Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Wednesday Paperback Cover

Look, up in the sky, it's a bird, it's a plane, it's Satyr Man? ( On a side note, does anyone know if the author is this guy?)

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Review of The Max

By now you probably already know how you feel about Ken Bruen and Jason Starr’s ongoing collaboration for Hard Case Crime. Bust and Slide are novels that inspire strong feelings. Readers either love the ongoing black comedic adventures of Max Fisher and Angela Petrakos, or they’re repulsed by the glib violence and the irredeemable nature of the main characters. There are probably a lot more of the latter than the former, and the authors know they’re not going to be making the New York Times bestseller list with this particular series, so they have fun, making their characters over the top and poking fun at some real NYT bestselling authors as well as the publishing industry itself, which is scared to touch the sort of book the authors have written.

The Max (Hard Case Crime, 2008) picks up right where Slide left off. Max has been sent to Attica after being convicted of drug dealing, and Angela has made it to Greece, where she is hanging out and spreading herpes. After a rough start, Max adjusts to prison life and hangs onto all his trademark delusions, and Angela hooks up with an English con-man with an uncanny resemblance to author Lee Child. Throw in a failing crime writer with an unhealthy obsession with Laura Lippman and a vengeance obsessed Greek, and it makes for a volatile cocktail. No prizes for guessing who the only person left standing at the end is.

The Max is funny and anarchic, but it is not quite as good as Slide, which was a wonderful satire. There are still laugh out loud moments, but not as many. The Max is also not that entertaining as a stand-alone. Readers should read the first two books before approaching this one. The authors drop in just enough explanation to prevent readers who are not familiar with the series from getting lost, but not enough for them to fully appreciate the humor in the characters’ situations. Of course, even if you’ve read one of the previous books and hate Starr and Bruen’s series, or you aren’t inclined to start at the beginning, you could always just buy The Max for its cover, which is wonderful and stands out even among Hard Case’s consistently great artwork.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Wednesday Paperback Cover

The Color of Green? Let me guess. Is it green? Do I win a prize?

Sunday, June 15, 2008

If you only see one French spoof of spy movies this year...

Make it OSS 117: Cairo, Nest of Spies. This spoof of the French novel/movie franchise just made it across the Atlantic, and it's a spot on parody of spy movie conventions mixed with some rather biting political humor. When I think comedy, I don't usually think of the French, but this film made me glad to fork over nine bucks each for tickets. There's a fight scene involving chickens used as projectiles, which is worth the price of admission all by itself. This is a movie for all the people who thought Austin Powers was vulgar garbage.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Review of Politics Noir

Politics is like cocaine. Some people can dabble with it and not get hooked, but then there are others who start by dabbling, thinking they can handle it. They think they have their shit together, so they get in a little deeper, and then a little deeper, and the next thing they know it’s 3 a.m., and they’re standing on an empty street corner under a flickering streetlight with bloody hands and empty pockets wondering how in the hell it ever went this far, how it all got away from them.

Most people instinctively know power is dangerous, and they stay away from it. They go about their lives and mind their own business. But there are those who can’t resist. They crave power, and, for this reason, they are hopelessly unsuited for the positions they seek. In real life, this is an unmitigated tragedy. It does, however, make for some great fiction.

Many people have undoubtedly reached their limit in terms of political drama this year. With Lady MacBeth and a wannabee motivational speaker competing against each other for the privilege of challenging a senile warmonger for the right to rule the Land of the Free, that is understandable. For those people who can’t get enough of this sort of thing, however, there is Politics Noir (Verso, 2008). Edited by Gary Phillips, this sharp collection of short stories is just what political junkies need for a fix. The stories are set in both the past and present, and the characters are both real and imaginary, but they all show the dark side of power and the lengths people will go to get it and keep it.

This collection is very good, and there are no real losers. Philips, who has a story in the book, did an excellent job picking his contributors. There is a story by the ubiquitous Ken Bruen that seems like a straightforward revenge tale, but is really about politics and family, and Sujata Massey has a very familiar story of a politician done in by his imprudent sexual behavior in a unique setting, and Mike Davis opens the book with a story that begins with Nixon and J. Edgar Hoover being photographed in a compromising position. There’s something in Politics Noir that will speak to all manner of crime fiction readers. If you get sick of the real thing, there’s always fiction.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Wednesday Paperback Cover

Ed Wood, known as the world's worst film director, also wrote books.

A bilbliography

And, finally, a book that promises to make you vomit.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Great Paperback Blog

The blog Pop Sensation is dedicated to scans of the blog owner's vintage paperback collection. It covers all types of genre fiction, and each entry has a scan of the front and back covers. I'm not sure how I missed this one. You're gonna want to bookmark this one, provided you haven't already.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Cold War Pulp

Over at Conelrad, a site that has a disturbing and fascinating collection of the cultural detritus of the Cold War, there is a book report of sorts on the Soviet invasion apocalypse/free love adventure Red Rape by Connie Sellers. Sellers was apparently quite prolific.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Review of Judgement Day

The inherent challenge in writing a legal thriller is to make it both legal and thrilling. Law, even criminal law, which one would think would be dramatic, is often boring to the point of tears. That's why a good legal thriller will hold off on the courtroom scenes until they are absolutely necessary.

Sheldon Siegel knows that courtrooms aren't given to drama, but that the legal profession, in certain situations can be. His latest legal thriller,
Judgement Day (MacAdam Cage, 2008), is heavy on the thriller and light on the legal. The sixth outing for San Francisco lawyers and exes Mike Daley and Rosie Fernandez, finds the pair taking a last minute death penalty appeal of Nathan Fineman, a one-time mob lawyer who ended up taking the fall for the murder of two heroin dealers. Fineman, never popular with the law and order crowd, maintains he fell from a window trying to escape the same gunman that killed the dealers, and that the police planted the gun. Complicating matters is the fact that Mike Daley's father was one of the cops at the scene of the crime. Figuring out if Fineman is innocent and who would want to set him up is no easy task, since he had a lot of enemies, and so did his clients.

Siegel's style is minimalist. He is heavy on the dialogue and light on exposition, so the book moves at a good clip, gathering momentum all the way. When the inevitable courtroom arrives it continues the story's momentum rather than bringing it to a stop. Seigel doesn't break out any real surprises, but he does turn in a solid thriller that keeps up the suspense right to the end.