Saturday, December 31, 2011

Finished: "The Collaborator" by Gerald Seymour

Finished: The Collaborator by Gerald Seymour, 2009, 9781590204467.

Last finished book of the year unless I hide in some room during the upcoming New Years party and finish an audiobook. I thought this came out in 2011 or 2010. Another solid book by Seymour and long at 474 pages. Seymour needed all those pages to cover the many characters.

Eddie is a twenty-something underachiever and all-around average guy in London. While buzzed after lunch time beer and summer heat he meets and speaks to an Italian girl on a park bench. The girl asks him to clarify an English word's meaning. Eddie happens to be a a language teacher. They hit it off.

The girl is Immacollota and she is quite secretive. They spend lots of time together with plenty of sex. But, only at his place and Imm never tells him her phone or home. Immocolatta was born into a crime family in Naples. An unloving and ruthless crime family. All of Naples seems to be unloving and ruthless. The whole damn town is run by different crime families of massive wealth. None of the families much care for money - they can never freely go in public to spend it - they care for power and fear.

Imm learns her best and only friend has died. She secretly flies to Italy for funeral. The family assaults and spits on her. The daughter died of poisoning from the illegal toxic dumping her family made a fortune off of. Imm is shamed. Imm decides to turn sides and testify. The decision is not hard. There is no love in her family. That is born out after her family are arrested and dream of slitting her throat with a dull blade.

Imm skips out of London to turn evidence. Imm is a snot whose every wish has been accepted by a fearful public. She does not adjust well to protective custody. Eddie decides to quit his job and search for the suddenly missing Imm. Eddie flies to Naples. Innocent Eddie does not know Imm is a collaborator. Eddie is kidnapped to exert leverage on Imm.

Many more things happen. The Italian investigator and prosecutor have to learn if Imm will stick with it. They have to worry about the torture and death threats on Eddie. Imm's minders have to deal with her lousy behavior. An expert hostage negotiator has to work with the Italians. The grandparents who started the criminal family have to take over again when kids and grand-kids go in jail. Vicious criminals. Heartless criminals. A hitman who only feels emotion at the instant of a victim's death.

1. Recurring theme: SWAT guys who like to read about fancy new equipment.
2.This false issue of respect. The confusion [in my mind] of the Italians, and people in the U.S., that they are not given proper respect. They don't want respect, they want fear. They want groveling and begging. They want the power of life and death. Fear is not respect.
3. Never go to Naples.
4. The seeming futility of investigating and prosecuting a family when the many competing families just swoop in and take the territory.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Read: "Road to Perdition" by Max Allan Collins

Read: Road to Perdition by Max Allan Collins, 1998, 9780671009212.

I was reading the Collins blog and was reminded about the recent publication of the third entry in this series. I watched the flick a few years ago but figured to read the novel. Not necessary since the flick closely followed the novel.

Story recap: Michael Sullivan is muscle for a Tri-Cities (Quad Cities in present day) mobster family, the Looneys, in 1930. Sullivan has two kids and a wife. Sullivan seems like a good dad and husband but his ruthless efficiency (not quite fanatical devotion to the Pope and church) gave him the nickname "Angel" for Angel of Death. Oldest son Mike, Jr. hides in dad's car before dad leaves at night and witnesses a machine gun multiple murder. Looney Junior murders Sullivan's wife and younger son. Looney, Jr. wants to get rid of witness and mistakes younger kid for older kid. At the same time, Looney, Sr. sends Sullivan to a meeting that is a set-up for murder. Sullivan escapes, comes home, and finds Mike, Jr. Sullivan is out for revenge.

Revenge involves trying to convince Capone's outfit in Chicago to quit their partnership with the Looney family. Sullivan kills many people and visits small town banks to steal Capone money that is being laundered. Sullivan cuts deal with Ness to give evidence on Looney. Ness busts Looney Sr. Sullivan gets Looney, Jr. Things end badly for everyone.

1. I did not like the artwork; not my style. A notable point is that there is no detailed portrait of the dad's face until page 121. Every other page has his face obscured, "out-of-focus", or done with simple lines. The narrator, Mike, Jr., writes about how those several weeks on the run are more vivid than the time before. Sullivan's detailed portrait happens during their first trip to Chicago when he meets with Frank Nitti.
2. The dad's face is Montgomery Clift.
3. I skipped past Collins's intro but will likely read it because I always learn something when reading his commentaries.
4. I just read that Daniel Craig played the younger looney. I never noticed that.
5. An improvement over the novel was giving Jude Law's character a more prominent position and showing Sullivan afraid of him. Sullivan-in-the-novel is an unemotional killing machine. I remember the film took on Sullivan's combat veteran, PTSD problems that Collins explores with Quarry.
6. Sullivan is a creepy guy. You can argue that Sullivan's actions are keeping his son alive. But, at the same time, he is exposing his son to extreme danger and making him his driver and back-up gunman. I don't think the comic book novel format allowed Collins enough space to expand on the weird relationship between Sullivan and his son.
7. It's an incredibly sad story. Massive graft and corruption. Murder of a child and mother. Mike, Jr. goes through a lot of trauma and violence. Mike, Jr. forced to kill two people. Sullivan a messed up dude. Sullivan's Kansas relatives murdered. Sullivan murdered. Mike, Jr. ends up in an orphanage.
8. Collins did the comic book novel, was the movie's source, and wrote the tie-in.

Listened Into the Night: "Indigo Slam" by Robert Crais

Listened Into the Night: Indigo Slam by Robert Crais, 1997, downloaded off OverDrive.

Very good. Another Crais title where I stayed up late to listen. I usually only listen to audiobooks while walking for exercise or work, or when driving to a meeting. For this one I had a drink and sat to listen once the kids were in bed and unable to jump on my head.

Elvis Cole is in his office when three kids walk in. The oldest is a 15-year-old girl, a 12-year-old boy, and a 9 year-old-girl. I am guessing on the last two kids ages. They want to hire Cole to find their missing father. The dad left 11 days ago. The dad often leaves and the kids are left to fend for themselves. The kids leave upset. Cole decides to follow. Cole does not call any social services because the kids and house are clean and orderly and the kids go to school. Cole takes the case for two hundred bucks.

Cole looks. Cole tracks. Missing Dad is a heroin user. Cole goes to Seattle. Pike wears his sunglasses at night. Cole walks into trouble with Russian gangsters in Seattle. Missing Dad is a printer. Missing Dad is a forger. Missing Dad is wanted dead by Mean Russians. Missing Dad shows back up. Cole's girly-friend wants to move to L.A. Girly-Friend ex-husband is a dickhead with power. Ex-Husband causes trouble.

Missing Dad reappears. Reappearing dad is doped up. Cole warns of Mean Russians. Reappering dad disappears again. Cole tracks Missing Dad to Vietnamese guys looking to forge Vietnamese cash to damage Viet economy. Missing Dad has terminal cancer and is self-medicating with dope. Mean Russians appear in L.A. Mean Russians are nasty and violent. Blah blah blah. Pike carries his Colt Python. Shootout at a warehouse. Shootout at DisneyLand. Shootout in a condo. Everyone but the Russians live happily ever after.

1. Lovey-dovey action with Girly-Friend.
2. Pike's mouth twitches.
3. 12-year-old boy is bratty.
4. Local geography.
5. Cooking.
6. Angry cat.
7. Edit: Colt ended Python production in 1999. Prepare for sticker shock before looking at online prices.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Finished: "13 Million Dollar Pop" by David Levien

Finished: 13 Million Dollar Pop by David Levien, 2011, 9780385532532.

When I attended the Random House party at Bouchercon this past Autumn and sampled from the wonderful, wonderful open bar I spoke to David Levien and his pal, Some Tall Guy. Both Levien and Some Tall Guy were nice fellas and neither one told me to go suck eggs.

My conversation with Levien - also a screenwriter and movie maker - went something like this.
Levien: Ocean's Thirteen?
Me: Nope, never saw that one.
Levien: Rounders?
Me: Nope, never saw that one either.
Levien: Runaway Jury?
Me: Nope.
Levien: Walking Tall?
Me: Uh-uh.
Levien: Girlfriend Experience?
Me: No. [But I am fond of nudity in film.]
Levien: Knockaround Guys?
Me: I wanted to but didn't get to it. Is that the one in North Dakota?
Levien: Montana.
[I then went crazy on the free Dewar's.]

Anyway. This was a pretty decent novel. The third in Levien's Frank Behr series. Behr is a forty-something private eye in Indianapolis. Behr just took a job with a national PI firm called the Caro Group. Behr took the job for the steady paycheck since his younger girlfriend is pregnant. For years Behr worked for himself and he is chafing under the restrictions and instructions of the firm.

Behr fills in on a bodyguard job - really more of an Assistant With Gun job - for a local business guy. Murder attempt on business guy has Behr Glocking their way out of it. Behr is now loved at the firm but shut out of news about the murder attempt investigation. Behr does not like his job. Behr is bored. Behr is ornery. Behr starts digging into the attempt.

Business Guy is tabbed to fill in resigned Senator's slot the day after the attempt. Business Guy has a ties to a failed racino (horse racing and casino together) south of town. Levien simultaneously follows a Welshman who arranged the murder and the former business partner of Business Guy who is did the hitman hiring.

Behr digs. Behr gets too wrapped up in his work and does not communicate with girlfriend. Behr works out every morning. Behr tries to help cop and former Marine with War on Terror PTSD. Behr ignores his real job. Behr gets fired. Behr gets in fights during investigation. Behr keeps digging and talks to whores, does much surveillance from his car, talks to PTSD Cop.

Everything ends mostly happy after a nice gun fight and fist fight and some brutal murders by Welshman.

1. Welsh bad guy is thoroughly bad and villainous but he did not really grab me as a character.
2. CZ love. The 97 not the 75. Which, I just looked up, would probably run me about $650 OTD. I'm not really thinking about the RAMI anymore. The RAMI is not much smaller than my PCR.
3. Levien has plenty of MMA style fisticuffs.
4. Much local flavor.
5. Great line about whores in the morning but I don't have the book handy.
6. Written in many short chapters. Patterson length chapters.
7. Much mention of professional levels of skill and expertise in tradecraft. Levien did his research on all that stuff and it shows.
8. I would read Some Tall Guy's book but I cannot recall his dang name.
9. EDIT: Decker listens to a lot of metal music including Charred Walls of the Damned. No mention of nutsack lover Richard Christie.

Read: "All the Young Warriors" by Anthony Neil Smith

Read: All the Young Warriors by Anthony Neil Smith, 9781908688002 (kindle version), 2011.

What the fuck? How did a major publisher not buy this and give it a big media push? Smith said several publishers were interested but passed. Smith was going to try the small press route and went with e-publishing instead.

A snowstorm traffic stop in New Pheasant Run, MN leads to the murder of two police officers. One of those was the pregnant girlfriend of police detective Ray Bleeker. This makes Ray sad and angry. The investigation immediately leads to Adem, a Somali kid and local college student from the Cities. Adem's dad Mustafa shows up, worried about his missing son. Mustafa used to run a violent Somali gang in the Cities until he dropped out of gang life and got a job at Target.

Ray does not trust Mustafa and wants revenge on Adem and Adem's pal, Jibriil. Ray follows Mustafa. Ray rescues Mustafa from a beat-down. Mustafa is convinced to his bones that Adem was not the shooter or an active participant in the cop murders. Ray is on forced vacation - due to his girlfriend's murder - and very reluctantly teams with Mustafa to find out if Adem and his pal Jibriil really left town to fight in Somalia.

Adem did go to Somalia. He wanted to find his roots, follow Islam, and rescue Somalia from warfare. Jibriil wants to kill people, blow shit up, and boss people around. Adem does not fit in. Jibriil fits in and gets promoted.

Ray and Mustafa hits Mustafa's old gang haunts. Mustafa is a walking bulls eye after walking away from gang life. Ray's impatience and arrogance causes friction with Mustafa and trouble with Somali gang dudes. Shootout ensues in Eden Prairie and Ray slightly wounded.

Adem is hot for a local Somali girl. Adem misunderstands Somali Girl and wants to rescue her; you can see the trouble coming. Adem tries to desert. Jibriil saves him from execution and gets him a job as a negotiator between Somali pirates and ship owners.

Ray and Mustafa partner to go to Africa and rescue Adem. Ray just wants to kill Jibriil. Ray cashes in his savings and travels with Mustafa to Somalia. Trouble ensues. More trouble ensues. Bad guy contractors cause trouble. Adem is rescued. Adem demands to return to Mogadishu to rescue Somali Girl. Ray wants to go to Mogadishu to kill Jibriil. Adem is a 19-year-old nitwit. Ray is lost without his girl and job. More trouble ensues. More people die. Ending is slightly happy.

1. On the cover: "Smith writes with force and clarity." What the hell does that mean?
2. Smith really nailed the two setting in MN and Somalia. Adem felt left out as the black immigrant kid in Minneapolis but is completely out of place in bloodthirsty and merciless Mogadishu.
3. The would-be love affair between Adem and Somali Girl is a complete screw up by Adem. He is clueless to the culture clash. Somali Girl used to live in London and Adem cannot understand her adherence to the locals' bat-shit crazy strain of Islam.
4. The mismatch pairing of Mustafa and Ray works very well.
5. There is much more I could write but I won't. This was a very good novel.
6. I liked the Hi-Point insult.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Read: "Ring of Knives" by James Daniels

Read: Dead Man: Ring of Knives by James Daniels, 2011, 9781612187617.

Pretty good and pretty short. I suppose all of these will be short. I never heard of Daniels before.

Matt is driving to a mental hospital to visit a patient, JW. He found the guy's initials and case history in a library reference book. The pages of the book are in his hand, "and each had a ragged edge where he'd ripped it out of a book after being reminded by a snotty librarian that reference materials couldn't be checked out." That what photocopiers are for ASSHOLE!

The patient's actions after being stuck underground for days are remarkably similar to Matt's. Matt wants to find out if Mr. Dark haunts JW too.

Matt gets dropped off at the driveway and meets an angry woman with a taser. Matt walks to the state run hospital which is very run down and has incompetents for staff. Staff tell him his appointment does not exist and take a hike. Taser Lady works there, Matt covers for her latenes, Taser Lady sneaks him into the facility as a cleaner.

Matt finds evil doings. Matt fights evil doings. Matt learns more about Mr. Dark from JW's treating doctor who researched the issue. Matt kills bad guys. During painful electroshock Matt has vivid flashback to life with his dead wife.

Matt rescues a teen girl from evil dudes and sees Mr. Dark in the end. Matt hits the bricks.

1. I wonder what the required specs are for the writers. I also wonder how pay is structured. If life were fair a fellow like Reasoner would be selling as many books as Danielle Steel.
2. You know what a great line for these novels would be? "Then I will have to destroy you with the Frisbee of Doom!" They can have that one for free, courtesy of my five-year-old.
3. A medical reference book would list a patient's real initials? Bullshit.
4. One sex scene per book must be standard. I wonder what Faust will do with hers.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Quit Listening: "The Dark and Hollow Places" by Carrie Ryan

Quit Listening: The Dark and Hollow Places by Carrie Ryan, 2011, downloaded from OverDrive.

I did not like the narration. The previous two novels were sometimes difficult for me to finish because of the whiny, emotional teen girl leads. The narration amplified that.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Quickly Read: "Dead Man #1: Face of Evil" by Lee Goldberg and William Rabkin

Quickly Read: Dead Man #1: face of evil by Lee Goldberg and William Rabkin, 2011, eBook.

Typical Goldberg book. Fun and entertaining reading. I never read a Rabkin book before. Maybe this is typical for him, too. This was a quick read and I was wondering how many pages it runs. According to Amazon the paperback option is only 104 pages. I was thinking highly of my reading speed until I saw that.

Matt is a widower in Oregon who mostly stays at home or works at the local sawmill. His best pal is ne'er-do-well Andy. Matt is chastely dating Rachel because he is still stuck on his dead wife. Rachel is stuck on Matt. Well, she wants to be stuck by Matt. Matt and Rachel go on a skiing weekend where Rachel plans to jump Matt's bones. Instead, an avalanche buries Matt.

Matt is dug out three months later, sent to the morgue, and found to be alive when the autopsy starts. Matt then hooks up with Rachel. Andy inherited Matt's house. Matt is hallucinating - well, not really. Matt sees Andy as having rotting skin. Rachel tells Matt to stop trying to save Andy. Andy slaughters his co-workers at Happy Burger. Matt rescues lumber mill manager from Andy. Devil who has been appearing to Matt makes manager kill a cop. Matt hits the bricks to keep trouble from Rachel and try to stop the devil who calls himself Mr. Dark.

1. Nothing to read too deeply into here. Just enjoy the story.
2. Sex scenes.
3. Character who enjoys farting in the tub. While she masturbates. While her boyfriend watches and masturbates.

Read: "The End of Everything" by Megan Abbott

Read: The End of Everything by Megan Abbott, 2011, 9780316097796.

That was unsettling. And tense.

Neighbors Lizzie and Evie are 13-years-old circa 1989. They have been best pals since they were four. Very best and inseparable pals with shared clothes, sleepovers, secrets, and other young girl obsessiveness. Evie goes missing and Lizzie is the one to clue the cops on who kidnapped her. Lizzie is narrator and struggling through the stress of Evie's abduction in a way unique to adolescent girls.

Lizzie's tip on a car she saw leads to Mr. Shaw from up the block. Shaw is missing and becomes the main suspect. Lizzie finds more evidence pointing to Shaw, moves the evidence, and pretends to find the evidence. Later, she speaks to Shaw's high school son. The son has his own reasons for talking to Lizzie but Lizzie takes his information and pretends a phone call from Evie to relay her location to the cops.

Evie is released and secrets are slowly revealed. People have changed. Things have changed. Secrets will still be kept. A lot goes on in the novel and I won't bother trying to list it all.

1. I've seen various descriptions about End. A mystery. Secrets of the "golden family" from next door. Phooey. This is a bildungsroman with creepy sexual overtones versus teenage romanticism.
2. Lizzie has a deep crush on Evie's dad that she does not fully understand. Her bodily and emotional reactions are new and confusing. The confusion mixes with the sexuality of her mother and her "secret" boyfriend, the commanding presence of Evie's older sister Dusty, fellow schoolmates gossiping about sex, and Lizzie's misunderstanding of Shaw as a man deep in love with Evie.
3. Lizzie's crush was creepy. The crush was not sweet or innocent or any other Hallmark bullshit. Evie's dad was creepy, too. I was expecting him to be sexually abusing Dusty who he is very close to before Evie disappears.
4. The flyleaf places this in the mid-'80s but the dialogue about LPs and CDs makes me think 1989.
5. Frustration while reading. The tension and mystery quickly build after Evie disappears. I wanted to skip ahead and find out what happens. But doing so would miss too much of the story. At the end of the novel I did scan ahead for a reveal and made myself back up to not miss anything.
6. I put this book off several times because I wanted to sit and read uninterrupted. Uninterrupted reading is very difficult when Boys #1 and #2 are awake and jumping on my head.
7. One of the many YA-style topics Abbott touches on is when the kid realizes an adult is cracking. When a powerful authority figure starts to fall apart.
8. Teen boys angry at moms. The obverse of the dads and daughters theme of the novel.
9. Obverse is a big word for such a small, snarky man, Gerard.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Finally Read: "Wolf: the lives of Jack London" by James L. Haley

Finally Read: Wolf: the lives of Jack London by James L. Haley, 2010, 9780465004782.

Finally finished. An okay book but not the revelation some reviewers seemed to think. London had a rough life for sure and his success was through hard work. You could draw parallels between London's experience and self-motivation with Bill Mauldin's rough childhood and moving around.

London's mother was pregnant by one man, gave birth, and married a Civil War veteran. London loved his step-dad but his mom was a harpy who spent money and gambled on business ventures. His mother had him working at an early age; a time that London referred to himself as the Work Beast.

London bummed around - literally. He caught trains and stayed in hobo camps. He traveled with a tramp army demanding jobs. At fifteen he bought a sailing ship for lucrative work stealing clams from the mud in San Francisco Bay. He did time for "vagrancy" in Buffalo.

London returned to the Eastern Bay and Oakland to finish high school. Gained admission to Berkeley after very, very, intensive study. Left Berkeley for want of money. Went to Alaska and Canada to prospect. Came back, started writing in earnest.

Basically, London did a lot. After his fame hit he did a nationwide speaking tour. Traveled on a war reporting job to Japan and Korea. Took the month long traveling vacations that seemed common 100 years ago. Banged a few chicks. Drank a lot. Etc. Interesting but nothing that really thrilled me.

London did produce a lot. He was dedicated to writing every morning and would put out 1000 words a day - even when voyaging to the South Seas and getting various tropical diseases. His death due to an overdose of morphine does sound accidental. He was in a lot of pain from bad diet, liver disease, rheumatism and other various issues. The guy burned out fast.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Listened: "Death of a Dude" by Rex Stout

Listened: Death of a Dude by Rex Stout, 1969, from

Archie is on summer vacation in Montana at a dude ranch owned by a friend from Manhattan, Lily Rowan. Lily's ranch manager is arrested for the murder of a visiting dude from St. Louis. The same dude who knocked up the manager's teenage daughter last year. Archie is sure the manager is innocent and decides to stay and investigate the case. He mails a letter Wolfe saying he will be indefinitely delayed in returning to Manhattan. Wolfe cannot cope without Archie. Wolfe actually packs up and flies to Montana.

Wolfe shows up and Archie immediately starts needling him. About his weight, having to shake hands, wearing a vest, etc. Wolfe's discomfort away from home is clear, and even worse, women are there. I'm sure academic papers have been written and deep fan discussions occurred on whether Wolfe is gay. I don't think so. I think he is just a curmudgeon.

Locals are not helpful to a "dude" and Archie has gotten nowhere in his investigation.. Archie gives Wolfe the verbatim replay of every interview Archie has had. Wolfe cogitates and grunts and inspects the larder. Wolfe works hard at being mannerly. The local Sheriff is incompetent. His Deputy is even dumber. Another man is killed and Archie is jailed. Everything turns out fine in the end. Wolfe gets to reveal all by announcing the killer and what happened to the Sheriff, Deputy and a cop from St. Louis.

1. The manager's daughter seduced and impregnated by the slick talking stranger. The poor innocent girl, cruelly taken advantage of. Oh. Really? How dated is that kind of thinking? Another topic for argument.
2. Archie's sex life is alluded to in the novels but never made clear. He could be a playboy or he could be a social butterfly.
3. Montana sounds nice in the summer. There was a job opening at Montana State University Northern in 2004 when I was job hunting. I never applied because it was too remote for traveling to visit family.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Listened: "Before Midnight" by Rex Stout

Listened: Before Midnight by Rex Stout, 1955 (according to wikipedia - which I refuse to capitalize), downloaded from OverDrive.

I was striking out on available audio titles on OverDrive. I had not listened to any Nero Wolfe stories in quite a while. Several years ago, in Kansas I think, I went through a bunch of the audiotapes. This digital copy was recorded off the cassettes and had prompts every thirty minutes to "Turn the tape over". My mind tends to wander when listening to these. I think Stout used a good amount of padding.

Archie wants to hit the town. He pesters Wolfe to try and get Wolfe to let him out early. Part of the conversation includes Archie telling Wolfe about a trivia contest sponsored by a perfume company. Archie fields a call from an advertising agency demanding access to Wolfe. The agency is in charge of the aforementioned trivia contest.

Writer of the contest clues is murdered after announcing to the five remaining finalists that he holds the answers in his wallet. dead guy's wallet goes missing. There are plenty of suspects for Archie to visit and Wolfe to be perturbed by. (What's a preposition?) The contest winners, angry husbands, and advert agency partners all had reason to get rid of the dead guy.

Archie investigates. Wolfe grunts. The cops are angry. The suspects are demanding, or wilting, or confident. All are gathered for a showdown in Wolfe's office. The bar in Wolfe's office is impressive. The bar in Wolfe's office helps lead to murder in his office. Wolfe is upset. The cops are upset. Many people are upset.

Wolfe hires the usual gang of on-call PIs to go to the ad agency and investigate deeper. The showdown takes place with all the advert agency partners. Justice is served. Wolfe gets a fat paycheck. Wolfe is fat.

1. Perturbed. That's a word from my parents.
2. There were a couple comments or events in the story that really dated this in the 1955 setting. I do not recall what they were.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Listened to: "Absolute Friends" by John Le Carre

Listened to: Absolute Friends by John Le Carre, Overdrive download, 2005.

The best thing about this book was the narration by Le Carre himself. The novel was dandy but a great narrator improves any book.

Ted Mundy's mother died during his birth in 1947 and he was raised by a Pakistanis nurse. Ted and his military officer father left Pakistan under scandal. Ted was mostly ignored by his drunken father and once they arrived back in England Ted was sent to boarding school. Boarding school brought abuse to a kid asking about mosque time, beating shoes and clothes for snakes, and other cultural differences. Ted found solace under the tutelage of a professor of German and his athletic prowess brought success.

Ted's father died when Ted was about 18 and he enrolled at Oxford. Taking a semester in West Berlin brought Ted into contact with Sasha. Ted had explored socialism and 1960s student demonstrations while pussy whipped to a German girl in England. He and Sasha become fast friends and Ted rescues the pugnacious, but small and physically deformed, Sasha from a police beatdown during a demonstration. Ted ends up deported and the bounces around different jobs.

Ted finds work with the government and marries. While escorting a traveling acting troupe through Eastern Germany he meets Sasha again. Sasha has Ted take classified into into West Berlin. Ted becomes a spy. Ted and Sasha meet often during Ted's work as a cultural attache until the wall falls. Sasha and Ted have a minor falling out and Ted starts a language school in Leipzig.

Ted and Sasha meet up present day. Sasha knows a guy who wants to fight against corporate control of education. Ted is recruited but is very suspicious. Things happen. Things end badly. After Sasha and Ted are murdered during a raid on "terrorists" their reputations are steamrolled by the government and private interests.

1. I once asked an English exchange student if "Paki" was really an insult. He was South Asian got pissed off at me. I was serious though, I had no idea.
2. The post-death character assassination of Ted and Sasha is thorough and without defense. That epilogue is the most distressing event of the novel.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Just Read: "Black Fly Season" by Giles Blunt

Just Read: Black Fly Season by Giles Blunt, 0399152555, 2005.

Much above average. I think this is third in the series set in Northern Ontario.

There is a lot going on in this novel. Murders, drug addicts, mental illness, murderous voodoo, regional bugs, biker gang, Indian-white relations, card reading, family issues, brain trauma, forensic sciences, bad cops. Blunt makes everything run smoothly and puts all these disparate elements together.

Local cop Cardinal gets involved with a "amnesia" case. The woman, Terri, was shot in the head by a .32 and suffered memory loss from brain trauma. While trying to track down Terri's identity - they do not even know her name yet - and find out who shot her, Cardianal and his gal partner Lisa Delorme find a mutilated and rotting body. The cases are connected.

An Indian named Red Cloud has come to town, impressed three local lowlifes with his fortune telling and charisma, has taken over part of the heroin trade, and is busy killing competition. One of the three lowlifes is the brother of the shot woman.

Things happen. A local RCMP trooper is a bad guy. Cardinal's wife's medication is failing and she is going into a manic phase and refuses to recognize it. Cardinal's daughter still won't speak to him. Delorme still has no boyfriend.

1. Fortune telling by card reading? Surely Sara Gran has read this one already.
2. Hey, you know who all these differently matched characters remind me of? Charlie Stella. There are 3-4 different story lines going together and all the characters are fully drawn.
3. Early in the novel Blunt has a 1.5 page section that perfectly and succinctly shows the relationship between Cardinal and his wife. Card's love and concern for her mental health. The wife's focus on her photography and teaching and her denial - or inability to recognize - her worsening condition.
4. Blunt also gives quick but thorough inside looks into a heroin drug addict, the murderous version of voodoo practiced by Red Cloud. Red Cloud is actually Cuban who came with the Mariel boatlift when he was 5-years-old.
5. Colt Police Positive love.
6. Black fly season in Northern Ontario is to be avoided. The little flies make no noise and swarm into to bite, bite, bite.
7. The second Blunt novel I have read and the second time a RCMP guy is a bad guy.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Read: "Nocturne" by Ed McBain

Read: Nocturne, by Ed McBain, 1995? (I cannot find the damn thing).

I brought this home after weeding it at work. There were a box full of McBains that had not circ'ed in years and I laid claim to them. I wanted to keep them on the library shelves but could not justify the space. It had been quite a few years since I had listened or read any of the series.

Carella and Hawes are working the nightshift and get a murder call. A woman in her 80s was shot dead in her apartment. Carella and Hawes investigate. I'll be honest I don't remember much about the whole story. The woman used to be a famous pianist, born in Russian (Ukraine?) and praised throughout Europe. At her death she was an alcoholic living in a cheap apartment with no friends and estranged relatives.

Carella and Hawes try to figure out what happened. A burglary? Maybe.

Granddaughter of woman sings in hotel bar and has two boyfriends her share her. Granddaughter gets message from her dead grandmother to check a locker at the bus station. The boyfriends check it out and find about $100,000 or so. They keep $95,000 and give $5,000 to gal. Gal investigates expecting more money. Gal's investigation and Carella's lead to guy who shot her.

Guy Who Shot Her is also an immigrant.
Guy Who Shot Her made friends with Old Lady. Old Lady asked him to kill her. She was arthritic and no longer able to play piano and just had word a brain tumor was going to take her hearing.

Was there a subplot? I don't recall anything beyond Carella's son being sick. Oh, yeah now I remember. Fat Ollie Weeks catches a call after a hooker and drug dealer are murdered. Ollie is such a fucking scumbag. He is also a great detective. I liked the subplot of three prep school kids, all named Richard, who come to the city 1) Meet a drug dealer names Richard, 2) Kill a hooker and dispose of body with help of Drug Richard, 3) Kill Drug Richard, 4) Head back to school leaving enough witnesses and physical evidence for, 5) Weeks to waddle into the school chapel during choir practice. I liked the subplot better.

1. I always like when McBain refers to himself in novels. This novel has a part where the rear of a limo is filled with feathers. The event reminds a couple cops of The Birds. McBain fits in a couple conversations by different characters that go roughly like this:
1st guy: "You know, that movie Hitchcock wrote."
2nd guy: "I don't think Hitchcock wrote it."
McBain, of course, wrote The Birds under his real name.
2. Another novel has characters discussing Hill Street Blues and the show's incredible similarity to the 87th Precinct and the cops working there. The characters, if I remember correctly, think about how maybe they should sue somebody over the similarities.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Finished: "The Burning Lake" by Brent Ghelfi

Finished: The Burning Lake by Brent Ghelfi, 2011, 9781590589250.

The one main thing I disliked about this novel is that the damn thing ended. I'd been waiting to read this, the fourth Volk novel, and then it goes too fast. I think I liked the previous three better but this was still fine and dandy.

Ghelfi always ties in current Russian craziness and crime to his novels. Ghelfi has incorporated Chechnya, declassified documents, oil interests, graft, prostitution, porn, corruption, and art smuggling. Burning covers the popular Russian past-time of murdering journalists.

Kato was a muckraker journalist who worked Chechnya and political corruption. She was on a story about nuclear fallout and pollution when she was murdered. Kato's murder saddened Volk since Volk first met and banged her in Chechnya. Ever since then Volk was her number one confidential source on Chechen massacres, murders, corruption, etc.

Volk has three concerns. One, he was wants revenge for Kato's murder. Two, he wants to protect his secret about being her informant. Three, his current girlfriend, Valya, doesn't know he was occasionally shagging Kato on the side. Turns out that The General who Volk reports to also wants to know what happened to Kato and assigns Volk to the task.

Volk sees Kato's body. Volk finds out other bodies in the grave were not there at the same time. Ghelfi simulataneously follows a US private military contractor who was involved in Kato's murder and is trying to piece together the "why" for his own gain. Digging and violence from both characters.

Kato was investigating the nuclear pollution in remote Russia. A nuclear waste site so hot with radiation that the lake bed dump site dried up all the water. Early deaths from radiation poisoning. So on, so forth. Violence ensues. Some sex. Sneakiness and subterfuge. Powerful interests keep secrets by killing people. An evil and dangerous Frenchman. Military contractor paid big bucks for dirty work.

1. I just looked through my past notes on Ghefli books. This novel was not as intricate as those.
2. This novel was published by Poisoned Pen Press. Did Ghelfi's previous publisher drop him? Life is unfair because these should be bestsellers.
3. Poisoned Pen Press cover art almost always blow donkey dick. They should try a new graphic artist.
4. Not as much SIG-Sauer love as in previous books.
5. Valya barely appears in this book.
6. The General is not the oppressive presence he has been before.
7. With Volk out of the crime lord business and no longer running whores and online porn the novels have changed a fair amount.

Quit: "Depths" by Henning Mankell

Quit: Depths by Henning Mankell, 2004, 9781595580894.

I tried this out after some personal and online recommendations but could not get into the story.

The North Atlantic interests me. Rolling seas and overcast skies with nothing in sight. No ships, no signs of land, no birds. I liked the cover photo that gives that same feeling.

After a few pages the story did not interest me and the writing - or translation - did not grab me at all. I set the book aside and never got back to reading it so I checked it back in. I have really enjoyed the Kurt Wallender novels. So it goes.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Crap Narration: "Accident" by Linwood Barclay

Crap Narration: Accident by Linwood Barclay, 2011, Overdrive download.

I was searching through Overdrive last night wanting to find something to listen on the drive to WLA in Milwaukee. I decided to try this out. The story seemed okay but I had to quit after less than 30 minutes from the emoting narrator.

Listened: "Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter" by Tom Franklin

Listened: Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter by Tom Franklin, 2010, Overdrive download.

Pretty decent but I don't know why it received as many awards as it did. I stayed interested throughout and when I was listening in the gym I paused a few times to focus on the story. But, I'm not sure if it is worth the multiple awards received.

Larry Ott is a loner by circumstance in rural MS. He was lonely as a kid and when in high school was suspected of murder after the disappearance of a girl he took on a date. Silas Jones is the local constable and has avoided Larry for the past 20 years. Larry is white and Silas is black and they were pals as kids. Secret pals. They never spoke at school and, once Silas moved away, they never hung out again. Race relations were not happy in late '70s, early '80s MS enough for black and white kids to hang out together at school.

Secrets come out as the story moves on. In the present day a local teen girl home from the U of MS has gone missing. Scary Larry is on everyone's suspect list. Silas got to know Larry pretty well and figures he's innocent of the second girl. Silas's own secret means he knows Larry is innocent of the first girl - but Silas has never said a word out loud about that.

Story follows from both Silas and Larry's POV. Larry is all alone. He has no friends and his only relative, his mother, has Alzheimer's. His car repair business has had no customers since he took over from his father about 15 years ago. He survives by selling off bits of the family's acreage to the local logging concern. His only interaction is with employees at KFC and the cashiers at WalMart. At one point Wallace Stringfellow - local boozer, user and loser - shows up and Larry seems to have a pal.

Silas is still famed for his baseball playing in high school and college. He's still called by his jersey number, 32, more then by his real name. He bounced around a bit playing baseball at U of MS, joined the Navy, was a campus cop in Oxford, and then took the hometown constable job. His mom is dead and he's mostly alone, except for a new girlfriend.

Things happen. Larry is shot in his home. Silas does seemingly unrelated police work. Flashbacks occur with Silas and Larry. Silas and his mom living in a dirt floor cabin on the Ott property. Larry coming out to make friends with Silas. Events, clues, and characters in the book tie up in the end.

Happy ending except for a massive dog bite, shoot-out, and dead Stringfellow.

1. Very good narration.
2. Not so much a crime novel as a story about two guys growing up in the post civil rights era South.
3. I never heard of spelling Mississippi by saying crooked letter for the S.
EDIT 4 November 2014. 4. In retrospect I think that this novel was pretty damn good. Franklin really takes you into the characters and the setting.  I read this three years ago and still recall quite a bit of the story and several notable events in the characters lives.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Just Finished: "Flaming London" by Joe R. Lansdale

Just Finished: Flaming London by Joe R. Lansdale, 2005, 1596060255.

This library copy looks to be signed by the Kung-Fu-Ness himself. This was short at 176 and 1/2 pages but still filled with Lansdale goodness.

Flaming follows Zeppelins West with a freshly sobered Mark Twain leaving North Africa for Spain to visit Jules Verne. On the way to Verne's house Twain discovers a seal with a metal box on his head. This is Ned the Seal from Zeppelins. He survived a shark attack and washed ashore covered in shark bites and wishing for fish to eat.

Twain brings Ned to Verne and they get him healed up. Ned wants fish. Simultaneously, cylinders fired from cannons on Mars, and filled with green, tentacled Martians, are landing across the globe. The Martians emerge from their cylinders and start driving around tripod robots and killing people. Ned wants fish.

Twain, Verne and Ned flee. The trio escape in helium balloon. Ned is hungry for fish. Trio land on island. Trio free Sitting Bull and Cat (both from Zeppelins) and a few others from pirates. Rips in time have parallel worlds exchanging people and beasts. Including a huge ape man name Rikwalk. They all escape and land in England. Trio and a few others decide to look for HG Wells. Ned looks about for fish.

Martians have killed most and destroyed most. Ned needs fish. Fighting ensues. Group is separated. Group reunites. Martians are dying from infection. Ned wonders if the octopus like Martians taste like regular octopus. Ned prefers fish. Even rotting fish.

HG Wells builds time machine and group prepares to set off and fix rips in time and space.

1. Ned likes fish and seal sex.
2. Many mentions of assholes. Both literal and figurative.
3. This Halloween candy I am eating as I type is not very good. What mass produced candy is?
4. Not as much dick talk as in Zeppelins.
5. Silliness and humor like all Lansdale novels I have read.

Read a Few Days Ago: "Beat to a Pulp" edited by David Cranmer and Elaine Ash

Read a Few Days Ago: Beat to a Pulp: volume one edited by David Cranmer and Elaine Ash, 2010, 9780615388243.

This is a well rounded list of pulp with more than just crime stories. There is science fiction, pirates, stuff I don't recall. 27 stories off the online magazine I never read. Bill Crider wrote a foreword and I skipped it. Ha! I'm done being your dancing monkey, Crider! (Except for compulsively checking the blog and reading about Sheriff Rhodes.)

I suppose I should list a few favorite stories. Let me take a quick flip through the pages.

Hell, I don't know. One story had a guy trying to stimulate a dead man's prostate while his girlfriend tried to get pregnant. I don't recall the author.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Finished: "Choke Hold" by Christa Faust

Finished: Choke Hold by Christa Faust, 2011, 9780857682857.

I was hesitant to read this novel because it's predecessor, Money Shot, was so damned good. Faust has written plenty of novels before so I wasn't worried about a sophomore slump. But, Money Shot was so damned good. This was just as good.

Angel Dare is working in a roadside diner near Yuma when an old porn boyfriend walks in. Boyfriend - with a huge schlong - recognizes her right off. Angel had been in witness protection after the last novel but skipped when the evil Croatian guy tracked her down to Massachusetts.

Boyfriend With Huge Schlong is in the diner by chance; he is there to meet his long lost son. Boyfriend With Huge Schlong is soon shot down by young Latino gangbangers. Angel, Boyfriend With Huge Schlong's son, Cody, drag Boyfriend With Huge Schlong out to the SchlongMobile and take off. Boyfriend With Huge Schlong dies but not before getting Angel to promise to watch after 19 year old Cody. Cody and Angel head to friend of Cody's, Hank. Hank is Cody's MMA trainer and sort-of-foster dad. Hank has dementia pugilistica and suffers migraines and frequent memory lapses.

Angel is afraid for her life and thinks the shooters may have been from the Croatian. Or were they after Schlongster? Who were they? Adventures ensue.

Angel and Hank head to Mexico to rescue Cody who seems to be kidnapped by illegal fight organizer and drug smuggler Cody has been working for. Shoot-outs happen. Blood sprays. Angel rides Cody's own Huge Schlong. Hank is told by smuggler to kill Cody With Huge Schlong. Hank doesn't Smuggler and others arrive. Violence ensues.

Cody With Huge Schlong, Hank, and Angel head to Vegas and the hoped for safety of an MMA reality tv show Cody With Huge Schlong expects to be on. Bad Croatians track them down. Violence ensues. Cody With Huge Schlong bangs stripper while sucking her toes. Trio arrive in Vegas. Croatians follow. Violence ensues. Angel, Cody With Huge Schlong and Hank captured. Only Angel survives.

1. Angel still has emotional issues. She is great at fucking but the before and after emotions are alien to her and she does not want to explore them. Angel prostitutes herself to a couple times. Tto her that is self-preservation and work and nothing to be ashamed of.
2. Issue of porn stars and self-hatred addressed. Angel enjoyed her work and the porn business and the friends she had before she went into protection. But, Angel is also blowing smoke because she is a bit damaged from her own rough family past and inability to love someone.
3. Plenty of MMA detail and information. Training, vitamin supplements, pain killers, ugly t-shirts. Faust wrote before about the research she did on this and she put that information in here.
4. Faust keeps the action rolling along in what is - if I remember correctly - a 72 hour period of time.
5. Angel gets hard for Hank but pushes herself away because she 1- Wants to get away and hide again, 2- Unwilling to try a relationship. Hank is also very clingy and unable to get erection.
6. Schlong, schlong, schlong.
7. Great line by Angel that explains her actions and the whole book, "Look, there are no good guys here," I said. "You do what you have to."

Friday, October 21, 2011

Listened: "The High King" by Lloyd Alexander

Listened: The High King by Lloyd Alexander, date - heck if I know, download.

Finale of the Prydain series and the longest and most dramatic novel of the five. Many deaths in this novel but Alexander continued with the lack of blood and detail.

Taran is traveling home to Caer Dalben after the events of Wanderer when his crow arrives to tell him Eilonwy has returned. He rushes home, eager to propose. Proposal is delayed when Fflewddur arrives with an injured Gwydion. Fflewddur and Gwydion were ambushed by a Arawn who was disguised as Taran and beset by huntsmen. Gwydion enchanted sword [whatever] is stolen.

Gwydion must regain the sword, it's power cannot be used by Arawn. Arawn is also building up for an invasion of Prydain. All of them including Gurgi and Carl, but excluding Dolben, must travel to help. Mag from Castle of Llyr reappears as Arawn's employee who thinks he is a partner. Group is reunited after defeat of Mag. They must all travel to other kingdoms to recruit troops. Fighting happens.

Things happen. Journeys are traveled. Taran travels back to the Free Comots to recruit troops. The Comot men follow Taran because he is Taran. After recruiting through the winter Taran meets up at Gwydion's castle. Another king has turned traitor and allied with Arawn. Fighting happens, castle is taken.

The resulting attack splits the troops. Taran is to follow and harry Arawn's living dead soldiers, the Cauldron-Born. Meanwhile Gwydion will approach Arawn's kingdom from the sea. Much fighting happens. Animals join the fight. Comot character from Wanderer dies. Carl dies. Many more die. Arawn defeated.

Taran is very happy, happy, joy, joy. Gwydion annoucnes all the Sons of Don must now leave Prydain for the Summer Country since Arawn is now defeated. Taran has mixed feelings. Taran announces he will stay in Prydain. All others are leaving and will never return. Eilonwy renounces her inherited powers of enchantment and stays to marry Taran.

1. Much more of an adult novel. The novels have progressed in topic matter as Taran has aged from about 13-years-old until the end of High King when he is about 20.
2. Still no detail about battles and violent death. Little word about blood and screaming.
3. Very chaste romance between Taran and Eilonwy.
4. [Incisive comment comparing the Welsh origins of Prydain versus Lord of the Rings.]
5. I've never read Lord of the Rings.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Finished: "The Girl on the Fridge" by Etgar Keret

Finished: The Girl on the Fridge by Etgar Keret, 1992 and 1994 (2008 first edition US), 9780374531058.

What is it about these stories that are so interesting? So entertaining? So oddly compelling? Keret packs all sorts of unpleasantness into the stories. Unrequited love, spousal abuse, drug abuse, suicide, depression, horrible parents, casual violence, sudden tragedy.

Each story could make me feel like a black hole but don't. Some stories end without any happiness but Keret's black humor almost always overpowers the depressing bits. These stories do not have as many fantastical elements as those in Nimrod Flipout.

These are earlier stories, some are probably over twenty years old. Keret even then wrote very pithy tales. A couple pieces in here are no longer than half a printed page. His stories are poetic in length and their concise and perceptive views of events, people, and situations.

Listened to: "Taran Wanderer" by Lloyd Alexander

Listenend to: Taran Wanderer by Lloyd Alexander, 1967, download.

Fourth in the series. Taran has matured and so has the story. The first novel had Taran at about 14 years old. Taran must be about 17-18 now and is yearning to find his true parentage. Eilonwy is still gone at "finishing school". Taran asks the wizard Dolbin of Taran's parentage and Dolbin says he has no clue. Taran still deeply wishes to be of royal blood, to be worthy and acceptable to a princess like Eilonwy. Taran decides to start searching (figuratively and literally). Taran and Gurgi hit the bricks. Or they would if the roads were paved.

Taran and Gurgi travel to swamp with witches from Black Cauldron. Taran is thinking to ask if the witches can tell him who he is. One says the only hope is a enchanted mirror in the mountains that shows people who they are. Taran sets off.

Adventures ensue. Taran and Gurgi meet up with the bard. Taran and company come across the dwarf who has been turned into a toad. Taran and company defeat the wizard who had enchanted the dwarf. Taran is no longer an Assistant Pig-Keeper and, since he has no name for his father, calls himself Taran the Wanderer.

Taran meets a farmer at a beaten down farm who claims he is Taran's father. Farmer says Taran's mother died in childbrith amd, unable to care for a child and operate a farm one-handed, the guy gave Taran to Dolbin as Dolbin traveled through.

Turns out farmer was lying to get Taran to stay and help with run down farm. Guy dies. Taran feels awful. He never wanted to stay. He did not want to be a farmer's son. He stayed anyway and when the farmer's life was in danger Taran still stayed rather than fleeing the farming valley at the first opportunity.

More things happen. Adventures are adventurous. Taran briefly apprentices at three trades in an effort to find what he wants to do in his life. Taran helps town fight off a bandit who bested him earlier. Taran finds mirror and sees himself. Mirror was a still pool of cave water and nothing more. Taran accepts who he is.

1. The core of the story is personal identity and value of each person as an individual. Taran runs across people who judge others based on wealth or class. He then meets people who care for none of that and are content to be themselves.
2. The concept of freedom and government. That a king who imposes his will gets nowhere and has to be wanted. Other communities have no king and cherish their freedom.
3. The value, or not, of possessions and labor. Of friendship and loyalty.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Quit: "The Ice Master" by Jennifer Niven

Quit: The Ice Master: the doomed 1913 voyage of the Karluk by Jennifer Niven, 2000, 0786865296.

I read a recent review about a new Niven book and did an author search and found this. I really enjoyed the Arctic setting of The Terror and tried this.

Niven did a lot of work and research on this but the story was taking too long to get anywhere. There were many elements for a good story in here. Conflict between the crew and scientists. A negligent Norwegian heading the expedition. A capable and stout captain. Rebellious scientists wanting to strike out on their own. Awful weather conditions and dangerous ice that quickly breaks apart. So on. So forth.

One interesting part of the story is when the crew and scientists - almost all of which had no Arctic experience - have to traverse the massive ice flow they are stranded upon. The men have to bring everything of value and are doing so on heavy wooden sleds. Jagged pressure ridges of ice as high as 70 feet have to be crossed. Ice leads cause long delays as teams would try to find paths around.

Improper gear hampers their efforts and leaves their clothes wet from sweat and freezing as they cool. The dogs are highly valuable as labor and possible emergency provisions but are vicious and kill one another. The cold leaves men with frozen feet, fingers and faces.

The story just drug on too long. I quit a little before halfway. Niven did some fine research with primary and secondary materials. She relies on several diaries and after action reports by those involved.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Raptly Listened To: "The Sentry" by Robert Crais

Raptly Listened To: The Sentry by Robert Crais, 2011, Overdrive download.

Very, very good. I made time to listen to this rather than just walking to home or work. I enjoy the Pike novels more than the Cole novels. This one is more 65% Pike and 35% Cole and that was an excellent mix.

Pike is gassing up his jeep when he sees a couple gangbangers strolling along. Pike uses his Pikesense and knows they are up to no good. Pike interrupts a beatdown and pounds one of the gangbangers. Rescued restaurant owner wants Pike out and cops out. Owner's niece is hot. Pike digs her. Restaurant is vandalized. Pike asks Niece out. Pike says everything will be okay. FBI get involved as part of gang investigation.

Everything is not okay. Niece and Owner disappear and are assumed abducted by the gangbangers. Pike is hot for the girl. Rescueing people is something Pike does. Pike goes forward. Cole helps out.

Pike is tough. Pike is smart. Pike goes jogging at 3 AM. Pike has night sweats. Pike loves his Colt Python. Cole drives his Corvette. Cole sweet talks women. Cole cracks jokes. Cole worries over Pike. Mysterious bad guy named Daniel is hunting Owner and Niece and hears voices in his head. Crais wears ugly shirts.

Pike and Cole figure things out. Niece and Owner were not kidnapped. Niece and Owner are not niece and uncle; not unless they are incestuous. Niece and Owner have mysterious past. Niece and Owner stole $16 million from Bolivian drug lords. Daniel is an unknown wild card killing people. Daniel kills many gangbangers and kidnaps Niece. FBI are not really FBI. Showdown between Pike/Cole and Daniel leaves Owner dead. Niece wants to split with the money. Niece raises gun at Pike. Cole shoots and kills Niece.

Cole is sad. Pike is sad. Pike kills fake FBI guy. Cole and Pike solidify bromance. Cole and Pike have ro-man-ce. Cole and Pike stare at hawks in sky.

1. Pike engenders respect and admiration from many. Pike is scary but respectful of people and who they are. Pike is zen-like with little that bothers or concerns him. He's not a dick but he is a dangerous guy.
2. Pike is the name of a guy inducted into Corvette Hall of Fame. Is there is a connection?
3. Los Angeles street name love.
4. Los Angeles geography love.
5. I recently read how many authors have a secondary character who takes care of all the "bad" stuff. Characters like Pike, Hawk, and others I have never read. In Cole novels Pike is a mysterious killer for good. A dark angel of death. A [something else overwrought and dramatic]. Crais made a good decision to show Pike from Pike's POV.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Finally Finished: "The Spirit Box" by Stephen Gallagher

Finally Finished: The Spirit Box by Stephen Gallagher, 2005, 9781596060173.

Meh. I had to force myself to finish this. Gallagher drags things out into 276 pages and could have cut this down quite a bit.

John Bishop is an Englishman in North Carolina who has spent the last three years working to develop a large company that does medical and biological research. Bishop's three year commitment is finished and he and his family are packing up to return to LimeyLand. Bishop's wife is already overseas and his daughter announces she just swallowed a bunch of pills. Bishop rushes her to the hospital. Daughter dies anyway.

Bishop gets a message that bio samples have been stolen. Included is a message from one of the suspected thief's phone in a voice Bishop thinks is his dead daughter asking for help. Bishop knows he is being irrational, he knows his daughter is dead. Bishop also knows he is avoiding reality and running from grief. Bishop chases after the thieves anyway and finds out the girl from the message is in a bad way. Girl thief stole samples by swallowing them.

Bishop avoids his wife's phone calls. Bishop searches for the drudge work employees who worked together to steal the samples. One drudge guy, Cyrus, is convinced the stolen samples are not just a fire sale, bulk buy from the the Russians probably worth nothing Cyrus is stupid, convinced and violent. Cyrus kills a co-conspirator who takes girl to hospital. Cyrus kidnaps girl from hospital. Bishop follows.

Blah, blah, blah. The book took even longer than the damn recap and I did not even give a full recap.

1. Skip it.
2. There are good parts but not enough of them.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Listened: "Vanilla Ride" by Joe R. Lansdale

Listened: Vanilla Ride by Joe R. Lansdale, 2009 (for hardcover), downloaded from Overdrive.

Great narration of another great Hap and Leonard novel. Everything Lansdale writes is quotable.

Hap and Leonard are asked by former cop Marvin to rescue his granddaughter from a her abusive, drug-dealing boyfriend. Wise cracks happen. Hap and Leonard drive over to a piss-pot East Texas town. Hap and Leonard beat up boyfriend and his pals. Wise cracks happen. Hap and Leonard bring Gadget (her nickname) home.

Hap and Leonard learn the boyfriend was a seller for some nasty Dixie Mafia types. Dixie Mafia angry over the beating and loss in income. Hap and Leonard learn Dixie Mafia will be gunning for them. Wise cracks happen. Big, exciting car chase and violent shoot-out occurs. Hap is guilty over his murderous rage during the shoot-out. Hap and Leonard are offered deal by cops to rescue a 19-year-old son of a Dixie Mafia kingpin so kingpin will provide evidence. Wise cracks happen.

Hap and Leonard recruit a friend and Marvin recruits Tonto. Tonto is a big, big dude who kills for a living and talks with a boy's voice. Tonto is scary in his casual killer way. Wise cracks ensue. Boy and girl rescued from some scary killers and one BIG dude. Boy and girl and Tonto are sneakily killed. Wise cracks are a bit sadder.

Hap and Leonard square things with cops. Hap and Leonard gun for the hired, sneaky, woman killer named Vanilla Ride who did in the boy, girl and Tonto. Wise cracks happen. Big shootout ensues. Wise cracks happen. Hap is maudlin again but his hot girlfriend cheers his penis up.

1. Gratuitous references to Kasey Lansdale singing career and Back of My Smile CD.
2. Gratuitous reference to Joe R. Lansdale's kung-fuey school.
3. Gratuitous reference to Robert E. Howard.
4. Gratuitous reference to Robert E. Howard's home and suicide. Wise cracks happen.
5. Hap is regretful of his life of action. He does not like to hurt people. He likes killing people even less. Except for when Hap does like killing people, and then he just feels guilty.
6. Leonard is more sad over his bad luck love life. Leonard gets something going and it falls apart. The last fall being his boyfriend trying to find Jesus and cure his gayness. Leonard deals with this in a typically Leonard way by shitting on their bed. Literally shitting on the bed.
7. Wise cracks happen.
8. Great series.
9. Gratuitous Dr. Pepper abuse.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Read: "Set the Night of Fire" by Libby Fischer Hellman

Read: Set the Night on Fire by Libby Fischer Hellmann, 2010, 9780984067664.

I was in an elevator at Bouchercon tucking in my shirt. The car stops with my hands in my pants and Hellmann walks in. "You caught me tucking in my shirt, I figured I should look more presentable." Hellmann said I look fine. So, I checked out one of her books.

A 1960s flashback novel also set in present day Chicago. A convicted killer, Dar, is released in present day Illinois and contacts some old colleagues. The colleagues are old hippie friends circa '68 convention and other uproars.

A modern day 40-year-old's, Lila, father is one of those friends. Lila's father and twin brother die in a house fire after the convict pays a visit. Lila thinks the fire is suspicious but has no proof and she may be mistaken. But, someone tries to gun her down on the street. Dar is following her and fearful for her safety.

Dar and Lila eventually meet after an explosive, literally, attempt on Lila's life. Flashback incurs to Dar and friends in late sixties into 1970 Chicago with Dar and two pals bombing a department store and accidentally killing Dar's girlfriend and Lila's mother.

Last 1/5 of 1/6 of story kinda peters out for me as Lila, Dar and others figure out who is to blame.

1. I picked this off the new shelf - I ordered it late - and was immediately drawn in by the writing and story. Hellmann uses a lot of short sentences mixed in with a few long ones. I liked that pacing.
2. After all is revealed about Lila's parentage and such I thought the tracking of the killers was a little boring. The hired killer was not scary to me.
3. Hellmann's books circ well here.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Listened: "Castle of Llyr" by Lloyd Alexander

Listened: Castle of Llyr by Lloyd Alexander, look up the publication year yourself, downloaded from Overdrive.

The series continues with the same fantastic narrator. James Langton does such a great job. Langton has real good range for voices and his women characters are not whiny.

Taran and Gurgi are assigned by Dalben to escort Eilonwy to another kingdom for Eilonwy to learn how to be a princess and lady. Taran and co. catch a ship "commanded" by young Prince Rhun. Rhun is a young bumbler and klutz but brimming with good cheer and enthusiasm.

Taran is approached by a disguised Prince Gwydion who says Eilonwy is in danger and Taran needs to help protect her. Eilonwy is kidnapped anyway. Search group is organized and Taran finds the hosting king plans to wed Eilonwy to his son, Rhun. Taran saddened. Taran promises to watch over Rhun since Rhun is a clueless klutz.

Things happen. Adventure occurs. Danger arrives. Peril is perilous. Taran and co. eventually track down Eilonwy and find Gwydion. Eilonwy was captured by the evil sorceress Achren. Taran and co. infiltrate the dilapidated castle housing Achren. Taran and co. rescue Eilonwy. Achren defeated and powers are gone. Eilonwy communicates her feelings about Rhun, marriage, ladyhood, etc. to Taran. The end.

1. Yeah. That Eilonwy is an ideal chick for a young dude. She is both pretty and feminine but also adventurous.
2. The violence in this bloodless. Enemy are cut down but no bodies, hacked limbs, spraying blood, etc.
3. Perilous peril: gigantic mountain lion capturing Taran and co., giant stuck cave wants to kill one of them to make a potion to shrink himself, Achren puts Eilonwy under spell that makes her forget her past, near drownings.
4. Taran and co. are always referred to throughout the series as "companions" and "the companions".
5. Currently listening to Lansdale's Vanilla Ride.
6. My eight-year-old keeps climbing on my head, "I like to bug you."

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Listened: "Chasing the Devil" by David Reichart

Listened: Chasing the Devil: my twenty year quest to capture the Green River Killer by David Reichart, 2004 (audio), downloaded from

Quite good. I was trying to find the pub date and saw this was a finalist for an Audie in 2005. I like that the narrator, Dennis Boutsikaris, was very straightforward in his reading. Boutsikaris did not employ much emotion; he just presented the story.

One thing that Reichart really focuses on is the officers' compassion. This was a twenty year hunt and the officers were always thinking of the victims. An important point to make is that Reichart never uses a word other than prostitute. He never says whore, hooker, or anything else. No pejoratives at all. He addresses victims' circumstances but always focuses on the fact they were victims. Murder victims. Whether they had drug problems, family problems, money problems, whatever and however they got in the life did not matter. They had families and dreams and expections.

Was the investigation botched? How else and what else could they have done? Reichart was a new detective when the first bodies were discovered in and alongside the Green River. He was the lead investigator for years and at the center of the multi-jurisdictional task force. They had 40,000 tip sheets and 17,000 suspects. They talked to everyone they could on the strip. The sheriff mentions how the people they talked to often did not want to talk since they were hooking or pimping and feared legal trouble from the police. Witnesses were the homeless and drug addicts who could not remember the previous day let alone what happened to a missing hooker 30 days ago. Heck the the victims were hookers. They dealt with lots of people. People who also feared the police and possible damage to their reputations and family life.

Many of the women worked under multiple names. Unknown multiple names caused confusion in the case. Police knew "Jane" was missing and "Sue" was missing but had no clues that this was one woman using two names. The work was transient and police had trouble identifying who was missing.

Reichart addresses how important their evidence collection was in the 1980s. They collected and saved everything at the crime scenes. The cotton chewed by Ridgway for a blood type test was kept and used for DNA testing. That intense evidence work ended up solving the cases twenty years later.

Reichart and the investigation got plenty of heat from the Seattle press and a few families. Reichart's take on this was that the papers were sometimes unfair and spinning for a better story. Some families would alternately praise and condemn the investigators.

Gary Ridgway himself was a sad sack. Mumbling, small statured with a stoop, and a total liar. Catching the killer should only be part of the story. The police and family of missing women wanted answers for what happened. Ridgway signed an agreement to avoid the death penalty by clearing multiple cases. But, getting the repulsive guy to tell the truth was not easy. Reichart is still convinced Ridgway hid totems of his victims.

Read: "The Detachment" by Barry Eisler

Read: The Detachment by Barry Eisler, 2011, ARC copy- to heck with the ISBN.

I received an ARC of this in my Bouchercon gift bag. I was happy to see the ARC, I also lucked into an Eisler ARC when attending Muskego 2-3 years ago. My excitement waned when I realized the regular book released at about the same time I got this.

Eisler brings together the main guys from his two series. John Rain and Dox. Ben Treven and Larison. I have decided they are all scumbag killers. Rain is a great anti-hero because I like the guy. But, he is a hired killer with no remorse. Okay, okay, he has some remorse for a lifetime of killing but he is still happy to take your money and kill your wife. Or competitor. Or politician. Or whoever it is. I think one way Rain remains likable is that Rain and his work are removed from daily life. Rain gets hired by governments or crime organizations, not by regular people.

Short version: Rain hired by Treven and Larison to kill people. Rain brings Dox in on the deal. Col. Horton is the purse manager and assigns the targets. The team of four strong personalities have to work together. Two people are murdered by the team and when they are looking at the third assignment in D.C. they are set-up to be killed by Horton. Team escapes. Team has to work to get free. Team has to stop terrorist attack in Lincoln, NE.

1. Eisler's Larison is a scary dude. Larison is a ruthless and happy killer. He enjoys his work and puts out a vibe of danger. Never mind that we already know he is a rapist from reading Lost Coast, he also is in favor of murdering Horton's innocent daughter.
2. Horton is also a scumbag. His plan to assist and then stop a coup includes allowing several domestic terrorist attacks.
3. The one thing I disliked about Detachment is that the plot interacts too much with reality. Eisler's previous books involved actual events like government sanctioned assassinations, renditions, oligarchy assholes. But, all those books involved smaller scale and secret events. This novel goes full-on, gonzo thriller with an alternate reality: Terrorist attacks in the U.S. Presidential speeches and appointments. Homeland security and domestic paranoia. Media nonsense and uproar.
4. Eisler loves name brands. One favorite is Wilson 1911s. Which, although somewhat rare compared to most guns, are easily obtainable by Dox at a local gunshow in Viriginia. For fucks sake. The Wilson website lists the Supergrade starting at $4,475.

Finished: "Sarah Court" by Craig Davidson

Finished: Sarah Court by Craig Davidson, 2010, 9781926851006.

I completely missed the release of this. I did not know about the book until this past June. I was wondering if Davidson was ever going to have a new book out and he already had. Davidson does good work. For a Canadian.

A novel composed of five short stories centered on the current and past residents of Sarah Court in a Southern Ontario town just north of Niagara Falls. The squirrel narrator of the prologue describes the town as a place, "Whose denizens have been collectively referred to by graceless out-of-towners as resembling 'your standard roller derby audience.'"

Davidson's currency is low-rent people interacting with a few people of wealth. None - or very few - of his characters are upstanding. Or standing. Or sober. There are a number of running themes in the book. To pick one topic I say: bad parenting and the recovering children. Two fathers on the Court are drunks and a foster mother is a bipolar nutjob.

The story of most interest to me followed former boxer Nick Saberhagen. Nick's father is an alcoholic surgeon - currently facing license revocation - and Nick is recently separated from his wife. Nick's son Dylan is a chubby middle schooler suffering bullying in school and online. Nick was pushed into boxing by his father and went pro when only sixteen-years-old. Nick is struggling to deal with his beautiful wife who left him, Nick's issues with his father, worry over his kid, a job requiring frequent and unannounced travel, so on, so forth.

Here is another interconnecting them: weirdness. A mysterious glass box with "something" alive inside. A drunken lout with a fighting pitbull. A Sarah Court gal pushed into power lifting by her father. An autistic hitman. Dylan who pretends to be a vampire. A daredevil who has fallen on hard times and wants to take Niagara Falls in a barrel. American Express Black Card holders with bizarre purchases.

1. Literary stories? Yes, but in a good way.
2. Is it right to make fun of Canadians? At times.
3. Doesn't Davidson have his own recurring motifs? Yes.
3.a. Boxing (poorly done by characters)
3.b. Dog fighting
3.c. Depressing Ontario mill-towns.
3.d. Alcohol, prescription and illegal drug abuse.
4. Didn't Davidson shoot himself full of steroids he ordered from overseas? Yes.
5. Didn't Davidson engage in a boxing much to promote his last book about a boxer? Yes.
6. Didn't Davidson lose the bout? I do not recall.
EDIT 7. Davidson's observations of character motivation are always perceptive. Especially when the characters are dealing with failure or disappointment.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Listened to: "The Black Cauldron" by Lloyd Alexander

Listened to: The Black Cauldron by Lloyd Alexander, 1965, downloaded from OverDrive (2004 edition?).

More great narration by James Langton. I have not recorded a library book talk in a while and figured I could talk about this and The Book of Three. I checked out the books from work and brought them home. My wife asked if I brought them home for Boy #1. I said "No." She said, "I liked those when I read them." I did not tell her that girls are not supposed to read adventure stories featuring boys.

I cannot help but retain my views from 30+ years ago when I first read these kinds of adventure books. I don't want girls reading this stuff. This is guy stuff; stay away. I enjoy the stories and adventures of Taran, Assistant Pig Master but I cannot help but over analyze the novels. I also cannot help but analyze the books as both my current adult status and as my memories of being a kid.

Plot: Assistant Pig Master Taran is home at the farm when warriors start to arrive for a meeting. Troops are gathering to go into evil Arawn's territory and steal the Black Cauldron that is used to make his zombie-like Cauldron Born soldiers. Taran gets to go along. Taran, Fflewddur the bard, and Doli the dwarf are separated from the other troops. They meet up with Princess Eilonwy and Gurgi. They find out where the Cauldron is. They get the Cauldron. Good-guy-who-turns-bad-guy steals Cauldron away. Another good-guy-into-bad-guy gets Cauldron and wants to make his own invincible army. Second good-guy-into-bad-guy is defeated. Everyone lives happily ever after. Except for the dead soldiers. They're dead.

1. Young self: Wow! Swords, horses, adventure! That Eilonwy girl sounds really pretty but what a bother girls are! Camping out, woods, rivers, witches! Out on your own and leading others through danger!
2. Older self: (pompous voice) There are many interesting aspects to this story that appeal to young readers. A young lad in charge of adults. The importance of friendship. Lessons in honor and honesty. Young lad learning that hard work and a positive attitude matched with perseverance will win out. To not always judge others and to look beyond surface qualities. There are some bad people in life.
3. Yeah, I used a semicolon up above. No, I do not know if I used it correctly. I'm clueless about commas, too.

Read: "Cold Dish" by Craig Johnson

Read: Cold Dish by Craig Johnson, 2005, 9780670033690.

I reserved this after reading several recommendations regarding a later novel in the series off the Forgotten Books postings. This was okay. I was not sure what to expect. The main character, Walt, is self deprecating and humorous at times. Not too angsty, but enough.

Walt is a widower with a grown daughter living in Philadelphia. Walt is the Sheriff in his rural Wyoming County with only two full-time Deputies, one of whom he hates. Walt's best pal is a Cheyenne guy he grew up with, Henry Standing Bear.

Walt has been drinking too much the past four years since his wife's cancer death. His daughter - who never speaks or appears in the story - and others have been discussing about getting him to move on and date some women. Walt gets hooked up with local rich gal. There seem to be a fair amount of rich people who come to enjoy the mountains.

Walt has also been maudlin the past two years over the gang-rape of a fetal alcohol syndrome Cheyenne girl who is also Henry's niece. The rapists got off easy; two years in a juvenile facility. Walt gets a call about a body out in a field. Sheriff's Department investigate and find the deceased is one of the rapists. Walt and smarter deputy investigate. Walt gets hot for local rich gal. Walt drinks too much. Things happen. A second rapist also shot with a .45-70. More things happen. Walt and Henry caught in blizzard with Henry shot. Walt figures out the shooter. Walt shoots shooter from about 700 yards out with his own .45-70. Walt watches shooter, his new gal-pal-to-be blow her brains out. Hint: she was the killer. Walt inherits dead gal's dog. Walt and dog live happily ever after.

1. Johnson does not clearly identify which character is speaking. I often had to go back a line or two to figure it out.
2. Johnson also does not use the narration fill in all sorts of gaps about cop language/lingo, forensic talk, local lingo and geographic knowledge and tidbits. I was fine with that.
3. .45-70 love.
4. Colt 1911 love.
5. Pick-up truck love.
6. Mystic Indian ghost love. A small part of the novel involves the Cheyenne Death Rifle (or something like that). The rifle is an old Sharp's left over from the Indian Wars. The rifle is followed by Indian ghosts and Walt feels there presence. Then he sees and hears their presence when he has to carry Henry out of the mountains.
7. 700 yards, off-hand, with a big, heavy .45-70? Yeah, right.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Read: "Red, Red Robin" by Stephen Gallagher

Read: Red, Red Robin by Stephen Gallagher, 1995, 0345386442.

I reserved this Gallagher book and another one (title escapes me) after finishing that Phoenix book. This was good but long at 376 pages. A horror and suspense novel.

Ruth is a Brit living in Philadelphia who sells ad space for magazines. She is also fucking a married guy at work. She hires a male escort to accompany her to a major business event. Ruth ends up being enamored with the much younger man, Ruth is about 38 years old. Ruth goes with the moment and sleeps with the dude.

Ruth takes off early that night knowing that for her this was a one night screw. The guy calls her up. The guy sends a whole roomful, literally, of flowers. Ruth tells the guy, Tim, to buzz off. Tim kidnaps her and they drive off. Security guard, Aidan, in Ruth's work building has had a burning boner for Ruth and recognizes the abduction. Aidan follows and rescues her. Tim gets away when Ruth is unable to blast Tim's brains out on the side of the road.

Fast forward about 12 months. Ruth is a psychological mess. She lives with Aidan but has her own room. She will sometimes steal into his bed at night and do the deed. She locks everything. She buys an unlicensed heater. Ruth hangs out on street corners as if tempting Tim to return and attack. A body is found and reported as Tim's corpse. Ruth cannot believe it. Aidan tries to convince her to move on in life.

Tim, meanwhile, is still alive. Tim is actually Peter, son of a Louisiana serial killer. Peter finds out Ruth has been contacting reporters to keep story alive. Peter not happy, he wants to stay lost. Peter returns to Philadelphia. Ex-cop Aidan finds out that Peter took identity of Tim after a fire - probably a murder. Peter has been wooing and killing older women for years. Peter kidnaps and kills Aidan. Ruth heads to Louisiana. Ruth feels she is already dead. Ruth hunts for Peter. Peter finds Ruth. Cops involved. More things happen. Peter dead. WAIT - Aidan is still alive! Aidan and Ruth reunited.

1. That must be the longest novel summary I have ever written.
2. Gallagher immediately thanks Joe R. Lansdale in the Acknowledgments.
3. No mention of Lansdale's Kung FU-lery.
4. This has a number of twists and turns.
5. Gallagher focuses on character rather than action and tension from actions. Mainly told from an omniscient perspective of Ruth, Aidan, and a Philadelphia cop.
6. Or do I mean third person?
7. Good, not great.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Quit Listening: "Devil's Punchbowl" by Greg Iles

Quit Listening: Devil's Punchbowl by Greg Iles, 2009, downloaded from Overdrive.

Narration sucked. Same guy, Dick Hill, who does the Lee Child books. Hill does a crap job with female characters. The women always sound whiny. I quit this one once the main character starting talking to his young daughter. Hill's girl voice was awful. AWFUL.

Penn Cage is the mayor of Natchez, MS. An old high-school friend and former junkie WhatHisFace wants to meet Penn at midnight in a graveyard. At the meeting, WhatsHisFace says the local casinos are skimming money and bringing in hookers, underaged girls, and dog fights. Penn was instrumental in bringing the casinos to town. Penn is upset.

Penn is also dealing with a business bigwig looking to open a recycling plant on the Mississippi.
Penn is also dealing with an ex-girlfriend.
Penn is also dealing with a second ex-girlfriend.
Penn is also dealing with being a single father.
Penn is also dealing with hating his job as mayor.
Penn is also dealing with having a shitty narrator.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Just Read: "Control Freak" by Christa Faust

Just Read: Control Freak by Christa Faust, 2002 (reprint of 1998 copyright), 9781930235144.

I don't know. The novel has good parts but is too long and the best parts are in the last 50-70 pages.

Girl writer, Caitlin, about 23-years-old is dating a 41-year-old NYPD detective, Mike. Teenage daughter of famed lady is murdered and mutilated. Girl was into SM (not S&M as explained by a character). Mike catches case. Caitlin also investigates. Caitlin goes to sex/dungeon/SM club and hits it off with a couple people. Caitlin realizes her inherent dominance. Caitlin gets hot for mysterious and sexy Absinthe who seems to run things and is a suspect in girl's murder.

Things progress. Caitlin does "scenes" with whipping, nipple torture, absinthe drinking, dildos, etc. Mike pissed at Caitlin and they have unpleasant breakup involving tentacle squeezing. Unwanted tentacle squeezing, unlike Caitlin's new clients as she takes on dominatrix work.

Sex. Violent sex with blood. Absinthe going insane. Caitlin lost in a new world where she feels power and overwhelming lust and passion. Caitlin gets back on track on researching the murder. Mysterious Japanese connection that is far-fetched. Later mentions of Caitlin's ghost writing jobs that were unmentioned (or mostly unmentioned) before. Caitlin loves a "slave". Sex club burns down and Caitlin shoots Absinthe. Mike shot (unrelated) and dies. Caitlin finds out more about mysterious Japanese connection. Shootouts. Suicides. Caitlin survives to write a book about it all.

1. My opinion? Suffers from first-novel-itis. Especially compared to the masterpiece of Faust's Money Shot. Too much going on in too many pages. This clocks in at 270 and should have been 200.
2. The book starts off like a mystery and then takes a long detour into SM and the SM scene and various characters within it.
3. I did like the sex parts.
4. Faust's forward says she wrote this in 1993-1995 and it came out in 1998 by an erotica publisher. This reprint is by Babbage Press.
5. I made myself finish this one. But, the ending and finale were well done.
6. Various errors in spelling and punctuation should have been caught.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Listened: "The Grey King" by Susan Cooper

Listened: The Grey King by Susan Cooper, No date listed in and I am too lazy to look it back up; some time in the '70s I suppose/

6 Music radio says God is dead so I listen to Radiohead.

Fourth book in the Dark is Rising series. Will, an Old One, has taken deathly ill. As his fever breaks and his recovery begins he is sent to Wales to convalesce. Wales is home to family friends who also hosted Will's sister one summer.

Will meets the "aunt" and "uncle", relations, neighbors and Brian. I'm not sure if Brian is the characters name. Cooper uses and has her characters discuss a lot of Welsh. The brief descriptions of Welsh language were interesting to hear.

Will finds out that the Dark is at work and it is his solo mission as an Old One to release six riders to fight back against the Dark. Will works with Brian and finds a magic harp, casts a couple spells, enters a mountain hall. So on. So forth.

Or something like that. When I read fantasy books I'll suspend disbelief and buy into the magic and such. But, afterwards, I don't retain any loyalty to the tale's *word I cannot think of*. You'll get people wanting to dress up as hobbits or Trek characters or Princess Leia. They follow the *word I cannot think of*. I am unable to gather that kind of enthusiasm.

1. Much Welsh.
2. The ephemeral bad guy living in a mountain has invisible grey wolves killing sheep. Only Brian and Will can see the wolves. Brian's dog is killed by a nutty neighbor who thinks Brian's beloved beast is doing the killing. Brian is distraught.
3. While listening to this I was thinking about how great it would be to vacation in Wales and do some hiking.
4. Not that I vacation anywhere except Kansas.
5. I did drive to San Diego. Once. For a weekend.
6. I did visit Montreal once but a honeymoon does not count.
7. Brian's albino-ness is a part of the plot.
8. Brian is actually King Arthur's and Guinevere's son brought forward in time.
9 I did I write before how all recent British fantasy seems to be either King Arthur or Hobbit based? Doctor Who excluded; that's science fiction.

Read Half: "Texas Showdown" by Elmer Kelton

Read Half: Texas Showdown: Two Texas Novels by Elmer Kelton, 2007 (both novels originally 1963), 9780765311528.

I read the first one Pecos Crossing. It was kind of boring but perked up at the end. Two young cowboys care for a man's cattle during the winter. They go into town to get paid. The guy pretends not to see them and walks off. When confronted on the sidewalk he claims he already paid them and takes advantage of the passing sheriff to claim the cowboys are trying to scam or rob him.

Cowboys end up in jail overnight while cattleman skips town. Cowboys head off the stage, force cattleman off, demand their money. Cattleman pulls a gun and accidentally shoots the young, newlywed wife of a recently resigned Texas Ranger. Ranger vows revenge. Cowboys hit the trail. Story follows the cowboys as they visit family, come to a girl in aid, etc.

The interesting part was when the story followed the Ranger who had been sick of work and hates killing. But, he is bound by his vow, reputation, and past life to carry through. A mostly happy ending.

I read the first few pages of Shotgun and gave up.