Thursday, January 22, 2015

Received: "Miss Don't Touch Me, Vol. 2" by Hubert and Kerascoet

Received: Miss Don't Touch Me, Vol. 2 by Hubert and Kerascoet, 2008 (France) 2010(U.S.), 9781561635924.

Blanche continues to work in the high-end bordello in Paris after Vol. 1.  She is in high demand as the virgin dominatrix. Blanche starting working as a cleaner in the bordello during book one when trying to find her sister's killer. Blanche succeeded at that but is in deep debt to the madam.  The madam's scam is to claim food, lodging, and other expenses against he prostitutes.

When Blanche tries some naive blackmail and fails. She is stuck and unable to leave without the male co-owner tracking her down and putting into sexual slavery in a back-alley whorehouse.  Blanche commiserates with her best bordello pal, a drag queen named Miss Jo. The ladies talk about finding a john who'll take them out of the house.  Miss Jo has some wealthy regulars but their sexual interests are not socially acceptable.

Blanche has a young blonde customer, Antoine, approach her and start a romantic pursuit. Blanche's virginity is well-known and Antoine seems to be taking her purity as a challenge to his seductive power.  He takes her on trips outside the house and introduces her to his friends and his mother. He seems quite proud of upsetting his mother by getting serious with a prostitute.  Blanche and Antoine are photographed and in the society page.

Low-and-behold Blanche's mother shows up.  Mom saw Blanche in the society pages and claims to have deeply missed Blanche. "Oh, my other daughter is dead!?  How awful! Oh, Blanch you must help me find a place to live, clothes to wear, food to eat. Blanche, I will never leave you again. Oh, some more wine please. Oh, look at you, you big handsome man! Blanche leave us."

Things move along. The bordello is better than some other places but still a tough place to work and live. Blanche gets engaged to Antoine but Antoine disappears. Antoine's mother refuses to speak with Blanche. Blanche has another mystery to solve.

Blanche flees the bordello and starts looking for Antoine. Mom finds out Mom is out of town and burgles Mom's mansion, finds a diary, and plans blackmail.  Blanche finds Antoine in a sanitarium.  Antoine admits to being gay and is scheduled for some curative lobotomy.  Blanche loves Antoine. She leaves the hospital thinking the surgery will cure Antoine and he will love her back.

1. Blanche's mother steals from her daughter and anyone else who looks to be a good mark.
2. The wealthy use and abuse the poor.
3. Most everyone sees the prostitutes as property. They pay some cash and figure they can do whatever they like.
4. I looked at my notes from the last book and my comments still stand: I liked the artwork quite a bit; K. uses plenty of color and mixes in plainer, simpler panels with detailed street scenes and extravagantly decorated rooms.
5. Antoine's fate was very upsetting to read about.
6. Mom steals Blanche's money and belongings and skips town.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Listen: "The Treatment" by Mo Hayder

Listen: The Treatment by Mo Hayder, 2001, download.

That was a very tough listen. Hayder really drags you through some despicable child sexual assault and abuse. Horrible, predatory people doing horrible things to young children. I seriously considered quitting the book. I do commend Hayder for not toning down the story. Heck, maybe she did tone it down. Maybe she heard some real life stories and details that were even worse. 

Jack Caffery arrives on scene at a home invasion. The invader broke into the home of the Peach family and bound and beat the wife and husband. Both parents were captive for about five days and are taken to the hospital suffering dehydration, the man is near death.  The Peach's 9-year-old son is missing.  Their Brixton house abuts a large, wooded London park and a witness saw someone run into the park.  A massive search begins to find the boy. 

The police canvass the neighborhood and nearby apartment blocks. A search helicopter's infrared camera operator spots a donut shaped figure in the park.  Walking searchers see zip.  The boy remains missing. Days pass and Inspector Caffery hears the neighborhood children's urban myth about a tree troll. Caffery goes back to the spot located by the helicopter and looks up. The missing boy has recently died from exposure and dehydration.

This is the wrong case for Caffery. Caffery's older brother, Ewan, was nine-years-old when he disappeared.  Caffery still lives in the family home and about 50 yards from the house of the convicted pedophile long suspected of killing Ewan, Penderecki. A murdered nine-year-old with his killer on the loose puts Caffery on a very fine edge and Caffery gets obsessive.

Things happen. Another family are the first to move into a new housing development near the same London park. They are planning a long vacation.  The mother discovers urine spots in the house and blames the dog, then her 9-year-old son. She smells rotting food. These same things happened to the Peaches.

Penderecki commits suicide. Penderecki had been tormenting Caffery for years by sending anonymous notes detailing possible scenarios for Ewans disappearance. Caffery gets one last letter in the mail showing a map. Caffery follows the map and finds a hidden child porn stash. Caffery starts investigating.

Other things happen: Caffery and his girlfriend Rebecca are at emotional ends from the last novel. Caffery wants to talk about her abduction, Rebecca recalls nothing of it and cannot tell him that. Caffery uses the child abuse stash to track people down. 

Hayder cranks up the tension as Caffery works the Peach case and comes oh-so-close to learning that another family has been abducted.  The new victims are secretly suffering sadistic sex slavery. We learn of child rape, beatings, bitings, kidnappings, a pedophile ring, and the sexual abuse of a brain damaged child who is then turned into a work slave. Horrible sociopathic villains concerned for themselves and full of excuses. None of them get the punishment they deserve or the full punishment the law can give.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Done: "The Jungle is Neutral" by F. Spencer Chapman

Done: The Jungle is Neutral: a soldier's two-year jungle escape from the Japanese Army by F. Spencer Chapman, 2003 reprint of 1948 book, 9781592281077.

A few years ago I read a memoir by a British infantryman who was caught behind lines after the battle for Singapore. He lived in the jungle for the duration of the war, relying on the ethnic Chinese communist guerrillas for food and shelter. He and some other Brit soldiers were stuck there, unable to plan or organize attacks on the Japanese, unable to freely travel, unable to speak to their hosts. The soldiers were slowly wasting away from illness and malnutrition.

Chapman's experience with disease and malnutrition was similar but, otherwise, quite a bit different.  Chapman was a Cambridge educated Officer in his thirties with expedition experience to the arctic and Himalayas.  He served in Europe until sent to Singapore in 1941.  In Singapore Chapman started up and ran a school on guerrilla warfare shortly before the Japanese took over Singapore and Malaysia. He organized a mission to stay behind the enemy lines and run sabotage operations against the Japanese.

Chapman and his fellow soldiers teamed with the ethnic Chinese to establish supply depots in the jungle and mountains and Spencer and a couple other Limey soldiers ran commando operations against rail lines and trucking.  These raids were fairly successful and that success drew Japanese attention and heat. Chapman joined the local Chinese with the intention of sharing stored munitions, training the the Chinese, and getting resupplied by the British.

But, resupply was not possible as communication with the Brits was severed. Chapman spent three and a half years in the jungle. The Chinese were fractured into different groups and had to rely on messengers to travel through the forests and jungles by foot and avoid Japanese soldiers and Quisling police. 

Chapman stayed with several different guerrilla groups and wanted to continue the fight against the Japanese. The tough terrain, lack of munitions and communication and coordination did not allow this. The Chinese guerrillas refused to act independently, they told Chapman they could not act without word from headquarters. Directives from headquarters could take months to arrive. Chapman did what training he could and wrote manuals for the guerrillas.

Chapman, other English, and the Chinese were frequently sick from Malaria, tick born illnesses, and typhus. Open sores and ulcers on their legs from leeches and small cuts that would get infected.  Malaria fevers would lay people out for days and days.

Once the war effort started to turn in the Allies favor the English navy started to land commandos and spies - both English and Chinese Malaysians - on the coast.  Radio contact was reestablished.  More soldiers parachuted in with supplies. Chapman was sent back to Colombo then on to India before returning for a few months at the end of the war

1.The subtitle is incorrect.  Chapman and others hid from the Japanese and informants but were still active. They were not being chased place to as if Inspector Gerard was on their trail.
2. Chapman had to rely on local guides to travel through the jungle paths.  His guides would get lost and though Chapman would show them his compass and tell the guide they were heading the wrong direction the guides would stubbornly walk in circles.
3.  Later in the book Chapman stays at a camp manned by Chinese who killed informants.  At one point he meets a man who murdered 87 informants.
4. The ethnic groups were split.  Many of the Malays, Sikhs, and Tamils worked with the Japanese. Chapman could feel safe when traveling though Chinese villages.
5. The native population, the Sakai, lived within the jungle and would often provide guides and food to Chapman and his colleagues and the Chinese.
6. Competing Chinese communist groups would call each other bandits and fight one another.
7. Chapman's tenure in the jungle insulated him from the nastier actions by the Japanese but he lists several massacres by the Japanese Army where villages were raised and the men, women, and children murdered. Some women would be immediately raped and sent to Army bordellos.
8. The jungle supplies little food. Chapman's first overland trip through the jungle was from his first supply depot the his area of operations a few miles away. He and his fellow soldiers figured to take some supplies and hunt and gather the rest of their food. Nope. No animals and no food and no easy water source without rain. Heat and the very tough terrain made travel verryyyy sloooooow.
9. I ordered this via ILL and it came from Minitex and is owned by Gustavus Adolphus. The copy is in very good shape. I think I ordered this after seeing a promo somewhere. I may call the College and ask how many times this circ'ed and if was added in 2003.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

DNF: "Sigurd and His Brave Comapnions by Siogird Undset

DNF: Sigurd and His Brave Companions: a tale of medieval Norway by Sigrid Unset, 1943, no LC number, this was from Knopf.

I was looking through a U of MN Press catalog and saw a notice about a reprint. I have read some fun Scandinavian tales before so I checked the catalog and this came from Whitwater PL. 

Sigurd grows up deep in the forest with just his mother and father. He sees no one else until he is about 20 years old and spots a strange creature in the woods. The creature runs away and Sigurd goes home and tells his mother about the thing. The mom says, "That's a woman, it's time for you to leave home and live life in the wider world."

Sigurd has been trained as a knight and is very mannerly, courteous and friendly. He gets into a joust with another knights. Sigurd wins. The other knight says someting about a sister who ran into the woods to escape bad guys. Sigurd and the other knight go to find her and bring her home.

I quit reading. The writing was thick an dragged on.The older pages are crinkly and smell bad.

1. The book is most interesting for the short sections of Background of the Story and Biographical Note which firmly put the book in it's 1943 pub year. Background explains how the Norwegian royal houses were established and carried on and gives direct comparison to the Japanese. The Biographical Note speaks of Sigrid Unset's Nobel Prize (news to me!), her life in Lillehammer, and invasion by the Germans.  Of how Undset now lives in the States and has been writing children's books showing the happy, pre-war Norway and how she yearns to return to a German free home.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Finished: "Where the Dead Lay" by David Levien

Finished: Where the Dead Lay by David Levien, 2009, 9780385523677.

I was bemoaning the lack of books by this dude and found out a new Frank Behr novel comes out in 2015. Good, I've really enjoyed this one and the other two.

Frank Behr is an angry man with a dead son, an ex-wife, a girlfriend he cannot commit to and an obsessive exercise schedule. Behr is heading for his early morning Brazilian jiu-jitsu class and arrives to find the police and paramedics gathered around his instrucor's bloody body.  Instructor has been de-topped by a shotgun. Behr is angry. Behr immediately starts to work the case by talking his way into the Instructor's office and taking the dead man's address book.

Meanwhile a family of crooks is running a scheme to take over all the illegal lottery games that are popular around Indy. The three sons, 18-, 20-, and 22-years-old, and father are working with the dad's ex-con pal to shut down all the houses and gain a monopoly. They are violent and deadly.

Behr used to work for the Indianapolis Police Department. His relationship with the department is very rocky but the local branch of a national private investigation company wants to hire him to find two of their missing investigators. Behr says no, he does not need the trouble and is running down Instructor's killer. He changes his mind when a couple Indy PD muckety-mucks ask him to take the private case.

Meanwhile, Behr and his girlfriend are rocky. Behr carries intense guilt from his son's death. Behr's child accidentally shot himself with Behr's handgun. Behr feels like he would betray has past family by getting more serious with Girlfriend and when Girlfriend gets pregnant it causes a crisis.

Things happen. Behr runs with a weighted vest and drags a tractor tire. Behr acts without thinking clearly. Behr realizes Instructor was his only new friend in about 15 years. He chases some dead leads on both cases. Behr and Girlfriend's relationship takes a cooler. Behr evaluates his life and career. Behr finds out both cases are connected.

The bad guys are bad. The bad guys are nasty. The bad guys get their come uppance. Behr comes out on top, reconciles himself with his past and with his Girlfriend. Behr's victory is a bit hollow.

1. I was just searching for a Levien website to find the pub date and the suggested searches include "David Levien net worth". That's weird.
2. Speaking of searches Levien works with a guy called Brian Koppelman. Koppelman's podcast had a listing in the Entertainment Weekly issue I just read. I doubt I'll listen, I have a lot of audiobooks to get through.
3. I still don't know the name of the guy who was hanging out with Levien at Bouchercon in St. Louis. I was going to hunt down that guy's novel.
4. Gratuitous Charter Bulldog love. Behr realizes he is chasing some real bad dudes and starts packing heat again. At one point Behr goes by and buys a bunch of .44 Special boxes for practice.  .44 Special is pricey ammo.