Monday, April 27, 2009

Almost Completely Read: "A Hell of a Woman" edited by Megan Abbott

Almost Completely Read: A Hell of a Woman: an anthology of female noir edited by Megan Abbott, 2007, 9780976715733.

[Man, I hate when I post something for my personal blog on my work blog. That will explain to the elder Abbott why her response is not here. I deleted that other post and pasted it over here.]

First off come the complaints. Story titles and authors are not repeated at the top or bottom of each page. That was annoying.

Second off come the observations. Good stuff in here. It would be easier to point out which story and author most impressed me but because of observation #1 I was not going to bother flipping back to the title page or table of contents. The Houston Dude from Busted Flush sent us a bunch of bookmarks once. That was considerate.

Third off comes the fact that I did not read all of the pieces in the Women in the Dark appendix where authors, critics, and film buffs list their favorite female noir character of print or film. Even my odd obsession with Bill Crider did not stop me from a quick skim of his choice.

Fourth off are my recollections.
- I was disappointed with Charlie Huston's entry. I sure do like his novels though.
- The lead off story is a great fictionalization of Bonny Lee Blakley. I do not know much of Blakley's real life but know she was a scammer and whore. The fictional character behaves repulsively. So does the fictionalized Robert Blake.
- Christa Faust was good. Reminds me I never read F.X. O'Toole's second collection of stories.
- Sex as a tool is a common theme in many stories. No surprise considering the genre. I realized something about this while reading but cannot recall what it was.
- Guthrie's had a nice time countdown in it.
- Scoppetone had a good one. The narrator hooks up with different dudes beginning when she was 15-years-old. A surprising lesbo twist at the end. I should try one of her novels out.
- Hell, they were all good. No slouches here. It was neat to read something by Zoe Sharp, I've seen her mentioned before but never read anything by her before. Busted Flush is going to print her Limey-only novels for the U.S. market.

Fifth off is a question. Will Patti Abbott google-search Megan Abbott and end up at this worthless blog? Again?

[Okay. The blog is not totally worthless. I do use it for my intended purpose which is to remind myself of what I read.]

Friday, April 17, 2009

Read:"The Number 73304-23-4153-6-8" by Thomas Ott

Read: The Number 73304-23-4153-6-96-8 by Thomas Ott, 2008, 9781560978756.

Comic book with no dialogue or narration.

Executioner finds the number 73304-23-4153-6-96-8 written on a small slip of paper on the floor after a prisoner is electrocuted. He pockets the paper and, starting the next morning, sees the numbers repeating in sequence. The numbers lead him to a gal, a gambling windfall, and sex. He awakes the next morning with the woman and money gone and himself in, apparently, a different dimension. His neighborhood has gone to seed, his apartment is an abandoned drug den, the woman's phone number is now a pawn shop number.

Executioner follows a trail leading back to the pawnshop owner's house and a conviction that the pawn shop owner and his fat wife are the cause of his trouble. Kills pawn shop owner and fat lady, ends up being executed and leaves the same numbered slip of paper on the floor at his own death.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Read: Blood of Victory by Alan Furst

Read: Blood of Victory by Alan Furst, 2002, 0375505741.

I had not read a Furst novel in a long time.  He had been one of my absolute favorites for quite a while.  The audiobook versions have always stellar.  Last weekend I had no  any other books to interest me so I grabbed this one off the bookshelf.  I bought this after I withdrew it from Litchfield Park.  I'm going to say this book is not as good as the other Furst books I have read. 

Another East European immigrant flees either the Soviets or the Nazis and lands in France.  Gets recruited by the Limeys - or other spy groups - and fights against the Krauts and their allies.  Great atmosphere and paranoia by Furst.

I.A Serebin fought in WW1, the Russian Revolution, and the Spanish Civil War.  But Serebin fame and love is as a poet and writer.  He works for the International Russian Union (IRU) and travels from Paris to Instabul in 1940 to check-up on the local IRU club.  The IRU club is bombed, Serebin is saved (who knows why), and is later recruited to work as a spy.  

Serebin hooks-up - professionally and sexually - with the wife of a French dilpomat who was sent to feel him out - no pun inteded.  They work together to pull in the remnants of an commercial spy network set-up by a wealthy Russian in the 1930s to advance his industrial interests.  Serebin and Frenchie are detailed to try and disrupt the Romanian oil reserves, oil production, or oil transport systems the Germans are reliant on.

Serebin finds information that leads to a plan to block the Danube to stop barge traffic upriver to Krautland.  Things happen, people are sneaky, fascists are casually ruthless, reference is made to a real-life Parisian restaurant shoot-out that Furst is fascinated with, Serebin ultimately escapes to Istanbul with Frenchie.

Finished several days ago: "Mafiya" by Charlie Stella

Finished several days ago: Mafiya by Charlie Stella, 2008, 9781933648651.

Good stuff.  Stella is always writing long political diatribes against Reps and Dems and outsourcing on Rhoades's blog.  Stella also gets great reviews for his crime fiction.  This is his most recent novel and I figured to give it a shot.

Whatsherface (I left the book at work) is a former Las Vegas hooker who, after running into and killing a rapist-murderer, got out of the life.  She temps in Manhattan as a word-prcessor, often getting assigned to different law firms to proof legal briefs.  Her best friend is a single mom who still hooks.  Whatsherface's best friend is kidnapped, raped, and murdered for a snuff film.  

Best Friend was killed by a Russian mafia (mafiya) goon in Brooklyn who is a major fuck-up and thorn in the side of his Mob Boss step-brother.  When Mob Boss finds out what his fuck-up step-brother has done - made a snuff film - he sets out to clean up the mess before the whole world of mobsters, feds, cops, and public crashes down on him for an unforgiveable sin.  Mob Boss starts killing everyone involved with the film while also working with the Italian mob in a deal for the Russians to take over Coney Island. 

Since Whatsherface has been calling Best Friend ever since she disappeared, Whatsherface gets on Mob Boss's shit list.  Whatsherface has to evade the Mafiya, try and keep Would-Be-Boyfriend out of it, and get revenge for the murder of her friend.  Mostly told in a tight 48 hour period with fill-in about Whatsherface's and Would-Be-Boyfriend's pasts.  

Whatsherface is happy to be out of hooking and does not like being touched by men.  A flirtatious, dickheaded lawyer accidentally touching her hair gets viciously told off.  Would-Be-Boyfrined burned out on police work but uses his experience and guile to help Whatsherface out.  

Well done by Stella.  Whatsherface is put in a really scary and believable  situation against sociopathic scum.  The story leaves me wanting to read more about the characters; especially the investigating NYPD detectives.  

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Read: "Adventures of Tintin, Volume 7" by Herg

Read: Adventures of Tintin, Volume 7 by Herg, [1992?], 0316359408.

Great stuff. A compilation of three stories.

Tintin in America. Tintin fights gangsters in Chicago with a detour to Indian country out west when following a gangster.

Cigars of the Pharaoh. Tintin travels to Egypt and gets involved in a drug smuggling ring that leads to India.

The Blue Lotus. After fighting the drug smugglers in India Tintin takes a rest and travels to Shanghai in '37. He tussles with the rotten Japanese and corrupt Europeans, and continues fighting the opium traders.