Monday, March 25, 2013
Reads like an Elmore Leonard in that i never knew where the story was going to take me. Random events and pure, believable, chance cropped up to throw the plans of the principal characters.
Visually this could very well be a Quentin Tarantino film; the violence is quick, brutal and unexpected. There were great gobs of dark, dark humor in here too. So if you like either Leonard or Tarantino this book is for you.
The good news is that it's the first in a trilogy.
So, what's it about? One of the most unlikable guys in literature decides he wants to kill his wife because he certainly doesn't want a divorce and give up half his money. Through his mistress he hires an assassin who calls himself Popeye. And that's the only part of his plan to goes as he wants it. From then on the book is like an amusement park ride - you just don't know what's going to happen next.
There is nothing I love more than reading about an idiot's life as it starts to spiral out of control and how he deals with it.
This was great fun and I'm already reading the sequel - Slide.
Monday, March 18, 2013
Gegg Taylor has been producing the Black Jack Justice podcasts for years and they have always, always been my very favorite audio drama on the internet. Now Taylor treats us to the origin story of just how Jack Justice and Trixi Dixon - Girl Detective came to form their partnership.
The story starts off as a get-evidence-for-a-divorce case that quickly brings Trixi and Jack together as they uncover corruption in city hall.
This was just a great book and I can't wait for the next one, which Taylor has announced that he will be writing very soon.
Monday, March 11, 2013
|The "original" Radio Archives cover.|
Richard Wentworth is a rich New York bachelor who, with the help of his trusted servant, Ram Singh and his girlfriend Nita Van Sloan, fights crime with deadly consequences. He's suspected by the police of being The Spider which adds a fun increase to the suspense of the stories. Not only are you wondering how he's going to defeate the bad guys but also how he's going to avoid capture by the authorities.
Set in present day 1933, the story kicks off with Wentworth confronting a notorious con man on board a transatlantic ocean liner. The rest of the story is set in Manhattan where you can hear the jazz, see the potted ferns and taste the champagne of a man who has continued to thrive, even in the depts of the Great Depression.
The first two novels were written by Scott before being taken over by Norvell W. Page who then took the character to dizzying places. I'm looking forward to these supercharged stories. This first novel of the series was very much a battle of wits from two highly intelligent foes and relies a lot on deception by the use of disguises.
My favourite part of the story was when our two advisaries meet face to face and have a civil discussion on how they will defeate each other.
The story was wonderful. It was sophisticated, quick-paced, violent and filled with believable characters. It was definitely worth the 10 cents charged at the time and the $3.00 I paid for the paperback reprint, published in 1969, that I bought from a used bookstore.
|My paperback copy|
Partway through the book I spent another $3.00 to get the ebook version from a company called Radio Archives. This version was fantastic; not only did I get the original novel and the original cover art but there was an historical essay about the the Spider stories and the pulp era. Plus, and this was the real hook for me, the two backup short stories that were published in the original magazine. This is the kind of stuff that can really add to the experience of reading vintage fiction and is a way of preserving stories that would be lost otherwise.
These guys are doing a fantastic job! Look for Radio Archives HERE to browse all the titles.
Now for the short story reviews:
Baited Death by Leslie C. White: Holy cow! This was a serious bit of hard, hard boiled storytelling. A cop is killed and his partner takes justice into his own hands to avenge his death. This story alone was worth the purchase price.
Murder Undercover by Norvell Page: Another story about Revenge. Set in Washington, DC, the nephew of an Italian ambassador uncovers the truth behind his uncle's death.
Monday, March 4, 2013
Start at Wikipedia then follow the links from there for further exploration. Get there from HERE.
I've read a few Doc Savage stories before and I've always found the narrative a bit stiff but I've always been able to set that aside as it being an example of the style from its time. First published in April 1935, Doc, Monk and Ham try their best to stop a crime spree committed by invisible groups of men.
This book did not lack for action, but I nevertheless found the first half exceedingly dull. The trio would chase after the crooks as they moved from bigger to bigger acts of robbery. Unfortunately Robeson/Dent kept trying to thrill the reader by revealing the acts of invisible (Gasp! Invisible!) men.
The story did not get interesting until Doc and Monk were taken captive and made invisible themselves. Once the boys were interacting with the "invisi-bad-guys" I was turning pages and looking forward to finding out how it all ended.
Lester Dent wrote most of the 181 Doc Savage stories, some are better than others, this one is only okay - good if you can get to the last half of the book, but you have to read the first half to get there.
|The original magazine - April 1935|
Monday, February 25, 2013
It was a little bit different for a police procedural in that the scene of the crime was an ongoing wedding reception. Some points in the book did not stand the test of time too well; there were some glaring things that happened that would be unthinkable today.
A murder takes place in a secluded part of the Carella property, while the outdoor wedding reception for his sister and brother-in-law is going on. In an effort not to ruin the party Detective Carella convinces the local police to process the scene from the neighbors yard, out of sight of the festivities. Really? I'm not convinced he'd be able to pull that off, even in 1959.
The brother-in-law is the target of some nasty death threats and Steve Carella convinces two of his colleagues to help provide security for the groom. Suspicion falls to an ex-platoon-mate from the Korean War who blames Tommy Giordano (that's the groom, soon to be brother-in-law) for the death of another platoon member.
But there is more to it than that; somebody else wants Giordano dead and is trying to make it happen at the same time.
There is an unsatisfying dangling plot element, either I missed the connection or it was left unresolved on purpose, but there is a rather stunning blonde accomplice in the story who's motivation is never explained.
The book was okay, certainly not one I'd read again, but it did have good dialog, humor and the story moved along nicely. I'd have to say that missing this book would do you no harm, unless you are on a mission to read them all. It's 211 pages, that's the Perma Book 35 cent edition, and won't hurt you to read it.
It is important if you want to read about Steve Carella's important life event. Okay, I'll tell you; his wife, Teddy, gives birth to their twins!
Monday, February 18, 2013
195 pages in and I kept wondering when the author was going to bring all these plot lines in for some kind of conclusion.
Interestingly, the dangling plot points ended abruptly, giving the book a rather low-keyed yet believable conclusion. The denouement was interesting in that you don't get that type of ending too often in crime fiction.
A satisfying end, however, did not make up for a book that spent most of its time in the doldrums.
Monday, February 11, 2013
This collection of short stories was sold to help raise funds for Victim Support Scotland. VSS challenged Scottish crime writers to contribute stories focusing on the victims of crime instead of the solving of a mystery.
Be warned theses stories are not for the faint of heart. None are gratuitous, just the opposite, none are overly dramatic, but all of them expose a naked truth.
Daddy's Girl by Karen Campbell - a young single mom copes with living on her own and answering the awkward question from her daughter. "Who is my daddy?"
A sad and hopeful story of a young woman who's life fell apart after being raped.
Run, Rabbit, Run by Ray Banks - After having his home broken in, Terry Davies finds out who it was and decides on some revenge. How he reacts when the moment is upon him was a true test of his character.
Bye, Bye, Baby by Allen Guthrie - This was an incredibly sad story about a mother dealing with the death of her husband, years earlier, and now the disappearance of her son. But the story of her son is not what we expect. Excellent story.
The Best Small Country In The World by Louise Welsh - Two illegal immigrants from Poland step off the plane in Scotland. Sadly what happens next probably happens a lot, all over the world, to hopeful folks who just want a better life.
One Good Turn by Lin Anderson - a quick chilling story about a random act of kindness turning into a random act of violence. Well told, elevated my heart rate.
With Tender Violence by Stuart MacBride - Domestic violence, what a terrible emotional trap. Even with the twist it was still very compelling and sad. MacBride turned the situation around and managed to amplify everything about the situation. Telling the story traditionally would have been less meaningful because our preconceptions are hard wired. Very well done.
The Road Taken by Gillian Galbraith - A sad, touching story of a single mom coping with her past and with the death of her son. So incredibly believable was her relationship with her son.
Voices Through The Wall by Alex Gray - What is life like for the mother of a man who's killed and locked up after being declared insane?
Out of the Flesh by Christopher Brookmyre - I read only the first paragraph. The whole story was written in a phonetic English with a Scottish accent. Completely unreadable. The last thing I want is to be constantly taken out of the story because I'm trying to decipher a sentence.
Zapruder by GJ Moffat - An elderly man is suffering from PTSD after the death of his wife. God my heart racing. Excellent story.
Monday, February 4, 2013
I was lucky enough to have an original Dell copy of the book, with a 45 cent cover price.
I love these vintage books; it was a straight-ahead hard boiled PI story about the unlikely murder of a friendly insurance broker. Published in 1963 part of the enjoyment comes from the settings of the times, the attitudes and comparison to today.
I'm always surprised by how much drinking goes on, lots of it before lunch. One particular aspect of life in the early Sixties was air travel; hopping a flight then was as easy as hailing a taxi.
One of my favourite quotes from the book comes near the end when Shayne is bouncing ideas off his reporter friend.
"But, Mike. Why in hell would she want to take out a big policy on her new husband? She's the one with the money. Millions of it."
"Who knows why a woman does anything? Maybe she figures he's worth that to her. Sort of coppering her bet."
There was also a fair bit of womanly fainting in the story. These things you don't see much anymore in popular entertainment.
It was a fun, quick read. I polished it off in two sittings.
You can find out more about the series at The Thrilling Detective website - HERE
Monday, January 28, 2013
Now she's starting on the Jesse Stone novels. I thought I would read the book where he first appeared. (according to Wikipedia).
Spenser is hired to find the killer of a woman who died 28 years in the past.
He uncovers more than his client is willing to learn and continues his investigation after he is asked to stop. Spenser, with the help of Hawk, soon find the murder to be buried in layers of cover-ups.
I always love the humour and larger-than-life confidence in Parker's characters and the dialogue is perfect. Nobody wrote dialogue like Parker.
A very entertaining book.
Saturday, January 19, 2013
There is a lot of very good reviews of the book on the Amazon website and ill direct you there:
For my part I found the book a bit disappointing only in that it lacked in the gee-wiz technology factor. This book was firmly locked in the "here and now" of technology. I guess I was hoping to see more advancement in space commerce than was shown in the book.
You have to remember that I was born in the mid-60's and grew up with the Apollo program, so I come at this topic with great sadness at the opportunities lost in my lifetime. And that's the hook of the book, our main character Mariesa van Huyten is a captain of industry who nearly single-handily takes on the project of getting humanity back into space, permanently.
Flynn turned over every rock imaginable in such a project. I thought it would be a simple book centring around the engineering of it and that there would be some kind of adventure thrown in that would justify the whole endeavor.
What I got was a book that neatly walks the line between science fiction and literary fiction. There is political interference, corporate spying, social impact, emotional drama, family conflict, betrayals, perseverance and some technological speculation.
It was a very thoughtful, insightful and thorough book. It was, for me, a challenge to get through; it came in at 885 pages and is only the first book in a series of four. (Thank God each succeeding book gets shorter!) Anybody who reads this blog knows I have a 350 page theoretical limit to novels. It took some effort, on my part, to keep picking it up but, once I was about, oddly enough, 350 pages in, I found the rhythm of it and found myself reading at every opportunity.
I loved the book, in the end, and I look forward to the second volume; Rogue Star.