Monday, February 25, 2013

Book Report #57 - 'Til Death by Ed McBain

First published in 1959 this is the 9th book in the 87th Precinct series.

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

Book Report #56 - Dutch Uncle by Peter Pavia

This book sure started out feeling like an Elmore Leonard novel. It had all the elements; south Florida local, lots of drugs, a couple murders, cops, low-lifes and three or four loosely related plot lines. Unfortunately all the separate stories ran out of anything interesting to tell.

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

Book Report #55 - Shattered, Every Crime Has A Victim, introduced by IanRankin

The book was published in 2009 and I've owned it almost that long.

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

Book Report #54 - Too Friendly, Too Dead by Brett Halliday

This is part of the Mike Shayne series of books.

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