Shadowbahn by Steve Erickson

Years ago, many, many years ago, I heard a bit from a Stan Freberg radio show about why radio was better than television.  The bit featured a lot of impossible things, done through the magic of story telling and sound effects, that ended with something like a bunch of helicopters dropping a giant sponge on Lake Michigan sucking up all the water. The point being, … Continue reading Shadowbahn by Steve Erickson

Mississippi Noir is for Lovers

This is now my favorite volume of the many, many Akashic Noir series. It’s a high quality collection without a dud in the bunch. A few things struck me. Three that I’ll talk about here. First, I was surprised to find so little crime in Mississippi Noir, edited by Tom Franklin.  Does an actual crime have to take place for a story to be considered … Continue reading Mississippi Noir is for Lovers

The Ballad of Black Tom by Victor Lavalle

The Ballad of Black Tom by Victor Lavalle is a good time. If I say that it’s just a good read, does that do it a disservice? Do you think I mean to say that it’s not really a great book with something to say? Is calling a book simply a good read marking it down a bit in your estimation? In mine? I don’t mean … Continue reading The Ballad of Black Tom by Victor Lavalle

My New Favorite Book: Fat City by Leonard Gardner

Add Fat City by Leonard Gardner to the list of great anti-California novels. That’s a new sub-genre I’m creating.  The anti-California novel looks at the great California dream’s underbelly.  What happened to all those people who came to California and didn’t strike it rich, but stayed here anyway? Think Nathenial West’s The Day of the Locust, Charles Bukowski’s Ham and Rye, John Fante’s  Ask the Dust.  There’s a rich body of … Continue reading My New Favorite Book: Fat City by Leonard Gardner

The Art of Losing by Rebecca Connell

First of all, isn’t this a beautiful cover?    Last fall, when I saw a table full of Europa editions at Mrs. Dalloway’s Bookstore in Oakland, I thought how great it would be to collect books with beautiful covers.  I recognized a few of the Europa editions as books I’d read and enjoyed, and there were several others on the table that I hadn’t read … Continue reading The Art of Losing by Rebecca Connell

Bunny Lake is Missing by Evelyn Piper

You go to pick your three-year-old daughter up from her first day of pre-school.  You wait with all of the other mothers, none of whom you know since you are new in town and on your own, as they watch their children come down the stairway.  You wait.  And wait.  But your daughter does not appear. You look for her, for her teacher, but you … Continue reading Bunny Lake is Missing by Evelyn Piper

Acts of Passion by Georges Simenon

From the very first page, we know who the killer is; we know that he’ll be captured, found guilty and sentenced to prison; but we don’t know who his victim is. Georges Simenon’s novel Acts of Passion takes the form of a long letter, written by a killer to the judge who sentenced him.  The killer wants to explain why he did what he did; … Continue reading Acts of Passion by Georges Simenon

My New Favorite Book: Eve Out of Her Ruins by Ananda Devi

This book is perfect for your reading challenge.  Back in the day, when book blogs were still young, there were all sorts of reading challenges going around that this book would have been perfect for. Translated from the French by Jeffrey Zuckerman, Eve Out of Her Ruins is set in the author’s home of Mauritius, an island nation east of Madagascar. Perfect for your Read Around the … Continue reading My New Favorite Book: Eve Out of Her Ruins by Ananda Devi

My New Favorite Book: The Midnight Choir by Gene Kerrigan

I did not expect The Midnight Choir to end up being my new favorite book.  It’s a very well written crime novel.  Entertaining. Strong characters.  Interesting plot. Borderline pager turner. But it wasn’t until towards the end when everything came together in a single shocking revelation that both linked and undermined all of the books multiple plot lines that The Midnight Choir became my new favorite book. … Continue reading My New Favorite Book: The Midnight Choir by Gene Kerrigan

Sunday Ramble and Two Books I Didn’t Like. Sorry.

Visited the local Friends of the Library book sale yesterday, in the rain, where C.J. and I managed to spend much more than we intended.  He got several art books and a couple of books full of house plans while I nearly completed my Jane Austen collection. Can you name the book I still have to find. I’ve decided it’s a good time to re-read all … Continue reading Sunday Ramble and Two Books I Didn’t Like. Sorry.

The Devil’s Disciple by Shiro Hamao

Two very entertaining thriller/mysteries by an author you’ve probably never heard of translated here by J. Keith Vincent. Both stories, “The Devil’s Disciple” and the novella length “Did He Kill Them” are really psychological studies as much as noir detective thrillers. In both, the “killer” has already been caught so there’s not that much of investigating to be done.  However, in each the confession is … Continue reading The Devil’s Disciple by Shiro Hamao

The Game of Thirty by William Kotzwinkle

William Kotzwinkle is funny.  His wonderful novel, The Midnight Examiner, is one of the funniest books, certainly the funniest detective novel I’ve read.  Why he doesn’t have a wider audience is beyond me. Mr. Kotzwinkle doesn’t break new ground in his mystery novels: he’s not a pioneer of anything in particular.  What he does is springboard off of accepted tropes of the genre, things seen … Continue reading The Game of Thirty by William Kotzwinkle