More SOBs: Butchers of Eden and Show No Mercy

Been a bit behind on these posts; it’s been a busy couple months.  While I don’t have the complete series, I have a good chunk of the Soldiers of Barrabas, and I’ve been working through them.  While Stony Man was kind of my gateway drug to the Gold Eagle paperback scene, the SOBs series is generally, in my opinion, slightly better (in no small part because it becomes evident early on that none of the team members–except maybe Nile Barrabas himself–have plot armor).  There are a number of influences in the Brannigan’s Blackhearts series, but the SOBs are a big one, in large part because I’ve adopted some of the storytelling tricks of a short, team-based, fast-paced action adventure story from them.  (Introducing each of the team members in the first couple chapters as the team gets rounded up is one of the main points I’ve adopted, as opposed to the in media res, on-the-fly intros we got in the Praetorian series.)

So, let’s get started. Continue reading “More SOBs: Butchers of Eden and Show No Mercy”


Soldiers of Barrabas #2 The Plains of Fire

This was my first SOBs novel.  And at the time, I was simply interested in the premise.  Iran goes nuclear.  It was a pretty high-profile concern a few years ago, and has been simmering in the background ever since.  There was even a documentary made about it, Iranium.  With Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, an avowed “Twelver” as President of Iran, the likelihood of Iranian nukes soon being used against the US and Israel seemed to be pretty high.  So imagine my curiosity when I found out that an obscure, 1984 Gold Eagle pulp mercenary story had been written about just that: stopping Iran from launching a nuclear attack. Continue reading “Soldiers of Barrabas #2 The Plains of Fire”

Book Review: Line in the Valley

I originally wrote this for Breach-Bang-Clear a while back, but it seems to have gotten lost in the shuffle, so here it is.

Line in the Valley is hard to categorize.  It’s a crime novel, a war novel, and a psychological study of men under the highest possible stress in combat, all at the same time.  It’s set against a backdrop of an invasion of South Texas, but that really only sets the background against which the events take place.

The story starts off with a bang, as advance elements made up of local gang-bangers eliminate all the cops in the target border towns.  It then follows the initial response, which goes very badly, before we get into the nitty gritty of the counterattack, which is where the meat of the story happens. Continue reading “Book Review: Line in the Valley”

Steve Diamond’s “Residue”

As I mentioned in a previous post, I often do some reading in the target genre prior to and during working on a book.  Now, I don’t really read a lot in the horror genre, with the exception of some Lovecraft, and Larry Correia’s Monster Hunter International and Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files, while involving monsters, aren’t really horror per se (though they are similar enough to what I write; there probably wouldn’t be a Jed Horn series without MHI).

But in the workup for Older and Fouler Things, I finally picked up a book I’ve been meaning to read for a while, Residue, by Steve Diamond.

Short version: it is phenomenal. Continue reading “Steve Diamond’s “Residue””

The Barrabas Run

Part of my “creative process” (damn, I hate that term) often involves reading in the genre I’m going to be working in.  Call it “setting the tone.”  I’ve had a few standbys for the shooter genre, ranging from Larry Correia’s and Mike Kupari’s Dead Six series, to Jack Murphy’s Deckard series, to Jack Silkstone’s PRIMAL series, among others.  Brad Taylor’s Pike Logan series has been pretty good (though I’m way behind on that one), along with Dalton Fury’s Kolt Raynor series.  I’ve also gone with some of the older books, such as Forsyth’s The Dogs of War, which I reviewed last week.

Part of the inspiration for the upcoming Brannigan’s Bastards has been the old Pinnacle/Gold Eagle Action-Adventure series, such as The Executioner, Phoenix Force, Able Team, and Stony Man.  But a larger part, among those old pulp shoot-em-ups, has been the Soldiers of Barrabas, or SOBs. Continue reading “The Barrabas Run”

Frederick Forsyth’s “The Dogs of War”

Somehow, I went 36 years without reading this book.  That has now been rectified.

I did see the 1980 movie, with Christopher Walken (very young and not quite as wooden and weird as he is now) some years ago.  It follows the book for the most part, though it adds a few things.

One of the elements that the movie adds is that it makes The Dogs of War an action-adventure.  Which, while there is both, the book really isn’t.  The actual coup, “The Big Killing,” as Part Three is appropriately titled, doesn’t start until Page 335.  There are scattered bits of violence elsewhere, but that’s not really what the book is about.

You see, the book is a manual for the preparation and execution a mercenary-led coup in a Third World country, in the 1960s. Continue reading “Frederick Forsyth’s “The Dogs of War””

Another Article, and Another Review

My latest is up on Breach-Bang-Clear, concerning weapons being, in the words of Sam in Ronin, “A toolbox.”  Knowing your tools means that firearms aren’t like the latest iPhone.  (Of course, the Facebook comments on B-B-C’s page have already gone off the rails…never read the FB comments!)

The NRA recently decided to disallow revolvers and 1911s from their “Carry Guard” classes. They have since reversed that decision, probably after millions of gun owners took to the internet to tell them it was stupid). This decision seems to have once again highlighted the differing opinions in the firearms community about what is and is not an “obsolete” firearm.

I almost said, “reignited the debate,” but who are we kidding? It’s never stopped.

Read the rest on Breach-Bang-Clear.

Also, a fellow denizen of the “Men’s Adventure Paperbacks of the ’70s and ’80s” Group on Facebook, Greg Hatcher, has read and reviewed Lex Talionis.  It is an excellent review.

“I’m not much of a joiner, usually, but I do belong to an online community that is devoted to reading and collecting the men’s adventure paperbacks that dominated drugstore spinner racks in the sixties and seventies.

It happens that many of us write the stuff as well, and one of our number, Peter Nealen, asked if any of us would be interested in reviewing his latest. Of course I lunged at it, despite the appalling size of my to-read pile.”

Read the rest here.  (You will have to scroll down a bit, Greg’s post is a bit of a grab-bag.  Not unlike this one.)