In a first for me in reviewing short stories I’m not going to name favourites as all the stories within this collection are top notch pulp. Rather I’ll give a brief blow by blow account of the contents as they appear. Kicking things off with ‘End of the Renaissance’, Ray Banks introduces a blind hero like no other who uses his charm and fists to create an uprising against bad guys who had been using males as worker slaves and women as play things. It’s a hard hitting, violent and disturbingly good way to hop aboard the gravy laden pulp train. Sabrina Ogden then chimes in with a review of THE XANDER PURSUIT which is both entertaining and insightful. Despite the overall corny nature of the title,
’s review wet my appetite for more. After that brief interlude, the stories return with ‘Never Say Good Night in Saigon’ by Jimmy Callaway which is what GI JOE would be if dropped in the middle of a E-grade action flick and asked to save the world with a tooth pick – oh yes, the All American type hero on foreign soil is all good. Tasked with recovering stolen infants who were housed inside Mama Tu’s nightclub, Mathes teams up with a local sergeant to retrieve the infants before any harm is done, along the way having to fight for his life using all manner of deadly weapons. ‘Never Say Good Night in Ogden Saigon’ is an excellent example at the hero-pulp persona done right.
‘Burn In’ by Frank Lanerd captures that 80’s urban crime feel perfectly yet adds a little spice by virtue of a surprisingly deep and well thought-out back story to both sides of the good and bad. Cruel is a mean mother whose street cred is enough to scare the toughest gangster – just not Mr. Bread, a thug who uses minions to do his dirty work. ‘Burn In’ explores pain like no short story I’ve read, the actions have deadly consequences and Cruel’s split second decision has long lasting ramifications. ‘Burn In’ is a certain highlight. Next up Matthew C Funk’s excerpt of an ‘interview’ with Agent Sniper provides a nice sidebar from the short stories and a glimpse of the maddened mind of a vet lost in his own action movie.
‘Operation Scorpion Sting’ by Andrew Nette is about a deadly assassin who isn’t afraid to take down any target if the price is right, It’s a delectable nod towards traditional Aussie themes with a protagonist as deadly with boomerangs as he is with women. When enticed by the danger of bringing down a drug syndicate operating in
, following fruitless attempt by local law enforcement, Thong sets his sights on the deadly Scorpion, head of the trafficking business and renowned bad guy. Reading this is akin to watching those old action flicks dominated by a one man army. I think this quote sums up Thong perfectly: “I’ve been killing so long, it’s like a second skin.” Bangkok
Chingon has a cameo appearance by virtue of a list of series titles created by a pulp genius and commented by Johnny Shaw – the theme will make you laugh and cringe at the same time. With so many bad (good) idea’s I sure hope some see the light of day, especially more of Chingon.
Josh Stallings rounds out BLOOD AND TACOS #2 with ‘The G-String Gundown’ – what a title, need I say more? Despite the cheesy nature of the title, this short story is well characterised and a master of deception. The protagonist, a sexy young woman seeks revenge for wrongs done to her mother by three male youths many years back. In proving sex is a weapon, Stallings pits his heavenly woman against some tough characters, killing them softly without remorse. It’s violent, in-your-face, literary abuse that’s too good not to warrant further exploration.
Like the first instalment, BLOOD AND TACOS delivers what it sets out to achieve, pure pulp goodness – all hail the return of the pulp for in BLOOD AND TACOS mullets and moustaches are alive and well.