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Thursday, 31 May 2012

Waterstones taking a dip in the Amazon

Waterstones boss James Duant who recently called on-line giant, Amazon a ruthless money making devil had shocked the book world by signing a deal with Amazon. The news has been doubly shocking since Duant claimed Waterstones were developing their own eReader which would be better than the Kindle and offer an even better shopping experience. However it now looks as if Waterstones, the UK's biggest book chain, have conceded defeat in the eBook war.


The high street book chain  has agreed to start selling Amazon's Kindle in its stores, and Kindle's e-books, too.
Publishers, authors, agents and independent bookshops were aghast. Daunt is, supposedly, one of them – a much admired bookseller who had set up a small chain of independent and upmarket shops in wealthy areas of London. He was brought in by Waterstones' new owner last year to inject some life and authenticity into the struggling chain, promptly denouncing Amazon as a "ruthless devil". And then suddenly last week he was getting into bed with the company.

He is completely tight-lipped about how much money Waterstones will make from the Amazon deal, saying that he has been forced to sign strict confidentiality agreements.However, it is understood that part of the agreement was that Amazon would help pay for digital areas in Waterstones' stores – including, in the mould of Apple Stores, special tables for the devices to be displayed, which allow customers to pick up and play with the devices.

Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Stephen King: Hardboiled scribe

Stephen King’s The Colorado Kid may have not been the best thing he’d ever written, but I enjoyed it greatly and I was pleased to receive a press release from  pulp revivalists,  Hard Case Crime which announced that King had penned a second novel for the imprint. The novel is titled, Joyland and is set in a small-town North Carolina amusement park in 1973, and tells the story of the summer in which college student Devin Jones comes to work as a carny and confronts the legacy of a vicious murder, the fate of a dying child, and the ways both will change his life forever

“I love crime, I love mysteries, and I love ghosts. That combo made Hard Case Crime the perfect venue for this book, which is one of my favorites. I also loved the paperbacks I grew up with as a kid, and for that reason, we’re going to hold off on e-publishing this one for the time being. Joyland will be coming out in paperback, and folks who want to read it will have to buy the actual book.” Stephen King


Joyland is a breathtaking, beautiful, heartbreaking book,” said Charles Ardai, Edgar- and Shamus Award-winning editor of Hard Case Crime.  “It’s a whodunit, it’s a carny novel, it’s a story about growing up and growing old, and about those who don’t get to do either because death comes for them before their time.  Even the most hardboiled readers will find themselves moved. When I finished it, I sent a note saying, ‘Goddamn it, Steve, you made me cry.’ ”


Robert McGinnis, the man responsible for the early Sean Connery James Bond posters, will provide the cover art which is another reason to get excited about this book.

Since its debut in 2004, Hard Case Crime has been the subject of enthusiastic coverage by a wide range of publications including The New York Times, USA Today, Time, Playboy, U.S. News & World Report, BusinessWeek, The Los Angeles Times, The Chicago Sun-Times, The Houston Chronicle, New York magazine,the New York Post and Daily News, Salon, Reader’s Digest, Parade and USA Weekend,as well as numerous other magazines, newspapers, and online media outlets.  The Chicago Sun-Times wrote, “Hard Case Crime is doing a wonderful job publishing both classic and contemporary ‘pulp’ novels in a crisp new format with beautiful, period-style covers.  These modern ‘penny dreadfuls’ are worth every dime.”  Playboy praised Hard Case Crime’s “lost masterpieces,” writing “They put to shame the work of modern mystery writers whose plots rely on cell phones and terrorists.”  And the Philadelphia City Paper wrote, “Tired of overblown, doorstop-sized thrillers…?  You’ve come to the right place.  Hard Case novels are as spare and as honest as a sock in the jaw.”


Other upcoming Hard Case Crime titles include The Cocktail Waitress, a never-before-published novel by James M. Cain, author of The Postman Always Rings Twice, Mildred Pierce, and Double Indemnity, and an epic first novel called The Twenty-Year Death by Ariel S. Winter that has won advance raves from authors such as Peter Straub, James Frey, Alice Sebold, John Banville, David Morrell and Stephen King.
For information about these and other forthcoming titles, visit www.HardCaseCrime.com.

Batman to die, Cruise Reacher's towards Franchise City and pretty much every other hot movie rumour

Gwen Stacy to die in Spider-man reboot - at least that's what the current rumors would have us believe. It seems this news is popping up everywhere and is even mentioned in the current Sci-Fi Now magazine.

Iron Man 3 goes into production this month - Lethal Weapon 3 scribe, Shane Black is on scripting duties and it seems he is looking towards the Extremis storyline which was written by Warren Ellis. Ben Kingsley is slated to play the bad guy.

The Woman in Black is to get a 2 - the follow up entitled, The Woman in Black: Angels of Death is to be set 40 years after the events of the first movie.

The Reverend - the UK horror movie from Neil (Risen) Jones is soon to be given a DVD release. I recently chatted with the director and he revealed some interesting future projects, none of which can be revealed at the moment but rest assured The Archive will be right on the button when it comes to announcements.

The Hulk - reboot movie is to be fast tracked into production and will be released to coincide with The Avengers 2. And speaking of Avengers 2 it is rumored that Nick Cage will appear as Ghost Rider - groan.

One Shot title change - the movie starring Tom Cruise is now titled,  Reacher. The studio are hoping for a franchise out of this first movie adapted from Lee Child's successful thriller series.

Batman to die - Batman Rises is hotly tipped to end with the death of Batman in order to finish off Christopher Nolan's excellent trilogy. "What drew me to Batman in the first place was Bruce Wayne's story, and that he's a real character whose story begins in childhood. He's not a fully formed character like James Bond, so what we're doing is following the journey of this guy from a child who goes through this horrible experience of becoming this extraordinary character. That, for me, became a three-part story. And obviously the third part becomes the ending of the guy's story." Christopher Nolan talking to Empire Magazine

Bestselling Black Horse titles at Amazon 30th may 2012

1 Arkansas Smith by Jack Martin
2 The Colorado Kid by Dale Mike Rogers
3 Death Rides Alone by Dale Graham
4 Madigan's Star by Hank J Kirby
5 The Kansas Fast Gun by Arthur Kent
6 Raking Hell by Lee Clinton
7 The Ghosts of Poyntor by Amos Carr
8 Comanchero Trail by  Jack Dakota
9 Mark Counter's Kin by J T Edson
10 Latimer by H H Cody

Tuesday, 29 May 2012

eBooks, DRM and sinking in the Amazon

“I’ve thrown my hands up and admitted defeat on DRM and pricing. I’m going to try give the punters what they say they want with ebooks. It’s almost the exact opposite approach to those businesses which are busy locking in exclusive distribution licenses with their overseas suppliers to make sure you keep paying the same price as you’ve always paid and have no option but to source whatever you’re after from one or two nominated suppliers.” Australian author John Birmingham, and the rest of his article from the Brisbane Times Blog is well worth reading - check it out HERE  

The author also provides food for thought regarding Amazon and needs to be read by all - so what are you waiting for, get over there.



A hotbed of murder and perversion

THE SETTING:

Jack the Ripper's rein of terror lasted for a ten week period in 1888 - London was then the world's largest city -  the hub of an ever expanding empire. The city was in effect the financial capital of the world and it had enjoyed a long period of financial growth. Things were however starting to change and London was facing competition from America and Germany and a trade slump saw unemployment take a dramatic leap, which resulted in London's already packed slum areas swelling to bursting point.

It was into this mixing pot that was London's Whitechapel, that the killer known to history as Jack the Ripper practiced his or her deadly trade, and by proving that he/she could evade capture from the police and authorities only consolidated the general image of the East End as a hotbed of murder and perversion. One report, published in 1888, estimated that out of a population of 456,877 souls more than 60,000 were living on the brink of starvation. Whitechapel at the time was ready to explode - there were racial problems with the high influx of Jewish immigrants coming to the city after escaping persecution in Germany, Russia and Poland - Whitechapel's Jewish population at this time was estimated as being around 50,000, and as the spectra of mass unemployment threatened the Jews found themselves vilified for stealing British jobs. Indeed when the Ripper killings started the press hinted that an Englishman could not do such a thing and the person responsible had to have come from the vast immigrant population.

THE KILLINGS BEGIN:

Dorset Street 1888 - Mary Kelly Lodged here
The Ripper killings took place over an area that was made up of little more than a square mile. The victims were all prostitutes and we can't even be clear of how many killings the Ripper was responsible for. The so called canonical five victims come from a report made by Sir Melville Macnaghten who stated in a report in 1894 that he believed Jack the Ripper had killed five and only five women - these are Mary Nichols, Annie Chapman, Elizabeth Stride, Catherine Eddowes and Mary Kelly. There are many who dispute this and it is my own feeling that the same hand was not responsible for all of the woman in the so called canonical five.

A lady named Martha Tabran was murdered on 7th August 1888 and many believe, myself included, that she was the first Ripper victim. However in my opinion the double murder of 29th of September 1888 were carried out by two different hands, and not by the Ripper which popular wisdom suggests. I also don't believe that Mary Kelly was a Ripper victim but I do believe the key to the murders rests with her. Indeed it is the mystery surrounding Mary Kelly that drives the central premise in my current novel, The Rhondda Ripper.

Was Mary Kelly a Ripper victim?
Was it Mary Kelly who was found dead, mutilated beyond identification, in her bed?

These questions can not be answered with any certainty, but logic would suggest that the chance of there being only  five victims is quite wrong, and that the double event of 29th September could not have been carried out by the same person. In order to stick with the canonical five we would have to believe that the killer was disturbed just after killing Elizabeth Stride and then in the middle of the biggest manhunt London, indeed the world, had ever known he runs less than a mile away and takes time to kill and mutilate Catherine Eddowes. Hardly seems likely and the known facts are,  like the legend, buried in myth and fancy. The fog lit image above of the man in the top hat and cape has become the popular image of Jack the Ripper, and at the time it was a person such as this whom the police were concentrating on - it is no wonder they never found him, since the likelihood is that he didn't even exist.


JACK THE RIPPER - THE SOCIAL REFORMER:

Ironically some good did come out of the Whitechapel killings and that was in giving publicity to the campaigners who said something needed to change for the working classes in the East End. The killings generated so much publicity that The Lancet, the world famous medical journal, reported - modern society is more promptly awakened to a sense of duty by the knife of a killer than by many thousands of words from earnest writers.

Many social commentators claimed that Jack the Ripper was a product spawned by the dreadful conditions that men, women and children found themselves and was therefore the fault of society itself. None less a personage than George Bernard Shaw wrote to the Times Newspaper, stating the the fiend of Whitechapel had at least drawn attention to the dreadful conditions. He went onto theorize that the killings, although abhorrent, would do more for the areas affected than any of socialist movements could ever hope. And although Shaw was being ironic by congratulating the killer as a social reformer it was true that following the killings a massive program of redevelopment started in the East End.

THE WRITING WAS ON THE WALL:

At 2.55 am on 30th September P.C. Albert Long found the missing portion of Catherine Eddowes', whose body had been found earlier,  apron in a doorway on Goulston Street. A further investigation found a message scrawled in chalk upon the wall - THE JUWES ARE THE MEN THAT WILL NOT BE BLAMED FOR NOTHING.

There was a large Jewish community and fearing race riots the police wiped the writing from the wall. This was done on the orders of Sir Charles Warren. It was a highly controversial decision but Warren always defended what he had done and claimed that far greater crimes would have been carried out against innocent Jews had it been left for further examination.

The facts are that After the murders of Elizabeth Stride and Catherine Eddowes , police searched the area near the crime scenes in an effort to locate a suspect, witnesses or evidence. As reported above it was Constable Albert Long of the Metropolitan Police Service who discovered a dirty, bloodstained piece of an apron in the stairwell of a tenement, 108 to 119 Model dwellings, Goulston Street The cloth was later confirmed as being a part of the apron worn by Catherine Eddowes. Above it, there was writing in white chalk upon the wall.


THE SUSPECTS:

Suspects were legion - many were considered suspects totally due to general speculation, others because of descriptions, locations or occupations. One popular theory named Queen Victoria’s grandson who was known as Eddy and was known to have consorted with prostitutes. It was alleged that the Royal physician William Gull performed the murders in order to hide the fact that the prince had fathered a child with one of the victims, supposedly Mary Kelly. Another theory was that the prince carried out the killings himself because of brain damage caused by contracting syphilis of the brain.

Over the years there have been many suspects ranging from the plausible, George Chapman to the ludicrous, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.


WHY THE RIPPER WAS NEVER CAUGHT:

The Victorian police have been the subject of much criticism by the media over the years, and some of it is likely deserved. But it must be remembered the criminal science was in its infancy at the time of the Ripper killings. Fingerprinting was not even an established practice and the locations where the killings took place were connected by an intricate warren of alleys and passageways, all of them unlit.


The Ripper is widely considered the world's first serial killer, and given that the area of operation was one of the most densely populated, not to mention transient, areas in the entire city then it is little wonder that he/she was able to evade the police.


AND NOW THE ANSWER:
Police Inspector Frank Parade carries out his daily duties in Pontypridd, duties complicated by the presence of 500 members of Buffalo Bill Cody's touring Wild West Show, not to mention the thousands attending the show every day. A series of depraved murders quickly makes things even more complicated for the policeman.

Soon Frank Parade find himself on the trail which stretches backs to London's Whitechapel killings and Jack the Ripper. Secrets are revealed and the answer to the greatest mystery in criminal history is answered by a British policeman and an American legend.

Click HERE

Reviews:

It's difficult to say too much in this review without giving away some major points that would ruin this well crafted story. It's set in South Wales in 1904 and features a visit by Buffalo Bill's Wild West Circus - apparantly this actually took place. And concerns itself with a series of killings that ultimately reveal Jack the Ripper in an original and plausible way. Amazon readers review


Gary Dobbs partners up Parade and Buffalo Bill making for an enjoyable detecting duo. He does a fine job of bringing the famous Wild West showman to life and his descriptions of Pontypridd, the era, and people sparkle. I'm hoping Mr. Dobbs doesn't leave Frank Parade on the sidelines too long because I'm betting there are more adventures in him. Or, maybe Bill Cody -- there's an idea worth exploring -- Buffalo Bill as a world-traveling crime-solver. The Education of a Pulp Writer

Gary Dobbs (AKA Jack Martin) continues his string of fast paced books with "The Rhondda Ripper" Not a western per se, as are his Jack Martin books, "The Rhondda Ripper" still has some of that western sensibility and it even features Buffalo Bill Cody and his Wild West show on a visit to England, Wales in particular.

The story takes place a number of years after the Whitechapel murders but ties back to those murders in a most interesting way. I won't give more away because the twist at the end is original and took me well by surprise. Yet, it made perfect sense within the storyline of the book. Mack Captures Crime

One word: Wow. This is a good book.

The story begins slowly, a man's morning routine as he gets ready for duty and faces the possibility of a busy day, but he has no idea how "busy" it's going to get! Throw in Buffalo Bill, a Wild West show, murders that may or may not be connected to Jack The Ripper, and you have a really hot read. I don't want to say too much for fear of giving something away, but it's a well-written yarn and you will get hooked right away. It's also, for me, a nice change of pace from the modern urban hard-boiled junk I've been digesting lately. Brian Drake 

Monday, 28 May 2012

Game of Thrones season 2, episode 9

I'm not quite sure if this is the best ever episode of Game of Thrones, but it is without doubt the most action packed. For the first time we see a massive battle as war comes to King's Landing. And boy is the battle depicted well even resembling the  Beach landing scenes as seen in Saving Private Ryan - I kid you not. The battle for King's Landing which takes up most of this episode is absolutely stunning and can stand side by side with anything Peter Jackson did with Lord of the Rings .

This is a bloody incredible show and the episode manages to weave some great character moments around the centerpiece that is that awesome battle - Cersei gets to be her malevolent best as she faces a situation she sees as hopeless, Tyrion gets a quiet moment with his lover and once again manages to steal the entire show and there are some great moments featuring The Hound who seems to be heading towards a beauty and the beast relationship with Sansa.



This episode was unusual in that it concentrated on the one event rather than giving us any of the ongoing storylines, but this would seem the wise move when the episode turned out as good as it did.

I won't give too much away in this review and I won't tell you who lives and who dies, but the season finale next week can't come soon enough.

I love this show and you know, I think it could very well end up as the best television series ever produced.



A Tarnished Review

Mr Lennon John Paul George Ringo Dobbs
Us writers are a insecure lot - we sit alone all day, staring at the screen, with only Lennon for company and he's too busy chewing on his rawhide bone to take any notice (oh wait that's just me). We don't really get any human interaction during the working day.

And that's why reviews are so important to us - because it gives us some indication that all those hours of torture from characters who refuse to do what we want, and take us off on tangents not imagined in the outline, are worth it.

 I was especially pleased to see the latest review of my debut western, The Tarnished Star (was it really four years ago that it first saw the light of day? Seems like only yesterday) on Amazon. The review comes from Laurie Powers - this ladies grandfather was  pulp writing legend, Paul Powers.

Here's the review:

The movie's gonna be called LawMaster
The Tarnished Star will not disappoint those who want a quick read that is lean, suspenseful and is true to the standard Western conventions. It has the feel of the Westerns from the 1950s and 60s. All of these qualities total up to a solid Western that is appealing and suitable for anyone's taste. The writing has almost a minimalist quality, resulting in a style that is spare and yet nuanced. Martin wisely keeps his storyline within a time frame of only a few days and fills his scenes with finely detailed scenes, rich characters and believable dialogue - the latter being one of the hardest skills for a writer of Westerns to master. The result is a book that you can get lost in with scenes filled with strong tension. One feels as if time has stopped, and I could not help but think of the movie High Noon throughout the story.

For those who like to read the works of new and talented writers, this is the book for you. 



The Tarnished Star is currently in the early stages of development by Burn Hand Films, as a future vehicle for talented director Neil Jones - I've a meet with Neil this evening and rest assured I'll be badgering him about the movie. Neil's latest movie, The Reverend, a horror movie starring Rutger Hauer, Stuart Brannan, Tammar Hassan and Doug Bradley is due for a DVD release soon and expect a review here very soon.

And check out the round up of other Black Horse western reviews on Black Horse Express

Sunday, 27 May 2012

Freaky

Let’s talk about Todd Browning’s 1932 movie Freaks  – Ψ – Billed as the scariest horror film ever the film was banned in the UK for 35 years and ended Todd Browning’s career. Following this movie Browning found it difficult to get work and although he made several movies following Freaks he never managed to live down the stigma of being the man who unleashed this sickness into the cinema world.  After the initial test screening one woman threatened to sue to studio, claiming that the movie had made her suffer a miscarriage, and another woman who gave birth to conjoined twins a year later claimed that it was the evil influence of the movie that was responsible.

Now that’s one scary movie.

you know what I’m not really sure that Feaks is a horror movie at all, but rather a drama with a cast made up largely of real life circus freaks, and even after all these years it is still a troubling movie. The title itself, when used in this context, falls foul of political correctness and the chances are that if the movie were ever to be remade it would be called something like, – Incredible gifted and special people.


The thing that bothered audiences so much was not the storyline, which is basically a revenge story of a lover scorned, but the fact that a large section of the cast were made up of real life circus freaks. Among the real life freaks were Elizabeth Green, also known as Betty Green, a performer who was presented to audiences as a human stork during the early 1900s, Jane Barnell (3 January 1871,  – 26 October 1951, )a US bearded lady who used the stage name Lady Olga, Daisy and Violet Hilton (5 February 1908 – January 1969)  a pair of  conjoined twins who toured in the US  in the 1930s, Josephine Joseph (born 1913) a woman whose body was supposedly split down the middle,

one side female and the other male, Prince Rardion (1871 – December 19, 1934), a famous limbless performer of the early 1900s, John Eckhardt, Jr. (27 August 1911,– 5 January 1991, ), freak show  performer born with the appearance that he was missing the lower half of his torso and Peter Robinson a man who  weighed in at only  58 pounds and billed himself as The Human Skeleton.


Over time though the film has taken on the status of an underground classic, but it still lacks any mainstream appeal. If anything watching the movie now is even more disturbing than to the original viewers. That’s because we have a different mindset to audiences of this period, and it should not be forgotten that when this movie was made many of the freaks were performing and making a fortune in sideshows across America, several of them even worked for Barnum and Baily. The film has the reputation of being one of the masterpieces of baroque cinema. It has been more written about than watched. Yet the tramps’ last supper in Bunuel’s Viridiana was said to have been inspired by it, and Max Ophuls, Fellini, Bergman and a host of horror merchants have inserted clips from Freaks into their films. And in 1994  Freaks was selected for preservation in the National Film Registry’s archive.


It’s well worth seeing and the current DVD issue features an interesting commentary from Davis J Skal, the original prologue shown in cinemas, three alternative endings and a documentary. Pretty much essential viewing really, but beware this film still packs a punch and even the most ardent horror fan will find it terrifying.

Thursday, 24 May 2012

There's a Frost about again...

The author of a popular series dies and the series dies with him - not necessarily so, just ask James Bond, Sherlock Holmes and even good old Count Dracula. Those three are still alive and kicking - OK maybe with the latter character it's undead and kicking - and their creators are long gone.

Yep bringing back characters after the original author cashes in his/her chips is nothing new.

This last month saw the hardcover publication of Fatal Frost by James Henry, actually , a pseudonym for James Gurbutt and Henry Sutton - this is the secomd time the two writers have penned a book featuring R D Wingfield's creation, Inspector Jack Frost, the first being 2011's First Frost.

Now the character of Jack Frost was a troublesome creation and radio dramatist R D Wingfield struggled to get his first Frost novel into print.  Frost at Christmas failed to find a publisher for many years. It was written in the mid 1970's but  was eventually published in Canada in 1980,not appearing in Britain until 1989. Five more novels followed: A Touch of Frost (produced as a radio play in 1987 and published as a novel in 1990), Night Frost (1992), Hard Frost (1995), Winter Frost (1999) and A Killing Frost (published posthumously in 2008).

 David Jason was an early fan of the novels, being introduced to the character by his friend Ronnie Barker who had once intended to play Frost for radio, and was largely responsible for bringing Frost to television in 1992, as a vehicle for his move towards more serious and dramatic roles in his illustrious acting career.

Frost was a huge success on TV but in order to meet the demands of prime time the character was considerably softened from the excellent source novels - that's not to say the TV series wasn't good, it was but it was different.

 And that's the thing with these continuation novels - they are not the Frost of the books but the Frost of the TV series. True they are prequels and Frost is still a detective sergeant here but they feel and read like the TV series - not that this is a bad thing, but if you want to sample the real Frost you need to read the original novels. However I must add that I've yet to read Fatal Frost - I only picked up my copy this morning - and my opinions are drawn from the previous novel, First Frost which, although I thought it was excellent, I did feel it was more David Jason than Jack Frost. Still I'm looking forward to reading Fatal Frost.


May, 1982. Britain celebrates the sinking of the Belgrano, Jimmy Savile (not yet exposed as a perv with a penchant for young girls)  has the run of the airwaves and Denton Police Division welcomes its first black policeman, DC Waters -- recently relocated from Bethnal Green. While the force is busy dealing with a spate of local burglaries, the body of fifteen-year-old Samantha Evans is discovered in woodland next to the nearby railway track. Then a fifteen-year-old boy is found dead on Denton's golf course, his organs removed. Detective Sergeant Jack Frost is sent to investigate -- a welcome distraction from troubles at home. And when the murdered boy's sister goes missing, Frost and Waters must work together to find her... before it's too late.


Crime fans will welcome the return of Jack Frost and just so you all know - I picked up me gleaming new hardcover in ASDA this morning for £7, which is even cheaper than Amazon.is offering the hardcover. In fact it's a good half a quid cheaper than the Kindle download.

Whitechapel

You've had a couple of big articles today, see previous posts, so allow me to indulge myself in yet another advert for my new book.

Whitechapel
London 1888
Jack the Ripper
South Wales 1904
An American icon
A Welsh copper
A string of brutal murders

How do they all tie in? And will they eventually lead to the identity of the world's most infamous killer, Jack the Ripper?

Find out - read, The Rhondda Ripper by Gary M. Dobbs

Now available everywhere

Police Inspector Frank Parade carries out his daily duties in Pontypridd, duties complicated by the presence of 500 members of Buffalo Bill Cody's touring Wild West Show, not to mention the thousands attending the show every day. A series of depraved murders quickly makes things even more complicated for the policeman.

Soon Frank Parade find himself on the trail which stretches backs to London's Whitechapel killings and Jack the Ripper. Secrets are revealed and the answer to the greatest mystery in criminal history is answered by a British policeman and an American legend.

Gary Dobbs partners up Parade and Buffalo Bill making for an enjoyable detecting duo. He does a fine job of bringing the famous Wild West showman to life and his descriptions of Pontypridd, the era, and people sparkle. I'm hoping Mr. Dobbs doesn't leave Frank Parade on the sidelines too long because I'm betting there are more adventures in him. Or, maybe Bill Cody -- there's an idea worth exploring -- Buffalo Bill as a world-traveling crime-solver. The Education of a Pulp Writer


The story begins slowly, a man's morning routine as he gets ready for duty and faces the possibility of a busy day, but he has no idea how "busy" it's going to get! Throw in Buffalo Bill, a Wild West show, murders that may or may not be connected to Jack The Ripper, and you have a really hot read. I don't want to say too much for fear of giving something away, but it's a well-written yarn and you will get hooked right away. It's also, for me, a nice change of pace from the modern urban hard-boiled junk I've been digesting lately. Brian Drake 

Why Paul is cool again

The UK radio are giving tracks from McCartney's Ram, particularly Back Seat of my Car a lot of airplay. Ironic given that the album was virtually ignored back in the day. And for many years now  Paul McCartney's image has been one of tweeness, but now it seems people have started to take him seriously again, and there is a major reevaluation going on. About bloody time too, whack.

Yep, Paul McCartney has suddenly become cool again - why is this?

Of course us fans have never considered him anything but cool and every time we hear someone say, but he only does ballads, we know they are ignorant and that the Macca has always rocked with the best of them. A string of acclaimed albums obviously helped put Macca back on top of the poppermost but I think that it is the new sharing of information that has put the Macca back in his rightful place.

I'll explain - the critics you see have always had it in for Macca ever since he dared leave the Beatles and they were too quick to jump on, admittedly twee songs like We all Stand Together, Ebony and Ivory and look what your bloody doing. They ripped him apart when he recorded the Soap Opera theme for Crossroads and ignored it in the context of following the song, Lonely Old People on the Venus and Mars album. The song was almost a coda to the track about growing old you dumb arse, strung out, rock critics!  It's easier for them to slag off poor numbers, or misunderstand numbers,  than write about the criminally underrated tracks that make up a truly remarkable career. The Pound is Sinking from the Tug of War album is another underrated Macca work of genius - course it could also be the theme song for the current UK government.

However these days we have the Internet and the critics don't matter anymore Fans, the people who really matter, can write about this stuff and point out the absolute gems.These days it's the same with books and reviews posted onling by readers, listeners, the end users have far more credibility than anything written by the spiteful critics.

It's also true that whilst pop music is these days bland and sat over by Simon Cowell, a real life Patrick Bateman, Macca's music seems real in comparison. It's always been real, though.


Paul's never been as hip as John - that's the general perception but things are changing and even the most ardent Paul hater would have to admit that Lennon, whilst great, was never as good without Macca. Mind you the visa versa is also true and Paul was always best alongside Lennon. Apart they were both major talents but when they got together something magical happened.

John though was political while Paul just wrote slushy love songs - not true and Paul has had his  moments such as releasing Give Ireland Back to the Irish when IRA activity was at an all time high in Mainland Britain. Mind you let's try and brush the well meaning but overly bombastic Freedom under the carpet.

The truth is that McCartney has a genius for melody and a true love of music and performing, and he's been vilified for that. It seem, the critics, can handle love songs but only if there's a darkness there, a regret and how dare Macca give us gentle sweet love songs. Yeah, guilty as charged but there's nothing wrong with a silly love song.

What's wrong with that?
I need to know...cos here I go again




Paul McCartney - cool!

Of course he is and even if he does often come across as being far too twee, false even, it should not be forgotten that this is the man who has given us some of the greatest music ever gifted to the world. And far from having lost it when he jumped ship on the fabs, recent years has seen some of his most creative work - the 2008 album, Electric Arguments remains a modern classic that is comparable with his best 60's work. That album of course was released under the pseudonym, The Fireman an identity Paul uses for experimental music but Arguments really should have been released as a McCartney album - it's excellent. Likewise Chaos and Creation (2005) is another excellent album and probably the most personal work McCartney has ever done, and the track "Riding to Vanity Fair" might be the coolest thing he has done in 30 years


Paul McCartney cool again.
Nah - he's always been cool.
Long may he rock on


Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Ramming

Braveheart - That was me!
I was so excited to get my grubby little hands on the latest in the Paul McCartney Archive collection, despite the fact that I already have it on CD. I first heard the Ram album sometime during the early 80's, and it was during this period that I first became a Beatle fanatic - incredible to think, but during the late 70's/early 80's hardly anyone was listening to The Beatles.They were almost a forgotten band and the youth, the main music buyers, had been battered by Punk, dismayed by New Wave and didn't give the Fabs a second thought.

By the time  I first heard Ram I don't think I'd even heard all the Beatle albums but I remember seeing Ram on cassatte tape (remember those! I'll have three C-90's and a pound of pick a mix, please,.) in my local Woolworths. I recall buying both Ram and Abbey Road that day. You know I remember not being fussed on either album on first listen but over time I realised their true greatness and Abbey Road is my favourite Beatle album and Ram is, by a long shot, the greatest thing Paul ever did outside of the Beatles.

 I don't apologise for not initially digging Abbey Road but by that time I don't think I'd even heard Peppers or the White Album and my Beatle's listening was the likes of Hard Day's Night and Help - you try jumping straight from Help to Abbey Road and you'll see what I mean. It's quite a shock!

However I digress - back to Ram. Ram is the first real McCartney solo album - his previous album McCartney was a collection of doodles and half finished songs and, as good as it was, Ram was a more structured and fully realized product.

It stands as one of the most joyous albums in all of rock music.
 


The album was originally credited to Paul and Linda McCartney and Mrs McCartney provides some great harmonies - Linda took a lot of flak for daring to sing with Paul and later with Wings, but her contributions  to this album are flawless.

It could quite easily have been called what Paul did next, because it is something of a diary, a musical narrative  of what must have been a wonderful period for the newly married McCartneys. Paul and Linda had gone to Scotland, Paul's farm in Mull of Kyntyre and the rustic lifestyle influenced Paul to such an extent that Ram comes out as something of a folk rock album. There's songs about sheep, horses, houses in the heart of the country and something called Monkberry Moon Delight.

 So I stood with a knot in my stomach,
And I gazed at that terrible sight
Of two youngsters concealed in a barrel,
Sucking monkberry moon delight.


 Even the cover image, so famously mocked by Lennon, speaks of countrified hippiness, but make no mistake about the album rocks with the best of them. It starts off with a bitter little number in which Macca has a go at Lennon - Too many people, going underground. Too many people preaching practices, don't let them tell you what you wanne be -  which infuriated Lennon to such an extent that he responded with the far more bitter, How do you sleep on the Imagine album.

That was your first mistake
You took your luck break
and broke it in two

During that period Paul and John were constantly sniping at each other and each followed up their musical missiles by slagging off each other, though the letters page of the Melody Maker.

3 Legs came next which may also have some Beatle bashing content - George Harrison said that 3 Legs was Macca's nickname for the other three Beatles. The song certainly have some lyrics that could be read that way - when I thought you was my friend but you let me down. Whatever the thoughts behind the song it's a rocking little number with an addictive melody,  a trademark of McCartney's best stuff. The harmless little ditty, Ram on follows and then we're into another Lennon baiting song with, Dear Boy, which is again a great song and curiously given its subject matter feels upbeat.

From this point onwards an already great album becomes one high point after another - Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey (an American No1) is one of those cleverly structured McCartney songs that gets into your soul and pumps Prozac into your heart. Then we have Smile Away which is my personal favorite track on the entire album.

I was walking down the street the other day
Who did I meet
I met a friend of mine and he did say
Man I can smell your feet a mile away
Smile away, smile away, smile away, yeah smile away
Smile away, smile away, smile away, yeah smile away


From there we are given a set of country tinged rockers which culminate in the excellent rock ballad, The Back seat of my car. This is another of those classics that changes tempo several times and is nothing short of brilliant.

The new edition has been remastered to the highest quality and contains a second disc made of material from the time. It contains the previously unreleased, Rode All Night which needs to be listened to by anyone who doubts McCartney's genius.

The next releases in the Archive Collection are to be Venus and Marts (whoopie), Wings at the Speed of Sound (take it or leave it) and Wings over America (awesome).

In fact the only complaint I've got is the frequency in which these special editions are being released - it's just too slow. Come on Macca and Co I can't wait to revisit Red Rose Speedway, Tug of War, Press to Play, Flowers in the Dirt and the criminally underrated, London Town.

RAM ON.





Tuesday, 22 May 2012

eBooks get erotic

With ebooks like Kindle and Nook enabling discreet downloading and reading, erotic novels for women are swiftly gaining in popularity.E.L. James' Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy has been parked atop of bestseller lists for weeks. And it seems to be everywhere - the print version staring out from supermarket shelves and being snapped up alongside the groceries.

The following comes from The Sydney Morning Herald

Sales have always been good," said Tina Haveman, founder of eXtasy books, "but the increase has happened over the last few years because of the new ebook readers that have become available."
"Ebooks are cheaper than paperbacks, and easier to buy because of the convenience of the internet," she added, "and people can read them without having to hide them from prying eyes."

"You could be a mom, like, sitting in the park on a playday with the moms down the block and you could be reading, like, a real kinky novel and nobody knows," agreed Brenda Knight, associate publisher of Cleis Press.

Founded in 1980, Cleis Press bills itself as the largest queer publisher in the United States, and 70 per cent of its erotica sales are digital.
Kensington Books, another US publisher, says its Aphrodisia collection of adult ebooks accounted for 57 per cent of sales in 2011, compared to a mere two percent three years earlier.
But its spokeswoman Vida Engstrand said the success of such "mummy porn" as Fifty Shades is not singularly responsible for the growth in ebook sales.
"Sales in ebooks have been growing in leaps and bounds since well before E.L. James hit the mark," she said.

"I will say that 'Fifty Shades of Grey' has put erotica in mainstream media, mainstream stores and the public eye," she added.
"My hope is that this sudden cultural awareness of erotica will lead readers and media outlets to take it more seriously as a genre."


It's a big sector.
The Romance Writers of America says that sales of all romance novels with "varying levels of sensuality ranging from sweet to extremely hot" was worth $US1.4 billion last year, with 8,240 titles published in 2010, or 13 per cent of all books.


One in three titles is bought in digital form, a bigger proportion than for any other genre, the trade group said.
Adam Nevill, who oversees Mischief, a new erotic imprint from HarperCollins in Britain, linked the buzz surrounding 50 Shades to the previously established popularity of "horror tropes" by the likes of Laurell K. Hamilton, Charlene Harris and Stephanie Meyer of Twilight fame.
"There was already a big readership, but this one crossed over into a general readership from a large genre readership," he said.


"The interest in this genre goes back to Anne Rice, too, and all the way back to 'Bram Stoker's Dracula,' too. I think it just evolved into a bigger readership online."
Sarah Wendell, founder of the romance literature blog Smart Bitches and Trashy Books, noted how downloading an ebook can be a welcome alternative to risking unwelcome comments at a bookstore's checkout counter.


"Many romance readers have reported snide comments from booksellers as they brought romance novels to the checkout desk - even if they weren't erotic romances at all," she said.
"Women who gravitate towards erotic romantic fiction do so for a combination of reasons," Wendell added.
"It's a positive portrayal of female sexuality, where the woman is celebrated instead of denigrated, and it explores different sexual practices within the safety and privacy of the reader's own imagination."
She added: "If you're curious about something you've never tried before, reading about it in a book and imagining it for yourself can be tremendously powerful and educational - and there aren't many places where women can explore their own sexuality in a safe and non-judgmental manner.
"Plus, some erotic romances are outstanding stories told by very talented writers and are a pleasure to read."


Do Scotland Yard know the identity of Jack the Ripper?

Scotland Yard are currently fighting a bizarre court case in order to keep a selection of old files, relating to the Jack the Ripper case a secret. There is much speculation as to why the authorities in 2012 would want the files to remain a secret, leading many to believe that the files contain the answer and that it was all hushed up  at the time of the murders in order to avert a scandal.

The Met Police is fighting the legal battle to keep files detailing the investigation into the notorious Jack the Ripper case secret because and in their words, 'To maintain confidentiality for Victorian 'supergrasses'. The documents are said to include four new suspects for the serial killings which terrorized Whitechapel in 1888 and have become one of the world's most infamous unsolved cases.

The historic ledgers have 36,000 entries detailing police interaction with informants between 1888 to 1912.

However, Scotland Yard reportedly believes disclosing the names could hinder recruiting and gathering information from modern informants, affecting terrorism investigations - and even lead to the Victorians' relatives being attacked.



Trevor Marriott, a Ripper investigator and former murder squad detective, has spent three years attempting to obtain uncensored versions of the documents.The ledgers provide details of the police’s dealings with thousands of informants from 1888 to 1912, including some who provided information during the original Ripper investigation.

A sample of about 40 pages from the Scotland Yard ledgers was released to last week’s tribunal, but with the names of informants and other key details blacked out.

According to Mr Marriott, the files contain the names of at least four new suspects, as well as other pieces of evidence.He said: “I believe this to be the very last chance that we may have to solve the mystery of Jack the Ripper.

“To have any possibility of getting near the truth about those horrific crimes we must see what these ledgers contain.“It may be that within them we find the final piece of the jigsaw that would unlock this mystery and lead to the identity of the killer, or killers, albeit 123 years too late.”

Jack the Ripper slaughtered at least five women between August and November 1888 in the slums of Whitechapel, east London, but various experts have claimed other murders may have been committed by the killer on earlier and later dates.

The police made several mistakes in the inquiry and detection techniques of the time were basic – with no fingerprinting and science unable even to distinguish between animal and human blood.
As a result, there is no conclusive evidence to point to the true identity of Jack the Ripper and the case remains one of the world’s great unsolved mysteries. Among a long list of possible suspects are Queen Victoria’s grandson the Duke of Clarence, who died in an asylum in 1892, and the painter Walter Sickert.

Mr Marriott, who joined Bedfordshire Police in 1970 and worked as a detective constable until the mid-1980s, began researching the Jack the Ripper case in 2003. He has previously published one book on the subject which put forward the name of Carl Feigenbaum, a German merchant executed for the murder of a woman in New York, as a new suspect.

On uncovering references to the ledgers in 2008, Mr Marriott applied to see the documents under the Freedom of Information Act. The Met refused and he appealed to the Information Commissioner who also decided the books should not be revealed.Now Mr Marriott has undergone the final appeal stage to the Information Tribunal, in which the case is heard by a panel of three judges.

The three-day hearing involved a detective inspector, identified only as ‘D’, speaking to the court from behind a screen because of his sensitive role running the force’s intelligence-gathering operation from informants.Detective Inspector ‘D’ told the tribunal that unveiling the files could deter informants from coming forward in future, and could even put off members of the public from phoning Crimestoppers or the antiterrorist hotline.

“The interpretation on the street will be that the police have revealed the identity of informants,” said ‘D’.“Confidence in the system is maintaining the safety of informants, regardless of age.”
Det Insp ‘D’ said the passage of time did not make publication of informants’ identities less sensitive because their descendants could be targeted by criminals with a grudge.


“Look at one of the world’s best-known informants, Judas Iscariot. If someone could draw a bloodline from Judas Iscariot to a present day person then that person would face a risk, although I know that seems an extreme example,” the officer said.Another senior officer, Detective Superintendent Julian McKinney, told the tribunal that releasing names would make police officers less capable of preventing terrorist attacks and organised crime, and make informants vulnerable to attack.
Det Supt McKinney said: “Regardless of the time, regardless of whether they are dead, they should never be disclosed.

“They come to us only when they have the confidence in our system that their identity will not be disclosed.”

But Mr Marriott said a number of historical files have previously been released which contained details of informants.He argued there was no evidence to show descendants of informants who have been named had come to harm.

The tribunal decision is expected later this year.

Monday, 21 May 2012

Have I got eNews for you

The price fixing case against Apple and several major publishers has escalated and now there are 32 states involved in suing the company. It's out of control with everyone and their uncle lining up to take money from publishing when the industry can ill afford it. And that's only the tip of the iceberg and several European countries including the UK are also bringing cases against Apple and the publishers involved in the row. And now Australia are getting in on the act -  The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has urged local retailers with concerns about price-fixing in the electronic book publishing market to voice their concerns, as it considers its options following a US Justice Department lawsuit against Apple and five of the world’s largest book publishers. The book publishing world was rocked yesterday when the Department of Justice filed suit against Apple and publishers Penguin Group, Macmillan, Hachette, HarperCollins and Simon & Schuster, alleging they conspired to drive up the price of e-books.

Internet eBook sensation Fifty Shades of Gray is being banned from libraries across the US. Given that the book is a bestseller and available in most stores this seems a stupid move and reeks of censorship. Several UK libraries have also banned the book - an absolutely idiotic move given that libraries across the country are threatened with closure. There is obviously a huge demand for the book and  surely drawing people into the library should be the chief concern.

US Publishing giant, Houghton Mifflin filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on this last Monday. The filing came as state and local governments cut their budgets, reducing demand for textbooks for students from kindergarten to 12th grade, Houghton Mifflin’s main business. The company is also known for publishing authors from Mark Twain to J.R.R. Tolkien.




Amazon bestselling Black Horse westerns

Charts supplied by Black Horse Express

1. Raking Hell (Black Horse Western) by Lee Clinton (28 Feb 2011)
Hardcover £7.99

2. The Ghosts of Poynter (Black Horse Western) by Amos Carr (30 Jun 2012)
Hardcover Available for pre-order £12.38

3. The Kansas Fast Gun (Black Horse Western) by Arthur Kent (31 Oct 2011)
Kindle Edition £2.74

4. Arkansas Smith (Black Horse Western) by Jack Martin (30 Apr 2012)
Kindle Edition £2.74

5. Marshal Law by Cobra Sunman (30 Apr 2012)
Kindle Edition £2.74

6. Chinaman's Gold by Lou Armstrong (30 Apr 2012)
Kindle Edition £2.74

7. Devil's Range by Skeeter Dodds (30 Apr 2012)
Kindle Edition £2.74

8. Gunsmoke in Vegas by J William Allen (30 Apr 2012)
Kindle Edition £2.74

9. The Hanging of Charlie Darke by Will DuRey (30 Apr 2012)
Kindle Edition £2.74

10. Comanchero Trail (Black Horse Western) by Jack Dakota (30 Sep 2011)
Hardcover £9.11

Special Guest Blogger Jo Conwrath: Why publishers are evil bastards and should be chained up in my back bedroom and flogged

Jo ConWrath has made a fortune from self publishing his eBooks, these include the bestselling Beer Shandy series which gives us the adventures of  private investigator, Worthington Best. ConWrath has gained a reputation for being critical about traditional publishing and here he tells us why publishing comes from the Dark Side.

Over to you Jo.

Jo ConWrath
Thank you - I've just put the finishing touches on my new novel, Shandy Bass and it will be up on sale on Amazon later this afternoon. Now if I'd sent that to a traditional publisher you wouldn't see it hitting print until later next year.

But that's not why I hate traditional publishing and want to see the industry dead, buried and mouldering in its grave. You see the writer does all the work and then sends off their nice shiny manuscript to the publisher, ie - the gatekeeper of doom. And all they do is edit it,design a cover, get it printed and distribute it - and for that they take most of the money leaving us poor writers with only a few pennies. I mean come on when did you ever hear of anyone making any money from traditional publishing? Stephen King makes nothing from his books, likewise J K Rowling and that James Patterson guy is living on the breadline and there's seventeen of him.



You see I had a dream and in that dream this angel dude showed me the way, he/she/it also told me that traditional publishing comes from the Dark Side and will seek to destroy us all. What we must do, the Angel said, is pledge allegiance to the likes of Amazon which is not a money spinning machine but a philanthropic organisation which supports small indpendent brick and mortar bookstores, and doesn't at all discount books so greatly that the publisher (bastards) and writer (good guy) suffers financially. Amazon, the angel told me, are wonderful and I was then instructed to bow down and worship at the feet of the Amazon.

The gatekeepers of doom would, if left alone, set the price of their own product - how dare they! They also turned down my first ninety nine novels - the stupid, soulless bastards. And you know what we don't need them because anyone who self publishes a novel will make a mint and never look at traditional publishing again. You'll never see writers making a splash in eBook form and then defecting to the gatekeepers of doom. The likes of Amanda Hocking and E L James breaking into traditional print and hogging the bestseller charts - it'll never happen. Listen to me because I am the guru of new age publishing and I have been chosen by the angel to show you all the way. And it's this way...straight past the Random House, take a left turn by the Penguin and dip your feet in the cool clear waters of the Amazon.

Thank you Jo - and check out ConWrath's own blog for a million and one rants against the gatekeepers of doom.













never see

The future looks scary

First we had eBooks but now we have eJournalists - a company called Narrative Science has found a way to program a computer to write news stories. Does this mean that flesh and blood reporters are about to go the way of the dodo?

Thus far, the stories produced by Narrative Science programs concentrate on sports and finance, both areas that are heavy into numerical data. One can presumably feed the facts of a baseball game or a corporate quarterly report into a computer and out spits a story ready to go. Even the tone of the story can be tweeked, from dry analytical to intense and breathless.

Could we one day see a eNovelist? Will we ever seen a program that churns out novels in a given genre? If we do then my bet is that James Patterson will get the sole rights to the program and release 989 novels a day, that's three more, I think, than his current output.

Bond Skyfall trailer released today

We've got Bond playing a word association game in the first official trailer from the Skyfall people - you can view it below - It's a  moody trailer - are we excited? To be honest I still haven't been able to sit through previous Bond movie, Quantum of Shit, so I'm kinda a little bit excited...not much, mind.

Ahh well - James Bond will return

Sunday, 20 May 2012

Tainted Stats

Weekly Stats Report: 14 May - 20 May 2012
Project: THE TAINTED ARCHIVE
URL: http://tainted-archive.blogspot.com/

Summary


  Mon Tues Wed Thur Fri Sat Sun Total Avg
Pageloads18211597103120135139891127
Unique Visits1121019194108109113728104
First Time Visits10197869010410310668798
Returning Visits11454467416

"We'll be better than Amazon." Waterstones to launch own eReader device and store

"Amazon is a ruthless money-making devil" Waterstones, James Duant.

Waterstones have been dropping hints of a new eReader device but they won't say if they'll be commissioning their own device or sponsoring an existing device as Barnes and Noble do with the Nook.

Waterstones has about 300 stores in the UK.And unlike other big chains they have resisted the need to close stores in order to cope with lost revenue, however the days of being able to see a Waterstones store from the window of another Waterstones store have long gone, but James Duant says that Waterstones are selling reading and as the digital medium becomes more and more important to readers, it has become imperative that Waterstones develop an eReader. The company's managing director, James Daunt, told Radio 4's You and Yours that he had been inspired by Barnes & Noble's successful Nook device.
The US bookseller is one of the few high street retailers to have challenged Amazon's growing dominance in both physical and electronic sales.

Amazon customers now buy more Kindle titles than paper versions.Waterstone's is currently in the midst of a shake-up after being bought from HMV Group by Russian businessman Alexander Mamut.
James Daunt was brought in by the new owner in an attempt to reverse its declining sales.Entering the hardware market would be an ambitious move for Waterstone's and likely involve it partnering with a major electronics company.

However the chain are said to be preparing a statement about their own eReading system.

UPDATE-SINCE WRITING THIS PIECE WATERSTONE'S JAMES DUANT HAS NOW DONE A DEAL WITH AMAZON AND DECIDED THAT HE WANTS THE MONEY MAKING DEVIL AFTER ALL.

Now in all formats

Now available at Smashwords on all formats, also available at Amazon

 

The Rhondda Ripper (DRM FREE)

By gary dobbs
Rating: Not yet rated.
Published: May 19, 2012
Words: 58749 (approximate)
Language: English


Description

A killer on the loose. Mindless slaughter. Think you know the Jack the Ripper story? Think again. Police Inspector Frank Parade carries out his daily duties in Pontypridd, duties complicated by the presence of 500 members of Buffalo Bill Cody's touring Wild West Show, not to mention the thousands attending the show every day. A series of depraved murders quickly makes things even more complicated and Parade finds himself on a trail that leads to London's Whitechapel murders of 1888 and Jack the Ripper.

THE GREATEST CRIMINAL MYSTERY IN HISTORY IS ABOUT TO BE SOLVED BY A WELSH COPPER AND AN AMERICAN LEGEND.


Tags

serial killer, jack the ripper, gary dobbs

Available ebook reading formats



Format Full Book
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Kindle (.mobi for Kindle devices and Kindle apps)Download
Epub (Apple iPad/iBooks, Nook, Sony Reader, Kobo, and most e-reading apps including Stanza, Aldiko, Adobe Digital Editions, others)Download
PDF (good for reading on PC, or for home printing)Download
RTF (readable on most word processors)Download
LRF (Use only for older model Sony Readers that don't support .epub)Download
Palm Doc (PDB) (for Palm reading devices)Download
Plain Text (download) (flexible, but lacks much formatting)Download
Plain Text (view) (viewable as web page)View

CLASSICS OF THE CINEMA - NOSFERATU

Hollywood has always thrived on rumour and scandal and there were many rumours built around the car accident on March 11th 1931, that claimed the life of German expressionist director, F W Murnau. The newspapers of the day ran stories, detailing the origiastic goings on in the car before the crash, but in truth all that had happened is that Marnau had allowed his young Filipino  valet, and homosexual lover, to drive the powerful motorcar. The valet drove too fast and had to swerve to avoid a truck – a swerve which sent the car off the road. It wasn’t that bad an accident and most of the occupants of the car were unhurt but Marnau suffered a fractured skull and died later in hospital.

To fans of the fantastic Marnau is best known as the director of the silent classic, Nosferatu and were it not for this one film he would probably be forgotten,  but the director made several other films in the horror genre. However these are missing, most famous is The Phantom (1922) and this only exists in part with a few fragments of the movie being unearthed recently by film historians. And most of what is known about these films come from contemporary accounts. We do however have Nosferatu- an unofficial adaptation of Bram Stokers Dracula that actually managed to be closer to the source novel than Todd Browing’s official 1931 version. So close was it in fact that the director was sued by the Stoker estate over copyright theft.

The fact remains though that Nosferatu is essential viewing for any fan of fantastic cinema – most horror fans know of the movie but how many of the blood and guts generation have actually seen it? The film resonates even today and was one of the movies that defined  the dreamlike quality of good horror cinema.
The movie is now in the public domain though I would recommend the restored DVD version. .

We have embedded the full movie below

Archive's Sunday Comics - War gets weird

Genre mesh-ups are quite common in comic books and this weeks' strip comes from the long running Weird War Tales which was published by DC Comics. In fact this standalone strip comes from the very first issue.

The original title ran for 12 years and 124 issues and was brought back by DC's adult line, Vertigo for a four issue mini series in 1997 and then in 2000 a single special issue was produced.


So settle back and enjoy a war story like no other


Legal Note: These scans come from my own comic collection, and I do not own the copyright. The scans are presented to illustrate articles looking at the considerable contribution comics have made to popular culture, and will be removed if requested by the copyright owners. Where possible we have obtained permission for the use of copyrighted imaged.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Saturday, 19 May 2012

Ripping up the charts

My novel, The Rhondda Ripper is currently the 38th bestselling historical mystery on Amazon, nestled between Margerat Frazer and Susanna Gregory.

Get your copy HERE

A serial killer on the loose.

Mindless slaughter.

Think you know the Jack the Ripper story?

Think again.



Police Inspector Frank Parade carries out his daily duties in Pontypridd, duties complicated by the presence of 500 members of Buffalo Bill Cody's touring Wild West Show, not to mention the thousands attending the show every day. A series of depraved murders quickly makes things even more complicated for the policeman.

Soon Frank Parade find himself on the trail which stretches backs to London's Whitechapel killings and Jack the Ripper. Secrets are revealed and the answer to the greatest mystery in criminal history is answered by a British policeman and an American legend.


Gary Dobbs partners up Parade and Buffalo Bill making for an enjoyable detecting duo. He does a fine job of bringing the famous Wild West showman to life and his descriptions of Pontypridd, the era, and people sparkle. I'm hoping Mr. Dobbs doesn't leave Frank Parade on the sidelines too long because I'm betting there are more adventures in him. Or, maybe Bill Cody -- there's an idea worth exploring -- Buffalo Bill as a world-traveling crime-solver. The Education of a Pulp Writer

Gary Dobbs (AKA Jack Martin) continues his string of fast paced books with "A Policeman's Lot." Not a western per se, as are his Jack Martin books, "Policeman's Lot" still has some of that western sensibility and it even features Buffalo Bill Cody and his Wild West show on a visit to England, Wales in particular.

The story takes place a number of years after the Whitechapel murders but ties back to those murders in a most interesting way. I won't give more away because the twist at the end is original and took me well by surprise. Yet, it made perfect sense within the storyline of the book. Mack Captures Crime

One word: Wow. This is a good book.

The story begins slowly, a man's morning routine as he gets ready for duty and faces the possibility of a busy day, but he has no idea how "busy" it's going to get! Throw in Buffalo Bill, a Wild West show, murders that may or may not be connected to Jack The Ripper, and you have a really hot read. I don't want to say too much for fear of giving something away, but it's a well-written yarn and you will get hooked right away. It's also, for me, a nice change of pace from the modern urban hard-boiled junk I've been digesting lately. Brian Drake


A new Hulk movie - smashing!

It was 1978's Superman that finally did it - proved that a superhero movie could actually be good and contain real substance. Tim Burton's Batman was another and these films sparked off a cinema love affair with superheroes that has culminated  this year in the truly excellent Avengers Assemble. To get to the current point we have sat through a minefield of movies from the good, The X Men, to the bad, Elektra, and it's worth remembering how risky the big budget Avengers Assemble actually was.

OK the waters were tested with successful versions of Thor, Captain America and Iron Man, but both of the recent Hulk movies didn't exactly set the box office world on fire, and it is are for a superhero team up miovie not to stink. Granted the original X Men was excellent, but both of the Fantastic Four movies released recently were nothing more than OK. Spider-Man 3 bombed and neither Superman Returns or Ghost Rider were as successful as had been hoped.

 Ironically it looks like it is the Hulk who has most benefited from the Avengers, and there is now plans for a stand alone Hulk movie with Mark Ruffalo, the screens best Hulk, in the role.

1990's Captain America
Captain America is now firmly established in the movie fans mind - what with the successful first movie, his starring role in The Avengers and the forthcoming Captain America II, but the character had less than an easy road towards mega success, and there have been several bland Captain America movies produced, both for the cinema and as TV movies.

2012 though looks like being a big year for Superhero movies - we've had the mega successful, The Avengers and still have The Dark Knight Rises, and the new Spider-Man reboot to come. And next year this will be followed up with, Man of Steel (Superman), Iron Man 3, Thor 2, The Wolverine and Ninja Turtles. And 2014 also has several super hero flicks already scheduled including Captain America 2 and, if rumors are to be believed, the new Hulk movie. Though 1015 seems likely for a Hulk standalone movie as Marvel have with the exception of the already greenlit, Avengers 2, a clean slate for that year. This would mean we'd get Avengers 2 and a Hulk movie in the same year - that would work, though. After all this year we do get both Avengers Assemble and Iron Man 3.

"From Superman to Batman, superhero films have much to teach us about faith and humanity – as well as being terrific visual spectacle." Tom Hiddleston


Superhero movies will be around for a long time and although most of the iconic superheros have now made it to the big screen, there are still many more waiting to take the leap. There is talk of a Wonder Woman and also an Avengers style team up for Justice League of America - A JLA movie would be interesting but the main characters Superman and Batman occupy very different cinematic worlds. Still it could be a possibility - after all who would have thought, The Avengers would work?

It'll be interesting to see how Marvel  handles a new Hulk film. With Mark Ruffalo they have the best actor ever to play him: the scenes as Bruce Banner are sad and nuanced, and the Hulk is believable as never before. This is largely because director, Whedon understood that we didn't want a tortured Hulk, we just wanted a big green destruction machine. And allowing Banner to change into the Hulk at will was a smart move and gives much more scope for a future movie. There are only so many times we can watch Banner hunt for an antidote to his green skinned infliction.