Friday, March 30, 2012

UNDERCOVER REVIEWS - Pulp Obscura: Richard Knight

Review By Nick Ahlhelm
(Full disclosure: I am a writer for other titles in Pro Se Press’ Pulp Obscura line.)
Outside of a few cover illustrations floating around the web, I was completely unfamiliar with Richard Knight when I started to read The New Adventures of Richard Knight.

The book opens with “Hell’s Hand” by Josh Reynolds. The story is a straight forward adventure tale set almost completely in the air. It’s a fun wild ride and a great way to start off any anthology.

Barry Reese’s “Richard Knight and the Stones of Heaven” feels the most like an old school pulp of the stories. It’s a big adventure that pits Knight against the creator of a death ray. “The Stones of Heaven” is a solid tale but it lacks punch as a follow-up to “Hell’s Hand”.

“The Bapet” by Terry Alexander is a strange little tale that throws Knight and company in to a fight with the namesake monster. The Bapet is basically an Indian variation of a vampire, albeit much more physically powerful. It is a bit of a strange story and seems a bit out of place in a book focused around a man that is basically an aviation hero.

I.A. Watson gives us “The Hostage Academy”, the strongest story in the book in this reviewer’s opinion. Knight’s love interest is apparently killed, but as the story unfolds we quickly learn far more is happening than a simple murder. Instead a dangerous madman is controlling powerful people through a cunning kidnapping plot and only Richard Knight can stop it. A great premise and solid storytelling make this a real standout in the pack.

“Fear From Above” by Frank Schildiner shows an obvious fandom of the classic comic character Airboy. Schildiner introduces a new villain called the Grandmaster, a character somewhat reminiscent of Airboy’s supernatural foe, Misery. The Grandmaster is an ancient, perhaps unkillable, monster that rampages across the airways. He proves to be a near impossible threat, but ultimately the heroic Richard Knight comes through in the end.

Adam Lance Garcia closes out the book with “Crimes of the Ancients”, sadly the weakest piece in the volume from one of its strongest authors. The story is a rather forgettable character piece that throws Knight in with a pair of uninteresting new allies/enemies. In the end it reads like a story that is trying to be a little too clever for what it is and falls flat on its face in the process.

Three great stories, two good ones and only one below average is a mark of a great anthology. The New Adventures of Richard Knight is well worth a buy by any pulp fan. Highly Recommended.

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