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A Little Break

Hi Team, 
One of my goals for the Summer was to read three James Lee Burke books. THE WAYFARING STRANGER, HOUSE OF THE RISING SUN, and THE JEALOUS KIND. 
I liked those books probably in that exact order. My lingering issue is not properly understanding the Holland Family tree, especially in THE JEALOUS KIND. This despite JBL's own explanation of the Holland Family. The critical piece missing is who is the connective tissue from Aaron Holland Broussard to Hackberry Holland. THE JEALOUS KIND explains that it is his mother, obviously. But Aaron's mother is never referred to in STRANGER or RISING SUN as far as I remember. It leaves me wanting. Still lovely work across the board.
This aside I have 24 books on my to be read pile. I want, and at this point maybe need, to bring that down definitively into the mid-teens before the end of the year. Titling this post 'A Little Break' does not bode well for me finishing that goal. But it leads me to look at what is on the list an…

An Overnight Sensation about 15 years in the Making

Often my wife and I make tentative plans to go out later. These usually occur just as we are getting home from work. We never go out later though. Within 5 seconds of entering our apartment, we are in for the night.
But a few weekends ago, after an extensive wardrobe reduction project and watching a movie, we ventured out into the world at 8pm! Vapors!? We went to Target in Burbank California ostensibly to look for removable hooks. We bought those hooks. I also purchased a cute baby outfit for my best friends 9 month old...
...and THE CHAIN by Adrian McKinty.
Target is not my bookstore of choice, [Editor's Note: Ha!] but seeing THE CHAIN sitting there on the end cap in an honest to goodness Target is likely to be the most pleasing book experience I will have this year. I don't advocate buying books at Target under any circumstances.
However... I hold this writer in the highest regard. I have bought his books in many fine independent bookstores since DEAD I MAY WELL BE. So to …

I Miss Some People - Sandra West Prowell

A continuing series! It has only taken me about a decade to come up with something I can just quickly and randomly write about. [Editor's Note: Hahaha... you wrote this 5 months ago...] Last time, I wrote about Troy Soos and today is an author I think about often...
Author: Sandra West Prowell Character: P.I. Pheobe Sigel The Work: BY EVIL MEANS (1993); THE KILLING OF MONDAY BROWN (1994); WHEN A WALLFLOWER DIES (1996)
Sandra West Prowell published with Walker and Co. Walker was a mid-tier publisher of mainly non-fiction and children's books. They did, however,  maintain a small but notable slate of mystery authors, James Sallis and Edward D. Koch among them. Much like Troy Soos, who I wrote about previously, it all ended in tears. By the end of the '90s, mid-tier publishers were staring down the barrel. Crime Fiction only made up a small percentage of Walker's output. One assumes money was reallocated or focused on their bread and butter to stem the inevitable tide an…

Running Down a Dream... of a shorter TBR pile.

The last time I chimed in about a book was THE SHADOWS WE HIDE. So here is everything I have read since then.
THE KILLING HABIT - Mark Billingham Wait....the last time I chimed in about a book was THE KILLING HABIT. Anyway, the latest, THEIR LITTLE SECRET, is coming on June 4th. I am v. excited about this book. [Editors Note: Sorry about the usage of 'v. excited.']
WALT FOR SIGNS - Craig Johnson A book wanted to love but only liked. My issue is with the form, more than the writing. Set-up, punchline, out. Their inherent briefness is somehow not satisfying particularly for characters that I love to see and hang with. Extra points though for the evocative wintery setting of many of the pieces.
THE HIGHWAYMAN - Craig Johnson A ghost story that I read way to fast. Mr. Johnson is a wonderful writer for place and mood, and with a ghost story, I feel like you need to savor that writing. Read a chapter or two over the course of many nights right before bed. Instead, I read it on a pl…

Adult Reading Under the Shade of Trees

Herman Wouk passed away today. He was 103. He lived in Palm Springs, a place I have visited frequently since I moved to Los Angeles. That we were close at various times over the last few years is strangely delightful to me.
The first adult book I ever read was THE CAINE MUTINY. Why I choose this book is lost, but I suspect that I choose it because it seemed like a grown-up thing to read. And that was reason enough. I read it over a summer in a house that I have not lived in and that my parents sold over 25 years ago. It was the house I grew up in. 
I got the book from the library and because it was summer proceded to read it seated in a patio chair, occasionally in the garage, but also on the front lawn of our house. Midwest summers are notably terrible. August humidity in Wisconsin can be breathtaking, but I was the last generation to be an outdoor kid. More or less from 9am to 7 or 8pm I was outside getting what was a passable tan for my fair skin. And this summer I slowly read THE…

That Is Why They Call It the Present

On Sunday, I finished THE KILLING HABIT by Mark Billingham. I ripped off the last 100 pages or so while the person behind me on my flight home was vomiting in his chair. Happy Easter..... (bunny emoji)
Despite my inauspicious personal surroundings, THE KILLING HABIT was a good day for the author Mark Billingham. Over the course of the last couple books, he has transitioned his series from Tom Thorne to Tom Thorne and Nicola Tanner. And in fact, his next work, THEIR LITTLE SECRET, is firmly presented as Thorne and Tanner novel. [Editors Note: Well at least on the UK side it is ...] And given how THE KILLING HABIT ended calling THEIR LITTLE SECRET a Thorne/Tanner book makes a lot of sense if just for this one only.
Of course, I am reminded of another series trying to do something similar, the Bosch and Ballard books that Michael Connelly has been writing over a similar amount of time. And based on the limited sample size of both authors works, I have to say Billingham is doing a better…

Spring 2019 Preview

A few Spring books of note now that the season is a couple weeks old. Very likely that I will acquire all but the Atkinson. Lots of old friends....
Let me know in the comments what you are looking forward to this Spring.
CELTIC EMPIRE - Clive and Dirk Cussler - OUT NOW I have been reading Dirk Pitt adventure novels for going on 30 years. Realistically I should have stopped about 20 years ago. The books can be rousing tales but now I brush past the long action set pieces. I’ve read too many. There is a vintage car, lots of bullets, careening through streets, or something with a boat, etc. It has all gone a little stale. His 'long-lost' kids showed up about 6 or 7 books ago. Snooze. Neither Cussler has figured out how to use them without making them into frustrating dopes who always do the wrong thing. Now ‘doing the wrong thing’ is the stuff of narrative tension, here the kids are only annoying plot devices. I read these books for me, as a reminder of who I was back then. They…

I Also Watch the Television.

These late winter months have brought two high profiles Crime Dramas to television screens. The third season of TRUE DETECTIVE and the Chris Pine lead I AM THE NIGHT. Both wrapped up their seasons in back to back weeks.
Let me start with I AM THE NIGHT. It is my longheld belief that Chris Pine won the great Chris Wars of 2016. Evans and Hemsworth have been trapped behind a Marvel pay-wall and lose the battle based primarily on lack of variety. Chris Pratt is a nonentity, because while he is perfectly cast in those GUARDIANS movies, he is a bad actor. But I digress. Chris Pine makes a lot of choices in I AM THE NIGHT and gives a very good unhinged Nick Cage type performance. Watching the final episode I also remarked that he is a very good bleeder. The show looks at the intersection of the The Black Dahlia murder case and the interesting story of main suspect Dr. George Hodel. Hodel has been posited as an OG suspect since back in the day, but more recently his own son has came forward…

Out of Order

These are the next 6 books I am going to read. All but the latest James Lee Burke are 2018 releases. I am also under the vague impression that I can do this by early April.
Initially, I was going to move onto THE KILLING HABIT next, but I pivoted to the Craig Johnson because in thinking it over, his previous novel, THE WESTERN STAR, was my favorite read last year. DEPTH OF WINTER is the continuation of that book and the (possible?) conclusion to a longer running arc of Tom├ís Bidarte as Walt Longmire's nemesis. Following that will be the Connelly. Which will be the first book of his that I have some mild trepidation to read. TWO KINDS OF TRUTH did not connect with me and the first book in a long time that I felt was lacking from Mr. Connelly. In the past, I always thought to myself that mediocre -- insert author that you like -- is still better than most books. In truth, that is a weird narrative. And I should just embrace that fact that I didn't like the book. Anyway, TWO KIN…

I read 5 Books in a Row

As mentioned previously I am playing catch up with my TBR. One way to bring the list into some form of submission was to focus on one author to read all of the backlog. The logic is that I would become accustomed to the rhythms of the writer which in turn would allow me to read faster.
The author I was the biggest offender with is Stephen Booth. I own 5 books that I needed to read, from DEAD AND BURIED, the 12th in the series, to SECRETS OF DEATH his 16th Cooper and Fry novel. My thesis that reading a run of books would help proved to be true as I was able to get through all of the books in about 3 weeks.
Facilitating the quick read was the fact that DEAD AND BURIED, ALREADY DEAD, and THE CORPSE BRIDGE made a very strong trilogy. And in point of fact some of the best work of the entire series. I felt like Mr. Booth was really on a heater after some not so memorable reads leading up to DEAD AND BURIED. As a series reader, I am often daunted by the fact that starting a long-running ser…

I Miss Some People - Troy Soos

A couple weeks ago Mrs. Hungry Detective left on a weekend trip to Tucson. I took the opportunity to do a reorganization of the books. It is a long, frustrating project as I re-affirm my command of the alphabet and its standard order. Invariably, I run across a book by an author who is no longer writing. Some have crossed the river Styx, others have been lost in the gutting of the mid-list author that happens periodically. Others have moved on from the genre and I choose not to follow. I'm gonna tell you about some of them.
Author: Troy Soos Character: Mickey Rawlins The Work: MURDER AT FENWAY PARK (1994); MURDER AT EBBETS FIELD (1995); MURDER AT WRIGLEY FIELD (1996); HUNTING A DETROIT TIGER (1997); THE CINCINNATI RED STALKINGS (1998); HANGING CURVE (1999).
I went to the New York Antiquarian Book Fair a couple times. One of those times I bought Mr. Soos's first book MURDER AT FENWAY PARK. It cost me in excess of $100 which meant a lot to me then. I was making 20K a year and t…

Time, Hand Wringing, and Cari Mora

My first question about the new Thomas Harris novel, CARI MORA is... Is this big news? My immediate reaction was to be only mildly excited. Despite the fact that over the last 10 years, Google has received the following searching requests from me: 'New Thomas Harris 2012,' New Thomas Harris 2016, etc. CARI MORA marks Mr. Harris's first book in 13 years. I should be pumping my fist. It was only when I read the brief synopsis did my interest tick up because I was thankful to read Mr. Harris had left his singular creation behind, at least for this book.
I think the easy answer is yes, this is undoubtedly big news. The reason why is obvious. THE SILENCE OF THE LAMBS is the most important Crime Thriller release of the last 30 years and I don't think there is an argument to be made against it. There may be better-written books, but no other book has the impact that LAMBS continues to have to this day. I think what complicates this question is the legacy that the book left b…

Winter 2019 Preview

I enjoyed writing a seasonal preview of new Crime Fiction. One supposed that I could delve back into my post history to see that last time I did it, but that would be sad. Less sad, more happy in 2019.  Anyway, the following are books that piqued my interest.
This list is built off the back of Fantastic Fiction and more or less covers the time until March/April.
THE NEW IBERIA BLUES - James Lee Burke - OUT NOW Latest and, no doubt, greatest by the best working American author. My plan is to read all of the JBL I have on my shelf this year, thus catching up on an author I have been behind on for nearly a decade.
MURDER AT THE BRITISH MUSEUM - Jim Eldridge - 3/19/2019 Second in the series from this author. The first was released just this last November, and a third coming this Summer. I'm a sucker for Brits and cool looking covers. Check and check.
THE KILLER COLLECTIVE - Barry Eisler - 2/1/2019 I read the first 4 or 5 John Rain books. I drifted away from the series when the author…

The Monkey's Raincoat PBO

In the magical place of Glendale, CA. I bought a Robert Crais's first book and paperback original THE MONKEY'S RAINCOAT.
A few years ago I made a list of books I wanted to purchase for my collection. This was one of them, and stroke of luck was I got it for $20 when I felt certain I would have to pony up 2 or 3 times that amount. Anyway,  I bought this in 2018 and it still brings a smile to my face.

Abandoned Projects

Two years ago, as I was casting about in an effort to rekindle my affection for Crime Fiction, I thought a good project would be to clear out the significant backlog of books that were waiting to be read. I made a list. It was long. 60 plus books. I gave myself the deadline of December 31st, 2018.
I did not make that deadline. In fact, even a year ago at this time, I know I would miss it. I think I was 40-ish books away and with all of my usual authors publishing something I knew it would be impossible. 
I refocused. I caught up with a few authors whose books I had not been up to date with in several years. I picked off Mark Billingham and Laurie R. King and felt a pretty good sense of accomplishment. Now, I am reading the 2nd of 7 books that I am behind on Stephen Booth. 
Mini-review. DEAD and BURIED (2012) is fantastic. One of the best in what is a great series.
After Mr. Booth, I will nail down all 5 of the James Lee Burke books I have on the shelf. And so on. Anyway when I sat dow…