Friday, 30 November 2012

NOVEMBER 2012

Well I read 12 books this month which got me back on track with my year-end revised target of 119.
110 completed, 9 to aim at in December. (119 will mean my 3 year total since 2010 will be 300!)

Anonymous - 9  - Hard Bite (2012) (4)

Martin Amis - House Of Meetings (2006) (1)

Charlie Owen - Two Tribes (2009) (3)

Danny Gillan - A Selection Of Meats And Cheeses (2011) (3)

Roger Smith - Mixed Blood (2009) (5)

Joe R Lansdale - Bullets And Fire (2013) (3)

Richard Rayner - Murder Book

Julian Barnes - Flaubert's Parrot

E L James - Fifty Shades Freed

Jim Nisbet - Lethal Injection

Mark Sullivan - Corned Beef Sandwich

Miranda Forbes ed. - Ultimate Spanking

The month started with a big bang and Anonymous-9's Hard Bite.
It went quickly downhill with Martin Amis, and meandered along until Roger Smith jumped me with Mixed Blood - a fast,violent, ride through Cape Town.

Dipped afterward with Lansdale, Rayner and Barnes, until positively plummetting off the cliff with Fifty Shades Grim.

Jim Nisbet cranked things back with Lethal Injection, before my pulse dropped back down to normal with a Manc-crime caper novel and a bit of soft titillation.

2 neck and neck contenders for book of the month, first prize on the basis of it being an unbelievably good first novel - Roger Smith and Mixed Blood,

Silver medal - Jim Nisbet,
Bronze medal - Anonymous-9

MIRANDA FORBES ed. - ULTIMATE SPANKING

Blurb.....

There's nothing like a good spanking - customers have proved that this is a bestselling theme! Editor Miranda Forbes has selected 20 more bottom-tingling stories to make your buttocks blush in this fourth volume of naughty treats! Spanking has never been so popular. Find out why ... Xcite Books offer the very best erotic writing. Clear branding and consistently good reviews in magazines such as Forum, Desire Scarlet have helped build Xcite into a bestselling brand.

Ok then, awkward, how to explain why I read this, when it’s so far out of my usual ball-park.

Well, I was browsing in a bookshop in my hometown, Leighton Buzzard, and I needed one more item to make up a price-saving bundle…….and I didn’t want a 600 page Nelson DeMille blockbuster, or a 20 year-old Jeffrey Archer pre-prison beach-read, or a Peter Hamilton science-fiction tome the size of a house brick……….so I chose this soft-porn volume of 20 erotic tales. Excuses out of the way, then!

Well, I read them on and off over a period of a couple of months, all reasonably written and all concerning the same subject matter – spanking or corporal punishment. No real need to go into any greater detail.

I’m well aware that no-one particularly has any interest in my personal predilections, and I’m not too interested in divulging them either, but suffice to say I’m not about to rush out and acquire any accessories in the leather whip department after reading this.

Should there be a subsequent volume published, I won’t be stampeding people in my haste to acquire it.

2 stars from 5.

As stated I bought this copy

MARK SULLIVAN - CORNED BEEF SANDWICH

Blurb.....
Winner of the Crocus North West Novel Competition in 2001, Corned Beef Sandwich is a side-splitting, fast moving crime caper set in one of the seedier districts of South Manchester. Somewhere between Ealing Studios and Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, it follows the exploits of a Bookie's assistant who accidently takes home a gun man's swag bag. Housemates, surf god Axel, nuclear PR whiz Sheena and big plans Theo - are none too happy with the chaos that ensues.

I tracked this down after seeing a recommendation for it on a now long-forgotten crime fiction blog. Whilst it was enjoyable, it didn’t rock my world in the same way it did for the blogger.

I had previously attempted to read this but put it aside, but on returning to it managed to go from start to finish in a day; which whilst it’s not the length of War and Peace.at 230 pages long, does tell me two things. One it’s a decent book with pace, that was interesting enough to keep me turning the pages. Two, I happen to be quite adept at picking up the right book at the wrong time, as my "started never finished" list on the blog shows.

Sib, the bookie’s assistant is comically portrayed as a lonely, sad-sack social-misfit, stuck in a dead-end job with her parents lamenting the lack of direction in her life and only her fishes for comfort. Opportunity strikes when she ends up with the shop’s takings after an inept armed robber bungles the heist. Mayhem ensues affecting Sib and her housemates, including her sex-driven brother when the hapless criminal attempts to recover his ill-gotten gains.

Right book, right time, with a reasonable resolution. I have tried to discover if the author Mark Sullivan, not to be confused with Mark T. Sullivan, has anything else in print, but I haven’t been able to find anything.

3 from 5 – a reasonably entertaining crime-caper.

I bought this new probably 6 or 7 years ago.

JIM NISBET - LETHAL INJECTION


Blurb.....
The gritty noir cult classic is now back in print - and the first of nine Nisbet books from Overlook!

Jim Nisbet's cult classic Lethal Injection, one of the first Black Lizard Books originals, has been out of print in the United States for an unforgivably long time. Overlook is remedying that with this paperback - the first of nine reissues that will make up a Nisbet revolution.

It's about as noir as you can get. In a bleak Texas prison Royce, an alcoholic doctor administers Bobby Mencken's last 'high,' convinced that the convicted killer was innocent. When Royce's marriage crumbles he takes off for Dallas to search for the real killer.

Of Nisbet, Germany's Die Welt wrote, 'Neither Norman Mailer nor Truman Capote has in their writing been able to produce such an intensity as Nisbet has achieved.' With sharp humor and a poet's ear for language, Nisbet's world may be bleak, but it is frighteningly real. Overlook is proud to bring him to a new generation of readers.
My first taste of this author and someone who I will be returning to in the future. (I don’t have a choice I have a stack of his books in the attic!)
Lethal Injection is short, sharp, dark and funny; following Franklin Royce, an alcoholic prison doctor’s journey to discover the real killer behind the crime that his most recent patient was convicted of. Mencken; who Royce believes to be innocent, won’t be requiring further treatment once Royce has done his $600 of dirty work.
Royce with marital and financial woes usually seeks respite in the bottom of a whiskey bottle, but shoots for some level of redemption by trying to uncover the truth, without abandoning his whiskey.  Catching up with Mencken’s former partners in crime; Eddie, a low-life sociopath, and a junkie ex-girlfriend with a penchant for dirty sex  before, during and after getting high. Royce with his Gladstone bag full of morphine and his constant bottle descends into a haze of crime, sex, drugs and squalor while trying to avenge Mencken.
Nisbet won’t appeal to all readers but if you enjoy a roll in the gutter and want a view on the seamier side of inner-city America, Nisbet’s the man.
Hopefully this book and Overlook’s plans to reprint some of his previous work will bring to the attention of a wider audience.
5 from 5 – highly recommended!
I bought this new a couple of years ago.

Monday, 26 November 2012

E L JAMES - FIFTY SHADES FREED

Blurb………
When unworldly student Ana Steele first encountered the driven, damaged young entrepreneur Christian Grey, it sparked a sensual affair that changed both their lives irrevocably. Shocked, intrigued, and ultimately repelled by Christian's singular sexual tastes, Ana demanded a deeper commitment; determined to keep her, Christian agreed. Now, together, they have more-love, passion, intimacy, wealth, and a world of infinite possibilities. But Ana always knew that loving her Fifty Shades would not be easy and being together poses challenges neither of them ever anticipated. Ana must somehow learn to share Christian's opulent lifestyle without sacrificing her own integrity, identity, or independence; Christian must somehow overcome his compulsion to control and lay to rest the horrors that blighted his past and haunt his present. Just when it seems that together their love can conquer any obstacle, tragedy, malice and fate combine to make Ana's worst nightmares come true. Alone and desperate, she must face down the poisoned legacy of Christian's past. Seductive, shocking, sad, and funny, Fifty Shades Freed is the compelling final volume in the trilogy.




Well I can’t say that I am sorry to have seen the back of these three books. The first was bearable, the second slightly less so and this one was just total torture from start to finish………….oh Christian, oh Ana, Oh Christian, Oh Ana, blah, blah, blah for nearly 600 pages.

The sex scenes were dull……..oh Christian, oh Ana, oh Christian, oh Ana, with a couple of ooohhs and aaahhhs thrown in.



DULL, DULL, REPETITIVE, BORING, COMPLETE AND UTTER MINCE FROM BEGINNING TO END, WITH SOME GRIM BITS IN THE MIDDLE.



Each copy should be sold with bottle of bleach that you can pour in your eyes just to make it stop!



I’m sure some people enjoyed it, but not me. Fortunately my wife agrees so we won't have to suffer like this again next year.


1 from 5 - on the basis that you can't give a book a ZERO (Am I too generous?)







JULIAN BARNES - FLAUBERT'S PARROT


Blurb......... Geoffrey Braithwaite is a retired doctor haunted by an obsession with the great French literary genius, Gustave Flaubert. As Geoffrey investigates the mystery of the stuffed parrot Flaubert borrowed from the Museum of Rouen to help research one of his novels, we learn an enormous amount about the writer's work, family, lovers, thought processes, health and obsessions. But we also gradually come to learn some important and shocking details about Geoffrey himself.



Always a sucker for a smart cover, and add in the fact that it had been enjoyed and praised by no less than the likes of John Irving and Graham Greene, with a price tag of a whopping 30p in whatever charity shop I was browsing about 10 years ago and it was pretty much a given that I would be reading this sometime in the distant future.

After a previous start, stall, stop attempt to read this some years ago, I reopened it with a new found determination to read it start to finish and hopefully at the same time enjoy it.

Well in places it was okay, amusing and informative. In other places it was dull and tedious and though it is classed as a novel, it has a strange structure to it. One of the plus points was it was relatively short!

I’ve found some detail out about Gustave Flaubert that I previously didn’t know; a French author of the 19th Century, who’s first published work – Madame Bovary - brought him and his publisher up on immorality charges, of which he was acquitted. Flaubert is regarded by some as one of the greatest novelists of Western Literature. He never married, he took on average about five years or so on each book, plus he at some time borrowed a stuffed parrot.

I haven’t been inspired to go and seek out anything from Flaubert to form my own opinion on his value as a great exponent of Western prose. Similarly neither have I been encouraged to seek out much else that Barnes has penned, apart from his recent book - A Sense Of An Ending - which I’ll get to sometime, though it might be another 10 years or so.

On reflection, it was probably a bit better than a 2 from 5, but not quite a 3, but in the process of rounding up 3 from 5 it is.   

As indicated earlier, I bought this copy second-hand.

Sunday, 25 November 2012

RICHARD RAYNER - MURDER BOOK


Blurb...... About as noir as it can be…excellent’ Frances Fyfield, Daily Telegraph

The city is Los Angeles, the birthplace of the American dream, a city that has come to symbolize both heaven and hell. Billy McGrath is an enigma, half American, half English, who once dreamed of pursuing a career as an academic philosopher, but for the last fifteen years he’s been a homicide detective – one of LA’s best. He knows the rules, and understands a justice system that punishes the underprivileged and lets the rich go free. He’s an unhappy man, divorced from the wife he still adores and separated from a daughter for whom he’d willingly die. If he hasn’t yet thought of suicide, he soon will.
McGrath is called to a crime scene – a woman dead on a kitchen floor in one of the city’s seamiest neighbourhoods, an apparently routine assignment until he discovers that the murdered woman’s son is LA’s biggest crack dealer, an idol of the ghetto who offers him a one-million-dollar bounty for the name of the killer. Making the wrong choice for what might be the right reasons, McGrath initiates both his own fall from grace and, as he strives to redeem himself, a series of wild and furious actions that hurtle him through the many identities of corrupt Los Angeles.
In McGrath, Rayner has created a sympathetic everyman who becomes both victim and victor. Set against a bleak cityscape, Murder Book is a dark, violent and sexy thriller that is impossible to put down.



I bought this when it was first published back in the late 90’s having been drawn by the LA Times remark on the cover of my copy.....”Neo-neo-Noir”........hell, not just Noir but Neo-neo-Noir!

I tried reading this some years ago, but as often happens to me the book you pick up at the time doesn’t suit your mood, so quickly gets returned to the shelf, whilst something more suitable steps up in place.

Well this time around I was maybe 40 pages in and thinking.........hmmm, not too bad, and then it died on me. I must have spent a week persevering through the next 100-150 pages at which point the pace picked up again and maintained until the end.

Okay-ish, in a sort of I don’t care too much what happens manner.

Beginning  - good, long, long, middle -total grimness, last section - alright.

Conclusions:

Neo-neo-noir is some horrible 90’s inferior version of noir and if I ever pick up another title recommended by Francis Fyfield it will be because I’ve suffered amnesia probably after being hit round the head by a box full of remaindered copies of Rayner’s other books, if this one is anything to go by.

2 from 5       

ROGER SMITH - MIXED BLOOD (2009)


Blurb...... An American fugitive hides out in Cape Town—one of the world’s most beautiful and violent cities—in this riveting debut thriller that asks: Can you ever outrun your past?

Reluctant bank robber Jack Burn is on the run after a heist in the United States that left $3 million missing and one cop dead. Hiding out in Cape Town, South Africa, he is desperate to build a new life for his pregnant wife and young son. But on a tranquil evening in their new suburban neighborhood they are the victims of a random gangland assault that changes everything.

Benny Mongrel, an ex-con night watchman guarding a building site next to Burn’s home, is another man desperate to escape his past. After years in the ghetto gangs of Cape Town he knows who went into Burn’s house. And what the American did to them. He also knows his only chance to save his own brown skin is to forget what he saw.

Burn’s actions on that night trap them both in a cat-and-mouse game with Rudi "Gatsby" Barnard—a corrupt Afrikaner cop who loves killing almost as much as he loves Jesus Christ—and Disaster Zondi, a fastidious Zulu detective who wishes to settle an old score. Once Gatsby smells those missing American millions, the four men are drawn into a web of murder and vengeance that builds to an unforgettable conclusion.

I was unaware of Roger Smith, until a recent browse around a Waterstones had me scurrying to the till with Dust Devils. I was intrigued enough to dig through his back list and track down this copy of his first novel. I’m so glad I did.

Smith has delivered a fast-paced, violent, gritty little book, peppered with intriguing characters from both sides of the tracks; Burn – an ex- US marine with a gambling Jones that forces him on the run, Mongrel - a survivor of the ghettos and some serious jail-time, now trying to move on with his life and leave the gangs behind and Gatsby – a corpulent, stinking, corrupt and zealous-Jesus loving cop, feared by all on the impoverished Cape Flats.

With Burn fearful of losing his family and his liberty after dealing with a violent home invasion, witnessed by Mongrel and Gatsby under threat from an outside investigation, led by Zondi, their paths cross.

Gatsby cracks Burn’s cover and senses opportunity to get out from under Zondi and mayhem follows.    

In addition to the strong characters Smith has drawn, none of them particularly likeable, but all memorable; his portrayal of a city of contrasting fortunes acts as an interesting back-drop for the book. Gangs, ghetto, drug use, tik-whores, poverty and apathy......it’s all in here.  

Having recently read both Deon Meyer and Mike Nicol, I would put Smith and Mixed Blood equal first with Nicol’s Payback and a little way ahead of Meyer’s Trackers, in my SA crime league table. I have further books to read from all three, which I’m hoping will enliven the months ahead.

As this was Smith’s debut novel, can he possibly get better with his subsequent books?

 I’ll track down the others and find out,

Cape Town

Novels
Novellas




Best book this month so far, 5 from 5.

Highly recommended.
I bought my copy on e-bay after a bit of bargain hunting.   

   

Thursday, 22 November 2012

GEOGRAPHY, CRIME FICTION AND AN AVERSION TO SCANDINAVIA!


I have been trawling around some of my favourite crime fiction sites and blogs and what is noticeable is the preponderance of Scandinavian crime fiction, being read and written about.

For many years, I used to disregard crime fiction set in the UK, on the basis that I didn’t really what to read about where I live. When I read, I want to be transported elsewhere for the number of hours I’m immersed in the book.

I have now expanded my scope to include home-based fiction, on the grounds that I was obviously denying myself access to some great books with my myopic viewpoint.

When I looked abroad for my fix of crime fiction I was immediately drawn to America and some of the fantastic crime writers they have spawned; Jim Thompson, Elmore Leonard, Charles Willeford to name a few.

Spreading my wings further, I sought out books set in Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Ireland, South Africa........and Scandinavia.

Over the past few years of book browsing, I have acquired a fair few books from the likes of Henning Mankell, Arnuldar Indridason and the double act of Sjowall/Wahloo amongst others. Plus I’ve added Jo Nesbo and Asa Larrson recently to my TBR pile.

Checking my reading list for the past three years, it’s apparent that whilst I like reading about Scandinavian crime fiction, I don’t actually read any.

 

2012 Scandinavian crime fiction read = ZERO,

2011 Scandinavian crime fiction read = 3 (Kepler, Larsson, Jungstedt}

2010 Scandinavian crime fiction read = ZERO,

Pre-2010 Scandinavian crime fiction read – memory dredging.....Sjowall/Wahloo – 1 of, Mankell – 2 of, and one of them was set in Africa!

Why do I actually have an aversion to reading these books?

Well a lot of the time I want to read about places that I’d like to go visit; somewhere warm, sunny, vibrant, inviting, relaxing.......none of which springs to mind when I think of Scandinavia.

Scandinavian word-association game...............cold, dark, bleak, dull, boring, Winter, Volvos, pickled herrings, Abba, Ulrika........none of which I’m viewing as positives.

The only major positive I can think of is Henrik Larsson and his wonderful days at Celtic, maybe if he wrote crime fiction, I would jump aboard.  

Scandinavian crime fiction will be one of my reading targets for 2013 – one a month should be a reasonable aim.

  

 

Saturday, 17 November 2012

CAUGHT UP!

Well I've caught up on my saved list of reads since 2010, I can get back to posting my incoherent ramblings and musings on what I've just read.

It was interesting to see how much I could remember of what I've read in the past 3 years.
It seemed that the ones I enjoyed the least stuck with me the most. I visited various websites to jog my memory, and even after doing that some books just didn't come back to me.
Maybe I don't really read, maybe I'm just skimming across the pages not really absorbing that much?
Who cares?

Still I reckon I've surpassed my 100 target for 2012 already - so if I can get to 119, for the year - that will pull the figures back into line for the last three!

2010 - 104
2011 - 77
2012 - 98 to October end......21 to go!

AUGUST 2012


August 2012.........12 books this month

Richard Francis – Taking Apart The Poco Poco

Dave Zeltserman – Outsourced

Tony Black – RIP Robbie Silva

Jack Danne/Jeanne Van Damme ed. – In The Field Of Fire

David Craig – Bolthole

William Caunitz – One Police Plaza

Eric Garcia – Anonymous Rex

Harlan Coben – Shelter

Jeff Connor – Pointless

Philip Wilding – Cross Country Murder Song

Stephen Wright – Going Native

Anthony Bourdain – Bobby Gold

Stephen Wright and Philip Wilding are in contention for the supreme accolade – namely the author of least enjoyable book ever in the history of books since the year dot.

 Also vying for the title, Kerouac - Lonesome Traveller, probably anything Dean Koontz has written in the past 15 years, Leonie Swann – Three Bags Full.

 A close call – probably Going Native will shade it....slightly less painful reading this than boiling my head in a pot on the stove, but it was a close run thing.   

Garcia wasn’t great – not a patch on Matchstick Men.

Caunitz – ok, but not as good as I was hoping for.

Richard Francis – won’t be going back there, thank you.

Field Of Fire – Nam stories with a “fantasy” spin – as with any story collection, some a lot better than others.

Tony Black’s novella just didn’t rock me the way I had hoped for.

Jeff Connor’s account of a year following Scotland’s worst football team was interesting enough. Keep the faith – East Stirlingshire fans!

Bolthole was an early Bill James thriller written under an alias, bit better than average in my opinion.

Coben’s Shelter – I think is a YA targeted book that this MA (middle-aged) reader enjoyed.

Book of the month – Bobby Gold........certainly glistened for me!
Blurb.........
Bobby Gold is a lovable criminal. After nearly ten years in prison, he's no sooner out than he's back to work breaking bones for tough guys. His turf: the club scene and restaurant business. It's not that he enjoys the job-Bobby has real heart-but he's good at it, and a guy has to make a living. Things change when he meets Nikki, the cook at a club most definitely not in his territory. Smitten, he can't stay away. Bobby Gold has known trouble before, but with Nikki the sauté bitch in his life, things take a turn for life or death.

A fast, furious, pitch-perfect story of food, sex, crime, and mayhem, The Bobby Gold Stories is Bourdain at his best
 
Recommended

JULY 2012


July 2012..... 11 this month

Joseph Torra – Gas Station

Michael Connelly – The Reversal

Gil Brewer – Appointment In Hell

Andy McNab- The Grey Man

Len Deighton – Declarations Of War

Charles Portis – Dog Of The South

Charlie Owen – Bravo Jubilee

Robert Cremins – A Sort Of Homecoming

E L James – Fifty Shades Of Grey

Ed Smith – On And Off The Field

Dave Zeltserman – Blood Crimes 1

Not a brilliant month truth be told.

Torra, Portis, Deighton all dragged a bit.

Cremins, McNab (Quick-Read), Zeltserman, and Brewer were okay in an average sort of way.

Owen and his police propaganda-jokey-set ups and anecdotes amused and wasn’t too irritating.

Fifty Shades...what can I say? Or shall I leave the talking to my inner goddess? Fair play to her – hopefully she’s made enough to retire and can knock the books on the head.

Connelly – still disappointing me Michael. You could do better, you have done in the past. I’ll keep the faith for two more books!

Book of the month Ed Smith – year long cricket diary. Who’d have thought a cricket book would get the top prize?

 

JUNE 2012


June 2011....11 books this month

Cormac McCarthy – The Orchard Keeper

Craig McDonald – Toros And Torsos

John Harvey – Bluer Than This

Jeremy Duns – Free Agent

Michael Zadoorian – Second Hand

Brady Udall – Setting Loose The Hounds

Charlie Williams  - One Dead Hen

Dave Zeltserman – Killer

Lynn Kostoff – The Long Fall

Robert Campbell – The Junkyard Dog

Benjamin Whitmer – Pike

A more enjoyable month’s reading overall.

McCarthy and Harvey (poetry – what was I thinking of when I bought this?)....were the two low points.

McDonald, Williams and Zeltserman I’ve read previously. I would read again if the mood took me. Williams’ book was the I think the fourth and last in his Mangel series with Royston Blake, having read the previous three it ended on a high.

Campbell’s book was a re-read from someone I used to read a lot of about 20 years ago.............the old mysterious press paperbacks that used to grab me.  Plenty more of them in the attic!

Three books competing for pick of the month – Duns and Free Agent.

Blurb........ In July 1945 MI6 agent Paul Dark took part in a top secret mission to hunt down and execute Nazi war criminals. He will discover that everything he understood about that mission, about its consequences, and about the woman he once loved, has been built on false foundations. Now it's 1969 and a KGB colonel called Slavin has walked into the High Commission inLagos, Nigeria,and announced that he wants to defect. His credentials as a defector are good - he has highly suggestive information which indicates that there is yet another double agent within MI6, which would be a devastating blow for a Service still coming to terms with its betrayal by Kim Philby and the rest of the Cambridge Five. Paul Dark has been largely above suspicion during MI6's years of self-recrimination. But this time he can see his number coming up. For some it would be fight or flight time. But when you discover that everything you've taken for granted and trusted for twenty four years turns out to be untrue, and when your arrest may only be moments away, then perhaps the only option is both fight and flight. Free Agent is a twisting, intense thriller set between London and Nigeria during the height of the Cold War. It's a novel of innumerable cliffhangers, all set within a constantly evolving moral universe, and the surprises keep coming until the very last page.

Zadoorian and Second Hand

Blurb....... Richard sees treasure everywhere. In that old eight-track quadraphonic stereo, that pink granite bowling ball, or a Niagara Falls napkin holder. While most people scramble for the newest and the best, Richard searches for the odd and obsolete -- and sells it at his second-hand shop on the edge of Detroit.

Why does he do it? For Richard, junk is a way of life, a calling, and a passion. Until his comfortable second-hand life gets a first-hand jolt.

Richard's mother has died, and left behind a valuable house full of packed-away junk -- including some old photos that will change everything Richard thought about his parents. And then there's the hip, thrift-attired woman who comes into his store with more than junk on her mind.... Suddenly some very unexpected things are entering Richard's life, including some surprising revelations about love and loss -- and what's really important in life.

With an unerring blend of the comic and the poignant, Michael Zadoorian has written an unforgettable novel about knick-knacks, garage sales, romance, and the bonds we form with people and things -- the perfect story for anyone who has ever loved something second hand.



On the basis that it didn’t quite reach the heights attained by The Leisure Seekers, pick of the month is

Lynn Kostoff – The Long Fall

Blurb...... At once authentic and flip, by turns wildly funny and deadly serious, as riveting as it is inventive, The Long Fall twists sibling rivalry inside out and sets the conventional crime novel on its head. In sunbaked Phoenix, Arizona, this never-predictable tale tosses into its antic mix a dead father, his two sons—one a small-time ex-con with a consistent genius for sabotaging his own best interests, the other a straight, uptight solid citizen with a moneymaking chain of dry-cleaning stores and a restive ex-stewardess of a wife named Evelyn—and a sicko cop with a twisted worldview. Recently released from prison—twenty-four months for possession of a truckload of black-market saguaro cacti—and in deep debt to an unforgiving crank dealer, Jimmy Coates returns home only to discover that his brother has cut him out of his inheritance. A not-unjustifiable desire to settle old scores and new sends Jimmy on a robbery spree that wipes out four of his brother’s dry-cleaning establishments. But when he finds himself tumbling for a mutinously sexy Evelyn, the impulse to vengeance reverses itself. Unwittingly, however, Jimmy has already set in motion a series of dangerous consequences—adultery, blackmail, love, betrayal—that culminate in a blueprint for murder. And it could be Jimmy himself who is taking the long fall.



Recommended.







 

MAY 2012


May 2012..... 10 books read

Lionel Shriver – We Need To Talk About Kevin

Deon Meyer – Trackers

Michael Zadoorian – The Leisure Seekers

Dominic Prince – Jumbo To Jockey

Karl Pilkington – An Idiot Abroad

Stewart O’Nan – The Speed Queen

Jack Kerouac – Lonesome Traveller

Jonathan King – The Blue Edge Of Midnight

Uswal Dey – Freedom Fiction Journal (12-04)

Christopher Fowler – Full Dark House

Average sort of a month......

 King, Fowler, Meyer – all above average on the enjoyment scale. 7’s from 10

Pilkington and Price- ok but no more please.

Shriver – ok but didn’t rock my world, a bit churlish to complain about finding a mass murderer and his family annoying maybe? Probably the author’s voice was more the problem.

Jack Kerouac – if this is typical of his writing, then I don’t understand all the plaudits. I wanted the pain to stop but the short book went on and on for ever, seemingly.

By a country mile - book of the month........Zadoorian’s Leisure Seeker.

Blurb....... In Michael Zadoorian's The Leisure Seeker the Robinas have shared a wonderful life for more than sixty years. Now in their eighties, Ella suffers from cancer and John has Alzheimer's. Yearning for one last adventure, the self-proclaimed "down-on-their-luck geezers" kidnap themselves from the adult children and doctors who seem to run their lives and steal away from their home in suburban Detroit on a forbidden vacation of rediscovery. With Ella as his vigilant copilot, John steers their '78 Leisure Seeker RV along the forgotten roads of Route 66 toward Disneyland in search of a past they're having a damned hard time remembering. Yet Ella is determined to prove that, when it comes to life, you can go back for seconds—even when everyone says you can't.



A geriatric Thelma and Louise style road trip – an absolute knockout.

Highly recommended.

 

 

APRIL 2012


April 2012........8 books this month     

Jo Brand – Look Back In Hunger

James Lee Burke – The Glass Rainbow

Robert Harris – The Ghost

Dave Zeltserman – Bad Karma

Michael Connelly – Chasing The Dime

James Sallis – Drive

Liz Thomas – Dust Of Life

David Guterson – The Country Ahead Of Us The Country Behind Us

 

Brand – funnier on TV than the written page.

Connelly – a re-read as I found it amongst the clutter. Not one of his better earlier ones.

Liz Thomas – interesting account of a nurse/charity worker with a conscience who upped sticks and headed to Saigon in the early 70’s moved by the plight of the street kids living in a war zone.

JLB – similar to Ellroy insofar as I’m reading him out of a sense of duty rather than because of any continued enjoyment from his too-long-stale series. An addiction I’ll be curing myself of soon......after I read the next one!

Sallis was short, sharp and dark – really enjoyable. There’s also a follow-up book and a film of this one that I need to track down.

Book of the month though Harris’s Ghost.......even if I did slightly spoil it for myself by watching the film first!

Blurb........

Britain's former prime minister is holed up in a remote, ocean-front house in America, struggling to finish his memoirs, when his long-term assistant drowns. A professional ghostwriter is sent out to rescue the project - a man more used to working with fading rock stars and minor celebrities than ex-world leaders. The ghost soon discovers that his distinguished new client has secrets in his past that are returning to haunt him - secrets with the power to kill.

Robert Harris is once again at his gripping best with the most controversial new thriller of the decade.



 

 

MARCH 2012


March 2012...... 10 books this month

Anna Funder – Stasiland

James Ellroy – Blood’s A Rover

Dave Zeltserman – The Caretaker Of Lorne Field

Tony Black – Truth Lies Bleeding

Nigel Marsh – Fat, Forty And Fired

George Pelecanos – The Cut

Joseph O’Neill – This Is The Life

Kevin Booth – Isiris Unveiled

Neil Cross – Luther The Calling

Dominic Streatfeild – Brainwash

I’ve read and enjoyed most of Ellroy’s work over the years. To be honest, I’ve struggled with most of his recent ones, reading more from a sense of duty or loyalty to the genius that brought the unforgettable LA novels;

L.A. Quartet


In my opinion the last few books he’s written have been a vehicle just to show us all how clever he is. I think I’ve enjoyed the ride, but I’m jumping off the Ellroy wagon now.

I’ve read all of Pelecanos’ output and I’ll stick with him, even though his last few haven’t been overly fantastic. Still an ok’ish book from him generally tops a lot of other writers.

Most of the rest were ok. Forget the Isiris book, as it’s a banned racing book designed to give punters an inside track on the devious bookmaker. Don’t think I’ll be making a fortune after reading this.

Streatfeild’s earlier Brainwash was a bit flat after last month’s History high.

Pick of the month boiled down to Neil Cross’s Luther or Anna Funder’s digging into the methods and madness of the former East German state’s secret police.

Despite my love of Luther and the iconic Idris Elba’s portrayal of him.

Book of the month is Stasiland

Blurb...........

In 1989, the Berlin Wall fell; shortly afterwards the two Germanies reunited, and East Germany ceased to exist. In a country where the headquarters of the secret police can become a museum literally overnight, and one in 50 East Germans were informing on their countrymen and women, there are a thousand stories just waiting to get out. Anna Funder tells extraordinary tales from the underbelly of the former East Germany - she meets Miriam, who as a 16-year-old might have started World War III, visits the man who painted the line which became the Berlin Wall and gets drunk with the legendary "Mik Jegger" of the East, once declared by the authorities to his face to "no longer to exist". Written with wit and literary flair, Stasiland provides a rivetting insight into life behind the wall.