Charge!(Campa Carogna… La Taglia Cresce)1973


429px-Campa_carogna..._la_taglia_cresce_articleBy 1973, even the boost from the comedic Trinity films had started to wear thin. Fewer spaghetti westerns were being made and even fewer really good ones. CHARGE!(This was the U.K> title. I liked it better than the American one, THOSE DIRTY GUYS, which had a, I don’t know, comedic bent that didn’t fit) was a movie that starred Stephen Boyd and Gianni Garko(billed as Johnny Garko). Boyd plays Captain Chadwell, sent by President Garfield to help stop Mexican bandits and a leftover crackpot General from the Maximillian years who worshiped Napoleon. Garko is a Muslim, Koran quoting bounty hunter known only as Korano.

Chadwell is accompanied by two men: Lt, Younger(Howard Ross) and a black449526_2616ac enlisted man, Corporal Washington smith(Harry Baird).

They arrive in time to find a massacred troop and missing munitions(two hundred rifles, two gatling guns, and two hundred thousand rounds of ammunition. Thr troop had been slaughtered by an outlaw band led by Angelo Sanchez(Simón Andreu). Also taken was the blonde daughter of the fort’s doctor, Miss Adams(Teresa Gimpera).

Carogna3b (1)The three army men are out to find the arms and rescue the woman. Korano is onlt interested in Angelo Sanchez, specifically the thousand on his head.

This wasn’t a great film, but not bad. It tried to be too many things, even a couple of minor comedy bits, to be completely satisfying. It did have pretty good music with the theme song sung by star Stephen Boyd.

Korano, as happened in a lot of these spaghetti westerns used some exotic weapons: a machine gun in the shaft of his sun umbrella and a long rile that appeared to shoot sticks of dynamite without them having to be lit.


FFB: Calypso – Ed McBain



Knocked out another of the 87th Precinct series. Five more, all early ones, to4133204 complete the series.

In CALYPSO, the so-called King of Calypso music is murdered headed home from his latest gig. His manager is also shot, but he survives because the shooter ran out of information. A few hours later a hooker is killed with the same gun.

Steve Carello and Meyer Meyer catch the case and start looking into it. It takes a few days for them to connect the two cases. About the same time as someone finishes the job on the manager.

The only ID Carello and Meyer got for the shooter was a pair of skinnt kegs in black pants. The manager had had eyes only for the gun aimed at his head. The fact that it was in the middle of a driving rain storm, which continues for days, didn’t help matters.

The Calypso singer apparently was single minded about his career and not especially liked. Which only widened the field of suspects.

Another winning entry in the 87th series.

Truth Insurrected: The Saint Mary Project – Daniel P. Douglas



23363534Let me start by saying that TRUTH INSURRECTED doesn’t read like a first novel. The author’s style and pacing kept me flipping through the pages. A fairly long book, 462 pages, it actually seemed much shorter. Good books will do that and then one can’t help but be disappointed it’s finished. But there will be his next book to look forward to picking up.

Private eye William Harrison, ex-FBI because of a bullet would that partially crippled one leg, begins getting mail from a “Deep Throat” type who calls himself Echo Tango, ET for short.

Harrison gets pulled into a six decade cover-up going all the way back to Roswell, New Mexico. Those behind it are ruthless in their zeal to keep it all under wraps. Getting help from old friends to try to uncover the mess, he learns things that involve his own family’s past.

Terrific science fiction thriller. Look forward to Daniel P. Douglas’s future works. Can be ordered here.

Island of Lost Women(1959)

220px-MesalostwomenISLAND OF LOST WOMEN was one of those male fantasy films of the fifties. Young, virile men discover an island with three beautiful young women who’d never seen young men before and were fascinated. Come to think of it, that same fantasy probably fills young men’s minds today.

Mark Bradley(Jeff Richards) is a radio commentator being flown to Australia by his pilot Joe Walker(John Smith). Richards was a former baseball player and Smith is probably best known for his western series Laramie. A typhoon forces their plane off course and damages one engine. Looking to ditch in the Pacific, thy spot an unknown island and head for that. A voice comes over the radio, a male voice, warning them away, with the possibility of their destruction if they don’t comply. They have no choice but to land on the beach.

There they meet an old man played by Alan Napier, best known as Alfred on the Batman series, who agrees to let them fix the engine. then They must leave.

Only they find he has three beautiful daughters, each name after one of the220px-Island_of_Lost_Women_FilmPoster planets: Venus (Venetia Stevenson), Urana (Diane Jergens), and Mercuria (June Blair). All lovely and all dressed in modest dresses, by today’s standards anyway, with very short skirts that showed a lot of leg. Blair played a sixteen year old temptress who was a bit jealous of her older sisters. She was a former Playmate of the month who later married David Nelson and joined the Ozzie & Harriet show.

The old man, they learned was Dr. Paul Lujan, one of the scientists on the Manhattan Project, who became disillusioned when Hiroshima was bombed. He’d been told it was to be only a threat. He’d moved his family to the island to continue his work. His wife had passed years ago. His disappearance had caused a manhunt at the time. So he was big news and Bradley wanted to get away to reveal his presence.

downloadLujan had a number of devices he developed on the island. One was a converted Luger with a large barrel and a canister mounted under it. He called it a flamethrower, but it projected a sort of ray with which he destroyed their plane and threatened their lives. He also had a nuclear reactor in a cave where he was making U-235 in an improved manner over standard methods.

Science is a bit iffy in this one.

A battle with a shark that threatens Venus has Bradley wrestling,then killing it with a knife. Stock footage must have been used for parts as the size and species kept changing in early swimming scenes. And I swear Bradley was either wrestling a fake shark, or one already dead, in the climax.

The iffy science comes in when the reactor blows, with them only a few hundred yards away, and a giant mushroom cloud rises. No ill effects and not a lot of destruction of the island. The explosion gets the world’s attention and rescue is sent.


Easy Death – Daniel Boyd




Friends –

The holidays are almost upon us, and what better gift could you give a crime fiction fan than Hard Case Crime books? Easy Death is even set at Christmas, though it’s as hardboiled a yarn as you could want – and written by a former police chief! Or for a very special friend, there’s the gorgeous The Art of Robert E. McGinnis. Order today and you should still be able to beat Santa down the chimney…



New In The House


1: Rat City – Curt Colbert: Rat City’s the sort of town where a man can’t even be sure of a good breakfast. At least that’s what detective Jake Rossiter learns when the homicide-minded Big Ed drops by Rossiter’s office one morning to punch our boy’s ticket. Rossiter’s not one to go out easy, though, and he manages to send Big Ed to the floor with a bullet in his chest. But who is Big Ed, anyway, and why does he want Rossiter pushing up daisies? With the help of his able-bodied gal Friday, Miss Jenkins, Rossiter digs through layers of vice and violence in Seattle’s seamy underbelly until he uncovers a case of corruption and prejudice that pits him toe-to-toe with hysterical dames, out-of-town muscle, and the entire Rat City Police force.

2: Dunn’s Conundrum – Stan Lee: One of the Most Acclaimed Espionage Novels Ever Written… And Also One of the Funniest. It’s the mid-1980s and the cold war hasn’t thawed. The Library, a super-secret U.S. espionage agency is keeping an eye on the Russians and everybody else. A dozen elite intelligence experts relentlessly sift out classified information from everywhere. They know all the secrets except for one – which of the librarians is a traitor. It’s up to Walt Coolidge, a librarian with a Sherlockian gift for analyzing people’s garbage, to uncover the mole and, if he fails, it could lead to nuclear Armageddon.

3: Die Again(ARC) – Tess Gerritsen: When Boston homicide detective Jane Rizzoli and medical examiner Maura Isles are summoned to a crime scene, they find a killing worthy of the most ferocious beast—right down to the claw marks on the corpse. But only the most sinister human hands could have left renowned big-game hunter and taxidermist Leon Gott gruesomely displayed like the once-proud animals whose heads adorn his walls. Did Gott unwittingly awaken a predator more dangerous than any he’s ever hunted?

and one ebook:

4: Death On Turus(review copy) – J. M. Porup: On the bullfighting planet of Taurus, in the far distant future, a genetically engineered race of half-man, half-bull stages ritual blood sacrifices to the gods–human viewers light-years away. Vizzer, the high priest who presides over the daily slaughter, loathes the fights and wants to end them.
When news arrives that the humans have destroyed themselves in an interstellar civil war, he deposes the king and outlaws the fights. But not all the humans are dead. Carlos the Creator lies in stasis on Taurus itself. Vizzer comes face to face with an enraged and ancient god. And in so doing, he must also confront the truth of his own savage nature.

Two Brothers in Trinity (Jesse & Lester – Due Fratelli In Un Posto Chiamato Trinità)1972


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27_New_CDBy the seventies, the spaghetti western genre had started to fade a bit. But the two Trinity films had breathed new life into it. Comedies became the go-to and, as was usual in the genre, other producers tried to cash in on popular franchises. We got a slew of Trinities in titles, although sometimes they had nothing to do with the films. At least here, there was a town named Trinity. Star Richard Harrison wrote, produced, and mostly directed this one. First director Renzo Geta was fired several days into the shoot with Harrison taking the reins.

Jesse Smith(Richard Harrison) and Lester O’Hara(Donal O’Brien) were halfJESSE_b15e69de25336ba40773bec8b0da51a1 brothers: same mother, different fathers. And as different as two men could possibly be. Jesse was a fun loving fellow, especially with the ladies, and very good with a gun. Lester was raised a Mormon and strictly nonviolent, trusting of authority in all it’s forms.

As the film opens, Lester is looking for his brother to inform him that their mother had died and left them a ranch in the town of Trinity. The ywo hadn’t seen each other since they were boys. Lester is a scary looking fellow with a thick beard and perpetual scowl.

downloadThey hook up when Jesse tries to rob Lester one night after beating a hasty retreat from an old man who caught him with his daughter. All he got away with was the long johns he wore and his gun belt. Lester recognizes him from the picture he carried, sent by Jesse to their mother. Jesse doesn’t believe Lester is his brother until he sees a scar on his brother’s butt that he remembers.

As the two brothers get to know each other, we learn they have opposite aims for their inheritance. Lester wants to build a church and Jesse the best whore house in the world. Their problem is the town of Trinity is mostly filled with crooks. Not to mention it’s the end of a gold rush in the area.

They find their land is held by three men employing virtual slave labor huntingDCF 1.0 for gold, mostly played out by this time. Lester tries to talk them out of it, getting dunked for his troubles and Jesse has to step in, blasting guns from thier hands and running them off.

The humor in the film, such as it is, comes from Lester trying to reform his brother and Jesse’s resistance. They find a bit of gold, only to have it stolen on the bank’s horse train, all the guards and officials killed. Jesse tries to save it, only to learn that Lester has unloaded his gun. Lester gets them into a prize fight(fifty dollar entry fee, four hundred if they can knock the champ out). Lester has all kinds of excuses why he can’t fight the man(nonviolent, a hernia, etec.)They are forced to wash dishes to pay for their meal after the bank is robbed, where Lester has deposited their winnings. Next they take a job from a man promising they can shovel their way to wealth. The shoveling part turns out to be scooping up buffalo turds to be dried and sold as fuel.

Sam_1288Two outlaw gangs control the area. Poker(Gino Marturano), so known for his skill at gambling, controls one. Blondie(Federico Boido, billed as rick Boyd) the other. They are meeting to settle who will reign. Jesse and Lester slip in and call Poker on his claim to be the best gambler. A dice game follows with Jesse switching the dice at opportune times to clean the man out. They manage to outwit the gangs and escape.

The pair split up and Lester manages to get away with all the money. Still trying to reform his brother away from the whore house idea. The stage is held up, Lester wounded in the head just as Jesse arrives to claim his half of the money. One gets away with the loot as Jesse tries to help Lester. Turning him over to a traveling doctor, who says he can take out the brain, remove the bullet, and put the brain back into Lester’s head. “A simple operation!” He declares.

Jesse realizes his dream, Lester returns to destroy it, and the final shoot-out is decently staged. The music by Carlo Savina is a bit goofy, but perfectly fits the style of the movie. Not a great western, but decent. About a C.

Music For The Dead – Luis Gutiérrez Maluenda, Translator Nick Caistor


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Private investigator Mike Winowsky has an immense love for both jazz and23430361 bourbon. In 1940s New York it often takes him to dangerous spots. For that he carries a .38 and a set of brass knuckles.

Tonight he’s at The Cotton Club to see Count Basie about a job. It seems someone is blackmailing a member of his band, Billy Strayhorn, a homosexual and the composer of Winowsky’s current favorite TAKE THE ‘A’ TRAIN. Basie wants Winowsky to frighten the blackmailer off.

Not a complicated job as Winowsky waits to catch the fellow, a hustler named Luther Smith, getting oral gratification from a hooker in the back seat of his car. He throws enough of a scare into Smith to feel that problem was over.

However, the next morning he reads in the paper that Smith had been found strangled in his car. The time had to be shortly after Winowsky’s encounter and surely his fingerprints would be found on the scene.

He’d been framed as the visit from two sadistic cops who take great delight in trying to beat a confession out of him. Throw in a mob boss who wants Winowsky dead, a rich white gut at Smith’s funeral who breaks into tears, and a second dead body killed in the same manner make it tough as Winowsky tries to figure out what’s going on and clear his name.

Author Luis Gutiérrez Maluenda is a Spaniard. MUSIC FOR THE DEAD is the first of his crime novels translated into English.

It’s a good one.


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