Tuesday, January 25, 2022

Review: Walk Softly, Witch

Walk Softly, Witch Walk Softly, Witch by Carter Brown
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Danny Boyd, the annoyingly smug and misogynistic private eye, accepts his first case assisting a gorgeous broad to get her sane stage actor husband out of the way by getting him institutionalized. This sets off a chain reaction that spills the blood of various folks attached to the production and Boyd discovers that he’s the sucker. Pretty typical Carter Brown fare with a convoluted plot that I’m not quite sure that I fully understand, and plenty of dialog whose purpose is to set up Boyd for one of his outrageous wisecracks. Despite some faults the short novel is immensely readable and enjoyable. It can be read in a sitting or two and is good for some laughs and an entertaining, albeit somewhat silly, story. The Carter Brown books are not known for their consistency. I thought that this was a good one and give it four stars.

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Sunday, January 23, 2022

Review: One For The Road

One For The Road One For The Road by Robert Dietrich
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The first third of the book employs a familiar noir theme, an irresistible drifter scamming a beautiful rich widow, nothing too original although well written and interesting enough. The next third has a Las Vegas hooker falling for him while he blows his big score gambling. Seemed like pointless filler in the grand scheme – again well written and interesting. This sets the stage for the final third, again a familiar noir theme with with our charismatic drifter seducing a young heiress and plotting to kill her rich husband. This was the best part of the book, clever scheming and tension as plans go awry and need to be reconfigured, crackling dialog, steamy sex, and a nice twist at the end. Turned out to be a fine book, not too original but nicely written and well executed. I liked it enough to award it four stars.

Available in the Best Pulp Noir Super Pack from Cutting Edge Books

Wednesday, January 19, 2022

Review: Mac Detective Series 08: The Girl Who Wasn't There

Mac Detective Series 08: The Girl Who Wasn't There Mac Detective Series 08: The Girl Who Wasn't There by Thomas B. Dewey
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Mac is back in familiar territory in his hometown of Chicago tending to his neglected private eye business when a young woman who was married to a deceased colleague asks him to check out suspicious activity regarding some snooping around her apartment. She is soon blown to bits in a car explosion and Mac is out for revenge. Restaurant Supply racketeers, shady lawyers, estranged sisters, and a secret will are all part of the complex mystery that Mac has to unravel by using his smarts instead of violence, although he does get beat up and can dish it out when required. This is the eighth book in the superb Mac series and somehow each book seems to improve upon the previous one. This is my favorite private eye series. I like the Mac novels better than Hammer, Noon, Liddell, Shell Scott, and other PI books of the era. An easy five stars and highly recommended.

Wildside Press has republished this as an inexpensive ebook.

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

 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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