Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Books March 2010

Books March 2010

The list
The Last Good Kiss by James Crumley
The Handle by Richard Stark
The Affinity Bridge by George Mann
A Man of Affairs by John D Mac Donald
Texas Wind by James Reasoner
Fake I.D. by Jason Starr

It's just flying by these months of the new year. I managed to read a nice handful of books this past month. I got my Hard Case (Fake I.D.) and my John D MacDonald fix, along with a solid Richard Stark Parker entry. The Last Good Kiss was a interesting and unexpected read. It follows a PI as he first follows a writer on a binge across the west and then looks for the long missing daughter of a Bay Area Bar Owner. It had the echos of that 70s era counter culture asking questions about selling out, and made me think of the early Fletch books for some reason-- either way it's worth checking out. As is Texas Wind, a 1980 PI novel set in Texas which I really enjoyed. It had a nice feel and even though it is pretty straight forward it has some nice twists. I reminded me that a first novel really should be simple direct story for most writers. Lastly I have to talk about the Steam Punk Detective novel the Affinity Bridge, which follows a pair of London investigators as they look into first a spectral killer and then the crash of an Airship. It was fun and moved along at a good clip. The answer to the mysteries came to me pretty early on, and I would have liked a little more depth to the characters, but it was a fine start to what I think is going to be an interesting series.

That's it for this month,

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Friday Forgotten book: Detroit PD series by Tom Logan

Friday Forgotten book: Detroit PD series by Tom Logan

Back when I was in High School, I would get my lunch money for the week on monday and at lunch I would make my pilgimarage to a local book shop known as Community News Center-- 5 blocks from school. I would look at the Gun magazines and then head over to the new releases section to see what caught my eye. I discovered a lot of great writers this way: Robert Parker and Tony Hillerman to name two. I would look over the mystery section and then head to the Sci Fi section. One week I spotted the first book in the short lived series Detroit PD.

Detroit is just down the road from me, and we watched the 11 O'clock news on Detroit's Channel 4 WDIV almost every night. The gang and crack problems were often the head lines, and to be honest the Detroit PD didn't really have the greatest rep in the world.

I recall reading all of the books in the series, and liking them enough to keep picking up the next one. They dealt with the lives of a cast of DPD officers, the job and their lives. It's strange that the only scene I really recall from any of them is one of the officers going to a shopping center on his day off. I don't recall what he did, or why, only that he went.

I poked around the web a little and found very little on the author or the series. I did manage to scare up the cover for book 4 (which I think was the last), but little else. I am not sure why the series didn't take as I recall them being somewhat like the McBain 87th Precinct books. Of course my copies have long since passed on, I think in the purge of 2002.

Anyway, Thoughts, Comments, any information on these books?

Thursday, March 18, 2010

FFB: The Brendan Voyages by Tim Severn

FFB: The Brendan Voyage by Timothy Severin

This one's for my Dad who would have turned 67 this Sunday.
I recall as a young boy my Dad telling me that of course it wasn't Columbus who discovered the new world, and it wasn't even the Vikings (who had been our ancestors) it was in fact and Irish Monk named Brendan! I am pretty sure that it was this book that was the basis of his assertion.

When I started working at the local library a couple of years back, I found myself walking past this book every day and think that "I swear that my dad had this book on those white book shelves that ran along the back of our living room wall". Thoes shelves were lined with books, mainly my mothers, but my Dad had some space for his books as well. He was a true Peterson, he didn't really beleive in reading all that made up stuff, and he tended towards non-fiction. He liked landscaping, nature and of course boats--- which is why he would have been drawn to this weeks Friday Forgotten Book.

From the Inside Flap:
"Could an Irish monk in the sixth century really have sailed all the way across the Atlantic in a small open boat, thus beating Columbus to the New World by almost a thousand years? Relying on the medieval text of St. Brendan, award-winning adventure writer Tim Severin painstakingly researched and built a boat identical to the leather curragh that carried Brendan on his epic voyage. He found a centuries-old, family-run tannery to prepare the ox hides in the medieval way; he undertook an exhaustive search for skilled harness makers (the only people who would know how to stitch the three-quarter-inch-thick hides together); he located one of the last pieces of Irish-grown timber tall enough to make the mainmast. But his courage and resourcefulness were truly tested on the open seas, including one heart-pounding episode when he and his crew repaired a dangerous tear in the leather hull by hanging over the side--their heads sometimes submerged under the freezing waves--to restitch the leather. A modern classic in the tradition of Kon-Tiki, The Brendan Voyage seamlessly blends high adventure and historical relevance. It has been translated into twenty-seven languages since its original publication in 1978."

When I finally sat down to read The Brendan Voyage, I was transported to a time when people were still looking for adventure and answeres. Maybe we still are, could all of those One Year of Living... books be more than a cash grab? Anyway, I found the book a fascinating and readable story. Covering the research and building of the boat and then the sailing of it from the British Isles to Iceland and then to the coast of North America. I liked not only the historical/ anthropological aspect of the book, but also the pure adventure of it. That's what I keep coming back to when I think of the book, adventure, danger and testing one's self against the world. We live in a world that is largely tamed, mapped and safe. There seems to be so little left to discover and so few oppurtunities to stand on the edge and look into the void of the unknown.

I recall being on Cap Cod once with my family and my dad and I were standing near the edge of natural harbor looking down into the water. I didn't want to get close to the edge, as I have a fear of heights. There was no gaurd rails, just dirt and black rock, I recall him walking almost to the very edge and looking down. It scared me, I had horrible visions of his falling, but he didn't, he just looked out over the waters and I know he was dreaming of sailing over them.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Drivin N Cryin: Legal Gun

Drivin N Cryin- Legal Gun

Amsterdam in 81

Monty walks alone

Coming in a five fifty night

Disconnects the phone

Oct in 81

Sara-a-gue walks alone

Coming in another night

She disconnects the phone

Because he's just a legal gun

And she's just a legal whore

He just guns them down right

She just asks for more

Man and a Woman dine tonight

Stare in each others eyes

They met somewhere before

He asks her what she dose and she lies

Says he works in government

Says she works alone

But he finds out later tonight when he walks her home

Because he's just a legal gun

And she's just a legal whore

He just guns them down right

She just asks for more

He tells what he really does

She doesn’t have to tell him much

They walk along the avenue

Laughing at their good luck

Oct in '81 walking home alone

When a man steps out and guns him down

For thirty days she wasn't alone

For thirty days she wasn't alone

For thirty days she wasn't alone

I discovered Drivin'N'Cryin back in '90/ '91 when they had a couple of hit tunes on the charts from their Fly Me Courageous album. Working my way back through their catalog I discovered a band that was more than the hard rock group that I was hearing on the radio. Their sound was blue collar, working class, and as much folk and country as Rock and Roll. I could go on and on, but let's just stick with the fact that they stuck with me, and in particular a set of their songs stuck with me, and one of them Legal Gun from their Whisper Tames the Lion album is this months Crime Tune.

Above you will find best transcription of the lyrics, I am unsure of the names, but it's what I came up with. I know I have seen the lyrics somewhere before, but I wasn't able to track them down in time for this post (and of course as soon as I get home tonight I will find them). Anyway, the song has a marching hard rock drive and feel to it, with just a hint of darkness and tension in the instrumentation. The lyrics tell the straight forward Noir story of loneliness, love and loss. One can almost imagine the story cribbed from a Gold Medal paperback, if it weren't that we are given both the time, October 1981 and the place
Amsterdam. I think the inclusion of these facts give the song a grounding, one can visualize what people were wearing at the time, what their hair cuts were like. Also the whole aspect of the fact that even though our two loners are legally sanctioned they still somehow are outsiders.

The song was written prior to the formation of Drivin'N'Cryin' by Kevin Kenny, and an early recording appeared on the Kevin Kenny and Frank French album Everything Looks Better In The Dark. I really do need to go back and listen to that version of the song again, but as with all of the songs in this series, it is one that I would like to hear someone cover.

The Links:

Thoughts, Comments, the corrected Lyrics?

Thursday, March 11, 2010

FFB: Call it Courage by written and i...

FFB: Call it Courage written and illustrated by Armstrong Sperry
When I think of books that stirred a sense of adventure in my life as a boy Call it Courage is right up there with Where the Red Fern Grows and My Side of the Mountain. It was a book that I discovered in the middle of Elementary school, I think our 4th Grade Teacher Mrs Olson read it to the class.

The plot From Wiki

Call It Courage is a coming of age story set in the Pacific Islands. It chronicles the journey of Mafatu, the son of the chief of Hikueru Island. Mafatudugout canoe and sets sail into the ocean without knowing where he will end up. He is caught in a storm and the canoe is lost. He lands on a deserted island and learns to hunt and fish for himself, along with his companion Uri, a yellow dog, and Kivi, an albatross. is afraid of the sea due to witnessing his mother drown as a young child, which makes him a shame to his father, and a coward among his tribe. One night Mafatu takes a

Soon Mafatu finds a sacrificial altar built by cannibals from a neighboring island. Mafatu realizes his days on the island are numbered and he begins designing his escape by making a canoe. He gathers things he will need to survive a trip across the ocean. He finds a spear point on the terrible altar and uses it to hunt.

After a number of encounters with natural foes, including a shark, a wild boar and an octopus, all of which he successfully kills, he realizes he is gaining courage and learning to deal with the things that have frightened him. The cannibals return and he makes a daring escape from them, returning home at last to his village. He has become transformed by the experience into an imposing figure. His father does not recognize him at first, then proudly accepts him on his return

I was in 4th grade in the fall of 1982 and the spring of 1983 , it was an exceedingly hard year for me, things were not well at home between my parents. School was a hell, I had been held back a year by my parents in 1980s and never seemed to fit in with my peer group, And then my father died at the end of April. I was in need of escape, and books gave me that outlet. They let me be somewhere else and sense a world where things moved forward and people grew up, where they faced their fears and met their challenges. Call it Courage was a perfect outlet into a world that was not mine, and allowed me my escape from the wild boars, octopi and cannibals that seemed to surround me in my daily life.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

FFB: Jack London in Paradise by Paul ...

FFB: Jack London in Paradise by Paul Malmont
Better to be ash than to be dust.
It's not Hawaii that I am thinking about as I type this, rather the sun setting over the big sky of Northern Idaho. I was there once, back in 2000, studying at the University of Idaho, trying to forge a new future for myself-- only to be pulled back to the world of Michigan, and family, and disillusionment and, and, and-- away from the adventure.
Jack London in Paradise is the second novel from Paul Malmont, and like his first effort, The Chinatown Death Cloud Peril, it's about creative people, their lives and how they mirror or don't mirror the adventures that they write about, or make pictures about.

From Amazon:

Jack London.

The name stands for adventure.

Explorer. Social activist. Romantic. Self-educated genius. White Fang. Call of the Wild. Martin Eden. The Sea-Wolf. Generations worldwide have been thrilled by his tales, probably never realizing how true to life they really were. He did not imagine the hardships and brutality of life in the Yukon, on the high seas, or in the back alleys of Oakland. He lived them. Few men were his equal and only one woman ever fully captivated his heart. By the time he was forty, no American was more famous. And in the winter of 1915, the great writer set sail on one last adventure.

But in this story of that adventure, he is being hunted.

Hobart Bosworth -- an aging matinee idol and filmmaker -- is desperate for one more Jack London picture to save his career. Hollywood machinations have driven a wedge between him and his old friend. He has tracked Jack and his wife, Charmian, from the mysterious ruins of their once-magnificent Wolf House across the Pacific to the volcanic islands of Hawaii. The Jack London he finds here is a man half mad with visions, a man struggling with the ghosts of his past, the erotic temptations of the island paradise, and his own wolflike nature.

Now Hobart's original goal -- to save his studio -- has become a desperate struggle to save his friend and preserve the icon he has become. With or without Charmian London's help.

A romantic novel of sweeping passions and raw adventure set against an unforgettable, sultry backdrop, Jack London in Paradise vividly imagines the last year in the life of a legendary man nearly everyone knows about, but few actually know.

I have to fess up here, I've only read one Jack London book (The Iron Heel), and that was back in 1996 when I was fresh out of college, working a minimum wage security gig that had only the benefit that I had a lot of time to read. I enjoyed the book, but never got around to reading any of his other work. I have never seen a Hobart Bosworth film (that I know of), but reading this book has me interested. I like that the book deals with a time, 1915/16 that historically is on the cusp of the last era and what we think of as the modern age. Malmont skillfully handles the characters and their journeys, the prose are crisp and have a flow and rhythm that carries the story along and to it's natural conclusion. Just as The Chinatown Death Cloud Peril, it left me wanting to check out the writing of Lester Dent and Walter Gibson, Jack London in Paradise has me interested in reading at least some of London's work.

Up next from Paul Malmont? He's going to be writing the new Doc Savage comic from DC comics read about that HERE, he's also finished a sequel to The Chinatown Death Cloud Peril. You can follow his blog HERE. Lastly I want to give him a big thumbs up for his Operation Warrior Library (OWL) which works with authors to send books to US troops overseas.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Books Feb 2010

Books Feb 2010
Miami BluesbyCharles Willeford

The Brass CupcakebyJohn D Mac Donald

The Wounded and the SlainbyDavid Goodis

Jack London in ParadisebyPaul Malmont

Well, I didn't get all the much read this month, but there was something about the books that I did finish-- something ties them all together and tells me it's time for me to take a vacation. I enjoyed each book for what they were, but it's that last one that I think people should really check out. It's gonna be my FFB book at this week, look for that on Thursday evening. Anyway, The Brass Cupcake was the Mac Donald book for the month and The Wounded and the Slain the Hard Case Crime for the month. I had read Miami Blues back in high school after seeing the film, it was interesting to revisit and I managed to pick up a stack of Willeford paperback cheap recently, so I hope to get to more if his work this year. Until next month, Mahalo.