Tragon in a corner of the tavern sat brooding
tragonHis search for magic was not going well
He drank some green beer to forget it all.
Mordecai Slate walked in and spotted him
The Monster Hunter went over to his table and sat down.
“I see by your strange attire,” Slate said, “you are a stranger here. Have you seen any monsters around here?
“No,” Tragon answered. “Have you seen anything of a beautiful woman with a red stone of powerful magic?”
“Can’t say I have.”
“Hold on, you two,” a voice behind them said.
They turned and saw a tall man in clothing that neither of them had ever seen before. Tight black pants with a stripe down the leg, boots, and shirt. A strange weapon hung in a holster strapped to his leg.
“I’m looking for somebody, too,” he said. “A woman a few years younger than me.
jack brand She was a member of my Security Team in a place called Tulon.”
“No, we haven’t seen her,” Tragon said.
“Why not sit down and have a beer with us. It’s St. Patrick’s Day, y’know.”
Jack Brand sat d
own.“Thanks, stranger,” he said.
The waiter brought some mugs and big pitcher of green beer.
“Well, here’s to St.Patrick,” Tragon said, lifting his mug.
“Hold up,” Slate said. “I see somebody heading over here.”
This Raygun FRONT high rez (3)Another man dressed in a strange outfit came over to them.”Hey you guys,” he said. “Mind if I join you? You all look like you could use some help. Name’s Carson. Frank Carson. Raygun for Hire.”
“Sit down, friend Carson,” Tragon said.
They poured him an emerald shaded beer.
They raised their mugs and clinked them together.10382834_464556050362144_8517532190698647560_n (3)“Let’s all forget our troubles for a little while and enjoy this green brew,” Slate said. “Happy St. Patrick’s Day!”
They all repeated the toast. “Happy St. Patrick’s Day Everyone!”




You can read my latest review for Cinema Retro today. “The True Story of Jesse James.” It would have been a classic western if James Dead hadn’t died. Click here to read the review.


Three items of interest. Today Author Charles Gramlich reprised his five star review of “Tragon of Ramura” on his RAZORED ZEN BLOG. It’s an honor to be included in reviews of books by James Reasoner and Richard Prosch. Click here to read the blog.

Next, I have a new review I wrote myself for Cinema Retro of a strange movie called CRAZY SIX. You definitely want to read this if you’re in the mood for a good laugh. Click here to read the review.

Yesterday the amazing Andrew McBride featured VAMPIRE SIEGE AT RIO MUERTO on his blog. Click here to read the blog. 

Don’t know why I’m so popular all of a sudden. There’s no accounting for taste, is there?

tragonTragon of Ramura may be the first Sword and Sorcery Noir novel ever written. It has the usual S&S tropes, including an alluring high priestess, a magic stone, a hidden city in the jungle populated by ape men, prehistoric monsters, and plenty of sword action. But its central character belongs more in a novel written by Cornell Woolrich or David Goodis.

Tragon, a former Captain in the Ramuran navy, is now a fugitive. He’s on the run, framed by an evil sorcerer for the murder of the King of Ramura. Like any self-respecting noir protagonist he’s got guts but he’s also full of doubt and fear. He has a recurring nightmare involving a beautiful high priestess, a statue of a giant ape deity, and an amulet known as the Crimson Eye of Caiphar. He knows the nightmare contains clues to solving his dilemma. If he can only find the Crimson Eye he believes he’ll be able to return home and defeat the wizard at his own game.

Sai-Ul-San, high priestess of the cult of Zoth-Amin, is your quintessential femme fatale, luring Tragon to her realm through his dreams. What he finds there is the key to his destiny– at the same time a fate more horrifying than he could ever imagine and a shocking truth. Sometimes destiny can take eons to unfold.

Read Tragon of Ramura for a liberating reading experience


My review of “The Revolt of the Slaves” ran yesterday on Cinema Retro. It’s a mix of “Demetrius and the Gladiators” and an Italian sword and sandal flick.

Today over at Cinema Retro I review El Paso, starring John Payne and Gail Russell, a rip-roaring western with some unusual twists on a familiar story line. Click here to read it.

Faraday: The Iron Horse by [Reasoner, James]

In “Faraday: The Iron Horse,” prolific author James Reasoner starts his fast-moving mystery-western novel with a bang. A lone rider is pursued across the plains by a band of Sioux warriors. The rider, a man named Duncan, knows that the safety of the Kansas Pacific railhead is too far away, so he heads for the Western Union telegraph line where he can send a message with the telegraph key he’s carrying. He has to warn the Kansas Pacific Railroad that the trouble it’s having with the Indians is being caused by one man—a traitor who works for the railroad itself.

He makes it to a telegraph pole and starts sending, but gets shot down by the Sioux and taken to their village where he endures some nasty torture. In the middle of it a man in a buckskin jacket arrives, who tells the rider he’ll grant him a quick death if he tells what he was doing out here. The man spits blood in his interrogator’s face and one of the Sioux kills him. The man in buckskin angrily tells the Sioux chief he hopes Duncan’s message didn’t get through.

But Duncan’s message did get through, although only partially. He didn’t have time to identify the guilty party. But it’s enough for Amos Rowland, one of the directors of the KP, to hire Matthew Faraday, president of Faraday Security Services, and his young agent, Daniel Britten, to go out to the railhead and investigate. It’s also enough to set up a story that keeps you turning pages as the investigation leads Britten and Faraday into danger from an ever growing number of sources.

Britten goes out alone first, undercover, and posing as a survey draughtsman. Among the lineup of suspects he encounters are, a big, tough, buckskin-jacket-wearing hombre named Callaghan, a former mountain man who works as a scout for the railroad and could easily slip away from the railhead and meet with the Indians. Another suspicious hombre is Terrence Jennings, the railhead foreman, who is engaged to Amos Rowland’s daughter, Deborah. Even Deborah herself seems a little off kilter. An impulsive and headstrong young woman, she rides the same train as Britten out to the railhead and doesn’t think twice about spending the night with him in her father’s custom made sleeping car. She introduces him to Britten as a “friend” she met on the train.

Next in the lineup is Mordecai Vint, a grizzled old peddler who travels around with a pack horse loaded with goods for sale—a man who’s had a lot of contact with the Indians. He has a daughter named Laura, a girl who might be good-looking under the dirt and grime she’s covered with. Reasoner does a good job of introducing these and other characters who become grist for the mystery that Britten must solve. When Britten finds himself in a little over his head, Faraday goes out to the railhead to give him a hand.

Reasoner has a knack for establishing the setting quickly, clearly and authentically, as the scene shifts from Kansas City to the railhead out near the Rockies. In some ways, the book is reminiscent of westerns from the fifties, particularly movies like “Santa Fe,” which had many of the same kind of railhead settings, and featured a great fight between Randolph Scott and Jock Mahoney on a moving flat car. In fact, as I was reading, I couldn’t help picture Scott as Faraday, and Audie Murphy as young Britten. Richard Boone would have been a natural for Callaghan. But that’s just me. Pick your own cast.

“Faraday: The Iron Horse,” is a revised and expanded version of a novel originally published in the eighties as the first in an eight book series written under the house name William Grant. Reasoner says he enjoyed working on it so much, he’s tempted to write another. I wish he would.

Interesting characters, lots of two-fisted action, and a mystery plot all rolled into one, “Faraday: The Iron Horse” is a fast-paced, highly entertaining read. Available in paperback or ebook.

Jay Swann, the indigenous police detective in “Mystery Road,” is back in “Goldstone.” Read my review over on Cinema Retro.

Here’s something of an experiment, a little commentary on video. See what you think.

220px-donald_trump_august_19_2015_croppedJust for the record.

Saturn and Pluto are about to make life very miserable for Donald Trump. I’ve been predicting that February 2019 would be a critical period for his administration.

Here’s why. Between Feb. 25 to March 1, Saturn and  Pluto will make  extremely difficult aspects to Trump’s horoscope. Saturn (the truth planet) will square his natal Jupiter, the planet of luck and opportunity. In Trump’s case it represents his ability to B.S. his way out of trouble. His luck runs out when he’s faced with undeniable truths. Pluto will oppose his natal Saturn at the same time, the most difficult transit to live through. It can be crushing, as the very structures one has built one’s life on begin to crumble. We all face that particular transit at one time or another. But in Trump’s case with all the investigations into his activities in progress, it couldn’t come at a worse time.

Both Saturn and  Pluto are in Trump’s fifth house of children and love affairs. Expect the source of all this bad news and possible legal trouble, to involve one or more of his children, or one of the women he’s been involved with. The activities of the Special Counsel (depicted in the chart by Saturn) will create a crisis for the administration.

In addition the trip to Vietnam to meet with Kim Jung Un Feb. 27-28  is badly timed. With the current transits the possibility of positive outcomes for negotiating a solid, practical nuclear deal seem poor, at least. He would do better staying home to deal with his mounting legal problems.