Monday, July 23, 2012

Finished: "Father's Day" by Keith Gilman

Finished: Father's Day by Keith Gilman, 2009, 9780312383657.

I was looking at the Mystery shelves and saw this.  I remember getting the book and I started reading the first few pages.  I was pulled in so I checked it out.  Good but not great.  Spoilers await.

Lou Klein was a cop for 14 years until he was forced to resign for beating people up.  Lou got a job with the DA and worked for six years until his brutality got him canned from that job as well.  Now Lou gets by on a scant pension and basic PI work like serving papers and occasional repossessions.  "Repossessions" is difficult for me to spell.

Lou's cop father was murdered on the job when Lou was 14.  Lou's mother was murdered in her kitchen a year ago.  Lou has moved into his mom's home in a deteriorating neighborhood.  "Deteriorating" is also difficult for me to spell.  Lou is divorced.  Lou smokes a lot.  Lou drinks a lot.  Lou's body clock is still screwy after years of third shift cop work.

Lou is asked by the widow of a dead cop pal to search for her missing 19-year-old daughter, Sarah.  Widow has since remarried a local businessman and crook, Trafficante.  Lou starts looking in slummy areas, biker bars, and massage parlors for Sarah.  Lou's late teen daughter shows up at his house to live with him.

Things happen.  Lou remembers his past.  Lou reaches out to a former colleague and still current policeman. Bodies start turning up among biker and scumbag dude connected to Trafficante.  Lou smokes cigarettes.  Lou discovers the Widow's shady background and that she has two troubled kids.  Lou gets a concussion.

Lou sees corruption, death, conspiracy, dirty politics, bad weather, more cigarettes, a shootout, and more death.  Lou gets it all figured out.  Gilman sets up a sequel.  Sequel came out this past February.

1.  I've always thought Philadelphia sounded like a hole.  This novel does not paint a pretty picture of the town.  Set during the grime of late winter.  Sunny and cold days are described but I imagined most scenes set at night after an early and awful 4 PM winter sunset.  Endemic crime and corruption and urban decay.
2.  One of those PI novels that discusses the past inaction and poor behavior of the protagonist.  The PI's need for redemption is there but the PI does not actively seek it; he may not believe himself capable or redemption possible.
3.  A dark view of society and people.  Cop cynicism regularly reinforced.   
4.  Theme of fathers and parenting.  
4.a. Lou was the stepson of a cop who married his mom when Lou was very young.  Lou was, at times, uncomfortable as a stepkid and wondered how his dad felt about him.  His dad loved him.  
4.b. Lou loves his daughter but an angry and failed marriage did not help.  His daughter likes to spend time with him.  
4.c.  Sarah, the Widow's missing daughter, was completely failed by her mother.  She finds out the man everyone thought was her father was murdered.  That her real father is Trafficante the crook.  Sarah finds out her false-father was murdered and did not kill himself and was a stooge for Trafficante.
5.  The past couple books I read have included divorced dads, murders disguised as suicides, dead parents and guilt.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Zip!: "Isle of 10,000 Graves" by Jason

Zip!: Isle of 10,000 Graves by Jason, 2010, 9781451715033.

Very quick read of a comic book novel.  The illustrations are fairly simple, not a lot of detail or background to study.  Spoilers await.

Ugly girl's father found a treasure island map in a bottle.  Dad goes off to island and never returns.  Ugly girl searches beach for another bottle to contain map to island.  Girl finds bottle and map.  Girl tells her evil mom.  Mom tries to kill her in her sleep.  Girl skips out to harbor to raise a crew saying she will navigate.  Crew plan to kill her at earliest opportunity.

Girl blackmails crew member with simple statement of, "I know your secret."  Crew member and Ugly Girl jump ship when approaching island.

Meanwhile, island is home to a school for executioners.  Bottled up maps are tossed into the ocean to recruit  people for students to practice on.  One student is kinda struggling in his studies.  Student, Tobias, may be failed into interrogation (torture).

Ugly Girl and Crew Member find way into school.  Rest of crew captured and practiced on.  Ugly Girl set free by Tobias who digs her.  Ugly Girl, Tobias, and Crew Member evade executioners.  Ugly Girl makes way into school office after Tobias says school records may show what happened to her dad.  School burns down and Ugly Girl and Tobias escape.  Crew Member drowns in quicksand.

Ugly Girl and Tobias show up at another harbor town and find her father running a bar.  Father's name never appeared on shipping manifests captured by the school.  Her father had faked his departure and moved down coast to get away from nutcase mom.  Father asked for forgiveness and novel ends.

1.  "Tobias is really good at hurting people." said by Ugly Girl to Father when he asks how she found him.  They tortured his friends to found out where he went.  Makes you wonder whether she would forgive.
2.  The school faculty take execution very seriously.  When reading aproposal to pack people into a cannon the headmaster says, "I don't know...when you start killing inn batches, I wonder what remains of the nobility of our calling..."
3.  Crew Member is a doofus.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Read: "King City" by Lee Goldberg

Read: King City by Lee Goldberg, 2011, 97816112183176.

Goldberg wrote or linked to some interview or article he wrote about how this is a modern day Western.  I did not read the article because a) I did not give a rat's ass and, b) why bother when I knew I was going to read the book anyway?

As usual Goldberg did a good job.  There were some annoying proofing errors.  Spoilers await so take my recommendation that the book is worth reading.

King City in Eastern Washington was founded by corrupt men and still run by corrupt men.  Policeman Tom Wade was assigned to a crime unit run by crooked cops.  Rather than go to the Police Chief and have the graft hidden away he went to the Justice Department.  The resulting arrests, prosecutions and convictions made Wade a pariah, earned him a divorce, and placed him on extended administrative leave.

After all the turmoil Wade is back on duty.  Rather than demote or fire Wade the department has assigned him to Darwin Gardens.  Darwin is the forgotten, written off (literally, from both maps and statistics), and crime-ridden neighborhood of the city.  Wade is sent there to run the new police substation.  The department hopes Wade will quickly be killed off.

Wade is assigned two rookie officers and installed in a former porn store still papered with x-rated movie posters and fire damage.  His patrol cars each have over 200k miles and are filled with either garbage or sprayed inside with urine.  He can expect no back-up and no support from the rest of the department.  His first day in uniform brings a challenge from local thugs who trash his Mustang.  Wade responds by shooting up the leader's Escalade.

Wade moves into apartment above police station.  Wade employs a kind of frontier justice by forcefully responding to threats.  Wade believes in the power of the badge and the authority it gives officers.  Blah Blah Blah.  Murder victim found.  Other murders discovered.  Wade fights the local hoods and police department negligence.  Wade stands up for the residents of Darwin.  Wade bangs local pancake house owner.  Wade arrests deputies who take drunks from rich areas and dump then in Darwin. Wade solves the murders.  Wade and rookies get no departmental notice or thanks for solving several murders.  Wade brings his teen daughter to Darwin for a weekend stay.

1.  Wade is contradictory in his behavior and is often called on it by the girl rookie officer.
2.  Action scenes were good.
3.  Author bio in back of book says Goldberg was involved at one time with Hunter tv show.  Poor man.

Done: "Devil's Rag Doll" by Mitchell Bartoy

Done: Devil's Rag Doll by Mitchell Bartoy, 2005, 9780312340889.

Pretty good novel.  I like stories with dumb guys struggling through problems.  I picked this from a pile of withdrawn books I bought from the library.

Pete Caudill is a one-eyed, 1.5 handed Detroit cop in June, 1943.  Pete has just been promoted to Detective, is looking after his dead brother's widow and teen son, has a dead cop dad, and is full of anger, bitterness, paranoia, and violence.

Pete's partner Bobby got them a off-the-book job to find the young daughter of a wealthy auto exec.  The daughter has jungle fever and Pete and Bobby search the black neighborhoods for her.  Pete roughs a guy up to get an address.  They get to the address and find her murdered body.  The crime is covered up as a horse riding accident.

Pete and Bobby asked to look deeper.  Bobby killed when stopping an alleyway fight.  Pete never really knows what is going on.  Pete finds out about a plan to cause more race trouble on the first day of summer.  Black people hate Pete because he killed a boy burglar.  Pete doesn't like them either.  Pete has hots for his brother's widow.  Pete finds out his cop dad did not commit suicide but was murdered.  A racist organization, The Legion, has a resurgence.  Everything works out after a deadly race riot.

290 pages but a lot is going on.  Political shenanigans in the police department.  Rich guys pulling strings.  A Ford-like character guiding Pete.  Race relations.  Summer heat.  Quick death.  Young street cops assigned to help Pete.

1.  I liked this.  Many times I criticize a story as being too long.  I'm thinking this would have been better if it were longer.  Quite a bit goes on in the story and I enjoyed reading it.
2.  Nice atmosphere and setting of wartime Detroit.  The city is busy and booming with blacks coming North  for work in the 24 hour factories.  Rich auto barons running the place.  Opportunistic cops.  Pete' weird, estranged relationship with his mother.  Pete's love and lust for his sister-in-law.  Pete's insecurities and paranoia due to his mutilations and lack of brainpower.
3.  Ellroy like setting with a dumb cop persevering.  Two opposing sides that, nominally, can be called good and bad.  But, the police only do good when it is convenient or the victims are the correct color.  Everyone else is either used or abused at whim.
4.  Pete knows he is dumb, that his promotion to Detective is suspicious, that he his mental connections are later than they should be.  He's not smart and makes up for that with violence.  
5.  Patti Abbott wrote that she knew Bartoy from writing classes and after his second novel he was dropped by his agent and publisher.  I have not seen anything else from him.  His web page was updated in 2006.  I did a brief web search and nothing recent showed up.  He had a good review from Kirkus, that is always impressive.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Listened: "Dexter is Delicious" by Jeff Lindsay

Listened: Dexter is Delicious by Jeff Lindsay, 2010, OverDrive download.  Narrated by Lindsay who did a fairly decent job.

Still a fun series and Dexter continues to change as the series moves along.  Dexter is still the loveable serial killer.  As always, spoilers await.

Dexter has a newborn daughter.  The daughter's recent birth has caused Dexter to develop feelings.  Dexter has no experience with feelings and is learning to cope with tension, happiness, sadness, and anxiety.  Dexter's insane, killer brother shows up making nice.

Dexter helps at a possible kidnapping scene of a H.S. girl.  Dexter and his cop detective sister Deb discover a second teen girl is missing.  Dexter helps at a cannibal crime scene.  Dexter and Deb find out one missing girl was eaten.  Deb drags Dexter around Miami as she investigates the two interrelated crimes.

Dexter decides his daughter's arrival means he should stop his slice-and-dice playtime.  Dexter tells his step-kids they should also turn a new leaf.  Step-kids disagree with Dexter.  Insane Brother a bad influence, Dexter feels like Insane Brother is competition for Dexter's family role.

Things happen.  Dexter sneaks into a nightclub to find one missing girl.  Dexter captured.  Girl wants to be cannibalized and so did the other girl. Dexter rescued.  Girl rescued.  Girl disappears again (she wants to be eaten).  Dexter, Deb, and Deb's boyfriend go after missing girl.  Deb captured.  Dexter captured.  Boyfriend captured.  Missing Girl overcooked.  Insane Brother rescues them all.  Deb's Boyfriend takes off in fit of depression because he is still upset about having a hand and foot cut-off in a previous novel.  Deb is pregnant.  

1. Loads of Lindsey alliteration love.
2.  Does Dexter know how funny he is?  Dexter narrates but would he realize how humorous he is without hearing someone laugh at what he says?
3.  So many of these Dexter novels are family dramas.  Dexter does not consider himself human; he has had to observe and learn behaviors and social skills without feeling the emotions that come with.  His outside and anthropological critiques of society include his family.  He feels loyalty to his step-sister but little to no emotion for her.  He does not love his wife but he loves the food she makes.  He is fond of his serial killers-in-training step-kids but love is too strong a word.
4.  The only things Dexter used to 'love' were food and slicing and dicing humans.  Now he feels love for his newborn.
4.a. Can sociopaths change?  Can they begin to feel emotions for others?  From what I have read this is debated.
5.  Crazy Miami traffic love.
6.  Cuban sandwich love.
7.  Full moon love.
8.  Deb is a hothead.
9. "Sensible people avoid abandoned amusement parks."
10.  I did not know Lindsay is a pen name.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Done: "Lady, Go Die!" by Max Allan Collins and Mickey Spillane

Done: Lady, Go Die! by Max Allan Collins and Mickey Spillane, 2012, 9780857684653.

I liked this quite a bit.  I just finished my work with the literary awards committee and grabbed a couple books for my own pleasure reading.  I took this and the Lansdale.  Lady has Hammer vacationing in small town Long Island with Velda to escape the heavy boozing Hammer was doing in the aftermath of I, Jury's events.  As always, spoilers await.

Another manuscript left behind by Spillane.  I remember Collins writing that this one was finished by Spillane and then set aside.  Collins's name is first on the cover.  He has written before how cover design is not indicative of which author may have done the most work.  I could go through the many interviews he has given regarding this book and find out how much he wrote and discover why Spillane shelved this away, but I don't want to bother.

Hammer has been boozing after killing his new girlfriend in I, the Jury.  Velda andPat Chambers convince him he needs to dry out and to take a vacation in Sidon, NY where he has vacationed as a kid.  Hammer and Velda are wlaking through Sidon's small downtown when they see a small guy getting kicked near-to-death in an alley.  Hammer steps in and rescues the guy from three goons attacking him.  The kickee is named Poochie, the kickers are local cops and one is a former NYPD guy, Dekkert, whom Hammer knows and hates.  Hammer hates a lot of people.

Hammer rescues the guy and starts mouthing off and beating people up.  Hammer beats up a lot of people.  Hammer gets involved in helping the mentally retarded Poochie.  Hammer gets involved in local murder case.  Murder case involves illegal, high end gambling in local oceanside mansion.  Hammer investigates.  Hammer finds out about more murders.  Those other murders have cruel sex angle.  Hammer suspects Dekkert for most everything.  Things happen: NYC gamblers, Hammer bones hot chick in NYC, Sidon's local doctor is a drunk, Velda is hot but only wants marriage, Hammer pulls his .45 a lot, Hammer shoots his .45, Velda is abducted,

1.  Leonard Pine and Mike Hammer could be brothers or best pals.  They are both rude and throw insults towards people they dislike, or in situations where they want results.  Would Hammer like Pine?  Hammer does not approve of nancies and poofs.  Hammer is a man of his times and although he does not hate or dislike gays he does not see them as equals.  But, Hammer also sees people as individuals and judges them on their actions.  Pine has plenty of action.

2.  What is the chronology of Hammer's cop service, military service, and PI work?  Jury came out in '47 but Hammer already has made a big name for himself in the papers with PI cases, shootouts and whatnot.  The novels already stretch disbelief so I suppose the timeline should.

3.  At first I liked the title.  Then, I thought the title was stupid.  Then, I read title coming straight from dialogue.
4. Tough guy talk love.
5.  .45 love.
6.  Big boobed curvy women love.  Pun intended.
7.  Lots of great lines including the novel's last.  I should have written some down.  Read the book and find them yourself.
8.  Hammer can be a real dick.
9.  Hammer is impatient and tempestuous.  Hammer is quick to punch but can also interview with patience.  Hammer does not like slutty, teasing behavior but loves to quickly hook-up with and bang chicks.  Hammer never follows the rules but is upset when untrained, local cops do not follow investigative procedure and training.  Hammer is full of contradictions.
10. The flyleaf mentions the film Kiss Me Deadly.  I saw that a few months ago and thought the lead was a good Hammer.  A couple days ago I saw reference to the 6'5" Mike Mazurki and think, minus his accent and usual dumb guy act, would have been good.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Finished: "Devil Red" by Joe R. Lansdale

Finished: Devil Red by Joe R. Lansdale, 2011, 9780307270986.

Problem #1:  As I read the dialogue I realized what an excellent job the regular audio narrator does.  My reading would slow as I imagined the narrator's cadence and twang for Hap and Leonard.
Problem #2:  No problem.

Spoilers will follow.  Hap and Leonard are doing okay.  They have some money left over from the last novel, Vanilla Ride, and are also working for Marvin.  Marvin is retired and running his own detective agency.  Hap and Leonard do the scut work.  Hap and Leonard always do the scut work.

Marvin is hired to investigate the killing of an elderly woman's son.  Woman is accompanied by Journalist.  (Journalist similar to lead character from Leather Maiden but I have not looked to see if he is the same dude).  Elderly Woman's son was killed in the woods with his girlfriend.  Marvin takes the case and the big check that goes with it.  H&L assigned to look into the case some more.  H&L make wisecracks.  H&L always make wisecracks.

Elderly Woman's dead son's Dead Girlfriend was previously involved in a murder case.  H&L visit parent of victim from that case. Weird graffitti scene on crime scene photos researched by journalist.  Journalist finds other murder cases with same graffitti.  H&L and others get uneasy.  H&L and others wonder about serial killer or revenge on all involved in first murder case.  Leonard eats vanilla cookies. Leonard always eats vanilla cookies.

H&L find connection between first Dead Girl's Father and bad guy from Vanilla Ride.  Bad Guy is questioned.  Leonard pisses Bad Guy off on purpose. Leonard is always pising people off on purpose.  Things happen.  Hap has mental breakdown after discovering a dead guy.  Hap is questioning his life, his past actions, his "who am I, what do I do?"  Hap is always question his "who am I?"

Violence ensues.  Wisecracks ensue.  Sexual intercourse ensues several times.  Leonard is shot.  Vanilla Ride reappears to say that Dead Girl's Father is a master assassin getting revenge.  Hap gets his own revenge with assistance from Vanilla.  Vanilla drives off into the night.  H&L bond.  H&L always bond.

1.  The situation with the woman hiring Marvin felt thin.  I presume Lansdale just wanted to get Hap and Leonard moving on the story.  Same with Journalist who works with H&L; he was there to fill gaps in knowledge and bone chicks.  Same with Master Assassin Dead Girl's Father.  But, none of that mattered while reading the story.  Only afterwards, as I write this do those parts of the story seem like a stretch.  Lansdale puts everything together and I joyfully suck it all up.
2.  Dr. Pepper love.
3.  Gratuitous .38 Super.
4.  Ripping on nitpicking gun nerds.
5. I'm thinking Lansdale really likes Vanilla Ride to have brought her back.
6.  Leonard is incapable of staying in a relationship.  Lansdale doesn't give him anyone anyway; Leonard's current beau is trying to ungay himself and never makes an appearance.
7.  Aging heroes love.  How old would H&L be in real life?  Leonard was in Vietnam, right?
8.  How much longer could this have been?  Did Lansdale have a page limit based n publisher demand?  Genre demand?  Audience expectation?
9.  Lansdale is a Facebook posting maniac.
10.  Come to me my glass of iced Dewar's.  i will type one handed and press publish
EDIT: 11. There was an online discussion (probably on Patti Abbott's site) about how sidekick characters in novels do the bad guy stuff.  (Leonard is not a sidekick but since Hap narrates he sorta fits.)  Lead protagonists play the conscience.  H&L fit that format.
EDIT: 12. Gratuitous Italian love via Vanilla Ride.