Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Finished: "Border Lords" by T. Jefferson Parker

Finished: Border Lords by T. Jefferson Park, 2011, 9780525952008.

Dichotomy thy name is T. Jefferson Parker. Another Charlie Hood novel. Honest and straightforward Deputy Hood is still assigned to an ATF task force intercepting guns headed for Mexico.

Hood and ATF agents secretly control a safe house near the border that currently houses a cartel's hired killers. Someone busts in and kills all three Mexican hitmen. The killer is an undercover ATF agent, Oz, who has gone rogue. Hood looks for Oz. Hood works with Oz's wife. Oz and wife have peculiar sickness with varied symptoms. Deputy Bradly continues his dark ways. Brad uses his friends in Le Eme to track down kidnapped kid, Brad's plan to spring kid leaves three people dead. Devil guy appears throughout novel manipulating Oz.

Things happen. Hood looks. Brad schemes. Oz travels in light plane. Devil guy schemes. Rabies runs deep.

1. Parker is steadily moving away from Hood and his life. Hood is still the primary character but he shares more space with other characters. No more late night driving and listening to the Bakersfield sound. Hood's personal relationships outside work are largely absent in this one.

2. Parker has been focusing on good versus evil and the evil within. The dichotomy appears in most main characters. Many characters have both thoughts within them but are bent one way or another. Hood is the anamoly: Hood is a Boy Scout and unable to go wrong. Brad is naturally bent from heritage and upbringing. Brad sees vvil as untapped potential.

3. Theme of obsessive love.

4. If I were to attempt literary theory I could can take that dicothomy theme further: US-Mexican border, sky versus ground with Oz's airplane, obsessive and rational love, reason versus superstition, blah, blah, blah.

5. Off the cover: Adrenaline-fueled. Really, you're sticking with that description? Sheesh. I think Border Lords is much more laid back than the previous three Hood novels with less violence and action.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Viewed: "Blood Song" by Eric Drooker

Viewed: Blood Song: a silent ballad by Eric Drooker, 2002, 015600884X.

Comic book novel with story told in images with no text. I was not into the artwork or the story.

Girl, about 20-years-old, lives in rural village. In morning she leaves her stilt shack and family and goes to the river with her dog to collect water. She returns to see the village being invaded by troops. Troops kill everyone and set the village aflame. Troops see Girl. Girl runs away with dog. Girl reaches shore and takes empty rowboat into the ocean.

Girl survives the open ocean and storms and rows, rows, rows her boat ashore to a major city. Girl walks a lot. Girl runs from cops. Girl still has dog. Girl and dog see saxophone player get mugged by cops who take his saxophone. Saxophone player was giving joy and pleasure to crowd. Saxophone player takes Girl to his rooftop tent and shags her. Girl is pregnant. Saxophone player gets arrested for singing in the street, goes to prison. Girl gives birth in rooftop tent alone. Dog is still there.

1. Eye rolling on heavy handed political commentary.
2. Joe Sacco did Introduction and explained some of Drooker's ideas.
3. I think I reserved this after reading a comparison of modern artists - like Drooker - who work in wordless comic novels like Frans Masereel did with woodcuts 80-100 years ago. I only recall this after Sacco mentioned it in the Introduction.
4. Took 5-10 minutes to view. I did not study the paintings, I just followed the story.

Finished: "The Delicate Storm" by Giles Blunt

Finished: The Delicate Storm by Giles Blunt, 2003, 0399148655.

Another book I ended up with and forgot why. This has a Quebec separatist angle to it and I assume that is why I reserved it.

Northern Ontario cop Cardinal works for Algonquin Bay PD. He hears from a drunken and idiotic crook about a murder in the woods. Cardinal checks it out - with little expectation - and finds nothing. But, a body partially eaten by bears is found in the woods during an unusual midwinter thaw. Cardinal and his French-Canadian partner Delorme get the case. Things happen.

Cardinal worries over a crook coming up on release who wants the few thousand bucks Cardinal took about 15 years ago when working for Toronto PD. Cardinal's father is in poor health. Delorme catches the missing person case of a doctor which turns to a murder case. CSIS (Canadian federal intelligence) gets involved in bear mauled body. CSIS agent purposely misleads and Cardinal finds out. Cardinal digs and finds out true identity of dead guy and his CIA background during a violent secessionist movement in Quebec in 1970. Cardinal and Delorme head to Montreal. More things happen. Cardinal and Delorme keep digging until finding out the killer. Cardinal and Delorme connect the bear body, dead doctor, and a 12-year-old murder. Cardinal has no solid proof. Suspect knows it. Suspect disappears rather than wait for evidence.

1. Good book. Blunt uses the weather, Cardinal's personal problems, French vs. English, Quebec secessionists, etc. to good effect.
2. This is the second in a series featuring Cardinal.
3. Blunt pays attention to interior settings. He refers back to the setting and how it reflects the people's situation and action. Abandoned trapper cabin in woods. The fancy furnishings of the RCMP in Montreal. Cardinal and other detectives dealing with a plastic wrapped squad room during renovations and repairs. Cardinal's house as a refuge for neighbors when power goes out. The broken down, rural house in Quebec of a former cop.
4. Well done as a police procedural with Cardinal and Delorme digging, running into dead-ends, so on, so forth.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Finished: "Choke on Your Lies" by Anthony Neil Smith

Finished: Choke on Your Lies by Anthony Neil Smith, 2011, (self-published as ebook).

Very good. I do not understand why this was not picked up by a regular publisher. Slightly disappointing because all the plugs talked up the sex, sex, sex. So, I was expecting sex, sex, sex and there was, in a way, but it was referred to rather than explicit. There was only one sex scene. Sex.

I bought and downloaded this onto the library's Nook. I have split feelings on this e-book stuff. Maybe I would like it better with a different reader.

Mick Thooft is an idiotic, clueless, over-romantic, purposefully liberal, pining poet teaching at a private college in the Twin Cities. Mick's wife is leaving him for the college's provost. Mick is heartbroken and googly eyed for his wife and, as many characters point out, a ball-less and gutless wonder. Wife pulls out legal document supposedly signed by Mick showing he agrees to give her the house upon divorce. Mick gets help from old high-school pal Octavia.

Octavia is 350 pounds of bad attitude and cruelty. She is incredibly wealthy, manipulative, conniving, self-absorbed, etc. Octavia has always hated Mick's wife and proposes that together she and Mick "punish the bitch".

Things happen. People are upset. Mick pines for wife. Mick finds secret sex club run by Provost. Provost is blackmailing numerous faculty and staff in the club. Mick relies on Octavia's knowledge and intelligence. Octavia cleans off a strap-on dildo. Mick finds out wife was in the sex club. More things happen. Mick screws Provost's horn-dog secretary. Grand confrontation (a la Nero Wolfe) does not end the story. More things happen. Octavia's house is raided and Mick arrested for murder. Mick's wife committed the murder and then kills herself. Everything ends happily ever after. Sort of.

1. Fun swipe by Smith at Marshall, MN.
2. Poetry quoting by Thooft is incredibly annoying and shows what a twit he is.
3. A recurring theme of "home" in Smith's books. Psychomatic's amputee. Bad Egg Deputy in Yellow Medicine pining for the South and then homeless and rootless in Hogdoggin'. Thooft just wanting to keep his home. I haven't read Drummer yet, I'm saving it.
4. Recurring theme of goth chicks.
5. Thooft works at an unnamed college. I presume Smith had no specific college in mind but I'll take a guess at Macalester because they are a bunch of damn hippies.
6. Smith made a comment about riffing on the Nero Wolfe model. He did quite well.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Finished: "Postcards from a Dead Girl" by Kirk Farber

Finished: Postcards from a Dead Girl by Kirk Farber, 2010, 9780061834479.

Good but not great. Good writing and the narrator, Sid, keeps me interested but the story ran about 50 pages too long for me. Story spoilers ahead.

Sid is getting postcards from his missing ex-girlfriend, Zoe. The postcards are from across Europe and postmarked from a year ago. Sid is not sure what is happening. He thinks Zoe might be dead but where are the postcards coming from? Why is Sid smelling lilacs and hearing his mother speak to him from a inside a bottle of wine? The reader can tell something is going on and Farber lays clues along the way as Sid goes to the Post Office for answers, avoids his physician sister and fears her sending him to a mental facility, gets a CAT scan, travels to London, Paris and Barcelona in an attempt to track Zoe, digs a pit in his backyard to stand in for a mud bath, etc.

Of course Sid is a bit nuts. You figure that out as you read along. Sid's mother had mental health problems (as did Zoe) and Sid seems to have some as well. Zoe is dead from a car accident when Sid was driving. Due to a long convalescence Sid never attended Zoe's funeral and has mostly convinced himself she is just missing.

I think the story would have been better at 200 pages instead of the 250. I started running out of steam at that point and tired of Sid's wishy-washiness, his dates with a weird chick, lying to his sister, traveling to Europe and back, and a new friendship with a guy at the Post Office.

1. What of the postcards? They seem to be real and not Sid's hallucinations. Did the cards really just take a year to get to Sid even though mailed from all over? If real when did Zoe mail them? You find out Sid took his travel sales job for Zoe's sake but it sounded like she did not actually travel before her death.
2. What of Sid hearing voices? His CAT scan comes clean but that would not show a mental health issue anyway.
3. Unanswered questions are fine; why should the novel answer everything? But, the postcards derivation starts the whole damn story.
4. As written above, Farber does good writing as Sid. You see inside Sid and opinions and thoughts pretty well. Sid is an interesting character. I wanted to find out how the plot would be resolved.
5. How would Sid fair with the would-be-girlfriend at the end? Will he rejoin life and start paying his bills and living in the present, or will he stay nuts and she'll smartly jump ship?