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Black Fedora Paperback – September 26, 2013
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Anyway, kudos fellas! Good job being bad!
The first tale, ‘Sometimes They Pay in Bullets’, written by B.B. Bell, is a noirish crime tale that would appeal to people who like Richard Stark’s (Donald Westlake) Parker series, Terrence McCauley’s ‘Prohibition’ – or films like ‘High Sierra’ (with Humphrey Bogart) or ‘Point Blank’ (with Lee Marvin).
The villain in question is a man named Keller. As the story begins, Keller returns to an un-named gambling town and immediately is caught up in a turf war between two mobsters, Fabian and O’Hannoran. But Keller is not the type to align with anybody for long. He is out for himself. The story features gunfights, corrupt cops, bent politicians and a dame with a hidden agenda.
The second entry is ‘The Warden’, written by Phillip Drayer Duncan, and it is extremely different in tone and style to the first. It is a wise-cracking super-hero story. Sorry, let me rephrase that – super villain story.
The Warden, of the title, is a villain whose specialty is capturing super heroes and locking them away in a purpose built prison. This story sees him taking on Mr. Elusive in a smackdown battle in the heart of the city. ‘The Warden’ is a blast from first word to last.
Rounding out the collection is ‘The Man Who Stole Manhattan’ by Kevin Paul Shaw Broden, which is a steampunk adventure (with a dash of the Rocketeer thrown in for good measure). The villain is the Maestro Mechanic – who, as the title would imply, steals Manhattan. Once again, a very enjoyable tale.
If I have a criticism of the book (and other readers may think this is of little consequence – and may in fact be a strength) is that each of the stories are so very different. Aside from the central villainous thread, the book doesn’t feel cohesive to me. Please Note: That is not a criticism of the stories, but the package. I can imagine readers who enjoy the tough noirish thrills in ‘Sometime They Pay in Bullets’ being slightly perturbed as they roll onto the lighter, wise-cracking story, ‘The Warden’. But maybe that is just me? But moving away from my curious peccadilloes, put simply, in ‘Black Fedora’, there is crime noir story, a super hero story, and a steampunk story. If you enjoy these genres, then there’s no reason you wouldn’t enjoy the book.
As advertised, the bad guys are front and center and determined to do things their way – and heaven help any lawman who gets in their way.
A thick and juicy read, very complicated in its texture.