Saturday, 22 September 2012

DOUGLAS LINDSAY - WE ARE THE HANGED MAN

 
 

I haven’t read anything from Douglas Lindsay for a few years now, my last excursion being one of the 6 or 7 Barney Thomson barber-cum-serial killer books he penned. Whilst my memory of these has diminished somewhat over-time, I can recall black humour prevalent throughout the books cataloguing the absurd happenings that befall the hero/villain Barney.

Hanged Man features a morose, depressive detective – Jericho who is reluctantly catapulted onto prime-time TV and the latest reality show offering, Britain’s Got Justice. Throw in a killer recently released - 30 years after Jericho put him away, some Tarot cards, a missing BGJ finalist, some sex – not all of it consensual, murder and a dose of tabloid trashing with the show’s crazed executives and producers keep one eye on the ratings and their careers and the story speeds along to a decent conclusion.

Lindsay leaves the doors open for future tales with Jericho and his likeable sidekick, Haynes at the hub. Wisely in my opinion, because they are definitely a team I would read more about in the future. For some reason I’m reminded of Joe R Lansdale’s Hap and Leonard series though neither Jericho or Haynes is black or gay or from Texas!      

I’ve definitely been missing out during my Lindsay sabbatical. He had me roaring at the vision of the diminutive Noel Edmonds either commentating or participating in an act that typically wouldn’t be seen on prime-time television. Would it even be possible on ice, Douglas? Have you done some research?   

I’m off to the attic to try and dig out my old Barney Thomson books.

 










 











 












 

   


 


     

Friday, 21 September 2012

CHARLIE STELLA - JOHNNY PORNO


 
 
 


I’ve probably put off reading this for a couple of years now, not from any dread that it wouldn’t be any good but more from the realisation that once I’d read it, there was no more Stella on the TBR pile. You don’t always get that sense of anticipation with every book you pick up and crack the spine on.

Since I read his first offering - Eddie’s World a few years ago, I’ve tried to catch up and keep pace with all his novels. Fortunately, he has another one out this year. Unfortunately, as far as my pockets go, that’s another one to be added to the never decreasing wish-list.  

Eddie’s World, 2001

Jimmy Bench-press, 2002

Charlie Opera, 2003

Cheapskates, 2005

Shakedown, 2006

Mafiya, 2008

Johnny Porno, 2010

Rough Riders, 2012

Johnny Porno is populated with good guys, bad guys, good cops, bad cops, good women, bad women and a kid adored by his father. A tale set in 70’s New York concerning the mob cash-cow film Deep Throat which was banned at the time.  Johnny Albano is hustling for a living, trying to be a good father and meet his child support obligations, whilst lacking a regular union job after his temper exploded on the wrong guy. An opportunity to collect the mob receipts on the film probably wasn’t going to be the best decision he ever took.

Albano or Johnny Porno as he’s nicknamed, manages to get on the wrong side of the mob, a bent cop, a vindictive ex-cop and his ex-wife as well as her previous sex-mad spouse at various times throughout the book.

In a nutshell, there’s plenty of gritty action, character, dialogue, wise guys and sleaze throughout.  

Stella has been likened to George V. Higgins, and having read a few of his early books in the last couple of years, - The Friends Of Eddie Coyle and A Rat On Fire, I can see why. For me there’s no real comparison though, Charlie Stella has yet to disappoint.

My reading tally for this year is over 80, this is definitely up in the top 5, alongside Michael Zadoorian’s Leisure Seeker, Jeremy Dun’s Free Agent and Lynn Kostoff’s The Long Fall.   

Shame I can’t give it 6 out of 5!   

 

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

HARLAN COBEN - HOLD TIGHT

BLURB........ Tia and Mike Baye never imagined they’d spy on their kids. But their sixteen-year-old son Adam has been unusually distant lately, and after the suicide of his best friend Spencer Hill, they can’t help but worry. Within days of installing a sophisticated spy program on Adam’s computer they are jolted by a cryptic message from an unknown correspondent that shakes them to their core: “Just stay quiet and all safe.”

As if Mike Baye isn’t dealing with enough, he also learns that Lucas Loriman, the sweet kid who grew up next door, is in urgent need of a kidney transplant. As the boy’s doctor, Mike suddenly finds himself in possession of an explosive secret that threatens to rip the Loriman family apart at the seams.

Nearby, while browsing through an online memorial for Spencer, Betsy Hill discovers a surprising detail about the night of her son’s death. Before she can find out more, Adam disappears, taking the truth with him and sending shockwaves through the neighborhood.

As the lives of these families collide in tragic, unexpected, and violent ways, long-hidden connections in their small suburb begin to work their way to the surface. And when an unidentified Jane Doe is beaten to death not far away, those connections threaten to turn this quiet community upside down—and force these desperate parents to decide whether there is any line they won’t cross to protect those they love most in the world.

My thoughts......
I haven't picked up a Coben book for a fair few years, before last month, a bit like buses you wait for ages then 2 come along together.

Enjoyable but it didn't rock my world. I haven't read enough of Coben to judge whether it is one of his better books or not,but it passed the time easily enough, the story flowed, the characters were likeable.

More 4 than 3 out of 5, would read more from him, which is just as well as there's about 15 of his other books sat on the shelf at home.

Friday, 7 September 2012

TOO MANY BOOKS


I was evicted from my study/den earlier this year to allow my youngest daughter her own room. A reasonable course of action designed to promote love and harmony within the household which contains myself, my better half and three teenagers.

My books which were double-stacked and triple-stacked in places, pretty much floor to ceiling around three walls were unceremoniously dumped in the loft.

I'm guessing I have between 2000-2500 books in total, not including all the online articles, e-zines and magazines I downloaded, and mostly printed off....PLOTS WITH GUNS, HARDLUCK STORIES, THUG-LIT etc, etc.

My mission is several-fold.

1. I'm getting on a bit - 49 in a couple of months. If I live as long as my dad did, I've got 14 more years to enjoy, if I live as long as his dad did I've got 30-odd. If a bus hits me tomorrow, well someone else can sort them out.

I'm aiming for the 30 years. I read at a rate of about 2 a week. 100 a year = 20-25 years stock.

I'm less anal than I used to be, I now read them and try and get rid, I don't feel the same emotional attachment to the books once I've read them that I used to. I can move them on without feeling bereft.

I don't want my kids or wife to try and sort my crap out once I've gone. So sort the books out into some semblance of order.

2. Read and get shot of all the loose files, papers, magazines.

3. STOP BUYING MORE BOOKS - it's not rational, sensible, justifiable!

Example - I started picking up and boxing by author's surnames beginning with F. In a fairly short time I had over 50............16 different authors, Flynn, Freeman, Freemantle, Fleming, Furst, Fante - father and son, Fesperman, Fitzhugh, blah, blah blah.

Out of the 16, I've only read 5 of the authors previously, I'm a kid in a sweet shop - I buy up an author's output because it looks good, and not because, I like book A, I should now read book B.

What was the name of the girl in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory? The greedy one......that's me!

Anyway sort the books, catalogue them - because I like lists, plus when I decide I do want to read the Vince Flynn - Mitch wotshisname series of which I have 11 - I can find them. Or the Fleming Bond books (12 of - none read)

If I can still read 2 a week and sort out 50 a week, I should have some semblance of order in about a year's time,

Thursday, 6 September 2012

GERARD BRENNAN - FIREPROOF


 
I was lucky enough to get a copy of this from the publisher.
Does that mean I’m expected to praise it to the hilt?
No, I doubt it.

I will start by saying I’m an inexperienced book reviewer, though I do tend to rely a lot on what other people say about books before purchasing most of the time. I find it to difficult to determine how much of the story to discuss without giving away too much of the plot and how the finale unfolds. (Spoiler alert!)

Previously, I’ve found myself re-hashing the synopsis on the back of the cover, and what’s the point in doing that? If the book has piqued someone’s interest then typically they will have picked it up in store, or read the same information on the author or publisher’s website.

I suppose my reviews will contain a lot of box-ticking,

Salient points then,

Did I enjoy it, was I entertained? Yes, yes

Would I read more from the author? Yes

Did it drag? No

Was it un-put-down-able? No

Did I laugh or cry, or feel some empathy or connection to the characters? Yes

Would I want to read more about them in the future? Hmmm....maybe

Would I recommend it to others? Yes

Was it memorable, will it haunt me or stay with me? No

Will I find myself thinking about it in the next week or two? No

Did I feel like I’d wasted xxx number of hours from my life that I will never get back? No

Would I re-read it again at some point in the future? No

Would I want my money back? No, irrespective of the fact I didn’t pay for it.

On the scoreboard then probably .........7.5 out of 12, which seems low considering that I really enjoyed it. Some of the plus points above must carry more weight than some of those that scored negatively.

Overall then - 4 out 5.

Well worth a look if you have a sense of humour, don’t take religion too seriously, and enjoy fine writing that isn’t preachy or pretentious......literature it ain’t.