Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Best of 2019

I read 63 books this year; I struggled a bit to pick a top ten, but my top five all blew my mind in different ways, and could be recommended to anyone wanting a fresh read.  Enjoy!

Destroy All Monsters by Jeff Jackson

Gideon the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir

Easy Motion Tourist by Leye Adenle

The Ready-Made Thief by Augustus Rose

The Wolf and the Watchman by Niklas Natt och Dag

 Transcription by Kate Atkinson

Big Sister by Gunnar Staalesen

My Sister is a Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite

Pictures at a Revolution by Mark Harris

Orson Welles's Last Movie by Josh Karp

Monday, December 30, 2019

#63: The Ready-Made Thief by Augustus Rose

A troubled teen runaway runs afoul of a vast, baroque conspiracy in Augustus Rose's debut novel The Ready-Made Thief.

Every once in a while I come across a novel that is completely fresh, and this one is it; it has the trappings of a contemporary thriller, but has at its core the work of avant-garde artist Marcel Duchamp, and delves deeply into his works.  There are unsolved codes, hidden rooms in art museums, a deadly secret society, and more, all cleverly tied to some of his famous pieces.

Contemporary influences include the dark web, the rave scene, and the sex traffic world.  It wraps up in an appropriately hazy fashion.

I can already think of several people to recommend this one to, and got it in just under the wire in 2019, having been gifted it for Christmas.  Recommended for readers wanting to hit genre beats in an unusual fashion.

Sunday, December 29, 2019

#62: The Greatest Love Story Ever Told by Megan Mullally and Nick Offerman

Multi-talented actors and married performers Megan Mullally and Nick Offerman riff on life, marriage, and fame in The Greatest Love Story Ever Told.

Your interest in this will be measured by your interest in their careers, especially in the TV shows Will and Grace and Parks and Rec.  Both had fan-favorite roles in their respective programs.  But their theatre and personal lives are as interesting.

I listened to this on audiobook, performed by the couple, and I can't imagine actually reading it; it seemed like they were riffing and chatting during most of the recording, which added to the enjoyment.

I checked this out from the New Castle-Henry County Public Library and consumed it quickly.

Monday, December 23, 2019

#61: The Devil's Dollar Sign by Joe Millard

The Man with No Name is hunting bad guys and gold, while an alleged preacher--who has a gun hidden in a bible--hunts him in return in Joe Millard's The Devil's Dollar Sign.

Millard wrote a series of spin-off novels from Sergio Leone's Man with No Name film trilogy featuring Clint Eastwood, and these paperbacks seem somewhat elusive in the wild.  I was happy to find one in a three-for-a-dollar bin at a flea market in Frankfort, Indiana.

I was a bit disappointed in the story.  The protagonist really doesn't act much like the Eastwood character, and the book feels overwritten; but perhaps I was expecting a more laconic experience that would mirror the movies. 

The over-the-top trappings of the spaghetti western are more or less intact, however, with not only the gun-toting preacher but a murderous Apache chief and a mysterious hermit who might not be as crazy as he seems.

I would be inclined to pick another up if I found one for collectability but found it only an average western that I read quickly over holiday break.

Friday, December 20, 2019

#60: The Lady in the Lake by Laura Lippman

In late 60s Baltimore, a woman leaves her husband and becomes a newspaper reporter, finding herself in the middle of two murders--one a white child and the second the young black woman of the title-- navigating both the men's world of the newsroom and the attentions of two killers in Laura Lippman's The Lady in the Lake.

Lippman paints on a broad canvas, vividly recreating a time and place, with a vast cast of characters-- from reporters to cops to waitresses to the victims themselves, and even a famous Baltimore Orioles player of the era. 

To me at least, this constantly shifting POV diffused the narrative a bit, and the story seems to more or less wrap up about three-quarters of the way through.  But I enjoyed the setting and storytelling well enough to seek out more from Lippman.

I listened to a good audiobook read of this on loan from the Henry County-New Castle Public Library in New Castle, Indiana.

Friday, November 22, 2019

#59: Mad Shadows by Marie-Claire Blais

The disturbing family dynamics between a mother and her two troubled children, and eventually the lovers they draw into their whirlpool, is at the center of Marie-Claire Blais' debut novel Mad Shadows.

I read an article about Quebec author Blais and then decided to seek out her acclaimed debut novel, released in 1959. 

Mad Shadows is a dense allegory with underpinnings of child abuse, incest, and mental illness, and emotions running high throughout.  I could see why it made a splash when it debuted, and can still evoke strong emotions in a reader today.

I am glad I learned about Blais and read this novel, and would recommend it with some reservations.  I may seek out more of her work at some point, but would like to leave a little space between novels. 

I checked this out from the Henry County-New Castle Public Library in New Castle, Indiana and read it quickly.

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

#58: The Sun on My Head by Geovani Martins

Brazilian author Geovani Martins presents a slice of life from the poor side of Rio in The Sun on My Head.

Martins offers roughly a dozen short stories featuring low-level drug dealers, street hustlers, troubled youths, and crooked cops, set against a vibrant neighborhood background.  It is written from a culture and set of experiences I was unfamiliar with, but is written with energy and wit and is engaging throughout.

This debut collection from Martins has already made a big splash for the author, and I am interested to see what he comes up with next.  I checked this out from the Morrisson-Reeves Public Library in Richmond, Indiana and read it quickly.

Sunday, November 10, 2019

#57: Gideon the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir

A varied collection of necromancers, from rival houses, gather in a rotting old castle to vie for the attentions of their immortal emperor in Tamsyn Muir's irreverent, genre-breaking debut novel Gideon the Ninth.

Muir throws supernatural horror, locked-room mystery, and a little far-future space opera into a blender and comes out with something unlike anything I've read in a while, all written in a hip, contemporary style.

I had to keep flipping to the character list, and list of rival houses, at the beginning of the book to keep everyone straight, but the storytelling just cooks along, right to the point where it wants to jump off into a sequel, which I am eager to read as soon as it comes out.

This was a genuinely fresh novel, and recommended for horror or science fiction readers.

I checked this out from the Henry County-New Castle Public Library in New Castle, Indiana and read it quickly.

Saturday, November 2, 2019

#56: Under the Cold Bright Lights by Barry Disher

A retired cop comes back to the Cold Case Squad, and uses some unorthodox methods to close some files, in Barry Disher's Under the Cold Bright Lights.

Disher is a well-established Australian crime writer, but this is the first of his novels I have come across.  I enjoyed the characters especially, and the storytelling was interesting. 

Our lead detective has complex relationships with his ex-wife and daughter, and has a big, rambling old house where several people from all walks of life have ended up, and interact.

The cases include an old body found under a concrete slab, a doctor who may or may not have killed several ex-wives, and an accident which might have been a murder.  Another storyline follows a lodger at the cop's house who has an abusive husband. 

And more than one of these storylines are resolved in surprising ways.

This was a very solid police procedural with above-average characterization and plotting.  I would look for more from Disher.

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

Monday, October 21, 2019

#55: Bluebird, Bluebird by Attica Locke

A hard-drinking Texas Ranger, on suspension after a racially charged standoff, heads to a small Texas town to investigate two murders on his own--one of a black man passing through and one of a white local waitress--in Attica Locke's Bluebird, Bluebird.

Locke is a writer and producer for the TV show Empire but is also a solid fiction writer; this thriller cooks right along, with strong characters to bolster the story.

What makes Bluebird, Bluebird a cut above contemporary crime writing is drawing a vivid portrait of race relations, as well as a fully realized characterization of rural Texas (Locke is from Houston).

Locke has a sequel to this one coming out, and I am eager to read more from her.

I listened to this in a good audiobook read on loan from the New Castle-Henry County Public Library in New Castle, Indiana. 

Saturday, October 12, 2019

#54: The Tuscon Conspiracy by Matt Chisholm

Joe Blade is on special assignment for the governor of the Arizona Territory to root out some bad men, but when the governor's evil twin (!) gets the upper hand mayhem is unleashed in Matt Chisholm's The Tuscon Conspriracy.

Chisholm was steadily prolific British writer Peter Watts, whose McAllister series of hard-boiled westerns I have really enjoyed.  Blade is another series character whose adventures rely more on high adventure, and seem less grim and gritty than McAllister's. 

My taste runs more to the former, but lots of action here keeps this one agreeable.

I bought this for my beloved Kindle from Piccadilly Publishing.

Sunday, September 22, 2019

#53: Kill McAllister by Matt Chisholm

McAllister's trail boss is killed, and the cattle run off, changing McAllister from cowpoke back to gunhand in Matt Chisholm's Kill McAllister.

Chisholm was an insanely prolific Australian writer named Peter Watts who wrote several western series characters, but none I have liked as well as McAllister.  These stories are lean and hard-bitten, but often feature colorful characters and situations.

This one is a bit more epic than some, taking McAllister on a long journey through a hard winter to get vengeance on the rustlers.

I got this in a big lot of paperback westerns from a friend and read it quickly.

Thursday, September 12, 2019

#52: February's Son by Alan Parks

Harry McCoy is a cop in tough 70s Glasgow, hunting a mentally unraveling gangster while trying to hold his own past at bay in Alan Parks' February's Son.

This is the second of the new series from Parks, and picks up just a few weeks after the end of the last novel with McCoy back on the force, but with his own past--and abuse at the hands of various adults--still very much present.

McCoy works on one crime spree while he and his old friend, a crime boss in his own right, begin to hatch a separate revenge plot based on finding a childhood tormentor.

Parks writes a very hard-boiled story, and this one--with gruesome violence and sexual abuse--is for discerning readers, but worthwhile.  I am interested in this series thus far.

I was sent this novel by World Noir and read it quickly. 

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

#51: Warlight by Michael Ondaatje

After World War II, two British youngsters are left by their parents in the care of a mysterious lodger they call The Moth; years later, the young man reflects on all that happened, and all that was revealed, during that unusual time in Michael Ondaatje's Warlight.

This is a literate novel, with espionage overtones; first in the past and then in the present, as the young man works for a British spy agency himself, and gradually learns the fate of his mother, father, and other characters swirling around in his youth.

The espionage elements are interesting, but perhaps not as rewarding as the musings on family, on time and place, and on the secret, unknown lives of the people around you, especially as children.

I like Ondaatje's writing, and a good audiobook read by Steve West added value.

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

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

#50: The Hummingbirds by Ross McMeekin

An aging film star, her unscrupulous producer husband, and the gardener who lives in the guest house make a volatile triangle in this literate California Noir.

Ross McMeekin's The Hummingbirds would read like a pretty traditional thriller except for the extended, ultimately creepy, backstories of both the producer and the gardener, whose troubled early lives play into a hair-raising final act.

Although the storytelling framework is pretty traditional, McMeekin pushes hard on the interpersonal elements, and that raises the stakes enough to provide interest throughout.

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

Thursday, August 29, 2019

#49: The Death of Mrs. Westaway by Ruth Ware

A down-on-her-luck tarot card reader gets a mysterious letter proclaiming a lost inheritance, and ends up in the middle of decades-old family secrets, in Ruth Ware's The Death of Mrs. Westaway.

Ware's novel is a straight-up, reverent (but contemporary) take on the old-fashioned gothic, with a rotting old house, a menacing housekeeper, and a cold attic bedroom (with mysterious bars on the window, naturally), among other standards of the genre.

Even though I started piecing it together about halfway through, the storytelling is engaging throughout, and never takes its foot off the accelerator.

I enjoyed the audiobook reading by Imogen Church, which added value.  I checked this out from the Morrisson-Reeves Public Library in Richmond, Indiana.

Saturday, August 24, 2019

#48: Cherokee Lighthorse by Gary McCarthy

After a brush with renegade Confederates, a family escapes from the Civil War with a handful of prize horses and heads west; but problems continue to dog them in Cherokee Lighthorse by Gary McCarthy.

Cherokee Lighthorse is the second in a series called The Horsemen, and is a solidly plotted contemporary western.  The element of raising thoroughbred horses, and a high-stakes horse race that takes place at the story's climax, add interest.

The one thing that took me out of the action a bit was the very poor editing, including characters that went from holding a cigar to a pipe, or even changed names, from paragraph to paragraph, shockingly bad for a mainstream publisher.

This is the first novel I have read from McCarthy, and it seems as if he has been prolific in western writing on a variety of more interesting subjects.  I would look for more from McCarthy.

I checked this out from the Parker City Public Library in Parker City, Indiana and read it quickly.

Friday, August 9, 2019

#47: Upstate by Kalisha Buckhanon

In Harlem, a teenager goes to prison for killing his father, but keeps up with his high school girlfriend over the course of years, in Kalisha Buckhanon's epistolary novel Upstate.

Engaging storytelling really floats a lesser-seen literary style, which frames the proceedings in the form of letters.  We see the two main characters grow from unpolished high school students to wiser adults, with compelling twists and turns throughout.

I listened to this novel on audiobook (on loan from the New Castle-Henry County Public Library in New Castle, Indiana), and the work was absolutely elevated by high-level performances by Chadwick Boseman and Heather Simms.

I thought this was a really good coming-of-age story, presented in a unique fashion.  Worthwhile novel from Kalisha Buckhanon.

Friday, August 2, 2019

#46: Stalking Susan by Julie Kramer

A Minnesota TV reporter is gifted an unsolved murder case by a retired police detective, and in the middle of a ratings war finds the case suddenly heating up, in Julie Kramer's Stalking Susan.

This storytelling is smart and snappy, with believable characters, and a two-pronged mystery--the unsolved murder case, which ends up being tied to others featuring victims named Susan, and what at first seems like a throwaway story about an unscrupulous vet.

I worked in television and television news for a while, starting in Wisconsin, and found a lot of the elements rang true.  A protagonist with an interesting backstory was also welcome.

This is the first in a series from Kramer, and I would be interested in the next one.  I borrowed this in a good audiobook version from the New Castle-Henry County Public Library in New Castle, Indiana.

Sunday, July 21, 2019

#45: Bloody January by Alan Parks

In early 70s Glasgow, an only slightly crooked cop is assigned a seemingly open-and-shut murder-suicide; but when an influential family's secrets seem to be tied up with the case, the stakes run dangerously higher in Alan Parks' debut crime novel Bloody January.

Our tarnished protagonist, McCoy, ends up on the outs with his superiors, and has to rely on his oldest friend--who happens to be a crime boss and possible sociopath.  McCoy's adventures on both sides of the law ratchet up the tension throughout the story.

Glasgow's underbelly is on full display, as well as a large helping of retro vibes in setting and character.  

Overall an engaging start to a new detective series, and I look forward to the next one.

I was sent a review copy of this novel by World Noir and read it quickly.

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

#44: Newcomer by Keigo Higashino

A divorced woman newly moved to a new neighborhood is found dead, and it is up to a recently-arrived police detective to find out what happened, in Keigo Higashino's Newcomer.

This is an exceedingly clever police procedural, set in Tokyo, where the mild but very intuitive policeman begins to uncover all of her neighbor's secrets as the investigation unfolds, including embezzlement, a false medical certificate, a hidden love child, and more. 

The lead detective, Kaga, is really woven into the background of all of these stories and never in the forefront, an interesting device.

Even more interestingly, the plot hinges on the minutiae of things, including a child's wooden top, a pair of new kitchen scissors, and a box of sweets. 

I have read several crime novels by Higashino and find that he is incredibly versatile writer, with all of his novels varied in plot, characters, and themes.  I always enjoy finding him in translation when I can.

I checked this out on audiobook from the New Castle-Henry County Public Library in New Castle, Indiana.

Friday, July 5, 2019

#43: Weeping Waters by Karin Brynard

A burned-out Johannesburg cop is re-assigned to a remote police station at the edge of a desert, and arrives just in time for a spate of bizarre farm murders, in Karen Brynard's debut thriller Weeping Waters.

The story follows both the detective, with his two rookie assistants, and a young woman whose estranged artist sister meets a grisly end.

Brynard is a former investigative reporter in South Africa turned crime writer, and her background lends itself to a writing style full of interesting details and characterizations. 

The unraveling of the crime itself was almost of secondary interest to me (and she spends the last chapter basically outlining how it all transpired, in a sort of anticlimax).  I found myself more caught up in the cultural and political aspects of contemporary South Africa.

The cover listed this as the first of the series, and the first translated into English, so I am looking forward to the next entry.  Recommended for police procedural fans interested in a different perspective.

This was sent to me by World Noir for review, and I read it quickly.  

Tuesday, July 2, 2019

#42: The Force by Don Winslow

The Manhattan North Task Force rules the streets, applying the laws--or breaking them--as they see fit; but when they decide to take down a major drug lord, and make off with his profits, the dominoes begin to fall in Don Winslow's The Force.

This cynical, shaded-in-gray crime novel will remind contemporary readers of television shows like The Wire and The Shield but probably owes the most to Joseph Wambaugh and police novels like The Choirboys and The Glitter Dome.

This is an action-packed tale with few heroes and plenty of villains on a sliding scale of honor, leading to a fairly nihilistic ending.

This is my first book of Winslow's, although I believe he is well-regarded in this genre and has other books both standalone and in various series.  I will look for others by him.

I listened to a very good audiobook version read by Dion Graham, and because of the reader would recommend it in this format. 

Borrowed from the New Castle-Henry County Public Library in New Castle, Indiana.

Thursday, June 27, 2019

#41: The Wolf and the Watchman by Niklas Natt och Dag

In late 1700s Stockholm, a drunken watchman and a dying police detective team up to find the perpetrator of an especially grisly murder in Niklas Natt och Dag's dark debut The Wolf and the Watchman.

Even by the gloomy standards of Scandinavian noir, this one is especially bleak; there are many scenes of torture, murder, and rape played out against a background of the disenfranchised being ground down by the squalor of late-century Stockholm.  Brutal and somewhat unrelenting in its depictions of the underbelly of life, I actually felt a little queasy a few times.

But the writing is great, the storytelling vivid, the protagonists compelling. 

This was one of the most interesting reads of the year thus far for me, but can be recommended only to discerning readers.

I checked this out from the New Castle-Henry County Public Library in New Castle, Indiana.

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

#40: Bounty Man by Matthew S. Hart

Two Texas Rangers provide law and order in a sleepy town while their friend, the sheriff, is on his honeymoon--but when a bounty hunter brings in a bad man, drawing his dangerous family in his wake, it's all guns at the ready in Bounty Man, in the Cody's Law series from Matthew S. Hart.

Hart was actually James Reasoner in this case, and I keep coming across him in his various incarnations.  I have found that Reasoner writes a very solid, pleasing western that hits all the right notes.

The "Bounty Man" of the title is the uncle of one of the Texas Rangers, and they have a strained relationship that flares up between various gun battles.  Both find time for a little romance as well.

Genuinely enjoyable for western fans, and I will look for more in the Cody's Law series.  This one I found at the Parker City Public Library in Parker City, Indiana.

Monday, June 24, 2019

#39: Kingdom Cons by Yuri Herrera

The story of a Mexican cartel is given Shakespearean lyricism in Yuri Herrera's crime novel Kingdom Cons.

I loved the last book I read from Herrera, The Transmigration of Bodies, another crime novel set in this case against an apocalyptic landscape.  This novel also featured a lot of interesting writing, but I was not nearly as compelled by the situations.

Herrera is a unique and worthy voice in crime fiction and I have enjoyed seeking him out, even if this slim novel did not resonate with me as much as the last one.

I bought this with a Father's Day Amazon card and read it quickly.

Sunday, June 23, 2019

#38: Binti: Home by Nnedi Okorafor

Binti is a young woman at a school far from her home planet--and being bonded to an alien doesn't help--but troubles grow larger when she returns home in the second in the Binti series, Binti: Home.

Nnedi Okorafor's sci-fi series, suitable for young adults, has fresh world-building and interesting plotting.

The only criticism I have of the slender second volume is that it seems to work best as a bridge between the first and the third novels and doesn't really stand alone.

I would recommend Okorafor's Binti novels as an all-ages read for science fiction fans looking for a different voice in fiction.

I checked this out from the New Castle-Henry County Public Library in New Castle, Indiana and read it quickly.

Saturday, June 22, 2019

#37: Killing Gravity by Corey J. White

A dangerous telepath, on the run from powerful forces, throws in with a ragtag spaceship crew in Corey J. White's Killing Gravity, the first novel in The Voidwitch Saga.

The plotting is sort of television-sized, but the world-building--and a kind of cyberpunk flavor--add value.  The novel is slender but very fast-moving, and enjoyable if unsurprising throughout. 

In fact, in episodic television fashion, it ends on a bit of a cliffhanger as the group goes on a rescue mission for one of their missing members.

I bought this with Father's Day Amazon money and read it in a single day.  I liked it well enough to read the next one if I see it in the wild.

Saturday, June 15, 2019

#36: Death Kiss: The Book of the Movie by Bill Cunningham and Rene Perez

Bill Cunningham and director Rene Perez have gathered up fun anecdotes surrounding the making of a b-movie called Death Kiss, an 80s action homage made with a guy who, quite handily to the production, looks like Charles Bronson. 

For those who, like myself, get a charge out of "how-they-do-it" b-moviemaking books (think Rebel Without a Crew by Robert Rodriguez, X Films from Alex Cox, Feature Filmmaking at Used Car Prices by Rick Schmidt). 

The book includes the full script for the movie as well, for interest. 

In the groove for b-movie fans. Bill Cunningham sent me this to read and enjoy and I read it quickly.

Thursday, June 13, 2019

#35: Artificial Condition by Martha Wells

A cyborg security agent has been set free, and decides to find out where some of his missing memories have gone--only to get caught up helping a naive trio of researchers in Martha Wells' Artificial Condition.

This is the second in her series called "The Murderbot Diaries" and follows directly on the heels of All Systems Red.  In this one, our troubled protagonist heads to a moon-based mining colony where once he was involved in a massacre, though the motivations for the killings are hidden from his sight.  His discoveries, and his reluctant assistance to some people in need, gradually inch him towards humanity, and his next adventure.

The storytelling is breezy and the book slender, but remains enjoyable throughout.  I picked this up at the New Castle-Henry County Public Library and read it quickly.  I will definitely look for the next one when I'm ready for a light sci-fi read.

Friday, June 7, 2019

#34: Cari Mora by Thomas Harris

A young woman tries to piece her life back together after being a child soldier, but house-sitting a mansion that happens to be sitting on a safe full of gold puts her in the crosshairs of some bad people in Thomas Harris' Cari Mora.

Harris is best known for his Hannibal Lecter novels, and often goes a long while between new releases.  This one is a bit of a surprise, much more of a straightforward, sardonic action piece than some of his more creepy-crawly and cerebral works.

But Harris still provides some nightmare fuel, largely in the form of an antagonist who has a side gig providing female slaves to disturbed clients. 

New Thomas Harris books are always welcome, and I enjoyed this one as well.  I checked this out from the New Castle-Henry County Public Library and read it quickly.

Thursday, May 30, 2019

#33: Down the River Unto the Sea by Walter Mosley

A cop trying to overthrow a heroin operation finds himself framed by crooked cops, and after a stint in Rikers looks for redemption in himself and for another framed man, in Walter Mosley's Down the River Unto the Sea.

Mosley's Easy Rawlins mysteries, which are slowly tracking through the 40s, 50s and 60s along with its aging detective protagonist, are definitive.  But now and then Mosley has introduced other detective characters, and Joe King Oliver is one. 

There are a lot of similarities with his other detective characters, including having a close friend and partner who happens to be a psychopath (like Mouse to Easy in his main series), but Oliver also has his own unique elements.

Mosley writes a great mystery, and this one is chock full of crooked cops, honorable crooks, laws broken for good, and laws followed for evil.  The ending relies on a lot of dominoes falling just right, but is ultimately satisfying, and I hope Mosley returns to Joe King Oliver.

I listened to a very good audiobook version read by Dion Graham on loan from the Morrisson-Reeves Public Library in Richmond, Indiana.

Sunday, May 26, 2019

#32: The Good Detective by John McMahon

A police detective--struggling with the senseless death of his family--is assigned to solve a grisly, racially-motivated murder, but realizes he might have accidentally killed the prime suspect while drinking, in John McMahon's The Good Detective.

McMahon's debut novel starts off like pretty standard "tarnished angel" cop fare, but takes off in surprising directions; not the least of which are ancient orders, premonitions, phantom voices and not one but two legitimate psychics.

If you liked the television series True Detective, especially the first season, you'll find a lot to enjoy in this mix of police procedural and otherworldly phenomenon.  A nice surprise, and I will look for McMahon's next book.

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

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

#31: The Mind of Evil by Terrance Dicks

The Doctor and Jo Grant try to foil The Master's latest plot, involving a prison riot, a nerve-gas missile, and a peace conference in Terrance Dicks' novelization of the Doctor Who episode The Mind of Evil.

This is the Jon Pertwee-era Doctor, who was stranded on Earth in the early 70s and working as an advisor to a military group.  Pertwee was a more can-do Doctor, and showcases his mastery of Venusian kung-fu in this outing.

Terrance Dicks is considered the definitive Doctor Who novelist, and I concur.  I read a lot of these as a teenager without ever having seen an episode of Doctor Who nor having much knowledge as to what it was.  When, as an adult, I moved to a city where Tom Baker-era Doctor Who was on the local PBS affiliate, it all came together, and the Baker era was a good time to catch up.

I had not read a Terrance Dicks novel in a very long time, but found a good audiobook version of this at the Morrisson-Reeves Public Library in Richmond, Indiana and enjoyed listening.

Sunday, May 19, 2019

#30: Fannin by David Markson

Fannin is a private eye who was blind to his ex-wife's cheating; but when she ends up on his doorstep dying, Fannin goes hunting her killer with fists and guns blazing in David Markson's Fannin, previously released as Epitaph for a Tramp.

The original title is more fitting; Markson's novel is as bleak and grimy as any noir I've read, as the detective and his cop friend spend a delirious couple of hours in the gutters of early 60s New York to find the killer in a nihilistic finale.

Markson later went on to some acclaim as a literary novelist, but in his peanut-butter days wrote two Fannin detective stories, another noir, and a western before moving up the ladder.    You can see where Markson was headed, as his detective enjoys novels and between bouts of mayhem comments on what books he and others are reading.

I stumbled across this one in an antique store in Arcadia, Florida, and for two bucks bought it on a whim.  Absolutely recommended for hard-boiled fiction fans.

Saturday, May 18, 2019

#29: Hot Sky Over Paraiso by Marshall Grover

Texas gun-hands Larry and Stretch agree to help a professor and his daughter recover gold from a web of haunted cliff dwellings in Marshall Grover's Hot Sky Over Paraiso.

Grover was Australian author Leonard Meares, whose staggering output of western writing included this series and a more sober one, Big Jim.

Larry and Stretch are almost superhuman in their fist- and gun-fighting capabilities but are good-natured and funny as well.  Their stories are always plentiful in action but definitely on the lighter side with plotting.

Slightly confounding in the history of Larry and Stretch is that the American versions of these novels were credited to "Marshall McCoy" and Stretch was called "Streak."  It was one of these that I found in an antique store in Arcadia, Florida, my first of these to ever find on the loose.

I read this in a single day on vacation and always enjoy this series when I come across one.

Friday, May 17, 2019

#28: The Guns of Sonora by Ben Smith

A scarred stranger once left for dead, and a gang of cattle rustlers led by a cutthroat gunfighter, end up closing in on a Mexican ranch run by an aging cattleman, creating a triangle of death and destruction in Ben Smith's The Guns of Sonora.

This was an action-packed Ace Double from an author I had never heard of, on the flip side of Tom West's Black Buzzards of Bueno (reviewed previously).  This was a solidly-plotted western set squarely in the 60s revisionist western era, enjoyable enough to read on vacation in a single day, which I did.  I will look for more from Ben Smith, who I can't seem to find any details about online.

This Ace Double was part of a big lot I got from a friend, and I always look for Ace Doubles in the wild.

Monday, May 13, 2019

#27: Black Buzzards of Bueno by Tom West

An outlaw comes off the owlhoot trail to hunt his missing brother in a bleak little town with a dark secret in Tom West's Black Buzzards of Bueno.

A colorful title for a colorful story, as an enigmatic widow draws men to her ranch through an ad placed in eastern newspapers, although all seem to take a side trip to Boot Hill first.  An unusual plot with a lot of interesting characters.

Tom West was actually, although seemingly unlikely, a British writer named Fred East who took up Ace western writing somewhat late in life and mostly wrote under this name.  He seems to have a lot of fans, and I liked this well enough to look for more of his after reading my first by him.

This is an Ace Double with The Guns of Sonora by Ben Smith on the other side.  I got this from a big lot of Ace Doubles and read it quickly, then flipped it over and started on the other.

Saturday, May 11, 2019

#26: Easy Motion Tourist by Leye Adenle

A writer on assignment in Lagos foolishly lies about being a reporter for the BBC, putting him square in the crosshairs of corrupt cops when he stumbles across a dead body in Leye Adenle's Easy Motion Tourist.

Adenle's debut is as crackling a crime novel as I have read in a while, as the writer and his savior--a lawyer with her own complicated agenda--try to stay one step ahead of both the police (such as Sergeant Hot-Temper) and a colorful collection of criminals (with names like Knockout, Go-Slow, and Catch-FIre).  Teeming, raggedly, dangerous Lagos is almost a character in itself, and expertly portrayed.

"Easy Motion Tourist" is a Nigerian classic rock song, if that gives you an idea of the vibe the novel is trying to convey.

Although I thought the ending wrapped up a bit too easily--but also left a thread dangling--this novel was super-charged with energy throughout and recommended for anyone needing a change of pace in their crime reading.

I checked this out from the New Castle-Henry County Public Library in New Castle, Indiana and read it quickly.

Thursday, May 9, 2019

#25: The Governesses by Anne Serre

Three free-spirited governesses have caught a household up in their collective spell in Anne Serre's The Governesses.

Serre's first novel translated into English really can't be that easily summarized; it is slender, episodic and dreamlike, erotically charged and full of unusual vignettes.

I wasn't sure what to make of some of it--including a wrap-up involving an elderly neighbor watching them through a telescope--but was interested throughout and caught up in the imagery.

I am curious about what else Anne Serre has written, and I hope more gets translated into English.

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

Thursday, May 2, 2019

#24: Wetworld by Mark Michalowski

The Doctor and his companion Martha square off against a mind-controlling alien on a newly colonized planet, while some insensitive settlers and innocent natives get in the way, in Mark Michalowski's Wetworld, a Doctor Who story that features characters played by David Tennant and Freema Agyeman.

Fans of the Tennant era will like this story just fine, funny enough and mildly entertaining throughout.  Fairly low stakes, even with a massive nuclear bomb ticking away at the denouement. 

A good audiobook reading by Agyeman adds value.

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

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

#23: Shoot McAllister by Matt Chisholm

As a favor to a friend, gun-hand McAllister becomes sheriff of a dangerous, booming mining town, only to go up against a secret organization of killers, in Matt Chisholm's Shoot McAllister.

Chisholm was Peter Watts, a highly prolific western writer from England whose work I have enjoyed under his various names.  I like his McAllister series especially, always written in a lean style with colorful characters and sardonic humor.  Recommended for western readers.

I am always happy to come across McAllister stories in the wild.  This one I found at a Half Price Books in Bloomington, Indiana for a goodbye price.

Monday, April 29, 2019

#22: The Pirate Loop by Simon Guerrier

The Doctor and his companion Martha Jones decide to find out what happened to a luxury space liner that disappeared, only to quickly find themselves up against some dim-witted space pirates, in Simon Guerrier's The Pirate Loop, a Doctor Who adventure.

This story takes place during the David Tennant/Freema Agyeman era of the contemporary series, and it has a distinctly television-sized air. 

An experimental spaceship engine that, naturally, was used ill-advisedly makes up the rest of the slender plot. Fine for fans.

I checked this out from the Morrisson-Reeves Public Library in Richmond, Indiana and enjoyed the audiobook reading by Freema Agyeman.  

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

#21: The Nearest Exit by Owen Steinhauer

A reluctant spy and more reluctant double agent is asked to kill a teenage girl under mysterious circumstances; when he refuses, thinking of his own daughter, murderous dominoes begin to fall all across the world in Owen Steinhauer's The Nearest Exit.

This worthy sequel to Steinhauer's The Tourist once again dives into the gnarled politics of the secret Department of Tourism, seemingly largely staffed by emotionally crippled "Tourists" whose black ops on behalf of the U.S. cause shenanigans all across the globe.

Steinhauer writes with the density of John le Carré  and the tough action of  Len Deighton;  if you like either or both of these writers, Steinhauer is a great contemporary addition to the spy canon.

This is the second of a trilogy and I am looking forward to finishing it.

I bought this at a goodbye price from Half Price Books in Bloomington, Indiana on audiobook, and David Pittu's reading added value.

Saturday, April 20, 2019

#20: Big Sister by Gunnar Staalesen

A private eye gets a job hunting a missing woman from a half-sister he never met in Big Sister by Gunnar Staalesen.  Soon our aging but determined PI is mixed up with a motorcycle gang and a long-buried sexual assault amidst a myriad of other crimes.

Staalesen is riffing on Raymond Chandler, from the title (cribbed from The Little Sister) on through to his terse style and murky family dynamics. 

I enjoyed this thoroughly and was deeply surprised to find out this story was some twenty novels in, and that Staalesen and his protagonist are huge in Norway, having also spawned a dozen or more movies and a commemorative statue (seen in a photo at the beginning of this book!).   I would definitely say more of Stallesen's writings need to be translated into English as only a few seem available. 

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

Sunday, April 7, 2019

#19: Blood of the Mountain Born by Frank Leslie

Colter Farrow is on the run after killing a crooked sheriff, but family trouble--and an old flame--back home return him to his mountain roots in Blood of the Mountain Born by Frank Leslie.

Leslie is actually Peter Brandvold, a very prolific contemporary western writer.  Brandvold writes a lot of what are called "Adult Westerns"--with amplified sex and violence--but this one has the bones of an old-fashioned western.

The settings and situations are well-drawn, and Farrow is a very likeable character, a good-hearted kid with an alarmingly fast gun whose complicated romantic and family ties create interest.

This one is part of a series of Farrow's adventures, and I would be interested in reading more.

I bought this one for my beloved Kindle and read it quickly.

Monday, April 1, 2019

#18: Cold Trail from Fort Smith by Robert Bell

An owlhoot turned lawman, who works for a hanging judge, becomes focused on bringing in a murderous gang at all costs in Robert Bell's Cold Trail from Fort Smith.

I picked this up on a whim from the Parker City Library in Parker City, Indiana, without recognizing Bell's name.  As is often the case, Robert Vaughn Bell turned out to be a prolific writer who I just hadn't stumbled across yet.

Although Bell's storyline and characters aren't particularly shaded in nuance, this oater cooks right along and never takes itself too seriously, introducing colorful characters and situations along the way for a quick read.

I ended up liking Bell's style and would look for more from him.

Sunday, March 31, 2019

#17: An Elderly Lady Is Up to No Good by Helene Tursten

An elderly lady uses murder to solve life's basic annoyances, flying under the radar as they appear to be accidents and mishaps, in Helene Tursten's darkly comic short story collection aptly titled An Elderly Lady is Up to No Good.

Tursten is the author of a solid police procedural series featuring Swedish detective Irene Huss (who makes a brief appearance here).  By contrast, this slender collection is relatively breezy, especially by the inky-black standards of Scandinavian noir.

But I enjoyed it as a quick read, and would recommend it to anyone wanting to dip a toe into the shallower end of Scandinavian mysteries.

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

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

#16: Orson Welles's Last Movie by Josh Karp

Orson Welles directed what is considered one of the greatest films of all time, Citizen Kane, but at the end of his life struggled for years to finish a film with threadbare finances and a crew of young hippies, a fascinating story told in Josh Karp's Orson Welles's Last Movie.

I watched the posthumously released film The Other Side of the Wind, and was so fascinated I immediately watched the documentary They'll Love Me When I'm Dead and then immediately started listening to Josh Karp's book on audio.

If you are interested in Welles at all, or the collapse of the studio system and the rise of independents in the 1970s--a favorite subject of mine--this is a highly compelling read, and deeply researched.

If nothing else, it is an interesting Hollywood story, full of unbelievable successes and ruinous failures, featuring a larger-than-life Hollywood auteur.

Very relevant for film fans, and recommended for those with similar interests.

Saturday, March 16, 2019

#15: Convenience Store Woman by Sayaka Murata

An emotionally and socially stunted woman finds solace and order working in a convenience store; but when she tries to fit into society by starting a relationship with a young man, it almost comes crashing down in Sayaka Murata's Convenience Store Woman.

Murata's novel seems a fairly lightly sketched slice of life, but contains deeper meaning for the lives of women and also the structure of Japanese society.  Readers interested in Japanese culture should find this especially rewarding.

I liked Murata's style and found it alternating between melancholy and humorous.

This is Murata's first novel to be translated into English, and it is genuinely offbeat.  I checked this out from Morrisson-Reeves Public Library in Richmond, Indiana and read it quickly.

Friday, March 15, 2019

#14: Transcription by Kate Atkinson

In 1940, a young woman works for MI-5 as a transcriptionist, helping snare a group of pro-Nazi Brits; in 1950, she now works for the BBC, and sees her past catching up to her in Kate Atkinson's Transcription.

Atkinson writes across all genres, from literary fiction to mysteries; I believe this is her first quasi-spy novel, but it is filled with her quirky style.  She writes complex characters, from the protagonist's closeted boss and later sort-of fiance to a prim old lady who might also be a murderous Jew-hater.  Alliances are murky and violence can be sudden and sometimes absurd.  Features a genuine surprise ending.

I have enjoyed Atkinson's novels, especially her Jackson Brodie detective series, but this is a great standalone for readers who enjoy spy fiction as well as literary fiction.  Recommended.

I checked this out on audiobook from the New Castle-Henry County Public Library in New Castle, Indiana, given a good reading by  Fenella Woolgar. 

Thursday, March 7, 2019

#13: Destroy All Monsters by Jeff Jackson

A string of seemingly random murders at music venues across the country sets forth a chilling effect on live music; but a band's tribute concert may change all that, if they can hold it together long enough to go through with it, in Jeff Jackson's Destroy All Monsters.

Jackson's book is genuinely offbeat; as much about unstoppable fate and inexplicable violence as small-town life and fragile relationships, a heartfelt slice of life and a heady fantasy.

As soon as I finished it, I texted the biggest live music lover I know and asked him to read it; anyone else who loves the live music scene or who has ever been in a band should pick this one up soon.

The music theme carries through even to the novel having an "A side" and a "B side."  You flip the novel over, and there is a novella-length story where a different character is killed, and a different person is leading the band; curiously, many of the supporting characters are gender-flipped, as well.

As unusual, but approachable, a novel as I have read in a long while.  Recommended.

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

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

#12: Moon in a Dead Eye by Pascal Garnier

Two couples buy into a retirement community which is unsettling in its emptiness, save for a sinister groundskeeper and a stoned activities coordinator; and then when a single woman moves in, civility is abruptly ripped away in Pascal Garnier's Moon in a Dead Eye.

Garnier was a French noir writer whose novels veer from dark comedy to bleak tragedy, and even with the unusual setting and characters (elderly in a retirement community) this one follows that formula.  There is murder, sex, animal cruelty, and a fire of unknown origin just to mention the top few plot points.  And the novel's title does not refer to the moon in a dead eye for artistic sake alone.

I enjoy French noir in films and novels and am quickly becoming a Garnier fan as more of his work appears in English.  I got this one in a collection called Gallic Noir Volume 2 and read the slender volume quickly.

Saturday, February 16, 2019

#11: The Man Who Came Uptown by George Pelecanos

A private detective helps a getaway driver get out of prison on a technicality, but then expects to be repaid in dangerous fashion, in George Pelecanos' The Man Who Came Uptown.

Pelecanos is a great contemporary crime writer who has also made forays into popular television shows such as The Wire and The Deuce.  Most of his crime novels are set in Washington D.C., including this one.

The push-pull in this story is between the getaway driver, who is trying to go straight; the private detective, who is starting to go crooked; the detective's gradually reluctant partner; and a dissatisfied prison librarian who the driver meets up with once he is free.  Throw in a lot of angry double-crossed criminals and the ending leaves nobody unscathed.

 Another fine novel from Pelecanos that hits all the right beats.  I checked this out from the New Castle-Henry County Public Library and read it quickly.

Friday, February 15, 2019

#10: Dark Sacred Night by Michael Connelly

Renee Ballard ran afoul of office politics and ended up on the overnight detective shift for the LAPD--called "The Late Show"--dealing with the carnival of night life on display regularly.  But when she finds legendary retired detective Harry Bosch snooping through some old files, she ends up in the middle of a cold case on a murdered runaway in Michael Connelly's Dark Sacred Night.

I think Connelly's Harry Bosch series is a landmark work in contemporary crime fiction.  He has from time to time introduced other series characters, including Ballard and "The Lincoln Lawyer" Mickey Haller (who has turned out to be Bosch's half brother).

This is the first team-up between Ballard and Bosch, and it's a solid, fast-paced story, with a shaded-in-gray finale that ties the past cold case to an explosive present.

I'm a big fan of Connelly and would recommend his new novel to fans (although reading The Late Show featuring Ballard first helps).

I checked this out on audiobook from the New Castle-Henry County Public Library in New Castle, Indiana.  A good read from Christine Lakin and Titus Welliver.

Friday, February 8, 2019

#9: Forever and a Day by Anthony Horowitz

007 is dead, so a new 007--named James Bond--sets out to avenge his predecessor's death, and subsequently prevent an attack on America, in Anthony Horowitz's Forever and a Day.

This is Horowitz's second Bond novel, after Trigger Mortis, and like its predecessor this novel sits very comfortably in the Ian Fleming timeline and written in that classic style.  His last Bond novel took place immediately after Goldfinger, and this one slots in just before Casino Royale.

Thus we have a rookie Bond, being helped along by an older, enigmatic freelance agent called Madame Sixtine.  Horowitz has fun staging the origins of a lot of Bond's interests and habits shown in later novels.  And of course, adds a couple of oversized villains orchestrating a Byzantine plot.

For fans of the classic Bond, Horowitz hits all of the right notes.

I listened to a good audiobook reading of this novel on loan from the New Castle-Henry County Public Library in New Castle, Indiana.

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

#8: The Stalking Moon by Theodore V. Olsen

A soldier rescues a woman from captivity, only to have the warrior who took her come looking to get her back, in Theodore V. Olsen's The Stalking Moon.

Olsen was a prolific paperback writer, largely westerns but in other genres as well, and had several of his novels turned into movies.  Including this one, made in 1968 and starring Gregory Peck and Eva Marie Saint.

Olsen tries to stretch genre conventions in his novel, portraying the complexities of life for the two mixed-race children the rescued woman bore during her captivity, as well as the complexities of the growing relationship between the soldier and the woman.  For a mid-60s mass-market paperback, Olsen made a pretty good stab at it.

Offbeat for a western of this time, but still fast-moving and full of action, and worthwhile for genre fans.

I got this in a big box of goodbye paperbacks and read it quickly.

Sunday, February 3, 2019

#7: Resurrection Bay by Emma Viskic

A private investigator's cop friend is murdered, and suspected of being crooked, which the investigator sets out to disprove at great personal peril in Emma Viskic's Resurrection Bay.

Viskic's Australian setting, and deaf protagonist, elevates a standard but pretty fast-moving crime novel.  A genuinely surprising ending involving a slew of deaths and one major betrayal adds value.

Resurrection Bay is the first in a series featuring Caleb Zelic, a popular run of novels in Australia which are just making it over to the States.  I liked it well enough to want to know what happens to Zelic next.

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

Saturday, January 26, 2019

#6: My Sister is a Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite

A nurse, plain-speaking and plain-looking, is devoted to her spoiled, beautiful younger sister; so when her sister steadily dispatches her boyfriends for various offenses, she has no choice but help with the coverup in Oyinkan Braithwaite's My Sister is a Serial Killer.

This darkly comic novel seems ready-made for the movies in its breezy pacing and style.  Braithwaite earns points for the Nigerian setting, filled with corrupt cops and a lackadaisical health care system, both of which contribute to the sister's continued success in going without notice.

Braithwaite's novel is a fun read, with some darker subtexts woven throughout about what might have sent the sister around a murderous bend.

I checked this out from the New Castle-Henry County Public Library in New Castle, Indiana and read it quickly.

Friday, January 25, 2019

#5: Slaughter at Buzzard's Gulch by Scott Harris

An ambidextrous gunfighter ends up crossways of a saloon owner forcing women into slavery in Scott Harris' Slaughter at Buzzard's Gulch, the first in a new western series featuring a bounty hunter called  Caz.

Harris' first western series, featuring easygoing--but lightning-fast--gunfighter Brock Clemons, is more about finding family and community, while Caz's adventures are decidedly less sentimental and more action-oriented.

Caz always warns owlhoots to walk away, but if they did the book would be much shorter.  Thus Caz steadily dispatches the local nest of vipers from the first chapter to the last, with little cause for self-reflection.

A more spaghetti-flavored series than Harris' other protagonist, and an enjoyable read.

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

Monday, January 21, 2019

#4: Valiant Bugles by Gordon D. Shirreffs

A broken-down fort in the heart of Apache country is the setting for a feud between a vengeful soldier and an Apache leader called The Butcher in Gordon D. Shirreffs' Valiant Bugles.

I have enjoyed reading Shirreffs in the past, and this one is especially tough-minded; our hero has lost everything close to him, and has become murderously obsessed to the point that his troops are on the brink of mutiny, all while the infrastructure around them collapses and the enemy wins every encounter.  A seemingly hopeless finale, holding one final twist, finishes out the last few chapters.

A good solid western that I read over a few wintry nights.  I found this at a flea market for a solitary dollar and read it quickly.

Friday, January 18, 2019

#3: Scrappy Little Nobody by Anna Kendrick

Anna Kendrick's rise from child actor on Broadway to indie film to Hollywood blockbusters, all while awash in self-doubt but equipped with a sardonic sense of humor, is the focus of her autobiography Scrappy Little Nobody.

I didn't realize how much I had actually seen Kendrick in until I read her account; she has had a pretty varied career in a lot of avenues.

Like a lot of these autobiographies, it is a mix of Hollywood adventures and revealing personal stories.  How much you enjoy this retelling depends on how much you like Kendrick, but the audiobook reading by her (which I listened to on loan from the New Castle-Henry County Public Library) adds value.

To me, the most profound part was when she said, basically, that making a movie was like hosting a wedding every day, in an uncharted forest. 

Worthwhile for fans.

Friday, January 11, 2019

#2: Pictures at a Revolution by Mark Harris

In the late 60s the Hollywood studio system was dying out, and a new way of making films--egged on by European cinema--was making itself known.  In Mark Harris' book Pictures at a Revolution the 1968 Oscar race for Best Picture symbolizes this, with the five movies being the square Guess Who's Coming to Dinner; the colossal dud Doctor Doolittle; and three films that were capturing what was in the air, The Graduate, In the Heat of the Night, and Bonnie and Clyde.

I have always been interested in this time period in American film, and Harris' book provides all the detail and research you could ever want about this era.  But what struck me the most was the portrayals of the various talents involved; a broke Dustin Hoffman sleeping on Gene Hackman's floor, a raging, fading Rex Harrison's drunken exploits, a dying Spencer Tracy trying to get one more performance in, an isolated and conflicted Sidney Poitier. 

The book shows how hard it is to make a movie, any movie, even ones that turn out to be classics, full of twists and turns and dead stops and changes of fortune.  Fascinating for those, like me, interested in moviemaking.

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

Friday, January 4, 2019

#1: Death in the Lava by John Benteen

The hired gun Sundance tries to save a hidden tribe of Indians, and grab an equally hidden cache of gold, in John Benteen's Death in the Lava.

John Benteen was (most of the time) Ben Haas, one of my favorite western writers, and I like his series character Sundance.  Sundance had a white father and a Cheyenne mother and lives in both worlds and neither.  As a hired gun, he funnels most of his money to Washington D.C. to help with Indian relations.  Overall a pretty interesting character.

But the novels never lack for action, as in this one Sundance is besieged on all sides, including by a band of owlhoots from a bandit town called "Hell, Yes!"

I got this one in a stack of Benteen books a friend sent me.  A recommended series for western fans.