Monday, January 10, 2022

Review: Wild Town

Wild Town Wild Town by Jim Thompson
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Although not the main protagonist, Lou Ford, a character from two other classic Thompson novels - The Killer Inside Me and Pop. 1280 is nonetheless the prime mover as he sets things in motion by releasing Bugs McKenna from jail and arranging his hire as a hotel detective. Plenty of noir dealings and double dealings, but the plot and the narrative shifts are almost incomprehensible at times. The ending, where Lou Ford spends five pages describing what really happened, pretty much confirmed my sense that Thompson had lost control of the narrative and had to tell us what he'd fail to show in the course of the novel. Not Thompson's best, but it does have buried within some details best described as the Lou Ford origin story.

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Saturday, January 8, 2022

Review: The Wayward Wahine

The Wayward Wahine The Wayward Wahine by Carter Brown
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

In this the third of 28 books featuring private investigator Danny Boyd, the action and the double-crosses drive the narrative at a fast pace and Boyd is resourceful enough to survive car chases, gun battles, and a burning yacht. Not as much pointless banter compared to other Carter Brown books I've read as Boyd actually does some investigating, but let's not kid ourselves that he's actually solving anything, as one by one the conspirators confess their roles. Not a spectacular crime/noir, but there's still plenty of activity and the story moves relentlessly forward without too much annoying dialog to bog it down.

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 Haiku: The Devil's Dooryard

The Devil's Dooryard
by Wilbur Coleman Tuttle




Action and Chuckles
Hashknife and Sleepy style.
Bullets and Rustlers collide.

Monday, January 3, 2022

Review: A Swell-Looking Babe

A Swell-Looking Babe A Swell-Looking Babe by Jim Thompson
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This is a strange little novel. The first chapter really baits the hook and then the narrative wanders for 35 or so pages, where I was wondering ok what is the point of all this? - although it will all become important by the end of the book - and then blammo, we are headlong into a blackmail and hotel robbery scheme. So there are two main threads involving Dusty, our noir protagonist, who is a bellhop at a hotel. He is "taking care" of his father who is in ill health. As the novel progresses this thread goes from what appears to be filler material to the primary arc of the novel. And then there is the hotel robbery as Dusty gets involved with gangster Tug and Marcia, the "sweel-looking babe" of the title. The robbery thread has all kinds of twists and turns, appears to be the primary arc, but by the end is actually a side plot. The close third-person narrative gets all inside of Dusty's manic head and that is what gives the novel all of its forward energy. The robbery plot doesn't always make a whole lot of sense and at times it seemed like Thompson was making it up as he went along, as if he added in the robbery as filler for the story he really wanted to tell about Dusty's relationship with his father. The ending was a bit confusing, and even after reading it a dozen times I'm still not sure what happened.

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Sunday, January 2, 2022

Review: The Jade-Eyed Jungle

The Jade-Eyed Jungle The Jade-Eyed Jungle by Carter Brown
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

This is the fourth of 35 in the Rick Holman series and the second one that I've read. Plot here is pretty much the same as Murder in the Key Club: Holman is hired and the jerk who hires him spends the whole book doing an end-around Holman, which begs the point of why hire him in the first place? Never explained. Throughout, Holman snarls a lot of dialogue that goes nowhere, investigates without investigating, and, spoiler alert, but not really because there are 31 more of these Holman books to follow, he wins the concluding gun battle, which is the only action in this 125 page book. Carter Brown (pseudo for Alan Yates) had a gazillion books in print in the 50s, 60s, and 70s. I've yet to hear from a true fan, so keep trying these out to see what the excitement was all about. Answer not found in The Jade-eyed Jungle.

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Saturday, January 1, 2022

Review: Swamp Nymph

Swamp Nymph Swamp Nymph by John Burton Thompson
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

Written in 1962 Thompson’s literary and elegant prose are a poor fit for a swamp sleaze novel and I found myself skimming and looking forward to the end of the book. The first three quarters of the book are alternating expository character studies introducing the two main characters, and the last quarter their inexplicable meeting in a Louisiana swamp. The author doesn’t seem to have a good grasp on male/female relationships providing a series of bizarre and nonsensical romantic and sex scenes. The solid prose and dialog were enough to keep me from ditching the book, but Thompson’s fine writing skills aren’t enough to redeem this snorefest. One star.

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