Friday, September 30, 2011

"Hell's Angels: The Strange and Terrible Saga of the Outlaw Motorcycle Gangs" by Hunter S. Thompson

"Hell's Angels: The Strange and Terrible Saga of the Outlaw Motorcycle Gangs"
by Hunter S. Thompson
Published by Modern Library (1999)
originally published by Random House (1966)
265 pages.

I have been a fan of Hunter S. Thompson ever since I saw the movie "Where the Buffalo Roam" starring Bill Murray, which was loosely based on the book "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas."  After seeing that movie I read the book and realized why it was LOOSELY based, because of the craziness that is Gonzo reporting that Thompson did best. 

I decided to go back again recently and tackle another Thompson book and this Hell's Angels documentary seemed a good way to go.  In this book you don't get as much craziness that makes the gonzo, Gonzo.  Instead with this book you get the early forms of gonzo reporting where Thompson placed himself at the heart of danger.  It is still told in first person as Thompson did best and with some great descriptive narrative that puts the reader pretty much on the back of a Harley and making some runs with the most dangerous group of the 60s.

During this period of American history, The Hells Angels were a violent bunch, at least according to all the major newspapers.  Hunter S. Thompson, thought they may be getting a bad rap and decided to put himself in the middle of it all.  He approached Sonny Barger, the head of the Hells Angels at the time and told him of his plans to follow them as a reporter, a dangerous move in and of itself due to the Angels not trusting reporters because of the bad press.  But soon Thompson was mildly accepted into the fray and follows them for about a year.  Thompson's relationship was ended with the Angels after they nearly beat him to death for making a remark to a fellow Angel that the club didn't appreciate.  The remark was made when Thompson saw an Angel beating his wife, to which Thompson said, "Only a PUNK beats his wife." 

The whole nature of the Hells Angels motorcycle club at the time always teetered on the edge of violence, whether it was  running out of beer or locals wanting to chase the club out of town.   This documentary not only shows the constant chance of violence, but Thompson also sheds some light on the idea that the Angels just wanted to be left alone.  Left to themselves they just wanted to have a good time on weekends and in many cases work their jobs during the week.  As with any large group there are individuals that would do something that would get the negative attention and that is what everyone focused on.  Thompson presented all the stories during his time with them good and bad. 

Some of the fun stuff in the book is when Ken Kesey and his Merry Band of Pranksters invite the Angels over for a party and the two cultures converge and the police are the ones that create the clash.  Many exciting adventures in this book and at times you feel you are reading a thriller with an exciting ending rather than  a documentary.  Great writing and interesting cultures make this book a good read.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

"The Hounds of Artemis" by James Goss

"The Hounds of Artemis"
by James Goss
read by Matt Smith & Clare Corbett.
Produced by BBC Audiobooks
approx 1 hour.

Not sure why it took me so long but not until the 5th season and the 11th doctor did I get into the return of the series "Doctor Who."  I loved it as a kid especially the Tom Baker version of the Doctor.   But before I got into the series I had to start from the 9th Doctor and work my way back up to now...I'm now caught up with the TV series and, well, I'm impressed.  Great storyline, and the special effects are awesome.  The BBC even has 2 spinoff series, on for kids, "The Sarah Jane Adventures" a series for young adults (which ended due to the death of Elizabeth Sladen) and "Torchwood," which went for 3 seasons, each on a different BBC channel and then coming to America on a subscription cable channel for a 4th season.

So now I'm caught up on the series and all the side series' I'm doing my best to wait for each new episode.   So what does an audio book lover do?  Find Doctor Who audiobooks, and let me tell you the BBC has done their best to make sure there is a plethora of them available.  So far I have liked all 3 of the new doctors (David Tenant was my fave, but the latest, Matt Smith is really growing on me.   He's my son's fave so hey, there's that.)  This audiobook is a one hour release from BBC Audiobooks and features the 11th Doctor, Matt Smith, and his companion, Amy Pond.)  In the continuity of the series this audio falls before the "Big Bang" episode because it features the smiling crack in reality that is always following Amy.

In 1929 Lord Woolcroft and his team break open the fabled Tomb of Artemis, sealed for thousands of years, they are astonished by what they find inside...A man and a woman.  The man is wearing a bowtie and introduces himself as The Doctor.  He then tells them they are in great danger, and  thus begins the adventure. 

As are many things in time this event is a fixed moment and cannot be changed, however maybe the casualties can be lessened so that is what the Doctor and Amy set out to do.  The Tomb of Artemis is opened and soon wolves/hounds begin to terrorize the archaeological team.  Once entering the tomb, the priestess of Artemis is there and presenting a feast of what seems to be each person's favorite food.  So it seems Artemis is feeding off the mental energy of the humans.  Soon Artemis reveals her plan to escape and take over the world, but the Doctor decides this cannot happen. 

Just as with the tv series this audiobook features excellent writing that makes the adventure one that will keep you wondering what will happen next the book is read by the star of the series, Matt Smith and by Clare Corbett.  Clare Corbett's reading sections are when the story is being told from Amy Pond's diary and as the teller of the story, a descendent of one of the archaeological team.   Matt Smith delivers the rest and gives the story that extra Doctor Whoishness.

Great little audiobook that may get you hooked into the Doctor Who world if you aren't already.

Monday, September 26, 2011

"Branded Outlaw" by L. Ron Hubbard

"Branded Outlaw"
by L. Ron Hubbard
Multi-cast performance
produced by Galaxy Audio
Approx 2 hours.

Once again I venture into another story from the pulps of the mid-20th Century and this time I do it with a western.  It's been a bit since I've listened to a tale of cattle rustlers and gunslingers, so let's check out "Branded Outlaw."

Before we get into the story, I've got to explain why I'm listening to this book.  I got introduced to the stories of L. Ron Hubbard that appeared in the many pulp fiction magazines of the early - mid 20th century via Galaxy Audiom and it all started with Hubbard's sci-fi/fantasy stories.  I'm a huge sci-fi fan, and listening to these classic stories produced by Galaxy Audio would blast me off into several universes and realities.  I then got curious and started listening to the other genres, from air adventures, mystery, sea adventures and westerns.  I've never been a fan of westerns but after hearing the great production in the others I gave them a chance with this collection.  I was amazed, they were fun and with the great sound effects, music and superb voice acting Galaxy Audio got me interested and since then I look forward to the next one.  

This story is yet another superb production, in which you'll be ducking bullets and hiding behind rocks to get your next shot in.  "Branded Outlaw" was originally published in the October, 1938 issue of  "Five Novels" monthly and tells the tale of "Suicide" Lee  Weston, who returns to Pecos, New Mexico from Wyoming, to help his father who has written Lee telling him of an enemy by the name of Harvey Dodge.   Weston is thinking Dodge is trying to take over his father's land and stealing his cattle.  When he arrives he finds his father murdered and the homestead burned to the ground.  Weston then heads into town seeking revenge on Harvey Dodge. 

The Sheriff tries to calm Weston, but as Weston leaves the Sheriff's office a gunman challenges him upon hearing he is seeking out Dodge.  Weston narrowly escapes but manages to kill the gunman.  The problem is one of the stray bullets from the gunfight has killed a passerby.  Weston is now wanted for murder, he heads for the hills and a private fishing lodge he stayed in as a kid.  At the lodge Weston is found by a woman who nurses him to health, and in classic Hubbard style the twists begin in that the woman is the daughter of Harvey Dodge. 

Weston sets out to stop the man responsible for the series of cattle rustlings and land grabbing after finding out that Dodge may not be behind it.  But trouble ensues as well as the gunfights.  Can Weston prove his innocence before meeting up with the lynch mob out for him?  In a tale that is a CLASSIC western, you'll need to tighten up your spurs because you are in for the long ride until justice prevails in the old west.

Just to show how detailed of a western this story is here's a quote from the book:

"A leather-faced, sun-dried individual with a star on his chest was drowsing over a stack of reward posters, waking up occasionally to swat at a fly which buzzed around his ear. But the instant a shadow appeared in the door, Tate Randall, through long and self-preserving habit, swiftly came to life, one hand half stretched out as a welcoming gesture and the other on the Colt at his side. His bleached eyes squinted as he inspected Lee."

Just plain classic western writing with a very visual description.

"Death of a Salesman" by Arthur Miller

"Death of a Salesman"
by Arthur Miller
a full cast audio performance
starring Stacy Keach and Jane Kaczmarek
Produced by L.A. Theatre Works
approx 2 hours

Once again I'm going back to my theatre roots and listening to an audio performance of a classic play, "Death of a Salesman."  While in college I acted out a scene from this play and from that moment I fell in love with it.  Not sure why, I mean, it's not really a happy play, but something about this play grabbed me.  I think mainly because it was the first play I'd read and performed and that it seemed to tell it straight.  Life does not always turn out like you want. 

When I ran across this audio performance from L.A. Theatre Works (LATW), I knew I had to give it a listen mainly because of Stacy Keach.  He's a subtle actor yet can give you a larger than life performance.  In this performance he knocked it out of the ball park.  I had seen a version of the play on television with Dustin Hoffman as Willie Loman and thought at that time I had just seen the only person who I could ever picture as Arthur Miller's salesman.  But now I have to shift that to Keach.  Mr. Keach performed the role to perfection.  As you can see, I was highly impressed.

Everyone in this performance was great, Jane Kaczmarek (you know, the mom in TV's "Malcolm in the Middle") did a wonderful job as Willie's wife, Linda, but let's face it the play is about Willie Loman, and the star shined brightly.  Actually while were talking about being impressed, this makes the 4th or 5th performance from LATW that I've heard and each time they impress me, not only with excellent casting, but the productions are superb.   Each release places the listener directly into the audience of the performance, with excellent sound effects, music and just a dash of the audience response to remind you you are listening to a performance. 

"Death of a Salesman" is the story of an aged salesmen who was always wanting the best for his family.  He wanted his boys to grow up and be well liked, not just liked, but WELL liked.  The problem is that the reality of Willie Loman's life never really matched up to his dreams.  He is full of regrets, such as missed opportunities, never knowing his father and his son, Biff who was a High School football star that could have gone on to play in college.  The problem is that Biff flunked out of Math and refused to go to summer school and never went to college. 

The play takes place in Willie & Linda's home when Biff is back from "out west."  Hap, the other son, who is trying to follow in his father's footsteps still lives near to home, is also visiting.  Willie cuts short his trip from Boston because he nearly runs off the road while driving.  Wille has lately become a victim to his mind wandering and he starts revisiting his memories out loud.  

The play is told with a constant barrage of flashbacks from Willie's point of view as he begins to see the reality of his dream.  Linda tells her sons of Willie's troubles and that she believes he is trying to kill himself.  It all builds up to a scene, where to make their father happy, Biff and Hap attempt to go into business together, but reality comes crashing down on everyone leaving a tragic ending. 

This performance from L.A. Theatre Works is superb in every manner and this classic play is one that should not be missed.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

"Black Mask 1: Doors in the Dark -And Other Crime Fiction from the Legendary Magazine" Edited by Otto Penzler

"Black Mask 1: Doors in the Dark -And Other Crime Fiction from the Legendary Magazine"
Edited by Otto Penzler
read by Eric Conger, Oliver Wyman, Alan Sklar, Pete Larkin, and Jeff Gurner
Produced by High Bridge Audio
Approx 7 hours

When I say the words "Pulp Fiction," what comes to your mind?  Maybe the movie of the same name?  Keep that in mind because I've got a surprise for you.  For me the movie was the first thing that would come to mind, but recently I've been listening to audio books of stories from the days of the Pulp Fiction magazines.

This latest audio book is a real gem.  "Black Mask 1" is the first in the series of stories turned to audio books from the "Black Mask" pulp that was printed between 1921 -1950.  These stories all have that great film noir/gumshoe detective feel and make for some great short stories.  In its hey day, "Black Mask" printed stories from some prominent authors of the day, and this first edition starts out with a bang with some great and fun stories.   Before we talk about those, remember the movie "Pulp Fiction?"  The movie was, in its early days, actually titled "Black Mask," because Quentin Tarantino drew his inspiration from the pulp magazine.

Each of the stories is read by a different narrator and each one does a superb job of reflecting the story's emotion and the sound of the time.  If you close your eyes while listening to "Black Mask 1..." in your mind you can easily visualize a film noir gumshoe detective movie from the same era of these stories. 

The introduction to the audio book is written  by Keith Alan Deutsch and read by Eric Conger.  It gives a very nice history of the age of the pulps and especially that of "Black Mask" magazine.

The stories included in this collection are:

    “Come and Get It” by Erle Stanley Gardner; read by Oliver Wyman.
Erle Stanly Gardner was a self taught lawyer who took on the extra job of writing for the pulps to make up for the lack of money he earned as a lawyer, after a few years he turned his writing into full time and created the character, Perry Mason.  This story "Come and Get It" ran in the April, 1927 issue of "Black Mask" and features the character, Ed Jenkins.  Ed Jenkins is known to many as the Phantom Prowler, because he can never be caught.  This time around Jenkins is warned by a crook that a woman with a mole on her hand will try to kill him.  In trying to track down this woman, Jenkins discovers a plot by the local crime boss to steal the city's best jewelry.  Jenkins sets out to foil the plot of the crime boss and the lady with a mole.

    “Arson Plus” by Peter Collinson (Dashiell Hammett); read by Alan Sklar.
Peter Collinson (Dashiell Hammett) worked for the Pinkerton Detective agency and was one of the folks that brought down actor Fatty Arbuckle.  Published originally in the October, 1923 issue of "Black Mask," and tells the story of a detective that comes in to investigate a shady arson which the local sheriff has considered the case closed.  The best part of this story is the reader in this case.  Alan Sklar's voice fits the story perfectly and keeps you listening with what his cigar and gin soaked voice.

    “Fall Guy” by George Harmon Coxe; read by Pete Larkin
George Harmon Coxe wrote in the sports, romance and sea stories but his best known works are his detective stories.    This story first appeared in the June, 1936 issue of "Black Mask," and tells of newspaper photographer "Flashgun" Casey who gets called on to deliver ransom money for an old gal pal who had some photos taken when she was younger that she doesn't want released.  You know the story, she was young, needed the money, so nude photos were taken.  Casey helps her out but finds out things are not all on the up and up.

    “Doors in the Dark” by Frederick Nebel; read by Pete Larkin
Frederick Nebel created the stories featuring the tough detective Steve McBride and the wisecracking Newspaper reporter Kennedy.  Warner Brothers bought the McBride series and made nine films, in the movies Kennedy was turned into a woman by the name of Torchie Blaine and the object of her affections was McBride.  This story was originally published in the February, 1933 issue and tells the story of an apparant suicide of one of McBride's friends.  But something doesn't sit right with McBride so he investigates deeper even though every single clue only leads back to suicide.

    “Luck” by Lester Dent; read by Jeff Gurner    Introduction by Keith Alan Deutsch; read by Eric Conger
Lester Dent created Doc Savage under the name of Kenneth Robison and was very successful with this series.  After Savage, Dent created the loner boatman Oscar Sail who is the subject of this story.  Originally published in the October, 1936 issue and is an earlier draft of one the Oscar Sail stories.    In this story Sail sets out to find some seedy characters, all the while setting up slot machines to pay off to some lucky gambler, never himself. 

Each one of these stories has its twists and turns that keep you guessing as to what happens next, which is what makes them so fun to hear. I know I'm looking forward to the next edition.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Reed 091611 1am

Reed 091611 1am by Gil T. Wilson Baker Cemetery where the First woman in Illinois to be hanged is buried.There are lots of reports of evps at Elizabeth "Betsy" Reed's we decided to check it out.we had just spent some time by the grave and were walking around looking at other gravestones many from the 1800s in here and we came back to Betsy & her husbands to check the years in relation to the other graves.We didn't hear these two sounds when we were there..but they are on the recorder.

091211 1am

091211 1am by Gil T. Wilson

091211 12am

091211 12am by Gil T. Wilson

Hr091511moan paranormal investigation

Hr091511moan by Gil T. Wilson

090611 3am

090611 3am by Gil T. Wilson

Thursday, September 15, 2011

"The Unexpected: Volume 1" released by

"The Unexpected: Volume 1"
released by
Multi-cast Old time Radio Shows
Approx 5 horus

Being a 25+ year veteran of Radio Broadcasting I may be a little biased here, but I love old time radio, or as is commonly referred to as "otr."  OTR has that classic theatre of the mind feel that is nearly forgotten.  Today's radio is ruled by top 40 pop songs or talk radio and these lack the creativity that the early years of radio represented.  The stories were told on the air and the audience created the images in their mind.  Today I try to keep this up with every commercial I write or produce, when you feed off the audience's imagination, you have an unlimited supply of material.

Radio great, Stan Freeburg, once drained Lake Michigan and filled with hot cocoa, whip cream and had U.S. Air Force jets top it all off with a giant cherry.  He then said, I'd like to see you do that on television.  Sure now with CGI we could do it, but it would take hours and I could do that in a radio studio in just a few minutes, so still a win for radio.   The old time radio shows used to be the main source of entertainment and had to keep the audience coming back each week.  This was usually done through simple great entertainment, and sometimes cliffhangers that the listener had to come back next week to find out what happens next. has recently released a this series of "The Unexpected" radio programs
that were originally aired in 1947.  Each time the audience would keep coming back with some great stories that would not end with the expected.  With this release you don't have to wait a week for the next mystery.  Volume one contains 20 of the 15 minute episodes that have been restored from the original transcriptions from what were probably acetate pressings. have restored these recordings to perfection, the sound quality is superb and equal to any modern audio production.  

 Every episode begins with: "Who knows what drama may happen tomorrow...or an hour from now...or in just a moment? Who knows what destiny has in store for the lady down the street, the fellow at the next desk, or you yourself? Who knows?"  Each story is then presented  with superb acting from actors of radio/screen and stage of the time.  Some of the actors that rang familiar with me were; Barry Sullivan, Lyle Talbot, Marsha Hunt, & Jackie Cooper.  The story genres range from Mystery & Suspense, to Drama, and there's even a bit of comedy thrown in.  And just when you get to the end of the story, a voice comes in and says, "You think the story is over, don't you? But wait! Fate takes a hand. Wait...for the Unexpected!"  then the story continues with an ending that is unexpected.  Great title and great gimmick to be different in the golden age of radio.  For today's listener this is a treat of nostalgia and original storytelling at it's best. 

Some examples of  the stories include; a man convinced that an old prospecter has struck silver in a ghost town, a woman who embezzles money from her company to buy a fur coat, a boxer who throws a fight to make some quick cash, a woman whose horoscope warns her she will kill a man and many more, but they never end as you'd expect. 

At this point I feel I need to point out or re-emphasize that these are restored directly from the original transcriptions.  The shows were originally meant to be sent out to radio stations and the radio stations would insert commercials in the allowed sections.  This is a good and bad feature.   Good in that you don't get the commercials, unless you are a fan of the old time commercials.   The bad is that you get a minute or two of dramatic organ music in the place where the commercials would have gone.  At first I loved the old dramatic organ that helped pushe the story, but after a while I found myself fast forwarding through the  commercial insert areas, glad to have had that luxury.

This collection is perfect for any fan of mystery, thrillers, suspense and old time radio.  If you are just plain curious, check them out they are a lot of fun, especially because the end of each story is Unexpected.

Just to help out here are the titles and the lead actors of each episode  in Volume 1:

#100 Mercy Killing
starring Barry Sullivan

#101 Birthday Present
starring Marsha Hunt

#102 Solid Citizen
starring Tom Neal

#103 Finale
starring Lurene Tuttle

#104 Cargo Unknown
starring Lyle Talbot

#105 Find the Man
starring Binnie Barnes

#106 Revenge
starring Barry Sullivan

#107 The Cripple
starring Marjorie Riordan

#108 Fool's Silver
starring Barry Sullivan

#109 Horoscope
starring Marjorie Riordan

#110 Eavesdropper
starring Barry Sullivan

#111 Legacy
starring Lurene Tuttle

#112 Museum
starring Jackie Cooper

#113 Understudy
starring Lurene Tuttle

#114 King Champion
starring Jack Holt

#115 The Mink Coat
starring Lurene Tuttle

#116 Easy Money
starring Steve Cochran

#117 Free Passage
starring Lurene Tuttle

#118 Re-Match
starring Jackie Cooper

#119 Sweet Sixteen
starring Lurene Tuttle

Monday, September 12, 2011

"Ghost Story" The Dresden Files, Book 13 by Jim Butcher

"Ghost Story"
The Dresden Files, Book 13
by Jim Butcher
read by John Glover
Produced by Penguin Audiobooks
Approx. 18 hours.

Whew! I just finished the latest novel in the Dresden Files series from Jim Butcher, and let me tell you I'm relieved.  In the last book, "Changes," Harry Dresden died, worse yet, he was assassinated.  I, along with many other Dresden fans, were left hanging.  I mean, c'mon, it can't end this way...Harry can't die!  Okay, he's not immortal, but really, it IS called the "DRESDEN Files."  I had to wait about a whole year to find out what happened.  I know in comic books they sometimes bring back heroes from the dead, but I really didn't know how Jim Butcher was going to get by with this one.  Sure he's written a novel about Spider-Man and knows the tricks, but with the Wizard Harry Dresden, that's not the same.

Finally I got to put the audiobook on and sit back and listen.  But wait, the publishers threw another curve at us fans.  Really it wasn't the publisher's fault but, Wow! it was a big problem.  James Marsters, who has become the voice of Harry Dresden in the audio books, was not available for the production.  If you don't know, all these novels are told in first person, and Marsters made Dresden POP!  Marsters became Dresden and vice versa.  So who do we get now?  John Glover.  To give Glover some cred, he did portray Lionel Luther in the TV series of Smallville, and he knew the kind of superhero attitude that lives within Harry Dresden.  Okay, I'll give him that.  I can't say that he did a bad job of this, because he didn't, in fact when voicing the other characters in the story, Glover shined, but it just wasn't Marsters voice behind Harry.  It seemed more of an inconvenience but as the story progressed, Glover did a great job, I just have a thing for Marsters' voice as Harry.  Had I never heard the Marsters version I would say Glover was awesome, but for right now Marsters is my favorite, just like Tom Baker is my favorite Doctor from the Doctor Who series.   Sure other actors do a great job, but I will always hold my favorite.  Maybe I can look back later and say Marsters was a great Harry Dresden and Glover was a great Harry Dresden's Ghost.

We start out this story with Chicago's resident wizard, Harry Dresden, contemplating his death.  He sees the light down the tunnel, but lo' and behold, the light is a train.  Harry is ready to take this head on when he is whisked away from the tracks from Carmichael, a former Chicago Police Officer that specialized in paranormal type of crimes.  Harry saw Carmichael ripped to shreds by a loup garou years ago, so he knew he was still dead, the problem is what is going on.  Carmichael takes Harry to the police station in the "In Between" Chicago, where Harry is told that before he moves on he must find out who killed him.  If Harry doesn't do this 3 people in Harry's life will be hurt. 

Harry had just recently found out he had a daughter and was assassinated just after he saved her by wiping out the entire race of Red Court Vampires.  This genocidal act was done by pulling some favors from some unsavory characters and created a void in the supernatural power struggle of the world.  When Harry is sent back to Chicago (as a ghost) 6 months have passed since his death and the world has changed reflecting that void trying to be filled.  His first stop is at the home of Morty the Ectomancer (one who can communicate with spirits).  He finds Morty's home under attack by wraiths and being guarded by ghosts of Morty's ancestors. 

After a very cool battle Harry learns some of the secrets of being a ghost.  First off ghosts' power comes from memories, and in order to fight one must expend that memory energy, but the cost is that with each expended memory the ghost loses a little of itself until it becomes a murderous wraith.  Harry's magic as a wizard is no longer effective against the living and he becomes a beginner in relearning the magicks of the ghost world. 

Harry then learns what has happened to his old friends, Karrin Murphy, a former Chicago cop who now fight against the supernatural threat with a team of werewolves, vikings (courtesy of the mob boss Gentleman John Marcone) and Waldo Butters, former coroner now the owner of Bob, the spirit form of a former wizard now the supernatural equivalent of the internet.  Occasionally they get the help of Harry's former apprentice, Molly, who seems to have lost a bit of her mind in the battle against the Red Court and now goes by the name of "The Rag Lady." 

Helping his former friends now becomes a priority and Harry seems to have forgotten his task of solving his murder.  But leave it to Harry (via the great writing of Jim Butcher) to manage to work the two into the same task.    Throughout the story Harry gets hints as to who his murderer is but can't seem to grasp the answer.  Here's where I was a bit miffed, because I had it figured out at the first hint.  But through the twists and turns that make the Dresden Files stories so great we find out why Harry doesn't get it.  (Thank you Jim Butcher for the awesome storytelling.) 

Another thing that grabbed me at first was why wasn't Harry's Brother, Thomas, not involved? What Happened!?!?  But alas Butcher had that figured out as well.  Yep, this is one of those books that you have to get to the very end before it all soaks in.  Great Stuff.

But what happens next?  I think I've got it figured out, and yes it looks like Butcher will be releasing a new book in the series, "Cold Days," so it looks like we'll get more.  Again, I say, "Whew!"

Monday, September 05, 2011

"Ai! Pedrito! -When Intelligence Goes Wrong " by L. Ron Hubbard and Kevin J. Anderson

"Ai! Pedrito! -When Intelligence Goes Wrong "
by L. Ron Hubbard and Kevin J. Anderson
Multicast performance
Produced by Galaxy Audio
Approx 9 hours

Holy cow!  I have just finished a super fun action/adventure/comedy and I can't tell if I'm tired from laughing or the suspense, probably both.  "Ai! Pedrito!" is a great romp through the spy world mixing in the United States, the Russians, the Cubans, and the  small South American country Colodor .  This book is a parody of that spy world mixing up spies, double agents, lovers and enemies as seen through a nerdy very straight edged Naval Intelligence officer and sometimes through his doppleganger, a revolutionary, womanizer and heavy drinker.

"Ai! Pedrito!" was originally written as a screenplay by L. Ron Hubbard who said the events were based on an incident that happend to him in real life.  The screenplay was then novelized by Kevin J. Anderson.  Anderson whose works include the collaboration with Brian Herbert on the "Dune" series of books written and pieced together from material found after Frank Herbert's death.  Anderson is not a stranger to turning "found" material into great books, but most of his stuff is Science-Fiction, while this story has a very small piece of sci-fi to add to the fun, Anderson proved he can also work on comedy and adventure with this one.

The Russians and Cubans have developed a plan to steal secrets from the U.S. military by placing a revolutionary, by the name of Pedrito Miraflores into the office of U.S. Naval intelligence and in turn send Lt. J.G. Tom Smith to the small country of Colodor, while Pedrito steals the secrets.  What makes this the perfect plan is that Smith and Miraflores are mirror images of each other, in looks only.  While Smith spends his spare time reading history books and his drink of choice is milk, Miraflores' pasttime is womanizing and drinking tequila, oh, and starting revolutions in South America.   But these two redheads will be switching places and the mayhem begins.

Tom Smith is told he has won a free trip to the beautiful South American country of Colodor.  When he tells the representative from the sweepstakes he can't find Colodor on the map the rep tells him it's all due to a strike by the Mapmakers Union.  Tom takes the vacation as a chance to relax and get his mind away from the numerous blueprints of secret weapons and get a chance to read his book on great Naval battles.  When he arrives at the Colodor Airport he is accosted by a man that greets him with, "Ai! Pedrito!" and proceeds to shuffle Tom into the Airport bar insisting on buying him a drink.  When Tom insists he's not Pedrito, the man thinks Pedrito is undercover and says, "Don't worry Pedrito, your secret is safe with me."  This is how Lt. J.G. begins his life as Pedrito Miraflores.

Meanwhile, Pedrito begins stealing secrets and, when Smith's boss insists Pedrito date his daughter Pedrito cannot resist the chance to be with a beautiful woman.  But alas, this begins Pedrito's demise in America.

With each person beginning to absorb the other more and more as they are forced to live as each other until the mission is finished they both begin to realize that womanizing gets you nowhere (especially when the women can think of only getting married).  Smith seems to be doing more damage as Pedrito, when he blows up the US Embassy, by proxy, a secret CIA communications center and gets the US to bomb secret Cuban Missile silos.  All this is done under the constant watch of a mysterious master of disguise by the name of Bolo. 

With some funny constant running gags, such as the shout of "Ai! Pedrito!", Smith nearly recognizing Bolo each time, and the mapmaker's strike, this book will have you laughing out loud while on the edge of your seat wondering how it all turns out.  I will say that not until the very end will you know.  Hubbard had a knack for twists in a story and this one, I think, used every twist he could think of. 

This audio book is yet another superb production from Galaxy Audio.  Galaxy Audio has been turning all of Hubbard's pulp fiction stories into audio books and this latest release shows they are working on more of Hubbard's works I hope they keep on producing more of these excellent audio dramas, because I can't wait to listen to some of his sci-fi novels.  Galaxy Audio shows how an audiobook should be done, with excellent voice actors, special sound effects that are comparable to any major motion picture.  The incidental music through the book and especially between chapters perfectly represent the feel of the audio book, making the entire production a classic work of art.

Mixing in a comedy of errors, mistaken identity, espionage, and blundering officials, "Ai! Pedrito!.." is  a fun audiobook that will keep you on the edge of your seat with action and laughing out loud with great humor.