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Dan Fowler: G-Man Volume Two Paperback – May 17, 2013
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This volume, the second in the series from Airship 27, features four exciting stories: "The Undercover Puzzle" by Derrick Ferguson; "Monkey Business by Aaron Smith; "Proof of Supremacy" by Josh Reynolds; and "Feasting On The Predator's Corpse" by B.C. Bell. Each story captures Dan Fowler, but with the author's own touch, so much like those original magazine stories. Although there were no disappointments in this book, I thought "Monkey Business" by Aaron Smith might have made a better Phantom Detective story, as Fowler goes undercover to find the killer of a mob boss, not something the Director would have assigned to Fowler, but would have been perfect for the Phantom Detective. Normally I don't like team ups, as most writers tend to have the heroes fight each other at least once. How can one win, when both are heroes? But in "Proof of Supremacy" by Josh Reynolds, Fowler is joined by Jim Anthony. Jim is tracking the kidnappers of a financier's daughter, while Fowler is investigating a series of bank robberies. The two seem to work fine together, and there is no fight between them, thankfully. Still, for my book, I would rather the author just bring in Larry Kendal, why bring in a second hero when we already have Fowler?
The front cover and interior art is also top notch. Volume Two far surpasses the first volume in this series, and I expect only good things for Airship 27 in the future, and looking forward to more great stories from this publisher.
The story "Feasting on the Predator's Corpse" by B.C. Bell was the most chilling of them all and the rats nibbling at Dan Fowler still creeps me out. I intend to buy his Bagman stories
And Aaron Smith's Monkey Business" was just as strange with it's mogoloid villian.
Derrick Ferguson's story "Undercover Puzzle" had a nice understated quality to it as it was a straight crime tale. I think Ferguson is a great writer and I truly want to check out his Dillon series.
"In Proof of Supremacy " by Joshua Reynolds had the best shootout scene that was very cinematic in nature.
So, again, each author injected their own personality into the character without straying from the original premise.
All in all a great piece of pulp. Another good job Airship 27!
The first story, "The Undercover Puzzle" by Derrick Ferguson, sets Dan and his loyal crew of FBI associates (Larry Kendal and Sally Vane) to try to figure out who killed an informant agent that was highly placed in the mob. One of the impediments is that even though the guy is dead, Fowler isn't supposed to `out' the guy so most of the detective work is being hampered by law enforcement officials along the way. The fact that Fowler is still supposed to keep it all hush-hush is kinda silly and just didn't ring true to me, but it was a minor issue. The narrative was very brisk and there wasn't much detail or character development. We don't get much of sense of who Dan Fowler is as he's really just trying to connect the dots to solve the mystery. As a dry, cookie cutter story without much depth, there wasn't much to learn of the character someone new to Dan Fowler like myself.
The second story, "Monkey business" by Aaron Smith, was much better with just the right pacing. Describing the rise and fall of a Polish gangster, the story is about a mysterious scarf wearing entity that supplants the gangster. Having the mysterious new gangster hiding beneath a scarf most of the time was a great writing device that not only builds up the suspense, but also lends the story a bit of a Dick Tracy like caricature bad guy. The icing on the cake was having a sympathetic "moll" as an integral part of the story and having her feelings actually making the reader feel a little sorry for the gangster taken down.
"Proof of Supremacy" by Joshua Reynolds starts off with a bang and doesn't let up on the action very much, feeding us just the right amount of clues (and red herrings) to keep us on our toes. Best of all, this a collaborative detective story in which Fowler teams up with a journalist-cum-detective Jim Anthony, with as much detective prowess as Dan himself. (I later learned that this was in fact another pulp character, "The Super-Detective") An unrelenting string of bank robberies are linked to the kidnapping of an oil magnate and the hoods are masked men who opt to kill themselves instead of being taken prisoner. Dan and his savvy new partner quickly put together the pieces keeping them hot on the trail while dodging lots of flying lead. While I enjoyed the introduction of Jenkin's, the amateur sleuth offering his aide is supposed to be some newsman who not only drives a Rolls-Royce but has it decked with the latest (and most convenient) hardware as well as him having truth serum handy when needed. The implausibility of all these conveniences detracts from the story which is otherwise thrillingly excellent. The addition of a Svengali-like turbaned foil adds to the already rich tapestry that I just wished was a bit more credible.
The last story "Feasting on the Predator's Corpse" by Byron Christopher Bell, is a real doozy, although there is a bit of a catch to that. The story is all about a hitman that works for any mobster for the right price. The hitman is exceptionally violent and cruel, often satiating himself with slower and more painful methods of killing. Instead of just being handed the case, Dan is set on the killer's trail when the killer decides to perform a job on a judge at a courthouse. While court is in session! Dan happens to be there and immediately goes on a wild manhunt that brings him to some pretty strange places. Full of booby traps, chemical concoctions and lots of action, this was a wild ride of a read. I must say that this is easily the most ingenious pulp villain I've ever encountered which had my eyes riveted to the text. The catch I mentioned (and don't want to spoil) is all explained in the blurb after the story in which the author explains how he went about creating the story. This was as exciting as the story itself, so be sure to read that.
Aside from the minor detracting hiccups I mentioned, I thought this was a fine read and one that will have me reading more pulp mystery in the future. Oh, and you'll be sure to adore Foster's artwork along the way, rendering some of the more pivotal scenes. Great stories and great artwork. What have you got to lose?