Thursday, January 23, 2014

#3: Lynch Law Canyon by Frank Wynne

A gang of owlhoots hold sway over a remote town, until a reluctant gunfighter is pushed too far in Lynch Law Canyon by Frank Wynne.

This western is actually written by Brian Garfield, perhaps best known as the author of Death Wish, and is a very tough, very satisfying oater.  It is on half of an Ace Double (the other side is Stampede at Faraway Pass) which might make it easier to dismiss.  But it is worth seeking out if you are a fan of Elmore Leonard's westerns in the same vein.

Ace Doubles are always a treat, and often a rare one as well.  I found this one at a yard sale and kept it for a snowy day. 

Friday, January 10, 2014

#2: VJ: The Unplugged Adventures of MTV's First Wave by Alan Hunter, Mark Goodman, Martha Quinn, Nina Blackwood, Gavin Edwards

As somebody who stayed up with their mom and little brother to watch MTV on its very first day, I was very interested in The Unplugged Adventures of MTV's First Wave, an oral history of the early days of the video music station, as told by its five founding DJs.

That there was a lot of craziness and excess was not surprising (though I thought Mark Goodman and Alan Hunter were more frank than Martha Quinn and Nina Blackwood), but learning how MTV found its way in its early years was enjoyable to someone who was watching it unfold.

Although JJ Jackson has since passed, his story is also included, along with many other amusing anecdotes, especially Live Aid, and the fate of the Pink House in the John Mellencamp promotion.

I checked this out from the Morrisson-Reeves Public Library in Richmond, Indiana, and read it quickly.  Enjoyable for people my age who grew up with MTV.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

#1: Assignment Karachi by Edward S. Aarons

U.S. super-spy Sam Durrell is off  to Pakistan to tangle with various villains in Assignment Karachi, part of the long and enjoyable spy series by Edward S. Aarons.

This entry, from 1962, is of note for the presentation of a very different Middle East than we see today, with a totally different political and cultural landscape.

Otherwise I found it to be a serviceable entry in the series (I have yet to find one that truly lays an egg, and I've read a lot of these). A slam-bang ending in the high mountains against various forces is a high point.

Readers can jump in anywhere in this solid and underrated spy series, and they are worth a look.  I have a big stack of these I got from ebay a long while back that I have chewed through at my leisure.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

2013 In Review

For the first time in many years, I didn't make it to 50 books.  But that's okay.  If it wasn't for the intervention of my brand-new grandson, the first baby born at Cincinnati Mercy Hospital on New Years' Day 2014, I might just have made it.  All in all a good reason not to have made it to 50.  2014 is a new start.

Here's what I liked best this year:

NIGHT FILM by Marisha Pessl I have been recommending to everybody.

THE THIEF by Fuminori Nakamuro has stayed with me.

SWEET TOOTH by Ian McEwan, a literary author working in the spy genre.

I'M NOT SCARED by Nicolo Ammaniti is a top-notch thriller (and the movie version is good too).

THE QUANTUM THIEF by Hannu Rajaniemi is very dense and cerebral sci-fi, but rewarding.

THE CUCKOO'S CALLING by Robert Galbraith is a good mystery even if it wasn't written by J.K. Rowling.

11/22/63 by Stephen King is a good one for King fans and general readers.

COUNTDOWN CITY by Ben H. Winters is an unusual genre-bender.

FALSE NEGATIVE by Joseph Koenig is a very tough noir.

X FILMS by Alex Cox goes on my shelf as inspiration as a screenwriter, and is of interest to anyone who likes independent film.