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The New Adventures of Richard Knight Paperback – January 27, 2012
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In Hell's Hand by Josh Reynolds Knight must face a band of airborne pirates terrorising European air-travel and destabilising its fragile peace. The villain is effectively ruthless and twisted but while his insanity is shown clearly his motives and origin are not included. The story worked with a strong premise but felt as if it were too short to do it justice and the ending in particular seems abrupt compared to its build-up. Nonetheless, the near continuous action and the chilling descriptions make up for the simplicity of the narrative and the both threat and Knight's competence in meeting it are well established
Doyle is given a larger role in Richard Knight and the Stones Of Heaven by Barry Reese and provides both solid back up for Knight and some welcome humor to the narrative. A group of artefact-hunting Nazis clashing with Knight in their efforts to build a death ray is a very traditional story but still retains its charm. The writing is strong and engaging and the only possible criticism is that the one aerial battle is limited, included because it is a standard feature of Keyhoe's plots rather than for its contribution to the narrative. The story is split into chapters in the style of the original stories and this works well in breaking up the action and the stages of what is in essence a step-by-step story.
When a freak crash leads to the destruction of a whole town Knight is left struggling against an invading force and an unkillable monster in The Bapet by Terry Alexander. The plot is not dissimilar to that of a horror movie with the cast slowly diminishing as the story progresses and Knight is kept moving from the site of one grisly death to another at a sustained pace though this slows towards the end when the story descends into an extended sequence of various characters pointing guns at each other for the sake of exposition before picking up again for the final showdown.
The Hostage Academy by I.A. Watson gives Knight's strong supporting cast an active role, each one showing their strengths in their own way. When a US Senator dies in a plane crash after suddenly reversing his policies Knight is suspicious but his investigations show no evidence of foul play. He's willing to leave it until another far more personal plane crash sends in search of revenge. Like the Stones of Heaven this story makes use of chapters though with slightly different effect, thematically separating events, settings and points of view so that each new chapter feels distinct from the last. The opening is a spectacle taken from the middle of the plot before shifting back to narrate how the character's came to such a dangerous position, effectively catching the reader's interest and establishing the scale of the plot. This story gives an important role to Benita who is otherwise ignored in this anthology despite her place in the originals. She is given a strong enough part here to make up for it however and adds a greater and subtler emotional depth to the story.
In Fear From Above by Frank Schildiner Knight is called in to investigate a mysteriously abandoned ship and finds himself fighting an immortal terrorist with designs to destroy humanity. The character background in this story is very strong with detailed descriptions of each person's attitudes and opinions but is lengthy and the story takes a long time to properly begin. Knight is the only familiar character in this, the others waved off as being elsewhere, and due to this the story has a more action-based quality with little meaningful interaction.
Crimes of the Ancients by Adam Lance Garcia starts in the middle of the plot with an action scene and tells a concise story with more in the way of touching characterisation than intricate plotting, finishing the anthology with a mood piece rather than an epic. An old flame of Knight's returns to cause trouble and an old enemy is not far behind, giving Knight the opportunity to swap snarky comments with both. The exact events that led to the story starting are left to the reader's imagination but enough is explained to make the plot make sense and as the story is strongest in its simple self-contained nature a potentially complex build-up would have lost it some of its appeal. Through its tight focus on the main character Crimes of the Ancients gives Knight an opportunity to show the strength of his character and finishes the anthology on a self-reflective note.
Submitted for your consideration is first release in the Pulp Obscura line: The New Adventures of Richard Knight. With Altus's first collection of original Knight tales comes this first volume of new Knight stories by some of New Pulp's best. And it does not disappoint.
But first a little background. For those of you who don't know, Richard Knight was a 1940s pulp hero in the rich playboy by day, ace pilot and secret spy designated Q by night. Created by Donald Keyhoe, Knight and his trusted assistant Larry Doyle worked for General Brett who gave them strange cases featuring science-fiction elements solved with espionage, aerial escapades and two-fisted action. A fine introduction by Tommy Hancock provides all the information you'll need before diving into the tales themselves.
In The New Adventures of Richard Knight, we get six brand new adventures to add to the original canon. New Pulp scribes Josh Reynolds, Barry Reese, Terry Alexander, I. A. Watson, Frank Schildiner and Adam Lance Garcia do the honors this time out and the result is a mixed bag of pulp goodies.
Reynolds gets things going with Hell's Hands, a tale featuring aerial pirates threatening European skies. There is a lot of great action in this first outing and the villain is well drawn. For all its merits, the tale does suffer from a little too much character set up since the tale wraps up without giving us a true look at the villain. I can't help thinking that Reynolds has plans for this baddie which will play out later. All well in good, but the absence of sufficient details in this story lessens one's enjoyment of it. The story more than makes up for it with its lightning pace and great action sequences and is a great way to get this party started.
Richard Knight and the Stones of Heaven by Barry Reese is next up. In this yarn, Knight goes up against a group of artifact-hunting Nazis bent on created a death ray for nefarious purposes by collecting the six stones of Heaven and harnessing their strange power. Most of the action takes place on the ground, rather than in the air, but the tale moves well and is an enjoyable traditional pulp actioner that would not be out of place in Knight's original run. Good writing and clear characterization are on display here as well, making for a fun read.
Terry Alexander gives us The Bapet, a tale with traditional horror elements as a small town is terrorized by a supernatural creature. All the makings of a good, scary action tale. However it doesn't quite gel here. It's as if Alexander is fitting Knight and his supporting cast to an existing plot rather than The Bapet reading like a true Knight tale. The result is a somewhat engaging read with gore and scares aplenty yet feels somehow out of place.
The Hostage Academy by I. A. Watson is another strong entry in this collection. The death of a senator in a plane crash barely crosses Knight's radar but when the love of his love, Benita, meets a similar fate, then it's time for this Knight to go on a crusade. Strong characterization highlight this very personal mission of Knight's and emotions run high as the airman tries to solve a compelling mystery in his search for vengeance.
Fear From Above by Frank Schildiner has Richard Knight going it alone in an intriguing adventure slightly hampered by its wordiness. The strange disappearance of the crew of a ship out of Jack London's The Sea Wolf leads Knight on an adventure that sets itself apart from the norm. Some great action and vivid description make for a rousing adventure in the air, on the ground and on the high seas.
Crimes of the Ancients by Adam Lance Garcia is my personal favorite in this fine collection. It starts with a bang and the pace does not let up. A character-driven tale, it features Knight going toe-to-toe and quip-to-quip with a former love interest. The plot is never fully explained but given that classic pulp tales generally featured the simple Good vs Evil plot to begin with, it's interesting to see a detailed breakdown of the situation Knight finds himself in being left to the readers. It's as if Garcia is saying to pulp fans: "You've read enough of these great action yarns, you already know what the story is here." Although the banter did get annoying in spots, this new approach to a traditional pulp tale, the ending in particular, left a pleasant taste in this reader's mouth after closing the book.
The New Adventures of Richard Knight is sure to please pulp fans, old and new, as well as any action junkie. It's available in print and as an ebook so they've got your preferred method of reading covered. If you're a fan of action fiction, then this book is for you. Don't miss it!
Pro Se Publication's The New Adventures of Richard Knight is a collection of six adrenaline rush stories featuring the pulp hero who hasn't appeared in print since 1942. Along with sidekick Larry Doyle, Knight fights evil which appears in many forms, while reminding us of the conflict at the time with the Nazi regime. The creators of these stories are well-known to readers everywhere: Josh Reynolds, Barry Reese, Terry Alexander, I.A. Watson, Frank Schildiner, and Adam Lance Garcia.
Knight is back in all his glory, flying the planes and shooting the guns every secret agent longs to have. It's still the early 1940s in the dialogue when men were men and women were, well--dangerous.
Each of the six stories draws the reader in from the first sentence and doesn't let go until the end. Highly recommended.