Thursday, November 17, 2022

Audio: "Black Leopard, Red Wolf" Marlon James

 Audio: Black Leopard, Red Wolf by Marlon James, 2019, downloaded from Wisconsin Digital Library.

Mother. Fucker. The print edition has a fucking map. That's one thing I hate about fantasy books on audio: no maps.

A fantasy novel that, like the best fantasy novels, is a mix of genres. Western. Conan-type adventurer. Mystery. Political thriller.

Excellent narration. Lots of slashing with swords. hewing with teeth. Supernatural beings chasing the heroes. Tragic characters. Sex. Shapeshifting. Awful fathers. Abused children. Casual murder by the wealthy and powerful.

EDIT on 11-17-22: Finally posting this after it sat in draft status since February, 2022. Second novel in the series released shortly after I finished this. 

I wonder if James still teaches. I doubt it. Get enough success and focus on the writing.

Wednesday, November 16, 2022

Hardcover: "Stray Bullets" by Robert Rotenberg

 Hardcover: STRAY BULLETS by Robert Rotenberg, 2012, 9781476757773.

Police procedural set in Toronto. A 4-year-old is murdered by a stray bullet in a Tim Horton's parking lot. 

Straight forward and enjoyable procedural. Kinda relaxed without chases, car wrecks, fistfights, shoot-outs. Emphasis on the police investigation, witness interviews, forensic investigation, suspect interviews, and prosecution and defense of the case.

Not much else to say. A fair amount of Toronto talk but not a tour of the city and neighborhoods.

Good stuff: "The Butcher's Prayer" by Anthony Neil Smith

 Good stuff: THE BUTCHER'S PRAYER by Anthony Neil Smith, 2021, 9781914475160.

I took a while to get around to reading this one. I enjoyed it. Smith explores some far South religion, and murder, and family dynamics in coastal Mississippi.

Rodney was a dirtbag slob, became a holey roller, got married, had kids, backslid, and is now living with a friend from his dirtbag days. Rodney's wife, Rachel, kicked Rodney out over his booze use and ungodly watching of R-rated films. Rodney's pal, Charles, is a small time drug dealer, stupid, and paranoid. Charles murders his drug wholesaler while Rodney is there and things go downhill FAST.

Hosea is a police detective and brother-in-law of Rodney. Hosea used to be a  holey-roller preacher. His father and brother still are holey-rollers. We follow along as:

- Charles turns into a spree killer.

- Rodney goes on the run after using his butcher skills to try and conceal the murder of the wholesaler.

- Rachel thinks, "What the fuck did Rodney do?!"

- Hosea and his partner chase investigative leads during the manhunt and Hosea conflicts with his preacher brother and father. 

There are murders. There are close calls. There is desperation. There is religious zeal besting law and family. There are bad haircuts. There is religiously forced behavior and lifestyle.


1. 1996 setting with cell phones had me trying to remember how widespread cell phones were in '96.There must be some anachronisms in here. But, I'm not sure. I did not get a cell phone until 2001 or so.

DNF: "At What Cost" by James L'Etoile

 DNF: AT WHAT COST by James L'Etoille, 20106, 9781629539959.

I heard a Bouchercon panel L'Etoille was on. 

Police procedural with a serial killer. I could not get into it. Too much was getting packed into the story with a serial killer, forensic investigations, seriously ill child (or dead from illness) of lead investigator, seriously ill child of murder victim, gang rivalries, so on, so forth.

Neat to read a mystery set in Sacramento. 

Comic NonFic: "Murder Book" by Hilary Fitzgerald Campbell

 Comic NonFic: Murder Book: a graphic memoir of a true crime obsession by Hilary Fitzgerald Campbell, 2021, 9781524861162.

Quite good. Campbell was nominated for an Edgar - did not win - and I listened to a couple panels she was on. Her dog wandered all over. I found out she is a cartoonist for THE NEW YORKER and was impressed beyond description.

I did not speak to Campbell. I did chat with a literary agent at the bar who is friendly with Campbell. The agent is also a pal with Mike McCrary and she was ripping him a new one. His chops were thoroughly busted. I subsequently listened to two of McCrary's novels and enjoyed them a lot. 

I chatted with the agent a fair amount. I asked who among the crowd in the bar was a creepy weirdo in real-life. She did not name anyone there. She did have some pithy comments about creepy dudes she worked with when she was in her 20s and working in publishing. 

Anyhoo. I enjoyed this book quite a bit. Campbell's big-time fandom for true crime. Talk about how women are the biggest readers of true crime. Campbell and her mother love true crime. Fascinating recaps of The Zodiac and Ted Bundy and Ann Rule. 


1. Two episodes involved Campbell urinating. That was odd.

2. Apparently Campbell travels with her dog a lot. 

3. Campbell is a big fan of Nancy Grace. Grace advocates for victims. [Grace also sounds like a major nut.]