Friday, May 22, 2015

Review: BORDERLINE by Lawrence Block

Borderline (Hard Case Crime #115)
From the back of the book:
On the border between El Paso, Texas, and Juarez, Mexico, five lives are about to collide - with fatal results. You'll meet  

MARTY - the professional gambler who rolls the dice on a night with... 

MEG - the bored divorcee who seeks excitement and finds... 

LILY - the beautiful hitchhiker lured into a live sex show by...

CASSIE - the redhead with her own private agenda... 

and WEAVER - the madman, the killer with a straight razor in his pocket,  on the run from the police and determined to go down swinging!


My Review:
The aforementioned diverse band of characters collide in a bloody fury that, while expected, is still satisfying. With a character like Weaver, a true degenerate and dangerous member of society, his life consumed by lust and driven by murderous thoughts, BORDERLINE was always going to end up on the darker side of sleaze pulp. The other characters all have a penchant for the illegal things in life making them easy targets to fall within Weavers cross-hairs. 

Readers of this blog and my reviews will know I'm a fan of Orrie Hitt, and BORDERLINE will instantly appeal to others with similar tastes. While the sleaze pulp element is prevalent, it doesn't overshadow the characters, if anything it's a critical component to their make-up. 

Each of the separate situations the characters find themselves are as interesting as it is unique to their predicament and what led them to the border in the first place. I found this subtle yet highly effective back-story complimentary to the core plot.

The short stories, I can take or leave; THE BURNING FURY was a quick firecracker of violence while A FIRE A NIGHT told the brief tale of a murder cover-up by arson. THE STAG PARTY GIRL was the longest piece of short fiction (clocking in  at 50+ pages) and read like a Mike Hammer story. The murder mystery at a bucks show was good and the characters had depth. A pulp told at a cracking pace.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Catching Up: DISINTEGRATION by Scott Nicholson

DISINTEGRATION is a twisted thriller with a killer ending. It's a book built on pain and tragedy which morphs into murder. 

Lust conquers loves as Jacob, a successful businessman and wife Renee gradually slip away from one another following the unfortunate deaths of their two children through separate horrific events. It's at this juncture in their relationship that Jacob's thoughts turn to a former flame - though the flame in question may not be as enamored in Jacob as he is in her. Enter the deranged twist that derails all preconceptions of the book.

Through a less than inspired act of introducing Joshua, Jacobs 'evil' twin, author Scott Nicholson, eventually turns DISINTEGRATION into a pretty decent read. One that I would've liked much more had there been a natural progression of storytelling to introduce this element. Renee's discovery of Joshua, the twin previously kept hidden from Renee by Jacob didn't feel right to me - perhaps I missed something. Either way, it took a while for me to get over it and enjoy the spate of event proceeding his arrival. However, once established, Nicholson does a great job at making this character memorable.

DISINTEGRATION is a book worth checking out, I found the beginning good, middle a little average, and ending great.   

Monday, May 18, 2015

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?


This is a weekly meme hosted by Book Journey. In order to get some consistency to my posting I thought I’d jump on board this great idea. As a self-proclaimed bookaholic, I love talking about my books and finding out what others are reading.

This week I'm aiming to read 4 books, sounds a little daunting, however I've pretty much finished two of them:


25530357
REDBONE by Max Phillips (recently finished this book - this morning actually so it only just makes the Monday Reads post)

You can only take so much from a man before he has nothing left to lose... 

Calvin G. Redbone, veteran, is a simple man with a simple routine. He lives in a travel trailer, details cars, takes practice swings with his Louisville Slugger. Most days he faces nothing more complicated than deciding whether to doctor his morning coffee with a splash of bourbon. His weekdays are always the same. 

Until his simple world begins to change. Until his best friend winds up dead. Until Calvin realizes that nothing is as simple as it appears on the surface. Maybe not even Calvin G. Redbone himself. 
As he begins to unravel the truth about his friend’s life and death, the question becomes: what’s Calvin going to do about it? 

Borderline (Hard Case Crime #115)BORDERLINE by Lawrence Block (think Orrie Hitt sleaze pulp and you get a good idea of what to expect from this book. I'm enjoying it.)

On the border between El Paso, Texas, and Juarez, Mexico, five lives are about to collide - with fatal results. You'll meet  

MARTY - the professional gambler who rolls the dice on a night with... 

MEG - the bored divorcee who seeks excitement and finds... 

LILY - the beautiful hitchhiker lured into a live sex show by...

CASSIE - the redhead with her own private agenda... 

and WEAVER - the madman, the killer with a straight razor in his pocket,  on the run from the police and determined to go down swinging!


Waltz of ShadowsWALTZ OF SHADOWS by Joe R. Lansdale (This has been sitting in my tbr for far too long. Looking forward to reading it despite the dark nature of the book)

Bill, a jobless 24-year-old, is in desperate trouble. He’s being framed by some very unsavory acquaintances for a series of sadistic murders, and is in possession of a particularly gruesome photo album. Backed into a corner, he calls his uncle Hank, and in the process draws the mild-mannered family man into a dark world of unspeakable horror, where people with names like Fat Boy and Snake trade in child pornography, rape, arson and murder. Suddenly Bill’s problems have become Hank’s, and, with everything on the line, Hank and his estranged half-brother Arnold find that they only have each other to rely on. 

Prodigal Son (Dean Koontz's Frankenstein, #1)PRODIGAL SON (Dean Koontz's Frankenstein #1) by Dean Koontz (this will be the third time I've PRODIGAL SON. I just love this book)

Every city has secrets. But none as terrible as this. His name is Deucalion, a tattooed man of mysterious origin, a sleight-of-reality artist who’s traveled the centuries with a secret worse than death. He arrives as a serial killer stalks the streets, a killer who carefully selects his victims for the humanity that is missing in himself. Detective Carson O’Connor is cool, cynical, and every bit as tough as she looks. Her partner Michael Maddison would back her up all the way to Hell itself–and that just may be where this case ends up. For the no-nonsense O’Connor is suddenly talking about an ages-old conspiracy, a near immortal race of beings, and killers that are more—and less—than human. Soon it will be clear that as crazy as she sounds, the truth is even more ominous. For their quarry isn’t merely a homicidal maniac—but his deranged maker.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Bookish Thoughts: On Picking A 'Relative Unknown'

Recently I picked up a copy of HOLLYWOOD MOON by Joseph Wambaugh. Having not read anything by the author previously despite having a passing awareness of his books, this was not on my radar in pursuit of reads.

So what made me pick up this book? More broadly, what makes me pick up a book and give it a try?
  • Cover blurb - I'm big on these. This one had a quote by David Simon. Sold.
  • Cover art - I know, you can't judge a book by its cover, but it's often the interesting covers that first attract me to a relative unknown.
  • Goodreads reviews - ok, this is a little hit and miss. I tend to look at the overall average rating and the number of reviews/ratings then read some of the 3 to 4 star reviews. If the book seems to be on the right track I'll then glimpse the lower rating review to get a well rounded idea as to whether the author has written something I'd likely be in to.
  • Blogs - If I really want to do my due diligence I'll check out of few of my trusted blog sites to see what my fellow reads think of said book.  

Hollywood MoonSounds like a lot of leg work to pick up that relative unknown but I don't subscribe to the above in all instances. When I find a book that seems too good to pass up I may use all of the above or a combination thereof - or none at all - depends on the book. 

In my bookish speak a relative unknown is a book/series/author that I've only a minor awareness of. 

About HOLLYWOOD MOON:

Hollywood Station isn't your typical police division, but in 'Hollywood Moon', the cops of that surreal place seem called upon to deal with an even greater share of weirdness than normal. A prowler has been violently attacking women, and officers Nate Weiss and Dana Vaughn are in hot pursuit.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Review: DARK WATERS by Deborah Sheldon

Dark WatersDARK WATERS is a brief yet bloody glimpse at life inside the criminal element of the fictitious and notorious Melbourne biker gang - the Overlords. Author Deborah Sheldon tells this tale of violence, redemption, love, and death while looking over the shoulder of veteran biker  Danny Boy - a longtime member of the Overlords who suffered a near death experience which ultimately made him want to start a new chapter of his life - one that takes him far away form his brothers on bikes. 

Much like RONNIE AND RITA, Deborah Sheldon's Aussie noir novella, DARK WATERS packs a punch in a short space of time, thrusting the reader head first into the underbelly of crime while also establishing Danny Boy as a likable character with loads of reason to redeem. 

Throughout the course of the story Danny Boy rekindles his relationship with his ex-wife and is reunited with his young son. At the same time he's beating up rival biker gang members and collecting protection money from tattoo parlors. It's an interesting double life; one that comes to a head on collision by the books end. 

DARK WATERS is a triumph through tragedy; a dark and uncompromising noir-like tale that is as much about the violence as it is about one man trying to escape it. 

Links:

Review: RONNIE AND RITA

Interview: author Deborah Sheldon 

Friday, May 15, 2015

Friday Finds (15 May 2015)



Friday Finds is a weekly meme hosted by Should Be Reading where you share the book titles you discovered or heard about during the past week. These can be books you were told about, books you discovered while browsing blogs/bookstores (physical or online), or books that you actually purchased. I think this is a great idea and a way to share my enthusiasm of discovering new books.


Books yet to be published:

GESTAPO MARS by Victor Gischler (due to be published in September 2015)

Carter Sloan is a bioengineered agent in the far future, abandoned in deep freeze until the Nazi government awakened him and gave him a last assignment which will require him to fight and screw his way across the galaxy. Explosive and pulpy science fiction with lots of sex and even more swearing.

Vampirella: Feary TalesVAMPIRELLA: FAIRY TALES (due to be published in August 2015)

Nancy A. Collins (Swamp Thing, Sunglasses After Dark) has called upon some of today's finest creative talents - including Gail Simone, Steve Niles, Joe R. Lansdale, Devin Grayson, Stephen R. Bissette, and many more - to celebrate Vampirella's 45th Anniversary by crafting an anthology of twisted tales, bizarre bedtime stories, and fearsome fables in the tradition of the original Warren magazines, each featuring everyone's favorite sexy, kick-ass vampire-turned-monster hunter. And, boy, have they delivered! While exploring the Transylvanian castle she's recently inherited, Vampirella discovers a strange old book of "Feary Tales" that seems oddly familiar. Upon opening it, she is sucked inside its pages and lands in a weird alternate reality, where she is compelled by a disembodied voice calling itself 'The Storyteller' to live out each of the 'feary tales' if she ever hopes to return to reality. Collects the five-issue Vampirella: Feary Tales comic book series, with a complete cover gallery.

Newly published:

25530357REDBONE by Max Phillips (out now from Number 13 Press)

You can only take so much from a man before he has nothing left to lose... 

Calvin G. Redbone, veteran, is a simple man with a simple routine. He lives in a travel trailer, details cars, takes practice swings with his Louisville Slugger. Most days he faces nothing more complicated than deciding whether to doctor his morning coffee with a splash of bourbon. His weekdays are always the same. 

Until his simple world begins to change. Until his best friend winds up dead. Until Calvin realizes that nothing is as simple as it appears on the surface. Maybe not even Calvin G. Redbone himself. 

As he begins to unravel the truth about his friend’s life and death, the question becomes: what’s Calvin going to do about it?

Catching up: THE FAT MEXICAN: THE BLOODY RISE OF THE BANDIDOS MOTORCYCLE CLUB by Alex Cain

The Fat Mexican: The Bloody Rise of the Bandidos Motorcycle ClubAn explosive and tragic opening which reads more like crime fiction than fact yet is very real sets the theme for this true account of life inside the bloody underbelly of a criminal organisation.

As is evident by the opening line, this book is the bloody truth of biker gangs:

"Jamie Flanz was scared, but he didn't stop scraping his broom back and forth across the blood-stained barn floor."

Author Alex Cain worked as an undercover operative who managed to infiltrate the Bandidos motorcycle club in North America. His intimate knowledge of the biker life is splashed across the pages of the book in honest and brutally clear quality.

Using sources, public access material and accounts from various court proceedings, Cain is able to craft a scarily insightful look into the murder and mayhem that takes place within the inner sanctum of criminal bikie gangs.

Using a fiction writers adept skills to polish these horrendous facts makes for enjoyable if not cringe inducing reading. The topical nature if this book wont suit all readers but is nonetheless hard to put down.

What starts with a mass murder ends in similar fashion - linked to the Canadian massacre of the Toronto Bandidos chapter,  making for a continuous thread of related stories throughout the book. This was a clever way of formatting the fact into an easily readable book akin to crime fiction.