Sunday, March 30, 2008

Strangers in Death, a new Eve Dallas Novel

I used to refer to J. D. Robb's future police procedurals as a guilty pleasure but I've decided there is no reason to feel guilty - I really enjoy them. This is the 28th in the In Death.. series. Astute mystery readers should be able to figure out the significance of the title before Robb has one of her characters reveal it. I have a longer write-up on Revish.

Nameless Night

G. M. Ford writes terrific thrillers. This one falls into the "man has amnesia pursued by government agents in conspiracy to cover something up" category. It is nicely executed without the conspiracy too out-there. I have a longer discussion over at Revish.

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn

Most of my reading is crime, fantasy, and science fiction so you might be surprised to find A tree Grows in Brooklyn among my recent reads. This is a terrific book about growing up one to the ground-down poor in Williamsburg, Brooklyn in the early part of the 20th century. It is beautifully written. I wrote a bit more about it on Revish.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Charles Ardai's First Two Novels

I heard a podcast interview with Charles Ardai, the co-founder of Hard Case Crime, on Behind the Black Mask. I've mentioned this podcast before and again recommend it for the excellent interviews. I have discovered a lot of good writing there.

Ardai writes under the pen name Richard Aleas. Little Girl Lost and Songs of Innocence are his first and second novels, respectively. As is my habit with library books, you will find the reviews on Revish at the links above.

Both of these books feature John Blake who doesn't seem to be able to escape being involved with women in one of the sex trades. The books fall into the hardboiled genre and are dark but not tawdry. Essentially you have people in a lot of pain.

Both are excellent reads and I recommend them if this genre appeals to your tastes.

Oh, and for the English majors, it is no coincidence that the main character is named Blake and that the book titles refer to works by William Blake.

Evil Librarians Rule the World

Alcatraz Versus The Evil Librarians is a fun juvenile fiction story. What if everything you think you know about the world is wrong because librarians are controlling information for your own good? Since this is a library book you will find the Review here on Revish.

Jack Taylor's life doesn't get any better

I have a review of Cross, Ken Bruen's latest Jack Taylor story, up on Revish. you can read it here. My fan-boy adoration of Bruen's writing continues unabated. Cross picks up not long after the events in Priest. No breaks for Jack Taylor or anyone around him here.

Guidelines for Reviewing

I'm a casual reviewer, posting most of my reviews on Revish under the user name Max where I also keep track of the books I've read. Paper lists didn't work for me and I figured I might as well describe the books while I was at it.

I've often pondered the act of writing a review and how much detail to include about a book.

Kerrie at the blog Mysteries in Paradise considers this in the post How much to reveal in a review. I like the guidelines and have decided to adopt them for my own. Kerrie starts off by saying that the reviewer should only reveal what is in the first 50 pages. Later, she asks if it wouldn't be better to change that to a 20% rule to accommodate longer books that might take a bit to get started.

Kerrie's post helped clarify reviewing for me and I recommend you read the entire post.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

The Blue Door & Fangland

I finished a couple more library books and have reviews on Revish

The Blue Door - this is an excellent mystery by David Fulmer. It is set in Philadelphia in the early '60s and introduces Eddie Cero (like zero but with a "C"), a prizefighter leaving the sport and reluctantly made an employee of a private investigator. Eddie gets interested in the disappearance a black singer, Johnny Pope, three years previously after seeing his sister sing in a night club. This is one of favorite books of 2008.

Fangland - this is a vampire story that has more in common with Bram Stoker than the modern, sexy, urban horror vampire we see on the shelves today. You could subtitle it "60 Minutes Meets Dracula" since it involves a television news magazine "The Hour." It is written in the form of letters, emails, and journal entries. It is an excellent return to classic style horror story.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

New reviews on Revish

I'm sticking with my plan to write about book I own here and library books on Revish. To that end, here are a couple I just posted to Revish:

Deadly Beloved - Ms Tree, a hardboiled female private investigator from the Mike Hammer School of Interpersonal Relations investigates a fishy double murder.

Queenpin - excellent tale of a young woman who "wants more" and doesn't mind entering the world of organized crime to get it. Style reminds me of Jim Thompson particularly in The Grifters.

W3 - Weaponized Animals Look for Home

We3 is a graphic novel written by Grant Morrison with artwork by Frank Quitely. The story will remind you of The Plague Dogs by Richard Adams. Here, a dog, a cat, and a rabbit, formerly household pets, are "augmented" to turn them into super weapons or biorgs. There bodies are encased in heavily weaponized armour.Their intelligence has been increased and they are capable of rudimentary speech. The dog, W1 a brown Labrador formally known as Bandit, is basically a tank, the cat, W2, a ginger tabby known as Tinker in his former life, is a stealth assassin, and the rabbit, W3 aka Pirate, is trained to deliver mine and poison gas. They are the prototype animal weapons and are slated to be "decommissioned." The doctor, Roseanne Berry, who helped create and train them, helps them to escape. The dog, decides that they should "go home." The military gives chase - you can't have three lethal cyborg animals loose in the world. Much blood is shed before the story comes to a mostly satisfactory conclusion.

W3 ranks at the top of my list of favorite graphic novels. The artwork is done in a style somewhat like manga. Morrison and Quitely do a great job personalizing the animals. The dog still has the basic instinct to serve, to be a "gud dog." W1 is also poignantly despondent wen it thinks it had been a bad dog. The cat, W2, is not at all happy, is more than a little spiteful given the circumstances, and says things such as " Mmmen Stink! Bosss! Stink! Hungry" - think of a death-dealing Bucky Cat from the comic strip Get Fuzzy. The rabbit, would like some grass to eat.

Not surprisingly, the government does not come out looking all that good in this story and your sympathies are with the animals as they fight to survive and to reach the dimly remembered happy place, home. Animal lovers might find themselves a bit teary-eyed by the end.

W3 is definitely for mature readers.