Saturday, 23 February 2013

ePulp Review of the Week- Tales of the Red Panda: The Crime Cabal, by Gregg Taylor.

Tales of the Red Panda: The Crime CabalTales of the Red Panda: The Crime Cabal by Gregg Taylor
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

*Pulp Warning* All my reading skews towards e-pulp, as do my reviews. Reader beware :) *Pulp Warning*

Tales of the Red Panda  The Crime Cabal

Overall: 4 stars (Recommended)

A really fun story with lively characters, witty banter, plenty of action and some great set scenes. This is your straight up masked pulp vigilante story with the joy turned up to 11. Its only downfall may well be the fact that it's too stereotypical and therefore has no real momentum to make it a true classic.

Pacing and Action: 5 stars.

Pacy and lively, the story has plenty of action. It also helps that the sense of humour and the witty banter between the two main characters really snaps and crackles. It's a whole lot of fun. And while there isn't a huge variety of actions scenes the many fights are nice and chaotic. Just the way the Red Panda likes it.

Pulp Concept: 3 stars.

In a funny way this is the weak point of the book. The characters are great but beyond the somewhat jokey fact that they are fighting on the 'mean streets of Toronto' and the guy looks like a red panda in his domino mask there isn't a lot unique about the character as a classic pulp hero. Personality etc are great but the whole 'rich guy in a fedora and domino mask fighting crime with weird special powers' doesn't get any new elements added to it.
And Toronto is... Toronto. It ends up being yet another 30s city in decline etc etc etc.
The saving grace is probably the bad guys who are very well done. They're suitably monstrous and Ebil and make you think what Toronto could have been like back in the 30s...

Character development: 4 stars.

The main characters are great. They have real personalities, a real and complicated relationship and, again, their witty banter is awesome. On a personal note, they do seem to be a bit arrogant and smug but then again, I've never been a one-man war against crime. Maybe that goes with the territory.
The real let down is the support characters. When they're not barely there they're somewhat annoying and clueless, helping the smugness of the Red Panda sort of run unchecked. And the lead support character sort of just shows up half way through and then... doesn't really achieve much. It made me wonder if he was there just to make the last half of the story work better. It's a bit of a let down considering how well the rest of the story is written.

Production: 3.5 stars.

The editting was fine and the cover okay but what really kicked me in the teeth was the price. $5 for a pulp story is steep when you can get quality stuff for $3 a pop. Not as audacious as the $6 plus stuff out there but pushing the limits of worth-it. I'll probably get the rest at $5 anyway but I'll still smart when I push the buy button.

Series Potential: 4 stars.

Gregg Taylor can write good pulp and the Red Panda series already stands at 3 books. Which is awesome. However, whether Toronto is up to the challenge of hosting pulp stories as interesting as the Red Panda and the Flying Squirrel remains to be seen.

Special Award: My New Favourite Scene.

Book gets an award for the first paragraph of chapter 5. Fantastic scene that not only paints an incredibly vibrant picture for what is a fairly simple sequence but also serves to move the story along at the same time. Well done.

Wrap Up.

A really fun pulp reading experience that is just a little let down by the supporting elements and the feeling that there could have been more to the concept. Recommend this to anyone who wants some fun in their reading. And who doesn't want fun in their reading..?

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