Sunday, September 21, 2014

Hot Rail to Hell (Conversant USA #1) Deluxe Edition by Robert E Vardeman Cenotaph Road 2011

originally posted Monday, April 2, 2012 5:45:51 PM

Welcome to Conversant USA, the premier counter industrial espionage agency. This private agency was founded by Vanessa “Nessie” Court. Ms Court became a world class scientist working with her first husband Roberto Bandini who died in a lab accident and wealthy after the death of her second husband and son by terrorists from Chechnya. Vanessa Court found and killed the men responsible for the death of her family and found that she enjoyed the action and excitement and formed Conversant USA to use her unique skill set.

Vanessa Court is joined by her team:
Tancredo “Dodo” Cardoso – Brazilian born MMA master
Kate Li – Psychologist and communications expert
Rich Blaine – Electronics expert
Web Singh – Computer expert
Pascal – German Shepherd who can mind link with Nessie through SQUID (Superconducting QUantum Interference Device) allowing Nessie access to his impressions of clients and suspects.

In Hot Rail to Hell, Conversant USA tracks down the person responsible for stealing the blueprints of a new hot rail gun for use by the United States Military. The Conversant Team races around the world to prevent the blueprints from being delivered to a foreign power.

I was really impressed by this book, Robert Vardeman has turned out an exciting and sexy new story that calls to mind the best of Modesty Blaise and The Baroness and is hopefully the first of many books. Vardeman is an ideal writer for this type of series, he contributed an unpublished Baroness adventure back in the seventies and he discussed with fans of The Baroness what they liked about the series.

While Baroness Penelope St John Orsini and Vanessa Court share very similar backgrounds, Vanessa is her own character. While The Baroness dealt with devices that were science fiction back in the day, some devices are everyday items now, Vardeman takes Nessie and offers similar cutting edge scientific devices.

I purchased the deluxe edition which features an essay by the author about how the book came about and a short story “Deserts, Death and Drugs” showing an earlier adventure of Conversant USA chasing down stolen medicines. There is a neat twist to just who is the bad guy in this scenario.

There are sex scenes in both Hot Rail to Hell and “Deserts, Death and Drugs” but there were part of the plot and not tacked on like similar scenes I’ve found in similar works. (I felt that some of the sex scenes in The Baroness #1 The Ecstasy Connection were merely there for the sake of a sex scene).

Vanessa Court is a worthy “granddaughter” of Modesty Blaise and well worth reading.


  1. I'll check into this one, Brad. Sounds interesting. I'm still reading the Modesty Blaise series. I'm on #6 now. I've only ran across one Baroness novel so far. They seem expensive. Another new series you should check out in the White Karma series by Thatcher Robinson.

  2. That should have been White Ginger. Black Karma is the second book in the series. Is Vardeman's book only on Kindle?

  3. I'll have to try the White Ginger Series. As far as I know Vardemann's book is Kindle only.

  4. Robert E. Vardemann wrote a slew of Nick Carter novels