Monday, 31 August 2015

LOGGING THE LIBRARY - PART FORTY-FIVE

Here we go again, another tub another 50 books......

Tub 45.......

Jim Nisbet, Philip Kerr,

San Franciscan king of noir!

James Sallis, Karin Slaughter, Martyn Waites

Book 1 of Turner trilogy

Andrew Vachss x 2, Irvine Welsh, Philip Kerr, Ben MacIntyre,

Vachss standalone novel,

Vachss Burke series book,

Bill Bryson, Winston Groom, GaryPhillips-Jervey Tervalon, Nick Cave, Andrew Holmes,

Film wasn't too bad - though I'm not Tom Hanks biggest fan,

Nick Cave,

Max Hastings, Hubert Selby Jr., David Peace, Sharyn Lock/Sarah Irving, Mark SaFranko,

Max Zajack book 3

Non-fiction - eye-witness account Gaza under attack.

60s novel from Selby Jr.

Journalism-non-fiction

Richard Price, Tony O'Neill, David Goodis x 2, Bullet 6 - anthology, Mean Time - short story collection, 

Short stories and poems. UK author and musician.

50s Goodis

Short-lived Brit crime magazine.

More 50s Goodis

Richard Price

Albert French, Jason Pinter, Nick Laird, Cormac McCarthy,

US lit from Albert French
60s McCarthy

George V. Higgins, Nelson DeMille, David Baldacci, Gar Anthony Haywood, Michael Dobbs,

Best titled protagonists - Joe & Dottie Loudermilk

Dobbs series book

George V. Higgins x 3, James W. Hall, Charles Cumming,

Scottish author - Charles Cumming

Jeffery Deaver, Lorenzo Carcaterra, Dennis Lehane, Tess Gerritsen, K.O. Dahl,

Lorenzo Carcaterra, Guns N Roses going round my head!

Thomas H. Cook, Alexander Stuart, Chester Himes,

Chester Himes - 1945

Thomas H. Cook - an unknown quantity!

Alternative history from Cruz Smith.

Time-Life Vietnam book!


HIGHLIGHTS..... I do like Andrew Vachss and his Burke books. I'm keen to try Thomas H. Cook also. Overall a hoh-hum tub really, nothing exceptionally stand-out. Richard Price, I like. Philip Kerr I've not tried. Mark SaFranko - I've just read his The Favor and loved it.

If I was out shopping today for 50 books, I'm not too sure how many of this lot would make it into my basket!

LOWLIGHTS..... Baldacci and Deaver aren't thrusting themselves forwards into my eager hands

FULL LIST OF 50 AS FOLLOWS:

AUTHOR TITLE YEAR SERIES FICTION/NON
BALDACCI DAVID THE COLLECTORS 2004 CC2 F
BRYSON BILL MADE IN AMERICA 1994 N
CARCATERRA LORENZO PARADISE CITY 2004 F
CAVE NICK THE DEATH OF BUNNY MUNRO 2009 F
COOK THOMAS H. THE CHATHAM SCHOOL AFFAIR 1996 F
CUMMING CHARLES THE HIDDEN MAN 2003 F
DAHL K. O. THE MAN IN THE WINDOW 2008 FF2 F
DEAVER JEFFERY THE EMPTY CHAIR 2000 LR3 F
DEMILLE NELSON GOLD COAST 1990 JS1 F
DOBBS MICHAEL THE RELUCTANT HERO 2010 HJ3 F
DOUGAN/WEISS CLARK/STEPHEN THE VIETNAM EXPERIENCE: NINETEEN SIXTY-EIGHT 1983 N
FRENCH ALBERT BILLY 1993 BM2 F
GERRITSEN TESS CALL AFTER MIDNIGHT 1987 F
GOODIS DAVID OF TENDER SIN 1952 F
GOODIS DAVID CASSIDY'S GIRL 1951 F
GROOM WINSTON FORREST GUMP 1986 FG1 F
HALL JAMES W. UNDER COVER OF DAYLIGHT 1987 TPI1 F
HASTINGS MAX GOING TO THE WARS 2000 N
HAYWOOD GAR ANTHONY GOING NOWHERE FAST 1994 J+DL F
HIGGINS GEORGE V. IMPOSTERS 1986 F
HIGGINS GEORGE V. OUTLAWS 1987 F
HIGGINS GEORGE V. PENANCE FOR JERRY KENNEDY  1985 JK2 F
HIGGINS GEORGE V. WONDERFUL YEARS, WONDERFUL YEARS 1988 N
HIMES CHESTER IF HE HOLLERS LET HIM GO 1945 F
HOLMES ANDREW CRIMINAL RECORDS 2008 F
JEFFREY KEITH BULLET 6 (ed.) 2003 B6 F
KERR PHILIP A FIVE YEAR PLAN 1997 F
KERR PHILIP IF THE DEAD RISE NOT 2009 BG6 F
LAIRD NICK UTTERLY MONKEY 2005 F
LEHANE DENNIS SACRED 1997 K+G3 F
LOCK/IRVING SHARYN/SARAH GAZA: BENEATH THE BOMBS 2010 N
MACINTYRE BEN AGENT ZIGZAG 2007 N
McCARTHY CORMAC OUTER DARK 1968 F
NISBET JIM THE SYRACUSE CODEX 2005 F
O'NEILL TONY SEIZURE WET DREAMS 2000 F
PEACE DAVID GB84 2004 F
PHILLIPS/TERVALON GARY/JERVEY THE COCAINE CHRONICLES (ed.) 2005 F
PINTER JASON THE DARKNESS 2009 HP5 F
PRICE RICHARD THE WANDERERS 1974 F
SAFRANKO MARK GOD BLESS AMERICA 2010 F
SALLIS JAMES CYPRESS GROVE 2003 T1 F
SELBY JR. HUBERT LAST EXIT TO BROOKLYN 1964 F
SLAUGHTER KARIN KISSCUT 2002 GC2 F
SMITH MARTIN CRUZ THE INDIANS WON 1970 F
STUART ALEXANDER LIFE ON MARS 1996 N
SYKES JERRY MEAN TIME (ed.) 1999 F
VACHSS ANDREW SHELLA 1993 F
VACHSS ANDREW CHOICE OF EVIL 1999 B11 F
WAITES MARTYN BORN UNDER PUNCHES 2003 SL4 F
WELSH IRVINE ECSTASY 1996 F

Sunday, 30 August 2015

DUNCAN WHITEHEAD - HOME FOR THE WEEKEND (2015)


Synopsis/blurb…….

Ashley has to work late. There is a serial killer on the loose who has abducted and murdered women driving alone. Her husband and children are waiting for her, and all she wants to be is home for the weekend.

A freebie short story from another new-to-me author, after an invitation from him.

Verdict – an enjoyable 20 minutes or so in the company of Whitehead and let’s be honest another score on the board towards the year-end reading target.

We have a split narrative, Ashley is working late and is struggling to be on time for her husband. She impulsively takes a short-cut to avoid the Friday night traffic. A decision she soon regrets when a van pursues her recklessly. Aware of the recent abductions Ashley becomes increasingly anxious, a situation exacerbated by lack of cell-phone coverage and a petrol tank running on empty.

In our second alternate narrative, we see things through the eyes of our killer’s latest victim. (Who is it?) Abducted and secreted in a box in the back of a van. Taken after work, extremely fearful……waiting for death.

Great set-up, great characterisation as Whitehead skilfully weaves a background for our main characters into a short fast-moving tale.
Interesting twist which I was kind of expecting, but still well executed.


Duncan Whitehead has a website here. I did get one of his other offerings when it was a freebie on Amazon on the back of reading this. The Reluctant Jesus awaits.  

See below........


A wild and romping quirky comedy from the author of the bestselling and award-winning novel, The Gordonston Ladies Dog Walking Club. 

The year is 1999 and the millennium is fast approaching. Baseball fan and thirty-two-year-old confirmed bachelor and architect, Seth Miller, is content with his life, as long as the Yankees win and his mother stays away from his Greenwich Village apartment. Seth's life though is turned upside down when he is informed by his overbearing and overprotective mother that he is God's youngest son, and by default the second coming of Christ. 

Initially convinced that his parents are crazy, his thoughts of their committal to a suitable care facility are superseded when he receives an unsolicited telephone call from God himself. With Armageddon fast approaching, and due to some poor editing and proofreading of the Bible, Seth must assume the role of Christ and fight God's corner in the 'Final Conflict' between good and evil. Despite his initial reluctance and attempts to shirk his new responsibilities, God is insistent, and Seth is cajoled into undertaking the role of Messiah. 

With his best friend, and chief follower Bob Nancy, Seth embarks on a calamitous sequence of miracle doing and disciple gathering, all of which fail to inspire the legions of followers expected by God, but leads to a bout of food poisoning for a troop of visiting boy scouts and a suspected attempt on the life of the Mayor. 

God, a somewhat nonchalant character, is far more preoccupied with the lack of IT and administrative support he is receiving in heaven, than actual events on Earth; and is already planning to move on to other planets that he and Lucifer are in the process of developing for 'future projects'. 

Enter Maggie De Lynne, as Seth's second disciple and love interest, who adds her own perspective to Seth's predicament; which is only compounded when a just as unsuitable anti-Christ, suffering from IBS and with a penchant for dressing up as cartoon characters, visits his apartment. 

Throw a 'gangsta' rapping Guardian Angel and Walter, the talking cat - who used to be quiet as a mouse - into the mix, and the scene is set for a hilarious tale of one man's reluctance to save the world and join the family business. 

Looks like a change of pace for me, so one for when I'm a bit jaded on my bleaker crime fiction, I think. 

Saturday, 29 August 2015

CAROLYN WESTON - POOR, POOR OPHELIA (1972)


Synopsis/blurb......

THE BLOCKBUSTER THRILLER THAT BECAME THE HIT TV SERIES
"THE STREETS OF SAN FRANCISCO"

It's the turbulent 1970s, a time of social upheaval. The generation gap has never seemed so wide and perilous, especially for veteran Santa Monica homicide detective Al Krug and his new partner, university-educated ex-surfer Casey Kellog, the youngest detective on the force. A woman's corpse is found floating in the bay with a law firm's business card, sealed in plastic, strung around her neck. Krug and Kellog have to solve the bizarre and gruesome murder... if they don't kill each other first.

"An expert thriller," St. Louis Post-Dispatch

"Weston writes smoothly and uses a good deal of sharp dialogue," New York Times

"Hard-hitting and eminently readable," San Francisco Chronicle

Carolyn Weston wrote a three book series that became the basis for the hit 70’s The Streets of San Francisco TV show. I’ve come at the series ass-backwards. Susannah Screaming (1975) was read and reviewed earlier in the year – here. Poor, Poor Ophelia from 1972 was the opener. 1976’s Rouse the Demon was the last one she had published.

Poor, Poor Ophelia was an entertaining mystery and enjoyed – though slightly less than Susannah Screaming. I think if I had read them in the order they were originally published I would have a reverse reaction. Loving Ophelia and being slightly less satisfied with Susannah. The main reason is I think she’s guilty of repeating herself.

Same setting – which I do like anyway, so I didn’t have a problem with that. Early 70’s time frame in both which ticks a lot of boxes – no mobile phones, no super-fast computers and gadgets – meaning a lot of running around and leg-work and driving which enhances the feel of the location.

Our two detectives Krug and Kellog are a mismatched pair. Krug – think Karl Malden – aged, world-weary, hard-hearted and cynical. Kellog – a baby-faced Michael Douglas; young, idealistic, na├»ve, more trusting, more willing to accept a witness is telling the truth, than assuming he’s lying and with something to hide, or at least acknowledge than an untruth may be given for reasons other than guilt – eg….. embarrassment, fear of publicity and subsequent damage to a career.

Our case involves a dead girl (same as last time) and our person of interest in this case, is a young, smartly-dressed, trendy lawyer whose business card was found in our victim’s possession. David J. Farr - our lawyer, could be Kellog if Kellog had chosen the kind of career path his father had wanted for him instead of choosing the police force, and Krug dislikes him on sight.

Farr had a chance relationship with Holly Berry (our victim), which he endeavours to conceal from our detectives. Krug, with a hyper-sensitive nose for bull, immediately fancies him for the crime. Kellog isn’t as convinced and during the course of the book, takes a more pro-active involvement in the case. Chasing up other witnesses, pursuing other avenues, some of which become apparent the more Farr eventually reveals.

Farr himself, having accepted his involvement, and feeling guilt over having dismissed Holly and her fears for her personal safety and having unwittingly led the murderer to her door attempts to extricate himself from the matter, by giving the detectives her brother – someone who may hold the key to the case.

The dead girl’s doper brother has gone missing, a mysterious uncle who kept dropping by her digs, appears just as difficult to track down. Why did Holly have a big fat padlock fitted to her door recently? Was she really in fear of her life as Farr claims she admitted to him?     

I did enjoy this one, though did have the sense of deja-vous. Krug fancies “A” for the murder. Kellog isn’t sure and remains open-minded. “A” meanwhile, reluctantly involves himself in the case, in a bid to get out from under, putting his life at risk in a bid to ensure his freedom from a false conviction. Events unfold. Climax approaches. Guilty party “B” is exposed, Krug has the blinkers removed from his eyes. “A” and Kellog escape danger and our pair close the case. Kellog and Krug reconcile.

I just kind of think, I maybe read the same book twice with a few obvious differences.

Still a 4 from 5 and I will be reading Rouse the Demon at some point.

Brash Books have re-issued these three Weston novels and if you like 70s crime and enjoyed the TV back in the day they are well worth checking out. Brash Books website is here.


A Net Galley – Brash Books read this one. 

TracyK from Bitter, Tea and Mystery reviewed Susannah Screaming here.

Friday, 28 August 2015

JONATHAN VALIN - THE LIME PIT (1980)


Synopsis/blurb……

The first Harry Stoner mystery

Harry Stoner is a private eye in the classic tradition. A loner with a history of failed relationships with women and all-too-successful relationships with bottles of scotch, he's unable to look away from the world's corruption and unable to avoid trying--futiley--to do something about it. His latest hopeless cause is Cindy Ann, a teenage hooker. Neither pretty nor engaging, she doesn't have much to offer at all, and somehow that makes her disappearance all the more disturbing for Stoner, who knows what can happen to girls nobody wants. And he's got a sick hunch that it happened to Cindy Ann, right across the Cincinnati border.

As tough as Spenser in his heyday, Stoner is as hard-boiled as they come, but he's a lot more than a standard-issue pulp P.I. The story may be ugly, but in Valin's hands it has the brutal grace of a world-class boxing match.

A 1980 book for Past Offences Crimes of the Century August meme.

Jonathan Valin wrote eleven Harry Stoner PI series books between 1980 and 1995, before disappearing from the crime fiction landscape and into the world of music magazines and editing.

The Lime Pit is the first entry into this series and is an ugly, sordid tale of a missing 16 year old street-wise girl and the bereft old man who had been caring for her, whilst she in turn gave him back something other than the ridicule and contempt her friends across the street, Laurie and Lance disdained him with.  Stoner has just wrapped up an easy case and to balance the scales takes Hugo Cratz’s offer of $8 and change in return for half an hour’s time and Harry to get across the road and ask the Jellicoe’s where his Cindy Ann went.

Cratz is playing Stoner and the Jellicoe’s he senses are being less than truthful. Some pornographic photos of Cindy Ann, Cratz keeps in a shoebox, are revealed once Stoner proves himself trustworthy to old Hugo. Harry is immediately wise to the probable fate that has embroiled our not so innocent 16 year old.

Stoner based in Cincinatti heads over the river to Newport, Kentucky…….and into the lion’s den.

Every city has a reason for being where it is. And Newport’s reason is to service Cincinatti, to provide the gambling, the prostitution, and the sin that the good elders of our town have turned out of the city limits. Newport is an open secret, a dirty little joke that nobody laughs at because there’s too much muscle and money in Newport to make it a fun or funny place. It’s a tough, leering border town, with a wide-open police department….

Corruption, pornography, a child-sex ring, politicians, complicity, a dim good ol’ town football hero as a patsy, a bereft homosexual partner, a sad and confused old man, some short-lived romance with an old flame, an attempt on his life and a death inflicted, before some more bloody violence and answers but no happy endings.

Great writing….Abel Jones came trundling down the stairs…..around forty, and he had the sharp mean features of the Appalachian tough – narrow lips, a nose that could open an envelope, black eyes and gaunt, grooved cheeks.

Great characters, especially Harry – though there’s not a whole-hearted endorsement of his methods. Can enabling a paedophile to indulge his passions one more time, be considered acceptable, if it takes you one step further along the road to bringing down the ring and the people responsible? I’m unsure myself. Difficult question, difficult themes, no easy answers.

5 from 5

A bought copy from I can’t remember where many years ago.

You can catch some of Valin's music-related articles here

For an overview of his PI Harry Stoner, you'll need this link to the piece on the Thrilling Detective website 



  

Thursday, 27 August 2015

BILL PRONZINI - HOODWINK (1981)


Synopsis/blurb......

Former pulp writer and current hack Russell Dancer invites Nameless to the first annual Western Pulp Convention in San Francisco. He wants Nameless to help him locate the person who is trying to blackmail Dancer for a purported plagiarism of a story called "Hoodwink." Arriving at the convention, Nameless discovers that a group of former friends (and now uncomfortable colleagues) who wrote for the pulps called the "Pulpeteers" have all received blackmail notes. Nameless is in seventh heaven as he meets many of his favorite pulp writers, buys pulp novels for his collection and meets a stunning younger woman who is the daughter of two famous pulp writers. For once, Nameless has some luck with the ladies. But is Kerry Wade attracted to him, or to his job as a private eye? Is he really attracted to her, or to her connection to the pulps? The convention is unexpectedly disrupted when one of the guests is found dead in a locked room while Russell Dancer is holding a gun that's been recently fired. It looks like an obvious case of murder by Dancer, who has been feuding with the man. Dancer denies his guilt, and only Nameless is willing to believe him. As Nameless tracks down the guilty party, he finds himself faced with a second locked room mystery... and a target for a murderer.


Hoodwink is the seventh case in Bill Pronzini’s Nameless series.

Nameless crosses paths again with Russell Dancer, an alcoholic pulp-writer who we met in an earlier Nameless case. There’s a Pulp convention coming up and all the members of a writer’s group from years previously have been targeted by a blackmailer – ready to expose one of them for plagiarism.

At the conference, Nameless is introduced to the group and gets to observe at close hand the bitterness and rancour that exists between several of the members. Dancer with an insatiable appetite for alcohol, behaves atrociously. Frank Colodny, the Pulpeteer groups’ previous editor is murdered. 

Plenty of candidates for suspect, as during his career he shafted the lot of them to a greater or lesser degree; only there’s the small matter of Dancer - in his cups as per usual, found in the locked room with the smoking gun in his hand.

Nameless, whilst extremely tired of Dancer’s boorish behaviour, believes he could be innocent. To the chagrin of the police he pursues the case, digging into the group’s history and uncovering buried secrets. Along the way he finds a little bit of romance with the daughter of two of the groups’ members, much to the dissatisfaction of her father. Another enemy made.

More murders follow, including another locked room mystery! (That’s two in the one book – when I don’t think I have read any previously!)

During the course of our investigation, Nameless gets to display his decency and gentlemanliness when matters of a delicate nature surface. He pursues his inquiries despite the fear that his beau’s parents could be caught in the crossfire and his fledgling romance de-railed before it really gets a chance to take-off.

In the end we get a solution to all our questions, bar one. Does Nameless get to keep the girl? To be continued I expect. (Scattershot – episode 8 next month!)

4 from 5


Bought copy several years ago.    

Wednesday, 26 August 2015

MAX ALLAN COLLINS - HARD CASH (1981)


Synopsis/blurb.....

Heist-man Nolan is enjoying his retirement from crime, running his own restaurant, when the president of a bank he robbed two years ago shows up with a blackmail demand. All Nolan has to do is rob the bank again--and play patsy to a sexy girl friend's murder scheme. Says the Atlanta Journal Constitution: "Collins has a gift for creating believable low-life characters." With a new Introduction by the author.

My fifth read in the eight book long Nolan series from Max Allan Collins. Published back in 1981 this was another fast, pacey and intriguing read. 


Nolan thinks he's retired from bank-robbing, but he isn't. Old adversaries - the hilly billy Comforts are supposed to be dead, but they aren't. Nolan has been targeted from both ends but doesn't yet know it.  

A blackmailing bank president with a hard-headed girlfriend on the side and a wife who's more interested in where her next drink is coming from, than paying a bit of attention to her wandering husband. George Rigley has been skimming to pay for his mistress and decides that Nolan's robbed his bank once, he can do it again on Rigley's terms. Rigley fails to appreciate that he's not the one calling the shots - that would be femme fatale, Julie. Julie wants status and money and a lifestyle to suit and has plans to get it one way or another.

"Come on Nolan. You know who's screwing us in the ear, and it isn't Rigley."
Nolan yawned again, then said, "Yeah you're right. It's the bitch doing it. Christ, you'd think getting screwed by her would be more fun."

Nolan and young sidekick, Jon buy into the scheme albeit reluctantly - do they have a choice? But with the recent violent death of another criminal associate, Breen at the hands of unknown assailants (Sam Comfort and surviving son) there's more going down than just a robbery.   

There's a deceptive simplicity to the prose that kept me engaged in the story and turning the pages. Great characters, great dialogue, tremendous short scenes of of either action or just conversation.

Every box ticked.
Initially a 4, but the more I think about it, the more I liked it and the less to find fault with.

5 from 5.

The previous 4 were enjoyed and reviewed.
Bait Money
Blood Money
Fly Paper
Hush Money

The next 3 are greatly anticipated! Scratch Fever, Spree and Mourn the Living.

Max Allan Collins has his website over here. He's on Twitter - @MaxAllanCollins

I bought my copy for Kindle a couple of years ago.

Tuesday, 25 August 2015

2 BY JAMES W. HALL

James W. Hall was one of my first crime fiction discoveries when I happened upon the genre either late 80's or early 90's - my memory isn't good enough to pinpoint it exactly.

His Thorn PI series set in the Florida everglades was compulsory reading for me, until at some point, he fell off my radar. When we started our family in the mid 90s - 3 children in 4 years - 95,96 and 98 - I stopped reading and probably didn't get back into it until the early 2000's.........time, tiredness, lethargy, pressure of work all contributing.

Somewhere along the way, I stopped reading a lot of folks, but still kind of kept tracks on them and dipped in and dipped out and bought some books that never got read (not a habit I have managed to break yet) along the way. Ah, the power of the internet!




Anyway, Hall has thus far written 14 Thorn books over the period of 1987 when UNDER COVER OF DAYLIGHT appeared, up until 2014 with the latest entry THE BIG FINISH appearing. He has written standalones, short stories, poetry and non-fiction as well. Complete whack job that I am, I do have one of his poetry books somewhere in the tubs - unlogged as yet. I don't even like poetry!
 

Mr Hall taught for over 40 years at Florida International University in Miami. According to Florida Backroads Travel....Hall's fiction often uses Florida settings as a backdrop, including setting such as the Everglades and Key West. Hall's writing explores the contrast in South Florida between squalor and poverty coexisting with tremendous wealth and glamor

The full list of Thorn PI series books is as follows (thanks to Fantastic Fiction website):

1. Under Cover of Daylight (1987)
2. Tropical Freeze (1989)
     aka Squall Line
3. Mean High Tide (1994)
4. Gone Wild (1995)
5. Buzz Cut (1996)
6. Red Sky At Night (1997)
7. Blackwater Sound (2002)
8. Off the Chart (2003)
9. Magic City (2007)
10. Hell's Bay (2008)
11. Silencer (2010)
12. Dead Last (2011)
13. Going Dark (2013)
14. The Big Finish (2014)

I reckon I have about 11 of these and the intention is to read through the series one a month, a goal that I'm probably a year or two away from even starting!

James W.Hall has his website here.


Mean High Tide (1994)

Seeking solace from his violent past in the tropics of Key Largo, Thorn is drawn into a circle of shifty and all too brutal characters when his girlfriend is killed in a scheme involving environmental revenge.

(You don't seem to get much of a blurb with a lot of mid-90s and earlier books.)










Magic City (2007)

Based on real events, and newly declassified documents, Magic City like the films L.A. Confidential and Chinatown evokes a time in our nations history when powerful men were willing to do whatever they thought necessary to achieve their goals. A simple black and white photograph taken during the 1964 Clay-Liston fight on Miami Beach sets off a modern-day murder spree that reaches from the quiet neighborhoods of Miami to the back corridors of the White House. When the last remaining copy falls into Thorns hands, he and everyone he loves become the target of madmen and trained killers, each of whom has his own powerful motive to see the photograph destroyed forever and its secrets kept hidden.