Thursday, June 30, 2022

#21: Gus Van Sant: The Art of Making Movies by Katya Tylevich

Besides writing this book review blog I also write screenplays, and when I need a little creative juice look for moviemaking books; in this case one about the highly interesting career of Gus Van Sant, by Katya Tylevich.

I have always been a fan of Van Sant, but learned a lot more about his style in this work, told largely in a series of interviews conducted by Tylevich.  I was intrigued to learn that he picked different projects because he wanted to experiment with various styles of filmmaking.  He also had more of an art background, that reflected heavily in his work (as seen in his photography throughout).

I really enjoyed reading about Van Sant's filmmaking thoughts and ideas and realized I have some catching up to do on his filmography.

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

Wednesday, June 29, 2022

#20: Strange Shores by Arnaldur Indridason

A Reykjavik cop has been haunted by the loss of his younger brother in a blizzard long ago, and in his spare time he has roamed the rural area where he grew up; but when he hears about a woman who went missing during a similar storm in the 40s, he decides to investigate on his own in Arnaludur Indridason's Strange Shores.

He gently pokes at a very cold case that nobody seems to care much about now, and talks to a lot of eccentric elderly people; but what seems like a rather mild outing, with the past far removed, comes into grisly focus.

Starting with Jar City, I think Indridason's Erlendur novels are one of the great Scandinavian noir series; but this one gets as inky-black as they come, with a very downbeat ending that seems to spell the end of his adventures.

But Indridason is not done writing, and has already penned a few historical novels and crime stories featuring some of Erlendur's supporting cast.

A great series, but start at the beginning and enjoy.

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

Tuesday, June 28, 2022

#19: The Ville Rat by Martin Limon

In 1970s Korea, in a nation still recovering from the wounds of the recent war, two American military cops team up with their Korean counterpart to figure out who killed a woman found outside an army base in Martin Limon's The Ville Rat.

Limon has written a respectable and long-running series about his two protagonists, one sardonic and rule-breaking and one more introspective and mindful of Korean culture, in a highly unique setting for a police procedural.

These cops remind me of Chester B. Himes' memorable pair Coffin Ed Johnson and Gravedigger Jones; they both pack .45s and tool around in a souped-up jeep and get done whatever needs to be done, within military structure or without.

Limon himself was in the military in Korea in the 70s, and it shows.  A cool, offbeat series for crime readers looking for something different.

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

Wednesday, June 15, 2022

#18: Devil House by John Darnielle

A true crime writer decides to move into a house where a "Satanic Panic" killing happened years before, and explores his own past while unspooling the case in John Darnielle's Devil House.

I thought Darnielle's first book, Wolf in White Van, was really notable, and his second American Harvester readable but ultimately unsatisfying; unfortunately for me Devil House leaned towards the second.

Darnielle is a good writer, and a pair of killings is spookily set forth, but I felt the ending was a bit of a cheat; or to be more generous to Darnielle, he might have been going for something I didn't quite grasp.

Ultimately I would say well-drawn characters and unsettling situations, but a hairpin plot twist at the end left me flat.  

I still will look for his next novel, and always find him interesting.

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

Friday, June 10, 2022

#17: Duty or Desire by Brenda Jackson

 A Colorado sheriff takes in his niece upon the death of her parents, but a beautiful nanny throws an additional wrinkle into the mix, in Brenda Jackson's Duty or Desire.

Jackson is a popular African-American romance writer whose "Westmoreland Saga" features an extended family of lawmen, ranchers, cowboys, Navy SEALS, and sometimes a combination of one or more of these.  They are typically avowed bachelors who fall in love with a Harvard PhD, a prominent magazine editor, or a Hollywood star (just to mention some of the characters from other novels who appear here).

The romance aspect is never in doubt, but the setting is faintly sketched in (the nanny has a father who is a "business tycoon", but what his business is never gets mentioned) and the tension is mild (the top cop in Denver's most serious case is finding out who is trying to spook an old lady into selling her house).

But that's not what these novels are read for, and Jackson is a top writer in her field.  

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