Sunday, May 20, 2018

#27: Watcher in the Shadows by Geoffery Household

After World War II, a former deep-cover British spy comes into a killer's crosshairs in Geoffery Household's Watcher in the Shadows.

In this case, our troubled hero can't reveal that he was working for the Allies when he posed as a guard at Buchenwald; so when a mysterious figure begins to hunt other war criminals, he ends up in a reluctant cat-and-mouse game.

Household wrote a lot of popular British thrillers, and this one is full of those hallmarks with dry wit, a focus on manners and station, and old-fashioned British resolve.  But the core story is very sobering, as the former spy copes with his inadvertent role in the Nazi prison camp.

This was a very solid thriller and my first from Household.  I would look for more from him.

I bought this at a used bookstore in Rome that I always enjoy visiting, and found it in the cool Orange Penguin cover.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

#26: Stop at Nothing by John Welcome

An aging race car driver gets involved with a hot-headed jockey, his beguiling sister, and a stolen formula in John Welcome's Stop at Nothing.

Stop at Nothing is a British novel of the early 60s, and reads like one; plenty of boozing and pill-popping and high-speed chases around the British and French countrysides, all with dry humor and a can-do attitude.

Speaking of high speed, this novel takes off on the first page and never lifts its foot until the end, when our hero takes Bentley and gun and chases the bad guys to a deadly finale.

I had never heard of Welcome, but he writes a bright, breezy adventure.

I found this at my favorite used bookstore in the Trastevere area of Rome, in the cool Orange cover version from Penguin, and read it quickly.

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

#25: Queenpin by Megan Abbott

A young woman ends up under the wing of a tough female gangster; but when the young woman falls for a hard-luck gambler with big debts, it creates deadly cracks in all of the relationships in Megan Abbott's Queenpin.

Queenpin is a contemporary novel, but could have fallen right off of a spinner rack full of Gold Medal paperbacks.  Abbott has written as hard-boiled and satisfying a noir as was ever banged out on the feverish typewriters of the 40s and 50s.  Abbott writes in the proper terse style, never lets up on the accelerator, and ends with the usual dose of nihilism; a potent brew, indeed.

I have read two books by Abbott recently, and they are both very different, but written in a style that ratchets up the suspense right to the end.  Recommended.

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

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

#24: The Late Show by Michael Connelly

A detective who accused her boss of sexual harassment ends up on the graveyard shift, but her determination to solve crimes--and work outside the rules--stays strong in Michael Connelly's The Late Show.

Ballard quickly finds herself with two cases she can't let go of; one is that of a transgender prostitute beaten with a pair of signature brass knuckles, and the other a club shoot-out that leaves a waitress and several others dead.

This is Connelly's first book in a new series with a different character, after a long and successful run with Harry Bosch and his half-brother "The Lincoln Lawyer"; I wouldn't say Ballard rings as resonantly yet, yet is interesting.

But the two cases move at a steady clip, so those looking for fast-paced police procedurals will enjoy it, and I would be interested in reading another novel featuring Renee Ballard.

I listened to this on audiobook on loan from the New Castle-Henry County Public Library.