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Wednesday, November 30, 2016

PICCADILLY COWBOYS ~ THE GRINGOS

 
PICCADILLY COWBOYS ~ THE GRINGOS
 
*The first in an occasional series of posts looking at the Piccadilly Cowboy westerns…
 
They rode out of a dark and dangerous Piccadilly pub in the heart of ‘70s London. Seven deadly UK wordslingers with their battered typewriters tied down, ready to blast out paperbacks filled with violent, brutal, blistering action. They were set for a showdown against every tin star tradition of the western genre—and determined to shoot ‘em to dollrags.
 
For the next decade, the gang known as The Piccadilly Cowboys would carve over three hundred notches on their combined typewriters—one for every hard, fast, ultra-violent tale they produced. Terry Harknett, Angus Wells, Kenneth Bulmer, Mike Linaker, Laurence James, Fred Nolan, and John
Harvey had never travelled west of London, yet their influence would save the western genre from obscurity. However, not everyone felt the means was being justified by the end. The old guard of the standard western—white-hatted, horse loving, damsel rescuers—reviled these blaggards who they believed  were destroying their legacy.  
 
Using assumed identities—pseudonyms such as George Gilman (Terry Harknett), Frederick H. Christian (Fred Nolan), William M. James (Harknett, Lawrence James, John Harvey), James A. Muir/Mathew Kirk (Angus Wells), L. J. Coburn (James, Harvey), Neil Hunter (Mike Linaker), Charles R. Pike (Kenneth Bulmer), and many others—these desperate men found
inspiration in the filmatic violence, heat, dust, and bloodshed of Sergio Leone’s spaghetti westerns. Together, they shunned the generic moral and puritanical principles of traditional westerns in favor of a blood-soaked, nihilistic, ultra-realism splash across their pages.
 
The protagonists created by the Piccadilly Cowboys were not traditional anti-heroes, or even amoral drifters with their own personal code. They were brutal violent bullies, sociopathic villains, with no thought for anything beyond their own survival and the slaking of their depraved lusts—killing, vengeance, sadism, and prurient rutting.
 
Edge (61 books), Adam Steele (49 books), Herne (24 books), Bodie (6 books), Apache (27 books), Caleb Thorne (5 books), Jubal Cade (22 books), The Undertaker (6 books), Angel (9 books), Hart (10 books), Breed (22 books), Claw (6 books), Hawk (15 books), Lawmen (six books), Crow—the worst of the bunch—(8 books), and a dozen or more other vicious series gunmen cemented the reputation of the Piccadilly Cowboys for creating The Most Violent Westerns In Print...
 
Among the lesser known, but better written of these series, Gringos was co-authored by John Harvey (who would go on to critical success with his mainstream detective stories featuring Charlie Resnick) and the prolific Angus Wells under the pseudonym J. D. Sandon. The ten books in the Gringos series began publication in 1972 with Guns across the River. The final book in the series—Survivors—was published in 1982.
 
Set in the 1800s, the Gringos were four hard violent men—Jonas Strong, who was damned by his color...Cade Onslow, a major who deserted the US Army in pursuit of vengeance…Jamie Durham, a junkie shunned by society due to his destroyed face...and Yates McCloud, a rapist described as headed straight to hell.
 
Guns Across the River begins with the Gringos entrusted with delivering guns to Pancho Villa—weapons he needs to defeat his hated rival, Zacatecas, and advance on Mexico City. Finding themselves in a trap, the Gringos must use the weapons themselves while putting together a rag-tag army of their own...
 
GRINGOS #1: GUNS ACROSS THE RIVER
ANGUS WELLS (1979)
 
They Came To Sell Guns—And Stayed To Use Them ~ The Mexican Revolution—when death rode on a razor’s edge and life hung on the hammer of a colt automatic. Cade Onslow: US Army Major. Deserter, with nothing to gain but vengeance. Jonas Strong: Top Sergeant, damned by his color. Yates McCloud: Rapist. Nowhere to go but hell. Jamie Durham: The needle of morphine was the answer to his ruined face. The Gringos—four men with nothing to lose but their lives. And they didn’t count for much in the blood fury of rebellion.
 
GRINGOS #2: CANNONS IN THE RAIN
JOHN HARVEY (1979)
 
Money Was All They Wanted—Death, All They Expected ~ When the consignment of illegal arms the Gringos were shipping south to the Mexican rebels was blown out of the water, they were forced to go back to Zapata empty-handed. Emiliano Zapata, the deadliest rebel of them all. He could have had them killed on the spot—Instead he held one of them hostage and sent the others to hi-jack a government arms train. They all knew what would happen if they failed, but failure wasn’t a word the Gringos knew. Even if they had to blast and shoot their way through the hell that was Mexico to prove it!
 
GRINGOS #3: FIRE IN THE WIND
ANGUS WELLS (1979)
 
Three Men With Nowhere To Go But Hell ~ Mexico 1914. The revolution was in full, bloody spate. Zapata held the south. Pancho Villa held the north. Mexico City was caught in the pincer grip of the rebel armies. But in Reynosa there was an answer to the Government’s siege in the form of enough explosive to blast the rebels to hell. And a way to deliver it—a bi-plane. It was a new way of making war, a way to deliver death from the sky. The Gringos met it the only way they knew how...With bullets and blood.
 
GRINGOS #4: BORDER AFFAIR
JOHN HARVEY (1979)
 
They Were Hired To Kill—And Paid In Blood ~ It should have been easy—collect a shipment of arms in El Paso and run them south of the border to the rebel bandit, Pancho Villa. But in the blood and darkness of revolution nothing is as easy as it seems. Betrayed on all sides, the leader of the Gringos feels the raw rope of a hangman’s noose around his neck. It takes the other Gringos all their furious courage and firepower to save him—except none of them can ever be saved.
 
GRINGOS #5: EASY MONEY
ANGUS WELLS (1980)
 
Guns Were Their Trade—Killing Their Destiny ~ Zacatecas was the stumbling block that barred Pancho Villa’s advance on Mexico City. The Federale garrison was fighting his bandit army to a standstill. But word came of howitzers stored in Tampico, and Villa called on the four men he trusted most to bring him guns—The Gringos. What they didn’t know was that the whole deal was a trap—an elaborate plan to destroy them. And when the jaws swung shut, they were left to escape the way they knew best—by fighting clear!
 
GRINGOS #6: MAZATLÁN
JOHN HARVEY (1980)
 
Their Trade Was Death—At The Right Price ~ When Yates McCloud tried to rape the Mexican’s woman, he forgot about revolutionary justice. And Mexican pride. Pancho Villa needed reliable men to help a bandito take the bank at Mazatlán—The Gringos were chosen. What they didn’t know was that a vengeance-bent killer was dogging their trail. Or that the ruthless outlaws they were forced to work with planned a double-cross. But The Gringos had their own answer to betrayal. The answer was spelled...death. With the word painted in blood.
 
GRINGOS #7: ONE TOO MANY MORNINGS
ANGUS WELLS (1981)
 
They Were Dealers In Guns—And Traders In Death ~ The prison was an impregnable fortress, the cells not fit for an animal, let alone a man. Death would have been a kindness for Oveda as neither escape nor rescue were possible. But Oveda’s freedom was vital to the cause of the Mexican Revolution. And for enough money, the Gringos would attempt even the impossible...The Gringos—four desperate Americans on the wrong side of the border, and the wrong side of the law. Fighting was all they had learned from life. Money was all they wanted. Death all they expected.
 
GRINGOS #8: WHEELS OF THUNDER
JOHN HARVEY (1981)
 
They Were Born To Live—And Die—Fighting ~ When Mexican revolutionary Pancho Villa swore to bring his people out of slavery and into the 20th Century, he didn’t reckon on having a Hollywood film crew in on the action. But now it is the price he must pay for the guns and ammunition he needs to fight the most savage battle of the war, and for the services of the men who will get them—The Gringos. The four hardest hombres south of the Rio Grande.
 
GRINGOS #9: DURANGO
JOHN HARVEY (1982)
 
First They Killed For Money—Then For Survival ~ As the Revolutionary war in Mexico builds to a savage climax, the Gringos face their sternest test. In a welter of blood and a hail of death-dealing lead, they must avert the most vicious and cunning plot yet to rob the people of their chance of freedom. The Gringos—four men on the wrong side of the border, the wrong side of the law, and only just on the right side of Hell.
 
GRINGOS #10: SURVIVORS
ANGUS WELLS (1982)
 
They Walked Into The Jaws Of Hell—Never To Return ~ The revolution was sapping the life from the suffering people of Mexico. Los Gringos filled the gap with the two things they did best—fighting and killing. Guns and money were enough to satisfy their crude appetites, but to get them, they first had to battle with some of the most vicious enemies the world had seen. And for The Gringos—four desperate men on a journey through red hell—there is no survival without blood on their hands and the ashen taste of death on their tongues.
 
While many of the Piccadilly Cowboy western series can still be found as used paperbacks (or in new e-book formats on Amazon from Piccadilly Publishing), trying to put together a full set of the Gringos series in good condition is both relatively difficult and pricey. However, the stories are worth the effort to track down if these types of westerns work for you...
 
  
 

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

QUEENSBERRY JUSTICE: THE FIGHT CARD SHERLOCK HOLMES OMNIBUS


QUEENSBERRY JUSTICE: THE FIGHT CARD SHERLOCK HOLMES OMNIBUS

In 2013 Fight Card Books added a bold, new chapter to the rich literary tradition of Sherlock Holmes with the publication of the first Fight Card Sherlock Holmes tale, Work Capitol. The book was an instant hit with not only readers and critics, but also hardcore Sherlockians—who hailed Fight Card Sherlock Holmes: Work Capitol as a brilliant addition to the Sherlock Holmes canon…
 
Two more Fight Card Sherlock Holmes novels followed, receiving the same critical acclaim...Fight Card Sherlock Holmes: Blood To The Bone and Fight Card Sherlock Holmes: A Congression Of Pallbearers both continued the dramatic, two-fisted action as Holmes honed his fighting skills both in and out of the boxing ring... 
 
Original, canonically tied, and completely Sherlockian all three tales have now been collected for the first time in one action-packed volume—Queensberry Justice: The Fight Card Sherlock Holmes Omnibus...
 
Exclusive additions to the collection include three brand new Fight Card Sherlock Holmes short stories...A foreword by Paul Bishop, the co-creator of the Fight Card series...A new introduction by Fight Card Sherlock Holmes author Andrew Salmon...Cover galleries for all three books created by illustrators Mike Fyles and Carl Yonder...Sample pages from the handwritten manuscripts...An alternate version of one of the trilogy's most dramatic scenes…Original articles on Victorian boxing and the role of Sherlock Holmes...And much more…
 
Available now in e-book for $9.99…Soon to appear in a $20.00 trade paperback…


RANDOM MOVIE AND TV REVIEWS

RANDOM MOVIE AND TV REVIEWS
 
DR. STRANGE
 
Doctor Strange is fantastic...All round mind blowing from casting to story to effects to soundtrack...Go see now...And then there's the cape...Totally cool...Want one now...
 
ARRIVAL
 
The tag line of this critically lauded 'thinking man's' sci-fi movie is, Why


Are They Here? After two hours of painfully slow exposition and a whole lot of long silent walking, driving, and going up and down on the elevator thingy, my question was, Who Cares Why They Here?...And finally, They Came All The Way Here Just For That?...I'm in the minority opinion regarding this film...A lot of people have liked and loved it...But when I ask them to explain it all I get is a blank look...The emperor has no clothes...
 
FANTASTIC BEASTS AND WHERE TO FIND THEM
 
I had a great time with Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them...A total palette cleanser after the foul taste left by Arrival...Fun, inventive, and fully realized...More please...
 
ALLIED
 
I wasn't overwhelmed, but I did enjoy Allied...However, it is a perfect example of a movie trailer hurting the film it's promoting by giving away every plot twist...As a result you sit in the theater twiddling your fingers while going through the build up to get to the plot points you've already seen in the trailer...I also think the film was hurt by its strictly linear storytelling, filled with time jumps (One Year Later...Three Years Later) in an effort to get to all the tension filled stuff to come after the big plot twist (already given away in the trailer)...The movie should have started with the plot twist and then portioned out the backstory through the rest of the film...Again, I enjoyed Allied and recommend it, but with some reservations...
 
TIMELESS
 
Adding one television show to this list...I'm enjoying Timeless...Each week I get pulled in by the time period, which helps me deal with the inherent basic plot of each episode...I'm hoping the show runners have figured out where they are taking the sequential storyline...Best new show of the season IMHO...

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

THE ACCOUNTANT

THE ACCOUNTANT
 
The Accountant is a great men's adventure movie. Very underrated. Tight script with some excellent reveals. Affleck is outstanding. I enjoyed the new Jack Reacher film, but The Accountant is far superiora homerun compared to a solid double. An action film with a deliberate build, requiring thinking, a bit of patience, and a trust all will come perfectly together in the end. My favorite movie of the year behind Hell Or High Water...

Thursday, October 6, 2016

PULP NOW: THE RETURN OF BLACK MASK

PULP NOW: THE RETURN OF BLACK MASK
 
COMING SOON

Altus Press has announced the return of the icon Black Mask magazine--renowned for the high level of quality fiction which they published for decades, including the early works of Raymond Chandler, Dashiel Hammett, Max Brand, John D. MacDonald, Erle Stanley Gardner, and so many others...I can't begin to explain what it means to have my name on the cover and the lead story in the first new issue of a magazine I have revered since I started putting words on paper...I'll post again when the issue is available...

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

GUNSHINE STATE ~THE HEIST ALWAYS GOES WRONG

GUNSHINE STATE ~THE HEIST ALWAYS GOES WRONG
 
I have enjoyed PULP CURRY—the spicy, noir-centric blog administered by Australia’s ANDREW NETTE—for many years. I also thoroughly enjoyed Andrew’s first novel GHOST MONEY when it was published in 2012.
 
Set in the mid-nineties, Ghost Money was unusual and intriguing, following Australian ex-cop Max Quinlan as he searches for a missing businessman amidst the chaos of the long-running Khmer Rouge insurgency in Cambodia. Ghost Money was more than a crime novel, it also engaged me intellectually through its stark examination of a broken country and those individuals trapped between two periods of history, the choices they make, what they do to survive. 
 
Recently, Andrew’s heist thriller set in Queensland, Thailand and Melbourne—GUNSHINE STATE—was published by upstart crime publisher 280 STEPS. Since Andrew’s knowledge of and fascination with heist thrillers and films is more than a match for my own, I was excited to dig into this intricate caper and it’s ensuing complications. 
 
Complications? Absolutely. Because the immutable truth of every heist thriller and caper film proves the heist always goes wrong...
 
I’m not sure if Andrew originally coined the catchphrase, the heist always goes wrong, but he has certainly turned it into a touchstone on his blog and made it a mainstay of his social networking outlets. From Richard Stark’s Parker novels to Max Allan Collin’s Nolan tales to Garry Disher’s Wyatt capers...the heist always goes wrong. From Rififi to Topkapi to The Seven Golden Men to The Italian Job to The Caper of the Golden Bulls to The Thomas Crown Affair...the heist always goes wrong. Heist novels, caper movies, even real life crimes, hinge on the unravelling complications when the heist always goes wrong...
 
I had the opportunity to grill Andrew about Gunshine State and his love for the heist genre...
 
Tell us a bit about Andrew Nette, Pulp Curry, and (for those not in on the pun) the title Gunshine State
 
I am a Melbourne-based writer of fiction and non-fiction. I have published two novels, of which Gunshine State is the latest, a swag of short stories and am currently co-editing a couple of books on the history of pulp fiction, the first of which looks at how various youth sub-cultures have been depicted in pulp fiction in the US, UK and Australia, 1950-1980. Pulp Curry is what I believe is called in the trade my online authorial real estate. It is my site where I write about crime fiction and film, pulp and popular (and not so popular) culture.
 
The main character in Gunshine State, Gary Chance, is a former Australian army driver, ex-bouncer and thief. His latest job takes place in Surfers Paradise, working as part gang run by an aging stand over man, Dennis Curry, who runs off-site, non-casino poker games, and wants to rob one of his best customers, a high roller called Frederick Freddie Gao. The job seems straightforward, but Curry's crew is anything but. Chance knows he can't trust anyone, but nothing prepares him for what unfolds when Curry's plan goes wrong.
 
If you look it up on the Internet, you’ll see the term Gunshine State has been used to refer to the US state of Florida. I only discovered this after I had decided use it as the title for my novel. I first stumbled across the term in a tabloid headline I read years ago about gun trafficking in Queensland. Whatever the case, I think you get the drift of what it means, somewhere sunny with a lot of crime and dark deeds.
 
How and when did your fascination with heists in novels and films start?
 
Watching crime films with my late father. My love of a lot of good things, jazz music, vintage pulp novels and movies, can be traced back to things I was exposed to in my youth though my father.
 
If you had to pick one heist film and one caper film as your favorite what would they be?
 
That’s a tough one.  If I had to pick a favourite heist film it would probably be The Friends of Eddie Coyle (1973), although John Huston’s 1950 classic, would come close. Robert Mitchum is fantastic as Eddie Fingers Coyle, a 51 year-old ex-con, gunrunner and who knows what else in his criminal career, facing the prospect of a three to five year jail stretch for being caught driving a truckload of stolen whisky. Coyle will do anything to stay out prison, but all he’s got to trade is information, in particular, information on the identity of the gang that has been pulling off a series of audacious bank robberies. Supporting Mitchum is a wonderful group of character actors, including Stephen Keats, Richard Jordan and Peter Boyle. The story, look, the dialogue, every aspect of this film works superbly.
 
I consider caper films a softer, often more humorous variation on the heist movie (plus, in a caper film, the criminals usually get away with it). If I had to nominate a favourite it would be another Peter Yates film, The Hot Rock, released in 1972. Based on novel by Donald Westlake (whose writing I love), the story revolves around a thief called Dortmunder (Robert Redford), approached by the ambassador of an African state (Mosus Gunn) to steal a valuable gem from a New York museum. This film has a terrific cast (in addition to Redford and Gunn, there is Ron Leiberman and Charlotte Rae), a cracking Quincy Jones soundtrack, and a plot with great twists and turns.
 
From where did you get the inspiration for Gunshine State?
 
Gunshine State is my attempt to do a quintessential Australian take on heist crime fiction. I also wanted to try and do justice to the shady past of what was once Australia’s premier holiday destination, the faux Miami known as Surfers Paradise, in Queensland, where a chunk of the book is set.
 
Does your main character—former Australian army driver, ex-bouncer and thief, Gary Chance—have a real life counterpart, or is he completely a spark of your own imagination? 
 
He has no real life counterpart I am aware of, although, I did talk to a couple of ex-Australian army guys to get a sense of what Chance might be like, and his experiences in East Timor and Afghanistan, where he drove trucks. My point was, I wanted an ex-army character who did something relatively routine in the Australian army, if you get what I mean. I didn’t want the character to be ex-SAS or some sort of super soldier.
 
Did you feel confined by the tropes of the heist genre or was there a way to get outside of them?
 
The only stipulation of the heist genre I wanted to abide by is that the story’s initial heist had to go wrong, resulting in very bad things happening to my main characters. Otherwise, I tried to mix the plot up as much as possible. Only the reader can tell me whether I have been successful or not.
 
Do you see Australian crime fiction gaining a higher international profile?
 
Let’s hope so. I think there is some great crime fiction being published at the moment (some of which I have written about on my site) and it would be great to see it get a wider audience.
 
Will there be a follow up to Gunshine State, and will the heist go wrong?
 
There will definitely be a follow up. I have the plot. Now I just need to find the time to write it. And yes, the planned heist did go wrong…about forty years ago. 
 
Thx, Andrew...I appreciate chatting with you and hope Gary Chance manages to keep capering and stay out of prison for the foreseeable future...
 
GUNSHINE STATE
 
A heist thriller set in Queensland, Melbourne and Thailand. Think Richard Stark’s Parker, Garry Disher’s Wyatt, and Wallace Stroby's Crissa Stone. Add a touch of Surfers Paradise sleaze and a very dangerous stopover in Asia.
 
Gary Chance is a former Australian army driver, ex-bouncer and thief. His latest job takes him to Surfers Paradise, Queensland, working for aging standover man, Dennis Curry. Curry runs off-site, non-casino poker games, and wants to rob one of his best customers, a high roller called Freddie Gao.
 
The job seems straightforward but Curry's crew is anything but. Frank Dormer is a secretive ex-soldier turned private security contractor. Sophia Lekakis is a highly-strung receptionist at the hotel where Gao stays when he visits Surfers Paradise. Amber, Curry's female housemate, is part of the lure for Gao. Chance knows he can't trust anyone, but nothing prepares him for what unfolds when Curry's plan goes wrong...