Saturday, November 27, 2021

#59: The Green Wolf Connection by Nick Carter

Killmaster Nick Carter finds himself on loan to the CIA for a hit on a terrorist called The Green Wolf, but quickly finds himself the patsy in a larger scheme, in The Green Wolf Connection, an action-driven entry in the long-running spy series, this one penned by Dennis Lynds.

This is part of my casual re-read of a series I enjoyed as a teenager; this entry is from the mid-70s, right when I was reading them.  I don't know if I have ever read anything by Dennis Lynds--although he wrote under several other names--but I was a fan of his wife Gayle Lynds' spy novels (and she wrote some Nick Carter books, too).

I once read where someone said that there is so little continuity between Carter novels, written so quickly by a legion of paperback authors over such a long period of time, that it is better to treat each author's Nick Carter as its own character apart from the ones from other writers.  

I did find Dennis Lynds' Carter markedly different than some I've read; a bit more cynical and cerebral but just as quick to fight or have sex as any other iteration.

More so, Lynds writes good action, with big set pieces, making this entry a cut above the usual b-grade fare from the Killmaster novels.

I got this from a big lot of Nick Carter books somewhere and read it quickly.

Sunday, November 21, 2021

#58: The Resisters by Gish Jen

In a near-future dystopia, a couple give birth to a child with an unearthly pitching arm; as she grows, her family's struggles with a totalitarian government run by artificial intelligence expands as well--until she's needed for the Olympic baseball team.  

Gish Jen's The Resisters is a heady mix of David Halberstam and George Orwell, Big Brother by way of Sandy Koufax.

If there was ever a year I would read two dystopian baseball novels, I guess this was it (the other was The Body Scout). This one I found to be more literary-minded, closer to an early Margaret Atwood.  

Besides a few eccentric touches, the world-building is very close to believable, and probably my favorite part of the book.  But the baseball passages also reflect how the sport became known as the national past-time.

The Resisters is an offbeat read for really anyone who likes genre or mainstream fiction.  Recommended.

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

Thursday, November 11, 2021

#57: Who's Afraid? by Elisabeth Sanxay Holding

 A cheery young woman takes a job as a traveling salesperson, and almost immediately finds herself surrounded by menace, in Elisabeth Sanxay Holding's Who's Afraid?

Our protagonist is calling on housewives in a small town, but quickly finds the husband of one of them dead along a path, with herself in the law's sights.  She tries to keep up her spirits even while a pair of young men--whose motives she begins to question--both vie to help her.

Stark House Press seems to be trying singlehandedly to bring Holding's work back into the public eye (she wrote from the 20s-50s), and deservedly so; she is a sharp, darkly funny crime writer.

I was very shocked to find an Ace Double with this on one side and her Widow's Mite on the other out in the wild on a camping trip, as her books are hard to find outside of Stark House Press reprints.  Unfortunately, I dropped it and my dog promptly peed on it.  I bought the Stark House Kindle version to finish it up.  

Credit where credit is due, when I posted about this on social media, Stark House Press sent me two more Holding books for Kindle, a welcome surprise.

I read this one quickly and enjoyed it; recommended for those who have yet to discover Elisabeth Sanxay Holding.

Friday, November 5, 2021

#56: Slow Bear by Anthony Neil Smith

 A former cop on a North Dakota Indian reservation tries to follow his tarnished code of ethics, but his own phantoms keep getting in the way, in Anthony Neil Smith's relentlessly grim noir Slow Bear.

Smith is a tough-minded crime writer who sets his books in bleak midwestern settings.  This short, blistering novel seems to be the first of a series (or has a pretty nihilistic ending).  

In it, Micah "Slow Bear" Cross, wounded physically and emotionally, is at the dead end of a dead-end town but gets modest comfort from a bartender he befriends.  When misfortune befalls her, Cross sets out to tackle a crime boss, with fatalistic results.

I would think this blog's readers, seeing the adjectives I've used above, would understand that this is as black a chunk of noir as you come across in contemporary writing.  If not, fair warning.  

Enjoyable for crime fans who like their narratives as dark.

I bought this from Fahrenheit Press and read it quickly.

Thursday, November 4, 2021

#55: No One Goes Alone by Eric Larson

A family staying in a house on a remote island off the British coast disappears, and an intrepid group of paranormal investigators heads there to find out if anything spooky happened to them, in No One Goes Alone by Eric Larson.

Larson is known as a non-fiction writer--my favorite is The Devil in the White City--but he makes the jump to fiction in this outing, which takes place in the early 20th Century and features several historic figures.  

Perhaps more unusually, Larson decided this would only come out as an audiobook, as he stated ghost stories should be read aloud.

Larson's book feels as if it could have been written in that time period, and is overall more atmospheric than downright scary, but is an enjoyable listen with an unsettling denouement.

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

Wednesday, November 3, 2021

#54: The Foreign Girls by Sergio Olguin

An Argentinian investigative reporter goes on vacation, and meets two young women she decides to travel with; but one fateful night those women turn up dead, and the reporter won't quit until she knows what happened in Sergio Olguin's The Foreign Girls.

This is the second in Olguin's Veronica Rosenthal series, and carries over some of the threads from the first book, but is missing the previous story's unusual plot.

The first novel, The Fragility of Bodies, centered around a sinister gambling ring that bets on whether underprivileged kids can jump out of the way of a speeding train in time.  This one is more standard, as the two girls' deaths seem to be tied loosely to occult practices but more directly to a pair of affluent families who have literally gotten away with murder over the years.

The most interesting part, for North American readers, might be the casual and pervasive political corruption in Argentina that the reporter and her intrepid friends deal with, while trying to bring to justice people who normally don't have to be ruled by it.

Philosophical, but laden with sex and violence; compulsively readable, but a half-step from the first novel.  

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

Monday, November 1, 2021

#53: The Lonely Grave by Dave Waldo

Easygoing gun-hand Johnny Ross ends up the sheriff of a cowed town caught up in a range war in Dave Waldo's oater The Lonely Grave.

Waldo apparently wrote a number of novels about Ross, but this is the first one I've ever come across, finding it in the wild at a flea market.  

Waldo writes a steady, though unsurprising, western, helped considerably by a light first-person narrative style.  The laconic commentary adds value.  The gunfights come at a regular pace and a modest frontier romance blooms.

I liked Dave Waldo's writing style for a quick read and will look for more of his work.