Another Bookstore Closing

book stores

Books 4 Gone

Books 4 Less bookstore at the Upland Square shopping center has closed. It’s last day of operation was 7/27/14, My birthday oddly enough. I don’t know when the place opened, but i recall it being one of the first stores in the Upland Square when that opened about 6 years ago. Located on Route 100, just NE of Pottstown, PA, the Upland Square was one of the most recent shopping districts constructed.

I didn’t spend too much time in Books 4 Less after it opened. I did interview for a job there when it was first scheduled to open and met the owner, who seemed to be a nice southern gentleman. I first heard about Boarders’ problems from him.I didn’t get the job.

When it first opened, Books 4 Less seemed like a cozy little place. It was always stocked with used books, since the “buy-back” policy was their business model. But over the years the place seemed less warm. Every time I walked into the store it was stacked full of sacks of books waiting to be valued. The one time I did inquire about selling a book, I was told I’d half to wait at least a week. This was different from the used record stores of my past where the steely-eyed clerks could value an album just by glancing at it.

The one section I always checked out was the vintage paperback shelf. I added to my spy novel collection from what I could find there. And not just espionage novels; the section was 70′s and 60′s paperback gold. Some of the paperbacks still had those annoying cigarette ads in the middle. I never made a startling find at Books 4 Less- no sudden discoveries of Nigel Kneale books, such as the time I was down on The Mainline.

As impersonal the place was, I’m still sorry to see Books 4 Less go. Every time a bookstore closes, another angel cries.


Kim Oh #5: Real Dangerous Fun by K. W. Jeter (Editions Herodiade, 2014)

thriller novels pulp kim oh

K. W. Jeter’s femme fatale is back again for another round in Kim Oh #5: Real Dangerous Fun. In a just world, we’d all be running to the paperback rack every other month to read about the adventures of Kim Oh, the petite Korean-American gun for hire. But in Universe A, we’re forced to wait years for another Kim Oh book.

At the start of Dangerous Fun, Kim is still recuperating from her last adventure, spelled out in Real Dangerous Place. One of her gunslinger buddies, Elton, is still recuperating in the hospital. Kim is running dangerously low on funds when she gets a call for a job.

By now, you’d think any prospective employer would have second thoughts about hiring Kim. Her previous employers have all met with gruesome ends. The last one was very dramatic, involving a helicopter and a building. All of her former employers have been arrogant rich bastards, so it was a little hard to feel much sympathy for any of them. Still, if I needed to hire Kim, I’d do it through someone else. No reason to tempt the fates.

Kim is hired as a bodyguard for a rich girl. The girl in question is going on a spring break vacation to the exclusive South American country of Meridién. The girl’s father is concerned his little investment might run into some unsavory characters, so he hires Kim as the protection. But, as always in a Kim Oh novel, the job isn’t all that it appears to be.

To complicate matters, Kim is forced to take her handicapped brother Danny along for the trip.Danny isn’t too much of a problem,so long as he has his laptop computer on hand to play NASCAR. But Danny hooks up with a college girl named Mavis on the way down. Mavis, it turns out, isn’t heading south to party,but to study the mating rituals of the upper classes.

Soon after checking into the hotel, Kim goes to check on Lynndie, the girl’s she’s been hired to protect. Once inside the suite of rooms,Kim is dealt a pistol whip from a thug, sending her to never-never land. When she wakes,Lynndie is gone and the suite is filled with signs of a struggle.Now Kim has to find out who kidnapped her client’s daughter and why. To describe more of the plot would spoil it for the reader.

The novel is short, my kindle edition runs 158 pages. But it’s detailed and nothing important is left out. As in the last 4 Kim Oh novels, it’s told from Kim’s point-of-view. So the reader is treated to Kim’s wise-cracking comments on the world around her. Such  as this observation on why blondes want you to think they’re dumb:

“Trust me on this one. I learned this through experience, not out of some book. They’re not as dumb as they want you to think they are. Some of them, in fact, are downright evil. They’re smiling away and acting all air-headed and stuff, and meanwhile, if you listen really carefully, you can hear the little gears inside their skulls, turning and meshing while they’re putting together some scheme. Come on, it stands to reason – naturally they’re going to want you to think they’re poodles, not human Rottweilers. It’s camouflage. And while they’re working on becoming the next Master of the Universe, everybody else is falling for that cliché Dragon Lady line about Asian girls, that we’re all inscrutable and stuff, when really most of us are just trying to qualify for a business loan to buy a convenience store in Compton. But it’s all karma in the end – it’s the people who fall for all these stereotypes who wind up getting hosed, losing half their net worth in the divorce settlement. Don’t let it happen to you.”

The book isn’t without its faults. There’s a situation where Kim leaves her guns unchecked in a bad situation. This moves the plot along and figures into the resolution of it, but you’d think a real professional would be more careful.

I’m still eagerly waiting for the next novel in the series.


The Assassin And The King (1968)

Here’s another little obscurity from Italy, The Assassin And The King. Kerwin Matthews plays a government agent from the US who’s trying to protect a monarch from the middle east on tour in Europe. The US wants to work out an oil deal with him, but foreign agents have other ideas. Not a bad little film, just wish there was a better source print.

There’s plenty of action as Matthews tries to stop a paid killer from knocking off the king. Said killer has a way of leaving candy wrappers as a calling card, which is the reason this movie is also known as The Killer Likes Candy. Muscleman Gordon Mitchell is also in this film.

Kerwin Matthews was never a big Hollywood star, although he did appear in a number of films. Most of us remember him from The 7th Voyage of Sinbad. He was stuck in the later 60′s and 70′s playing in drive-in flicks such as The Boy Who Cried Werewolf.

Spy Pit (1967)

Here’s a fun take on the usual Super Spy movie: have the hero be something other than the usual square-jawed Anglo. And it works. Roger Hanin Plays “Saint-Dominique” who travels all over the world trying to uncover a sinister plot to Destroy Civilization As We Know It. And it has Margaret Lee as a love interest.! Also known as Berlin Apocalypse.

Mr. Ten Percent (1968)

In Mr. Ten Percent, George Martin) (AKA Francisco Martínez Celeiro) stars as a rogue agent who steals from cooks, then returns the loot to the police for 10 percent of it’s original value. More of a crime comedy than a spy movie, it has elements of the swinging 60′s spy craze. For instance, the name “James Bond” keeps getting tossed around as a running gag. Also known as Sigpress Against Scotland Yard. And it features Klaus Kinski as the faithful manservant Periwinkle.

Vienna Spy Hunt

Vienna Spy Hunt: a fun little German spy movie from 1965. Among the stars in this movie is Terrance Hill, who would go on to play the hero in the “Trinity” western movies.The plot: a group of spies run around Europe looking for a stolen device. The Eurospy craze was just starting to kick in and you can see some ideas which were developed later. The movie has been known under countess other titles (note the poster), but I like mine best. Sorry about the Greek subtitles, sometimes you have to take what you can get. Once again, the real credit for these film’s preservation goes to the fans who match up different sources to get a decent original.