The Middle Kingdom Ride

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17673876THE MIDDLE KINGDOM RIDE is the story of two Canadian brothers and their journey around China via motorcycle.

Ryan Pyle had lived in China for ten years, working as a freelance photographer and journalist. Younger brother Colin had started a business in Canada, finally selling it, but staying on to run it.

The motorcycle journey came about because of both brothers finding life changing. The downturn in world economy made Ryan selling photos and stories on China realize that was going away. Ryan soon found running a company wasn’t the same as owning it. A desire to spend time together was another part of it, years having gone by between visits.

What they decided would be no easy task. 18,000 kilometers in sixty days in a wide loop around China. Boxer Mike Tyson once said, “Everybody has a plan until they get hit!” The Ryan brothers had a plan and boy did they get hit: Mother Nature, the military, mechanical failure, local police, local businesses, bureaucracy, hidebound rules. road construction, and traffic jams(one thirty kilometer long one).

This book chronicles the planning. the journey, and all the problems they encountered, as well as the highs.

The ride was laid out for sixty days(money was tight as several sponsors had backed out and they were footing the bill themselves) with stops built in for Ryan to show Colin some amazing sights. The ride would eventually take them to the North Korean border, across to Pakistan, down to the Mount Everest base camp, along The Silk Road, and all manner of festivals and the people along the way. A support vehicle with spare parts and a camera man to film the expedition went along.

Mother Nature furnished torrential rains several days at a time on more than one occasion, hail storms, intense cold.

The hidebound rules involved mainly their motorcycles. They rode BMW 800 cc machines. Chinese bikes were rarely over 150 ccs, usually a 100. Therefor, motorcycles were banned from expressways, confined to B roads where they would impede motor vehicles. That the BMWs could keep up or surpass most automobiles didn’t matter. They were motorcycles. The BMWs could not be gassed up at the pump. Chinese motorcycles, small and compact, had a tiny tank directly over the engine. Pumps at Chinese stations had no shut-off valve. An overflow could spill onto the engine causing a fire. By law, all bikes had to pull to the side and the customer was given a small teapot to pump the gas. The BMWs didn’t have that problem, not to mention bigger tanks. It took four trips with the teapot for each bike to fill the big tanks. But they were motorcycles and rules were rules.

Military checkpoints were a frequent occurence with way too many teenager soldiers with inflated egos waving around AK-47s. One checkpoint might let them through, only to have the next one make them backtrack.

Many towns were forbidden to foreigners. Some allowed you to pass through, but most wouldn’t let you stay overnight.

The book was nicely written, never dragging, with each chapter broken into two parts, with Ryan talking about a particular part of the ride, then Colin giving his impressions of the same incident(culled from a video diary each made every night when they stopped).

An entertaining read. The book can be ordered HERE.

The Pyle Brothers and their ride through a developing China played out over six episodes. I liked the contrast of the big city plyed against the rural parts of the huge country. They go from North Korea to Pakistan to a base camp at Mount Everest.

A wonderful look at the mysteries of the old country with the two brothers, a clash between the old and the emerging new. The DVD can be http://www.amazon.com/Middle-Kingdom-Ride-Ryan-Pyle/dp/B00C2JD630

New In The House

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1: Bull River – Robert Knott

2: The Bridge – Robert Knott – two books in the sries based on Robert B. Parker’s western series, Cole and Hitch.

3: Independence Day(ARC) – Ben Coes: the latest Dewey Andreas thriller due iout in late May.

4: The Man In The Monster(ARC) – Martha Elliott: a true crime novel. Michael Ross was a serial killer who raped and murdered eight young women between 1981 and 1984, and several years ago the state of Connecticut put him to death. His crimes were horrific, and he paid the ultimate price for them.

5: The Brain Stealers – Murray Leinster: Bill Crider had a link to this old book. I’m a Murray fan, so…

and the ebooks:

6: Children of The Mark(review copy) – Michael W. Garza: AJ Scott is a typical teenager. The only thing he wants to do is survive high school. Clair Anderson and Dougie Edwards have been his friends since the third grade. The teens stumble across a bizarre ritual and their night of adventure quickly turns to panic as they witness the culmination of the Cult of the Elder’s attempt to pull a monstrous deity from the netherworld into our world. A hasty escape leaves the teens terrified and AJ marred from the event. His knew found malady proves to be much more than a simple mark and the trio are pulled into a world of deceit, monsters, and old fashioned horror.

7: Under The Eye of God – David Gerrold

8: A Covenant of Justice – David Gerrold: long a favorite author, I couldn’t reist this buy one, get one free deal. Once they had been humanity’s last best hope; a race of genetically engineered killing machines known as the Phaestor and their army of deadly Moktar Dragons. Now, the enemy long vanquished, the Phaestor themselves have become the enemy, seizing control of the galaxy and subjugating all lesser species – including humans – to feed their appetite for terror and blood.

Have a Good Funeral, My Friend… Sartana Will Pay (Buon Funerale Amigos!… Paga Sartana )1970

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Gianni Garko returns to the role of Sartana in the fourth film of the series,10967390_det again the enigmatic gunslinger dressed in black with the fanciful weapons.

He witnesses a massacre and our hero takes it upon himself to do an investigation. It seems most of the small town of Indian Creek wants to buy up the property of the victims. It all looks rather strange to Sartana. One of those buyers could be the driving force behind the killings. Even the sheriff himself is not above suspicion. One thing I’ve noticed in most, though not all spaghettis, the law is usually as crooked as the criminals.

Sartana is left to uncover the culprits responsible, and why, all on his own.

7c7a88595065b9d9c3ef926acc650779_jpg_290x478_upscale_q90It all starts to make sense when an old prospector named Joe Benson(Attilio Dottesio) is killed and several people try to get their hands on his land. Nuggets of gold found in the old man’s burnt down shack suggest that he may have hit the mother lode. A crooked banker and a Chinese saloon owner each will try to convince Benson’s niece, Abigail(Daniela Giordano), the old man’s only heir that the property is nothing more than acres of sand and therefore worth nothing. Sartana, Though as usual, Looks out for himself first of all decides to help the girl. Doing that involves playing everyone off against each other.

There are enough twists and turns to keep things adequately interesting andsartana_will_pay_poster_02 move the plot, with the requisite violence and action coming.

The excellent script is by Roberto Gianviti and Giovanni Simonelli and the direction is again by Giuliano Carnimeo, billed as Anthony Ascott.

A fine entry in the series.

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Thieves Fall Out Gore Vidal

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25069468Let me start out by saying I’ve never read any Gore Vidal. So I can’t say how it compares with the rest of his work. Written in his younger days under the name Cameron Kay, it’s been forgotten for sixty years and never reprinted until this Hard Case Crime edition coming next month.

Definitely a pulp style, comparisons with Casablanca are not without merit. The Middle East, bars, political intrigue, beautiful women, crooked police, all there.

Pete Wells, a former Merchant marine among other things, is knocking around Cairo when he wakes up in a hotel room, robbed and unaware of how he got there. Broke he finds his way to a bar, meets an Englishman, and gets offered a job. A beautiful woman wants him to smuggle a valuable relic out of the country, Warned it will be dangerous, he doesn’t have much choice, needing money.

Things are not always as they seem though. A crooked Cairo policeman keeps popping in and warning him away from another beauty he’s met, a young German singer, Anna Mueller, he’s growing quite fond of. He’s not the only one who wants him away from the girl.

Revolution is brewing which make the streets dangerous for any Non-Muslims. Pete and Anna are desperate to get out of the country and everyone seems to know about the relic and want it.

Lot of fun.

Release date is April 7th. Copies of the original are pricey on the used sites.

Wading Into War – Scott Dennis Parker

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25047274 (1)I’ve gotten to know Scott a bit from reading his blog the last few years and appreciating his work there. We share a lot of the same So there was no hesitation in buying his first book.

Benjamin Wade, P.I., former cop is hired to find a missing man. It’s 1940 in Texas and tracing the man’s movements wasn’t that hard.

But more was going on than Benjamin knew. War was raging in Europe and the man was coming from there. Our hero was suddenly being shot at, followed, arrested and threatened with a murder charge, and government officials on his case.

I liked Scott’s story and the way he moved it along, never slacking.

In the acknowledgements, Scott thanks several folks for their aid, talks about the genesis of the tale, and the gestation period. Look forward to more stories with Benjamin Wade.

Can be ordered here

Holt County Justice – Richard Prosch

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holt_county_justice_coverDeputy Sheriff Whit Branham is in the western part of the state. A new county is being organized, but until that’s done, he’s the only law for that area. He’s been called to cut down a body lynched by a vigilante committee, the third time in recent months.

This time it’s a woman, the widow Slocum, a so-called psychic that folks went to for their fortune telling.

Branham is also babysitting, shepherding a judge’s nephew who’s local constable, the planned sheriff for the new county.

There’s also a secret about this whole lynching mess that someone wants kept secret, willing to kill to preserve it. Branham is on a tightrope as he tries to clear it up and stay alive.

Another fine tale of Richard’s native Nebraska, the latest addition to his impressive body of work.Can be ordered HERE.

New In The House

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!: Thieves Fall Out(review copy) – Gore Vidal: pulp novel by Vidal from his young days. Never reprinted since original publication 60 years ago. Due next month.

2: Black Boat Dancing(review cop) – Gerald Cappa: When Jorginho the Black Hat hacker goes AWOL in Portugal with the secrets of America’s role in the Arab Spring rebellions, Maknazpy is enlisted to bring him back – dead or alive. Maknazpy tracks the runaway through the narrow streets of old Lisbon until he is betrayed and the hunter becomes the hunted.

3: Susannah Screaming – Carolyn Weston: THE SECOND BLOCKBUSTER THRILLER IN THE KRUG & KELLOG SERIES…WHICH BECAME THE HIT TV SHOW “THE STREETS OF SAN FRANCISCO.” It’s the turbulent 1970s, a time of social upheaval. University-educated ex-surfer Casey Kellog is the youngest homicide detective on the force. He’s teamed up with Al Krug, an older, tougher, street-wise cop resistant to change. Their latest case involves a vicious hit-and-run death: a driver in a Mercedes chases a motorcyclist, hits him, and then backs up over him again, making certain that he’s road kill. The investigation takes a bizarre turn when the victim is undressed in the morgue and the two cops discover that his corpse is plastic-wrapped in twenty-dollar bills…

4: Rouse The Demon – Carolyn Weston: Third Casei and Krug novel. Santa Monica ex-surfer Casey Kellog turned police detective investigates the killing of a hypnotist conducting therapy sessions for a group of young drug addicts.

%: Shawn O’Brien: Manslaughter – William W. Johnstone with J. A. Johnstone: first book in a new series, a spinoff from The Brothers O’Brien.

6: The City on The Edge of Forever – Harlan Ellison: graphic novel based on Ellison’s original script before Roddenberry rewrote it. Reviewed this past Friday.

and the ebooks:

7: Hell Town Shootout – Edward A. Grainger: latest from David featuring U. S. Marshal Gideon Miles

8: Holt County Justice – Richard Prosch: latest prose from Richard featuring deputy Whit Branham.

9: The Death of The Detective – Mark Smith: Brah Books reprint of a classic.

10: Wading Into War – Scott Dennis Parker: Houston, 1940. Scoot gives us P.I. Benjamin Wade, a laid back private investigator whose jobs are so mundane that he doesn’t even carry a gun. He thought his latest job was going to be easy. So he thought.

11: Blaze!: Six-Gun Wedding – JaLowry: latest in the adult western series from Rough Edges Press

12: Benjamin Buckingham and The Nightmare’s Nightmare(review copy) – Gregory Gershwin: What happens when you wake after a night of dreaming to find your favorite dinosaur character from your favorite TV show talking to you in your bedroom? You and the dinosaur panic! After nine year-old Benjamin Buckingham calms down, he chooses between chasing after the dinosaur into a secret world or… going to school.

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