Small House of Everything

Small House of Everything

Monday, March 6, 2017


I found a new thrift store this week and picked up a number of old paperbacks.
  • Edward S. Aarons, Assignment -- Bangkok, Assignment Black Gold, Assignment Lowlands, Assignment -- Madeline, Assignment -- School for Spies, and Assignment Treason.  Sam Durrell spy novels.  Durrell, a Cajun working for a secret section of the CIA, blazed his way through 42 Gold Medal paperback novels for 21 years, from 1965 to 1976.  Despite his popularity, Durrell never hit the top tier of fictional spies.  Aarons' writing was always competent and readable and his locations exotic and believable, even through the beautiful women who fell for Durell in almost every book were (albeit exotic) seldom believable.  After Aarons' death, another six Sam Durell exploits were published under the name "Will B. Aarons," supposedly the son of Edward S. Aarons.  At first it was believed to be a pseudonym --- the unnamed author or authors "will be Aarons" as he (or they) took up the mantle.  It turns out that Will B. Aarons was a real person:  although he was the brother (and not the son) of Edward S. Aarons, merely lent his name to ghost-writer Lawrence Hall.  The books published under the Will B. Aarons name were not very good. 
  • Raymond Buckland, Cursed in the Act.  The first (of two) Bram Stoker mystery.  "1881.  When the star and owner of the Lyceum, Mr. Henry Irving, is poisoned on Hamlet's opening night, it's up to stage manager Harry Rivers to make sure the show goes on.  Fortunately for Harry, Mr. Irving is able to pull through and walk the boards as planned.  But when his understudy is killed the very next day, Harry's boss, Bram Stoker, becomes convinced that foul play is afoot."
  • Martin Caidin, Boeing 707 .  Non-fiction. Caidin, an aviation, military, and science fiction writer, is probably best known for creating The Six Million Dollar Man and for the near future space disaster novel Marooned.
  • Eleanor Cameron, Stowaway to the Mushroom Planet.  Juvenile SF, the second in the Mushroom Planet series.  Another journey to the  Mushroom Planet, this time accompanied by Tyco Bass's cousin Theodorius, as well as a stowaway determined to discover Mr. Bass's  secrets for his own purposes.  The five-book Mushroom Planet series remains a popular children's series.
  • Lin Carter, The Immortal of World's End.  Science fantasy novel, the third in the Gondwane Epic.  Earth's sun is dying and on the Last continent of the doomed planet, there walks Genelon Silvermane, "the mighty warrior who was intended by his ancient designers to be the world's Last Hero."  Carter, a fan boy turned author and editor, produced a raft of pastiches that honored the author's of his youth.  Often disdained as a mere "imitator," his works deserve a more careful look.
  • "Lee Child" (Jim Grant), Die Trying.  A Jack Reacher thriller, the second in the series.  "Jack Reacher, alone, strolling nowhere.  A Chicago street in bright sunshine.  A young woman struggling on crutches.  He offers her a steady arm.  And turns to see a handgun aimed at his stomach.  Chained in a dark van racing across America, Reacher doesn't know why they've been kidnapped.  The woman claims to be FBI.  She's certainly tough enough.  But at their remote destination, will raw courage be enough to overcome the hopeless odds?"  I've mentioned before how addictive this series is.
  • "Paul Edwards" (house name), John Eagle Expeditor #12:  The Green Goddess.  Men's action adventure novel.  The top secret Expeditor program was created to allow the US to react quickly to "incidents."  John Eagle was the first (and evidently only) Expeditor.  "Was there no limit to which the enemy would go to secure Operation Pig Poke Swap?  From Vermont to Afghanistan, Eagle is on a mission to overtake that limit, then curb it.  But the enemy has discovered a powerful alloy:  a new metal that means instant electricity to those who can mine it.  Only Eagle has the chance to equal this force, and only if he make the Green Goddess in time -- even if it takes an obscene phone call in the night and a camel ride among the lepers..."  There were 14 books in this series, which was packaged by Lyle Kenton Engel.  Among the various writers who used the Edwards house name were Manning Lee Stokes, Robert Lory, and Paul Eiden; Manning Lee Stokes was the author of this episode this episode.
  • Dave J. Garrity, Dragon Hunt.  PI novel.  Garrity was an old army buddy of Mickey Spillane.  when Spillane made it big, Garrity thought, "How hard can it be?"  Spillane helped him publish his first novel.  After a six-year hiatus, during which Garrity kept his day job, he published his third book, Dragon Hunt, from Signet. Spillane's paperback publisher.  A quote from Spillane ("Guts, action...the kind of stuff I like to read.") was prominent on the front cover.  The back cover had a photo of the author with Spillane.  To push the connection even further, Spillane's Mike Hammer makes a guest appearance in this novel.  "Look who's raising cain:  Peter Braid.  That's who.  Colleague and drinking buddy of Mike Hammer.  Here heis in a blood-scattering yard about a really terrifying killer who strikes after a twenty-year absence.  Dragon Hunt has dames and danger, mayhem and metaphor, and a gutty, sudden-sex tempo worthy of Spillane himself.  which may be why Mickey thinks it's the greatest."
  • "George G. Gilman" (Terry Harknett), Edge #26:  Savage Dawn.  Adult western.  The cult classic Edge series proclaimed itself  "The Most Violent Westerns in Print," and I certainly won't argue the point.  "The half-breed Edge is about to settle down for his share of love and happiness in San Parrel, about to ask the beautiful Isabella to marry him,, when six brutal bounty hunters ride into town raising hell.  Their prize captive is the woman of a hated bandit chief and her torture is their amusement.  Hard on the bounty hunters' trail is a thirty-man band of thieves headed by the ruthless Gonzales, who wants his woman back alive.  Once again, Edge has to throw love aside as he pits himself against two violent gangs, hell-bent on destroying each other.  And anyone who gets in their way."
  • "Brett Halliday" (Davis Dresser), One Night with Nora.  A Mike Shayne mystery.  "She thought he was her husband -- that's why she got into bed with him.  But he wasn't.  He was private eye Mike Shayne, innocently asleep in his own apartment -- until this gorgeous doll slipped through the door and made herself delightfully at home.  But who was she?  Or better yet, whose was she?  Shayne woke up to the last question in a hurry.  The lady belonged to Ralph -- and at that moment Ralph was so sound 'asleep' that he wasn't ever going to wake up again.  It was murder and Shayne was in it up to his neck."  The book was first published in 1953, but this copy is from 1969 -- a bit too late to have the woman-as-property motif on the back cover blurb, IMHO.
  • Basil Heater, The Mutilators.  Spy novel.  "In the beginning, the american was in on the game by accident.  By the end, he was in on cold, deliberate purpose.  By that time the O.A.S. had gotten to his girl and had used a knife to rip a secret out of her.  The secret was a shipment of arms destined for Algeria.  Both sides would kill or die to control those guns.  Kill they did -- slowly, by torture.  And die they did, suddenly, by the silenced pistol..."  Fun fact:  Heater was the son of famed radio commentator Gabriel Heater.
  • Elmer Kelton, Other Men's Horses.  Western.  Tasked with captuing Donley Bannistert, a horse trader wanted for murder, young Texas Ranger Andy Pickard is shot by one of Bannister's cohorts.  Strangely, Bannister then saves Andy, and then vanishes.  "This routine assignment gets even more complicated after Andy heals well enough to ride, and follows the trader's young wife, Geneva, hoping she will lead him to her husband.  Near Fort Concho, the Ranger's mission is interrupted when Bannister is shot and left for dead by an outlaw who takes Geneva Hostage and brutally assaults her.  Even after Bannister is apprehended, danger lurks; one of the trader's enemies is determined the ambush the Ranger and his prisoner."  Elmer Kelton was an eight-time Spur Award winner and a three-time Western Heritage Award winner.  He received both the Owen Wister award and the American Cowboy Culture Association awards for lifetime achievement.  Other Men's Horses was one of his last books, published just two months after his death.
  • 'Bliss Lomax" (Harry Sinclair Drago), The Law Busters.  Western.  'Flatten down and begin throwin' lead -- when it cam to fighting and gunplay, that was the one rule Rainbow Ripley and Grumpy Gibbs always followed.  These two troubleshooters had fought every kind of hired gunslinger, but when they go interested in the troubles of redheaded Jeannie Magoffin it looked like they;d bit off more than they could chew.  First, they were saddled with a gone-to-hell shoestring railroad.  Then the Giant D. & P. had them buffaloed -- until Rainbow and grumpy got up a head of steam.  When they did they cleared the track!"  Sopunds like good ol' pulp western action!  Dwight D. Eisenhower once told an interviewer that his two favorite western writers were Bliss Lomax and Will Ermine, not knowing that both were pen names for Harry Sinclair Drago.
  • John D. MacDonald, Clemmie. Suspense novel.  "She was very young.  She was dangerous.  She was a girl who lived too close to the edge of violence.  She was an exhibitionist, a body worshipper, a sensualist.  She was without morals, scruples, ethics.  She was beautiful.  She was CLEMMIE."  The is one of the two JDM novels I had not read.
  • "Neil MacNeil" (W. T. Ballard), 2 Guns for Hire.  A Costaine and McCall mystery.  "That's right, there are two of them. Costaine and McCall by name, investigators by trade.  Lovers of bourbon, bagpipes, and blondes by inclination.  But make no mistake about about Costaine and McCall.  They're no ordinary gumshoes.  They're very high class -- their asking price is $20,000 plus expenses.  when Costaine's face loses its genial smile and McCall puts down his bagpipes -- killer, beware!  The two toughest and deadliest detectives in this business are on the prowl."
  • Dan J. Marlowe, Operation Counterpunch.  An Earl Drake thriller, the twelfth and last in the series.  Drake, "the man with nobody's face," is a bank robber, killer, and part-time tree surgeon turned secret agent. "from the moment Hazel's business manager told Earl Drake that a wealthy Mexican was interested in buying Hazel's ranch, he knew what was coming.  Don Luis Morelos.  The buyer was only a decoy for that millionaire madman.  Morelos had been hunting Drake ever since Earl had ripped off nearly a million dollars from his bank account.  It had been Drake's act of retribution for all the innocent lives Morelos had destroyed.  Drake thought he had gotten away clean.  But now he knew the psychotic Morelos and his army of killers were hot on his trail.  and that this time his target was Hazel."
  • "Wade Miller" (Bob Miller & Bob Wade).  Deadly Weapon.  An Austin Clapp mystery.  "Her name was Shasta Lynn -- a name as phony as the color of her golden hair.  She was big and beautiful, and she knew how to tease when she stripped.   she was so sensational no one noticed that an admirer in the last row wore a knife sticking out of his heart."  To my knowledge this is Miller's only book featuring Clapp as the solo detective; he went on to become a regular character in Miller's six-novel popular series featuring ex-cop Max Thursday.   Also:  Nightmare Cruise (also published as The Sargasso People) , a stand-alone mystery.  "Wade Miller, whose best-selling mysteries have thrilled millions, presents a triple-stunner in suspense:  There's the mystery of the aviator who crashed at sea, yet dared not radio for help.  There's the mystery of the silent yacht, whose captain was a lustful woman and whose passengers included the Grim Reaper.  There's the mystery of the dreadful Sargasso Sea, the scene of that nightmare cruise.  It's a voyage in stark tension!"
  • "Peter Rabe" (Peter Rabinowitsch), A House in Naples and My Lovely Executioner.  In the first book. Charlie's rope was about frayed.  The carabinieri were after him, he had a bullet in his hip and no goddamn passport.  charlie needed a passport bad.  He needed that intricate piece of paper -- signed, sealed, and innocent-looking -- the way only a G.I. in ?Italy could need one.  A G.I. deserter with a sweet fortune in blackmail lire and the carabineire lusting to lay hands on him."  And in the first book, "I held my breath and closed my stinging eyes.  I was glued up against the steal gate.  When they found me, I thought, I'd be dead, flattened out into the seams and around the rivets.  Then there was a strong, cold draft on my face, watering my eyes, freezing me under my wet prison jacket.  The gate was open.  It was too easy.  all around men men were dying and bullets tearing through the stinging, thickened air.  But for me there was a way out -- through the big gate right beside me.  It wasn't wide open, but it was wide open enough....And I didn't want to go."  Rabe was one of the many bright lights in the old Gold Medal line.
  • "Shelley Smith" (Nancy Bodington), The Shrew Is Dead (originally, The Lord Have Mercy).  Mystery.  "Dr. Mansbridge was a busy, popular man until Mrs. Mansbridge dies, suddenly and suspiciously, and the town gossip[s (for lack of anything better to do) began to wonder.  Aloud."
  • Karl Edward Wagner, editor, The Year's Best Horror Stories:  Series XII.  Annual horror anthology, this time with nineteen stories from 1983, including tales by Stephen King, Ramsey Campbell, David Drake, Jane Yolen, and Tanith Lee.  A check of the acknowledgements shows that three stories came from Rod Serling's The Twilight Zone Magazine, three from anthologies edited by Charles L. Grant, and four from items edited by Stuart Schiff.  1983 was a good year.
  • Douglass Wallop, The Year the Yankees Lost the Pennant.  Fantasy baseball novel, the basis of the musical Damn Yankees.  I had this novel many moons ago, but it went walkabout before I could get to it.  Now all I have to do is get a copy of his other fantasy, What has Four Wheels and Flies?, about a time when cars are so automated that dogs can drive them 


  1. CLEMMIE is maybe my least favorite JDM novel.

    1. So I was wise in holding off reading it, Bill. Gosh, I'm smart.