Thursday, October 3, 2019

Parker: "Richard Stark's Parker: The Score" adapted by illustrated by Darwyn Cooke.

Parker: Richard Stark's Parker: The Score adapted by illustrated by Darwyn Cooke, 2012, 9781613772089.

The first of these Parker comic book novels came out several years ago and I bought a couple for work. I ran across this novel in the stacks and figure to take it home. So I did. I recall these adaptations getting a fair amount of press among crime fiction fans. Cooke did four adaptations and all are in the library catalog with Score, Hunter, Outfit and Slayground.

The Score has Parker working with an amateur. Again. Even though Parker constantly swears off working with amateurs Starke would present Parker with a meaty score. This score is the robbery of an entire small city in North Dakota. Copper Canyon sits in a box canyon with only one way in and out. The amateur planner has recruited the crooks and plans to take over the police department and phone company before robbing the mine company payroll, the jewelry stores, and banks.

Of course things go wrong.

I enjoyed this quite a bit. I suppose Stark's sparse writing better fits the shorter length of a comic book novel. Darwyn Cooke used only greys and yellows in his art and employed some neat angles and perspectives of the characters.

Bonus: Grofeld is in this one. Goofy-ass sociopathic Grofeld who imagines himself in a film productions as the robberies go on. He and his telephone company hostage have sex and get hot and heavy. Grofeld wants to take her with them after the robberies and this is one of many complications.

Attached images either posted upright or they did not. I am not going to screw around with editing the images to upload them again and Blogger doesn't seem to allow me to rotate the images. I suppose Cooke uses different color schemes for the other novels.

Thursday, September 26, 2019

Sunny: "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia" by [unknown]

Sunny: It's always sunny in Philadelphia: the 7 secrets of awakening the highly effective four-hour giant, today : Charlie, Mac, Dennis, Sweet Dee, and Frank wrote this book by [unknown], 2015, 9780062225115

Don't read this if you've not seen the television show because much the text is inside and recurring jokes from the television show. Those jokes will fall flat, make no sense, or be missed without seeing the program. Especially since much of the humor depends on the main characters being somewhat despicable.

Anyway, if you enjoy the show this is pretty fun. After so many seasons and episodes I easily imagined the show's characters reading the text.

Recurring themes include:
1. Bird Law.
2. Dee as a flapping bird.
3. Alcoholism.
4. Possible sex crimes.
5. Rat catching.

I could not find any real author names. There is not way to tell if the show's creators, producers, writing staff, or hired guns wrote this.

Gagnon: "Kidnap & Ransom" by Michelle Gagnon

Gagnon: Kidnap & Ransom by Michelle Gagnon, 2010, 9780778328261 (pbk).

Fourth novel in a series with FBI Special Agent Kelly Jones. I read Boneyard a few months ago and enjoyed it. Boneyard was number two in the series and volume three gave Jones a traumatic amputation (via hand grenade) of her leg just above the knee. Jones has been on leave - with a black mark because of shenanigans - from work and slowly rehabbing as she lives with her boyfriend in New York City.

Jones has been in a emotional pit for about eight months. She hates that she is not working, is physically incapable of meeting her two-legged performance, guilt for her survival in novel #3, ashamed of her leg, and wrapped up in a few pre-existing emotional and behavioral issues.

Meanwhile, her boyfriend Jake Riley has been a longish term fiancee and struggling to get along with a very unhappy Jones. Riley recently started up a kidnap negotiation and rescue company (Kidnap and Ransom, K&R). Jake's estranged older brother, Mark, just retired as a commando and took a job with a competing company. Mark then gets ambushed and kidnapped in Mexico City. Jake has to go to the rescue and Jones demands to go along. Tagging with them is Jake's combative business partner WhatsHerName.

Anyhoo. Mark was down in Mexico to rescue his company's founder, Cesar. That man, Cesar, is famed for his negotiating skills and success and was taken hostage by the Zetas. Jake and Jones and WhatsHerName get involved with that as well.

Things happen. People are violent and Jake and Jones are not happy about the free flowing violence and torture employed by K&R people in the field. WhatsHerName dislikes Jones. Jones is hyper conscious of her stump and her limitations while trying to prove otherwise. Mark and Jake have been estranged. Other K&R people do not trust them. Many Mexicans are treated horribly and murdered.

I enjoyed this a fair bit and the story kept me very engaged until the last 50 pages or so. For each sitting I kept reading this longer than most recent books. But, at about 3/4 of the way through Jones pursues a second plot line that by itself would have been compelling. That plot line pulls in a serial killer from a previous novel. Adding that guy in made the the story too long for me. Paperback page count was over 411, I have no idea of the word count.

1. All the kidnap stuff is driven by money and greed. How much of it is traceable to the criminals who started off feeding the United States's drug needs?
2. It's neat to read about the ransom and negotiation business. Outside of that Russell Crowe movie a few years ago I've not run across many fictional portrayals. Gagnon does not go into a bunch of details of the work. There is more chasing bad guys and fractured personal and romantic relationships.
2. Fucking library catalog does not deliver alternate results for the ampersand symbol when I search "kidnap and ransom" rather than "kidnap & ransom". Damn thing. I suppose that is a problem with the bib record but I would have thought the system software would automatically include a search for "and" when searching "&".

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Missed Another: "Spook's Tale" by Joseph Delaney

Missed Another: Spook's Tale: The Spook's tale and other horrors by Joseph Delaney, 2009 (for version I had), downloaded from Wisconsin Digital Library.

Damn. I was deleting old audiobooks from my phone and saw I did not write any notes on this. Three short stories featuring characters from The Spook series. Let me figure this out...

The online book description reminds me they are stories about:

  • Spook as an Apprentice
  • Alice when she helped Thomas Ward by infiltrating a witch village
  • Grimalkin when she started to be a witch assassin

That's about it. I do recall some of Alice's story because it filled in missing information from one of the novels when Thomas was able to sneak her out of the village.

EBook: "Locked Doors" by Blake Crouch

EBook: Locked Doors by Blake Crouch, 2010, downloaded from Wisconsin Digital Library.

I read Crouch's Wayward Pines trilogy and enjoyed the stories. The TV series was also well done and neat-o. Those Pines books were published only a couple years after Locked Doors and Crouch's writing skills made impressive improvements.

Locked Doors was kinda "Meh" because the main character spent the first quarter of the novel thinking back on events from previous books to set-up the current story. After all those long character introductions and back stories were complete the novel started to move along.

But, while I'm complaining I might as well not hold back: 1) Crouch's writing was overly flowery at points. 2) Something else I forgot about, but I am sure it was important. - Oh yeah, at least one superfluous character. Coulda' either dropped that guy.

Anyhoo. Suspected serial killer Andrew Thomas is hiding out in the Canadian wilderness. The previous novel had his lookalike brother and his brother's pal raping and kidnapping and murdering and setting up Thomas for the fall. Thomas ended up killing those two but was unable to clear his name and hit the road. But, Thomas became mega famous because he was already a successful novelist and was then known as a vicious serial killer. He has to hide himself well to avoid arrest.

Things have been going ok for him for Thomas over the past two to three years. He wears a thick beard, avoids people, and lives outside a tiny, forest town where people are not nosey. Things go wrong when Thomas finds out his brother's Murder Pal survived and just killed off a few of Thomas's former neighbors and a former girlfriend.  "Oh, shit" thinks Thomas "I better go after Murder Pal. And I know where to find him!"

Things move along after Thomas heads to the Carolinas and a couple barrier islands, a young police detective gets involved, bad guys are super awful, so on, so forth.

The front end and back end of the novel even things out I suppose. I doubt I will try the subsequent novella. Since Wayward Pines was fun I will eventually get to reading Crouch's two most recent novels, Dark Matter and Recursion. I don't know what those stories are about. Look it up yourself.

1, I have trouble typing Crouch. I keep typing Corouch.
2. Damn. I have trouble typing toruble.

Thursday, September 12, 2019

Restaurant Audio: "Bread and Butter" by Michelle Widgen

Restaurant Audio: Bread and Butter by Michelle Wildgen, 2014 (original print date), downloaded from Wisconsin Digital Library.

Wildgen came out to the library two or three years ago for an author visit. I ended up really enjoying the excerpt she read. And that is saying something because I not only don't give a rat's ass about cookbooks, cooking shows, and food novels but I look down on them. Why do I look down on them? Because I don't need a reason, Bub. And because I just don't. So there.

Anyhoo. Three brothers grow up about 45 minutes outside Philadelphia. The two older brothers, Leo and Britt, end up in the restaurant business and run a successful high-ish end restaurant in their home town. Harry is the youngest by about seven years. After a few peripatetic years as a student, beginning scholar, and cook in a remote restaurant he is back home and looking to start his own restaurant.

The story covers one year as Harry opens his restaurant, Leo and Britt fall in love, Harry gets manic and depressed, and Wildgen writes interesting details about restaurants and restaurant work. The characters were fine but they never did anything that much interested me. The restaurant details were enlightening. Of course that detail would mean nothing with crappy characters. The characters were not crappy, I just didn't much care what they were going through.

That's about all. This is literary fiction and sort of a domestic drama (I suppose). I certainly stayed engaged enough to finish, but the business side of the story was most interesting. Hiring people, sometimes frequent staff turnover, the planning needed for menus and decor and supplies, the skill needed to quickly prepare and cook meals, one reason booze is a great money maker is that it needs minimal prep work, the incredibly long hours worked by owners or managers.

1. A pal of Wildgen's (Susanna Daniel) came over to the library 1-2 years previous to Wildgen's visit and one person showed up. One person! We invited her on a Friday night and the weather that night sucked. The was a constant drizzling rain, it was dark, it was the opening of deer season, and there was a competing downtown event of wine and shopping and wine marketed at women.
2. Dang, I just checked the Wisconsin Digital Library and although there is a reading list of Wisconsin Born and Read the list is lacking a bunch of fiction writers who live in WI. Wildgen, Daniels, that lady up North, the famous guy from Milwaukee, the thriller writer from Milwaukee, that lady on the Library Board over in Delavan. (Pewaukee? Muskego? One of those libraries.)
3. There is an ebook edition of Aztalan: mysteries of an ancient Indian town with a three week wait. Aztalan State Park is about two miles away and I've still not read this book since it came out in 2005.

More Sound Waves: "The Secret Place" by Tana French

More Sound Waves: The Secret Place by Tana French, 2014, downloaded from Wisconsin Digital Library.

Another amazing piece of work by French and set in Dublin, IE. French is so great at developing each person's motivations and point of through and using their past experiences to further illustrate. She is equally strong when the characters are interacting and the police are cueing off nonverbal communication. The interrogation scenes in the book were excellent.

French's previous novels have had a thing for childhood trauma and group dynamics. The focus is always on a police investigator and the adult police officers dealing with crimes that foment memories their own childhood trauma.  Secret Place adds is set in a private girls school and bounces around POV from cops to teenage girls. It's kinda like French and Megan Abbott wrote a book together.

Anyhoo. Stephen Moran, who was a smaller part of the last French novel, Faithfull Place, is at his cop desk when Frank Mackey's teen daughter shows up unannounced and shows Moran a bulletin board posting that was hanging at her boarding school. A murdered boy from a neighboring school was found on the grounds of Holly Mackey's all-girl school about a year ago. That investigation dried up and Moran really wants to join the murder squad. Unfortunately for Moran the Murder Squad top kick hates Moran's guts.

"Welllll, if I walk across the hall and take this bulletin board posting that says 'I know who killed him' I can get a gold star and have an in with Murder." He does that and is reluctantly invited on a visit to the school with the lead investigator, Antoinette Conway. Conway does not want Moran along; bringing Moran to the school is a kind of thank you.

The investigation kicks off again with as Conway and Moran start questioning students and staff. There are plenty of POV changes and flashback to the few months right before the murder. We get:
- Teen angst
- Teen drama
- Teen romance
- Teen caddishness from the boys school
- Teen queen bee bullshit from a couple girl students
- Police department politics and backbiting
- Scheming by Moran to stay involved in the investigation
- Scheming by Frank Mackey who is being himself. I.E. Mackey is in the running for Asshole of the World.
- Lots of group dynamics
- Fleeting fantastical elements where the girls are telekinetic
- Class issues and accents
- Money and power and class that drives behavior and resentment

The mystery of who killed the boy never drove my interest until later in the book when French gets closer to the reveal and a confession. The stories are all about the characters and those people dealing with their stresses and desires. My attention did wander a bit in the middle of the book. I think this was because there was not as much dialogue. French's dialogue is so damn good I wanted it back.

1. Mackey is a great character and a real piece of work. He is a very successful police officer and ready to stab anyone in the back. Mackey is the prime example of the old old comparison that cops and crooks are psychologically very similar. He constantly gathers information and then threatens anyone with that information. He dispenses favors and then twists ears when calling in markers. He will twist the story to fit his purposes and since he is a very persuasive talker he can easily ruin a cop's career.
1. The present day investigation covers all of one day.