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Showing posts from 2017

... And less of some other stuff.

This was meant to be a quick addition to the my previous post on Dennis Lehane and SINCE WE FELL.  I pulled it out of that post because I found I had some small things to say about the Serial Killers genre.
I read UNSUB by Meg Gardner and was let down by it. Months long positive press raised a lot of hopes at Hungry Detective HQ. I like books about Serial Killers. I have read a ton of them. If you can believe it, before Nordic Fiction there was Serial Killer fiction...hard to imagine I know.

But what most writers get wrong, and even Thomas Harris eventually got a wrong about the Serial Killer genre, is that characters like Hannibal Lector only work in small doses. An author can spend 300 pages waxing rhapsodic about the preternatural abilities of their serial killer but eventually the story will demand you spend the last act undoing all of it because justice must done. The Hannibal Lector's of the fiction world are incredibly confining characters to write and read. They…

More of somethings...

When I started getting into Crime Fiction in a serious way, what that meant was, I started going to bookstores that exclusively sold the stuff. For me that is, and now sadly was, the Milwaukee store Mystery One run by the great Richard Katz. I can't be sure what I bought that first visit.... I think it might have been CROSSROAD BLUES by Ace Atkins.  Richard quizzed me on my likes and I am pretty certain [Editor's Note: Or at least as certain as one can be in a blog post.] that he recommended Dennis Lehane's first book, A DRINK BEFORE THE WAR.

I promptly went home and ordered the book off Amazon. Sorry Richard. As way of an apology, for as long as I lived in Milwaukee I purchased every subsequent book Mr. Lehane released at Mystery One. It was the best place to turn a pastime into a passion. Places like Mystery One and writers like Dennis Lehane are a perfect combination to draw you in.
Driving to work recently, I was trying to figure out what I like about Mr. Lehane's…

How to Stick a Landing Without Trying

I closed out the last of the Clive Cussler books about a month ago. Bit of a personal victory for me here as I don't think I have been caught up on the Dirk Pitt novels in ten plus years. I moved on to the latest, and seemingly last, of the Sean Duffy books by Adrian McKinty, POLICE AT THE STATION AND THEY DON'T LOOK FRIENDLY.
Quick aside... I was able to type that title without looking...small victories people. Small victories.
I have been reading Mr. McKinty since the beginning. I called DEAD I MAY WELL BE the best book of the last decade. I have never written a truer statement by the by.....
Just another quick aside... I kind of believe that everything from the two-thirds point in DEAD I MAY WELL BE through the rest of the Michael Forsythe trilogy is a fever dream. My primary evidence is that there is an escape from a Mexican prison that strikes me as.................unlikely.
Now. One could quibble that the start for Mr. McKinty is ORANGE RHYMES WITH EVERYTHING. Those wh…

Lately

I have been working my way through the three most recent Clive Cussler novels. These are the Dirk Pitt Novels not the myriad of off shots that he has done over the last ten, fifteen years. Over the last six weeks I worked my way through CRESCENT DAWN and HAVANA STORM and I am about two-thirds through ODESSA SEA, which was released in 2016. 
I had hoped to be down with these three books by now. Ostensibly because we are firmly in Summer release season. I have seven, maybe eight books to purchase. I am eighteen months from finishing the Too Be Read project and I am already feeling the heat.
Unclear about the next book, as for right now I am going to read. Happy 4th of July everyone...

Quick Note

Just a quick post to say that I finished with THE WRONG SIDE OF GOODBYE by Michael Connelly...kind of awhile ago now Typically, fantastic. The guy has not really missed in a long time. I am digging the prevailing sense of finality that is hanging heavier with each new book in the Bosch series. In a previous post I talked about endings, and it would seem with the Bosch books Michael Connelly is staring down the barrel of bringing this character to a close.
The next book is Clive and Dirk Cussler's POSEIDON'S ARROW. I don't believe in guilty pleasures. Mr. Cussler, and now his son, write an entertaining series that I have been reading since I was a teenager. I am few books behind, and despite what I just said about guilty pleasures, these are great Summer reads. I think I'll try to finish them all before my birthday in August...even thought POSEIDON'S ARROW is taking a minute to read.

I Bought Book I Already Own

A first issue with this post is whether or not I should left justify or center the photo. You will have noticed I choose...by looking to the left of this post.
Anyway, I own L.A. CONFIDENTIAL. I bought a copy when I lived in Milwaukee. It was in a gigantic three story building that I think no longer exists, and I believe needed to be condemned by the city. That bookstore was one of the places where every nook and cranny was filled with books. There was a bare acknowledgment of the alphabet and its order. Subject headings were parsed to an insane degree. Books were piled in front of books making the systematic attempt to insure that you have seen all of the James Lee Burke's is thwarted because several large boxes of books with a UPS notice of delivery from 11 months ago are blocking your path.
And I hate those places. I collect books and hate a disorganized bookstore. Occasionally when I enter a bookstore with suspect shelving habits I will arrange books in series orders just br…

A Letter from a Fan

Dear Michael McGarrity,
I really like your Kevin Kerney series. I just finished the last two books, DEATH SONG and DEAD OR ALIVE. I wish I could say I finished the latest in the series, but as you know DEAD OR ALIVE, was published in 2009. Eight years is a long time to wait for another Kevin Kerney book. I know the Kerney Family prequels exists, but for right now I have to say they are not the same thing.
It is sort of in the nature for the reader to want a series to go on and on. I wonder if the author has other thoughts. When I attend author signings the one question I want to ask again and again is: "How will it end?" Recently I have had to confront the juxtaposition of the 'end we want' versus the 'end we get'. And although a fundamental part of me is desperate for the end I want, it is in fact the ending that we get that holds more value to me.The ending that we did not consider has the ability to teach us something about ourselves...as long as we are …

Edward Marston Does This Thing

Edward Marston does this thing. He builds a compelling crime narrative, elucidates some subtle character moments and interesting 'B' and 'C' story lines. Then something happens about three quarters of the way through  DEEDS OF DARKNESS, Mr. Marston's fourth book in the Home Front Series.
The 'A' story here concerns the murder of two young women by a sexual deviant. The 'B' story line follows the peculiar behavior of a neighbor who has lost two sons in WWI and refuses to allow a third to join up. The 'C' story concerns the experiences of Paul Marimon, the soldier son of our lead Detective Harvey Marimon, during the Battle of Somme. These story lines are interwoven to great effect, but with the end of the novel in sight, Mr. Marston abandons the 'A' plot and camps out in the 'B' and 'C' stories. And even though it is only for a chapter or two, front lining these sub-plots has the effect of draining much of the tensi…

That is Why We Call It the Present

All too often the past gets confused with nostalgia. And nostalgia  is all to often despised as a cheap indulgent emotion. The restless pursuit of forward is bizarre to me because what is so great about this future we are rushing too?
In the acknowledgment at end of the Duane Swierczynski's REVOLVER he quotes William Faulkner: "The past isn't over. It isn't even past." There is a practical truth to that as REVOLVER follows three interlocking stories involving a family of Cops over 50 years. There is more of an emotional truth to Faulkner's quote as well for someone like me who's central preoccupation is the passage of time. The ripple effect of our lives starts before we are born and continues well after we are dead. REVOLVER is about that effect, and how it makes and destroys us. Near the end of REVOLVER he writes a small, almost throwaway scene. Nothing really happens expect that Jimmy, the only character to be featured in all three stories, is referr…

Back to the Start

DEVIL IN THE BLUE DRESS written by Walter Mosley was the first Crime Fiction novel I bought. FACT
Easy Rawlins and his sidekick Raymond 'Mouse' Alexander are the most iconic literary creation of the last thirty years. FACT
Up there on Mount James Lee Burke it is probably just Mr. Burke and Mr. Mosley reminding each other all the things about Crime Fiction they have forgotten. FACT. Ok...probably more of an ecstatic fact here.
I thought about how I would approach this blog entry. Reviews are meant to make an argument to sway a perspective reader in one direction or the other. I could write a that CHARCOAL JOE is very good and that Mr. Mosley has been on a hot streak since 2013's LITTLE GREEN with his titular character. If I had the words I could expand on his use of Los Angeles as a primary character, and how Mr. Mosley's own appearance in OJ: MADE IN AMERICA don't necessarily reshape that outlook for me so much as just cements it. I would end with something about …

The Ocean of Stephen Booth

I have gotten back into reading Stephen Booth after a prolonged absence of five or six years. An absence that was due to the loss of a US publisher for his books and not picking them up once he found a new one. Last summer, I purchased all of the missing books in UK editions. Condition is lacking in most, but seeing as I got the five of them for about fifty dollars I'm not that concerned. Mr. Booth is one of the reasons I am embarking on the this project. As it turned out, I had more unread then read books by Mr. Booth. With that in mind, at the end of last year, I picked up where I had left off with THE KILL CALL (Yay!) and LOST RIVER (Eh...).
I find Mr. Booth to be a super reliable author. His best books are very good, and his lesser efforts are only minor dips in the road. If I had any trepidation in reading 2011's THE DEVIL'S EDGE it is that THE LOST RIVER was one of those dips in the road. Long story short the plot just never came together for me. Also giving me p…

Buying things will make this harder....

A post about recent purchases.
POLICE AT THE STATION AND THEY DON'T LOOK FRIENDLY - Adrian McKinty My favorite series, and current working author. You should read all the Sean Duffy books. Probably should also read everything in the expanded Duffyverse... McKintyverse... as well.
BLIND TO SIN - Dave White One of the lost Hungry Detective posts deals with the return of Dave White and Jackson Donne after an extended hiatus. I have a long list of authors I have had to pour one out for because of the once a decade cull of mid-list crime fiction authors. I still lament a handful of authors who disappeared in the mid 90's! 
[Editor's Note: Sandra West Prowell anyone? She wrote only three books and they are all fantastic. WHEN WALLFLOWERS DIE is...well...I still think of it 25 years later.]
Anyway this is Mr. White's third book since his return and sixth overall.
CALL FOR THE DEAD - John Le Carre First George Smiley book. On top of the fact that I am aiming to read down my to b…

One Less than Before.

An extended flight delay two Sundays ago meant I had plenty of time to read Allen Eskens's third book THE HEAVENS MAY FALL. It is the inaugural book in my To Be Read Project.
Back at the Long Beach Bouchercon I got up exceedingly early on Sunday morning to attend a panel with a few first time authors. I was there to hear another writer, but was prompted at the end of the panel to walk straight into the book room to find a copy of Mr. Eskens's first book, WHAT LIES BENEATH. It is a winner, one that I would recommend to people looking for a new voice in crime fiction. It is a haunting story full of finely drawn characters. It is without doubt the best first mystery I have read in a very long time. I have almost zero memory of his second book except that I was disappointed. My high expectations probably damned the book from the outset.
THE HEAVENS MAY FALL will not suffer that same fate as this was the most enjoyable work I have read in some time. The book has a nice set up and …

The To Be Read Project

[Editor's Note: It has been a minute. I realize. When last we spoke I had several posts planned, even written. All I needed to do was push the publish button and there would have been fresh content to keep the blog... relevant....maybe too strong a word, but still. Anyway time passed, maybe one day I can salvage some of it. Today, however, forward]
At the height I had no idea how many books I needed to read. There was a sinking feeling that I would never read most of them. I entertained notions that in the next house the spare room would become a library, but the next house turned into a one bedroom apartment. Putting them in storage probably meant a future of water damage from all and mold for most.
The decision making process was ruthless. Things I never read and who didn't belong to an author I was not currently reading went. Aborted series, disappointing stand-alones, and flyers taken on overstock tables at booksellers all went out the door and into the local library.