Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Books March 2009

The books I read this month were:
The Long Haul by A.I. Bezzeridies 
Tarot Card Book Mark:None 
This was the book that the film They Drive by Night with Humphrey Bogart was based on. The action follows the adventures of a long distance trucker trying to make it on his own, chasing the American dream of working and working and getting ahead. I liked this better than last month's Bezzeridies book Thieves' Highway which I did enjoy. I would recommend checking out this book first if you want to give Bezzeridies a try. There is a more in depth review Here.  

Framed in Guilt by Day Keene 
Tarot Card Book Mark: Yellow
Day Keen was one of the cadre of writers that cut their teeth writing pulp novels in the 50's and 60's, pumping out short plot driven stories. The set up of this one was simply a woman arrives in Hollywood looking for a man she knew in London during the war, only she is murdered and the number one suspect, a screen writer has to try and stay ahead of the cops and figure out who set him up. The book was a solid and fast read. The copy I had was  one of those Stark House reprints that contained two books under one cover. I plan to get back to the volume and read the second book.

There is a happy Land  by  A.I. Bezzeridies
Did not Finish..... there was just too much of that crazy phonetic dialog.... you know people saying "Shadders" instead of "shadows". I just couldn't abide by that and gave it up after one chapter.

Dancing Aztecs by Donald E. Westlake
Tarot Card Book Mark:Two 
Donald Westlake book for the month 
I enjoyed this comic caper, with everyone looking for something (which is injected into the narrative), people meeting each other and the search for a statue made of gold. I think that some of the story is locked into the 1970s, but that in no way was off putting. If you are looking for a fun one off Westlake story this is as good a place as any to get a peek at his work.

The Shotgun Rule by Charlie Huston 
Tarot Card Book Mark: Red 
Some books hit you in ways that you don't expect, and this crime drama about a group of kids who run afoul of drug dealing in smallish town California, set in 1983 hit home in many ways. The story was very well told and the way that all the strands fit together was perfect, and I think the true loss of innocence comes from the fact that the teen boys in question are forced to see the flaws of adults and to come to grips with the pasts and sins of the men and women in their lives. Strong and compelling work that it not for the faint of heart. I will be checking out more Charlie Huston down the line.

Echoes From the Dead by Johan Theorin
Tarot Card Book Mark: Money 
This was for the 4MA reading group, and the first of the most current crop of crime/thrillers set in Sweden that I have read. That is strange because Sweden is a special place for me, I have lived there and visited often in the last ten years. It has a special place in my life because it's a land where I almost fit in, and it is the land that my people came from. The story in this book follows the  journey of a family trying to make sense of the disappearance of a 6 year old son more than two decades previously. This search leads to  the exposing of dirty laundry and the truth about legends and rumors from the past. I found it to be a engaging read, and I really liked that a lot of the Swedish cultural touchstones were left in the English translation..

Baby Shark's High Plains Redemption by Robert Fate
Tarot Card Book Mark: Nine 
From Sweden to Texas, a place that the Swedes sent me to for a couple of days back in 2005. This is the third of the Baby Shark books, and I quite enjoyed it. Baby Shark and her partner Oits are sent to rescue a woman and find themselves in the middle of a mess. The book tells of their journey to the other side of all the complications, as they dodge cops, bootleggers and interested parties in their quest to unravel the truth of what is going on. Yes I am being more than a little vague as I don't want to give too much away. You can and should find out more at http://www.robertfate.com/index.php

Branded Woman by Wade Miller
Tarot Card Book Mark: Seven 
Hard Case Crime book for the month 
Cay Morgan is in Mexico looking for revenge, only she gets more than she bargained for. This was quick and tough adventure story as Cay has to uncover the identity and then deal with a man who branded her in a previous encounter. I found it to be a bit of a slog, but I was distracted while trying to read it, and I did read all of my next entry while also reading this book. Looking back I think it's a fine example of the kind of pulp that Gold Medal and others were publishing back in the 50s. Another win for Hard Case Crime, really I should say an early winner for them. 

Slackonomics : generation X in the age of creative destruction by  Chamberlain, Lisa
Tarot Card Book Mark:None 
- Non Mystery- 
Pretty much this book is an introduction to the world and realities that Generation X is coming up against in the work place, the economy and culture that we are inheriting. The book just scratches the surface of issues like: Employment, The pay gap, house inequality, and the health insurance realities of a generation that is going to have to step up and start taking control, but really hasn't been groomed to do so.... argh, this is a touchy subject for me, so I am not even going to get started on it.... if you are at all interested in the subject this is a excellent place to start.

The Blonde by Duane Swierczynski
Tarot Card Book Mark:None 
Last month I read the Wheelman and someone commented that Swierczynski must write his chapters with a stopwatch, and I have to agree. This was another fast, lean, engaging book with a story about a hit man with a grudge, a blond that can kill with her kiss and an unlucky journalist who finds himself in the middle of everything. The more I read Swierczynski the more I feel like he is the heir apparent to the late great Richard Stark.

Outliers: The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell
Tarot Card Book Mark: The Planets and Stars 
- Non Mystery-  Non fiction book that looks at success as a factor of: cultural values, Luck, being in the right place at the right time, practice and hard work, and examines who a lot of the American myths of the self made man (or woman) ignore the help that people had along the way. I thought it was pretty interested if a little long winded in places.

3 comments:

Paul Brazill said...

some well cool looking stuff there.

pattinase (abbott) said...

I have been meaning to try Robert Fate.

Cullen Gallagher said...

Quite the month! I've always been curious about Wade Miller - have you read his other stuff? Just wondering where to start.

And that Stark House Day Keene collection sounds good - I've read a few of his and liked them very much. I'll keep my eye out for this.

Thanks for all the recommendations!