Saturday, December 12, 2020

Domino Lady: Money Shot

I have been a fan of Domino Lady since I was first introduced to the character in the pages of Moonstone Publishing comics.  Created in the vein of The Shadow, Doc Savage, and other "pulp" heroes, Domino Lady has no super powers, nor does she live in a world populated with strangely powered beings. No, Domino Lady deals with the gritty underbelly of society in 1930s' Hollywood.  Domino Lady is actually Ellen Patrick, a high-society, well-loved member of the royal class in California's land of make-believe; and while most of the world considers her only in terms of her beauty and glamour, only her best friend knows that she has an alter-ego that has taken down some of the toughest criminals in Hollywood.  And in this new novel, Ellen discovers just how tough some of those criminals can be...

Domino Lady: Money Shot is written by Bobby Nash, with whom I was not really familiar until I met him at DragonCon in Atlanta in 2019.  I picked up his Nightveil novel, based on the character by AC Comics, and which was a thoroughly enjoyable book. So, I was curious to see how he would handle a non-powered female character and picked up his Domino Lady novel.  It has taken me more than a year, but I finally sat down and read it. And I enjoyed it for two reasons.

First, the story captured the essence of the pulp era. Crime is everywhere, cops are on the take, mafia control the city, and hit men are seeking their targets. Ellen's own father was taken out years ago, which caused her to don the Domino Lady persona in the first place - and while she has taken down a number of crime lords over the years, her work is not done. But, as Ellen, she has finally fallen in love, and possibly, she can have a life for herself outside of the vigilante work she does at night. Everything is perfect - until a day at the beach ends in the death of her fiance and the beginning of a hunt for his killer.  Was it the opposing candidate in the race for governor for the State of California? Or was it someone he had put behind bars when he worked for the state attorney?  Or was it someone on the police force afraid he might out them for being on the take?  Domino Lady will use every means at her disposal to find out who it was and bring them to justice.

Nash doesn't pull punches when it comes to the fights, the chases, and the deaths.  Domino Lady herself faces the grim reaper a couple of times in the story, but she manages to escape its eternal clutches and lives to fight another day.  She takes on hit men, evades cops, and even has a vicious fight with a naked assassin (you have to read it to believe it!), but ultimately she uncovers the truth - and it definitely ain't pretty.  The story provides a satisfying conclusion, but definitely leaves it open for more stories that, perhaps, one day Nash will tell.

The second reason I enjoyed the book is that Domino Lady was not the only star. Domino Lady had 94 pages (13 chapters), so that begs the question - what was in the remaining 111 pages (21 chapters) of the book?  Well, that's where readers get a taste of a character known as The Golden Amazon.  In a reprint of story entitled "Ripper, Burning Bright," author Howard Hoplins (who passed away in 2012), readers meet Violet Ray Brant, the adopted daughter of a wealthy couple who have kept her past a secret from her. But there is something important about that past she can't remember - because from that past, somehow, in some way, Violet gained the power that burns within her.  A power that has a personality and agenda all its own.  A power that is so great, it takes over when she sees people in need, and that's when The Golden Amazon appears!

The story centers around a young burlesque dancer named Belinda, who Violet vaguely recognizes from her past. The Golden Amazon saves Belinda from several thugs who threaten to do unspeakable things to her, and now Violet fears the girl recognized her. When Belinda comes to her for help against the husband who beats her, Violet has to control the urges of the power within her to make the right decisions that will not put Belinda in a worse position.  Oh, yeah, and along the way, Violet must deal with Chris Wilson, a not-so-slick private detective who is working for a secret organization that wants to capture The Golden Amazon and harness her power. And before you think that's all, there's also the little matter of Jack the Ripper, who touched a strange glowing power in the past and was thrust forward into the year 1939, where he has decided to carry on his work. Only now he has an odd power with him ... a power that seems very similar to that of The Golden Amazon ...

Both characters are unique, both worlds are dark and gritty, and both stories leave you wanting for more.  Two great books for the price of one!  I have no doubt we will see more of Domino Lady forthcoming from Moonstone Publishing (although not necessarily by Nash), but I'm not so sure about The Golden Amazon.  Guess it's time to take a trip on the internet and see what I can find out about this new (to me, at least!) hero!

RATING:  9 shiny but deadly .45s out of 10 for hard-hitting, pulp story-telling with strong female leads that make for great reading.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the kind words, TL. I'm glad you liked it. Domino Lady will be back in action in 2021. I have at least 5 Domino Lady pieces scheduled for 2021 release.