Sunday, March 31, 2024

#19: Under the Storm by Christoffer Carlsson

A burning house is found to have a murdered woman inside, and the boyfriend is promptly convicted; but twenty years later, an ex cop--and the boyfriend's nephew--begin to realize there is more to the story in Christoffer Carlsson's Under the Storm.

In Carlsson's Blaze Me a Sun we learn that a cop's son had also become a cop, and then quit; this story nestles right into the narrative of the previous novel, but doesn't have to be read before to enjoy.

But this one feels very much like its predecessor, more about the repercussions of a crime on family and community than the crime itself.  Really strong characterization and writing lifts Carlsson above the standard Scandinavian noir.

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

Tuesday, March 26, 2024

#18: Bodies are Dust by PJ Woolfson

A crooked cop navigates a bad old town in PJ Woolfson's jet-black noir, Bodies are Dust.

This tough slab of noir has been rediscovered and re-released by Stark House Press, and it's a real find.  Woolfson is the equal to any number of better-known compatriots, with a conclusion as bleak a shot of karma you'll find.

At some point this novel had been released under the alternate title Hell Cop and that title may give the reader a better idea of what they may be in for.  Recommended.

I bought this from Stark House Press and read it quickly.

Saturday, March 23, 2024

#17: Room Service by Alan Williams

An affluent but cuckolded husband decides to get revenge by picking up a prostitute, only for it to have deadly consequences, in Alan Williams' Room Service.

This lost noir from the 1930s, with its drunks, prostitutes, and back-alley abortionists, is as brutally frank as any contemporary novel.  

This previously out of print book and its forgotten novelist has been brought back by Stark House Press, and that's a good thing, as I would rank Room Service in the same category as the best of Jim Thompson and Cornell Woolrich.

Absolutely propulsive storytelling capped with an inky-black denouement means I almost consumed this in one setting on a camping trip.  Recommended for fans of dark noir.

Friday, March 22, 2024

#16: Hellgate by William Colt MacDonald

Railroad detective Gregory Quist hunts rail bandits who leave a string of corpses in their wake in William Colt MacDonald's Hellgate.

MacDonald wrote a handful of novels about Quist and a lot more about "The Three Mesquiteers," which were turned into a popular western series.

This is an above-average western that leans more into the mystery--why several cases of strawberry preserves are the only thing stolen from the train--and less on the frontier aspects.  Quist is also a somewhat unusual protagonist, liking warm beer and harboring a hot temper.

I enjoyed this book by MacDonald and would definitely add him to my list to look for.  This one I found for goodbye prices on my beloved Kindle.

Thursday, March 14, 2024

#15: Central Station by Lavie Tidhar

A space port in Tel Aviv provides the backdrop to a myriad group of characters, including a seller of ancient pulp paperbacks, a robot who performs marriages and circumcisions, a data vampire, and a vat-grown boy with strange powers, in Lavie Tidhar's Central Station.

Tidhar has done a lot of cool world-building in this one, which seems to be stitched together from a number of rewritten short stories.  I would guess that would account for the large cast of characters and disparate storylines that weave in and out.  But I was hooked on the ideas from the jump and enjoyed following along.

This is the second novel I've read from Tidhar lately and find that his ideas fit right into my kind of reading.  Recommended for sci-fi fans.

Friday, March 8, 2024

#14: Meet Me in Moredo by Marshall Grover

Big Jim Rand is hunting his brother's killer, but gets distracted rescuing a woman from an arranged marriage, in Marshall Grover's Meet Me in Moredo.

Big Jim is a tough former Calvary officer, and the storytelling is pretty straightforward, with mild nods to comic relief from his sidekick and some lightly sketched romance.

Marshall Grover wrote the Big Jim series, the Larry and Streak series, and quite a few others under a handful of names.  But even though he was churning fast, I've always thought his stories are a notch above the usual fare.

I got this one for my beloved Kindle and read it quickly.

Wednesday, March 6, 2024

#13: Waste Tide by Chen Quifan

In a bleak near future, a giant e-waste recycling area called Silicon Isle edges towards destruction brought on by class warfare and an incoming typhoon in Chen Quifan's Waste Tide, translated from Chinese.

The catalyst is a "waste person" called Mimi who is inadvertently exposed to a virus from a discarded prosthetic.  The virus enhances her brain to the point she can control digital networks (as well as, alarmingly, a discarded 9-foot-tall mecha).  How this tips the balance between the island's bosses and the indentured waste people is at the crux of the story.

This was an interesting sci-fi story written from a perspective I'm not exposed to often.  Worthwhile for high tech science fiction fans.

I got this for my beloved Kindle and read it steadily.

Friday, March 1, 2024

#12: The Girl by the Bridge by Arnaldur Indridason

A retired police detective, at the behest of a family friend, looks into a troubled young woman's death in Arnaldur Indridason's The Girl by the Bridge.

This is the third in Indridason's newer series featuring Konrad, and it weaves in threads from his continued search to solve his father's murder as well as look into the fate of a little girl who supposedly drowned in a local pond.  Both cases involve the community of psychics and mediums in Iceland, an interesting twist.

Indridason is one of my favorite crime writers, Scandinavian or otherwise, so I always appreciate when a new novel of his appears in translation.  Although this novel isn't a good jumping off point for new readers I'll always recommend his new work.

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