Henry L. Ratliff

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Henry L. Ratliff

Henry L. Ratliff’s book reviews

(1915) Espionage / Mystery / Romance


R: * * * *


Plot bullets

Mysterious things are happening at the little cove. A girl has been blinded by what she can only describe as a green ray.
Others see, or think they see odd occurrences, all at the same spot on the river. A new resident has built a strange house on the hill and the glare from it's glass in the sunlight, is not green and only a nuisance to his neighbors at certain times of the day..
Tom is in love with the stricken girl. He does some investigation but discovers nothing. He does however find an oculist for the girl. This eye doctor turns out to be a lucky discovery, as he has connections with the government and is as clever as Sherlock Holmes.
The green ray strikes again. This time it is the girls dog, which is later abducted, when it is found that the doctor wished to investigate the dog's condition, in hopes of saving the girl's sight.
Tom, his best friend Dennis and the doctor are a prime team, as events come to a head as new comers put an even more suspicious light on the situation.
It is war time. All suspicious activity is taken seriously, but what significance can be attributed to a green light and a blind girl and dog.?
There must be an end to the puzzle. There must be a solution to 'The Mystery of the Green Ray'.

08/21/2014
(1867) Young Reader / Adventure(Survival)


R: * * *


Plot bullets

The Trevannion brothers, Ralph and Richard, go to South America to seek their fortunes as miners. They have an agreement, to go back home, when they have made enough money to reclaim the ancestral home.
After a while, Richard seeks adventure in the Amazonian forest. Fifteen years later , Ralph and his son and daughter, plan a to travel to Richard, so they can fulfill their agreement.
He and his family and a friend travel down the Amazon River. They have only a final leg of the journey to make, down the river Solimoes. The journey is undertaken, even though the proper number of paddlers and guides, could not be obtained.
One native Indian of the Mundurucu tribe, will prove to be the salvation of all. .He knows the Amazon and it's animals and plants. He knows how to survive in the jungle, and that knowledge will be needed before the journey ends.
Misfortune strikes the party as the boat leaves the river channel and is lost in the vast flooded Amazon basin. It is known as 'The Gapo'. This would be bad enough but a violent storm wrecks their boat and leaves them with perhaps hundreds of miles of water between themselves and any land.
They are trapped on a vast fresh water sea which has flooded to the tops of the forest trees. Those tree tops are their only refuge. They are indeed, 'Afloat in the Forest'.

Reid's adventures are in the vein of those young reader adventure stories that supply fast and continuous perils to the brave, honest and upright characters.

He also, like Vern and others, explains things and events in an almost almanac fashion. Not a plant, animal or event is left undocumented. So, the pace is peril, scientific insight and resolution. In this story it is the Indian's knowledge and the young boys elaboration from his education that inform.
08/20/2014
(1920) Adventure (Survival) / Nautical (Ship Wreck) / Thriller (Sabotage) / Romance


R: * * * *


Plot bullets

A passenger/cargo ship is disabled, at sea, due to wartime sabotage. The sabotage is found out too late. A frantic search discovers some bombs before they can do damage, , but others explode.
Most of the people on board survive. The ship however, is disabled, and is in constant danger of sinking due to storm and wind. A stowaway, on-board, quickly becomes the ships best possibility of preservation, due to his experience with men and his skill for organization, in South American mining camps.
The ship and it's survivors drift westerly to an uncharted island. They plan for a long stay on the island, even as they hope for rescue.
The stowaway once again stands out as a born leader. With his help, a regular community is formed and life settles down. It settles down as well as can be expected with several hundred people forced together on a small island with no immediate hope of rescue.
Unlike the ship, the people have an opportunity to work together and chart a new course for themselves. The ship had no choice. It was at the mercy of the 'West Wind Drift'.

08/19/2014
(1886) Humor (Situation) / Romance


R: * * * 8


Plot bullets

A man wants to insure that his prospective fiance has no current attachments.
He goes to a unique bureau that supposedly can find information about anything. He wants information about the girl's former suitor.
His problems have just started. Not only are the bureaus claims much exaggerated, but a girl that works there seems to take on a personal interest. Not in the man but his mission.
The man moves to the country to be near the woman he loves and in hopes of meeting and dealing with his former rival.
There are many unexpected connections with which to deal, the girl he loves, his former suitor, the bureau girl living under an assumed name, as Mrs. Null and the most formidable, that girl's aunt.
We have two couples that are mismatched, family feuds, hidden and misplaced affections and there is still that aunt that works plans of her own.
Null is a zero value at best. The bureau girl becomes a prime player as she pursues her deception as 'The Late Mrs Null'.

08/18/2014
(1911) Sci-fi (Catastrophe) / Adventure (Survival) / Satire (Pride/Nationalism)


R: * * *


Plot bullets

Captain Hector Servadac and his aid Laurent Ben Zoof, of the French Algerian Army ,awake one morning to find that they are in a somewhat different world than when they went to bed. Gravity has seemed to lessen, familiar land marks have changed and there is a consistent undefinable surface rock just underneath all the ocean and land, to mention a few oddities.
In their searching for answers, they meet up a second time with a Russian, Count Wassili Timascheff as he sails on his yacht. He joins the search.
They meet few other humans. There is a group of British soldiers at what is left of Gibraltar, a young girl, a greedy merchant and an unfortunate group of misfits.
They begin to form a hypothesis as to what has happened. Their ideas are confirmed when they meet up with scientist Palmyrin Rosette. He confirms that a comet grazed the Mediterranean. There was no mass extinction. The comet just carried away a huge chunk of the Mediterranean on it's back.
All might not be lost. The comets orbit will return them to Earth. The little group must learn to survive until that time and plan for a way to get back on Earth as the comet makes it's anticipated pass.
They must survive the journey and the return, those that would be, however reluctantly 'Off On A Comet'.

If it wasn't so satirical, it would be uninteresting to read. The ending, if there is one, is disappointing.
08/15/2014
(1922) Adventure (Survival) / Nautical (Ship Wreck) / Thriller (Treasure hunt)


R: * * * *


Plot bullets

Eric is rescued from his lifeboat, as the sole survivor, after his sailing ship is sunk by a one-in-a-million hit by a meteor.
The ship that saves him has had it's own trouble. The captain and navigator are dead. Eric is taken on-board as a navigator.
The ship was on a cruse to find hidden treasure. Eric is promised a share of the treasure, but all does not look well and some of the crew do not look trustworthy.
This ship is also wrecked in a storm, as they approach the island on which they hoped to find the treasure. Eric and a young boy, the captains son, appear to be the only survivors. The island is one of a group and seems to support animal and plant life.
The treasure is found. The two get on well with the natives and help them battle vicious beasts. Eric and the boy plan their return home after constructing a small boat from the ruins of the former ship..
There are many adventures with unusual beast and two of the crew reappear later and become Eric's nemesis.
Life on the island has been good, but sometimes perilous. There is much to write in the log about 'The Strange Adventures of Eric Blackburn'.


Collingwood is known for his 'Young Reader' books, but this story
stays a level above that classification.

08/12/2014
(1907) Humor (Situation) / Romance (Elopement)



R: * * * * *



Plot bullets

These flyers, have taken flight . That is to say, that no airship is involved, just a train, The Flyer, and a double elopement.
We have two separate elopements on one night. Each taking the same train to escape their over controlling family.
How nice you say. Two supportive couples to give each other aid and comfort. Not so. The soon to be bride of the first couple is the supposed fiancee of the groom of the second couple. The bride of the second couple is employed in the house of the bride of the first couple.
The confusion of the proposed and imposed on couples is not easily fixed. The two couples meet on the train and each is sure that the other has been sent by their families to stop the others marriage.
They finally reach their destination after some problems both with the train and each couples efforts to loose the other.
Conspiracy is heaped on complication as both couples are to be wed at the same church on the same night.
It gets more and more complicated for the couples who have become, \'The Flyers\'.

08/12/2014
(1910) Sci-fi (Invention) / Adventure (Treasure hunt) / Young Readers



R: * * * (as a young reader's book: * * * * )



Plot bullets

Tom's scientist father, has built his latest incredible invention, a submarine.
There are of course, other submarines. In fact there is to be a contest for a government contract.
The contest is set aside in order to take advantage of their ability to dive deep, stay under water a long time and exit in special suits while underwater..
A ship with gold bullion aboard, was sunk off South America.
The boy Tom, his father and other interested parties set off to find the treasure.
Others are interested in the treasure also, as it is fair game for the first to find and recover it.
Perhaps it can be found first by 'Tom Swift and His Submarine Boat',

08/12/2014
(1957) Sci-fi (Invention) / Conspiracy / Short story (Magazine)


From 'Amazing Stories', December 1957.


R: * * * *


Plot bullets

In 1972, mysterious and receiver-busting broadcasts are received from someone who claims to be in the future, 2180.
The broadcasts, when deciphered, warn that unless action is taken, a deadly virus will devastate most the the world's population.
Is it a hoax or a real attempt to save the current time and provide for the future?
The Mahon-modified machines of 1972, have made life easier. They become more efficient the longer they are used. The modification can be made to almost any machine.
The most famous of the machines, is the military's Betsy. It is lovingly operated and cared for by Staff Sergeant Bellews.
The warnings from the future become graver and increasingly puzzling. Some believe them, and others mistrust them.
Something must be done soon. Bellews and Betsy are put to work to untangle the situation. Will Bellews and the Mahon-modified machines save the day. Will Betsy be 'The Machine That Saved the World'

07/27/2014
(1915) Short story / Supernatural (Legend)


R: * * *
Plot bullets

A story is recounted to a man, of miraculous events in the town of Llantrisant.
This is a tale of miraculous healing and a general application of the golden-rule to all, by all.
The townspeople believe that \'The Three Fisherman\' of legend, have returned. The \'Rich Fisherman\' who in the old legend guards the holy mystery of the Graal.
They have brought with them, a time of prosperity, to the village. They were seen and their bell was heard for nine days and then no-more..
Was it a hoax or perhaps mass hysteria? Was it nothing but a pub-tale for strangers? Or was it the real enactment of the old legend foretold, \'The Great Return\'.

07/25/2014
Danube Adele - Sci-Fi, Action and a lot of Romance
FEATURED AUTHOR - Danube Adele wrote her first romance at the age of seven when she penned the story of her dogs falling in love and having puppies. She’s been dreaming up romantic tales ever since. A lifetime resident of southern California, she spends time playing at the beach, camping in Joshua Tree National Park, and hiking Mammoth Mountain. Extensive travel and trying new things has kept the creative spark alive. Danube lives with her biggest fans, her loving husband, amazing and wonderful identical twin… Read more