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Underground Reading: Arrowhead by Paul Kane

Arrowhead Arrowhead is the fourth in Abaddon's delightfully morbid 'Afterblight' series. Like the other books in the series, it can be read as a stand-alone (but is more fun if you've read the others and can spot the connections). 

Arrowhead is perhaps the most insular book in the series - all the activity taking place in Nottingham. After the plague wipes out pretty much everyone, a deranged French mercenary raises an army and moves through the Chunnel to take over England. 

For various reasons (most of which are plot-driven), our new French overlord sets up in Nottingham Castle. Once the new Sheriff is installed, it doesn't take long to introduce the readers to the new Robin, Maid Marian, Friar Tuck and Little John. (The first two are conveniently named Rob and Mary, so you don't miss anything). They live in Sherwood Forest and fight the rich to feed the poor. 

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Underground Reading: The Turncoat by Hal G. Evarts

The Turncoat The Turncoat is a Gold Medal original by Hal G. Evarts, first published in 1960. The book's titular hero is David Grant, an American born to missionaries in China, who earns his turncoat title after being captured & brainwashed by Evil Red Communists in the Korean War.

Since the war, Grant has worked slowly towards reintegrating himself into society, a process that comes tumbling down around him when the US intelligence service comes calling. 

Despite his dodgy record, Grant is the only American alive that speaks an obscure Tibetan dialect. That - plus his desperate need to prove himself - makes him the ideal operative for Operation Dragonfly.

Dragonfly is an ingenious operation. Grant's job is to skulk across the Indian border into Tibet to liberate an influential lama (think 'Dalai' not 'Emperor's New Groove'). Along the way, he encounters sinister Communists of every persuasion (Chinese, Russian, traitorous American), the hostile landscape and, frequently, his own weaknesses.

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Underground Reading: Dear, Deadly Beloved by John Flagg

Dear, Deadly Beloved Dear, Dearly Beloved, by John Flagg, is a Gold Medal paperback original, first published in 1958. 

The novel takes place in Venzola, a fictional Italian resort village. Our hero, Hart Muldoon (ex-OSS, Irish international man-of-mystery), has been stranded there for some time - caught up in the town's aura of debauchery. Between drink and the ladies (including the foxy wife of a famous French director), Muldoon is finding it hard to move on.

Still, circumstances are set to force Muldoon's manly hand. Whilst on the verge of finally capturing (after three whole days) the hauntingly beautiful Elsa, Muldoon is side-tracked by the unfortunate appearance of a dead man in his hotel room. His romantic pursuits are momentarily set aside as Muldoon must solve the mystery of the corpse in his bedroom.

The first few chapters are a scattershot introduction to every major player on the island - including an American industrialist, a fascist count, a curvy blonde, lesbian financiers, a corrupt policeman, a sinister dressmaker (seriously) and a horde of righteous plebeian fishermen. Fortunately, as the book is a shade under 140 pages, things are rapidly connected. Before it gets too overwhelming, everything is mashed up into a single ball of plot and rolled gently towards Muldoon's feet.

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