Thursday, July 30, 2015

Heard: "The Drop" by Dennis Lehane

Heard: The Drop by Dennis Lehane, 2014, Overdrive download. Jim Frangione narrated.

A short novel. It has been a while since I read or heard a Lehane novel. A story with depressing topics and rotten people where bright spots of kindness and dignity shine through the rough. I have not seen the film version.

Bob is a Boston bartender busily busking bartops while bolstering burly, boisterous buyers with boosts of booze.  (I admit that I used a thesaurus.) Bob's life has been remarkably uneventful. He's spent a decade or so going to church, going to work and going home. He's a devout Catholic who daily Mass and he spends little money. He has no friends. He is very withdrawn. He doesn't date any women. He doesn't crack jokes or kid around. He avoids looking people in the eye.

Bob works for his cousin Marv. Marv used to own the bar, Cousin Marv's, until Chechen gangsters moved into the South Boston neighborhood and took the place over. Before the Cheches arrived Marv ran a small-time gangster crew of loan sharks that Bob worked for. Marv and Co. were never very violent and they weren't going to try standing up to the violence happy new guys. Marv folded his miniature crime syndicate, ceded bar ownership to the Chechens, and now manages the bar that doubles as a nightly drop spot for illegal gambling receipts. Lately, Marv has been thinking about how he used to be a big shot and was feared in the area.

One early morning Bob is walking home from work and hears something in a trash can. Bob looks. Bob sees. Bob finds a beaten puppy stuffed in an outdoor garbage can. Lady who lives at the garbage can house sees Bob. Bob and lady, Nadia, take dog into Nadia's place and clean the dog. Bob ends up keeping the dog. Things happen.

The bar is robbed. A violent former boyfriend of Nadia is the one who beat the dog and abandoned it to die; former boyfriend wants the dog back. Marv is scheming to rob the Chechens. Bob is excited and happy with the dog; he's feeling emotions that are new to him because of the dog and his new romantic attraction to Nadia. The Chechens are scary.

It's a neighborhood story. People know one another or identify themselves by their street, their parish, or shared friends. Lehane gives us the people and shows us how they act and why they do what they do. Bob is lonely both by nature and upbringing, but can kill when pushed. Nadia is used to crappy men. Marv wants to cash in after what he sees as years of humiliation and a crappy mid-life existence. Former Boyfriend is nuts and wants the dog back because he wants power over others.

Lehane writes well about the place and the characters.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Finished: Reborn: a Dead Man adventure by Goldberg, et al

Finished: Reborn: a Dead Man adventure by Kate Danley, Phoef Sutton, Lisa Klink, Lee Goldberg, William Rabkin, 2014, 9781477823569.

This is a full Dead Man novel, not a novella or compilation.  Different sections are not listed under one author so I can't tell who wrote what part. I'm still waiting for Klink to write something I don't enjoy so I can snark up my typing with "Klink Goes Clunk".

A Byzantine ship crewed by slaves and occupied by Moloch-worshipping lords sinks in a massive storm. Present-day marine archaeologist finds the ship perfectly preserved on the floor of the Black Sea. Marine Archaeologist raises the Byzantine ship to take back to Seattle. The ship is spooky and crew members on the recovery ship start dying.

Back in Dallas, Tanis is a somewhat shiftless 26-year-old barista and half-assed community college student. Years ago Tanis's father abandone the family and Tanis lives, and fights, with her mom and worships her brother, Brett.  Tanis quits her job after a one too many bad customers and her mother tells her to move out. Tanis drives off in a huff, her truck speeds out of control, she drives through a freeway guardrail and dies in the crash.

When Tanis awakes she is in a steel box, bangs on the sides, and is pulled out of a morgue refrigerator. Then, of course, Tanis starts seeing dead people. Tanis sees a psychiatrist. Tanis starts a blog to deal with seeing so many rotting people. Matt Cahill shows up and says "Hey there, want to join up with the dead-people-seeing-and destroying crew?" Tanis says, "FU." Tanis is in the middle of bank robbery carried out by dead people, she is rescued by Cahill. Tanis has enough and runs off to Mexico for booze and sex with her psychiatrist. Psychiatrist is actually Mr. Dark. Yeeach. Tanis looks for Matt Cahill.

The two story lines combine with Tanis joining Cahill and some "freaks" we learned about earlier in the series. They are looking for the laboratory derived virus that leaves people immune to Mr. Dark's touch. They also have to stop the Byzantine ship from spreading evil and, then, awakening Moloch.

Heads are chopped off. Arms are chopped off. Throats are cut. Spines are severed. Heads are smashed. Impalements. Blood spray. Chainsaws, knives, sticks, hammes, and an ax. Sex on the beach. Weird green light. Dead children. A trip back to the Black Sea. Quick read, fun entertainment.

1. This was announced 18 months ago and see no other Dead Man titles since. I have not looked to if Goldberg and Rabkin have quit the series or taken a break.
2. Never done through Cahill's eyes. This was all Tanis and Marine Archeologist.
3. Tanis dies and then comes back to life,again and reappears to rescue Matt Cahill.
4. Cahill has an ax. Tanis has a hammer.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Listened: "Kiss Her Goodbye" by Mickey Spillane and Max Alan Collins

Listened: Kiss Her Goodbye by Mickey Spillane and Max Alan Collins, 2011, download.

Hammer has been hiding and recuperating in Florida after being seriously wounded in a mob shoot-out. That shoot-out left a mob boss's son dead from Hammer's .45. Hammer gave Velda the harsh brush-off for fear that her hanging around his hospital bed would get her killed. Pat Chambers finds Hammer sends word that their former colleague and mentor Inspector Doolan has died. Hammer hats his heads and goes north to 1979(ish) Manhattan.

Doolan killed himself after a fatal cancer diagnosis. Hammer does not believe Doolan would do that. Pat Chambers lays out all the evidence showing Doolan killed himself. Hammer attends the funeral, meets the mobsters who show up at the visitation, puts a Browning pistol in Doolan's casket, witnesses a murder mugging up the street from the funeral home. Hammer is Hammer and he starts poking around in Doolan's and the mugging victim's background.

Hammer sees things that don't match up. Doolan made enemies as a Police Officer and after retirement worked to clean-up a crime riddled neighborhood. Doolan was also running some private investigations. One of those investigations was at a Studio 54 stand-in. A mobster's son runs the Studio 54 Stand-In but says he is legit. A South American singer named Chrome is a beauty and smiles at Hammer.

Things happen. Someone tries to kill Hammer in a hit-and-run but kills a prostitute instead. An assassin steals into Hammer's hotel room. Public sex and cocaine love at Studio 54 Stand-In. Hammer sex with Assistant District Attorney.  Chrome works to seduce Hammer. Hammer wears a hat. Hammer was gone for only a year but everything in NYC seems different. Hammer has also changed and is fighting post-shooting pain and stiffness.

1. Of all the Hammer novels I've read or listened to (and there are plenty more left) I think this one would be most adaptable to a film version. Hammer is reintroducing himself, and us, to New York. his friends and allies and enemies. This has the usual mix of action, cogitation and sex along with Hammer's worry and wanting for missing Velda.
2. Christa Faust recently commented online how she sick she is of tv and movie scenes set in night clubs with characters hunting and chasing each other through crowds of gyrating people under flashing lights. Hammer visits the Studio 54 stand-in and does not approve of the sex and drugs. Hammer is never confused about what he believes and why he acts but others don't understand his reasoning on sex, drugs, and violence.
3. The brief Foreword on this one says that Collins combined two manuscripts and wrote everything together. The novel is dedicated to Stacey Keach. It's weird listening to Stacey Keach read a dedication to Stacey Keach.
4. Hammer visits a the mobster who sent the hotel room assassin. Hammer is looking for information and, maybe, a truce. Things don't turn out that way and Hammer goes on a killing spree with his .45 and battlefield pick-up M3 submachine gun. Velda later says he killed 24 people. Not very believable but fun to listen to and there is a nicely done section where Hammer is hammering away with his gun and has a flashback to the war in the Pacific.
5. That flashback felt more Collins than Hammer, it reminded me of Heller.
6. Hammer biography note. I wondered what the timeline was for police and Army. Hammer mentions he lied about his age to join the Army and then joined the PD after discharge. He lasted a couple years with the NYPD until he quit the job. Doolan knew Hammer was not right for police work and helped push Hammer out. Hammer knew Doolan did this and accepted that Doolan was right about Hammer's personality and methods.