Tuesday, March 27, 2012

#12: Assignment Moon Girl by Edward S. Aarons

A female cosmonaut of Chinese and Russian heritage disappears and then surfaces in Teheran, sending multiple factions after her--including American agent Sam Durrell--in Edward S. Aarons' Assignment Moon Girl

I have read quite a few of these sturdy spy novels since I began keeping this blog list and find it to be a greatly underrated series that ran for several decades.  This one, from 1967, features a more cosmopolitan Iran than we know today and focuses a lot on the space race (as does Assignment Mara Tirana) as well as being the first appearance of reoccurring villain Madame Hung.

This entry also seems heavier on action than some, and certainly features more torture, as Durrell gets thrown into a pit with a lion, is captured and beaten multiple times, and endures brainwashing with psychedelic drugs.  Thankfully, he has enough left in the tank at the end to head out on a worldwide tour of vacation spots with a rescued companion named Lotus.

I have heard a bit about this one on the web, but a copy eluded me until I found it on a goodbye shelf at a used bookstore in Muncie, Indiana.  A good entry in the series.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

#11: Raylan by Elmore Leonard

Federal marshal Raylan Givens takes on a variety of Kentucky criminals, from organ traffickers to corporate thieves to cold-blooded killers, in Elmore Leonard's Raylan.

Leonard's laconic, trigger-eager lawman has appeared in several earlier crime novels but has become more prominent since the FX television show Justified featured the character, in a solid portrayal by Timothy Olyphant.

Unfortunately I found the storytelling in this one more television-sized, picking up characters and situations from the show and sometimes riffing on them in different ways; but I felt Raylan never really creating a large enough stage for the characters, as one might hope for when freed from the constrictions of TV production.

That being said, it is a quick, enjoyable read and pretty solid for a late entry in Leonard's bibliography, which has run hot and cold in recent years.

I picked this up from the Farmland Public Library in Farmland, Indiana and read it quickly.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

#10: The Keeper of Lost Causes by Jussi Adler-Olsen

A Copenhagen cop is wounded in a shootout, while another partner is wounded and a third killed; in the aftermath, the burned-out cop is content to be assigned to the cold case files deep in a windowless basement.  However, he meets a janitor/driver named Assad (with mysterious skills far above his station in life) and is gradually coaxed back to life in The Keeper of Lost Causes.

This is the first of Jussi Adler-Olsen's crime novels translated into English, and it is quite a tale.  Our cop and his assistant become interested in a female politician who went missing five years before and is presumed dead.  They rather quickly find out there may be more to the disappearance and take off on a winding mystery, leavened by surprising bits of humor in the relationship between the two lead characters, somewhat rare in the typically gloomy Scandinavian mystery.

Meanwhile, a parallel story is a particularly gruesome one as the missing woman deals with being imprisoned and tortured in a small chamber for years on end, a grim counterpart to the main plot and more in line with the typically downbeat offerings from these authors.  The burned-out cop's intent to keep his feet up and drink coffee often acts as an agonizing contrast to these scenes.

I found this to be one of my favorite reads in the Scandinavian mystery genre and would recommend this to fans of Stieg Larsson and others.

I checked this out from the Morrison-Reeves Library in Richmond, Indiana and read it quickly.