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The Avenger: Roaring Heart of the Crucible Paperback – June 4, 2013
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*Honesty compels me to admit a possible bias where those authors whose names are marked with an asterisk are concerned, as besides being a fan of theirs for some years, I have met all of them except Matthew in person, and consider the four of them my friends. But, then what critic isn't biased in some way?
1) The Moth Murders by the excellent Will Murray starts the collection off with a bang. Will does a fantastic job of emulating the writing style of Paul Ernst and the mystery is exciting too.
2)The Blood Eaters by Justin Chambers is also very good with it's take on a vampire story.
3) Ghost Of Thunder Isle by John Allen Small has a strange origin being a sequel to not an Avenger story or even a Doc Savage novel, but a follow up to a comic story from the black and white Doc Savage comic magazine Marvel put out in the 70's. That said reading that story is not necessary and I quite enjoyed it.
4)According To The Plan Of The One-Eyed Trickster by Win Scott Eckert is a fun cross-over with Domino Lady. But while reading this I had the feeling I was missing out on something. I did some research and found out this is third in a Trilogy of stories. I don't mind they did this but a comment in the introduction like they did with the previous story would have been helpful.
5)Call Of The Arctic Siren by Mathew P. Mayo was one of my favorites creating a very cool female villain only to dispatch with her way too fast in a story that was over way too soon.
6)The Snarling Man by Christopher Sequeira with C J Henderson is a good story about a nasty Brit with a permanent scowl.
7)Terror From The Depths by David White features more "Sex & Violence" then I am used to in an Avenger story. With an Asian villainess dressed all in tight black leather with a whip. And poor Nellie Gray (The Avenger's Gal Friday) gets whipped across her chest.
8)An Excellent Beauty by C J Henerson is next. The Avenger's aide Cole Wilson gets "no respect". It seems nobody likes this Avenger aide who was fashioned late in the series to be the younger, dashing, heart throb replacing Benson in a lot of the action. Well, C J Henderson seems to like the lad. Cole is only featured in two stories one from CJ and the other co-written by him. This story is a solo Cole Wilson story and it is excellent and features a storyline that makes since for Cole to be in.
9)Ashen To Ashes by Greg Cox, whose last name is missing from inside credits is tight little story about cremation.
10)The Box Of Flesh by Barry Reese. Barry has been making a name for himself in the world of New Pulp and now I see why. This is an excellent story about a silkie.
11)Lone Justice by Bobby Nash is a good story about the Avenger trying to protect a murder witness. Nothing special but well written.
12)The Murderous Scarecrow written by Matthew May is a very cool concept and a great story, but again over too quicklly.
13)Last Stop,USA by Mel Odum is surprisingly the longest story and my least favorite. It is not a bad story by any means just a little bit generic and bloated. Setting a story in a specific place in history is not enough to make it interesting in it's own right.
14)The Iron Phantom by Mathew Baugh finishes things off with a flourish. It is a very fun play on the haunted house story with two great guest stars. A dashing lawyer with a sword cane and an agile simian looking gent.
While I own all three of these books this was my first read. I will soon be consuming the rest and look forward to the three Avenger novels coming soon from Mooonstone.