Tuesday, 2 September 2014

AUGUST FILMS AND TV

I was having an average month's viewing during August, until my daughter woke me up about midnight one evening in tears, telling me Robin Williams was dead. For the past 10 years or so, she has held Mrs Doubtfire close to her heart, as it was a film she always watched with her granddad, now sadly no longer with us. Only the previous week, she had watched it again in her bedroom after we had declined an invitation to view it in the lounge.

I would have to say, I would never have ranked Williams in my top ten film actors and probably wouldn't have any of his movies in my list of top ten films, but I have enjoyed watching him over the years in a variety of roles. Most of the following couple of days, I couldn't stop thinking of him on and off and felt immeasurably sad for both him and his family. The weekend after the news we watched four of his films, a couple new-to-me and a couple of oldies including Mrs Doubtfire!  

There's a couple more I want to track down and re-watch - Good Morning Vietnam and Dead Poet's Society, both of which I enjoyed when watched many years ago. Maybe in September then.

We were away for the 3rd week in the month so didn't devote a lot of time to watching Italian television.
Eventually watched the first episode of Fargo, loved it. All I need to do is find about 10 hours to watch the rest of it!


Not a big Leo fan, but I enjoyed this tale of greed and excess.

Part viewed - was enjoying it and fell asleep, will watch fully at some time in the future.

Horror film, initially seen a couple of years ago with my son at the cinema. Ok, good not great.

Part watched, had to go out before it finished. Ok, because I've seen it before, I prefer Steve Martin to Goldie. Loved him in a few family films - particularly Cheaper by the Dozen.

Always watchable, bless him.


First time viewed, really enjoyed it. Love Pacino, love Hilary, Williams wasn't shabby either.

Second time around for this, though I probably paid more attention this time. A great film, Bridges and Williams are both superb. Cheesy ending, but I loved it. 
Wonder how many more times I will be seeing this one! Who cares, always raises a chuckle in our house.
First time for me - amazing, I  loved everything about it and everyone in it. Matt Damon looks so young. I can see why Williams got his oscar for this - why have I never watched it before?

Monday, 1 September 2014

AUGUST ADDITION TO THE LIBRARY......SOME OF AT LEAST

No effective embargo operating, so throws hands in air, shouts "B***ocks!" and shrugs shoulders.

Not crime but looks interesting

Wished I had discovered him earlier than last year.

Canadian author.

Irish screwball crime.

Reminds me of Dukes of Hazard

Another drug related crime book.

Short stories

50p purchase 

Follow on from last year's White Ginger

More shorts

More shorts

3rd Texas mystery from Terry Shames






Thursday, 21 August 2014

SORRY - TEMPORARILY CLOSED!


Off tomorrow on hols, back in a week or so's time, maybe a bit longer if an Icelandic volcano goes pop - which is something I'm hoping if it does happen at least has the courtesy to wait until I get out of the country!

Bardarbunga - sounds like something a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle might shout.

Plenty to read, some hopefully I can do some catching up,

See you all in a bit

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

2 BY CHARLES WILLEFORD

One of my favourite authors and I have had these on the shelves for about 15 years and still haven't read them. Crazy? Maybe, but I'm still saving them until the mood takes me, because once they are read a part of them disappears. I enjoy the anticipation of cracking open a favourite author's books, not as much as reading it, obviously, but enough to prolong the moment for a year or two longer.

Willeford achieved some commercial success quite late in his writing career with his Hoke Moseley books, at least one of which was a film with one of the Baldwin boys (never seen it).
1. Miami Blues (1984)
2. New Hope for the Dead (1985)
3. Sideswipe (1987)
4. The Way We Die Now (1988)





There was an unpublished Moseley, Grimhaven  - parts of which formed one of the later series books. Grimhaven will in all probability never be published, but there are bootleg copies circulating. I think I have read most of his work and have the majority of it saved for re-reading. Just waiting on someone to give me a big lottery cheque so I can retire and read, or conversely awaiting the invention of the 48 hour day, 10 day week of which 3 are mandatory reading days!

Charles Willeford 1919-1988











The Shark-Infested Custard

They are just four regular guys by the pool: ex-cop Larry 'Fuzz' Dolman, airline pilot Eddie Miller, salesman Don Luchessi and drug company rep Hank Norton. They live in a 'singles only' Miami apartment block. They like regular-guy things: booze, broads, cars, and a good card game.

The Shark-infested Custard is a startlingly amoral update of Dumas' The Three Musketeers set in 1970s Miami. As our four male swingers commit increasingly barbarous crimes it becomes clear that their only guiding principle is not to get caught - by adhering to the 'all for one, one for all' maxim.


Willeford joyfully applies the scalpel to the vacuous heart of male America, where being one of the guys is always going to be more important than mere life and death.



The Second Half of the Double Feature

In this new collection of short stories, vignettes and autobiographical sketches-many previously unpublished-Charles Willeford, author of Miami Blues and The Burnt Orange Heresy creates a mosaic of the absurdities of life in the 20th century. From a malicious grandmother to prophetic depictions of the power of reality television, with his wry humor and sudden shifts to violence, Willeford seduces, amuses and repeatedly surprises you. This expanded hardcover edition adds Willeford's complete published poetry, as well as nearly 50 previously unpublished poems. "No one writes a better crime novel than Charles Willeford" -Elmore Leonard

Tuesday, 19 August 2014

DIETRICH KALTEIS - RIDE THE LIGHTNING


Synopsis/blurb……..

A fast, powerful read full of action, twists, and dark humour
Bounty Hunter Karl Morgen goes after Miro Knotts on a skipped bond, finding the dope dealer wrapped around an underaged girl at a rave in Seattle. Dragging Miro in the hard way gets Karl's licence revoked, while Miro gets off with a suspended sentence. Karl then finds work as a process server in Vancouver, thinking it's the kind of place where people settle things with middle fingers instead of guns.

But the city is teeming with two-bit criminals, drug dealers, and gangsters, and Miro seizes an opportunity to settle his score with Karl while working a major drug deal. What follows is a ride through Vancouver's underbelly with a cast of characters whose ambition exceeds their criminal acumen. With dialogue that crackles on the page, Ride the Lightning introduces a new voice in crime fiction featuring grit, realism, and a comedic touch.

Ride the Lightning encapsulates all the things I love about my reading……….characters, setting, story, pace, humour and a level of violence. I may be in a minority but I love meeting low-level criminals in my fiction…….drugs addicts, car thieves, pot growers, bouncers, enforcers, strippers, bikers – basically all round scumbags and losers. To me this type of person is a hundred times more interesting than the straight Joe – boring 9 to 5 office dude who goes home at 5.30 every evening to the wife and the home cooked meal. Who wants to read about themselves?

Dietrich Kalteis nails it in his first book.

Characters – tick….. all interesting, funny and entertaining. Not many are sympathetic or likeable, but enough of them so you know which side you’re rooting for.

Story – tick…. drug dealers, some looking to move up, some looking to get out at the top of the game, one with skewed objectives and firmly fixated on revenge and an ex-bounty hunter looking to settle in, find a bit of romance and perhaps deliver some payback if the opportunity arises.

Setting – tick, Seattle and Vancouver – two places I’ve never visited, two places I’m unlikely ever to visit, two places I feel like I’ve been to thanks to the author.

Pace – tick…. there’s a cadence to the narrative that keeps the story ticking along….short, snappy chapters, that constantly changes the focus of the reader, before a fitting climax.   
  
Humour – tick….. great scenes, great dialogue – whether it’s a mother and daughter arguing over using college funds for a boob-job, or our bounty hunter chatting to the criminal king-pin whilst he basks on a nudist beach applying oil to his wrinkly bits.

Incredibly difficult to believe that this is a first novel. Mr Kalteis has acquired himself a reader for life.

5 from 5

Dietrich Kalteis has a website here.

Many thanks to Jenna at ECW Press and Dietrich for sending this one to me. ECW’s website is here. Ride the Lightning is recommended and available!   
     


Monday, 18 August 2014

QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS WITH ALAN JONES

Scottish author and man of mystery - Alan Jones whose debut book The Cabinetmaker was kind enough to humour me when I tossed him my questions regarding his reading and writing habits.


Alan's website is here.

My review of The Cabinetmaker is here.




Is the writing a full-time or a sideline-passion-hobby? What’s the day job?

I have a full time job. Due to the gritty nature of my writing, I don't want to offend any of my customers, so at present I wish my identity to remain hidden from view. I absolutely love writing, and would give up my day job if I had a successful book. I'm not naive enough to expect this to happen, but it would be nice if it did.  I'd say it's not the money, but that's not entirely true. If I wasn't be any worse off, that would be enough.

What’s been the most satisfying moment of your writing career so far?

Realising that although I am not the finished article, I can write interesting and compelling narrative and dialogue.

From start to finish how long did The Cabinetmaker take from conception to completion?

About ten years. About 90% of it was written in the last one of those years. Getting started and believing I could write was the biggest things.

What’s your typical writing schedule?

It varies enormously depending on work etc.  I keep my ipad by my bed, and about a third of my writing happens if I wake up in the middle of the night and can't get back to sleep.

Do you insert family, friends and colleagues into your characters? Would they recognise themselves?

I don't think so, but there are a lot of characters I've come across over the years that I've adapted for my books

Are there any subjects off limits as far as your writing is concerned?

Anything to do with the paranormal. I'm just not interested. Although there is the odd book (or film) that I will read or watch eg Carrie where I can suspend disbelief for a while.

What are the last three books you’ve read?

The Sea Detective by Mark Douglas Home, Holes by Louis Sachar and Natural Causes by James Oswald. I enjoyed them all.

Who do you read and enjoy?

A bit of everything. I've purposely didn't read any Scottish Crime before writing my first book so that I could have my own style, good or bad.  I love Irvine Welsh, but many authors I keep on my bookshelves are not recent. John Updike, Nicholas Monsorrat, James Clavell, John Irving, Neville Shute, John Steinbeck, Cormac McCarthy, Martin Amis, William Boyd, Ian Fleming and some sci-fi from Asimov and John Wyndham. Other than that, I dip into a random selection of books that I pick up here and there. I find myself reading a little less since I have started writing in earnest over the last few years. Just a time thing, really.

Do you have any literary heroes?

Irvine Welsh. I think he's a genius.

Is there any one book you wish you had written?

The Shawshank Redemption

Favourite activity when not working?  

I'm torn between football, furniture-making and going out in my boat, but I've recently had to pack in the football at the age of 53 with a recurrent ankle injury, so I suppose one of the other two.

What’s the current project in progress? How’s it going?

My second book is with 12 proof readers at the moment. I'm still tinkering with it, re-editing and re-editing. I am hoping to publish it by Christmas.

If I check back in a couple of years’ time, where do you hope to be with the writing?


I have outlines/ideas for half a dozen books. I'm trying to hone my literary skills and produce the best books I can.  I'm hoping they will be good enough for people to turn round and say they are worth reading. And help me retire early and write full time.  But I know it's a long shot!

Many thanks to "Alan" for taking time out to answer my questions. 

Wednesday, 13 August 2014

2 BY PETER CORRIS

Peter Corris is another author whose books I buy when I see then never read. He's an Australian author who has written about 40 Cliff Hardy PI books since the first one, The Dying Trade was published in 1980. I must have about a dozen or so of them scattered on the shelves.

He's written about 3 other series characters, Browning (7 books), Ray Crawley (6), Luke Dunlop (3) plus around half a dozen standalones and maybe 10 non-fiction books.









I'll stick with the Hardy books I have for now and will read them in no particular order as its madness for me to even consider embarking on  reading my way through a 40 book series start to finish, when I don't own most of the books and I'm guessing half of them are scarcer than rocking horse pooh and would need to be located somewhere on the other side of the world. Don't let me stop you reading your way through them though!


Peter Corris' website is here.

Cliff Hardy is described on Corris's site as.....Cliff Hardy, born and raised in working class Maroubra, ex-army, law student dropout, insurance company investigator turned Private Eye, has a love-hate relationship with his time and place. He embraces the best aspects of Australian life - the tolerance, the classlessness, the vigorous urban and rural culture - while despising the greed and the conservatism that are constantly threatening to undercut what he sees as "real Australia".

Inevitably drawn into the ambit of the people he deplores, Hardy struggles to resolve his cases while remaining true to his own threatened values. The professional challenges spill over into his personal life where he is never on firm ground.

SAVING BILLIE


Private investigator Cliff Hardy tackles one of his most difficult cases yet in this gripping detective novel that finds him in the far southwestern suburbs of Sydney. When a journalist hires him to find Billie Merchant, a woman with incriminating information about media-giant Joanas Clement and who is being tracked by both Clement and Clement's rival, Barclay Greaves, Hardy must work hard to stay one step ahead. After Hardy tracks her down, he must juggle her self-destructive behaviors while negotiating his escape from Clement and Greaves. Set against the backdrop of a federal election campaign, all outcomes are uncertain in this gritty, action-packed story full of colorful characters and close calls.






THE UNDERTOW

Frank Parker, retired senior policeman and Cliff Hardy's long time friend, has a problem. A case from early in his career involving two doctors, one of whom was convicted of hiring a hit man to kill the other and went to gaol for the crime, is coming back to haunt him. The convicted, now dead doctor may have been innocent, and Parker had been the lover of the beautiful Catherine Castiglione, the doctor's wife. Hardy tracks back through the now ageing names and faces, trying to tease out the truth. If the doctor was set up, who was responsible and why? Along the way Hardy encounters dodgy plastic surgeons, a broken-down ex-copper, a voyeuristic cripple and a hireling who wields a mean baseball bat. A charismatic player is the son of Catherine Castiglione, a super-bright charmer, who just may be Frank Parker's love child. Animosities, arrogance and ambition create a spider's web around the violence that breaks out as Hardy searches for the spider.