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.