Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Book Corral Recommendations - Man Bait!

Howdy Pards!
It’s no joke, why not start April with some Man Bait Paperbacks?
Ride over to McNulty’s Book Corral
For some saucy recommendations!

As you should expect, I stand in opposition to those 
critics and highbrow snobs who dismiss genre fiction!

Follow this Link!

Friday, March 27, 2020

Ride the Devil’s Herd by John Boessenecker

This incredible book provides the first comprehensive and understandable analysis of the Cowboy gang that terrorized the Arizona territory in the early 1880s, resulting in the famed gunfight at the OK Corral. Ride the Devil’s Herd is not necessarily a full-length biography of Wyatt Earp and his brothers, although they are clearly central characters in the narrative. Author John Boessenecker’s meticulous research and practical writing style manages to present a complex cast of characters and keep the conflicts and motivations crisp and clear. Frankly, this is an amazing accomplishment, and it’s to his credit that he pulls it off. Ride the Devil’s Herd also gives us what I believe is the best representation of Wyatt Earp and his brothers who are too often portrayed as being nothing more than opportunists and gamblers. Under John Boessenecker’s objective view, we see the Earp brothers as they really were, fully justified in their actions on that fateful day when they walked down the street side by side with Doc Holliday. When I was reading Boessenecker’s account of that now famous gunfight, I actually blurted out loud, “Finally! Someone that gets it!” This is not to say that he paints the Earps as saints, but he makes it clear that at heart they were not truly bad men, unlike such players as the Clantons and the McLaury brothers. That gang of “Cowboys” as they were called, were immoral, thieving opportunists and murderers. There were many more of them than those few that participated in the Tombstone gunfight, and Mr. Boessenecker describes these personalities at length, tying events together and clarifying their connections. The author’s enthusiasm for his subject is infectious. His joy is evident in his summations and descriptions. Boessenecker avoids using the phrase “Earp’s vendetta ride” as it’s been called when discussing the aftermath of the Tombstone gunfight. All the same, his account is chilling. At the conclusion, it was clear to me that Wyatt Earp was a far more complex man than he is generally portrayed, and his actions and those of his brothers on that fateful day in Tombstone will remain a fascinating highlight of American Western history. I have read and collect many books related to Wyatt Earp, but this one is now my favorite. Highly recommended!

Monday, March 23, 2020

Plague Time!

Copyright © 2020 by Thomas McNulty

Flash Fiction to cheer you all up (He said sarcastically)

Richard and Pamela sat near the bay window and watched the sun-soaked July street. Richard held his cell phone and thumbed through Facebook while Pamela sipped her tea and idly gazed down the street at a smudge of blue on the curb. Crows flitted about near the rumpled pile of blue. The tea was very good this morning, she thought. 
Richard paused, set his phone on the tea table and plucked a colorful sugar cookie from the silver platter. He munched the cookie, keeping his mouth closed to muffle the smacking sounds. The cookies were quite good. He dabbed his mouth with a dainty napkin. Suddenly, he coughed twice. Pamela stared at him a moment.
“Martial law has been extended.” He said. “This might well last until early September.”
“Yes, I read on the newsfeed the Kardashians are having their butts set in plaster and then painted as part of an art exhibit once martial law is lifted.”
“Lots of bathroom mirror photos with that group.” Richard said.
“I counted seventy-five complainers on Facebook this morning.”
“You’d think people would find better things to do with their time.”
“I’m afraid this plague is the best thing to happen.” Pamela was stoic as her gaze once again drifted down the street to the smudge of blue. “You’ll remember, of course, the Harrington boy.”
“Of course. He was a fine little boy. Billy, wasn’t it?”
“Yes, little Billy. Well, the crows are at him today. The debris retrieval units haven’t picked him up yet.”
“We can report that.” Richard said, suddenly feeling indignant. “You mustn’t stare out the window if the streets aren’t clean. That won’t do you any good.” Richard coughed again, holding his palm to his mouth.
“Have some tea.” Pamela said.
“Perhaps in a moment. I was reading about another celebrity singing on Facebook. They sing in their bathrooms. It’s supposed to make lower income families feel better.”
“Do you think it works?”
Richard coughed and finally reached for the tea. He took a sip from the cup and smacked his lips. “I’m sorry. What was that, dear?”
“The singing celebrity. Does it make lower income people feel better?”
“I can’t imagine how it could. The celebrity mask allocation is in the higher percentage. They have catered nurses and physicians.”
Pamela glanced out the window again. “The Harrington’s didn’t qualify. The father lost his job six months ago.”
Richard paused and looked out the bay window. “It’s warm today. Little Billy was the last Harrington wasn’t he?”
“Yes, I’m sad to say he was. He dropped right there, and now the crows are at him.”
“That won’t do at all.”
Pamela was thoughtful a moment. “If he had made it to our door we couldn’t have let him in.”
“Oh, no.” Richard said quickly. “Our mask allocation wouldn’t accommodate a third person. Remember, the pack must survive. The government says that means making hard choices.”
“Let’s not think about it any longer.” Pamela said.
Pamela shifted in her chair and looked in another direction. It was a lovely day. Richard coughed again as she watched a light breeze ruffle the maple tree branches. Nothing else happened except the street and the empty homes and green yards all looked beautiful. The pack must survive, indeed. 
An hour later, Richard was coughing in fits and starts. That’s unfortunate, Pamela thought. The tea would help a little but he was coughing too much. They didn’t talk about it, and Richard remained fixated on Facebook. 
The day stretched into incremental moments of inactivity and memories. It was nice to think about how it was, Pamela thought. It won’t be that way again, but it was still nice. Richard’s coughing was too much. His face was red. The poor man. She waited another hour, thinking about the past. Then she rose, and stepped across the room to the maple cabinet where Richard kept the old Webley .38 revolver. Richard had taught her how to use it all those years ago during the first plague. The weight of the gun in her hand was reassuring.
She shot Richard in the back of the head. He slumped over and twitched. After the gunshot’s echo subsided, she was thinking what a terrible mess she had to clean up. Fortunately, they’d been allocated extra bleach and antiseptic wipes. The extra food they’d hoarded would come in handy now, as well. She cleaned the carpet first. She enjoyed sitting near the bay window and she wanted to keep that area clean.
It took the remainder of the day to wrap his body in the tarpaulin, but Pamela was in good shape, and she paced herself properly. No sense getting emotional. Once the body was wrapped, she pulled Richard by his ankles to the side door and deposited him near the trash bin which was scheduled for debris retrieval in three days. She reminded herself to send an email asking that they pick up the Harrington boy as well. It just wouldn’t do to have all of these bodies lying around. 
Pamela felt emboldened. She had important things to do now that she benefitted from a double allocation. It was twilight and the trees along the street looked so lovely in the fading light. She picked up Richard’s cell phone and began scrolling through the latest gossip, feeling that she would honor his memory in this way. There were always lots of cheeky things to look at on Facebook. She would be fine, she thought, really fine, but maybe a little sad. 
An hour later, she coughed.


Copyright © 2020 by Thomas McNulty
Keep smiling you lovelies!

Saturday, March 21, 2020

Masquerade for Murder by Spillane and Collins

Once again Max Allan Collins proves his incredible talent with another entry in Mickey Spillane’s Mike Hammer series. Often working from a sparse outline, Collins has crafted a remarkable series that not only pays tribute to Spillane, but advances the tough guy world he so brilliantly embodied. Masquerade for Murder is a hardboiled lunch, served up with a cold beer in a tall, chilled glass. It’s perfect. The characterizations are spot-on, the suspense is like a delicate soufflĂ©, ripe with tension but delightful for readers to experience. There’s a solid mystery that needs solving, and while I suspected a few things, I was pleasantly surprised that I hadn’t figured it all out. That’s okay, that’s Mike Hammer’s job anyway, and he does so with the usual tough guy attitude. The story takes place in the late 1980s, and Hammer might be older, but he’s still a contender as several bad guys quickly find out. I’m quite the fan of both Spillane and Collins and I never get tired of these “collaborations.” Collins is a bit nostalgic this time around, or should I say that Hammer is a bit nostalgic. The New York of post-war America is gone, but Mike Hammer is still a rough and tumble tiger roaming the mean streets of Manhattan. Velda is here, too, older but still sexy. A few other kittens show up, but you’ll have to read the book to find out what happens. Masquerade for Murder is a great, fun book, and it arrived as if by a providential hand to brighten my day. Highly recommended!

Thursday, March 12, 2020

The Wilderness Trail by H. Bedford Jones

There are writers, and then there are real writers. H. Bedford Jones is among that select group of astonishing scribes who began publishing shortly before, during or after World War I. His contemporaries included Zane Grey, Edgar Rice Burroughs, Talbot Mundy, Frederick Nebel and many others. This edition of The Wilderness Trail is published by Murania Press at the direction of Ed Hulse. I am an advocate for the continuous reprinting of pulp stories and novels. The Wilderness Trail originally appeared in the 1915 issue of Blue Book magazine, and this hard-to-find story is a must-have for pulp aficionados and fans of H. Bedford Jones. Fast, breezy and exciting, The Wilderness Trail is about Captain John Norton, a military officer on a secret mission against a group led by a mystery man known as Blacknose. The author demonstrates a flair for characterization and action. The narrative catapults along briskly, and introduces cameos of historical figures such as Daniel Boone, future President Zachary Taylor, naturalist John J. Audubon and even Shawnee Indian chief Tecumseh. The typeset is easy to read, and this book might also be included in recommendations for young readers. All of the Murania Press titles I’ve read are first-class productions. Recommended.

Sunday, March 1, 2020

Rawhide by Frank C. Robertson

Published in 1961 when Rawhide was immensely popular on television, the cover art is credited to “Allison,” probably Jerry Allison, known for his many paperback and pulp magazine covers. However, I have found little background information on him. Author Frank C. Robertson (1890-1969) was a well-known author of Westerns. Such titles as Rustlers on the Loose (1943), Rope Crazy (1948), and Where Desert Blizzards Blow (1952) were reprinted in paperback. Numerous of his titles, especially those in the 1920s and 1930s, have never been reprinted. This paperback was published in February, 1961. Cattle boss Gil Favor is the focus, with Eastwood’s Rowdy Yates playing second-fiddle, much like the show. Favor is described as being “tough as rawhide” and Rowdy is “the daredevil ramrod.” The plot appears strung together with simplistic elements of various early episodes. The writing is fine, and nostalgia plays a strong role in collecting this book. Gil, Rowdy, Pete, Wishbone and Mushy all live again in prose, ready to head ‘em up and roll ‘em out one more time. While offering nothing unique, it tells a traditional cattle-drive tale, with some obligatory gunplay and drama. It’s certainly not a great Western, but at least it’s a Rawhide story, and that counts for something. Of interest to Western fans is this trivia: This Signet cover painting by Allison depicts Clint Eastwood holding a model 94 Winchester, as evidenced by the bottom plate disengaging when the lever drops; I have found one other such depiction of Eastwood with a model 94 Winchester, specifically, Cleveland Publishing’s Quest for a Killer by Gunn Halliday (a pseudonym) with cover artwork by Stanley Pitt from 1961. I own this original artwork. Such artwork was often based on production photographs, although I have yet to locate any stills of Eastwood with a model 94 Winchester. I have seen stills from Rawhide where Eastwood is holding a model 92 Winchester, which was the most common model used in films and television at that time.