A Fine Balance: Pulse Fiction Volume 1

pulse_fictionRemember audio cassettes and back when you used to make mix-tapes for all your friends? It was more than slapping your favourite songs on to a BASF C-90. It was walking a tight-rope; an intricate balancing act that took planning and patience. Did you start with a kick-ass rocker, or was it a soulful ballad that set the tone? If the song was too slow you’d kill the mood, or if you went too hard and fast early, the rest of the mix would seem flat. And what did you follow it with? Placement was equally as important as song selection. It was always about balance.

I have found that anthologies are a lot like mix-tapes. There are many anthologies out there in the marketplace, covering all genres – and I am guessing for the editors, balancing the stories within is a tough act. Even though the individual tales themselves maybe fantastic, placing them in the wrong order, or even in the wrong book, can make the reading experience a bit of a stop / start affair.

And that brings me to one of the reasons I am so proud to be a part of Bishop & Hancock’s Pulse Fiction. Having read it from cover to cover, I can say the balance is perfect. Not one of these six stories is out of place – and even though they are different genres they hang together cohesively, united by one common theme; that being – they are rattling good pulp adventure tales told with pace and flare.

The first story in Bishop & Hancock’s Pulse Fiction is The Insanitors by Barry Reese. Reese, the creator of the Rook and Lazarus Gray, is one of the shining lights of the New Pulp movement, and his action packed tale, The Insanitors provides more proof of his story-telling prowess. From first word to last the tale is a roller-coaster ride – taking the reader from Machu Picchu in Peru to the corridors of power in the White House. The hero of the piece is a man who calls himself Dr. Darkness, and aided by his daughter Lilly, he has to thwart the Insanitors, a group of half-breed demons intent on unleashing hell on earth.

The next story is The Honor of the Legion, by yours truly. I have talked about it quite a bit, both here and on social media, so I won’t rehash all that again, but as the title would imply it is a Foreign Legion adventure. The hero of the piece is Legionnaire, Mace Bullard – and since we’re all friends here, I’ll let you in on a little secret … Mace Bullard will return in a new blood-curdling action adventure called Sahara Six. I don’t know when it will be released, but I’ll let you know when details come to hand.

The third story in Bishop & Hancock’s Pulse Fiction Volume 1 is Never Enough Corpses by my Fight Card colleague, Brian Drake. This story is another cracking tale – harking back to The Saint, and other champagne heroes of the past. The hero of the piece is Daniel Redd, known as the Last Ace. Redd is a successful gambler with a taste for the finer things in life. But Redd is not a foppish dilettante. On the side, he also lends his assistance to those less fortunate than himself. In this instance, the damsel in distress who needs his help is Tori Heneghan – a woman caught in the middle of a blackmail scheme – and who has two goons on her tail trying to kill her.

Diamonds Are a Girl’s Worst Friend by Eric Beetner is the fourth tale. Set in Paris, in the early 1960s, and featuring Holly Lake – a slinky cat burglar – as the title may suggest, this tale is a classic diamond heist caper. I have read a few of Beetner’s other works, and generally they have been gritty and tough – often with a pitch black sense of humour. Diamonds shows another side of Beetner’s writing – delivering a sophisticated fast-paced romp that is equally entertaining as his darker work.

From the pen of one of Pulse Fiction’s creators, Tommy Hancock comes the western mystery The Man From Shadow Limb. The township of Shadow Limb is a hive of villainy and vice, that is, until a masked avenger arrives on the scene to clean up the town his way. This tense western tale is part whodunnit, so I won’t give too much away, but to say the story drips with atmosphere and I look forward to more adventures of the Man From Shadow Limb.

Last but not least, the final tale, Cry Blood, by D. Alan Lewis, features battered and bruised hard drinking P.I. Thomas Gunn – a Mike Hammer type character – who comes to the aid of a young woman whose family have been killed, and now mobsters are after her. Gunn sobers up and does his best to protect her as the body count around them rises. I reckon a lot of people are gonna love this one – it’s a great note to go out on.

As I have a story in this anthology, naturally I cannot be totally subjective, but in a collection like this, a story is only as good as the stories around it, and I’ve got to say the tales in Pulse Fiction are top rate. As you’ve probably gathered from the mini reviews above, the mandate for Pulse Fiction was to put together old fashioned tales in a new fashioned way. And to that end, I believe the individual authors, and editors Paul Bishop and Tommy Hancock, have succeeded admirably. Check this one out. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.

A Fine Balance: Pulse Fiction Volume 1

Bishop & Hancock's Pulse Fiction

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G’day folks! It’s been a long time coming but I am proud to announce that Bishop & Hancock’s Pulse Fiction is now available in both paperback and eBook. This collection of wild pulp tales features my story Honor of the Legion, featuring French Foreign Legionnaire Mace Bullard, a man with no past and little chance of surviving the future. Join Bullard as he battles scimitar wielding Berbers, machine-gun toting Nazis, and tangles with the mysterious Sin Queen of Marrakech.

Here’s a brief snippet to whet your appetite.

BullardFrançois Mesmer was considered the Legion strongman. He was a mountain of muscle at six-foot-four tall, and impossibly broad shouldered. As he galloped back to camp at dusk, he looked a sight. Although his horse was a full sized muscular Arabian stallion, it looked like a Shetland pony carrying his great bulk.

He quickly dismounted and approached Sergent Mace Bullard who was leading the patrol, and currently seated around a campfire with four other Legionnaires. Bullard stood as Mesmer approached. The big man removed his kepi brimmed hat and flicked back his blond hair from his sweat soaked brow.

“Sir, eight riders are approaching,” Mesmer blurted, struggling for breath.

“Do you think they are trouble?” Bullard asked.

Mesmer didn’t answer the question directly. “They have a man with them, tied over his horse. I do not know if he is dead or alive … He’s wearing a Legion uniform.”

The hairs on Bullard’s neck stood up. “A Legionnaire, you say?”

“Yes sir.”

“Well, let’s give them a welcome.”

Bullard called his men to attention and outlined his plan.

***

The sun had set as the Berbers rode in. They rode in slowly, warily. Each of them was dressed identically, wearing a black djellaba with a yellow sash. The leader of the small band of cutthroats peered through the dim light at the camp site before him.

He felt uneasy.

The camp looked deserted, but there was something strange about it. The fire was still smoking, having only been recently extinguished. Then there were the horses. Six of them were tied together and standing nearby. If the occupants of the camp had moved on, surely they would have taken their horses.
The leader called his men to a halt with a hand gesture. He dropped down from his mount, and moved cautiously toward the fire. The boot prints around the site were fresh. The desert winds had not had time to obliterate them.

He was about to order his men to be on guard, when the sand before him erupted. Bullard had been hiding in the sand covered by a tarpaulin. It was an old Bedouin trick he had learned.
Caught by surprise, the cutthroats were slow to reach their weapons. Bullard shot the leader with his sidearm, and then sprang forward yelling, “En avant, la Legion!”
His men answered his call and swept down from the dunes, firing as they went. One of the Berbers produced a large curved scimitar and slashed at Bullard. The Legionnaire leaped backward as the blade zinged past at head height. As the marauder swung again, in mid stroke, he cried out in pain, dropping the sword and clutching at his bloody wrist. Mesmer, high on one of the dunes, had a smoking rifle in his hand.

“Merci,” Bullard yelled, acknowledging his compatriot.

The marauder scuttled forward, and retrieved the sword with his other hand. Clearly, he would rather die than surrender. Bullard was happy to oblige. Almost with a tinge of regret, he raised his pistol and pulled the trigger, putting the brigand down for good.

The battle was over in less than a minute. Bullard moved past the bodies of the cutthroats to the packhorse with the Legionnaire draped over it. The man hadn’t moved at all during the entire skirmish, and Bullard surmised the Legionnaire was dead. That in itself was strange. Why were the riders transporting a dead body?

Bullard raised the man’s head and stared at the face.

“I know this man,” he said, as he peered into the lifeless eyes.

Bishop & Hancock’s Pulse Fiction Volume 1 is available from Amazon.

Bishop & Hancock's Pulse Fiction

Swamp Walloper

SWAMP smallAuthor: Paul Bishop
Published: October 2013

Swamp Walloper is the follow up to Felony Fists, the first book in the Fight Card series written by Paul Bishop. Fists saw L.A. cop, Patrick ‘Felony’ Flynn fighting on two fronts, first corruption on the streets, and then duking it out with one of gangster Mickey Cohen’s minions – it was a fantastic, uplifting story with a knockout ending.

Walloper heads in a different direction, and sees Flynn plying his skills – as a cop first and as a fighter second – in the Crescent City, N’Awlins, and in the croc infested Bayou Sauvage. The villain of the piece is a crooked prison warden named Lucas Trask – a man steeped in dark voodoo rituals.

The tale is pure pulp, dripping with steamy New Orleans atmosphere, and featuring great characters – heroes you want cheer, and villains you want to hiss. The action packed climax will raise the hairs on the back of your neck. Like Felony Fists before it, Swamp Walloper punches above its weight and recommended to all fans of rapid-fire adventure.

Swamp Walloper

Fight Card: A New Publishing Paradigm

Fight Card, co-creator, Paul Bishop was recently interviewed on the Book Life Now site, discussing the unique structure of the series.

In part, he says:

Then came a surprise – the stories were not only resonating with readers, but also with writers. Young writing lions such as Heath Lowrance, David Foster, Kevin Michaels, Terrence McCauley, and Robert Evans, as well as established pros like Wayne Dundee, Mike Faricy, and Robert Randisi expressed the desire to write entries in the series Fight Card series.

Part of the appeal was the new publishing paradigm Mel and I had established … Fight Card was not a publishing company, but something different – an author’s cooperative.

To read the full interview at Book Life Now, click here site

Fight Card: A New Publishing Paradigm

Fight Card: Felony Fists

Author: Paul Bishop
Published: November 2011

I am too young to remember the halcyon days of pulp fiction, but as a child growing up in the 1970s, there was always a lot of brutal entertainment on television. We would regularly watch ‘TV Ringside’ with Ron Casey, and on Sunday afternoon was ‘World Championship Wrestling’. I must admit, as a kid, it was a lot easier watching the antics of the wrestlers than understanding the science of boxing. I used to marvel at the athleticism of Mario Milano, Killer Karl Kox and (my personal favourite) Bruiser Brody. After each show, my brother and I would go out into the back yard and get on the trampoline and re-enact the moves we had seen. You see, the trampoline was our ring. The trampoline was great for ‘knee-stomps’ because you’d bounce back up again.

I have told this story before, but what the heck, we are friends here right? On occasions the shenanigans on the trampoline could be a little dangerous — this was back in the mid ’70s mind you, and trampolines weren’t what they are now. There was no padding or netting to protect you or stop you from falling off. One afternoon, my brother jumped off the trampoline early and I must have been too close to the edge. Without my brother to counterbalance me, my weight tipped the trampoline and I was sent flying. What I have neglected to tell you is that our trampoline was situated next to a barb-wire fence. So I flew through the air, back first, and landed on this fence where I was hung up. Of course my brother ran off and got our father who lifted me up and off the barbs. No real damage done. Oh, the halcyon days of youth . . . but back on to the topic at hand, which is biffo.

However, by the 1980s Wrestling was all but a forgotten memory on Australian TV, and boxing took over. In Lester Ellis and Jeff Fenech we had two bona-fide boxing champions. Their fights were shown on prime time, practically stopping the nation. Fennech’s “I love youse all” became a national catchphrase.

Below are a few youtube clips from Fenech’s title fight with Samart Payakaroon – who, after a popular comedy record hit the streets, was re-dubbed by Aussie yobs, as ‘Smart Arse Payakaroon’ (myself included, but hey, I was just a kid). These clips were uploaded by noteatpig2getha

But as always, I am talking about myself, rather than the topic of the post. So let’s look at Felony Fists. The story is a bout (see what I did there?) an L.A. cop named Patrick ‘Felony’ Flynn, who also happens to be an amateur boxer. When we meet him, he is fighting Lester ‘Killer’ Carter. Carter happens to be trying to impress big time gangster Mickey Cohen who is watching the fight. If Carter can prove he has got the goods, Cohen will put him on as one of his boys. But of course, Flynn has other ideas.

Also watching the fight with Cohen, is another fighter; a wrecking machine who is moving up through the ranks fast, named Solomon King. King is one of Cohen’s stable, and if King were able to win a Championship belt, it would allow Cohen to further extend his illegal activities into the world of boxing. So, many people don’t want King to get a title shot, including the Chief of Police who is keen on shutting Cohen down.

But as I alluded to earlier, King is a wrecking machine – one hell of a tough fighter. So that begs the question, who can stand against King, and in the process dent Cohen’s plans. Well, I shouldn’t have to ask.

In some ways Felony Fists is predictable – you know exactly where the story is heading – but that is half the fun. It’s not the destination that counts, but the journey, and traveling along with Paul’s characters was an absolute joy. While reading the book, I must have looked like a right proper berk, with a cheesy grin from ear to ear. The tag at the end of Chapter 4, when Police Chief Parker assigns Flynn to his next case had me laughing out loud.

The ongoing Fight Card series is going to feature other popular authors presenting their slant on old time Boxing fiction, and as I alluded to earlier, it is not a form of literature I am well versed in, but if the series maintains the standard set by Felony Fists, then consider me a convert. I will be looking forward to each and every installment.

Now you’re probably thinking that this doesn’t sound too ‘spy’! And you’re absolutely right. It’s a pulp thriller about boxing, but it also happens to be written by fellow C.O.B.R.A.S. (Coalition Of Bloggers wRiting About Spies) agent Paul Bishop, and rest assured he is not going to allow the story to pass without at least a nod to one of his favourite Spy TV shows of the ’60s… can you spot it?

In May:

May sees the launch of King of the Outback, the sixth book in the popular Fightcard series – and my literary debut (writing as Jack Tunney).

Set in Outback Australia, in Birdsville, one of the most remote towns on the planet, two rival boxing tents set up shop in competition with each other. In the sweltering heat, tensions simmer, tempers flare, and a tent burns.

For an up-to-date direct connection with the Fightcard series check out the home page, or for you youngsters, you can follow the Facebook Fan Page.

Fight Card: Felony Fists