Sunday, May 18, 2014

The Adventures of Fortune McCall by Derrick Ferguson. An outstanding collection of adventure tales!

I had the distinct pleasure of reading through Derrick Ferguson's excellent collection The Adventures of Fortune McCall, earlier in the week. Set in the mid-thirties in Sovereign City, it's a noir adventure of the highest quality. Containing four original short stories, Adventures is chock full of action, adventure, romance, and intrigue. Fortune McCall is a dashing rogue, with a unique style all his own, and a mysterious background. Surrounded by a group of close friends (in essence a tight-knit family of choice), each with a unique skill set, Fortune and pals are a HIGHLY capable bunch. Add on his retinue of Otwani (highly trained warriors from the region known as the Devil's Anvil in North Africa), and there really isn't a job too big for this crew. Delivered in Derrick's usual (and much appreciated) fast paced and flowing cinematic style, and you're in for a wild ride. Really wonderful adventures! Well, lets get on with the review. Here's a synopsis, and then some thoughts...

We start out with 'The Scarlet Courtesan Of Sovereign City', in which we are introduced to Fortune and company. In this story Fortune McCall blows into Sovereign city like a hurricane. He's a man on a mission; an old friend has gone missing, and Fortune means to get her back, He doesn't care what it takes, but he will find her and bring her home. He soon finds that a nefarious family is behind her disappearance, and that they are a force to be reckoned with. Mayhem ensues, but Fortune will not be deterred... Bullets fly, and the body count begins to mount, but he WILL bring his friend in safely; and possibly disrupt a worldwide threat, to boot. This opening salvo is absolutely riveting!

Next up, we have 'The Day of the Silent Death'. Our crew of adventurers have been persuaded to stay in Sovereign City by the powers that be; they've basically been given carte blanche to handle crimes of an unusual nature. When the entire clientele and workforce of The First Amalgamated Savings and Trust Bank mysteriously drops dead (all except for one man), the Mayor's office naturally calls in Fortune. The methodology and the reason for the mass murder are a mystery, and the threat of this silent killer has the city fathers quaking in their boots. Swinging into action, the crew eventually uncovers the man, the method, and the reason behind the murders... but comes face to face with pure evil! A very gripping entry...

'The Magic of Madness' deals with a subject I find fascinating; namely, the world of professional illusionists. Fortune makes the acquaintance of Benjamin and Penelope Lash, a married duo of master magicians. He is fascinated by Penelope; both for professional reasons, and a few not quite professional ones. Fortune and his new friends get on famously, and he has soon invited them out to his ship (an understatement; a yacht with many hidden capabilities is closer to the truth), The Heart of Fortune, for lunch and a tour. After our hero has taken his leave, the couple are set upon by a group of very bad men. Penelope manages to escape, and makes haste to The Heart of Fortune. So starts a race against time, to find Benjamin's kidnappers, and get him out alive. Things are not as they seem, however; and even when you think you know what's what, there is still one more twist, waiting in the wings...

Rounding out the collection, we have 'The Gold of Box 850'. Box 850 refers to the British intelligence agency SIS (also known as MI6), which is tasked with providing foreign intelligence to the British government. An old friend of Fortune's relays that, due to the rise of hostile foreign operatives in the U.S., Box 850 has been carrying out joint operations with American officials in the States. The growing number of actions also needed greater funding, and a local banker was given the task of restructuring the funding method. Unfortunately, this man became greedy, and embezzled a great amount of these funds, converted them into gold, and secreted the gold away somewhere in Sovereign City. To add to the problem, the banker has been found dead, beaten to death by sources unknown. Before he died, he most likely gave up the location of the gold to his murderers. Fortune deals himself in, and the search begins. Plenty of full-tilt action ensues, and we also get to learn the history of one of Fortune's friends. All in all, an excellent story to finish out the collection.

Containing some excellent examples of Derrick's fast-paced, always entertaining writing style, The Adventures of Fortune McCall was a pure joy to read, from the opening paragraph to the final punctuation mark. In Fortune McCall, Derrick has created a highly unique character, a man full of contradictions, a man full of mystery. The characters are all beautifully rendered, the dialogue flowing naturally, and at times laugh out loud funny (especially the sniping between Fortune and his cousin Tracy). The camaraderie and sense of family between the characters is also greatly appreciated. The adventures are suitably action-packed, with elements of mystery running throughout the story-lines. If you crave well written action and intrigue, then The Adventures of Fortune McCall is definitely something you should be reading. Fortune deserves an ongoing series, and I'm really hoping to see something along those lines, in the future. This is highly recommended, along with anything else that has Derrick's name on it. If I were you, I'd snatch up this release post-haste. With that last remark, I suppose I'll get back to reading. Happy reading, all!

Here's where you can pick up the release. Here's Derrick's Amazon page. Lastly, here is BLOOD & INK, a blog where you can keep up with what Derrick's been up to lately.

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