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Al Agnew

Gotta love Amazon and Kindle...

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I've been buying most of my books on Kindle from Amazon these days, and reading them on my phone.  That's both good and bad.  The bad is, a whole lot of books to wade through in the lists before finding something interesting, and then a lot of books that aren't put out by the major publishers (and are cheap, the 1.99 ones) end up being pretty mediocre reading at best...I've got about a half dozen on my phone that I've started reading and given up on.

But what I've discovered lately is that there are a lot of older books on Amazon, many of them on Kindle.  I just found two series that I read many years ago, but never got the last couple of books in the series.  On a whim, I'd done a search for them, and sure enough, they were available.  One is my absolute favorite secret agent type series from back in the 1970s and 1980s, the Matt Helm series by Donald Hamilton.  Hamilton was one of my favorite authors, having also written some very good, gritty Westerns.  But he wrote more than 20 Matt Helm books, and I was missing a few of them.  The character was made into a couple of cheesy movies, trying to cash in on the popularity of the James Bond movies, starring, of all people, Dean Martin.  The movies were bad, and were nothing like the books, which depict a hard-bitten, no-nonsense government assassin.  The one I'm reading now is titled "The Damagers", and is one of the last of the series.  It is set in the late 1980s or early 1990s, and features Muslim terrorists, a little before they became every author's bad guys like they are now.

The other series was Fred Saberhagen's Dracula books.  Set in modern times, but going back in history as well, Saberhagen's Dracula is an amoral but honorable character who is loyal to those he likes but pure death on those who wrong him or the people he cares about.  I had five of the first six books in the series, but didn't even realize he had written 9 books in total, one of which mainly featured Sherlock Holmes but had Dracula as the other main character.  I haven't read it yet, but am looking forward to it.

Another author I found was Andrew J. Offutt.  I fell in love with Offut's series of books featured the Robert Howard (author of the Conan the Barbarian books) character, Cormac Mac Art.  I'd read the one Howard book featuring Cormac, but when Offutt wrote several more books about the character, I really liked them.  He also wrote a couple of Conan books which were also, in my opinion, far better than Howard's.  I'd read a few more books Offutt had written, both fantasy and science fiction, and liked them as well, so I looked him up to see if there were books of his available that I hadn't read, and found a couple that sound interesting.

Offutt, by the way, was a very interesting character in his own right.  He made most of his money writing pornography, and his "mainstream" novels certainly have somewhat explicit sex scenes, though certainly nothing any worse than a lot of other novels.  He was known as the "King of 20th Century Smut", and began writing pornography to pay for his kid's orthodontist, finding it to be so lucrative that he continued for much of his life, writing out of his house in Kentucky.  His son, a well known author, wrote a book about growing up with such a father.

So, I now have eight new novels on my phone and I'm really looking forward to reading them.

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