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Sunday, February 2, 2014

Pyramid Lake - Paul Draker

Author Paul Draker's second thriller is almost completely the opposite of his first. They do have a few things in common though: well-written, a terrific plot, and relentless action from beginning to end, with twists tossed in for good measure along the way.

It's the story of a young programmer Trevoe Lennox working on a secret project for the gobernment at Pyramid Lake. But hr makes enemies easily and he's afraid he's being replaced before he can finish the real project: saving his seven year old daughter. Every bit as brilliant as he was at that age, she has a mental problem that he hopes Frankenstein, his massive computer that's a bit more than everyone knows.

And now someone is murdering people on the base, Trevor's boss, a Homeland Security official, and trying to place the blame on Trevor.

An engrossing thriller.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Away For A Bit

Going to be away for a while. Have a doctor's appointment this afternoon in Winston-Salem. The foot doctor sending me over says I need to be in the hospital and am seeing the specialist that amputated one foot already. Hope it won't go that far.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Black Jack(Un Uomo per cinque vendette)1968

It was a tightly planned bank robbery. Two men showed up just at closing time with $3,000 that had to be deposited. They did the actual robbery, killing the bank manager when the safe was opened. There was a man who used a recalcitrant horse to distract the guard while all that was going on. The fourth man had checked into the hotel next door earlier with the admonition that he was going to sleep for a while. He climbs out a window and leaps to the bank roof where he lowers a rope with a hoot down the chimney of the bank fireplace. He hauls the bag of cash up and drops it into a special wagon driven by the brains of the outfit, Jack Murphy(Robert Woods), where he was just an innocent bystander as the rest sped out of town pursued by a posse. In a canyon where they passed, the rest of the gang waited with dynamite to cut off the posse.

Jack spends a little time with his girl friend, Susan(Lucienne Bridou), before heading out to divide the money. The usual split was a quarter for Jack, the rest for the gang. But it was such a large haul, that didn't satisfy them and a falling out ensues.

Jack manages to get the upper hand, then takes it all, riding out with their guns and pays off  Indian Joe(Mimmo Palmara) with the admonition to "keep your mouth shut." Something of a joke as he never speaks a word in the film. He does, however, point though and directs them to the ghost town where Jack is headquartered with his sister and brother-in-law, Julie(Dali Bresciani) and Peter(Nino Fuscagni).

He gives up the money to save his sister, but it doesn't. The new leader, Sanchez, rapes and murders Julie and Indian Joe scalps her for her blond hair. Jack is left hanging, balanced on one good foot(the right was shot up), and likely would have died had not Susan come looking for him.

The plot becomes a revenge motive after this, the way of most films in this genre. Jack walks with a cane, but is just as good with a gun as ever. His mind also seems to have come unhinged a bit as he laughs maniacally more than a few times as he goes about hunting the gang members. He declares Jack Murphy dead and buried in the small town and becomes the Black Jack of the title.

All but Sanchez are easy to find.He's disappeared and Jack takes a different tack in locating him. He's also promised his brother-in-law he would deliver him alive so that the husband can get his revenge.

A pretty good film that ended in a manner i never saw coming. The link below is for the film under the German title On Your Knees Django.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

FFB: The Trials of O'Brien - Robert L. Fish

I was completely unfamiliar with this series. Understandable. I was fifteen at the time it aired and mostly watched and read science fiction. It only ran for one season and I read elsewhere that Peter Falk said he thought more of it than he did his signature show Columbo. It was a post by Todd Mason that alerted me to it's existence ans since I collect tie-ins, it was a natural. 

Having never seen the show, I can only review it as a crime novel by one of the great crime writers. Fish's second novel, MUTE WITNESS, as by Robert Pike, became the Steve McQueen film Bulliitt.

Daniel J. O'Brien is a lawyer that likes to play the horses and throw the dice, gamble in general, and is not very successful at any of them. He owes everybody, has an ex-wife that constantly carps about late alimony in the form of bounced checks, and a secretary he's always borrowing money from and is behind on her salary. Fortunately for him, he seems to bring out the soft spot in women and stays on their good side. Just barely.

O'Brien gets unwittingly involved in a scheme by an old client of his. Benny Kalen is a three time loser. That he only got a few years on his last conviction instead of a dozen makes no impression. O'Brien should have got him off, therefore he didn't deserve to get paid.

O'Brien gets suckered by Benny's wife into being at a bar late one night while Benny and a confederate are pulling a stick-up job on a finance company that had just opened next door.

Thinks go wrong and there's a dead body. Benny;s parole officer had warned O'Brien that he heard his name mentioned and believes he's in on the job.

Our lawyer is forced to defend his former client, who swears the man was already dead and the safe broken into when he entered the office, in order to clear his name.

For more forgotten books, drop in over at PATTINASE.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Three Strangers(1946)

The three of them would have never met except for the whims, superstitions of a vengeful, possibly deranged woman. The woman is Crystal Shackelford(Geraldine Fitzgerald) and she picks up two men randomly, seperately, on Chinese New Year, and convinces them to go along with her plam.

Peter Lorre is Johnny West, a small time hood and drunk, and Sydney Greenstreet is Jerome K. Arbutny. a lawyer.

Mrs. Shackelford has a bronze idol of Kwan Yin and the legend is on midnight of Chinese New Year, her eyes will open and bestow a grant on three strangers. The three must remain strangers until after midnight. Johnny has a lottery ticket he bought for ten shillings and the three agree to split cost and benefits and any winnings to go the big race. All sign without the other seeing the names.

Midnight comes, the lights are blown out, and the lady swears she saw the eyes open just before that. The three go their separate ways.

All are soon beset by problems.

Mrs. Shackelford wants her husband back, always when she doesn't have him, but he's found a new love in Canada and wants a divorce. Johnny West is roped into a murder conviction by a lying man and doesn't defend himself. "What point? No one will believe me." He's scheduled to hang.. Arbutny is about to be ruined, He has been in charge of a rich widow's estate and invested in some bad stocks. An auditor is about to go over the books.

The lottery ticket wins of course, but the race is yet to come.

Only one of the three comes out of it okay.

For more overlooked films, go to SWEET FREEDOM on Tuesdays,

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Desperate Endurance - Kasey Riley

Romantic suspense is not the sort of thriller I normally read, but I made a wise choice in trying DESPERATE ENDURANCE. Author Kasey Riley gives us a well crafted novel of murder, endurance racing, and a young woman finding a love even while hiding from killers and trying to figure it all out.

Bethany Wilcox, in the year since her divorce, had ridden her horses in endurance races and wrote magazine articles about. When she witnesses a murder at a rest stop, trying to help the victim after the killers chase another car that had pulled in, the dying man gets a promise to help, telling her what the men were after, how to find it, and what to do.

Kasey Riley is an endurance rider herself and I liked the way she worked information and treated us to that world, one I didn't know even existed, without slowing down the narrative one bit.

Quite liked this one. Can be ordered HERE.

Sabata(Ehi Amico...C'E' Sabata, Hai Chiuso)1969

Lee Van Cleef became a bigger star in Europe than he ever was in the States by appearing in a long series of spaghetti westerns. Here he [lays the gunman dressed in black with a plethora of odd weapons. A film that strikes a cord with most folks watching it even though the elements are all standard fare of the time. It is different, just a bit, with familiar actors in Van Cleef and Berger eschewing the roles of the good guy and the not-so-god guy.

One almost gets a feeling of Bond with all those gadgets Sabata uses in the course of the picture

The basic plot is that some of the community's leading lights have stolen a hundred grand and plan to use it to buy up land  to sell to the railroad when they come through.

Sabata is out to stop them for his own reasons.

SABATA was the first of three films featuring the character, but the middle film  had Yul Brynner in the role. In an odd bit of coincidence, Van Cleef was playing a role that Brynner made famous in a sequel at the time which was why Brynner got he part: the sequel to the Magnificent Seven.