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.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Listened to: "Creepers" by David Morrell

Listened to: Creepers by David Morrell, 2005, downloaded from

Meh. Good enough to keep listening but not all that great. The best part of this is Morrells afterword telling his interest in, and history with, abandoned places. The power of history and memory and the feeling of stepping back in time.

Urban Explorers of abandoned buildings are preparing to visit a hotel in Asbury Park, NJ that was shuttered in 1970. The group is two guys, a gal, and an elderly professor. They are joined by a journalist in his '30s. The group is secretive. Explorers break into dangerous buildings. Abandoned buildings with rotten floors, unstable walls, creaky stairs, and holed roofs. Explorers get prosecuted to deter others and prevent injuries and deaths.

Group sneaks into building through hotel drains. Group sees mutant rats and cats. Group hears history of hotel and the reclusive, agoraphobic owner. Group finds files on crimes that happened in hotel.

Group is ambushed by three thugs who came to burgle building. One of group thrown off atrium balcony by a thug. Group and thugs open vault in suite of 1920s mobster. Vault has blond woman locked inside. She was kidnapped by Ronnie and stuck there. More death, more danger.
Ronnie kept penthouse updated and clean. Journalist not really a journalist. He wants to search building for his disappeared wife. Group finds old bodies of dead blond women. More death, more danger, many shotgun blasts. More info on Ronnie and who he is.

Journo, captured woman, and group member escape hotel to the beach. Beach showdown against the evil Ronnie.

1. I want a short barreled shotgun. I should carry some cash around to catch any god buys on used ones in gun stores.
2. Morrell grew up with arguing parents that scared the heck out of him. He would escape his apartment and visit an abandoned apartment building. Building still had furniture, plates, magazines, old records. Morrell did not feel lonely there.
3. Morrells son died of bone cancer when he was only 15. Holy crap. One thing his son said was "No one will remember me." Morrell writes about memory and history inherit in old buildings.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Quickly Read: "Slocum and the Invaders" by Jake Logan

Quickly Read: Slocum and the Invaders by Jake Logan (Don't know real name), 1994, 0425141829.

This was heartily recommended by James Reasoner a couple weeks ago. This copy came from Hayward, WI.

Slocum is riding through Northern Arizona at the night. He hears metal on metal, pulls his rifle, sees what seems to be a rifle on a tripod. He confronts the man and finds out the object is a telescope manned by an astronomer and his hot, and horny, female assistant.

Shots are fired. Slocum drives the shooter off. Shooter is a guy who tried to hang Slocum 21 days ago. Hot assistant begs Slocum to protect her and older astronomer. She pays in gold and gash. (Couldn't resist that alliteration.)

Things happen. Bad guys. Indians. Mysterious lights at night. Astronomer is Lowell and he loves Mars. Let us cut to the wonderful excerpts:

To his rigid surprise, Slocum found himself nodding yes, just as her soft, long fingers found the root of his love shaft, then climbed subtly up to grasp his head and cover it, just as his cum load shot forth, making both he and Myra gasp in pleasure.


Slocum went to work, driving in and then almost pulling out before driving home again. Myra's moans began to build. She was tight but lubricated inside, a perfect love machine, and Slocum found himself marveling at her perfect body, breasts standing out like red-tipped cones, belly as flat as a board.
"Let it go now!" Myra huffed fiercely, and Slocum found himself willing to oblige, his cock swelling with readiness.
"Yes!" Myra commanded, and at that moment Slocum let her have what she wanted, driving high and deep as his sex gun fired a mighty blast inside her. He thought she would explode, her mouth opening wide in a silent scream of pleasure, her green eyes growing huge, and even more fiery as she clutched his buttocks, clawing into him with each shot of his cum machine.
And then suddenly in the middle of it she fired off her own volley, her body tightening like a spring, arching, her nether triangle heaving, rivers of fluid riding up and down around Slocum's shaft, driving him to even more orgasm, a final mighty burst of white love juice that drove her back on the ground, making her pull her hands from him to cover her mouth and keep from screaming out in ecstasy.

1. "Rock hard love weapon."
2. "Mighty burst of white love juice."
3. Reasoner did not list the author's real name. Too bad.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Read: "Purple Cane Road" by James Lee Burke

Read: Purple Cane Road by James Lee Burke, 2000, 0385488440.

I think I read this novel once before. Or, maybe not. Hard to tell since the Robicheaux novels are all the same. Burke is like Lee Child, he follows a formula (of sorts) but still puts out a real good story. I like Burke's novels better than Lee's.

Robicheaux is maudlin again. A local gal is on death row for killing the man who molested her and her twin sister when they were children. Robicheaux is dealing with longtime pal and former cop partner Clete Purcell. Clete is throwing scumbags off a low roof. One scumbag, a pimp, claims that Robicheaux's deceased mother was a whore and murdered by the police in 1968. Robicheaux gets more maudlin and starts investigating the claim.

Stories of Robicheaux's sad family background: drunken and brawling father killed on an oil rig in the gulf. Sad mom looking for love from other men and a pattern of running away, returning, and then never coming back.

Robicheaux finds New Orleans dirty cops involved in the 1968 murder. Robicheaux investigates to find people who were there. Robicheaux gets involved in local death sentence gal's case; Robicheaux wants gal freed or commuted. Things happen. More things happen. Button man is dangerous and scary. Clete is drunk. Robicheaux refers to twelve steps. Robicheaux clashes with people. Robicheaux blinded by rage. Manners are important. Robicheaux drives around Southern Louisiana.

1. Burke's talent for story telling, characters, and setting drives everything. The plot does not much matter for me. I think of it as a Twin Peaks story: the mystery is not the point.
2. But, I still need something going on in the plot. Burke just barely provides that.
3. White trash murderer love.
4. .45 ACP love.
5. Fishing and boating love.
6. Louisiana lingo love.
7. More rotten cops.
8. Recurring motifs: rotten politicians, white trash, stone-cold killers, dirty cops, characters speaking elliptically, sorrow of the past is present all the time.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Listened to: "Without Fail" by Lee Child

Listened to: Without Fail by Lee Child, 2002, downloaded from

Short version: Reacher found. Reacher introduced to problem. Reacher bangs hot chick. Reacher solves problem. Reacher hits the bricks.

Long version: Reacher found by Secret Service gal in charge of Vice President-elect's security detail. Gal was former girlfriend of Reacher's dead brother, Joe. Reacher hired to test VP-elect's security. Reacher hires a former gal Sergeant colleague, even more skilled than he is, to help with the "audit".

Reacher and Sgt. test security and find flaws. Of course they find flaws, the protection job is impossible to a determined assassin. Reacher analyzes. Reacher is tough. Reacher suspects a real threat is behind the audit. Reacher and gal continue to work as new threats against VP-elect come in. Sec. Ser. gal still hot for Joe. SS Gal transfers that to Reacher. She and Reacher do deed.

Attempt on VP-elect fails. Security ratcheted up. Investigation to find assassins continues. Reacher analyzes. Reacher is tough. Second attempt on VP-elect kills SS Gal. Reacher pledges revenge. Reach analyzes again. Reacher questions. Reacher sets up opportunity to get assassins.

Reacher and Sgt. head to rural Wyoming memorial for SS Gal. Reacher analyzes. Reacher is tough. Reacher and Sgt find and kill assassins. Reacher hits the bricks.

1. Steyr GB love. Again.
2. Child loves rural settings in both the U.S. and England. Is that an English thing? The wide open spaces of the U.S. versus the short distances of the UK?
3. Rural WY ambush not hampered by crowds. Bullshit. What cop funeral/memorial does not have a 100 or more uniformed officers attend a cop funeral?
4. Constant conflict between military Reacher and civilian authority. Reacher still makes comparisons between civilian and military life. How the justice systems differ, he had more control and power as an Army MP versus civilian cop, the freedom of movement allowed to the protected VP, rules for prisoner interrogation. On one hand Reacher has disdain for civilian work ethic and abilities. On the other hand, he bolted from military life.
5. Reacher is lacking in sentiment. He does not care for beatitudes and memorials - his brother's place in the Treasury Department's LEO memorial the prime example.
6. Narrator gives a whiny voice to theSgt.
7. I was wrong on the culprit. This is not a mystery with the culprit introduced early on. The bad guys do not appear until very late in the novel.
8. Lack of continuity among the novels. Or does Child pick different aspects to focus on? One book discusses Reacher never needing a watch and being able to tell accurate time whenever he needs to. This book has him checking his watch. Another novel has detail on Reacher's sturdy, made in England shoes he can only get from a special shop in London. This one has him wearing other shoes.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Read: "Black Hats" by Patrick Culhane (Max Allan Collins)

Read: Black Hats by Patrick Culhane (Max Allan Collins), 2007, 9780060892531.

We drove down to Wichita today. I mentioned to my wife I could look up some crime locations from Scott Phillips. We went to a movie and ate at Yip Yips instead. We also went by a Barnes and Noble. In the discount section I saw a few copies of Wyatt Earp Speaks. I showed the book to my wife but did not buy it. I then saw a copy of Men's Adventure Magazines. I flipped through that one, saw Collins's name, and pointed that out to my wife. I did not buy that book either.

Wyatt Earp is 70 years old and summering in Los Angeles rather than work his Nevada mine in the heat. Earp occasionally trades on his fame (infamy) and does some private investigator work. One day Big Nose Kate - Doc Holliday's ex - shows up. Kate says she and Doc had a son. The son also became a dentist but lost his wife and child and has opened a speakeasy in New York City. Kate pays Earp $500, plus expenses, to travel to NYC and convince Johnny to quit the business.

Earp gets out there and finds out that the night club is a booming business. Johnny proclaims it the next Gold Rush. One problem: the mafia of Frankie Yale is demanding that Johnny sell his 5-year supply of booze to Yale and Yale becomes the club's wholesaler. Yale has Al Capone enforcing his will.

Earp ends up advising and working with Johnny. Bat Masterson joins in. Things happen. Capone and cronies machine gun the night club after close. Earp and Bat figure out how to secretly transport the off-site stored booze to the club. Shoot-out at the booze warehouse. Mafia gunmen dropped in Brooklyn as they Irish mob did it.

Earp and Bat know the problem will not go away. They get Johnny to get out of the business. Con job proceeds. Everyone lives happily ever after. Except for the dead guys.

1. Collins wrote that Harrison Ford is attached to a movie version of this. Ford is such a big name that I presume there is a better than average chance the film will get financing and be made.
2. I like the Quarry novels better. This was slower with less action. Only one current day gunfight - the booze warehouse - with flashbacks to the O.K. Corral and that fight's aftershocks. I hereby proclaim Black Hats to be more historical novel than crime novel.
3. In 1993 I went to Tombstone and saw the Vincent Price voiced automaton play. It was not very good.
4. I could tell while reading that Collins put a lot of work in the historical bits and pieces. His afterword makes that clear and I especially like his listing of good sources, and his criticism of poor sources. Whenever I see Collins write a comment online I pay attention. See the Jerry Lewis comments on If Charlie Parker Was a Gunslinger...
5. Back to the story: Earp is a killer. Earp is a card cheat. Earp likes to make money. Earp puts his faith and trust in few people. Earp has wanderlust. Earp is hard person to figure out.
6. From what Collins gives us I think trusting Earp would be risky. His word can be trusted but he seems like the type to pull out whenever it suits him. Earp praises Doc Holliday's loyalty as a friend - I wonder if that loyalty was something this fictional version of Earp lacked.
7. Earp is one of those guy's whose long and eventful life is defined by others into one or two brief events. Like a 20-year-old infantryman scarred by combat. But, Earp bore very few psychological scars aside from the loss of his brothers.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Quick Read: "Savages" by Don Winslow

Quick Read: Savages by Don Winslow, 2010, 9781439183366.

Good. Another look by Winslow at the Mexican cartel wars.

Chon and Ben grew up together as beach volleyball partners. Chon joined the Navy and the SEALs. Ben went to college and became a botanist. Ben decides to grow marijuana for a living. Chon imports some special seeds from Afghanistan and they start a hugely successful hydroponic growing business. Chon is a stone killer. Ben burns his drug profits by traveling the third world and doing good deeds. Their best pal is Ophelia, 'O', a rich, Orange County, sex-fiend who is fuck buddy to them both.

The Baja Cartel demands that Chon and Ben sell exclusively to them. The Bajas make this demand by beheading seven of Chon and Ben's people. Chon and Ben say 'fuck you, we wanted out of the business anyway'. Baja retaliates by kidnapping Ophelia and upping the demands: Chon and Ben work for them for three years while O remains hostage, or O gets gang-raped and decapitated with a chainsaw.

Chon and Ben only do what they can. They agree. But, they also negotiate a buy-out clause, $20 million. Things progress. C&B don't have the dough. They get info on Baja stash houses and start robbing the Bajas. The Bajas try to find out who the robbers are. More things happen. C&B worry for O. Things end unhappily.

1. Ben thinks the cartels are savages, he cannot understand or cope. Chon is used to savage behavior after fighting AQ in Afghanistan and scumbags in Iraq. Chon knows the only way to deal with savages is savagely. The wealthy Mexicans think of themselves as refined Europeans and the Americans are savages.
2. Written in short, choppy sentences and sections. Sort of Ellroy like but without as many characters and the labrythian Ellroy plotting.
3. Written with plenty of slang - thankfully Winslow provides translation - with a humorous or laid back slant. As though told by a C&B customer who has been busily using.
4. Explanation of marijuana and the different variations. News to me but I'll forget most of it.
5. Many emotionless killers. Wait, not emotionless. Pitiless. Ruthless. Other synonyms. 'Black eyed killers with no soul.'
6. Keep the crime to certain gang areas and Mexico. Don't hurt any white people and don't damage the money stream.
7. I was able to read through a lot of this on the way to Hutchinson and back for our visit to the Cosmosphere and Space Center.