stars.
 2
Review Date: 11/17/2008


While I expected this first entry in the CHANCE series to end up as a sort of MAVERICK knockoff, I was pleasantly surprised by the third chapter to see that I was wrong. Although the hero/featured character, Chance Sharpe, is, like the Maverick brothers, a professional gambler, his character is given a bit more depth and backstory than we ever receive for the television-series gamblers. I'd not heard of this 12-book series before, and after reading the first novel, I'm certainly going to be reading the rest. The author (Clay Tanner--a pseudonym of George Proctor) tells a well-paced, entertaining story with exciting action scenes and clever twists in a very readable style.


Devil Dog: The Amazing True Story of the Man Who Saved America
Devil Dog: The Amazing True Story of the Man Who Saved America
Author: David Talbot
Book Type: Hardcover
  • Currently 3.3/5 Stars.
 2
Review Date: 7/13/2011


Well-written, fast-paced, very readable narrative about Smedley Butler, a multi-medalled Marine who served as the 19th Century turned to the 20th in a variety of battlefields: China, Haiti, the Bonus Army, Nicaragua, and more. An interesting look at a period of U.S. history that doesn't get covered very well in schools today.


The Devil Thumbs a Ride and Other Unforgettable Movies
The Devil Thumbs a Ride and Other Unforgettable Movies
Author: Barry Gifford
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.8/5 Stars.
 3
Review Date: 6/26/2008


Excellent collection of short essays about classic noir films by a hard-boiled writer whose work includes the screenplay for David Lynch's film WILD AT HEART.


The Flood (HALO, Bk 2)
The Flood (HALO, Bk 2)
Author: William C. Dietz
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.7/5 Stars.
 72
Review Date: 9/28/2016


If you like reading a real-time videogame experience, this may be the book for you. After reading The Fall of Reach, this book was a letdown. Mostly a narrative of advancing and shooting and exploding. Little character engagement. Little development of how this story fits into the larger scope of the war with the Covenant. Little-to-no exploration or evaluation of just what the Halo structure may be. Hardly an engaging story on its own, but it does fit in to the longer, more expansive Halo universe, so completists will be interested. But if you are looking for the usual space opera genre's tropes, you will be disappointed.


For The Brand
For The Brand
Author: David Robbins
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.7/5 Stars.
 10
Review Date: 12/2/2009


Good, satisfying story about a busted bronc buster who learns to appreciate life again. Fine writing by David Robbins, who has proved his hand at entertaining frontier action with his Wilderness series and many other books.


Hal Foster: Prince of Illustrators Father of the Adventure Strip
Review Date: 3/16/2015


Hal Foster worked during the Golden Age of newspaper comic strips -- what we called the Funny Pages in my youth (which was long after that Golden Age) during Foster's tenure works of art on each newsprint page. Foster's lovely work with pen and ink and brush was closer to that of the turn-of-the-century illustrators, such as N.C. Wyeth, Howard Pyle, Frank Schoonover, Harvey Dunn, Charles Russell, among others. He is notable for being the first artist to draw the Tarzan comic strip, which had as vigorous a popularity as Edgar Rice Burroughs' novels and the many films about the Ape Man. Foster's greatest creation, of course, was Prince Valiant. His careful storytelling combined with his beautiful artwork to build something absolutely remarkable and unique in the history of comic strips. This book offers many, many examples of his work, and is a delight to view.


Honey West: A Kiss For a Killer (Honey West)
Honey West: A Kiss For a Killer (Honey West)
Author: G.G. Fickling
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3/5 Stars.
 2
Review Date: 8/8/2009


I remembered Honey West as a TV show from my childhood. Thanks to Overlook Books, now I know it was based on a series of tough guy . . . tough gal? . . . private eye novels. Fans of Mickey Spillane's 1950s Mike Hammer novels will recognize the hard-boiled formula at work in this tale, and it works nicely. Bits that may have seemed titillating to readers at the time of its original publication may seem tame today, but this is an entertaining PI novel. Fans of classic paperback illustration will also appreciate the publisher's using the original Robert McGuire cover painting.


How to Read a Book: The Classic Guide to Intelligent Reading
Review Date: 5/23/2013
Helpful Score: 1


The search for truth was the end of education for 2500 years -- the Greeks, the Romans, the ages -- sought to answer the timeless questions about existence. That search for truth has nothing to do with Faust and ultimate knowledge. The rigors of analysis have to be lost on two or three generations of students who have been taught by higher criticism that THEY infuse other people's works with meaning. Adler speaks another language -- a rich one that the starving postmodern mind can't even taste.


The Kill Artist (Gabriel Allon, Bk 1)
The Kill Artist (Gabriel Allon, Bk 1)
Author: Daniel Silva
Book Type: Mass Market Paperback
  • Currently 3.9/5 Stars.
 155
Review Date: 3/18/2009
Helpful Score: 7


A nice introduction to Silva's series of Gabriel Allon books. It gives a good perspective of the intelligence world and Israel's security concerns from the non-British, non-U.S. perspective, which provides a change of pace from most spy novels. Well written, with a good sense of pace and well-developed characters.


MUSTANG MEN
MUSTANG MEN
Author: Thorne Douglas
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 4/5 Stars.
 1
Review Date: 4/10/2012


This is solid western fare from Ben Haas (Thorne Douglas is a pseudonym) in his Rancho Bravo series of novels published by Fawcett Gold Medal. Haas was an accomplished novelist in a number of genres, but his westerns are usually excellent. The characters here are dynamic and interesting, and the action scenes are exciting. Haas/Douglas builds a vivid, believable frontier world here. There's no continuity worries here, so you don't have to have read other entries in the Rancho Bravo series to enjoy this fine read.


The Night of the Coyotes
The Night of the Coyotes
Author: Philip Ketchum
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3/5 Stars.
 3
Review Date: 4/10/2012


I'd heard that Philip Ketchum was a good writer, and this novel -- the first by him I've read -- confirms it. This is a solid western focused on the sheriff-holding-off-a-lynch-mob plot. Ketchum proves to be an accomplished storyteller by taking a familiar plot and turning it into an exciting, vivid tale filled with interesting characters with well-drawn personalities.


The Odyssey : Revised Prose Translation
Review Date: 7/9/2010


The first Western classic from which all other Western canon classics come. The translation that was the first Penguin Classic. This book is a must-have for any serious literary library.


Old Boys
Old Boys
Author: Charles McCarry
Book Type: Hardcover
  • Currently 4.1/5 Stars.
 6
Review Date: 10/4/2008
Helpful Score: 1


McCarrys writing style follows the pulp-style tradition, the non-florid (but not so spare as to be gaunt) but clean and smooth style of writers like Dashiell Hammett, George F. Worts (Im thinking of the Peter the Brazen stories in Argosy), Theodore Roscoe, Talbot Mundy, Georges Surdez, and innumerable PBO (paperback original) authors for Gold Medal and other publishers (such as John D. MacDonald, Charles Williams, Dan Marlowe, Edward S. Aarons, Donald Hamilton and others).

And McCarry gets kudos even from someone like Eric Ambler, no slouch in the thriller department. Old Boys seems to wrap up a loose series of books about spy Paul Christopher and his nephew, spy Horace Hubbard. (The first of these books, The Miernik Dossier, was also McCarrys first novel.) However, one doesnt have to read the entire series and know all the backstory to read and enjoy Old Boys. As noted, it was the first McCarry book I read, and I picked up all the character history I needed during the course of the narrative to rave about it here. Ill be going on the hunt for McCarrys other novels now.


The Saga of King Hrolf Kraki (Penguin Classics)
The Saga of King Hrolf Kraki (Penguin Classics)
Author: Anonymous
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.2/5 Stars.
 3
Review Date: 9/27/2012


Although shorter than most sagas, this pre-Viking Age tale is filled with the elements that make sagas exciting reading: bigger-than-life warriors, bloody battles, supernatural evil, generational feuds. This is an excellent introduction to the saga form for anyone who hasn't yet dipped their reading toes into these deep literary currents.


Showcase Presents: Enemy Ace
Showcase Presents: Enemy Ace
Author: Robert Kanigher, Joe Kubert
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 4.5/5 Stars.
 1
Review Date: 3/18/2015


One of the excellent war series from DC Comics, and perhaps the best of their air-war series characters. Excellent writing from Robert Kanigher, DC's top war-comics scripter for many years. Enemy Ace has been, overall, well-served by excellent artists since the character's creation, with Joe Kubert, of course, topping the list. I was surprised George Evans didn't appear in these pages, because George had a great affinity for WWI aviation stories and art. Excellent volume. Recommended.


Showcase Presents Jonah Hex, Vol 1
Review Date: 8/14/2011


After reading these stories, it's clear to see how the present Jonah Hex series from DC Comics stays true to the vision that originally launched the character. The influence of the Spaghetti Western is obvious in these stories about the wandering bounty hunter -- the first comic book western to demonstrate that influence, but not the last. Fun reading for fans of western comics.


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