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Retirement. Publishers, thank you for the many years of reading pleasure you gave me, but all good things must come to an end. Due to failing eyesight I am forced to retire. I can no longer review your books, and any that you send will be donated to the local library, unread. Do not send any more. I can only read for a couple hours every day, and this does not allow me to finish a book in reasonable time. I will be devoting time to my own books from now on, and reading on a personal level. Books that interest me. I prefer paperbacks and hardbacks, not eBooks. My eyesight has been failing the last few years, and I cannot handle hundreds of review books any more. My books are still available for review. Anyone interested in reviewing any of them, they are found in the Link to Tom’s Books On Amazon. Contact me for pdf copies at

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Glamour of Crows

Clamour of Crows is a brilliantly crafted modern morality play that charts the life and curious death of the legendary entrepreneur Ben Baum, replete with mayhem, mystery and, perhaps, murder. The novel's reluctant protagonist, Jonathan Tucker, finds himself drawn into a maze of deception, death and betrayal. Having lost the only things that matter, he is induced by his mentor to reengage with his former Wall Street law firm.

Tuck, as he is called, has to develop skills he never possessed, just to stay even with an unknown adversary in the world of Big Law, bigger business and international chicanery. Ingeniously told, this saga blends elements of classic literature with nonstop action across two continents, taking you to the edge of your emotions and reeling you back, without ever losing its sense of humor and style. Peppering his story with allusions to the world's most adored children's classics, the author explores the height of greatness and the depth of evil. In Clamour of Crows, Ray Merritt has created a witch's cauldron of intrigue, betrayal and unnecessary deaths, as he explores the dark side of human nature and the fundamental essence of family and forgiveness.

Clamour of Crows (Corporate Mystery)
By Ray Merritt
Permanent Press
ISBN #978-1579624422
Price $29.95
304 Pages
Rating 4-Stars

“Creative Storytelling”

Jonathan “Tuck” Tucker has been asked to rejoin his Wall Street law firm. There is some international problems with the death of Ben Baum, whether murder or happenstance. With new skills he attempts to do just that by unraveling a mystery in corporate law that crosses several nations. This was a fun story; though corporate law mysteries are not a genre I really care for. But the author weaves an interesting tale while blending elements of children’s classic literature along the way. This is a good mystery with many twists and creative storytelling. Highly recommended.

Tom Johnson

Monday, August 14, 2017

South California Purple

The year is 1973, and the last of America's soldiers are returning home from Vietnam, often shouted down and spat upon by protesters, while the first toxic cracks of public mistrust have begun to appear at the highest levels of government. The American Indian Movement has entered into a bloody occupation of Wounded Knee, gas shortages have pushed the economy into deep recession, and violent civil unrest is captured in living color and televised nightly on the evening news. But rural Meriwether County, tucked away amid the sweeping river valleys and serrated mountain ridges of southern Oregon has been left largely untouched by time. Until now. Cattle rancher Ty Dawson, a complex man tormented by elements of his own past, is involuntarily conscripted to assist local law enforcement when a herd of wild mustangs is rounded up and corralled in anticipation of a government auction, igniting the passions of political activist Teresa Pineu, who threatens to fan the flames of an uprising that grows rapidly out of control. As the past collides with the present, and hostility escalates into brutality and bloodshed, Ty is drawn into a complex web of predatory alliances and corruption where he must choose to stand and fight, or watch as the last remnants of the American West are consumed in a lawless conflagration of avarice and cruelty. Set against the rugged backdrop of Oregon's vast ranchlands, South California Purples is a novel of loyalty, passion and murder, as seen through the eyes of a cast of unforgettable characters and crafted with lyrical prose and dialogue. It is the first in a new series that weaves together the sometimes poignant, often violent, strains of the 1970s and the human costs of a nation in transition.

South California Purples (Western/Thriller)
By Baron R. Birtcher
Permanent Press
ISBN #978-1579625009
Price $28.00 (hardback)
248 Pages
Earing 4-Stars

Cattle are being killed on ranches in Meriwether County in Oregon, and the corpse show strange injuries. Now the government is rounding up mustangs for auction, and government activist, Teresa Pineu has asked for help from a motorcycle gang, who are camping on her property. The sheriff conscripts Ty Dawson, a former captain in the military police during the Korean War, to help in law enforcement. It’s 1973, and the Vietnam War is winding down, Watergate is on the news, and the American Indian Movement has occupied Wounded Knee, and things are getting bloody everywhere. The sheriff is afraid the same thing will happen in Meriwether County.

The story is told in Three Parts; Part One, the first 62 pages sets the story up, introducing most of the main characters. The author’s writing is topnotch, but the first 62 pages were so slow I almost didn’t bother with the rest of the book. It does pick up speed with Parts Two and Three, but I didn’t find it as entertaining as HARD LATITUDES, his previous novel I read. Still, it is an interesting novel that depicts a slowly dying American way of life, when cowboys still rode the range on horseback instead of helicopters. Highly recommended.

Tom Johnson

Thursday, August 10, 2017

The Spawn of Lilithu

Deep in the haunted woods of the antediluvian world Thurl the Gaelg has stumbled upon an ancient inn that houses an evil born from the very pits of hell. With his wits and his mighty sword arm will the Gaelg find himself the next victim of The Spawn of Lilithu?

The Spawn of Lilithu
By William M. Hope
Independent Publishing Platform
Price $0.99
25 Pages

“In The Tradition of Robert E. Howard’s Conan”

Thurl the Hyperian is escorting the cleric, Amoras to Rhodiaes to negotiate the royal marriage between two empires. On the road they chance upon The Inn of The Crossroads, and against the warrior’s better judgment Amoras wants to spend the night. Thurl has trouble sleeping and hears sounds from the cleric’s room and when he crashes through the door he finds small creatures ripping the cleric’s body apart.

The innkeeper has adopted the children of Lilithu, from the legend of Cain and his brood of evil children. They use the inn to waylay strangers on the road, killing and eating their flesh. Thurl must find a way to destroy this evil horde.

In the tradition of Robert E. Howard’s Conan, the adventures of Thurl are exciting reads. Highly recommended.

Tom Johnson


Wednesday, August 9, 2017

A Taste of Blood And Ashes

When Nashville PI and horse whisperer Jared McKean is hired to investigate a suspicious barn fire, he finds evidence of soring, the practice of using painful shoeing or caustic chemicals to affect the gait of a Tennessee Walking Horse. But the owners, Zane and Carlin Underwood, are known anti-soring activists. Carlin's distress seems genuine, and Zane is confined to a wheelchair, paralyzed from the chest down during an attack by a frenzied stallion. Jared believes someone else is behind the arson.

Knowing the arsonist is almost certainly someone in community of those who breed and show Walking Horses, Jared and his new assistant, his half-sister Khanh, attend a local horse show in hopes of flushing out the culprit. There are suspects aplenty, including a groom on the run from a powerful cartel, a modern day robber baron, and a beautiful gold-digger whose dreams are filled with fire.

Secrets pile on top of secrets, and as Zane's memories of the events leading to his accident begin to return, the situation becomes deadly. Jared and Khanh find themselves in the crosshairs of a killer who will do anything to keep the past in the past.

A Taste of Blood And Ashes (Mystery)
By Jaden Terrell
ISBN #978-1579624354
Permanent Press
Price $26.83 (Hardback)
296 Pages
Rating 5-Stars

After reading the first story in the Jared McKean series, I was anxious to finally get to read this fourth book. Jared and his half-sister, Khanh, a Vietnamese girl his father sired, are still together, and she brings some humor to an otherwise very dramatic story line.  Jared is investigating a suspicious fire for an insurance company that killed several Tennessee Walking Horses. The case quickly turns into a murder investigation when human bones are also found.

Anywhere there is money to be made you will also find big crime and gangsters behind much of the happenings. It doesn’t take long for Jared and Khanh to become targets in someone’s sights.

I am against all sports that use animals for man’s enjoyment, and this book was hard for me to read because of the cruelty in this regard. The scene of the barn burning and the horses screaming and dying in the flames almost forced me to quit reading. But the book and the writing are both well conceived and plotted, and the author never fails to create a good mystery. I can recommend it highly for the mystery fan, but be aware of horrific scenes that may haunt you like it did me.

Tom Johnson


Monday, August 7, 2017

Manhattan Masquerade

Galen Slaughter and Joe Beringer are partners at the Greater Gotham Detective Agency. Although very different men in many ways, both are veterans of the World War who share a remarkable proficiency with fists and firearms. Their lives since the Armistice have been far from peaceful but the greatest challenge of all comes during the first fifteen days of 1933. At a time when the Depression is at its absolute worst they find themselves part of a small band of men and women tasked with protecting the unsuspecting millions of New York City from a mysterious new criminal organization. Outnumbered and out-gunned by gangsters and corrupted police officers alike, they must also contend with the bitter realization that even heroes have dark secrets.

Manhattan Masquerade (Mystery Thriller)
“Greater Gotham Detective Agency Book 1”
By Michael Howard
Independent Publishing Platform
ISBN # 978-1543158069
Price $15.99
638 Pages
Rating 5-Stars

“The Action Never Slows”

The New York underworld has a new crime mastermind calling himself Tanas Fericul (change the letters around and you get Satan Lucifer). Mobsters are disappearing, and the Mob is worried. Galen Slaughter of the Greater Gotham City Detective Agency is already working on the case for personal reasons. His partner, Joe Beringer is drawn into the case when Richard Whiting hires him to trail the beautiful heiress, Jessica Silverton. Then he discovers that his secretary, Betty Kern is secretly reporting to Whiting behind his back. And Linwood Hewitt’s Trans-Global Detective Agency also has agents working on the case.

This is a non-stop action thriller from the first page, and the action never slows down. It covers the first 15 days of January in 1933, and there is something going to happen on the last day. Not only is there a good mystery within the criminal element, there are things the detective agency wants kept hidden also. The story is steeped in foreign and national espionage.

The mysterious Wrath is back after years of silence, and could be a new person wearing strange costume. And who is the great American spy of WWI, known as The Peacemaker, and why is he involved. And if that wasn’t enough, the beautiful WWI spy known as R-1 is also involved some way. All right, I’m going out on a limb now. This has got to be the best new pulp novel for not only 2017, but possibly for the last decade. Not only is it a spy thriller, it is the shadow world of the 1930’s, and pulp heroes, all rolled into one. This novel should win all kinds of awards in the pulp community. Highly recommended.

Tom Johnson