And Then – available to pre-order

So folks, ‘And Then: The Great Big Book of Awesome Adventure Tales’ is available to pre-order. If you want to get in early – and obtain a 25% discount off the RRP – there’s an Indigogo Campaign happening now. The two volume set features over 30 of Australia and New Zealand’s finest genre fictioneers. The campaign is also your only opportunity to get hold of the limited edition Hardbacks editions, along with a heap of other swag if you are so inclined.

To join the adventure, the short link to the campaign is:

https://igg.me/at/AndThen

The press release is below [click to enlarge].
And Then offer

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Tarzan and the Lost City (1998)

Tarzan Lost CityDirector: Carl Schenkel
Starring: Caspar Van Dien | Jane March | Steve Waddington | Winston Ntshona | Rapulana Seiphemo | Ian Roberts
Music: Christopher Franke
Based on characters created by Edgar Rice Burroughs

Last week I reviewed TARZAN THE APE MAN (1981) and I spoke at length about what I didn’t like about the film. I may have been rash in my condemnation. TARZAN AND THE LOST CITY is far worse. It must be said it looks great – the cinematography by Paul Gilpin is first rate, and Casper Van Dien is a passable Tarzan. But what little plot there is barely makes sense. It is clearly a film that relies on spectacle rather than story, which I believe is a crime.

As the film opens a nefarious British explorer named Ravens (Steve Waddington) seeks the location to the fabled lost city of Opar. He and his men ransack and African village for a talisman that will show the way. As the village burns a psychic message is sent to Tarzan – or more precisely John Clayton, Lord Greystoke (Casper Van Dien). Clayton is in London, preparing for his imminent wedding to Jane (Jane March). The psychic message tells him something is amiss in the jungle. He postpones the wedding and heads back to Africa to attempt to stop Ravens. Jane, who refuses to be left behind and forgotten, follows several days later.

Possibly borrowing the style from the aforementioned TARZAN THE APE MAN, this film also chooses to use slow motion whenever Tarzan swings into action. Admittedly, LOST CITY is edited better than APE MAN, but none-the-less the effect is the same, rendering Tarzan’s primal power and energy little more than a visual effect – rather than a force of nature.

Another quibble is the quest for the lost city itself. Not that I want the film to be an Indian Jones clone, with booby-traps and hidden danger at every stage of the journey – but I do expect a quest for a lost city to feature a ‘quest’ or ‘journey’. Ravens and his team go straight to the secret entrance, and then through to the hidden valley. It’s only then they encounter some resistance – and some dodgy dated CGI effects.

At the climax, the film takes a weird turn toward weird mumbo-jumbo mysticism. All throughout Ravens’s search for Opar, his reasons are never explained, and upon his arrival he suddenly rants about the city being the cradle of all civilization. It’s an info dump that the viewer could have used an hour ago. Instead it appears to be shoehorned in at the last minute to allow a glitzy special effects ending. Lightning flashes and magical powers are unfurled but for what purpose we are never really sure.

While undemanding viewers and children may find something to enjoy in TARZAN AND THE LOST CITY, most viewers will be left bewildered, shaking their heads at the wasted opportunity to make an entertaining action adventure. It could very well be the worst Tarzan movie ever made.

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Agents of S.A.T.A.N. (1966)

Satan Banner
In 1966, Picture Library (Published and distributed by M.V. Features Limited in England) put out a series of pocket comic books called S.A.T.A.N. – an acronym for Spies Anonymous To All Nations. Each issue appears to have been 68 pages (if you include the 4 page cover). I have 2 issues, No. 12: Point of Departure, and No. 14: Assassin Extraordinary – but using them as a jump of point, I’ll try to piece together what can about the series.

The issues appeared to have self contained stories, and two issues were released per month in England, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa. There were at least 16 in the series. As the covers would suggest, they were aimed at adults – or at least mature readers – and I suggest belonged more to the pulp fiction tradition than the world of comic books. Let’s look at the 2 issues I have.

POINT OF DEPARTURE

S.A..T.A.N. No. 12

Unfortunately, the writer/s and artists involved are not credited. Set in London, the story features S.A.T.A.N. agent, Frank Powell, who is assigned to investigate the disappearance of Edward Fowler, a scientist working on a top-secret radar system. Powell discovers Fowler’s wife went missing a few days before he did. The question is, did she go of her own free will? The only one who may know the answer is Fowler’s daughter, Angela, who is an air-hostess and has just arrived back in London from South America.

PoD 1

Powell arrives at Angela’s apartment just in time to thwart two thugs who were trying to kidnap her – they escape down the fire escape. But realising she is in danger, he decides to keep a close eye on her.

PoD 2

The villain of the piece is Lord Jesphat – described as a wartime politician, now controversial newspaper owner – one of the richest men in Britain… Jesphat wishes to take over Europe from a secret village hidden in mountainous terrain in Wales.

The plot is nothing new, as you’ve seen, it features that classic hoary old trope of the 1960s – that being a scientist goes missing, and the spy sent to investigate teams up with the daughter of the scientist to unravel the mystery.

PoD 3

At the beginning of the synopsis, I said this story was set in London, however, visually, there is nothing to reinforce that. That is to say, there’s no Big Ben, Houses of Parliament, double-decker buses, Carnaby Street mods, or any of the other cliches that suggest mid 1960s swinging London. It is only the text that informs the reader of location. Next, the cars are large square and boxy, more like American vehicles, than British. And if you look at the lettering, it appears to be shoe-horned into the speech-bubbles and boxes. Now, this is purely supposition on my part – and can easily be shot down in flames by someone far more knowledgeable than I – but I would suggest this series (or at least the art) originated in another country – possibly France, Germany, Italy or Sweden. Or maybe even a South American country. My guess is M.V. Features bought the art and rewrote the stories for Britain (and the Commonwealth).

Another clue that this may very well be the case is two issues – that’s 136 pages – were issued every month. While this is not impossible for a dedicated hard working team, but it is far more likely if there is existing art.

Anyway, I have laboured the point. Let’s move on to the next one…

ASSASSIN EXTRAORDINARY

AssassinS

Emil Lados was an assassin for S.A.T.A.N – the best in the business. Over many years he served the organization well – but time catches up with him and he retires, seeking peace and tranquility in Berne, Switzerland.

Within three months, Lados is bored and restless. He misses the action. To relieve the boredom he agrees to take on a few contract killings. But pretty soon, as the bodies stack up – six dead men – his work attracts unwanted attention.

Assassin 2

The Director of S.A.T.A.N. assigns agent Paul Johnston to investigate. Johnston has no idea where to start. No clues were left at the murder scenes – all he knows is all the killings happened within a hundred mile radius of Berne. On what is little more than a hunch, he flies to Berne, and shortly after – and quite coincidentally – he bumps into Lados at a bar. They share a few drinks and talk about the old days, then go their separate ways.

Assassin 3

Johnston is still no closer to finding his killer, but after leaving the bar, he is set upon by two thugs. His mind begins to race, and the only conclusion he can fathom is that someone saw him with Lados.

Assassin Extraordinary is a slightly more cynical, world weary espionage tale. While we’re not quite talking The Spy Who Came in From The Cold territory, the story (despite some clunky dialogue) has more meat and subtext than you’d expect from this type of publication.

Although I haven’t been able to find out the name of the fifth book in the S.A.T.A.N. series, the titles I can confirm are as follows:

SATAN 2No. 1: Cold, The Kiss of Fear
No. 2: Bang, You’re Dead
No. 3: Midnight Is For Murder
No. 4: The Face of Destruction
No. 5: Unknown
No. 6: The Fanatics
No. 7: Cremation By Candlelight
No. 8: An Easy Killing
No. 9: House of Death
No. 10: Rule of Force

No. 11: Deadly Paradise

Cocaine! Heroin! Marijuana! All are drugs capable of sending a man into a deadly paradise. A distorted bliss which can result in insanity and death. S.A.T.A.N. agent Mike Kincaid knew that certain peddlers were up to something big. The only question was…how big?

No. 12: Point of Departure
As featured above.

SATAN 13No. 13: Spooks Are For Killing

All eyes were on blonde and beautiful Venus Jones when she walked into any room. But some were the eyes who wished the gorgeous creature quite, quite dead.

No. 14: Assassin Extraordinary
As featured above.

Emil Lados was a killer, an instrument of violence. His whole life had been dedicated to death – could such a man live out his days in peace or would he be consumed in his own passion for destruction?

No. 15: Ten Deadly Dolls

Ten S.A.T.A.N. agents missing without a trace…and the entire West African network threatened with extinction! What was the secret of the little plastic dolls…and the faceless killer known as Mr. Pink?

No. 16: The Eighth Deadly Sin

They needed a special agent for this job – a man above human weakness, moulded in iron. And the S.A.T.A.N. organisation had such a man – but even he was helpless against the evil of the enemy.

The publisher, M.V. Features had another spy series called Secret Service, which appears to have been more popular with at least 28 issues published. There are quite a few gaps in what I could find here, but for what it’s worth, here’s a list of titles.

SS 2 Night of the VultureNo. 1: Unknown
No. 2: Night of the Vulture
No. 3: A Lady Called Luck
No. 4: Inferno
No. 5: Unknown
No. 6: Unknown
No. 7: Guilt is my Shadow
No. 8: Unknown
No. 9: Unknown
No. 10: The Baited Hook
No. 11: The Razor’s Edge
No. 12: The Edge of Fear
No. 13: Dead Men Don’t Die
No. 14: The Centre of the Storm
SS 21No. 15: Web of the Black Spider
No. 16: The Unknown Enemy
No. 17: Cast a Crooked Shadow
No. 18: The Big Squeeze
No. 19: Prince of Darkness
No. 20: The Word is Death
No. 21: Black, the Blood of Evil
No. 22: The Verdict
No. 23: The Corpse That Laughed
No. 24: The Face of a Traitor
No. 25: Death Wears a Thousand Faces
No. 26: Unknown
No. 27: Madame Guillotine
No. 28: A Traitor’s End

Titles in both series can be found at various times on Ebay, and even on Amazon, varying in price from $1.00 to about $40.00. If you have any information you wish to share, feel free to comment or drop me a line.

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Tarzan the Ape Man (1981)

b5-tarzanDirector: John Derek
Starring: Bo Derek | Richard Harris | Miles O’Keefe | John Phillip Law
Music: Perry Botkin
Based on characters created by Edgar Rice Burroughs

The most misleading thing about this movie is the title – TARZAN THE APE MAN. While Tarzan does appear in the film – from about the 60 minute mark – the story is primarily about Jane Parker (Bo Derek) and her journey to Africa to find her estranged father, James Parker (Richard Harris). James Parker is a drunken 18th Century Irish explorer – slightly eccentric, verging on mad – fixated on finding the fabled ‘Elephant’s Graveyard’, high on an escarpment in deepest darkest Africa. Legend has it, that a one-hundred foot tall white ape named Tarzan lives on the escarpment – but no one can be sure, as no one has ever returned alive.

Richard Harris knows the role of a drunken Irishman too well and puts in a lazy performance, fluctuating between soft philosophical whispers and histrionic yelling. Mr. Holt (John Phillip Law) is the other white man on the expedition party. Holt is the photographer, along to chronicle Parker’s heroic exploits. He has little to do, but be a bystander to the fates of the other characters. But as I mentioned at the top, the film is all about Jane – or more precisely, Bo Derek, in various states of undress, which, if that’s your bag, man, then you’ll find a great deal to enjoy over the film’s 110 minute running time.

Naturally enough, Jane finds her father and joins him on his latest expedition into the interior. Little do they know a savage primitive tribe also live on the escarpment. Luckily for Jane, when danger threatens, she has a protector in the form of Tarzan, who becomes infatuated with her.

As a Tarzan film, there’s a lot to dislike about this movie. Firstly the absence of Tarzan (Miles O’Keefe). And when he does appear, the poor fellow gets no dialogue – not even a grunt, let alone a “Me Tarzan, you Jane.” The film also refuses to present the audience with an action scene – the few action sequences are shown in ridiculous exaggerated slow motion, which I guess is supposed to represent power, but instead creates the opposite. Worst sequence in the film is where Tarzan wrestles a python, utilizing an ‘arty’ multiple exposure technique, the scene goes on waaayyy tooo looonnnggg, and makes it impossible to follow the action. Later, when the primitive tribe attack Parker’s expedition, the viewer sees their arrival and the aftermath, but not the battle itself. Those expecting a vigorous jungle adventure will be sorely disappointed.

However the film is not all bad. The cinematography is gorgeous – I believe much of the film was shot in Sri Lanka. Remember this film was made before CGI and digital grading. The actors and crew must have spent many and hour waiting around for the light to be just right – when the ‘magic hour’ was upon them.

The animals in this film, lions, elephants, chimps and apes, are well trained and gave a sense of realism to many scenes. There’s a sequence where a bull elephant scoops up an unconscious Tarzan on his tusks and carries him to a stream, that is very impressive. In this day and age, I’d expect a similar scene to be done with CGI.

In closing, and it must be reiterated, TARZAN THE APE MAN is not for fans of the Lord of the Jungle. But if the thought of watching Bo Derek, in her prime, cavorting around in very little clothing, in exotic locations, appeals to you then give it a whirl. On that level, at least, it succeeds.

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Tarzan and the Great River (1967)

tarzan-and-the-great-river-movie-poster-1967-1020193276Director: Robert Day
Starring: Mike Henry | Jan Murray | Manuel Padilla Jr. | Diana Millay | Rafer Johnson
Based on characters created by Edgar Rice Burroughs

I remember watching Tarzan and the Great River on television as a child and really enjoying, but watching it all these years later – while I admit still enjoyed for nostalgia reasons – it comes of as rather juvenile and sluggishly paced in places.

It was made in 1967 when spymania still had some legs in it (1965 was the peak), so Mike Henry’s Tarzan is a suited and booted globe-trotting trouble shooter – not quite a Bondian superspy but certainly a jet-setting man-of-the world. The film begins with Tarzan arriving in Rio (cue grainy stock footage of a jet airliner coming in to land). Soon after he finds himself at the home of an old friend he refers to as the ‘Professor’. What the Professor’s actual job is, is never fully explained. It would appear he is some kind of civic leader, because, as he explains to Tarzan, he is concerned that jaguar cult tribe – under the control of a powerful leader named Barcuna (Rafer Johnson) – have been raiding other villages. Barcuna’s men kill some of the villagers but also take many of them as slaves to work in what I guess is a diamond mine. We never see the mine, only the slaves working in the river.

Wherever Barcuna’s men go, they leave their calling card – a staff with a jaguar’s clawed foot on the end. Tarzan agrees to head into the jungle to investigate. But before he does so, he has one chore to attend to – and that is to visit with his animal friends. Let me explain this the best I can, as it is extremely contrived. The Professor also appears to be the zookeeper in Rio, and some time back, Tarzan donated a menagerie of African animals to the zoo. The featured creatures happen to be Cheetah – the chimpanzee (one of the chimps on this film was put down after it bit Mike Henry on the chin); and Baron – the Lion. While Tarzan is getting reacquainted with his ani-pals, one of the jaguar cult sneaks into the Professor’s office and strikes him down with a jaguar clawed staff.

The Professor’s murder only strengthens Tarzan’s resolve. He ditches the suit for a loincloth, and with Cheetah and Baron by his side, he races off into the jungle to find the jaguar cult and stop the killing.

During the journey he comes across a steam boat captain (Jan Murray) and his first mate – a boy named Pepe (Manuel Padilla Jr. who would later play Jai in the Ron Ely Tarzan television series). They are traveling up river to deliver medical supplies to Dr. Anne Philips (Diana Millay) who is stationed at Keema village. After rescuing the Captain and Pepe from attack, Tarzan and his ani-pals board the boat and head up river – a journey that will ultimately lead to a confrontation with Barcuna.

Tarzan and the Great River features a large amount of stock footage – possibly lifted from previous Tarzan movies – and what makes it all the more obvious, is that it appears to be African stock footage. As far as I’m aware, there are no hippos in the Amazon River.

One thing that amuses me is the film poster featured at the top of this post. It may be hard to make out, but if you look carefully, it showcases three setpieces that a viewer could reasonably expect to be in the movie. The first proclaims, “TARZAN… kills the ferocious jaguar barehanded!” It doesn’t happen. Tarzan wrestles a lion and an alligator, but no jaguars. Next it says, “TARZAN… trapped by the erupting volcano!” Sorry folks, no volcanoes in the film either. A native village is burned to the ground, but there’s no lava, or raining hellfire and brimstone. Lastly, “TARZAN… plunges into the raging rapids from which no man ever returned!” Yep, you guessed it, there are no rapids in the film. I don’t know whether the poster is simply a classic piece of exploitation or – as I mentioned earlier – when Henry was bitten by the chimp, maybe the production was delayed to such an extent that sequences were cut from the story. The cynic in me likes to be believe it is purely exploitation.

So that’s Tarazan and the Great River. Not one of the greats – but it should amuse kids and those with a bent for nostalgia.

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Gravedigger: Hot Women, Cold Cash

GravediggerTitle: Gravedigger: Hot Women, Cold Cash
Author: Christopher Mills
Illustrator: Rick Burchett
Publisher: Action Lab: Danger Zone
Year: 2015

The first thing you’ll notice about the character, Gravedigger McCrae, is his resemblance to Lee Marvin. In my mind this elicits thoughts of Point Blank, The Killers and Prime Cut, which is quite okay if the story delivers that kind of tough guy mayhem and action. I am happy to report Mills and Burchett knock the ball right out of the park. It delivers exactly that type of action and more.

The two stories in this collection, The Predators and The Scavengers are first-rate, tight crime thrillers that are a great deal of fun to read. If you like Richard Stark’s (Donald Westlake) Parker novels – or the aforementioned Marvin flicks you’ll find a lot to enjoy here.

I can’t wait for more.

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Lie Catchers

Lie Catchers Cover imageTitle: Lie Catchers
Author: Paul Bishop
Publisher: Pro Se Productions
Year: 2015

Lie Catchers is a police procedural with a twist. The two heroes of the story, ‘Calamity’ Jane Randall and Ray Pagan, have unique gifts which aid their investigation. Randall is a synesthete – which means she can see when people are lying – and Pagan is an empath and can tap into how people feel. Together this odd couple must solve the mysterious abduction of two children in L.A.

At first glance, the two abductions seem unconnected. One child was the daughter of a big-shot music producer. The other was the son of a single-mom struggling to make ends meet. Their worlds could not be further apart. But there is a connection. Randall and Pagan must untangle a web of lies to get to the truth.

Lie Catchers had me engrossed from first page till last, and the universe created by author, Paul Bishop, is one I would gladly visit again.

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The Scroll of the Dead

ScrolloftheDeadTitle: The Further Adventures of Sherlock Holmes: The Scroll of the Dead
Author: David Stuart Davies
Publisher: Titan Books
Year: 2009

The Scroll of the Dead is a fast paced yarn that hits all the beats a Holmes and Watson story should. Some of the twists are a tad predictable, but don’t really detract from the story. The tale wastes little time getting started, assuming readers are already familiar with Sherlock Holmes and Dr. John Watson; their relationship, and the world they live in. It’s a fair assumption considering the amount of Holmes material in the marketplace – be it books, film, and television shows – and that number appears to be growing exponentially every day.

The story concerns the theft of a piece of ancient papyrus from the British Museum’s Egyptian collection. The papyrus was written by a high priest named Seraph, who was said to know the secret to eternal life. His coded text on the papyrus was a guide to the location of The Scroll of the Dead, which outlined his formula for achieving life beyond the normal plane of existence.

Naturally enough, evil doers who dabble in the black arts want the scroll and are prepared to kill to get it. The game is afoot, and treachery and deceit ensue.

While The Scroll of the Dead is a thoroughly entertaining read from go to whoa, if I have a problem with it, it’s that the coded secret of the papyrus is never revealed. Holmes cracks the code off screen, as it were, and the reader (and Watson for that matter – as he is the narrator) misses out on what could be argued is the most important piece of information in the case… Then again, somebody could suggest if I want that type of story, then maybe I should stick to Dan Brown!

None-the-less, The Scroll of the Dead is a fun adventure romp that can easily read in one or two sittings and should please most fans of Holmes and Watson.

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Welcome to the Jungle, Mr. Love!

Ambrosia V3My latest retro-spy thriller, THE AMBROSIA KILL was published last week by Pro Se Productions (you can track it down on Amazon or Smashwords if you’re so inclined), and I thought I’d tell you a little bit about it and some of my influences.

I am a big fan of spy stories from the 1960s, in both film and literature. It is therefore, not so surprising that I have set my Jarvis Love retro-spy series during that decade. I like the 1960s as a setting for several reasons. The first is simply escapism. I want readers to escape from their everyday lives for a few hours, and setting the story in the past gives me that opportunity. It’s another world – a simpler world – but one full of danger and excitement. I also don’t want technology to interfere with the story. I like the idea of a man (or woman) dropped into a foreign location and having to figure out things on the fly. No back up; no-one in an earpiece sharing the latest intel. I want the hero to work it out for themselves, and hopefully the reader will enjoy making the journey with them.

One of the tropes inherent in those classic spy stories from the ’60s was JET-SETTING or GLOBE-TROTTING. It was like a holiday on the printed page. The tales featured international globe trotting secret agents fighting crime and evil masterminds in exotic locales all around the globe. Beautiful people in beautiful locations doing particularly nasty things was the maxim. In some cases the stories were barely more than glorified travelogues, but the locations provided fantastic backdrops for the action. Perfect examples of these were the James Bond (I know Bond was first published in the 1950s), Matt Helm or Sam Durell stories, but even many of the lesser known tales of espionage liked to work in foreign locations. In fact, the locations used were often a selling points for these films or novels. If a spy story utilised an exotic location, it wasn’t unusual for that location to be mentioned in the title. The role call of destinations included, Our Man In Havana (book in ’58 / film in ’59), Funeral In Berlin, The Berlin Memorandum, That Man In Istanbul, Espionage In Tangiers, The Girl From Rio, Assassination In Rome, Our Man In Marrakech, Fury In The Orient, Hong Kong Hot Harbour, Our Man In Jamaica and many, many others. The tradition of globe-trotting is an element I have tried to incorporate in my spy stories. In THE LIBRIO DEFECTION (2012), I had G.I.N. operative Jarvis Love travel to Florence in Italy. For THE DANAKIL DECEPTION (2014), I went right off the beaten track, and took readers to Ethiopia and the volcanic desolate terrain of the Danakil Depression, the hottest place on earth.

For my latest novel, THE AMBROSIA KILL, I set most of the story on the island of New Britain, in the Bismark Archipelago. New Britain is one of the regions that make up Papua New Guinea, and much of the island, to this day, remains unexplored. So gear up for a rugged jungle adventure. It’s getting more and more difficult to find new locations to explore, but I like to think I have succeeded.

THE AMBROSIA KILL picks up right after the end of THE DANAKIL DECEPTION. The story finds Jarvis Love with a new assignment. Kerryn Foxworthy, the daughter of a prominent English Lord, has run off and joined a religious cult called the Twin Hearts of Fire. Their compound is in Almeria, Spain, and is run by a shadowy figure called Brother Myron. Love’s mission is to retrieve Kerryn and bring her back to London, however there is a catch. Accompanying him on the assignment is Kerryn’s twin sister, Merryn. Love is not pleased at the prospect of chaperoning the high-spirited young woman, but, as the mission progresses, Love finds himself falling for her. Love and Merryn succeed in rescuing Kerryn, but the cult sends out armed acolytes to stop them. The final confrontation occurs in a gas station in the Almeria Dessert. As Love attempts to escape with the Foxworthy girls, there is a tremendous explosion. The car they are traveling in is struck by the blast and overturns. Merryn’s face in burned. She will be scarred for life.

Love blames himself for the tragedy. Struggling to live with the guilt, he becomes addicted to seconal – or Red Devils – a drug that takes away his pain. He even contemplates quitting G.I.N. His superior, Rupert Fenwyck, knows the only way that Love will recover, is if he is thrown into the thick of it again. He assigns him to investigate the murder of a G.I.N. operative in Port Moresby – Papua New Guinea. It seems like a nothing assignment. The killer was shot during the attack, and died soon afterward. However, nothing is as it seems. Upon arrival, Love discovers the operative was looking into the disappearance of Professor Lincoln Jess, a prominent botanist, who had only recently returned from New Britain. The Professor’s most recent discovery is Bulbophyllum ambrosia, a blood red orchid with mind-altering properties. Used for good, it could cure anxiety and depression, but used for evil, it could be used for mind control.

After several attempts on his life, Love realizes the assignment is more complex than anyone could imagine. And soon finds himself teamed up with the Professor’s daughter, Miranda, and a jungle guide named Haggert. Their plan is to retrace the steps of Lincoln Jess – a journey into the wild unforgiving jungle of New Britain – a land full of danger at every turn. Naturally enough, the events in Spain still haunt Love. He is not keen to have Miranda along. He does not want to be responsible for her safety, fearing he may let her down. Concerned for her father’s safety, Miranda insists she make the journey, and Love can do little to stop her. Their expedition leads them to a lake in the black heart of the jungle. The final confrontation pushes Love and Miranda to the brink of human endurance. Can Love excise the demons of the past? Can he save Miranda from the horrors of the jungle? All this and much, much more, in THE AMBROSIA KILL. Welcome to the Jungle, Mr. Love!

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Happy New Year

G’day friends. Happy New Year to you all.

Screen Shot 2015-02-03 at 7.54.59 amAs we say good bye to 2015, I thought I’d take a look back at the last twelve months and all that I acheived. On the surface, it didn’t seem like a very good year. There were some personal hurdles to climb – which I won’t bore you with here – suffice to say sometimes life can kick you in the guts when you least expect it. And on the writing front only three shorts stories were released. When I realized this, for a brief moment I was pretty down (Oh, shut up you whinger!) Then I sat down with pen and paper and jotted down everything I had achieved. It wasn’t so bad.

January saw the release of CUTTER’S LAW – the first story in the Vengeance trilogy – and a part of the Pro Se Single Shot Signature line. The follow-up stories, GET CUTTER! and CUTTER AND THE KINGSNAKE unfortunately got held up when the Signature series went off the rails. But I have been told the project should be back on track early this year – so hopefully those of you who have been waiting for the next installments will be rewarded very soon. The reviews for CUTTER’S LAW were great – most people seemed to get exactly what I was trying to do. Here’s a couple of snippets.

For readers mourning the demise of the famed Executioner series and the whole Men’s Action sub-genre subsequently spawned and reaching a fever-pitch peak in the ’70s and ’80s … take heart. In the capable hands of James Hopwood, a new kick-ass hero for the new century is at hand. His name is Nathan Cutter. He’s an ex Aussie soldier returned home for revenge and retribution and the Devil help anybody who gets in his way.

Wayne D. Dundee

This is all the men’s action stories I read in the 70’s & 80’s boiled down to their lean, bloody core. I enjoyed this story immensely. I miss action stories that don’t take 600 pages to get to the point.

J. L. Stubblefield

While I could not–and still can’t–decide whether this was supposed to be a throwback, homage, or parody of ’80s men’s adventure fiction, one thing that was never in doubt was how much fun I was having while reading it. It took all the vital elements of the genre–tough hero, tragic loss, big guns, high body count, etc.–and boiled them down to their bare bones essence in a brisk 25-page short story. Again, not sure how serious we’re supposed to take this stuff, but anyone who enjoys the genre cannot help but grin like an idiot when the hero emerges from a vehicle brandishing a Skorpion machine pistol in each hand and begins to simultaneously gun down the bad guys. Or even better, when the villain, on the cusp of his comeuppance, yells at Cutter, “Who are you?” and the only answer our hero gives is, “I am Vengeance!”

Mark Allen

BULLET GAL_Its Not You Its Me_Collection_COVERIn early April, the graphic novel, BULLET GAL: IT’S NOT YOU, IT’S ME, written by Andrez Bergen hit the shelves. Hidden in its pages,was a rather 80’s retro pin-up poster of the heroine cobbled together by me. My contribution won’t shake up the art world – or the comic book world either – but it was a fun project, and it’s nice to see it out there in the wild and to do something a little different. It is available from Underbelly Commix.

In May, UNDER THE RADAR, written by Aaron Smith, was released by Pro Se Productions. The novel, which is a rapid fire spy thriller, featuring globe trotting agent Richard Monroe, was edited by me. Despite fantastic cover art by Jeffery Hayes, the novel hasn’t received the recognition it deserves – so if you enjoy a good old fashioned spy story, check it out and give it some love. Monroe previously appeared in NOBODY DIES FOR FREE.

RadarSeptember saw the release on the 2015 WRITER’S BLOCK Anthology, which featured my short story SHERMAN’S SECRET. By nature I am a pretty shy guy, so getting out there and talking about my writing is difficult, but in early 2015, I started attending Writer’s Block. They are a truly a great support network – never judgmental – always encouraging, which has helped me more than I can say.

Through Writer’s Block I also wrote my first radio play. Entitled SONG BIRD, the piece was a tight little beat-the-clock thriller, set on the Mornington Peninsula. Unfortunately, the project seems to have stalled. Hopefully the wheels may begin to turn this year. It would be great to hear it on air sometime.

In October, THE GREAT BIG BOOK OF AWESOME ADVENTURE TALES was announced by Clan Destine Press. My contribution, THE LOST LOOT OF LIMA introduces two new heroes, Mark and Sarah Page – dubbed The Pages of History. This promises to be a fantastic collection of Antipodean adventure stories, and I can’t wait to see it hit the shelves in mid 2016.

Just before Christmas, LEGENDS OF NEW PULP FICTION was released by the crew at Airship 27. The anthology is a benefit for friend, publisher, editor and mentor, Tommy Hancock. My contribution was a rollicking action-adventure tale entitled THE PIRATE KING.

So that brings up up to date. But what’s in store for 2016, I hear you ask? Of course, things may move about a little – and some things I can’t talk about – but here’s a few highlights for the coming year.

As I mentioned above, the VENGEANCE series should start up again very soon, so look out for GET CUTTER! and CUTTER AND THE KINGSNAKE. Also THE GREAT BIG BOOK OF AWESOME ADVENTURE TALES should be out mid year.

Ambrosia V3I am pleased to announce the next Jarvis Love novel, THE AMBROSIA KILL is just around the corner. I don’t have an exact release date, but start preparing now for the greatest thrill ride ever committed to the written page. Okay, that may be a slight exaggeration – but believe me, I have pulled out all stops on this one. If you liked THE DANAKIL DECEPTION, then AMBROSIA is going to blow your mind. I kid you not!

In May, Beat Girls, Love Tribes, and Real Cool Cats: Pulp Fiction and Youth Culture, 1950-1980 will be released by Verse Chorus Press. Put together by Andrew Nette and Iain McIntyre, this promises to be an amazing book that every student of Pulp Fiction will need on their shelf. I have contributed a couple of articles and an interview with George Snyder – who wrote the OPERATION HANG TEN books. Here’s the spiel.

Beat GirlsThe first comprehensive account of the rise of youth culture and mass-market paperback fiction in the postwar period, Beat Girls is a must-read for anyone interested in retro and subcultural style and popular fiction.

As the young created new styles in music, fashion and culture, pulp fiction followed their every step, hyping and exploiting their behavior and language for mass consumption. From the juvenile delinquent gangs of the early fifties, through the beats and hippies, on to bikers, skinheads and punks, pulp fiction left no trend untouched. Boasting wild covers and action-packed plots, these books reveal as much about society’s desires and fears as they do about the subcultures themselves.

Featuring over 300 pulp covers, many never before reprinted, as well 70 in-depth author interviews and biographies, articles and reviews, Beat Girls offers the most extensive survey of the era’s mass market pulp fiction. Novels by well-known authors like Harlan Ellison, Lawrence Block, Evan Hunter/Ed McBain, and by filmmakers Samuel Fuller and Ed Wood Jr., are discussed alongside neglected obscurities and contemporary bestsellers ripe for rediscovery. More than 20 critics and scholars of popular culture contributed to this celebration of a fascinating body of work.

The western series I have teased on a few occasions has hit a few snags of late – and may be looking for new publisher. I hope it finds a new home and finally sees the light of day. There are also a few short adventure stories scheduled to appear in anthologies over the year, so keep your eyes peeled.

2016 promises to be a pretty exciting year for me, and I hope yours is too.
All the best, D.

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