Saturday, November 28, 2020

#59: Southern Showdown by Louis Masterson

 Lawman Morgan Kane walks away from the badge and becomes a hired gun, but soon suspects he signed on to the wrong side of an oil dispute, in Louis Masterson's Southern Showdown.

Masterson was Norwegian writer Kjell Hallbing, and his Morgan Kane series numbered close to a hundred volumes and was immensely popular.  Holding the storytelling threads together through various books, and showing the character grow and change, seem to be two hallmarks that readers enjoy.

But my sampling size is two, as only some have been translated into English, and are extremely hard to find in the wild.  If I see one on eBay for less than ten dollars, I snatch it up, which is where I found this one.

Southern Showdown is definitely spaghetti-flavored, full of sex and bloodshed, with an above-average story.  Masterson is worth seeking out for western fans looking for a series they might not have known about.

Friday, November 13, 2020

#58: These Women by Ivy Pochoda

 A serial killer is dispatching women on the bad streets of LA, and it's up to a disparate group of struggling women to sort out the truth in Ivy Pochoda's These Women.

Pochoda's writing is downbeat and clear-eyed, and the characterizations are vivid.  Chapters alternate between a haunted mother whose daughter died 15 years before, a hard-living stripper, a demoted police detective with PTSD, an artist with a myriad of repressed emotions, her equally repressed mother, and the killer's lone survivor whose voice goes unheard through the years.

The identity of the serial killer unspools rather readily but the storytelling is striking throughout, as the dominoes begin to tip over--who was a babysitter, who was a neighbor or a friend, until the plot threads right together to a tight finale involving everyone.

A compelling crime novel with a literary bent that I read at a rocket pace and found rewarding throughout.

I checked this out from the New Castle-Henry County Public Library bookmobile.

Sunday, November 8, 2020

#57: The Aosawa Murders by Riku Onda

 A mass poisoning at a family gathering in the 1970s, where only an enigmatic blind child survives, resonates through the decades in Riku Onda's The Aosawa Murders.

The plot sounds straightforward but the storytelling is unique, with each chapter telling the story from different perspectives, including characters with major roles such as a neighbor child who later writes a bestseller about the murders and an origami-loving detective down to people who only were involved peripherally, such as the neighbor of the suspected killer, the author's research assistant, and the children of various characters like the family housekeeper.  

Newspaper articles, interviews, and segments from the bestselling novel-within-a-novel also play an unusual role.

This is a strangely elliptical crime novel that had me guessing right to the very end, and even then I wasn't sure what had happened.  

Really a fascinating and offbeat read from a popular Japanese writer.  This is her first novel translated into English, via Bitter Lemon Press.  I hope more of her work is translated.  Recommended.

I got this for my birthday and read it steadily.