Saturday, 28 February 2015

DAVID PUTNAM - THE REPLACEMENTS (2015)


Synopsis/blurb….

Bruno Johnson, ex-detective with Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department and an ex-convict, is hiding out from the FBI in Costa Rica, tending bar to support eight children he illegally rescued from abusive homes. Partway through a normal day, Barbara Wicks, a former colleague and the chief of police for Montclair, California, walks into his bar. Bruno is shocked to the core.  Is she there to arrest him and take him back to California? Turns out she's there to request Bruno's help.  Two children have been kidnapped. 

The kidnapper, Jonas Mabry, was himself a victim whom Bruno rescued as a small child.  Now Mabry demands a fool's retribution, a million dollar ransom, and Bruno to put his life on the line to get the money. In this twisted turn of fate, Bruno returns as a wanted criminal to California.  Despite the risk of arrest and even his life, he cannot turn his back on these kids.  And neither can Bruno's girlfriend, Marie. 

I read and enjoyed Dave Putnam’s debut novel The Disposables early in 2014. The Disposables attracted praise from the likes of Michael Connelly, T. Jefferson Parker and William Bernhardt.
The Disposables review here.

His second novel picks up with Bruno Johnson, our ex-cop settling into life as a bar-keep in Costa Rica with his girlfriend, Marie, his ailing father and the children they saved from a lifetime of abuse and hurt. Bruno is wanted back in the States by the FBI for his part in the children’s abduction. Bruno has a chequered past, as well as being a former cop he’s also an ex-convict, having killed his son-in-law after the man was responsible for the death of his grandson.   

All is going well until a former colleague of Bruno’s walks into his bar and entices him back to the US. A couple of girls have been kidnapped and the perpetrator, Jonas Mabry will only deal with Johnson. The two have a connection, as 20 years previously Bruno saved Jonas as a small child when his mother shot and killed his two sisters before shooting her son and turning the gun on herself.
Bruno, despite the risk to his freedom and over the protestations of his family, goes back under the radar. Once he’s back in the States the pace picks up and is pretty relentless until the climax.

Child abduction, a rapid quick-fire investigation, cops, the FBI, Sons of Satan biker gang, a stakeout on a beached whale of an ex-bank robbing felon, ransom demands, gold bullion, Aryan Brotherhood, fractured and damaged family and history and a bitter resentment fuelling a desire for revenge.

Harsh, brutal, violent – Bruno is not averse to employing a bit of the aforementioned in his efforts to get him closer to the missing kids. So probably not a book for the faint-hearted.

I loved it myself….great characters with heart, doses of humour and plenty of action. Unlikely characters, such as Karl Drago – our whale-like bank robber revealing hidden depths of humanity and stoicism and a desire to do the right thing, despite all the previous evidence to the contrary.

A fantastic read.

5 from 5


I was fortunate enough to receive and ARC from the author just before Christmas.

The Replacements was released earlier this month by Oceanview Publishing.


David Putnam has his website here

Friday, 27 February 2015

BOB FORWARD - THE OWL: JUSTICE NEVER SLEEPS (1984)


Synopsis/blurb……

It’s the mid-1980s. Crime in Los Angeles is running rampant. When the law can’t help you, there is one man who can: Alexander L’Hiboux, whose ability to sleep was destroyed in the ghastly tragedy that cost him his family. Now he’s justice-for-hire, prowling the streets and solving crimes with deadly finality. A desperate, grief-stricken shipping magnate hires The Owl to find the scum who brutalized his daughter…a quest that uncovers a shocking conspiracy that will rock the city.

New author – tick,

Brash Books offering – tick,

Los Angeles setting – tick,

80’s – time frame - tick

Action, gun-play, a kidnapping and vigilante pay-back in the form of the insomnolence-suffering, enigmatic Owl – 4 ticks.

Plot and main character were a wee bit OTT, but after chucking my plausibility-radar in the corner after a chapter or two, I kicked back and enjoyed the ride. Did I totally buy into The Owl as the equally feared and revered harbinger of doom to the lawless? Not totally, but I was convinced enough to finish this one in fairly short order. I used to love watching Arnie and Bruce busting a few heads on screen. I loved reading about The Owl busting a few heads here.

Credit to Bob Forward for introducing a unique protagonist with a condition that stops him sleeping…..ever. His back-story and the minimal amount of personal relationships or contact he allows himself, firmly cements him as one of society’s outsiders. Definitely a guy you wouldn't want to get on the wrong side of. I was reminded me a little bit of Andrew Vachss’ Burke character, although Burke has a larger network of helpers.  

Great little diversionary scenes from the author which underline the lack of normality that The Owl enjoys in his everyday life. For example - the lengths he has to go to in order to get a shower in a motel had me chuckling.

Best book ever? No but more than enough to like and have me looking forward to Forward’s second Owl book – Scarlet Serenade.
 

Bob Forward’s website is here.


4 from 5 

Accessed through Net Galley, courtesy of Brash Books      




Thursday, 26 February 2015

LEE MATTHEW GOLDBERG - DETACHED (2013)


Synopsis/blurb…..

Nick is an intense filmmaker who keeps tabs on his wife by filming her every move until he begins receiving mysterious videos in the mail of someone filming him. A prequel to my debut neo-noir novel SLOW DOWN just released by New Pulp Press. Find it in paperback and Kindle.

I had a recent e-mail asking if I would be interested in taking a look at the author’s debut novel, SLOW DOWN. Rather than jump in with both feet, I had a little look around to see whether I could sample the author’s style before committing myself to something longer that might not necessarily float my boat. Not like me to exercise restraint when offered a peek at a book!

DETACHED is an 18 page short story available for free download on Amazon, so why not. Worst case, I don’t like it and I can bat away the offer without feeling like I haven’t been overly abrupt.

Best case I enjoy it and have the opportunity to try a bit of NEO-NOIR whatever that is. Plus it counts as another one read on the old scoreboard – not that I’m obsessed or anything with hitting my year-end total.

Verdict – strange, disturbing, weird – are there people who actually live their lives like this? A husband films his wife around the clock and the following day does exactly the same whilst organising time-slots and their schedule for reviewing the previous day’s footage. Send for the strait jackets immediately. I don’t think the climax of one day’s footage was quite what he was expecting.

Short, sharp, intriguing…..and a yes to the offer of SLOW DOWN.


4 from 5

Lee Matthew Goldberg has a website here.

He was recently interviewed by Paul D. Brazill – blog friend, author and tireless supporter of authors at all levels in their career. 

The interview is here.


Acquired on Amazon UK.

Wednesday, 25 February 2015

BILL CRIDER - OUTRAGE AT BLANCO (1998)


Synopsis/blurb………

Crider’s prose slices through conventions and expectations,” –Booklist
OUTRAGE AT BLANCO

It’s True Grit meets Gran Torino in a blazingly original crime novel from Bill Crider, an Edgar and Shamus finalist and a two-time winner of the Anthony Award

On a bloody day in 1887, death came to Blanco, Texas.

Before the sun went down, the livery stable was torched, an outlaw gang robbed the bank, two men were killed, and young newlywed Ellie Taine was raped. One of the dead was the man who planned the robbery – the son of dying, legendary Texas Ranger Jonathan Crossland – the other was Ellie’s husband, an innocent bystander.

The dead don’t know fear.

Ellie is dead inside. She takes a gun and rides out after the desperadoes, cold-blooded and fearless, determined to kill the men who ruined her life. She’s joined by Jonathan Crossland, who only has days left to live… but would rather die in his saddle making amends for his son than rot in his bed. Together, Ellie and Jonathan set out on a mission of vengeance and justice, one that neither of them expects nor hopes to survive.

“In the hands of Bill Crider, noir seems as atmospheric and doomful as ever,” Publisher’s Weekly

"Bill Crider is one of the most unpretentious and versatile pure entertainers in the mystery field." Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine

A 1998 book from Bill Crider and an absolute blast.  A dark Western-cum-crime novel that starts ferociously with an attack and rape of Ellie Taine and never really lets up throughout.

Naively and ill-equipped for the task in hand, Ellie’s husband sets out after the culprits and soon perishes whilst they are in the middle of a bank robbery. Something inside Ellie has broken and she decides to pursue the gang herself and get herself a bit of frontier justice.

Great time frame and setting for this, interesting plot which soon sees Ellie teaming up with Jonathan Crossland – a man with more than foot in the grave already – on their chase, an interesting bunch of characters, not the least of which is Irish villain, Daniel O’Grady. O’Grady is the most likeable of our bunch of desperadoes and didn't have any involvement in the earlier rape. Moments of humour as well, especially when our thieves fall out and cross paths again.

Whilst empathising with Ellie Taine and wanting her to achieve closure, I had a hankering for O’Grady to live to fight another day. A satisfactory ending that ticked all the boxes for me.

5 from 5 and a scratch of the head, where has Bill Crider been all my reading life?

Crider originally had this published back in 1998. He released a follow up – Texas Vigilante in 1999. One to keep an eye out for I think.

Bill Crider has been a fairly prolific author over the years with a 20 plus book series starring Sheriff Dan Rhodes, as well as many others. I do wish I had discovered him 10 years ago though.

His website is here.

I got hold of Outrage at Blanco via Net Galley. One of my favourite publishers - Brash Books have brought this and Texas Vigilante back into print.


     

Tuesday, 24 February 2015

2 BY DAVID CRAY

Well when I found out that re-discovered New York favourite, Stephen Solomita had published 6 books under the David Cray moniker, it seemed shockingly rude not to check a few of them out.
















A few? OK, most then. Most? Alright I got all of them. In my defence, they were cheap.



The 6 are……..

Keeplock (1995)
Bad Lawyer (2001)
Little Girl Blue (2001)
What You Wish for (2002)
Partners (2003)
Dead Is Forever (2004)

Hopefully they won’t disappear into the tubs never to see the light of day again?


Keeplock
Publisher's Weekly

Peter Frangello hasn't been out of jail for three straight years since he was 16. Now in his 30s, freshly paroled and determined to stay clean, he's in trouble within a day of release. A friend from the slammer is setting up an armored car heist that interests two corrupt cops; they elect Frangello to move in on the theft-and keep them posted. Frangello still wants to to do the right thing, but sees that ''the right thing wasn't there to do.'' His parole officer likes him but can't help; his girl, Ginny, is loyal but he needs to protect her. This fairly linear narrative features grim, authentic-feeling jail flashbacks. The plot, in which Frangello hopes to survive threats from the clean cops, bent ones and the crooks running the heist, has a few holes (a final confrontation with one bad cop leaves a reader wondering where the other one is). But Cray, who is really Stephen Solomita, gives plenty of insider dope on the crime world and creates, in Frangello, an unexpectedly sympathetic unheroic hero.

Library Journal

A born sociopath and life-long criminal, Peter Frangello has decided to go straight. A former prison buddy, however, plans a big-time heist, and ambitious detectives hope to snare him by planting Frangello at his side. Suspenseful, nitty-gritty work from the pseudonymous Stephen Solomita (Last Chance for Glory).

BookList - George Needham

"Keeplock" refers to the practice of keeping a troublemaking prisoner locked in his cell all day, not allowing him out for chores, recreation, or meals. Here, the word becomes a symbol for the locked cell all criminals inhabit, whether they are in prison at the moment or not. Peter Frangello, a career criminal paroled after completing 10 years of his 15-year sentence in New York's toughest prison, wants to stay out of jail this time. Frangello hasn't had a sudden rush of remorse; he has been targeted for death by another inmate and narrowly missed one murderous attack. But the parole system, the other ex-cons in his halfway house, and two rogue cops conspire to make sure Frangello remains a prisoner, one way or another. With the support of his girlfriend and a sympathetic parole officer, he attempts to double-cross both his former prison buddy, who has involved him in an armored-car heist, and the cops, who are strong-arming him into betraying the plot. The last page of the novel evokes the classic finale of the 1930s movie "I Was a Fugitive from a Chain Gang." Highly recommended.

Bad Lawyer


Sid Kaplan once had it all: a high-profile, dynamic career in criminal law, high profile fees too - and enough arrogance to alienate practically everyone he knew. So no one wept for Sid Kaplan when booze and cocaine plummeted him to disrepute. Now, though, a big case has come Sid's way, one certain to restore to him some of his old professional glory. Thelma Barrow, a housewife, has sought out Sid to defend her accused daughter, Priscilla, in a media-hot murder case. For Sid, the publicity more than compensates for the pittance Thelma can afford to pay, as the papers and news shows headline stories of drugs and violence and the murderous motives of a white woman who has suffered abuse at the hands of her black husband. Nor is Sid put off by the fact that Priscilla - who happens to be a babe - is probably lying about more than a few details. Then the drug dealers show up. They insist that Priscilla is holding out on them, that she's pocketed 450,000 of their dollars, despite her protestations otherwise. Matters grown more criminally perilous when the only two friends Sid has managed not to lose - are killed.

Monday, 23 February 2015

LOGGING THE LIBRARY - PART TWENTY

20th tub - so 1000 books logged and catalogued.

999 of them remain untouched and 1 has been pulled and read, I'd like to say I'm about halfway through the logging task but a quarter-way would be much nearer the mark!


Tub 20 - books 951 - 1000


Brit Crime, Brit Lit, US espionage, Us Lit, and some humour.

Loved the 5 People Heaven book.

Not sure what it's about - a second hand acquisition

John Grisham x 3 - I like a bit of legal now and again., Linoel Davidson and a Crais book which I have subsequently evicted from the library because I read it in 2013.

I think I've seen the film - Gene Hackman maybe?


Two New Zealand crime books from Paul Thomas, the ever-present Lawrence Block, Domenic Stansberry and Hard Case Crime, plus a 50's book by Harry Whittington

50's Noir and I think it got left out in the sun too long!

Block again, 2 from Hiaasen, Elmore Leonard and a Tom Sharpe

Not crime

Definitely crime

Tourist Season - one of the funniest books I have ever read, Helen MacInnes, Arnaldur Indridason - Iceland, Graham Greene and Ian Fleming

Not read any Fleming or Bond yet.


Daniel Silva series book.

Newton Thornburg - I absolutely loved his TO DIE IN CALIFORNIA - heart-wrenching.

30's novel from Greene

Block monster short story collection, Newton Thornburg, Daniel Silva, Sebastian Faulks and some non-fiction crime!

Brit Lit

Irreverent Les Norton, Aussie PI stuff

Brit Crime from the 90's I think

Another Barrett - Les Norton book, Robert Rankin, and Grisham again.

Tom Robbins - I hope it's better than the last one of his I read which sucked,  plus non-fiction memoirs type stuff from a war zone reporter.

Another Jon McGregor book, Jo-Ann Goodwin and Charles Williams 

Brit-Lit

Bateman - N. Ireland Crime author, Erica Spindler wifey-book!

Clifford Hanley - I wanted his other book that Moira blogged about, but I found this instead 

Grisham-like I think, 
Another Station book from Downing, another Allon book from Silva and a REDNECK MANIFESTO from SHIT MAGNET author Jim Goad

Another Hiaasen, Nicholas Blincoe, Lawrence Block,  Robert Barrett, John Grisham.
Post-logging view of the tub.
The replacement book for the Robert Crais to bring the numbers back up to 50


Highlights........Newton Thornburg, Carl Hiaasen, Lawrence Block,

Lowlights.....nothing really that I'm now averse to reading.

Tub 21 next week, let the second thousand commence!

FULL LIST.......
AUTHOR TITLE YEAR SERIES FICTION/NON
ALBOM MITCH FOR ONE MORE DAY 2006 F
AMBLER ERIC THE LIGHT OF DAY 1962 AAS1 F
AYRES CHRIS WAR REPORTING FOR COWARDS 2005 N
BARRETT ROBERT G. THE GODSON 1989 LN4 F
BARRETT ROBERT G. MELE KALIKIMAKA MR WALKER 1994 LN8 F
BATEMAN COLIN I PREDICT A RIOT 2007 F
BERENSON ALEX THE SECRET SOLDIER 2011 JW5 F
BLINCOE NICHOLAS MANCHESTER SLINGBACK 1998 F
BLOCK LAWRENCE EVEN THE WICKED 1996 MS13 F
BLOCK LAWRENCE THE BURGLAR WHO LIKED TO QUOTE KIPLING 1979 BR3 F
BLOCK LAWRENCE THE BURGLAR WHO PAINTED LIKE MONDRIAN 1983 BR5 F
BLOCK LAWRENCE THE COLLECTED MYSTERY STORIES 2000 F
DAVIDSON LIONEL KOLYMSKY HEIGHTS 1994 F
DOWNING DAVID SILESIAN STATION 2008 JR2 F
FAULKS SEBASTIAN HUMAN TRACES 2005 F
FLEMING IAN FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE 1957 JB5 F
GLENNY MISHA McMAFIA 2008 N
GOAD JIM THE REDNECK MANIFESTO 1997 N
GOODWIN JO-ANN DANNY BOY 2000 F
GREENE GRAHAM ENGLAND MADE ME 1935 F
GRISHAM JOHN THE FIRM 1991 F
GRISHAM JOHN THE INNOCENT MAN 2006 N
GRISHAM JOHN THE SUMMONS 2002 F
GRISHAM JOHN THE STREET LAWYER 1998 F
GRISHAM JOHN THE TESTAMENT 1999 F
HANLEY CLIFFORD A SKINFUL OF SCOTCH 1965 N
HART JOHN THE LAST CHILD 2009 F
HAWKS TONY PLAYING THE MOLDOVANS AT TENNIS 2007 N
HIAASEN CARL BASKET CASE 2002 F
HIAASEN CARL SICK PUPPY 1999 S4 F
HIAASEN CARL TOURIST SEASON 1986 F
HIAASEN CARL DOUBLE WHAMMY 1988 S1 F
INDRIDASON ARNALDUR SILENCE OF THE GRAVE 2005 IE2 F
LEONARD ELMORE STICK 1983 F
MACINNES HELEN ASSIGNMENT IN BRITTANY 1942 F
McGREGOR JON EVEN THE DOGS 2010 F
McGREGOR JON IF NOBODY SPEAKS OF REMARKABLE THINGS 2002 F
RANKIN ROBERT APOCALYPSO 1998 F
RAYMOND DEREK NIGHTMARE IN THE STREET 2006 F
ROBBINS TOM VILLA INCOGNITO 2003 F
SHARPE TOM VINTAGE STUFF 1982 F
SILVA DANIEL THE SECRET SERVANT  2007 GA7 F
SILVA DANIEL THE MESSENGER 2006 GA6 F
SPINDLER ERICA BLOOD VINES 2010 F
STANSBERRY DOMENIC THE CONFESSION 2004 F
THOMAS PAUL GUERILLA SEASON 1996 TI3 F
THOMAS PAUL INSIDE DOPE 1995 TI2 F
THORNBURG NEWTON DREAMLAND 1983 F
WHITTINGTON HARRY WEB OF MURDER 1958 F
WILLIAMS CHARLES MAN ON A LEASH 1973 F

Sunday, 22 February 2015

CHESTER HIMES - THE END OF A PRIMITIVE (1955)


Synopsis/blurb…..

Jesse Robinson wakes from his nightmare to dirty, fitful real life in a Harlem slum.
Kriss wakes up alone divorced, disillusioned, in her plush Manhattan apartment. They have nothing in common. Just one amazing, passionate weekend in Chicago and a desire to meet again.

Shortly before his death, Chester Himes gave an interviewer this remarkable plot summary of The End of a Primitive. "I put a sexually frustrated American woman and a racially frustrated black American male together for a weekend in a New York apartment, and allowed them to soak in American bourbon. I got the result I was looking for: a nightmare of drunkenness, unbridled sexuality, and in the end, tragedy". This new edition of Himes's most searing and controversial novel restores the cuts he was forced to make in 1955 in order to get the novel published and includes a never-before-printed foreword by Himes himself.

Well if anyone fancies a 1955 book which will rock you to the core, one that will thrill you, tease you, enthral you and have you hurrying to turn the pages, etc etc……it definitely won’t be this one.

Dull, awful, dire, boring and turgid……. that’s the highlights covered then!

Not a crime novel per se, but a novel in which a crime occurs at the end. I think maybe I have gotten my comeuppance here insofar as I have a tendency to buy an author’s back catalogue on the basis of having read one book (sometimes none) – in the case of Himes I have read one of his Coffin Ed – Gravedigger Jones books though which one escapes me at the minute.

Anyway a 1955 book for Rich Westwood’s Past Offences meme.

Just over 200 pages long and I sensed very early on I was in for a tough time reading it. Dense paragraphs that don’t serve to advance the story in anyway whatsoever……..

Across the top of the dresser was a remnant of dark upholstery fabric, ravelled at both ends, and littered with toilet articles – combs and brushes, a bar of green soap in a yellow saucer, three toothbrushes in a dirty glass, a rusty safety razor in a plastic case – a huge, vicious-looking, pearl handle clasp knife made in Denmark, a bottle of iodine, a tin of bandages, an empty hair tonic bottle, an empty sparkling water bottle, a gin bottle with three fingers of gin, a dirty drinking glass, a brown sack containing three raw eggs, and a number of half-used folders of paper matches.    

I would tell you about his kitchen inventory but I don’t think I want to spoil your own reading pleasure.

Anyway – a struggling black author obsessed with his dreams and sex, especially with white women, definitely not with members of his own sex and a white woman happy to have sex with all and sundry, most of the time, especially black men. She was duped into marrying a man who was subsequently revealed to be homosexual. 

They meet up again, drink copious amounts of alcohol, which seems to be their raison d’etre for living when not having boring moments of self-analysis. One of them dies.

A real shame they both couldn't have died on about page 3.

1 from 5 – the cover isn't too bad.

Not rushing towards my Himes autobiographies or other works which are more firmly crime orientated.



Owned copy.