Nick Carter – The Christmas Kill (1983)


Vintage Silver Age Mystery
Cloak and Dagger Challenge #134
Monthly Key Word: Christmas
TBR #143
Date Finished: December 26, 2018

Nick Carter is asked by his boss to investigate a bombing at a Japanese toy factory, as a favor he is paying to an old female friend of his. Nick’s cover is blown immediately, and assassins make multiple attempts on his life, killing several civilians. An anti-American terrorist organization seems to have infiltrated the plant and is sending their new toy robots to the U.S. for Christmas, each loaded with a bomb. Nick must defeat this plot, while receiving no assistance from his own agency or any other.

The craziness of this plot makes the secret Nazi take-over-the-world plot of the James Bond story I just read, Icebreaker, seem rational. If you can get past the impossibility of it all, it is fun and quick, though one dimensional.

2018 Monthly Key Words 2018-12-26

Will Ermine – Singing Lariat (1939)


Vintage Western
Wild Wild West Reading Challenge #27
Monthly Key Word: Sing
TBR #134
Date Finished: December 8, 2018

A former fur trapper, returning from the Civil War, brings a herd of beef cattle from Texas to Nebraska Territory, building his ranch and his standing, while fighting those who want to take it away.

An interesting setting, at least from this former Nebraskan, though the whole aspect of stealing land from the Native Americans tribes is done without much questioning of its appropriateness. The majority of the book deals with fighting off scheming white men, with the standard plot developments. Could be worse.

2018 Monthly Key Words 2018-12-08

Frank Castle – Dakota Boomtown (1958)


Vintage Western
Wild Wild West Reading Challenge #26
Monthly Key Word: Town (November)
TBR #129
Date Finished: December 1, 2018

A young man comes to a Dakota Territory boomtown that is serving miners and others headed to the gold field in the Black Hills. He wheels and deals, makes some friends and some enemies, but always working for himself, until he learns some important lessons.

This reads a bit more like a big business scheme than a western, though his business dealings are of a western type, such as cattle, saloons, and mining supplies. The learns-his-lesson plot is rather predictable, but the writing is good enough, though I would have preferred more South Dakota flavor.

2018 Monthly Key Words 2018-12-01

Brett Halliday – A Redhead for Mike Shayne (1964)


Vintage Silver Age Mystery
Cloak and Dagger Challenge #132
Monthly Key Word: Red
Official 2018 TBR Pile Challenge #11 (alternate)
TBR #138
Date Finished: December 18, 2018


Mike Shayne encounters a strange Russian automatic pistol while on a warehouse¬†stakeout. Another similar pistol had also turned up in Miami the previous week. Could¬†these dangerous weapons have been tied up with Russian arms shipments to Castro and his Cuban revolutionaries. Mike thinks the pistols could be resold to weapon collectors at a big profit, so his investigation leads him to a dead pawnbroker, a dead ship’s captain, and a dead revolutionary. The captain had lost a ship six years before that may have been the source of the weapons now turning up. A redheaded female reporter gives Mike some assistance and some consternation before it is all wrapped up.

No great mystery here, but it moves along nicely and reads quickly, which is much more than I expected from this ghostwritten novel. The awful 1972 cover is probably why it languished on my shelf, a big comedown from the classic style of the 1964 cover. Those pants are a bad idea, Mike.

2018 Monthly Key Words 2018-12-18

Thorne Smith – The Passionate Witch (1941)


Vintage Humor
Monthly Key Word: Witch (October)
TBR #132
Date Finished: December 2, 2018

A repressed widower encounters a beautiful naked woman in a burning hotel, marries her, and discovers she is a witch. Typical. The wife soon dies and her wicked spirit continues to cause problems for the unhappy husband, mostly by giving him the ability to read minds. Unfortunately, he can’t shut this power off and it drives him to drink.

This novel was completed after Thorne Smith’s death by Norman H. Matson and perhaps that is why it seems to have two separate stories, the marriage to the witch and the ind-reading experience. The humor is hit or miss and I found it slow going, hence why this book started in October was finished in December. If this was racy for the 1940s, it doesn’t seem so now, and much of the humor fails. Perhaps his other earlier novels were better, and certainly the adaption to other media, movies and TV, were quite successful. His Pocket Book publications into the 1960s were apparently also successful as they are advertised as a group in Pocket Book listings in the backs of other paperbacks.

2018 Monthly Key Words 2018-12-02

TBR Roundup – November 2018

I fell so far behind in November that I’ll just have to summarize my progress through the TBR pile.


Terry and the Pirates, Vol. 19: Joker Among Aces
TBR #112
Date Finished: November 3, 2018

Outstanding comic strips from 1943-1944.


Superman Family, Vol. 1
Monthly Key Word: Family
TBR #113
Date Finished: November 3, 2018

Collecting Superman’s Pal Jimmy Olsen issues from 1-22, plus the first Lois Lane solo appearance in Showcase, this is a fun collection of stories.

2018 Monthly Key Words 2018-11-03


Little Lulu Vol. 19, The Alamo and Other Stories
TBR #114
Date Finished: November 6, 2018

Collecting Little Lulu issues 88-93, these are hilarious John Stanley stories.


Uncle Scrooge #325
TBR #117
Date Finished: November 13, 2018

Hey, these have ISBN numbers, cost $6.95, and have been sitting on my shelves since 2004, so I’m going to count them. Plus they’re great.


Uncle Scrooge #326
TBR #118
Date Finished: November 14, 2018


Uncle Scrooge #327
TBR #119
Date Finished: November 21, 2018


Uncle Scrooge #328
TBR #120
Date Finished: November 22, 2018


Little Lulu Vol. 20: The Bawlplayer and Other Stories
TBR #121
Date Finished: November 23, 2018

This collects issues 94-99.


The Carl Barks Library of Donald Duck Adventures in Color #6
TBR #126
Date Finished: November 25, 2018

This one collects March of Comics #6, plus a couple of giveaways, so the stories aren’t all quite up to the usual Carl Barks standards.


Uncle Scrooge #329
TBR #127
Date Finished: November 26, 2018


Bradford Scott – The Masked Riders (1962)


Vintage Western
Wild Wild West Reading Challenge #22
Monthly Key Word: Mask
TBR #109
Date Finished: October 30, 2018

Walt Slade rides into another Texas town to straighten it up. Here his nemesis Veck Sosna is running another plot to do something. What that is isn’t entirely clear, but it involves attempts on Slade’s life, a mine, and trouble. Slade solves the trouble, makes friends, and finds a girl, as he always seems to do. A forerunner of the adult westerns of the 1970s and later, these only hint at sex between characters, but it is a pretty clear hint. The writing is adequate, though not outstanding, and the Slade character is without flaws. Perhaps I shouldn’t read two of these so close together, but this one was a bit of a dull read.

2018 Monthly Key Words 2018-10-30