Monday, November 26, 2012

#42: Felony Fists by Paul Bishop and Jack Tunney

In the 1950s, a beat cop and amateur boxer helps LA's notorious Hat Squad detectives bring down a crime kingpin in Jack Tunney's initial entry in the Fight Card ebook series, Felony Fists.

The Fight Card series is harking back to the pulp novels, specifically the boxing novels, of yore and does an admirable job with a quick, muscular read.  Jack Tunney is the house pseudonym for a bevy of writers, with Paul Bishop at the helm for this one.

Bishop hits the standard beats as our protagonist rises from an orphanage, where he was taught boxing (naturally), to being a warm-hearted cop in a bad neighborhood, on up to being the underdog in a big fight.

Felony Fists is enjoyable yet undemanding, but I will certainly grab the next one in the series.

I got this for my beloved Kindle and read it quickly.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

#41: The Last Policeman by Ben H. Winters

A giant meteor is going to destroy Earth in a few months; in the meantime, a solitary policeman in a small town continues to try to hold out order against the chaos in Ben Winters' effective end-of-the world crime novel The Last Policeman.

Winters' protagonist figures out that a local suicide--one among many happening by the score across the globe--was actually a murder, and decides to solve it despite a general indifference by his colleagues and a continuing weakening of the social structure.

Satisfying as both an apocalyptic novel and a good police procedural, Winters also features an interesting lead character whose backstory is teased out slowly throughout.  There is enough left unsaid to warrant at least one more sequel (the meteor still being a ways off at the end of the story), and I will seek it out when it is released.

I bought this from Amazon because the author is the cousin of my wife's friend, if that isn't a convoluted enough reason, and found this to be a really good surprise.  Recommended for fans of both genres.

Monday, November 19, 2012

#40: Until Thy Wrath Be Past by Asa Larsson

Two young people are killed while ice-diving towards a mysterious wreck, drawing a prosecutor and a detective into a case which has been covered up since the end of World War II, in Asa Larsson's Until Thy Wrath Be Past.

I am a fan of Larsson's work and her dual protagonists, Rebeckah Martinsson and Anna-Maria Mella, a lawyer and police detective, respectively, who both have complex personal lives that have evolved during the series.  Her novels take place in a small Swedish town, seemingly perpetually encased in ice and snow, which is nonetheless not immune to grisly crimes.

This novel is a bit different than some of her others in that it deals with guilt over Nazi collaborations (a common theme in a lot of Scandinavian crime novels, it seems) and also features a ghost as a sort of omniscient narrator, an unusual touch.

I always seek out Larsson's books when they come out and think that have been, for the most part, quite good.  Recommended for fans of Scandinavian mysteries especially.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

#39: Wagons East by George G. Gilman

Laconic drifter Adam Steele comes across a group of young couples outrunning a secret in George G. Gilman's Wagons East.

Adam Steele is Gilman's lesser-known Western character after Edge, the star of a long string of violent western paperbacks in the 60s and 70s.  I picked up an Edge book after seeing them promoted ceaselessly in the backs of other paperbacks, but found it rather unpleasant and written in an unusual style.

Steele seems to be more of a traditional western hero, and the plot of this one holds few surprises as well.  Steele, although not as well recognized today as Edge, still managed to star in close to 50 of his own titles, so readers were finding and apparently enjoying him.

I again had trouble adjusting to Gilman's writing, written in a staccato style and featuring lots of quips and puns.  I think I will have to try a larger sampling size before deciding what I think of Gilman's work.

I bought this in a large stack of goodbye paperbacks at a flea market in Richmond, Indiana.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

#38: This Is How You Lose Her by Junot Diaz

This Is How You Lose Her is a much-anticipated series of connected short stories from Junot Diaz, whose novel The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao was a critical success and a personal favorite of mine.

These stories feature the same protagonist, a funny, edgy narrator who nonetheless picks up and discards women at a steady rate.  I enjoyed the short stories, but missed some of the elements of the first novel, including Oscar Wao himself, a D&D-loving nebbish (who I could relate to a little easier than his smooth friend Yunior who holds up this collection).

Although I wouldn't rate This Is How You Lose Her as highly as Wao I did enjoy this work, although I suspect some might enjoy it more than myself.

I actually nabbed this at the Penguin booth at a literary conference my wife was attending and read it in a single day (and then immediately gave it to someone else who wanted to read it as badly).  Recommended for fans of the first novel.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

#37: The Dog Stars by Peter Heller

A flu bug wipes out most of the United States, leaving society stripped to its basest form; some years later, a lonely pilot, his trusted dog, and his slightly less trustworthy heavily-armed friend contemplate what's next in Peter Heller's The Dog Stars.

My short review would be that if you love dogs, and you love the Apocalypse, you should definitely check out Heller's freshman work.  In its muscular writing style that favors the outdoors it probably reminds me of a slightly more upbeat version of Cormac McCarthy's The Road, but Heller's book has merits all its own.

Our melancholy protagonist is hunkered down at an airport, thinking about a long-ago signal he heard from another control tower.  His eventual decision to begin a journey to follow that voice, even if it leads to his doom in the wider world, makes up the bulk of the story.

I have already recommended this to several people and, despite some genre overtones, would recommend this to anyone interested in general fiction.

I bought this with some birthday money from Amazon and enjoyed it quite a bit.