Sunday, October 21, 2012

#36: Easy Money by Jens Lapidus

Three criminals--a middle-class youth who enters the world of high-rollers through selling coke, a young Latin man who escapes from prison after being framed in a drug bust, and a Yugoslavian mob enforcer trying to keep custody of his daughter--cross and re-cross each other's paths in the Stockholm underworld in Jens Lapidus' Easy Money.

I have found a taste for Scandinavian mysteries, but this one reads like straight-up George Pelecanos, a hip, gritty urban thriller.  Lapidus' energetic sketches of Swedish life from the indolent jet-setters on down to the immigrant taxi drivers showed me a side of that country I had not seen in other writers from Scandinavia.

For better or worse, Lapidus dispatches with a lot of the gloom common to these mysteries and writes a very American-style thriller that is the equal to his U.S. counterparts.  How the disparate storylines dovetail in a cold-blooded finale is especially admirable.

For those fishing around for something new after finishing Stieg Larsson's Millennium Trilogy would do well by digging this one out. Recommended.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

#35: The Drawing of the Three by Stephen King

Roland the Gunslinger finds two unlikely companions--a drug addict and a schizophrenic paraplegic--in his quest to hunt the Dark Tower in Stephen King's second book in the series, The Drawing of the Three.

Stephen King's dark fantasy series The Dark Tower has attracted a lot of readers over the years, but after I tried the first volume, The Gunslinger, I wasn't particularly compelled to keep reading.  I thought I would give it another go after finding it on audio book at the Morrisson-Reeves Public Library in Richmond, Indiana.

The Drawing of the Three is a big novel in which it seems the overall Dark Tower storyline only inches ahead a fraction.  In my mind, a more detailed description of the plot wouldn't include much more than what I wrote in the first sentence.  I wonder if it is a transitional novel between the first book, which almost could stand alone, and the rest of the series.

But, like a lot of King's work, it is readable enough, and certainly has its fans.  There was enough interesting writing that I will probably look for the third volume at a later date.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

#34: Draw Down the Lightning by Ben Bridges

Gun-for-hire O'Brien gets involved with a fiery ranch widow (is there any other kind?) and a heap of varmints angling for her herd in Ben Bridges' brawny western Draw Down the Lightning.

Bridges is a contemporary scribe from a group of British writers who favor American Westerns (collectively called The Piccadilly Cowboys), who can trace their roots back to George G. Gilman and others.

Amazon is constantly suggesting I buy one of Bridges' novels for my beloved Kindle, so I selected this one based on the title alone (Bridges seems to be re-issuing his work and the work of others for ebook at a rapid rate, so there were plenty to choose from).  I found it to be a solid, enjoyable Western with plenty of action and some unique storytelling elements (including the breeding of the widow's herd).

I would definitely look for more work from Ben Bridges and his British counterparts.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

#33: Bay Prowler by Mike Barry

Wulff is an ex-cop and former Vietnam vet driven over the edge when his girlfriend is killed by drug dealers; now his one-man war against the drug trade takes him to San Francisco in Mike Barry's Bay Prowler.

Barry (actually author Barry Malzberg) wrote a big chunk of these Lone Wolf Men's Adventure novels at a blistering pace in the 1970s.

This follow-up to Night Raider misses the decaying New York setting brought so vividly to life in the first novel but benefits from introducing a young girl, in the clutches of addiction, who (mistakenly) sees Wulff as an avenging angel.  A slam-bang ending on a burning ship is also a highlight.

Although not as strong as the first novel, Bay Prowler is pretty grim and gritty, and interested me enough to download the third volume from Prologue Books for my beloved Kindle.