Saturday, October 30, 2021

Review: Reckless

Reckless Reckless by Ed Brubaker
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The RECKLESS graphic novels are unique in that they are true novels, not a collection of short comic books stitched together. This frees the creators, the acclaimed team of Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips, from artificial page counts (the length of a comic book) for their chapters. Brubaker’s stated intention for the RECKLESS books were to create a series character like those popular in the 1960s-70s. James Bond, Nick Carter, Matt Helm, and mostly Travis McGee come to mind for me. The first novel introduces Ethan Reckless who spends much of his time surfing and then taking on side jobs to recover stolen money from  clients for a cut when he needs cash. Contacted by a former lover whose take from a robbery has been stolen by the ringleader named Wilder, Ethan methodically goes about tracking down Wilder while dealing with his own damaged memory and a ton of buried secrets. Both Brubaker’s scripting and Phillip’s artwork are amazing and the story is the type that I love. Highly recommended and an easy five stars.

I borrowed this from my public library with the Hoopla app on my iPad.

Wednesday, October 27, 2021

Review: The Scarlet Ruse

The Scarlet Ruse The Scarlet Ruse by John D. MacDonald
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The closer I get to the end of my time rereading John D. MacDonald's novels the more I'm feeling that the Travis McGee series has not held up as well as MacDonald's noir novels. In this the fourteenth in the McGee series we have Trav doing mostly investigative type work, and the only action comes in the final third when we are treated to another of MacDonald's stellar rollercoaster structured climactic sequences. Not a fan of the long anti-climactic summary ending which follows, so let me tell you what I like about this one. The teasing out of a stamp collecting scam; and then learning all about stamp collecting. Watching the Mary Alice character deconstruct before our eyes by what she says and does. Her stinging dialogue is stunning and brilliantly crafted to reveal character. The edginess between Trav and MA, the jousting, whenever they are in a scene together keeps a live current rippling throughout this novel. MacDonald, the old OSS guy, deploys a lot of his spy craft via McGee and it is fascinating anthropology to follow along as McGee navigates back in the day before cell phones and google and the metaverse. Among the thematic highlights are McGee's declining capabilities, his suffering another near-death beating, and McGee once again throwing Meyer into the path of a scythe wielding reaper. These all foreshadow a series working its way to the end.

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Wednesday, October 20, 2021

Review: Too Black for Heaven

Too Black for Heaven Too Black for Heaven by Day Keene
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

This one was pretty boring. Although it does have a murder I certainly wouldn’t call this a crime novel. It could just as easily be classified as a romance novel because that is its ultimate direction. I did read it all the way through - albeit finishing it by speed reading the ebook version on my phone - just to find out what happens, but was disappointed as the story never really got into high gear. The basic plot is a child of rape seeking revenge, but the depiction of racism and the subplot of miscegenation do take over.

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Monday, October 18, 2021

Review: The Lusting Drive

The Lusting Drive The Lusting Drive by Ovid Demaris
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A variation of the good brother/bad brother theme with noble lawman, a one-armed Longmire type sheriff, forced to face his inner conflicts while investigating his sociopathic brother who is potentially a suspect in a small town murder. The bad brother is exceptionally well drawn, a nasty, manipulative liar who is charismatic and powerful enough to enthrall the unwitting town folks and susceptible females. His efforts to scapegoat a simple minded boy for the murder are ruthless and relentless which fosters resentment against him, especially from his lawman brother, threatening his well laid plans to inherit a fortune. This only serves to escalate his machinations and violence throwing the book into high gear and leading to an exciting (and very abrupt) ending. In general a terrific book that I recommend. Four stars.

Available now digital or paperback from Cutting Edge Books and Amazon.

Sunday, October 17, 2021

Review: Celebrity Suite Nurse

Celebrity Suite Nurse Celebrity Suite Nurse by Suzanne Roberts
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Repetitious and repetitious. With that said, we follow nurse Poppy as she wrestles with the decision of whether to return to the clinic in her small Georgia home town or to stay in glamorous Miami Beach. And which of the two men in love with her will she choose? Handsome Dr. Harper or pop idol Nicky Farrell? All three of these characters are emotionally high strung, so that at least keeps the narrative pinging from emotional high to low with ricochets everywhere in between. If it were half as long it would have a made a tight if predictable novella. Instead we have sixty pages of repetition and that makes a boring novel. True to the formula, you know how this ends before it starts.

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Friday, October 8, 2021

Review: Sin Doll

Sin Doll Sin Doll by Orrie Hitt
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Basic good girl gone bad plot. Cherry's motive is money and heavy hitting the booze makes her go further than she intended. Plus she's constantly berated with “you are no good, just like your mother, she was a tramp and put you up for adoption.” Next thing you know she is quitting her factory job and becoming the sin doll of the title by posing nude for 1950s era pornography. As with most of Hitt’s books he stays on the good side of the censors by omitting the sex scenes and skewing the narrative with moralizing. It gets redundant as she has the same don’t-be-a-bad-girl-be-a-good-girl arguments with her parents over and over. And her boyfriend wants to have the same argument over and over about getting married. Having to listen to all that, no wonder she drinks and has a lesbian affair instead.

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Sunday, October 3, 2021

Review: New Gun For Kingdom City

New Gun For Kingdom City New Gun For Kingdom City by Ray Hogan
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Hogan was a prolific writer of Westerns, a contemporary of, and perhaps overshadowed by, Louis L’Amour in the 1960s and ‘70s. The 100 or so pages of Ace Double novelettes seem to be the optimal length for Hogan’s fast-paced and action-packed stories. This one tells the story of a hard-boiled and somewhat shady loner seeking vengeance for his brother’s murder in Kingdom City, a town run by a corrupt and lawless family. Hogan interjects an adversarial US Marshall who is tracking bank robbers and duped mail order bride into the mix and the result is a terrific and lean thriller without an ounce of fat or padding. Hogan’s tales never disappoint and this is a really good one. Four stars.