Thursday, October 28, 2010

Quickly Read: "Texas Wind" by James Reasoner

Quickly Read: Texas Wind by James Reasoner, 2004, 9781930997516.

Originally published in 1980 by Manor Books which went out of business upon publication. I'd heard that Texas Wind had a "cult status" but I reckon that is due to the few copies in existence. This is a reprint by Point Blank Press. Point Blank also printed Reasoner's Dust Devils.

Since this is a Reasoner book I knew it would be good. Texas fits well alongside Dust Devils with it's crime tale and short length. Not that I can tell how many pages there are in Texas because Point Blank was too fucking dense to print page numbers.

Cody is a private dick in Fort Worth. He gets asked to investigate the disappearance of a college girl by the girl's wealthy stepmother. Cody tells the mom to call the cops. Cody investigates. Cody talks to girl's best pal and a couple others and finds another guy is missing and figures the two ran away together.

Cody tells mom girl ran off or eloped. Mom says someone called claiming to have kidnapped missing girl and dropped off a freshly amputated finger as proof. Cody gets abducted and his paid and then beaten to stay out. Cody keeps looking. Cody figures out who nabbed him. Cody observes ransom payoff. Payoff goes bad. Cody finds bad guys dead in their house. Cody keeps looking. Cody figures it all out. Cody gets shot but lives.

1. Lots of pay phone usage and Cody has an answering service.
2. Cody is no genius, he is an average guy doing his job. Cody investigates by talking and questioning. No inside cop knowledge and street informants to pave the way for him and ease the writer's job.
3. Disco dislike.
4. Western art love at Amon Carter Museum.
5. Cody gets severely beaten by goons. Very little gun play until the end.

Did Not Finish: "Chronicles: Volume One" by Bob Dylan

Did Not Finish: Chronicles: Volume One by Bob Dylan, 2004, 9780743228152.

I just could not get into this. It was a constant stream of thought stuck on paper. I presume Dylan spoke into a recorder and the result was transcribed. No co-author is listed.

This was picked for the Men's Book Club. I was enthusiastic at reading the book but nothing much happened in the first section but for Dylan wandering around New York, listing books he read, and so forth.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Quickly read: "Tower" by Ken Bruen and Reed Farrel Coleman

Quickly Read: Tower by Ken Bruen and Reed Farrel Coleman, 2009, 9781935415077.

I just read that Tower won an award at Bouchercon for Best Mystery. Tower is not a mystery it's a crime novel. A good book though.

Told in three sections by main characters Nick and Todd and secondary character Leeza. Nick and Todd work for minor crime boss Boyle and Boyle's psychopathic right-hand man, and former Provisional IRA soldier, Griffin. Set in Brooklyn in (about) 2000.

Nick is an angry young dude who enjoys violence as a release from stress or (perceived) humiliation. But, Nick is not up for the savagery of torturing a doorman with Griffin and Boyle. Nick is working his way up in Boyle's crew and starts dating a gal he really digs. Nick is then told to kill Todd because Todd is a cop. Nick gets shot by his girlfriend's ex-boyfriend and is then set-up for that guy's murder to induce him to kill Todd. Todd gets Nick into witness protection.

Todd's narrating turn. Todd gets pressured into joining the police or have the cops say he is an informant. Todd tells criminals he is leaving to be with a broad. Todd goes to Philadelphia and gets crash course police academy. Todd falls for US Marshal chick, Leeza, who is part of his cover. Todd goes back to NYC. Todd gets sent by Doyle - with advance knowledge from Todd's cop handlers - to Boston to assist Boston crime lord. Todd bangs local chick. Todd is found out as cop and local chick is tortured. Todd ends up killing three local hoods when looking for broad. Todd returns to NYC. Todd does cop stuff and helps Nick out.

Leeza section. Leeza hooks up with Todd when Todd flees NYC and lands in Milwaukee. Leeza gets pregnant. Criminal case against Boyle proceeds. Nick and Todd back in NYC. Nick and Todd have lunch at World Trade Center on Sep. 11 but Leeza's water breaks and she does not go.

1. I liked the Nick part better. Did Bruen and Coleman each write a section or did they collaborate through and co-write everything?
2. IRA connections. Not as many of those guys running around now I imagine.
3. Gratuitous use of Richard Katz in Milwaukee. I'll blame Coleman for that one.
4. Comments by Leeza about what a beautiful blue day September 11th was. Dang straight. I was in Arizona but the weather in NYC was beautiful with clear blue skies.
5. Gratuitous use of fake Irishness. Boyle speaks with a fake Irish accent and talks about "back home". Boyle is from Hoboken and has never been to Ireland. What a turd. A violent and deadly turd.
6. I just checked the circ stats and this novel has only checked out 3 times since it went on the shelf in April.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Listened to: "Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, Volume 2" by Arthur Conan Doyle

Listened to: The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, Volume 2 by Arthur Conan Doyle, 9781934997345, 2000 (CSA Telltapes).

I have never read all the Holmes stories, at least I don't remember doing so. There is a double volume at of the stories at home but I have not cracked it. I had only read or seen dramas of two of these tales.

1. Doyle's stories stand up dang well after 120+ years. I occasionally read older novels and short stories of the same vintage and the writing and language have not aged well. Doyle's work is easy to follow and enjoy. I could look up all sorts of historical information on how Doyle's work was reviewed and appreciated on a literary level in ~1900 but I will not bother.
2. Narrated by Edward Harwicke who play Watson in the Jeremy Brett program. Brett sure was fantastic as Holmes. Absolutely fantastic. While listening to this I was picturing and hearing Brett as Holmes. I did not know Harwicke did the narration until just now when I read the CD case.
3. Sherlock's brother Mycroft appears in The Adventure of the Greek Interpreter. I thought Mycroft was only mentioned in the Doyle stories and was a mostly unknown character. I know there are post-Doyle novels featuring Mycroft as the lead.
4. The stories were all originally serialized or printed in magazines. Right? So, presumably, any publisher could bound them up in whatever order they desired. Has the copyright to the tales lapsed? Again, I won't bother to look it up.
5. The stories were: Sussex Vampire, Creeping Man, Speckled Band, Crooked Man, Greek Interpreter, Naval Treaty.
6. Views on class. The stories all feature Holmes's clientele upper class or professional clientele. I suppose rich people doing bad things is always popular. But, the lower classes never come off that well. Workmen and servants are a bit dull and slow witted.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Read: "The Deputy" by Victor Gischler

Read: The Deputy by Victor Gischler, 2010, 9781935562009.

Took forever for me to finally read this. The library copy has been an "issue". I got a free, free, free copy from Tyrus Books when the guy was running one of his "free books" opportunities on the twitter.

The novel also suffered from anticipation syndrome. The more I wait to read a book the more I build it up in my head and the more I expect from it. (I'm now afraid to read Ellroy's most recent novel.) Fortunately, this is a Gischler book so I need not have worried.

Toby is a fucking loser. I real fucking loser. Other people, or maybe the publishing blurb, refer to Toby as a "slacker". No. Toby is a fucking loser. He is a clueless layabout more concerned with scoring smokes and fucking his underage girlfriend than anything else.

One hot August night one of the Jordan brothers (local bad guys) is shot nine times in downtown Coyote Crossing, OK. Coyote Crossing is butt-fucking-Egypt and Toby is a part-time cop. Toby gets called out of bed at midnight and is told to guard Jordan's body. Instead, dumbass Toby gets bored and walks over to Molly's (his underage, high school girlfriend) and bones her. Toby gets back and Jordan's body is gone. Things get worse.

Toby battles fatigue. Toby's wife leaves him. Toby finds out trusted people are not to be trusted. Toby gets in gun fights. Toby drinks energy drinks that taste like battery acid. Mexicans smuggling illegals are dangerous. Toby is a clueless dumbfuck. Toby gets through six hours of death and destruction to the year later epilogue.

1. Several typos - correctly spelled words in incorrect usage - annoyed me.
2. Toby is a likable fella. But, he is a nitwit. I enjoyed the idea of looking at things through the eyes of a fuck-up who knows he is a fuck-up and does not much care. Even if he does want to get on full time and make more money. Toby just wants to join a band again.
3. .38 wheelgun love.
4. 12-gauge shotgun love.
5. Muscle car love.
6. Rural Okie love (sex and geography).
7. Rural Okie hate ( "I cannot wait to leave this podunk town!" type hate.)
8. Surprise twists and turns love.
9. I am fairly certain there was not one mention of Star Wars.
10. Small town cops who are not incompetent dumbshits - aside from Toby.
11. Great and Mighty Gischler, was the epilogue your idea or requested/suggested by advance readers and editor?

Finished: "The Dragon Factory" by Jonathan Maberyy

Finished: The Dragon Factory by Jonathan Maberry, 2010, 9780312382490 (paper).

James Bond versus Dr. Moreau.

Second Maberry novel I have read and also the second novel in Maberry's Joe Ledger series. I read the first, Patient Zero, after a plug by JD Rhoades. There are already three in the series.

Joe Ledger still works for the Department of Military Sciences (DMS) run by Mr. Church. The DMS and it's boss are very shadowy but have enormous pull within the Fed government. Ledger is a former Baltimore police detective, martial arts expert, and former Army commando. The rest of DMS's staff are all experts within their fields and super-commandos recruited from SEALs, Special Forces, and elsewhere.

This is set only a couple months or so after the first book. DMS is under assault by the NSA under orders of the Vice President who is in charge while the President is under surgery and in recovery. VP and a weaselly Senator want to shut down DMS. blah blah blah. Everything ties into Cyrus Jakoby's plan to use orally taken gene therapy that will take recessive genes common in certain human races and bring out those diseases. For example: Sickle cell for black people, Tay Sachs for Jewish people.

Ledger investigates. Ledger gets in many gunfights. Ledger punches and kicks. Ledger uses his knife. Ledger bangs Major WhatsHerFace. Bad guys have Nazi ties and are very wealthy and mysterious. Bad guys are genetically engineering animals and people. Bad guys are evil. Ledger and company attack the bad guys. Mysterious hitman appears. Mysterious background and powers of Mr. Church slightly revealed. Ledger and company attack more bad guys. Bad guys have massive underground complexes staffed with scientists and private army. Main bad guy is actually Josef Mengele. Many people die. Bizarre animals - mastiffs with scorpion tales - are defeated. Major WhatsHerFace is killed. Recurring characters in Ledger's DMS unit return, fight the bad guys, are wounded, survive. Open ended ending.

1. A fun read but a couple gun errors annoyed me.
2. This is part sci-fi and therefore suffers from sci-fi bloat at close to 500 pages long.
3. This is not a book you take too seriously and apply logic to. The hero is incredibly capable and durable. The DMS has unlimited capabilities for science, travel, and other resources. Things always go right with technology.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Listened to: "Safer" by Sean Doolittle

Listened to: Safer by Sean Doolittle, 2009, 9781423377443.

Good book.

Academic Paul Callaway follows academic wife from Boston to Clark Falls, IA in summer move. Paul is arrested for kid porn and kid rape during his and wife's December holiday party. Told in flashbacks and current time by Paul.

Paul and wife's home is burgled and invaded the night they move in. Paul joins local citizens' neighborhood patrol. Paul clashes with retired cop, Roger, from across the street whose son was abducted and killed 10 years ago. Roger is in charge of local neighborhood watch. Paul clashes with Roger. Clash goes on and Paul discovers massive surveillance equipment and files in Roger's house. Paul and Roger clash again and Roger tells him to move by Dec. 16.

Paul gets good lawyer and ignores most of that lawyers good advice. Paul discovers links among Roger's dead son, past resident of Paul's house, Roger's cop friends. Paul digs deeper and investigates. Paul works with local tv reporter eager for a scoop and a move to the Big City. Paul avoids death. Paul avoids death again. Happy-ish ending.

1. I was enjoying this until the characters started playing golf. Then they stopped playing golf and I enjoyed the story again.
2. Cops make great bad guys. Officers are trusted and relied on for honesty and duty - having an evil one is scary.
3. Thing that would make this book better: CDs did that do not hang up and skip on the very last 2-3 tracks. Three or four discs had damage on the reflective labels.
4. Paul is the dip-shit kind of hero who you yell at for being such a dip-shit. His dip-shitted-ness does get some answers. Paul's digging and questioning solves things and moves the story along.
5. Other adjectives I used to describe Paul: Dense. Myopic. Hot headed. Idiot. Big Mouth. Clueless. Heedless. Dumbass. Dope. Egotistical. Dip-shit. Naive. Asshole.
6. Doolittle puts the plot and story together really well. This is not the first time I have written that about a book.
7. I wish some of the bad guys had more interaction with Paul earlier in the story. You meet the guys earlier on but I did not feel as much impact when they show their true colors and interests.
8. I think Doolittle lives in Council Bluffs, IA. Clark Falls seems to be the fictional stand-in. I presume Doolittle caught some ribbing on that one.
9. No ribbing could be as bad as having to live in Iowa. Not just Iowa but Western Iowa. He's almost in Nebraska.