Thursday, May 31, 2007
Wednesday, May 30, 2007
Tuesday, May 29, 2007
Gonzalo Baeza at Sweet Home Alameda on Dan Marlowe. (En Ingles)
Ed Lynskey on Bruno Fischer over at Allan Guthrie's Noir Originals
An article on Orrie Hitt by one Carola Von Hoffmannstahl-Solomonoff (Hat tip to Allan Guthrie)
And, although he is neither forgotten nor underrated, a story on Donald Westlake's often overlooked forays into erotica. (Link posted to the Rara Avis mailing list by Bill Crider who got it from Ed Gorman's blog.)
Havana Blue, (Bitter Lemon Press, 2007) the third novel in Leonardo Padura’s acclaimed Havana Quartet to be translated into English by Peter Bush, is not your usual mystery novel. For a full five-sixths of the book, it is unclear if a crime has been committed. Padura is more interested in writing about middle age and the broken dreams that litter people’s lives as they move inexorably toward old age than he is in writing a police procedural. In fact, the Spanish language title of the book is the more evocative Pasado Perfecto, or Past Perfect. The bland Havana Blue fails to capture the book’s melancholy tone.
With that phone call, Conde, nicknamed The Count, is put on a collision course with his past. The books cuts back and forth between Conde’s memories of high school and the present as he tries to figure out if the too-good-to-be-true Rafael Morin is really the upright comrade everyone says he is. Along the way Padura writes with affection about
What is missing from Havana Blue is action. Readers looking for an American style police procedural, where the investigation is interrupted by action sequences will be disappointed. Conde’s investigation is all talk. The only violence in the novel takes place in flashback, when Conde remembers then only time he ever had to shoot a man. The languid pace of the novel, while it fits well with the novel’s tropical setting, may frustrate readers used to stories that move a little more quickly.
There are also a couple of places, most notably on the first page of the book, where the point of view switches from first person to third person for no discernable reason. For most of the book, first person is used in flashbacks and third person for the present, and these lapses may leave the reader scratching his head, but they are not so confusing enough to ruin the narrative.
Readers with the patience to follow Mario Conde through the streets of
Sunday, May 27, 2007
You can tell from the sheer volume of responses that were posted that Mr. Pierce asked the right question. If you like books you've got a list of them you can't believe more people haven't read. My submission was done quickly. I didn't take a lot of time to think about it. Since then I've thought of three other books that I could've listed, none of which were mentioned by anyone else. Oh well, there's always next year.
Thursday, May 24, 2007
Wednesday, May 23, 2007
Today, dear reader, is your lucky day. I just received copies of Hard Man and Kiss Her Goodbye from Polygon Press. I already own both books, so I'm going to have a contest to give them away. First up for grabs is the new one, Hard Man. If you want a copy send an email to Indiecrime at gmail dot com with the subject line Contest. I will number each email in the order of its arrival. Then, when the time comes, I will use Random.org to generate a number. Whoever's entry number matches the random number wins. I will drop the book in the mail gratis. No shipping, no handling, no nothing. Just a free book. The deadline for entry is June 1. Good Luck.
Tuesday, May 22, 2007
Friday, May 18, 2007
Bloodthirsty, (Macadam Cage, 2007) the second Lomax and Biggs novel from Marshall Karp, shows the author has learned from his mistakes.
Last year’s The Rabbit Factory was an enjoyable, but overly long thriller, where the author tried to throw in everything but the kitchen sink. The new outing featuring LAPD homicide detectives Mike Lomax and Terry Biggs is streamlined, with all the emphasis on keeping the plot rolling.
Lomax and Biggs are still basking in the notoriety they gained from solving their last case, and they sell the rights to the story to director Halsey Bates, who wants to get producer George Gerber to finance the film. When Gerber’s bloodless corpse turns up stuffed in a garbage can in the Hollywood Hills, Lomax and Biggs catch the case, and set out to find out who murdered one of the most hated men in Hollywood. When their prime suspect, an arrogant movie star, gets kidnapped and then turns up murdered in the same macabre fashion, the two detectives must scramble to prevent more murders.
While Bloodthirsty has none of the pacing problems of its predecessor, the plot is a little thin. Karp’s previous novel kept readers guessing until the end, the motives of the criminals in this book are transparent and what you see is what you get, which is disappointing, because part of the fun of a mystery is being in the dark, not just as to whodunit, but why it was done.
Still, with nothing to distract from the narrative’s motion, there’s no reason to put it down, and Karp’s clean prose makes for easy reading. Bloodthirsty will definitely satisfy fans of Karp’s detective duo and probably win them some new ones.
Thursday, May 17, 2007
Wednesday, May 16, 2007
Tuesday, May 15, 2007
Monday, May 14, 2007
Saturday, May 12, 2007
Over at Bleak House Books, they want your questions. If you're lucky they'll get answered on a daily podcast. You can listen to Benjamin LeRoy, Bleak House publisher, talk about his job here.
Wednesday, May 9, 2007
Tuesday, May 8, 2007
Monday, May 7, 2007
The event is free and open to the public, but reservations are recommended. They can be made by calling 212-764-7021 or emailing: firstname.lastname@example.org.
The discussion is the inaugural event of the Small Press Center's new Emerging Voices series.
A good fighter doesn’t go for the knockout right away. He wears down his opponent’s defenses with jabs and body blows, waiting until the moment is right, and his opponent drops his guard. Then, boom. He unloads.
Such is Ray Banks’ technique in Donkey Punch (Polygon, 2007). The follow up to Saturday's Child finds former private investigator Callum Innes fresh off of probation and working at Paulo’s Lad’s Club, where troubled youths come to learn the art of boxing. Cal life isn’t all sunshine and flowers, however. He’s got an addiction to codeine, and Moe Tiernan is coming around the gym, selling dope and upsetting Paulo, who is convinced he can handle the situation. Cal isn’t so sure, which is why he is less than enthusiastic when Paulo asks him to accompany Liam, a promising young boxer with a temper, to America for a tournament.
Still, Cal gets on the plane, headed for Los Angeles, hoping for a vacation. What he finds isn’t palm trees and movie stars. Cal has to contend with Liam’s temper and a cast of characters who will do anything to make it in the brutal world of professional boxing.
Donkey Punch is a slow burner, a crime novel driven forward by characters more than plot. Banks takes his time setting up the big conflict, and when it comes, the reader will find that he cares about Cal, despite the fact that he often acts like a son-of-a-bitch. The same goes for the surly Liam, who turns out to be more level headed and mature than Cal.
While the characterization is good, the plot could unfold a little more smoothly. The motivations of Nelson, a former boxer who ends up being central to the novel, are a little unclear. Suffice to say he does something to Liam which will leave the reader puzzled. It’s not enough to throw the book off. In fact, it was only in retrospect that Nelson’s actions seemed strange. Banks is so deft at pulling the reader in that slight slips don’t matter much.
Banks’ style is no nonsense. There isn’t a wasted word, and his dialogue is sharp and direct. Those who haven’t read The Saturday Boy may find the backstory a little hard to follow at first, but it’s not confusing enough that it should discourage anyone from reading the book. Cal Innes is a character with staying power, and Banks is an author who knows when to unload.
Saturday, May 5, 2007
Thursday, May 3, 2007
I was returning a book to the library yesterday, when the Stark House Press reprint of Gil Brewer's Wild to Possess and A Taste for Sin caught my eye on the new arrivals shelf. I don't need anything else to read, but I picked it up because I've never actually seen one Stark House's books before. I'm impressed. It's got Brewer's bibliography up front, and three essays on Brewer, including one from his ex-wife, and a truly excellent one from Bill Pronzini. It's the sort of thing any pulp fan would love to have.