Thursday, September 1, 2011

Monthly Reads: Aug 2011

Lawrence Block book of the Month: To Murder and to Create
The second of the Matt Scudder books finds Scudder trying to figure out which of three blackmail victims bumped off his acquaintance who was running the blackmail. Told with Block’s usual deftness, the story unfolds and we see how Scudder handles the secrets of those with power and money who might wish to keep them hidden. This is also one of the shorter books in the series, and I am not sure if that is just Block still feeling out the character or if it was a reflection of the market for mysteries at the time. Either way another solid entry in the series and worth a read.

Stark House Press novel of the Month:  Danger in Paradise by A.S. Fleischman
 Originally a Gold Medal paperback from 1953, Danger in Paradise is pretty much a rip roaring island adventure. Oil Geologist Jeff Cape is just looking to get back to the states when he falls into intrigue with guerillas, reds, gunrunners and a rich American woman who likes to walk around topless. Needless to say there is nothing outstanding about the plot, it’s all in the telling, which is first rate. Clocking in at just under 150 pages Danger is a solid read that’s part of another time and place. I look forward to reading the second reprint in the volume, Malay Woman.

The Cold Kiss by John Rector
A Solid Neo-Noir debut from Rector, Cold Kiss is the story of a couple of kids looking to escape their past and start anew when a suitcase of money falls into their hands. Stop me if you’ve heard this one before…. Anyway, things go wrong and moral and practical choices must be made. I find that for first time writers the small story pallet of a limited set of characters and possible interactions is best, and the Cold Kiss is mostly a fine example of starting small. My only criticism is that the last two chapters could have been skipped and the Cold Kiss would have been a Hard Case Crime worth tale. Either way if you like Noir this is worth a look.

33 1/3: Slayer - Reign in Blood by D. X.Ferris
The untold story of the death of Hair Metal is not only the rise of Grunge, but the rise of Thrash. Reign In Blood tells the story of Slayer and their ascension at thee great thrash band of the 80s and 90s. Never the big sellers that Metallica or Megadeth were, Slayer has defined a sound and a genre that doesn’t get the respect that it deserves. Ferris tells the story of the band, the record and it’s legacy in a mostly flowing manor that is readable and if not totally engaging then at least interesting.

Deep Focus: They Live by Jonathan Lethem
The first of the Deep Focus series, They Live unpacks John Carpenters Regan-era analysis of unchecked greed and baby boomer egotism run amok. It’s a fast insightful book that inspired me to finally pick up a copy of the DVD to add to my small, but growing Carpenter collection. I did find myself skimming some of the more academic portions of the book, but over all I liked it and look forward to seeing what the forthcoming volumes of the Deep Focus series are going to have to offer.

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