Saturday, January 29, 2011

#3: Assignment Sulu Sea by Edward S. Aarons

Sam Durrell goes hunting for a missing American sub in Assignment Sulu Sea, a 1964 entry in Edward S. Aaron's stalwart "Assignment" spy series.

Sulu Sea is a sober adventure set against a colorful background as Durrell hops islands throughout the Pacific, facing off against a Chinese warlord and getting involved in regional political intrigue along the way.  Durrell is so focused on making sure the nuclear sub doesn't fall into Red Chinese hands that he doesn't even bed the several beauties that cross his path, a change from his usual method of operation.  Durrell also has a crisis of conscience at the end that speaks to the Cold War fears of the time.

Otherwise it's business as usual for Durrell, and although this wasn't my favorite of the batch of these I have read, it is still a solid outing and comparable to many better-known authors and titles of the era.

I snagged a bunch of these off of ebay some time ago and have worked through them steadily.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

#2: Hypothermia by Arnaldur Indridason

Morose Reykjavik cop Erlendur becomes fascinated with a depressed woman's suicide as tragedies in his own past resonate, ending with him taking up an unofficial investigation that uncovers more family trauma in Arnaldur Indridason's Hypothermia, part of his long-running police procedural series set in Iceland.

This is one of my favorite authors in the spate of gloomy Scandinavian imports that have reached these shores in recent years.  Each novel features great characters that grow and change along with complex crime drama.  The philosophical underpinnings of most of the mystery novels from Scandinavia offer a welcome change of pace from American crime fare.  And it's not often you see a U.S. detective/protagonist tuck into a boiled sheep's head in jam.

The dead of winter probably wasn't the ideal time to pick up Indridason's latest, but when I see the newest one on the shelf I can't resist.  This series starts with Jar City, recently made into a movie, and all entries so far come recommended.  I thought this one was perhaps the best yet.

I borrowed this book from the Morrison-Reeves Library in Richmond, Indiana, and read it at a good clip.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

#1: Prince of Thieves by Chuck Hogan

I started 2011 with a book I wasn't quite finished with in 2010, and though I wanted to end with a bang I will start with one instead.

Prince of Thieves is a tough crime novel featuring a recovering alcoholic trying to give up his working-class Boston neighborhood and all its dangerous attractions, including a lucrative side job leading a bank robbery gang.  When he is lovestruck by a bank teller during a heist, all the threads start to come unraveled as the novel rockets to a noirish finale.

I picked this one up from when I heard about The Town, the Ben Affleck film based on the book, and had an eagerness to consume both.  I could quickly see why Affleck wanted to adapt the book as it features a lot of his sensibilities (as seen in Good Will Hunting and other places).  The movie is decent, but the novel is far richer as is often the case (and diverges significantly from the movie in critical places).

I had been looking for more Chuck Hogan since reading The Strain, his collaboration with Guillermo Del Toro, and enjoyed this quite a bit, recommending it to several other readers.