Friday, November 23, 2012

Done: "The Gentlemen's Hour" by Don Winslow

Done: The Gentlemen's Hour by Don Winislow, 2009, 9781439183397.

2009? Really?  That long ago?

Another novel featuring Sand Diego surfing legend Boone Daniels.  Daniels is a former policeman turned P.I. who makes no money.  Daniels is more concerned with surfing anyway.

Daniels is hired by a defense attorney who is defending a kid who killed a different surfing legend Kelly "K2" Kuhio.  K2 was loved by everybody and loved for many, many good reasons.  Those many, many good reasons means many, many people are shocked, disappointed, and angry with Daniels for taking the case.

Daniels investigates that and takes a marriage case to investigate possible infidelity. Both cases end up dovetailing.  The guy who killed K2 is a nothing turd and would be white supremacist.  Daniels loses friends for his defense work.  Daniels and super hot Brit chick attorney have trouble connecting.

More surf lingo, aka surfbonics.  More surf information.  More surf knowledge.  More surf philosophy.  More surf brotherhood.  More surf fitness.

People are killed.  Daniels is beaten up a bit.  Daniels beats other guy up a bit. Things happen. So on. So forth.  This is not plot and action so much and interesting people.

Comments:
1.  San Diego corruption like an H. Jefferson Parker novel I read a bit ago.
2.  "Localism" in the surf community where non-locals are firmly told to leave and then beaten if they do not.
3.  A fun novel.
4.  Winslow writes so well I think, "Whats the big deal with these other writers complaining about their progress?"

Read: "The Cut" by George Pelecanos

Read: The Cut by George Pelecanos, 2011, 9780316078436 (paper).

Pelecanos was at Murder and Mayhem this year.  I only attended on Friday evening and he was not there anyway.  The guys from Mystery One Bookstore are always there.  I always buy something from them since they give a lot of support to the event and host so many of the authors.  I was looking through the offerings but there were no Victor Gischler comics.  Since I read a good review of this novel I bought it.

Short version: Another Pelecanos tale about Greeks in D.C. involved in crime.
Long version: Greek guy in D.C. is back from Iraq and working as an investigator for a local attorney.  Spero Lucas is not too sure what he wants for his future.  Heck, Spero Lucas does not worry about his future at all.  He is not interested in college or getting into a trade.  Spero fell into "recovery" work when a gal complained that a boyfriend stole thousands of bucks worth of jewelry.  Spero offered to get the stuff back and just said 40% when asked a fee.  Since then he has gotten job offers and began working for a defense attorney.

Spero helps a kid get off on a stolen car charge and his marjuana wholesaler father asks Spero to recover a package of dope.  The Wholesaler's underlings have dope FedExed to houses that are empty during the day.  The Underlings pick the package off the porch right after the FedEx guy drives off.  One package went missing and Spero is asked to find it.

Spero does not think long before taking the work.  Spero dopes up himself and Wholesaler says how nonviolent and mellow he is.  Spero works with Underlings to track.  Spero questions neighbors.  Spero finds things out.  Spero casually dates and bones Lawyer's intern.

Spero misses his dad father.  Spero visits his mother and brother.  Underlings are murdered.  Spero visits with fellow War on Terror infantry vets.  Spero is not mentally or emotionally or physically disabled by the war.  He is not edgy and short tempered.  He is not a fictional stereotype.

Pelecanos tells tale from Bad Guys's point of view.  Spero is found out by bad guys.  Someone tries to kill Spero and he kills him, "Lucas felt nothing...Lucas entered his apartment, took a shower, got into bed, and fell to sleep.  He had no dreams."

More things happen.  Bad Guys are bad. Innocents are threatened.  Spero steal back some of the cash from the lost marijuana.  Spero recues a high school kid.  Spero figures everything out.

Comments:
1.  Plenty of characters with character.  Not kooky and quirky characters.  Real people with real thoughts and concerns.  Many of those concerns are the sociopath's "Me, me, me."
2.  Odd details are repeated.  Like the flickering fluorescent in the Bad Guy's garage bay.  Spero's Jeep Wagoneer.  Hatred between a father and his abandoned son.  Must be a Pelecanos' thing.
3.  D.C. geography love.
4.  Menu and meal details love.
5.  Brotherly love.
6.  Spero feels he is still finding his way.  He joined the Marines when he was young, fought in Iraq, and is only now sowing his oats and figuring what he wants from life.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Found: "Escape Clause" by James O. Born

Found: Escape Clause by James O. Born, 2006, 9780399153341.

I weeded this a few days ago. I started reading the first page and brought it home. Fun.  I liked this better than Red Means Run.

Florida Department of Law Enforcement agent Bill Tasker is at a bank with one of his daughters.  Tasker sees a couple suspicious guys.  Tasker is suspicious. Tasker ends up shooting one of the guys during the resultant bank robber.

Tasker sent to Gladesville, FL to investigate a murder at the local prison.  Tasker sent there to avoid civilian review board's BS challenge of the bank shooting.  Governor's office will clear the BS challenge if Tasker does the favor of reviewing the murder.

Tasker stays in state-owned apartment building for government workers.  Tasker meets hot investigator for prison.  Born introduces bad guy characters of prison guards and a convict.  Guards want Tasker to quickly do his review of the evidence and leave.

Tasker's archeology professor neighbor at state apartment building is murdered.  Tasker looks into that murder, too.  Convict schemes and kills and plans an escape. Tasker hits it off with Hot Investigator.  Things happen.  Tasker's daughters visit.  Tasker's ex-wife has sex.  Tasker investigates (the crimes, not his ex-wife's sex life).  Tasker suspicious of Hot Investigator.  Tasker captured by Corrupt Guards.  One Guard shot by Hot Investigator.  Tasker rescued. Tasker caught again.  Tasker escapes.  Tasker rescues Hot Investigator.  Brief twist at the end of the story.

Comments:
1. A fun book.  Even with several murders, lots of low and high level corruption, forced sex, etc.
2. Racial diversity of rural Florida and mostly absent of racists. Not the stereotype of the South.  The lead Bad Guy Guard married to a black lady and is hot for Hot Investigator who is also black.
3.  Rural Florida does not have a diverse beer selection.
3.  SIG love.
4.  CZ love.
5.  Hi-Power love.
6.  Remington 870 love.
7.  Gun nerd complaining love: Beretta 92fs referred to as a .40.
8. Gratuitous Stephen Hunter reference.
9.  Gratuitous copy editing errors with weird commas and wrong words.  If I notice the errors you know the errors were obvious.
10.  Born was in Muskego a year or two ago.  Born said how colleagues will approach him while Born is working at a crime scene and Born can tell when they are angling to make it into one of his novels.

Done: "Red Means Run" by Brad Smith

Done: Red Means Run by Brad Smith, 2012, 9781451645514.

I read a review for the second book in this series and requested this one.  The review was referring to rural crime novels. I dig rural crime novels.  Usually.  This was fairly decent and a smooth read.

Criminal defense attorney Mickey Dupree is known for winning murder cases in Northern New York.  Now he is dead, murdered on a golf course, and Virgil Cain is the main suspect.  Cain was married to a would-be music star who was murdered by a producer.  The Producer was acquitted and Virgil (vaguely) threatened  the lawyer in a bar.

Cain is arrested on no evidence by Dumb Cop.  Cain meets a hot lady detective.  Cain knows he is screwed and needs to find out real killer.  Cain escapes from a small town jail. Meanwhile, the Producer (modeled after Phil Spector) is drinking and and going gun crazy.  His wife is tolerating him, training for a marathon, and considering a run for Congress.

Hot Lady Detective is dealing with old case of animal cruelty to race horses by Super Rich Dude.  Producer and Super Rich Dude are also murdered.  Dumb Cop starts talking in cliches, "[Virgil Cain] is a mad dog and I'm gonna put him down" [not a real quote].  Hot Lady Detective finds Cain but lets him go.  She is hot for him, figures him innocent, and figures he may find things out.

Cain finds things out. Hot Lady Detective finds things out.  Cain and Hot Lady Detective have intimate relations.  Very intimate.  Hot Lady Detective gets shot at by real killer.  Cain stops real killer.

Comments:
1.  Not much to say.  A smooth read with few dull parts for me.
2. Smith spreads out the life story of Cain along the novel.
3.  Hot Lady Detective was a little unbelievable having been recently divorced from a dimwit husband.  Hot Lady Detective's personality seemed stronger than putting up with a dimwit for 15 years.  But, that happens in real life all the time.
4.  Wives putting up with husbands is repeated throughout the novel.  Producer's wife is married without caring for the guy.  She does her running, enjoys her dogs, and meets with soon-to-retire Congresswoman regarding a campaign.  Best pal of Producer's Wife also a rich wife.  She is married to Super Rich Dude and only cares about drinking all day and staying in New York on her big estate.
5. I think the forthcoming sequel is worth reading.  I'd like to see how Smith keeps Cain going in a mystery series.  Maybe drag him into a case with Hot Lady Detective.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Listened: "Gamorrah" by Roberto Saviano

Listened: Gomorrah: A Personal Journey into the Violent International Empire of Naples' Organized Crime System by Roberto Saviano, 2008 (English audio), Overdrive download.

Hear is the short version: Saviano grows up in Southern Italy. Southern Italy controlled by crime rings.  Saviano grows up to be reporter.  Saviano writes book about the crime rings and names names.  Saviano lives in hiding under 24 hour police protection.

A expose and history of the crime rings, the camorah, that control Naples and the rest of Southern Italy. A very personal expose because Saviano grew up and witnessed many the wars and crimes he writes about.  He went undercover as a worker in various mob-controlled industries.  He visited dozens of murder sites - often scootering his Vespa to the bleeding bodies before the police or ambulances arrived.

Original publication date of 2006 and a bestseller in Italy and other European countries.  Translated into 30 languages.   Recently won the Swede's Olof Palme Prize in January, 2012 and the 2011 PEN/Pinter Prize for free speech. The awards were for exposing the clans.  He exposed very little.  As he writes in the book very little he tells is secret.  Most things are public knowledge, in Naples, and available from court documents.  His "crime" is in wide publication, heck in publishing.  Reporters are not authorized by the clans to tell the truth about the clans.

From the 4 April 2009 edition of The Australian: "Saviano's life, all the same, has been effectively shut down. He is isolated and constantly moved in bulletproof cars, never able to return home, or have a girlfriend, or meet friends for a coffee in the open; he'll never, ever be free again. Even arranging interviews is a long, drawn-out process; only after five months of negotiations do I finally speak to him by phone."

I will not try to write a review or summary.  The tales of crime and clan control could go on for hundreds of pages.  Here are the notes I took as I listened:

Notes:
Gamorrah is the public name. Kind of like "Mafia". Crooks call themselves differently.  They  are the epitome of law-free entrepreneurial spirit. Everything is for sale. Cut prices to the bone - workers are plentiful and paid cheaply. The bosses get the money. Power is everything.

There is a MASSIVE market in fake designer goods.  The operation runs from Italian sweatshop through Europe, North America, South America, and Australia. 300 million euros a year of goods made in Italian sweatshops at the same quality as the real stuff.  The Italian shops bid for work from real the designer houses.  Designers contract with shops and overflow of goods not purchased by the design houses get a fake label and go as the real thing.  The fakes are as good as real but get a huge discount and are sold through mob owned retail shops.

The ultimate criminal goal is power. Command. Domination. Complete economic control is the focus.

The gang war (ending in 2005) was all encompassing. Anyone could be a target. Relatives. Neighbors. Friends. Former lovers. Classmates. Coworkers. Lookalikes. Someone with a frown. The war brought lots of international reporting. The new reporting was poorly done with cub reporters chasing drama and video of guns and handcuffs.  Reporters were often duped by neighborhood teens eager to be on television.  The war's final truce was negotiated by a third clan and the agreement published in a local newspaper.  Publicly published.

The all encompassing crime reminds me of current Mexico.  The police and politicians are suspect and often work for the clans.

Mob killers have a fondness for hand grenades.

The top mob bosses go so deep into hiding they have not seen their families for years. One boss was caught and his neighbors rioted. They did not riot to protest the arrest of their mob neighbor because he was a local hero or benefactor. They rioted to show "Hey! We did not turn you in. Don't kill us."

Corruption so endemic that whole municipalities have been dissolved by the national government. All public contracts go to the clans at big prices.

Odd detour by Saviano into his father. Divorced when Saviano was a kid. Lousy dad always showing disappointmen with Saviano's actions. Dad taught him to shoot and lectured that a gun was needed to be strong.

Beretta 92FS owned by father.  An older, scratched up 92FS and the 92FS referred to by Italians as an M9, "I am going to M9 you between the eyes."  Author does not know how the M9 designation came about (U.S. Army designation).  That seems surprising but the author is not into guns and bombs.

Weird detour into Mikhail Kalashnikov and AK47 history.  Kalashnikov equated to camorah in that Kalishnikov created what he waned and everything that happens after is not his fault or concern

Arms trade. Wherever there is money the camorah are there. Deals with ETA in Spain where ETA smuggled in cocaine from South American revolutionaries to pay for the guns. he camorah clans dealt with South American drug runners and across Africa. Deals with Poland, Romania, the scumbag Arkan in Serbia. Deals with Albanians to keep them out of Serbian deals.  Dealt with Argentina during Falklands War when the Argentine military needed cash and shipped their arms to Italy.

Camorah undercut prices in legitimate business through hiring illegal aliens, graft and kickbacks, ignoring safety rules and laws to speed production schedules.

Even the milk market is infiltrated. Camorah clan created a monopoly through buying dairy companies and using violence against competitors and retail shops not buying camorah product.

Religion and Father Peppino Diana  Father Diana was one of the very very few to speak out against the camorah.  He was murdered in his own church right before saying Mass.  Religion itself is incorporated into the clan. Camoristas think of the good of the group as Christian chairty.  Murder is okay when done for the higher cause of clan's business.

Read Half: "Paul Cain: the complete Slayers" by Paul Clain

Read Half: Paul Cain: the complete Slayers by Paul Cain, 2011, 9781933618999.

Fifteen short stories and the novel Fast One.  Cain is a well known pulpist.  He did not publish many pieces but still has a following.  Enough of a following that Max Allan Collins and Lynn F. Meyers wrote a 25 page biography for this volume.

Cain is remembered for his spare style.  I know because each piece has its own introduction saying as much.     I have a paperback of Cain's Fast One at home.  I suppose I could reread that - I remember liking it.

This was 618 pages from Introduction through Afterword.  I burned out half way through.

I'm not certain how many copies of this book were printed.  This is a hardcover and the tip-in page signed by Collins and Meyer says "limited to 500 copies for sale."   Cheapest copy on Amazon.com is listed at $134 so I hope no one steals this library copy.

Comments:
1. I have the impression that Max Collins is such a devotee and historian of pulp magazines and paperbacks that he could have written much of the bio off the top of his head and only referred to reference materials to verify dates and spellings.
2.  I skipped reading the biography, too.
3.  Includes small color reproductions of each Black Mask cover in which the Cain stories appeared.
4. John Lutz did one of the introductions.  Each time I see Lutz's nameI think of the Lutz character on 30 Rock.
5.  Should Introduction and Afterword be italicized?
6.  Do I care enough to look it up?
7.  No.

DNF: "My Brother's Keeper" by Keith Gilman

DNF: My Brother's Keeper by Keith Gilman, 2011, 9780727881021.

Second book featuring ex-cop Philadelphia policeman Lou Klein.  I just couldn't get into the story.

Klein, now a private dick, gets a case from his neighbor, and former police colleague, to help out the neighbor's sister.  Klein used to be hot for the sister and she since married a mob linked guy.  Klein started looking and I quit.


Friday, November 2, 2012

Brief: "Lemony Snicket: the unauthorized biography" by Lemony Snicket

Brief: Lemony Snicket: the unauthorized biography by Lemony Snicket, 2002, 006083143x.

A mix of letters, diary entries, training manual entries, memos, news articles related to Snicket and VFD. Not much explained about Sniket or VFD or the Baudelaires.

What did I expect?  Well, a straightforward book in the vein of the Unfortunate Events novels.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Found: "Multiple Man" by Ben Bova

Found: Multiple Man by Ben Bova, 1976, 0672520729.

I was weeding in adult fiction and this title was on the list.  Not cataloged as scifi.  I opened to the first page to read a bit - a risky and ill-advised action when trying to get work done - and decided to read the whole thing.  

A decent story of cloning, politics and murder.  In the future Presidential Press Secretary Meric Albano  discovers there is a dead man who is a dead ringer for the President.  Meric presses to be involved. Meric worries of assassination threat.  Meric learns of another dead clone.  Secret Service Agent secretly sleuthing slayings is slain after visiting President's father.  Meric sees conspiracy.  Meric finds out President was cloned as a child. All seven clones and real President were raised to be President by Committee with each guy having a policy focus and trading turns in public with speeches, wheeling, dealing, and fucking Laura, the wife.

Meric convinces President and President's father one of the clones is murdering off his brothers to be the only President.  Meric threatens press conference to draw out the killer.  Plan works.  Laura the wife in on the murder plan.  Meric convinces President - naturally born one - to spill beans to public.

Comments:
1.  The story was decent, not great but I liked it and the story moved along smoothly without dead spots.
2.  I most enjoyed reading Bova's vision of the not-to-distant future that seems to be set about around 2010.  His vision of the future was still captive to 1976.  Bova refers to Vietnam and inflation.  Nixon fallout with worries on fraud and cheating.  Women still work office jobs and talk about chauvinism.  Waterbeds.  Pollution fretting (I guess the Clean Water Act did pretty damn good, huh?). Almost all cars are electric.  Lots of helicopters.  Lots of solar energy.
3.  Meric orders up a hooker at his St. Louis hotel.
4.  Lots of scotch.
5.  Technology guesses by Bova include computers all over but with green screens.  Typewriters still used.  No mobile phones but video phones are standard.
6.  The clone brothers were all unworried about the murders.  Very odd.  They seemed to think that murder was an internal family affair.  Not only were the men raised to be super smart, politically astute, and incredibly stupid about the law and truth.
7.  I do not much care for political novels but in many ways a read can pick Meric and assign him to their party of choice.