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Showing posts from 2020


It was nearing the end of October and what seemed like the 10th or 11th day in a row of receiving packages in the mail is when Mrs. Hungry Detective called a timeout on buying things in the form of a delivery of a box or padded envelope.  She was quite right to do so even if I had a couple of November releases to purchase.  Neither was desperate, both come from best selling authors. Finding those books in December was not a challenge. [ Editor's Note: Well, not until they shipped the wrong book... ] More distressing was a 20% off sale from a seller for the month of November. I was anticipate making at least one purchase to fill a hole in my Craig Johnson books. The same seller also has a complete run of James Benn novels. I own Mr. Benn's first and was thinking about buying the next 3-4 books. With the sale, I figured I could get a nice start without having to scour ABE for each book separately. Alas, they will have to wait. [ Editor's Note: Sale has been continued through


Curious occurrence that both books are written as flashbacks. I could not reconcile why this was the right time tell these stories this way. Still, both have The Hungry Detective's strongest recommendations.   CRY BABY - Mark Billingham Mr. Billingham is a closer. Which is to say that he knows how to bring to bare the weight of all that has come before in a book's closing moments. In the case of CRY BABY the closing moments certainly calmed some general qualms about why a flashback story now, especially as a milestone book, Mr. Billingham's 20th. There must be something there, right? There is no acknowledgement in previous books, no cryptic references to the events in previous books about this story. Regardless of this semi-frustrating structure, CRY BABY is great, and Mr. Billingham has not missed in quite some time.   A PRIVATE CATHEDRAL - James Lee Burke "I'm talking about the acknowledgment of mortality, and not the kind that slips up on you in hospice or on th


It has been a long while since I read a first novel. [ Editor's Note: Long time since you enjoyed one too. ] But as the pile shrinks I have dipped my toe back into the waters of the first timer. FIREWATCHING by Russ Thomas falls into that category. While RIVIERA GOLD falls into the opposite as I have been reading Ms. King for over 20 years at this point. Additional, it is nice to read exclusively 2020 releases. And because of this, 2020 will be the first year I would feel comfortable to post a 'Best of' list in December. Even the act of starting that post with a list of potential books has been fun. FIREWATCHING - Russ Thomas Late last year and into the early part of 2020 I listened to a podcast that, impart, dealt with the production of television show. One of the podcasters is a producer/show-runner of a television show and he gamely detailed the ups and downs of that adventure. One of the things he talked about, in detailing the shows writing process, was that you leave


In between RESIDUE and THE LAST TOURIST, I read DEVOLUTION: A FIRST HAND ACCOUNT OF THE RAINIER SASQUATCH MASSACRE. Low key, I think Max Brooks's WORLD WAR Z is a straight up masterpiece. DEVOLUTION was not as finely detailed and I found the opening chapters a little rough, but otherwise this is FANTASTIC. A grounded and compulsively well told story. Exceptional stuff. RESIDUE - Michael McGarrity There has always been a bit of Ed McBain's 87th Precinct in the Kevin Kerney series. Lots of characters moving in and out, occasionally taking over for a chapter or two, but the story is always ably lead by now retired Sheriff Kevin Kerney. RESIDUE certainly gets off on the right foot with the discovery of a long missing girl's body with a connection to Kerney. That connection turns Kerney into a murder suspect, and we are off and running with this compelling first act. The promising start is squandered, however, as the story veers from the girl and Kerney. Indeed, Kerney is


I am working/reading my way through a pretty warm Autumn in greater Los Angeles plus there was a small brush fire in Griffith Park near my home last night. But the sun is out now so better things ahead.  Both books are 2019 releases, these are the last of the 2019's on my shelf. [Editor's Note: Watch this blog for a Best of 2019 post coming never!] Other than the occasional sidetrack for pleasure, most everything moving forward should be a release in the current calendar year. And that is exciting... THIS STORM - James Ellroy. I have done my fair share of complaining about Mr. Ellroy's writing style in this blog. The thing is when it works his writing style helps to super-charge his stories in thrilling ways (i.e. AMERICAN TABLOID). It draws you closer to his stories, the immediacy of his kind of writing is propulsive. Except when it only serves to prolong his narrative. Anyway, I quite like THIS STORM, and in liking the book I identified another issue with Mr. Ellroy'


I have only re-read one book before, THE GREAT GATSBY. Which is strange because I have also listened to the audio book on a cross-country drive with Mrs. Hungry Detective when we moved to California. Anyway, I am just about half way through on my re-read THE DEVIL IN THE BLUE DRESS.  It should not have come as a great surprise to me just how assured the prose is. The spartan directness of Walter Mosely's writing is so, so good. There is very little fat in those first 128 pages. Even, Mr. Mosely's asides about Eazy's life, and sidetracks about the other characters are brief and pointed. What I didn't recall was the depth and darkness of the racism that Mr. Mosley details. I remember the racist cops, but otherwise I remember the other white characters being more benignly dismissive of Easy, treating him more as second class citizens. Of course that is its own kind of racism, but as a 17-18 year old at the time I did not see it for what that was. Those opening chapters are

UPDATE - The Very Best of Mr. Dennis Lehane

10 years ago I ranked all of the books written by Dennis Lehane. It was a fun post. Some people hate lists and ranking. Those people are cowards and nobody likes them. My ranking for Mr. Lehane then was as follows. 8. PRAYERS FOR RAIN, 7. SACRED, 6. SHUTTER ISLAND, 5. A DRINK BEFORE THE WAR, 4. THE GIVEN DAY, 3. MYSTIC RIVER, 2. DARKNESS TAKE MY HAND, 1. GONE BABY GONE. Since then he has written depressingly few books for this reader's taste... MOONLIGHT MILE (2010). LIVE BY NIGHT (2012). THE DROP (2015). WORLD GONE BY (2015). SINCE WE FELL (2017). I am updating the ranking to include these 5 books. I should note that I did not re-read these books for this list. 13. MOONLIGHT MILE (2010) After a decade in hibernation Kenzie-Gennaro were back. I was too excited for this book. I believe I was in the room when Mr. Lehane first announced that he had written or was writing a new K+G book. Reading it was crushingly disappointing. No verve, no brio. Every page reeked of his disinterest in


30 years ago I wandered into a Walden Books. It was in the Janesville Mall, in (not surprisingly) Janesville Wisconsin. I bought two books or rather my Dad bought me two books. It is a strange occurrence because my parents didn't buy books. My Dad was and still, is an occasional reader. Historical novels about Colonial America and Native Americans... "I read a couple pages and I fall asleep..." My mom read a lot in fact, but she got them from the library until e-readers came around.  As a child, I liked books as long as they were about baseball and World Records. My sister and I would get what amounted to YA fiction from the library. Encyclopedia Brown was huge even if I thought he was an insufferable dick. Memorably my sister and I read THE ADVENTURES OF THE BLACK HAND GANG. We liked the book because at the end of each chapter there was a picture where you had to spot the 'anomaly'. It was fun. Later in life, as I met and married my wife I discovered that I

The Summer and Fall of The Hungry Detective

I have reached the point in my quarantine that I am looking for positives wherever I can find them. I've read 17 books off my 'To Be Read Pile' leaving me within tangible reach of being caught up. Although when I look at the list below I don't seem all that close. Looking for positives here there is a big one. RESIDUE by Michael McGarrity was released in 2019, and everything after that is 2020 release. I will have caught up to the current release year. It is not hyperbolic to say that that has not happened in forever. Truly. 20 years, maybe more. RED WHITE BLUE - Lea Carpenter Last summer I wanted to read spy books, so I bought this on eBay for cheap. It is a goal to read all of the George Smiley books next year, and RED WHITE BLUE was scratching that itch. This book had some nice notices and for $10 bucks it is now on my bookshelf. [ Editor's Note: Since starting this post I read this book. I liked the style even if it did not amount to too much. The first 200

Quarantine and the To Be Read Pile

The Hungry Detective has been off since mid-March and that means I have watched over 60 movies, I have also made a serious dent in the TBR. The release schedule aligned to help me out with fewer authors releasing books this spring. So between this and the 5 or 6 other books, I hope to read in May/June, I finally feel like I have some breathing room. I have mostly dealt with the book maintenance as well. I only have the last two Copper/Fry books from Stephen Booth that need to be acquired. I am caught up on James Lee Burke, Michael Connelly, Robert Crais, Craig Johnson, and Alan Furst. The latest Mark Billingham, Michael McGarrity, and Clive Cussler will be read soon. Only Fred Vargas has three books on my shelf. Right now I have 13 books in the wings and while not a totally accurate number (...5 or 6  are not being counted for a variety of reasons) I feel good that the TBR pile could be in single digits soon. Ostensibly meaning that in the near future I will be able to buy a book a

Clive Cussler - RIP

I read books because of this guy. My first was DRAGON thirty years ago. Safe journey across the River Styx Mr. Cussler... It is with a heavy heart that I share the sad news that my husband Clive passed away Mon. It has been a privilege to share in his life. I want to thank you his fans & friends for all the support. He was the kindest most gentle man I ever met.I know, his adventures will continue. — Clive Cussler (@cusslerOFFICIAL) February 26, 2020

Sunday Catch Up

About every 18 months I pull all the books off the shelves and set to reorganize them. The shelves are deep so most are doing double duty with an unseen layer behind the more respectable titles. Anyway it is time, but it is already afternoon on a Sunday so it will have to wait another for weekend. I also wonder when we stopped indenting the first word of a paragraph. Maybe we haven't...      A couple years ago I wanted to read through my To Be Read pile so that I had more freedom in my reading and by extension buying of books. As of right now.... hang on I have to go into the other room to count them...      22. I'm need to buy 4-5 books to maintenance a couple authors I read, plus the inevitable 4-5 books that normally release in the first half of the year. Still, I feel in better shape than I have for a number of years. On the positive side I am excited to read most of the books awaiting me. I really buckled down at the end of 2019 to read some of the stragglers and