Monday, December 31, 2012

Read: "Chicago Lightning" By Max Allan Collins

Read: Chicago Lightning:the collected Nathan Heller short stories by Max Allan Collins, 2011, 9781439275870.

I never read a Heller novel.  Collins has written online about the novels and the topic I best recall has to do with sexuality.  Heller is a skirt chaser and the novels do not avoid sex scenes. Collins has discussed his own reactions and opinions about readers' and reviewers't adverse reactions to the sex scenes.  Because of that I was expecting sex sex sex sex sex.

Well, Heller is a skirt chaser and ends up dating or sleeping with several gals but there was nothing I consider graphic.  I was disappointed.  Good thing the stories are so well done.  Pub dates range from 1984 to 2008.  Setting range from early 1930s to mid 1950s.  I skimmed Collins's intro.

Heller can be a bit of a dickhead at times and is always interested in making a buck.  He won't cheap a client  but will charge a wealthy guy extra.  The realistic settings mixed with true crime are interesting.  Plenty of Chicago mobsters, L.A. mobsters, Cleveland crooks, and Eliot Ness.

1. The intro by Collins mentions Heller's post-war changes.  He becomes more Mike Hammer-ish and ready with violence.  I should read some of those post-war PTSD stories in comparison to the Quarry books.
2.  This is an ARC I picked up somewhere.  Should I complain about errors in an advanced readers copy? No. But, I will.
Story titles not on each story page.
No table of contents.
Author notes out of order.
There, I feel better.
3.  Heller likes rum.
4.  Heller carries a 9mm Browning.  Is this supposed to be a Hi-Power? EDIT 1-2-12: I picked up my Hi-Power clone today and put about 70 rounds through it.  The pistol shot pretty well but the trigger is a little rough and my thumbs forward grip pushed up on the slide lock.  I put tape on the web of my hand to dull the hammer bite.
5.  Heller likes all sorts of gals.  But, since this is a novel, they are all pretty, sexy, and willing to boink.
6.  P.I. novel staple of a PI with police connections and ability to get information from the police or tag along with them.
7.  Plenty of historical research.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Done: "Persuader" by Lee Child

Done: Persuader by Lee Child, 2003, 0385336667.

The usual.  Reacher is walking along and something happens.  Federal cops want Reacher's help.  Reacher uses his Army experience.  Reacher insults bad guys.  Reacher has sex with hot federal cop.  Reacher kills without remorse.  Reacher solves a mystery and hits the bricks.

Reacher is walking in Boston when he sees a guy he was sure is dead.  Reacher calls an MP to run a license plate and DEA comes to Reacher's hotel to speak with him.  Dead Guy is a bad guy Reacher went after when Reacher was an MP.  Dead Guy has connection to possible drug trafficker in Maine.  Reacher agrees to help DEA by going undercover and look for missing DEA agent.  Reacher saves Maine Guy's son from fake kidnapping to get Maine Guy's confidence.

Reacher thinks.  Reacher ponders.  Reacher insults.  Reacher kills.  Reacher ends up commanding and controlling.  Reacher has deadline to get job done before he is found out. Reacher kills some more guys.  Reacher discovers high-end gun running.  Child parses out the story of Reacher's involvement in Army's investigation of Dead Guy.

Everything ends happily with Dead Guy dead for good, a woman tortured and killed, a bad guy eviscerated, Reacher almost drowned, lots of cold wind and rain, missing DEA agent almost sold into sexual slavery, and two more DEA agents murdered.

1. Gratuitous insults of Makarov handgun design.  Phooey.
2. Jack Mr.-know-it-all Reacher.
3.  Isolated house on the coast.  Reacher always ends up in isolated houses.  The West Texas novel, the novel where he goes to England, the novel where he goes to Montana, the Florida novel in mob owned town.
4.  Colt Anaconda love.
5. A very good thriller.  The usual.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Listened: "Savage Season" by Joe R. Lansdale

Listened: Savage Season by Joe R. Lansdale, 1990 (book) and 2009 (audio), Overdrive download.

First Hap and Leonard novel and answers some questions I had about their pasts.  Quite good, as usual.  Much humor, as usual.

Hap and Leonard are shooting skeet when Hap's ex-wife, Trduy, shows up.  Leonard promptly leaves.  Leonard hates Trudy.  Trudy and Hap met in the '60s and got married.  Both of them were gung-ho activists and Hap decided his act of revolution would be to get drafted, refuse induction, and heroically go to jail.  Trudy was right along with him on the plan. Until Trudy changed her mind while Hap was in Leavenworth and she divorced him.

Trudy is a sexy beast and in the intervening years has boomeranged back to Hap, wrapped him around her finger, and her around his dick, and then dumped him cold.  The last time that happened Hap went on a major booze bender until Leonard pulled him out of it.  Hap has sworn her off but falls right into bed with her.

Trudy has a proposal.  Another of her ex-husbands, Howard, was also in prison for Fighting the Man and had a con pal who told him about lost bank robbery money.  Trudy and Howard want to recover the cash.  The cash is in the Sabine river near the town Hap grew up in.  They want Hap to help for a cut of the take.

Hap asks Leonard to help out.  Howard and Co. are leftover '60s do-gooders.  Howard and Co. plan Revolution!

Things happen.  Leonard is rude and insulting.  Hap pines for Trudy although he knows she is a tramp and is now with Howard.  Humorous situations.  Leonard and Hap love each other.  Leonard and Hap insult each other.  Leonard and Hap are doublecrossed by do-gooders.  Do-gooders are double crossed by a gun runner.  Gun Runner is very unpleasant.  Gigante's narration is a very good performance.

Hap and Leonard go to hospital.  Everyone else dies.

1. Has anyone ever done a simile count for H&L books?  There are a ton.
2. Gratuitous vanilla cookies.
3.  Lousy, cold weather.
4.  Nothing about Leonard's uncle, just his parents.
5.  Hap is not as angry and violent here as in later novels.  Lansdale does not explore Hap's dichotomy: his dislike of violence that still falls to his temper.  Peace-and-love Hap's dislike of violence even though he is very good at it.  Hap wanting a peaceful life but always taking on potentially violent work.
6.  That's right.  Dichotomy.  I also know what bifurcated means.
7.  I just read a Lee Child novel where Reacher says he does not fight for the underdog, Reacher says, "I hate big smug people who think they can get away with things."  Hap and Leonard fit in there.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Quit: "The Green Shore" by Natalie Bakopoulos

Quit: The Green Shore by Natalie Bakopoulos, 2012, 9781451633924.

Committee novel.  Military coup in 1967 Greece brings worry to an Athenian family.  Widowed Doctor Mom, Mom's three kids, and Mom's younger brother, a well known leftist poet.

I read to page 94 and nothing happened.  A taxi driver neighbor was arrested and tortured.  The Mom's older daughter is protesting "The Colonels" behind the coup.  The poet is trying to decide if he should reconcile with his estranged wife.  The Mom's son heads to the U.S. for grad school.  Blah blah blah.

"But, were you inclined to dislike this novel because the author teaches at University of Michigan?"

"Of course, Muck Fichigan after all.  But, I gave it a fair shake, 94 pages is enough.  Besides I read Megan Abbott books and according to her bio she attended school there."

"Really?  Were you not also biased against the author because you cannot spell her name?"

"Yeah, kinda, but in my defense she is really good looking and that outweighs names I am unable to pronounce or spell."

"How about the book cover?"

"I liked the colors."

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Read: "Boxing Is..." by Thomas Hauser

Read: Boxing Is...: reflections on teh sweet science by Thomas Hauser, 2010, 9781557289421.

Compilation of 2009 articles by the boxing writer.  I was in the Fitchburg PL with the boys on a Saturday of Sunday and saw this when looking for gun books in the sports section.  There were a couple of these yearly compilations by Hauser.

I have not watched much boxing over the past 7 years or so.  I used to watch Friday Night Fights on ESPN when in Phoenix.  I started to pay a good amount of attention to the sport but got off track after moving.

Some of the pieces in here were quite interesting.  Other pieces I did not care about and read through as quickly as possible.

1.  Several articles by Hauser on how HBO has been screwing up their boxing programming.  They were doing exclusive deals with just a couple promoters giving them a limited number of boxers to schedule.  They were schedule uncompetitive bouts.  The guy running HBO boxing sounds like a dick.  HBO is the real influence in television boxing.  They have the money to make things happen but do a lousy job.
2.  Piece on Sugar Ray Robinson's career and life was quite interesting.  So many out-of-the-ring stories are compelling.
3.  Hauser collected notes about Joe Frazier made by another journalist after that journalist's death.  Muhammed Ali could be a real dickhead.  Ali deserve much credit for standing up to racial bullshit but he was also a jerk.  Frazier used to like the Ali and admired him, but Ali would name call and pick on Frazier to build himself up.  As Ali's boxing opponent Frazier was framed as his political opponent too.  Not true.
4.  Interesting piece on unproved corruption in Texas boxing.  A big fight in Houston was horribly scored in favor of the hometown fighter.
5.  Stories and briefs on current greats.  Pacquiao receives great praise for his abilities and superhero status in the Philippines.

Listened: "The Mark Inside" by Amy Reading

Listened: The Mark Inside: A Perfect Swindle, a Cunning Revenge, and a Small History of the Big Con by Amy Reading, 2012 (audio), Overdrive download.

Texas rancher J. Frank Norfleet was conned out of several thousand dollars in 1919 while in Dallas.  Norfleet is ticked off, Norfleet goes after the five man crew that took him.  His chase covers several years, thousands of miles, and most of the country.  Norfleet learns all about con games and con men and runs his own cons numerous times by acting as a ripe sucker for con men.

An interesting book but mainly a recap and analysis of Norwood's own stories.  Norwood became famous in the '20s with numerous news articles, an autobiography, and lecture tours.  Reading accuses Norwood himself of being a bit of a con man because of exaggerations and unsubstantiated claims.

Reading's recap is well written and bulwarked by the author trying to verify Norwood's claims.  Reading is rightly critical and skeptical of Norfleet and points out the exaggerations and apocryphal elaborations.  Reading seems to have done some good research in newspaper libraries and compared different versions of events from multiple print sources and multiple witnesses.  Reading had access to letters from Norfleet and other people  Norfleet lived to over 100 years old and continued to communicate with cops and attorneys he befriended during his hunt.

Norfleet spent a lot of time in Florida, Texas, California, and Colorado in his hunt for the crooks.  Along the way he ran into plenty of crooked cops and politicians.  Norfleet is deputized in Texas at one point and uses that badge to arrest crooks and return them to TX.  He busted other con men he came across.  His life was under threat in several instances and he would pack 2-3 handguns at a time.

Reading interlacing a short history of infamous con men and cons from pre-Revolutionary era to modern day.  The importance of cons and gambling in keeping money moving in early economies.  The con's similarities with gambling, legal speculation on land and commerce, and stock markets. The fact that the con, ,"confidence", is something that crosses legal and illegal endeavors.  "Con" and confidence is faith in an individual's trustworthiness and abilities.  Not faith in company reports, mining tallies, corporate incomes, etc.

A con man's mark builds trust in his mark.  The coining of the phrase con man comes from an early 1800s con man who would pretend to be a stranger's pal in NYC and ask, "Do you have confidence in me to hold your [expensive] watch for a day?" and then never reappear.

1.  The crooks would spend the money as fast as they made it.  When captured they would be indignant.  Sociopaths who believe they did nothing wrong.
2.  The best cons leave the victim never knowing he was conned.  The victim is taking an offer to good too be true but also a little illicit.  The best long con sends the victim home thinking he got off light.  That the victim escaped danger or police.
3.  Norfleet was driven to catch the guys.  He was a physically sturdy and small statured guy that spent years on the range building his purse and slowly acquiring land.  He 54-years-old when taken and often asked why he went after them.  Reading emphasizes one of his last answers to that question, "I had to do it, man."
4.  Great history of turn of the century corruption in Denver.  The city was a hub of con men and crooks whose leader ran the city.  A WWI veteran was barely elected as District Attorney by getting enough suburban votes to beat the city's stuffed ballot boxes.  The new DA played it dumb and slwly built a slam dunk case against the grifters.  Norfleet arrived in town right before the arrests and became involved in the case.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Comic: "Star Wars: Knight Errant: Volume Two: Deluge" by John Jackson Miller

Comic: Star Wars: Knight Errant: Volume Two: Deluge by John Jackson Miller, 2012, 9781595826381.

Kerra Holt, 18-year-old Jedi, is still behind enemy lines during the Sith War in the era of the Old Republic.  Yeah, I'm confused about the timetable too.

Anyway.  Sith are fighting each other and the Republic.  Holt is trying to free her home planet.  A Hutt leads an attack on a Sith planet to take over and make money. Holt teams up with an independent space fleet to defeat the Hutt and free the planet.

Blah, blah, blah.  Holt overcomes.

Done: "What We Talk About When We Talk About Anne Frank" by Nathan Englander

Done: What We Talk About When We Talk About Anne Frank by Nathan Englander, 2012, 9780307958709.

Committee book.  I tried listening to Ministry of Special Cases four years ago, got bored, then quit.  This was five or six short stories.  I forget how many stories and already sent the book back to Waterloo.  At least I think I sent the book back to Waterloo.  I hope it's not still sitting at home.

Literary fiction.  Pretty decent.  Not great, not moving, tedious at time.  All Jewish tales.  I mean "Jewish tales" because religion or culture all play an important role in each story.  Here is a recap of the stories I recall right now.

"Beat Up Kids" story.  Jewish kids in 1980s Long Island have an anti-Semite bully picking on them.  The guys try to fight back and are unsuccessful for a variety of reasons.  The immigrant janitor at the local shul is recruited by the kids to teach them self-defense.  The kids only end up winning against the goon when recruiting an older neighborhood teen to slug the bully.

"Lawyer in peep show" story.  Fantasy story of a lawyer who has left the religion and mainstreamed his name.  Lawyer goes into one of the last Times Square peep shows on a whim.  Lawyer pops a boner at the show and orgasms in his pants.  When the sliding panel hiding the strippers goes back up he sees his previous rabbis there.  He sees his mother.  Lawyer takes place of stripper.

"Anne Frank" title story.  Guy and wife welcome her old high school pal to their Florida home.  Gal Pal and husband are Ultra Orthodox who moved to Israel years ago.  Florida Husband not found of Orthodox people.  FLordia Husband not sure about how to act.  Humor made of these misperceptions.  Humor crack about sex through a sheet.  Orthodox couple are stoners.  All four smoke marijuana and play Holocaust obsessive Florida Wife's game of Trusty Goyem: who would protect or hide me if Jews were being hunted down again?

"Buy my daughter" story.  Woman in remote settlement in 68 or 73 war.  Her neighbor comes over with deathly ill infant.  Neighbor asks to sell the sick child.  Neighbor is at wit's end and wants to follow old superstition that selling the girl will trick death.  Woman 'buys' girl.  25 years later a city has been built up and Woman's husband and sons have all been killed in wars or car wrecks.  Woman demands Neighbor's daughter as her own.  Trial with rabbis confirms that she owns the girl.  My thought? What the fuck?  Tell the crazy old bat to pound sand.  Why does the young lady (the daughter) stay with Woman from that time on?  Leave town.  Get a job elsewhere.

I don't recall the other stories and won't look them up online.  You can do that yourself.

Also, I'm not going to provide literary analysis, so read the damn stories and do your damn homework yourself instead of Google trolling.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Listened: "Holmes on the range" by Steve Hockensmith

Listened: Holmes on the Range by Steve Hockensmith, 2006 (audio), Overdrive download.

I signed up for a while ago for some reason I don't recall.  I log in sometimes to rate the books I've read.  The Goodreads rating system is five stars with a brief description for each star.  1 star = "didn't like it" and 5 stars = "it was amazing".  I would rate this at 5 stars except I very much doubt I will call any book "amazing".

First book in the series and the second I have listened to.  Narrator William Dufris narrated both this and Black Dove and does a very good job with accents, and twang, and performing the work.  The only drawback, the same problem I encountered in Black, was that some characters sound like the Mr. Garrison character from South Park.

Old Red and Big Red are in Miles City, MT for the winter and have no work.  They are in a saloon when a mean ranch foreman and his equally mean brother come in looking to hire hands.  Old Red and Big Red are hired for the Bar-VR.  The Bar-VR is rundown, secretive, owned by English investors and run by an Englishman manager.

Old Red has recently learned of Sherlock Holmes and started to emulate his methods. Both Big and Old are cowpunchers but Old Red is aspiring to be like his hero, Holmes.  Old wants to work for the unsavory ranch partly because he wants to find out what all the bad reputation is about.

Old and Big and all the other new hands are forbidden firearms, bunked only with the other new guys, and forbidden to travel to certain parts of the ranch territory.  The are given the scut work of cleaning up and painting the main ranch house, de-worming cattle, fixing broken windmills, and other lousy jobs.

Things happen.  Foremen are jerks and mysterious.  Ranch manager killed during storm and mushed into the ground by the cattle.  Old starts to ask questions.  Big makes wisecracks and never stops talking.  English owners show up at the ranch.  Old and Red converse a bit with the maid of the part-owner who is an English Duke.  Big is hot for Duke's daughter.  Crony of Foremen is murdered.  Old says he can solve the case before the Marshall arrives.  Owners are keen on this since something secretive is going on.

Investigatin' ensues.  Old is taciturn.  Big is loquacious.  Big cracks jokes.  Old suffers Big's behavior.  Big shoots one bad guy in head.  Old brings everyone together into the same room for the reveal.  [What is that method called?  I know there is a name for it.]  Shootout ensues.  Bad guys are shot dead.  Old is shot and wounded.  Big is distraught.  Old lives to give Hockensmith sequels.

1.  One thing that I don't recall being made clear in Black Dove is that Sherlock Holmes is real.  I thought this was played sorta straight with Big and Old not understanding that the stories are fiction.  Not so. Old and Big inhabit the same fictional universe as Holmes.
2.  Plenty of wisecracks.  Plenty of jokes.  Several cowboy fart jokes.
3.  Not a cozy with the fart jokes, outhouse smell, and grotesque dead bodies.  But, the attitude feels the same to me.  Things are more relaxed and fun than tense.  There is tension to be sure but I enjoyed the play between Old and Red more than I worried for the dangerous situations.
4.  I thought Hockensmith did regular western novels but his blog's bib. does not list any.
5.  Old and Big's family were on the Cottonwood River in East Kansas until the rest of the family died from smallpox and flooding.
6.  A Duke's daughter and cowboys?  Sounds like a romance.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Quick: "Star Wars: Knight Errant: volume 1 Aflame" by John Jackson Miller

Quick: Star Wars: Knight Errant: volume 1 aflame by John Jackson Miller, 2011, 9781599619866.

On committee list.  Brief comic book novel.  Volume 1 of 5.

The Sith Lords are fighting the republic 1000 years before Skywalker and also fighting Sith versus Sith.  Jedi Master Vannar Treese has landed on Chelloa to stop a Baradium mining operation run by a Sith.  Volunteering for the mission is new Jedi Kerra Holt.

The group lands and kills a bunch of bad guys.  Kerra meets a local leader.  A different Sith Lord attacks the mining operation while the Jedi are gathering the captive miners.  Big fight.  Kerra attacks the attacking Sith Lord because he killed her family.  Vannar sends her back.  Vanner killed by Sith Lord.  Sith Lord set off machine that ruins the planet surface by burning the Baradium.  Kerra found by local guy.  Looks like the Jedi ship crashed and Kerra is the only Jedi left on the planet.

1.  Very brief.  Looks to be aimed at 5th grade or so.
2.  The action of the illustrations did not follow the text and story as closely as I prefer.
3. "Sith" is flagged by the spell check but "Jedi" is not.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Three of Four: "Plays of the 60s: volume 3" edited by Katherine Brisbane

Three of Four: Plays of the 60s: volume 3 edited by Katherine Brisbane, 1998, o868195626.

I was weeding my library's nonfiction and pulled a book about Australia.  The title was something like Modern Australia but was published in 1980.  I tossed that sucker but looked through it first.  Opening a book in the stacks is an often dangerous business, I cease being a weeder and turn into a reader.

After a semester of college in Perth, Western Australia I have a lingering interest in what happens in Australia.  Even the thirty year old stuff in there was worth a look, especially since there were lots of photos.  One photo showed a stage scene from a production of the play Burke's Company. "Huh," I thought to myself. "What is that about?" So I searched World Cat, found this collection at UW-Madison, put in a request, and a couple days later all three freaking volumes showed up.

Four Australian written and produced plays that had an impact.  A Refined Look at Existence by Rodney Milgate, Chicago, Chicago by John Romeril, Burke's Company by Bill Reed, and The Front Room Boys by Alex Buzo. Their impact was not just that they were good but that the domestic theater industry in Australia was minor.

A Refined Look.  Bleah.  Pretentious with the characters directly addressing the audience, talking about themselves in third person and speaking dialogue in unison.  I quit after a few pages.

Chicago, Chicago.  Not too bad.  "Man" is in Chicago during the '68 convention.  Man boomerangs around from being a political worker, to an alcoholic in rehab, to dream sequence.  Two theater goers - 1960 suburban bourgeoisie stand-ins - give periodic critics of the play and its meanings.  The critiques were helpful to me.  I wonder if the writer was ragging on that type of person.

Burke's Company.  Fairly decent but difficult for me to imagine on the stage.  I figure good acting would bring out the drama much more.  Bill Bryson wrote about Burke and other overland explorers in In A Sunburned Country.  Burke and company died of malnutrition walking from South coast to North coast and back again.  Burke established a supply camp in central Australia as he headed North.  The man in charge of the camp, Brahe, stayed way past Burke's expected return and left with a mortally sick teammate only hours - hours - before Burke and two others returned.  Brahe returned later with a rescue party and missed Burke and company yet again.  Burke and the rest die.

Small cast and spare stage with Brahe incredibly guilty and Burke dreaming of glory and refusing the aid of the aborigines.  Another character is remorseless about not coming forward with more supplies.

The Front Room Boys.  Best play and the one most easily translatable to modern times.  The others are very much period pieces with social concerns of Vietnam, social unrest, social change, political change, etc.  Front Room is also concerned with those things but is an office comedy.  The "front room boys" - and two women - are office clerks doing busy work reports for the "back room boys".  The front room boys vary in age from 20 to 60.  Some are okay, one is kinda dumb, one is ambitious, one is a backstabber dickhead, so on, so forth.  Told over a calendar year with a scene for each month (although 3-4 scenes are very brief).

Failed love affairs.  Having to put up with boring but steady work.  Whether to risk rocking the boat to get better pay and opportunity.  Whether the job is worth the daily humiliation.

1.  I only expected one book.  I am not sure if I will get to the other two.
2.  I have to start reading literary committee novels.  The good thing about the literary committee is that I end up reading books I would never have tried out on my own.  The bad thing about the literary committee is that I end up reading books I would never have tried out on my own.
3. I seem to be the first person to ever check these books out.  I should try calling the UW library and asking.  I know someone who works there, maybe I can email her and ask if she could check the circ stats.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Listened: "Silver" by Andrew Motion

Listened: Silver: return to Treasure Island by Andrew Motion, 2012, Overdrive download.

Quite decent.  Above average.  A fella could get some grief taking on a sequel to an old novel like Treasure Island.  Should the author do a repeat?  A modern setting?  Jim Hawkins returning?  Motion did well.  Here there be Spoilers.

Jim Hawkins returned from Treasure Island a wealthy boy.  When he reached maturity he drank and screwed his way through London.  Upon meeting his future wife he toned down his lifestyle and they bought a rural, riverside inn following the trade of both their families.  Hawkins's wife died in childbirth.

But, Jim Hawkins, Sr. barely appears in here and for most of that time he is drunkenly asleep.  We learn that biographical bit from his son, Jim.  Jim is about 18 and done with boarding school.  Jim is ripe for adventure.  Older Jim has never been much of a father. Jim has heard his father's often told tales of Treasure Island and Long John Silver.  Jim is approached by a pretty girl named Natty.  Natty is the daughter of Long John Silver. 

Natty rows Jim upriver to London to meet a decrepit and blind Long John Silver who proposes Jim find his father's original map to Treasure Island and recover the silver that was left there 40 years previously.  Jim decides to join them; Jim wants the adventure and is instantly smitten with Natty.

Adventure ensues.  Long John had already had a ship and crew outfitted for the voyage.  Slightly figured Natty dresses as "Nat" and fakes being a boy.  The captain and crew are a good bunch and in high spirits (aside from a nasty event during the voyage).  Upon their late night arrival to the island the crew are excited.  Then the crew see the bonfires and degradation upon the shore.  The ship is anchored in the island's and the crew investigate.

Much happens.  The three maroons left at the end of Treasure Island are still alive and rule over the crew and slaves of a wrecked slave ship.  A runaway slave is found.  Plans are made.  Island geography.  Natty is captured.  The crew set out to rescue her.  Shooting.  Fighting. More fighting.  Snakes.  Silver is found.  Ship sails off.  Ship is hurricaned.  Jim and Natty are washed onto the beach of Spanish America.

1. I read/listened to Treasure Island in 2007 for the first time and liked it quite a bit.  I should read it to my children.
2.  Silver is similar in several ways. The island action takes place over a couple days.  Capture of a main character.  Traveling the island and descriptions of it.  Nasty and murderous bad guys.  Sense of adventure in Jim. Talking bird.  Seafaring.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Read: "Faces of the Gone" by Brad Parks

Read: Faces of the Gone by Brad Parks, 2009, 9780312672805.

Decent.  Newspaper reporter investigates quadruple homicide in Newark and stirs up trouble.

Carter Ross is an investigative reporter for the big daily paper in Newark (and New Jersey).  When four drug dealers are murdered in a vacant lot in Newark Ross writes a story.  Ross works to discover the connection among the four dead dealers.  Ross gets hot for his editor who is angling to get pregnant and not too concerned about who the father may be.

Ross works with a intern (stereotypical gay guy for comedic relief).  Ross deals with his grouchy editor.  Ross works some contacts.  Ross speaks to friends of the dead.  Ross speaks to relatives of the dead.  Ross speaks to gang member pals of the dead.

The mystery aspects were not that interesting.  Parks has short sections following a drug king pin's thoughts but the reader just follows Ross around.  His thoughts on modern journalism and newspapers.  His demanding schedule.  His lonely home life.  The desolate sections of Newark.  The nice parts of Newark.  Newark's bad reputation and how it is sometimes incorrect.  The culture of inner-city Newark: a good kid gets "C" grades and is not arrested too often, a firebombed strip club is a a community and cultural focal point.

The strength of the book is Ross doing his work and Parks writing about the people living in Newark.  Not gritty and dark like Richard Price, lots of jokes, humor, and ball busting newsroom characters.