Wednesday, November 17, 2010

#51: Time to Prey by Frank Kane

New York P.I. Johnny Liddell meets a damsel in distress at a seedy bar; later she turns up dead, and when Liddell finds out she was actually an undercover Treasury agent, he plots vengeance in Frank Kane's Time to Prey.

Liddell is your typical wiseacre shamus with a loving secretary and a world-weary cop pal with the usual yeggs set in opposition.  What surprised me was how doggedly Liddell set about framing various bad guys without the benefit of hard evidence or due process, setting in motion a number of murders and at least one suicide, with hardly a flicker of conscience.

Frank Kane and his detective creation had a long run in their day (this entry is from the early 60s), but I had never heard of either of them until I found this paperback at a flea market for fifty cents and got interested in its pulp cover.  Frank Kane's writing was interesting enough to keep an eye out for more.

Friday, November 12, 2010

#50: Rule of the Bone by Russell Banks

Bone is a teen runaway from an abusive home, a low-level drug dealer, an aspiring gang member, a small-time criminal and wannabe Rastafarian in Russell Banks' Catcher in the Rye for the contemporary set, Rule of the Bone.

Despite the harrowing description, Banks' Bone comes to life through an often humorous first-person narrative and energetic prose.  Although I didn't always think the tone of Bone's voice was right for a teenage boy, and the narrrative goes up and down some steep inclines at times, I really enjoyed the book and was glad that I finished my 50 Books In 2010 Challenge on such a strong note.

Russell Banks is a popular author among a lot of people I know but this is the first time I have dipped into one of this works.  I will definitely be on the prowl for more in 2011.

I picked this up at a student club book sale at Indiana University East at goodbye prices for my wife but ended up reading it rather quickly myself first.  I recommended it to her and will to others.