Saturday, February 28, 2009

Books Feb 2009

The Vengeful Virgin By Gil Brewer 
Hard Case Crime book for the month
The title says it all, you have a young woman desprate to get away from her dying, but not quick enough, stepfather and the older man who is willing to take the risk and speed things along.  There is a point when both have the power to call the whole thing off and wait, and they have to make the choice to step over the line and take or not. The languae is tough, terse and has a poetry to it. I look forward to reading more Brewer

The Burn Journals by Brent Runyon 
- Non Mystery- This book is the true story of a 14 year old boy who set himself on fire and his recovery.

The Blue Cheer by Ed Lynskey 
I know Ed is out there and might read this, so let me honest. There were parts of this book that I just didn't follow, that just didn't flow for me and there were things that worked. 

Dig that Crazy Grave by Richard S Prather
Christa Faust mentioned this book in a interview somewhere and my ears perked up. Not only because the divine Ms. F was speaking, but the title is also the title of a song by my favorite band.... The Forbidden Dimension (the song is Dig that Cr-a-a-a-zy grave). It was a fun fast read with a plot that unfolds in a couple of bounces and PI Shell Scott grinning the whole way through 

The Hot Rock by  Donald E. Westlake 
Donald Westlake book for the month
This is the first of the Dortmunder books, and it's a fun heist gone wrong story. There are six jobs that get pulled by Dortmunder and his crew, and the story moves along with humor and fun. I like the fact that Parker cohort Alan Grofield gets a role and a starting point in the book. I also watched the movie version of the story with Robert Redford.... which was a flat-pale-abridged version of the book.

Thieves' Market by A.I. Bezzeridies 
Speaking of films, this is the book that Jules Dasins Thieves Highway was based on. It's a gritty tale of the failure of the American Dream. Nick grows up in the inner valley of California where his parents fumble through a loveless marriage and family life. His father never manages to pull himself up by his bootstraps and Nick wants something better. The first 50 or so pages were set up and kinda a slow build, once Nick gets on the road with his truck and buys a load of Apples the story starts to flow. Honestly I like the film better, I think it captures core of the book (apples... core... anyone, anyone?) and give a better ended.... until the very end... just check out the movie, and the book is well worth a read as well.

Spade & Archer by Joe Gores 
Tarot Card Book Mark: Chasing
I have to admit that I haven't ready Hammett's work in many, many years. I read the Maltese Falcon and The Thin Man when I was in my 20s and exploring the world of crime and detective novels seriously for the first time. I recall enjoying them, but wasn't moved to read any of Hammett's other work (for the record I have Red Harvest, The Glass Key and The Dain Curse all with arms reach as I type this).

At any rate, this book is a prequel (a word that too often rhymes with MONEY) to the Falcon. It is well written, fast paced, and a fun slice of classic Detective fiction that will and should sate readers looking for more Sam Spade. The book is structured in three acts, each one a mystery partly built on the previous act, and each one showing us the development of Sam Spade into the tough guy we all have come to know from the book and the movie versions of The Maltese Falcon. We see Spade start his agency, bring on staff and interact with the police. We see him develop long lasting relationships and connections. The crimes that he works on are your typical Detective jobs; missing persons, dock side corruption and lost items. Along the way we also get several nods to Hammett's other work, the appearance of names that might be familiar to some, and locals that already have their built in cashe'. The writing style is sparse and terse, with quips and attitude, along with a wink and a nod. Overall I enjoyed the book, and look forward to the true test of it's power, reading The Maltese Falcon to see how this book flows into it... or not.
Old man's war by  John Scalzi 
Tarot Card Book Mark:The Great Mother
Sci Fi military story

The Wheelman by Duane Swierczynski
Tarot Card Book Mark: The Ocean
Fast and frothy heist-gone-wrong story. It's a nice nod to Westlake/Stark cannon.... I liked it and look forward to reading more Swierczynski.... I just want to know... what's a '.38 German made Bettera'?


Cullen Gallagher said...

So many of these are on my TO READ list - The Vengeful Virgin, Dig That Crazy Grave, Thieves' Market, Spade & Archer... Glad to hear positive things about them, which makes me even more excited to read them. Ah, too many wonderful books to read.

Have you read other Gil Brewer books?

Iren said...

I haven't read any of Brewer's other work as of yet, I have the Stark House reissue of A Devil for O'Shaugnessy/ Three Way Split on my shelf waiting, I am trying to burn through my stack of library books at the moment.