Wednesday, December 30, 2020

#66: Sidewinder by Jack Slade

Gun-hand Lassiter travels to Mexico to collect on an IOU, and ends up embroiled in local corruption and national politics, in Sidewinder, an entry in the long-running series by "Jack Slade."

Jack Slade was a lot of different people, in this case Frank Castle, considered one of the second-tier scribes of the series.  

But I liked this overheated, spaghetti-flavored western, written in a baroque style but never lacking in action.  

This one opens with Lassiter digging his own grave, but he quickly escapes only to be jailed a few more times in between killing owlhoots and bedding women.  

With a whole Mexican town against him, he hides away dynamite and weapons all over town, and needs them all in fast-paced finale.

I got this western in a Christmas swap in a paperback collecting Facebook group I belong to, and read it quickly on a camping trip.

Thursday, December 24, 2020

#65: Hangman's Territory by Jack M Bickham

 A gunhand comes to a Montana town to help settle a range war and goes against a hanging judge, a creepy hangman, and a murderous sheriff in Jack M. Bickham's Hangman's Territory.

The gunhand ends up teaming up with a greenhorn lawyer and a colorful, dynamite-happy friend for a tough battle and an action-packed finale.

Bickham wrote a lot of novels across genres, and perhaps is best known for The Apple Dumpling Gang and his Wildcat O'Shea stories.  It seems clearly that the eccentric character "Boom Boom" is an early incarnation of Wildcat, who is a somewhat comic figure with an appetite for explosives as well.

This was once half of an Ace Double but has been reprinted on its own several times.  One of the later versions came to me in a holiday book swap from a paperback collecting group I belong to on Facebook.

I read this one very quickly and would recommend for western fans.

Sunday, December 20, 2020

#64: Your House Will Pay by Steph Cha

In 1990s Los Angeles, race relations are simmering when a Korean shop owner shoots an unarmed Black teenager; nearly 30 years later, the two families are threaded back together by another crime in Steph Cha's Your House Will Pay.

Cha's novel has elements of the crime genre, but is even more successful when it looks at the lives of the two families; in the Korean family, secrets around the shooting have caused estrangement, and in the other family, mourning has taken both positive and negative forms, from activism to violence.

And readers quickly learn that racial tensions haven't stopped simmering in Los Angeles since, although Cha tries to end on a somewhat positive note.

Your House Will Pay is a worthwhile novel for both genre and literary readers.

I checked this out from the New Castle-Henry County Bookmobile and read it quickly.

Sunday, December 13, 2020

#63: Winter Counts by David Heska Wanbli Weiden

 A man who is part private eye/part enforcer on a South Dakota Indian reservation goes on a personal quest when drug dealers involve his young nephew in David Heska Wanbli Widen's debut crime novel Winter Counts.

Complicating matters further is the arrival of an old flame, which also embroils him in tribal politics.  Both stories intersect in an explosive, violent denouement.

The crime elements of the book pretty much go where you expect, but the settings and characters are noteworthy.  The reservation and its denizens provide a fresh look at the genre.

Our tarnished protagonist tried to ignore the old ways in favor of stark contemporary reality, but the old ways keep guiding him, whether he wants them to or not.

I enjoyed Winter Counts throughout and would recommend it to readers who enjoy contemporary crime fiction but would like a more unique character and setting.

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

Sunday, December 6, 2020

#62: The Law of Innocence by Michael Connelly

 "Lincoln Lawyer" Mickey Haller gets the most personal case of his career when a routine traffic stop finds the body of a former client in the trunk in Michael Connelly's The Law of Innocence.

Haller ends up defending himself as the prime murder suspect.  But he has to try to unravel the conspiracy against him from a jail cell, where he is under constant threat from inmates and prison guards alike.

Connelly is probably best known for his notable, long-running Harry Bosch series, but Bosch's half-brother has starred in a couple of his own books (and one movie).

This one is one of my favorites in that series, as it starts on a rocket in the first pages and never lets up.  More of a courtroom drama than Connelly's other books, but still written in the no-nonsense style I have always enjoyed from the author.

Recommended for fans.  I checked this out from the New Castle-Henry County Public Library Bookmobile and read it very quickly.

Saturday, December 5, 2020

#61: Harrow the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir

Immediately following the events of Gideon the Ninth, a necromancer joins the Emperor and his inner circle in a bid to destroy an invading army of monsters, all while trying to navigate internal politics, in Tamsyn Muir's sequel to one of my favorite books from last year, Harrow the Ninth.

However, I flat didn't know what to make of this book.  The first one hundred pages (of approximately five hundred) are basically Harrowhawk getting over the shocking finale of the previous book.  Subsequently, she has flashbacks to the events of that novel, which actually don't match the earlier storyline.  

It becomes so dense and unwieldy that I kept going back to Wikipedia and the internet to refresh my memory on who the characters were and what was going on.

When all is revealed, it is a genuine surprise, and the story rockets along for the last one hundred pages or so (and ends basically on a cliffhanger for the wrap-up of the trilogy).

I ended up really enjoying this book but can't recommend it on its own merits; at this point, I feel it is best for new readers to wait for the trilogy to complete, and then read them all straight through.  I love Muir's writing style, and  Harrow the Ninth is a highly memorable science fiction romp, but just doesn't really stand on its own merits.

But if you have already read the first one, refresh your memory and then dive right in.

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

Wednesday, December 2, 2020

#60: Tall Man Riding by Peter McCurtin

 Gun-hand Carmody decides, at the spur of the moment, to rob a small bank, only to cross a gang who also wanted to rob it; when they beat him mercilessly in the middle of the street, he won't rest until the whole gang is dead in Peter McCurtin's Tall Man Riding.

McCurtin was an extremely prolific writer and editor across many genres; Carmody was a western series character that appeared in a number of volumes.  

To say Carmody is an anti-hero is putting it mildly; he kills men and beds women without much of a thought for either throughout.  To that end, it would be most polite to say that the book is a product of its time, with race relations and gender relations not portrayed in a contemporary vein.

But McCurtin is just a cracking good paperback writer, and I've found his books to be enjoyable for discriminating readers.

I got this in a batch of mixed western paperbacks from a friend and read it quickly.