Wednesday, December 31, 2014

#44: Darth Maul Shadow Hunter by Michael Reaves

A fledgling Jedi and a smuggler with a heart of gold team up when they stumble upon a dangerous secret, only to have Darth Maul on their heels in Michael Reeves' Darth Maul Shadow Hunter.

I like Star Wars, but like a lot of fans around for the original 70s trilogy I have never taken to the second trilogy, which began with The Phantom Menace.  I feel like a trilogy of movies--plus all of the related materials with novels, comics, and games--which tells a long story about how evil triumphs at every turn to be a bit melancholy.

This novel takes place just before The Phantom Menace and, for fans of that storyline, leads directly into events in that tale.  As a novel, I would recommend it more for Star Wars completeists rather than casual readers, though it is solidly written.

I got this book for Christmas and read it quickly, finishing out 2014.

Monday, December 29, 2014

#43: The Wolfer by Loren Estleman

A bounty is put on the head of an uncanny, murderous wolf and his pack, who have been raiding ranches and terrorizing settlers; but when a legendary wolf hunter gets on his trail--followed by an Eastern dandy/writer--the wolfer find himself the target of a hunt as well.

Loren Estleman's The Wolfer is a top-shelf western, from a prolific and solid writer of both mysteries and westerns, as well as a smattering of other topics.  I am a steady reader of his Amos Walker mysteries and Page Murdock westerns.

Estleman is almost always pleasing to read, no matter the genre, and I found this one to be particularly enjoyable for readers of westerns or perhaps even adventure genres.

I seek out Estleman wherever I may find him; this paperback was a goodbye price at a flea market, and I read it quickly.

Friday, December 19, 2014

#42: The Devotion of Supsect X by Keigo Higashino

A single mother with an abusive ex-husband gets help from a reclusive neighbor, but all is not what it seems in Keigo Higashino's The Devotion of Suspect X.

This was a good mystery with an interesting Japanese setting that adds a lot of flavor to the storytelling.  The dynamics of the characters was also compelling, with a battle of wits forming between the gruff detective; his old friend who is a brilliant professor and amateur sleuth; and the professor's old classmate, an equally brilliant mathematician whose motives towards the single mother are gradually revealed.

A change of pace mystery, from an author I would like to read more from.  I believe the policeman and his friend return in other novels, so I hope to be able to find them translated into English.

I checked this out from the Morrisson-Reeves Public Library in Richmond, Indiana.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

#41: Buchanan's Revenge by Jonas Ward

Buchanan is a drifter and knockabout who doesn't look for trouble; but when an old friend's son is bushwhacked and murdered, Buchanan thirsts for payback in Jonas Ward's Buchanan's Revenge.

This was a long-running western series, and I enjoy the early ones, by William Ard (who died after a half dozen or so), the best.  They are almost hard-boiled westerns, with rich characterizations and laconic storytelling.

I always grab these when I find them; this one at a used bookstore in New Castle, Indiana.  A good series for western readers.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

#40: The Lady in the Car with Glasses and a Gun by Sébastien Japrisot

A secretary in an ad agency takes her boss's car for a joyride, on a whim; but as strange coincidences begin to pile up, and she tries to understand how a corpse got in the trunk, she wonders if she is going insane in Sebastian Japrisot's The Lady in the Car with Glasses and a Gun.

Earlier in the year I read and enjoyed Japrisot's Trap for Cinderella, another Parisian thriller set in the swinging 60s, so when I saw this at a flea market for a shiny quarter I snatched it up.  I had never heard of Japrisot before this year, and now I find myself a fan.

Admittedly, both novels are similar in theme, and the latter doesn't hold together quite as tightly at the end; but is worth reading for those interested in psychological thrillers.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

#39: The Drop by Dennis Lehane

A mild-mannered bartender rescues a pit bull puppy from a trash can, the beginning of a chain of events that lead to a murderous showdown in Dennis Lehane's The Drop.

Lehane is a solid writer in his own right, writing along the spectrum from contemporary literature to mysteries and thrillers; so I was fascinated to see that he seemed to be doing a straight-up homage to Elmore Leonard's Detroit novels.  As I think that is some of Leonard's best work, I found a lot to enjoy here.

The Drop has an interesting publishing history that is worth googling, but for casual readers I would recommend this as a dark-humored, energetic thriller.

I borrowed this from the Morrisson-Reeves Public Library and read it quickly.