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Blood-Price of the Missionary's Gold: The New Adventures of Armless O'Neil Paperback – June 12, 2012
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"Armless" O'Neil, no first name is ever mentioned, is more of a pulp antihero than heroic. His left arm ends somewhere between elbow and wrist and he wears a metal hook in its place. He is a treasure hunter and soldier of fortune who is never afraid to mete out some two fisted (um, fist and hook) justice in a hardboiled lifestyle.
"There's Always a Woman Involved" by Sean Taylor: Armless O'Neil has a young acquaintance, since friend seems too strong a word, named Tommy Huston. Tommy always has grand plans for treasure hunting, and he falls for women the way Sonny Listen fell for Muhammad Ali. That is full length and out cold.
Now Tommy's involvement with his latest crush has brought himself and O'Neil into the clutches of the Nazis. Taylor serves up some great smash-bang action! I'll grant it five out of five stars.
"Palladium" by Nick Ahlhelm: O'Neil is working as First Mate of the Heart, a steamship that takes explorers down the Nile River. Onboard, he encounters Howard and Genevieve Prynne, a father/daughter set of explorers. They are seeking a flower that grows nowhere else that has been shown to be useful as a pain killer.
There is a murder aboard the Heart, murder and an innocent man hanged for that murder. The supposed "Dutch" aboard the ship, said to be on an expedition for rubies, are in reality Nazis. And then Genevieve is kidnapped! Ahlhelm does a wonderful job of keeping the action fast paced, the mystery subtle, and the solution to it all a fitting wrap-up. I give him five out of five stars for his originality!
"Armless O'Neil and the Chase for the Kaba Mask" by RP Steeves: Armless O'Neil gets a note from T.Huston, complicating his life as usual. While waiting for Tommy in a seedy bar, O'Neil encounters a Nazi with most of his face made of metal. He is chasing a slender, dark-haired girl who employs that O'Neil help her. It turns out that she sent the note, and is Tommy's cousin, Tamara. Along with her father Doctor Sophocles Huston, she is in search of a Kaba mask, the representation of the god Woot, said to possess occult power.
Unfortunately, the faceless Nazi, Fritz Fleicsher is after it as well. On their journey the Professor is killed and O'Neil finds himself once more into the breach. The story is well paced, and well written. And the twist ending to the finding of this artifact is near perfection! I give five out of five stars.
"Blood Price of the Missonary's Gold" by IA Watson: A page from the past involving Mad King Leopold's Congo Free State and a treasure in gold has sharp impact in O'Neil's present, where the horror of King Leopold in the Congo is but a dim memory.
O'Neil staggers out of a seedy Leopoldville bar ten francs richer and happy to have been in a knock-down drag-out fight. He is approached by Daniel Fletcher, who represents a law firm who are required to deliver a letter into the Congo backlands. O'Neil accepts, but immediately is attacked and offered money or death for possession of that letter. Fighting his way out of that mess, O'Neil discovers the letter appears to be a simple recipe.
But more people show up demanding the letter, and O'Neil's instincts tell him it is more than it seems. A band of French mercenaries are after the letter, which apparently is a coded set of instructions to find gold lost by King Leopold's men.
An excellent example of the hardboiled pulp genre, Mr. Watson gets five out of five stars from me!
"The Great White Goddess" by Chuck Miller: O'Neil is in Brazzaville, in his usual habitat, a seedy bar. He is approached there by a black reporter from Chicago, Paul Dunbar Davis. Davis has heard of a valley in the Congo that is ruled by a White Goddess. He pleas for O'Neil's help to no avail. However on the way back to their hotel the two run smack dab into a murder. The man appears to be German, and a tiny young black woman is hovering nervously on the edge of the crowd,
Inside the motel, a man who calls himself Colonel OE Parker of Birmingham, Alabama objects to the hotel allowing Davis a room along with white people. O'Neil objects to Parker's prejudiced attitude and violence almost ensues.
When the young black woman leaves a purse that O'Neil finds, he accepts Dais as his client. Davis has a map to Baindala. Unfortunately, Colonel Parker and his goons are also interested in Baindala, and plan to meet an envoy from there.
I won't spoil Chuck's story for you, but the reveal of who and what the White Goddess is will be a shock to your system! In a good way, of course! This wraps up a book with yet another five stars out of five story!
Quoth the Raven...