Saturday, July 29, 2017

#58: The Deadly Amigos by Barry Cord

An ex-ranger goes undercover with a vicious gang who killed his brother, a ranger in good standing, in Barry Cord's The Deadly Amigos.

Cord was actually Peter Germano, a highly prolific prolific writer and magazine editor who wrote pulp fiction, television scripts, and more. This novel is actually the flip side of a nice Ace Double also written by him, Two Graves for a Gunman, a tidy little western about a young trail boss who tries to understand the outlaw he's killed.

Where Two Graves for a Gunman would make a good episode of Zane Grey Theater or something else television-sized, The Deadly Amigos is pure spaghetti.  There is a lot of gunplay and cruelty, as the gang falls in with a band of Mexican revolutionaries causing trouble on both sides of the border.  Overall pretty tough and action-oriented.

I grab Ace Doubles wherever I can find them, and this one I picked up at goodbye prices at the Windy City Pulp and Paper Convention in Chicago.  Fun for western fans.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

#57: The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware

A writer with a number of problems lucks into reporting about the maiden voyage of a luxury cruise ship; when somebody goes overboard--and nobody believes her--the tension ratchets up in Ruth Ware's The Woman in Cabin 10.

Ware's novel follows the trend of unreliable female protagonists seen in thrillers from Gone Girl to The Girl on the Train in recent years.  This outing is an agreeable entry for those that enjoyed those novels.

At times, it seems Ware relies more on luck and rickety coincidence than her contemporaries, but a breakneck pace and interesting plotting smooth it all over.

I listened to a good audiobook reading of this from the Morrisson-Reeves Public Library in Richmond, Indiana, on a long drive back and forth from Pennsylvania.

Friday, July 14, 2017

#56: Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders

Young Willie Lincoln dies, and his grieving father visits the gravesite, stranding the boy between the worlds of the living and the dead; so it's up to three ghosts, also hanging in limbo, to help the boy through his passage in George Saunders' offbeat literary sensation Lincoln in the Bardo.

Saunders uses an unusual structure for his story--almost like an oral history--with literally hundreds of voices, some historic accounts and others fiction, in a fragmented style.  I am guessing its presentation is not for all readers.   In its setting and framework it most reminded me of Thorton Wilder's play Our Town, and perhaps because of this I think I enjoyed it the best way possible, as an audiobook.

Lincoln in the Bardo has been billed as the first all-star audiobook, and there is an argument to be made there; voices include Nick Offerman, David Sedaris (a great audiobook reader of his own work), Ben Stiller, Julianne Moore, Rainn Wilson, Susan Sarandon, Don Cheadle, Megan Mullally, Bill Hader, Keegan Michael-Key, and many more.

Saunders' book is challenging in its style and interesting in its ideas.  I would recommend the audiobook version experience.

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

Saturday, July 8, 2017

#55: No Gun is Neutral by Marshall Grover

Nevada Jim is drifting, but drifts right into a war between ranchers and farmers, in No Gun is Neutral.

Marshall Grover (in reality an Australian writer named Leonard Meares) was an extremely prolific author of westerns, and Nevada Jim (also called Big Jim) drifted across the plains in lots of novels (as did a pair of cowpokes called Larry and Stretch, who figured into another long-running series).

This tight western tries on, rather curiously, a Romeo and Juliet style subplot between a ranch family and a farm family, but still leaves plenty of time for shooting and fighting.

Although I first learned of Meares through Piccadilly Publishing, who has done admirable work in bringing these oaters back to a digital generation, I bought this in a lot of vintage westerns from eBay and read it quickly.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

#54: The Girl with All the Gifts by M.R. Carey

Zombies are on the brink of taking over the world, as zombies are prone to do; but in a fortified school/prison, a group of zombie children may hold the key to the future in M.R. Carey's The Girl with All the Gifts.

M.R. Carey is also Mike Carey, a comic-book writer with popular Vertigo titles like Lucifer and Hellblazer to his name; I especially enjoyed his series The Unwritten, which is why I picked this novel up to read.

The Girl with All the Gifts is fast-paced, thrilling, and cinematic (in fact there is also a film version), and is enjoyable in all the right ways.

But I can't help but feel the novel is also enjoyable because it has so many touchpoints from films I enjoyed in the past.  28 Days Later and Day of the Dead draw obvious comparisons, but the somewhat downbeat/somewhat hopeful ending pays direct homage to I Am Legend (in my opinion).  The novel Lord of the Flies is owed no small debt as well.

Overall, though, an enjoyable thrill ride for fans of zombie movies and horror in general.

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