Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Pandemic Audio: "I'll be Gone in the Dark" by Michelle McNamara

Pandemic Audio: I'll Be Gone in the Dark by Michelle McNamara.

McNamara really did put together a nice book. She died before completion and the two guys who completed the book did have a different style.

McNamara had nice telling details. She - or maybe the afterword - mentions how she never writes guts and gore, supermarket crime. McNamara does not dwell on crime scene and autopsy details. The horror of the serial rapist and murdered shows through loud and clear.

Impossible to listen to this without thinking about the guy they caught after publication. McNamara was correct in thinking commercial databases like 23 And Me would provide the needed leads. She had many online collaborators and true crime hobbyists who would dedicate themselves to searching but most everything was done with online searching and pontificating. They were not researching the multiple case files that covered several jurisdictions. They were not re-interviewing multiple victims and witnesses.

But, McNamara did get access to case files and interviewed people. She used all the information to great effect. 

Much later thoughts as I finally post this:
1. Unknown crook takes on mythical aspects. He can run like the wind, climb like a monkey, and surveils each night for hours on end. 
2. Rapist/Murderer was awful, awful, awful. So glad he was caught and brought to account.

Pandemic Audio: "What You Break" by Reed Farrel Coleman

Pandemic Audio: What You Break by Reed Farrel Coleman, 2017, downloaded from Hoopla.

Second novel featuring retired patrolman Gus Murphy. Murphy is happy living working as a hotel van driver and hotel nightclub bouncer at a second rate hotel on Long Island. He gets a salary and a free room and, therefore, does not have to live in the house that is a reminder of his dead teen son.

Gus is asked via a pal of his to look into why a recent college graduate was murdered. Secondary subplot has Gus assisting his somewhat mysterious co-worker Slava. Immigrant Slava has unusual spy guy skills and some serious guilt. Gus helps Slava and has a dangerous Russian spy guy going after Gus to get to Slava.

Much later notes from late September: 

International intrigue in Long Island at a mid-range hotel by a mid-range airport. 
Gus is still not working through his grief for his deceased son but starts doing so now that he has a new girlfriend he has to send into protection as the bad guys threaten Gus and her. 

Pandemic Audio: "The Acolyte" by Nick Cutter.

Pandemic Audio: The Acolyte by Nick Cutter. 

I could never find a print copy of this and lucked out on seeing this in the Hoopla catalog. Cutter is Craig Davidson's horror novelist pen name. I've really enjoyed the horror books.

I started listening to Acolyte in the van with Boy #1.  Acolyte is set in a dystopian theocracy and the street mob murder of a Muslim man had me turning off the book. The theocracy is 'Christian" based and other religions are either outlawed or ostracized and segregated. The country seems to be split into cooperative City States with rural no man's land patrolled by bandits.

I enjoyed this quite a bit. Cutter puts together a great lead character and a fucked up society. No time to write much more.

1. Love means a lot of nothing. No sex, because that is sin. But, the ultra rich have orgies.
2. No booze. But, there is a strong strong black market trade in communion wine and speed. 
3. Being gay means being dead.
4. Theocratic leaders are based off televangelists of mega churches.

Pandemic: "NADA" by Jean-Patrick Manchette

 Pandemic: NADA by Jean-Patrick Macnhette, 1972 (2019 this translation), 9781681373171.

Revolutionaries in early '70s Paris kidnap the U.S. Ambassador to France. Trouble ensues.

This was fun. A neat time capsule. 

  • Revolutionaries differing over politics while teamed together. 
  • Revolutionaries with waning dedication and idealists. 
  • Idealistic revolutionaries vs. realistic revolutionaries. Drunken louts who're there for no reason in particular.
  • Brutal police willing to torture for answers. 
  • Police willing to work nonstop to find kidnappers and murderers. 
  • High end bordellos.
  • Walther PP love.
  • Shoe-string operation with beat up cars and an old farm hideout.
  • Police willing to shoot up the whole damn farm and kill anyone inside. Fuck arresting, charging, and trying; just shoot them.

Pandemic Print: "Solo" by William Boyd

Pandemic Print: Solo by William Boyd, 2013, 9780062223128.

I've done more listening than reading over the past six months. I started this one and got right into it. The cover design is very well done.

Bond is getting close to fifty. It's 1968 (69?) and M has given Bond a rather vague assignment to West Africa where he is to use his cover as a journalist to enter a breakaway republic and 'influence' the commanding General into defeat. 

My history of Africa is like most Americans: piss poor. But, I did figure out Boyd is fictionalizing the Biafra conflict. I'd heard of Biafra but knew nothing of it. Biafra was a breakaway attempt by part of Nigeria to form Biafra in the massive river delta. The delta was also a newly discovered and massive oil field desired by Euro and US oil companies. There was fighting and mass starvation. 

Anyhoo. Bond heads South as a journalist for a French press agency since France was inclined to support Biafra. Before leaving Bond plays woo-woo with an actress in London. Bond has the sexy-sexy with his English contact in Nigeria-Stand-In-Country. Bond heads into Biafra-Stand-In-Country. Bond meets cruel bad guy mercenary. Bond finagles his way into the confidence of Cruel Mercenary and Biafra-Stand-In military dudes. Bond is found out, shot, and left for dead as Biafra-Stand-In collapses under final attack by Nigeria-Stand-In.

Bond is rescued by Brit military advisors (tank crew) with the Nigeria-Stand-In Army. Bond goes to recuperate in private clinic. Bond is out for revenge. Bond does the sexy-sexy with Actress. Bond heads to Washington DC under cover and without authority: his is solo. Bond has more sex-sexy. Bond buys an anachronistic OC spray. Bond has fights. Bond kills. Bond wins.


1. This was fun. And I enjoyed reading about 50-year-old political shenangins and realpolitick rather than the current day bullshit.

2. Two stories: A. Africa and B. Revenge.

3. Lots of British car love for Jensen Interceptor and Interceptor 2 and FF variant. I just did a quick search and the Interceptors for sale by Hemmings really range in price. From $10,000 to $160,000. 

4. Mustang Mach 1 love. Hemmings has those ranging at $31,000 to $60,000. I used to see the Mach 1s kinda regularly in the '80s.

Friday, September 11, 2020

Pandemic Audio: "The Last Good Guy" by T. Jefferson Parker

 Pandemic Audio: the Last Good Guy by T. Jefferson Parker, 2019, downloaded from Wisconsin Digital Library.

I really enjoyed the Charlie Hood series and after Parker ended that I took awhile to try another of his books. This showed up as I was canning through the catalog so I figured to try it out. Third in the Roland Ford series.

Ford is a PI in San Diego. His wife died when her private plane crashed into the Pacific. He quit the San Diego PD after a shooting involving his partner. He was in the Marines for several years and fought in the first Battle of Fallujah.

Ford is hired by a women to find a missing teen girl. The client is the girl's older sister and guardian. Client is a bit of a weirdo but really good looking. Client tells tale of highly successful TV preacher being after the girl. Ford looks into things, gets snot beaten out of him, so on, so forth.

Parker has a real skill at letting us know his characters and he always puts the San Diego (and the rest of Southern California) setting to good effect. 


1. More muscle car love.

2. Recurring Parker themes of fighting realistic venality and corruption.

3. No magical realism of later Charlie Hood novels.

Pandemic Audio: "Leviathan Wakes" by James S.A. Corey

Pandemic Audio: Leviathan Wakes by James S.A. Corey, 2011, downloaded from Wisconsin Digital Library.

I started watching The Expanse TV series on Amazon earlier in the pandemic. I enjoy the show, it is very well done. So, why not try the book?

Result: the TV show is actually more in-depth for the characters and politics and details of life in space or low gravity. I'm guessing that later novels in the series cover the same time period but with different characters and that the TV show blended all those characters into one narrative. That's a guess though.

Anyhoo. Space has been colonized. Mars and Earth have been feuding for decades and narrowly averted a disastrous war about 10-20 years ago. Mars is not a military dictatorship but their society has been built upon a single goal of terra-forming Mars. Kinda like Israel with kibbutzes and the strong drive for self-defense.

Earth is overpopulated, has one government, and looks down on the martial Martians and the Belters.

"Belters" live in the low-gravity asteroid belt or on the moons of outer planets. Belters mine for the water and other resources needed to survive outside Earth. They looked down on by the Martians as well as Earthers.

Mix it all up and you've basically got colonists and imperialists fighting over resources, government  representation and limits of authority, and independence.

Friday, September 4, 2020

Pandemic DNF: "When Deadly Force is Involved" by Bruce M. Lawlor

 Pandemic DNF: When deadly force is involved: a look at the legal side of stand your ground, duty to retreat, and other questions of self-defense by Bruce M. Lawlor, 2017, 9781442275287.

I read a quarter of this and never got back to it. Interesting questions addressed and analyzed and legal decisions explained. 

Pandemic: "Last of the Gaderene" by Mark Gatiss

 Pandemic: Last of the Gaderene by Mark Gatiss, 2000 (2013 reprint), 9781939647528.

I was looking for any novels by Gatiss and this came up. This is a reprint after Doctor Who started new production.

What Doctor is this? Ok, the back of the book says Third Doctor. I enjoyed the story: Small village with abandoned airbase is taken over by aliens who want to open a passage to their dying planet to take over earth. Pretty standard stuff I suppose but I enjoy these characters.

Anyhoo. An old pal of Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart lives in the village and gives a call asking for help when black uniformed troops employed by a brand new airline arrive in town and take over the base. The new company says they are there to start the airline but they act weird, weird, weird. There are some escapes, a deadly monster in the marsh, Jo works on her own for a while, a village festival.


1. Gratuitous Spitfire airplane love.

2. A lot of villagers are killed.