Mystery Street (1950)

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5117John Sturges diected this stylish B movie that showcased Ricardo Montalban, intent on blunting his Latin lover/musical image to more serious acting, as cop Peter Moralas investigating the murder of a young waitress/prostitute found washed up ashore off Boston. Missing several months, she’s but a skeleton by now.

With CSI precision, aided by Harvard medical Dr. Mcadoo(Bruce Bennett),images they piece things together. Marshal Thomson is Henry Shanway, the innocent man dragged into the murder. Stopping off for a drink, and already drunk, he gets scooped up by the pregnant murder victim, Vivian Heldon(Jan Sterling), pissed that her married boy friend refuses to leave his wife, getting Shanway to let her drive them up to a meeting with boy friend. When he balks, she gets him out of his car, steals it, leaving him stranded. The murderer shoots her, strips the body and leaves her clothes in Shanway’s car, driving it into a lake.

5118Sally Forrest as the innocent’s wife, Grace and Betsy Blair as the victim’s friend, Jackie Elcott are the only ones who believe him innocent.

Mrs. Smerrling(Elsa Lancaster) owns a rooming house for women. She’s a scheming, money hungry blackmailer who knows the killer and has the murder weapon hidden.

And the murderer is James Joshua Harkley(Edmon Ryan).

The story of how they piece things all together is nicely done.

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New In The House

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1: The Sinister Shadow – Kenneth Robeson: using a few chapters and an outline for a second Shadow novel started by Lester Dent, author Will Murray fashioned a tale involving the tw greatest characters of the pulp area.

2: Flashpoint – Ed Gorman: an Ed Gorman novel. What else needs to be said.

3: Murdering Lawyer(review copy) [ Larry Fine: a legal thriller with murder, international intrigue, and diabolical evil involving many of the most powerful lawyers and judges in New York City. A young lawyer is caught up with an ancient cabal committed to bringing the most unspeakable evil into the world, and he must defeat these forces or face his own demise and that of his friends and loved ones.

4: Star Wars: Dark Disciple(review copy) – Christie Golden: a novelization of unused scripts for the Clone Wars animated series.

and the ebooks:

5: The Templar Succession(review copy) – K. R. Eckert: first full length book by the author. Enjoyed his shorter works and so far his one is good.

6: Th Swiss Family Robin ZOM, Book 2(review copy) – Perrin Briar: as the story intimates, a modern retelling with zombies.

7: The Dark Man(review copy) – Desmond Doane: author Ernie Lindsey enters the horror field with this first entry of a new serie. Review goes up later this week.

8: The Feral(review copy) -David Elias Jenkins: When a terrorist attack hits London and the survivors say that the attackers were not human, Major Thom Usher must lead the Special Forces team Empire One against the Feral, a force of berserker rage that has awoken from our distant past to destroy us all. Their fight will take them from the burning sands of the Middle East to the frozen arctic tundra of Svalbard. The Feral is a military fantasy novel set in the contemporary world of terrorism, espionage and modern warfare, where myth, magic and monsters are horrifyingly real.

Kill The Poker Player(Hai sbagliato… dovevi uccidermi subito!)1972

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83282-kill-the-poker-player-0-230-0-341-cropKILL THE POKER PLAYER is the title of the American release of this 1972 spaghetti western, a fairly innocuous one as spaghettis go. The print I watched on Youtube, low quality by the way, had it labeled with this title. But within the film credits, it had a title I thought much better: Creeping Death. That comes from the killer’s use of poisonous snakes.

The movie opens with a bank robbery, one million dollars. The stick-up man uses a six gun with a silencer attached (don’t explain them). After relieving them of the cash, he shoots the president and two clerks. As it’s a windy day, the little sound he makes with his silenced gun is covered. In the saloon, a confederate decked out as a union officer is on hand. The bank president,images not dead, staggers out with a gun. We learn there’s a third man, unseen, who shoots the bank man. The Union officer guns down those in the bar when they react and the two men beat it out of town.

Shortly they are joined by the third man while eating. The camera angle, the big hat, and never showing him from the front, guarantee we will not know the man. The first two man wake up later to find poisonous snakes sitting on their chests.

That’s the mystery of this film. Who is the third man that cold-blood murdered his partners?

Robert Wood rides into town and identifies himself as Jonathan Pinkerton, an agent for Lloyd’s of London who’d insured the bank money. It’s his job to find thaat third man and the money. a two hundred thousand dollar reward is on the line.

pakistani_kill_the_poker_playerA number of suspects are offered. The sheriff Lewis Burton(Frank Braña), who Pinkerton witnesses shooting down an outlaw he’d induced to surrender, Doctor Norton( Ernesto Colli), a zoologist who specializes in snakes would seem the obvious suspect. Third on the list is a saloon owner(Carlo Gaddi) and his girl friend(Nieves Navarro, billed as Susan Scott), and a local rancher, Clinton( Ivano Staccioli ), who claims to be broke from rustling, horse thievery, and bad poker playing.

Halfway through we learn Pinkerton is really Alan Fields, a Federal agent brought in on the case.

Someone wants him off the case though as he’s constantly challenged by groups of men. Forynately he’s handy with his fists and gun, whatever’s needed.

Then the suspects start getting knocked off and Fields is framed for them. But he keeps pushing until the third man reveals himself.

Reading Forgotten Books: The Burnt Orange Heresy

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BOH-Blk LizIn preparing the post for this book, I discovered that Pretty Sinister Books had beat me to it by a considerable margin. Read the revie. Much better than I could do.

This was my first exposure to Charles Willeford’s work and what I read is not exactly a crime novel. Oh, there’s a murder victim here, arson, theft. What it is is a take on the art world: critics, artists, collectors, and their sphere of existence.

Jacques Figueras is the art critic pushed into stealing from a reclusive painter. A self made man who’s a bit vain about his work.

First Willeford, but not likely my last.

Tin Men – Christopher Golden

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23303661Author Christopher Golden gives us a near future sf/thriller. America has set itself up as the policemen of the world. In effect, the defacto rulers of the world.

This is accomplished with technology only they control: the tin men. Robotic soldiers controlled by humans that run them with their minds in command while their bodies survive in tubes that keep them alive. No fighting is allowed. Other than that people are free to be what they want.

The main characters are Kate and Danny, tin men soldiers. As a human Kate is missing her legs and enjoys the freedom of being able to run. Among other things. Danny has a thing for Kate.

As our story opens, the POTUS is in Athens, part of a G20 summit, where he plans to present his demands to European leaders to prevent an economic collapse.

But even a benevolent dictatorship is untenable to most people.

The Anarchists strike…

An EM pulse fries every circuit board in the world and the satellite system circling the planet. Can’t be repaired, only replaced, and that could take years under the best circumstances. Only heavily shielded bases, a few around the world survive.

And the tin men.

The world is quickly going to Hell and Kate and Danny suddenly realize something about the tin men. An uncomfortable truth they’d not been told.

The race is on to get to Athens to rescue the President who’s teamed up with an enemy for survival: the Russian president.

Liked this one. The writing is crisp and kept me involved.

New In The House

A lot of stuff this week, a mix of a lot of review copies coming in and stuff I bought.

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1 Tarzan: Return To Pal=ul-on – Will Murray: a sequel to Tarzan The Terrible I believe.

2: The Martian – Andy Weir: Six days ago, astronaut Mark Watney became one of the first people to walk on Mars. Now, he’s sure he’ll be the first person to die there. After a dust storm nearly kills him and forces his crew to evacuate while thinking him dead, Mark finds himself stranded and completely alone with no way to even signal Earth that he’s alive—and even if he could get word out, his supplies would be gone long before a rescue could arrive.

3: Clearwater – Bobby R. Woodall: In 1879, a small town in the Indian Territory is robbed by a murderer who has just escaped execution. The town springs in to action and quickly forms a posse — an aged sheriff, a retired Pinkerton Operative, an Indian scout, and the bank?s president, who has secretly embezzled all of the town?s money.

4: Mercer’s Manor – Bobby R. Woodall: t is a unique blend of an ex-Union officer’s struggle to overcome atrocities of being a prisoner of war at Andersonville Prison, made more difficult from the harsh realities of post-war survival. Atrocities inflicted on him that will forever be engraved into the main characters mind, (Dan Mercer) as he searches out a new way of life on the untamed plains.

5 & 6: Faraday: The Iron Horse & The Trackwalker: two more in the series, the first by James Reasoner. There was a third, but I don’t have a cover image and been having trouble with my scanner.

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These are all review copies that have come in during the week. Will get to them as soon as possible.n

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