Holy moses, I just knew I was being set up in the last volume. I knew it!!! My momma didn't r...more
Holy moses, I just knew I was being set up in the last volume. I knew it!!! My momma didn't raise no fools.
But that hurt. A lot. You'd think I'd be so numb by now that nothing would really get past my defenses anymore but apparently I can still be shivved, right in the back and fall to my knees screaming. (view spoiler)[Watching Glen go out like that was brutal. It really tore me up. (hide spoiler)]
This new baddie Negan is a real piece of psychotic work. He makes the Governor look like a misunderstood, tree-hugging hippie who just wishes the kids these days would stay off his damn lawn.
Where can the story possibly go from here? (view spoiler)[Watching Rick break was tough. I know he's told the community they're rolling over...for now, but he's obviously got something else planned. That last panel when he sends Jesus to follow the baddie back to Negan's camp to spy and gather intelligence tells us that. Living as slaves is no option. Something has to be done, and you can bet it's going to involve A LOT more bloodshed. Even if Rick's group triumphs against all odds over these animals, what would they have really won? Won't there always be another Governor or Negan around the corner? Wiping the zombies off the planet is an easier task I figure than neutralizing all the psychos. (hide spoiler)]
I haven't been patiently consuming this series episode by episode, volume by volume over the course of years. I gobbled down all 96 issues essentially...more I haven't been patiently consuming this series episode by episode, volume by volume over the course of years. I gobbled down all 96 issues essentially back-to-back thanks to the Compendiums (which weigh a ton each and are a bitch to maneuver let me tell you).
This volume -- A Larger World -- is where Compendium 2 leaves off, a bit of a cliff-hanger you might say. I decided to re-read it in preparation of getting to Vol. 17: Something to Fear. I'm all caught up now, and forced to get my dose of Walking Dead shenanigans doled out piecemeal like the rest of you suckers. But maybe that's a good thing, because too much of this world at any one time can really mess with your head.
I get the feeling Kirkman is setting us up to really put the hurt on this time. Hasn't he already? Hells yeah, but something tells me he's just getting started and that makes me both weary and wary. Everything in this issue is glossy with optimism:
(view spoiler)[ the new guy Paul Monroe (a.k.a Jesus) turns out not to be a Charles Manson-esque kook. He's got a normal, functioning community behind him with almost 200 members called Hilltop. They are farming and thriving. What's not to appreciate? Rick goes through his usual "I can't trust you get the fuck out of my face or I'll bite it off" routine, but eventually learns to relax (even after he's forced to kill one of their people in self-defense -- it really was self-defense this time). Glenn is smitten with the community, and Rick is forced to admit it's time to start living again, rather than merely surviving. In the Hilltop he sees that as not just a possibility but a reality, a reachable goal. (hide spoiler)]
BUT... cause there's always a but right? There's a new baddy in the neighborhood -- Negan. After what we've been through with the Governor, the idea of upping the ante some more makes me very uneasy. Rick can talk all he wants about building a new life with meaning and getting back to raising their children, but I can't imagine he's going to get his people to the promised land any time soon, if at all. I've called this story bleak and nihilistic before and I still stand by that. Kirkman wants to show us the very worst of humanity it seems, and I don't think he's finished doing that yet. And that makes me very afraid. Very afraid indeed. (less)
Well, you wonder why I always dress in black, Why you never see bright colors on my back, And why does my appearance seem to have a somber tone. Well, there's a reason for the things that I have on. "The Man In Black", Johnny Cash
Marvel's ambitious undertaking to adapt King's magnum opus has been hit or miss for me. The first five volumes (essentially a re-telling of Book IV - Wizard and Glass) did not work for me, most likely because Wizard and Glass is my least favorite of the series. While I eventually grew to appreciate the story for what it is, young Roland will never beat out long, tall and ugly Roland. So I actually skipped over Volumes 3-5 and didn't pick up the graphic novel series again until Volume 6 The Journey Begins.
I was so relieved and super-psyched to resume the story as it's finally reached The Gunslinger. Roland’s young battles are behind him, all has been lost, and he is now on the road to the Dark Tower as a solitary traveler, embittered, battle-weary, with no tears left to shed. This is the Roland I adore. This is who I want to read about and see captured in the panels of graphic novel.
In the previous volume, Roland finally meets up with Jake, and I loved how the Way Station encounter is handled. This volume focuses on the slow mutants attack and ends with Roland's palaver with the Man in Black himself.
I did not hate this volume by any stretch, but the series is now venturing into sacred territory and I didn't cotton to several of the storyline alterations. Not to mention, most of the art was just...not good. Inconsistent shall we say. I didn't like how in some panels Jake and Roland are very chiseled and there while in other panels they're barely there at all, kind of just shadowy impressions, blurry lines and all.
While I wanted to love the prolonged and "extra" interactions between Jake and Roland, something seemed not quite right about how they were speaking to each other. I can't put my finger on it really. But my gut just wouldn't leave it alone. And the climatic "go then, there are other worlds than these" scene fell flat for me. I didn't feel the punch or the emotionality I should have.
The last section capturing Roland's fireside conversation with The Man In Black is well executed. It strays little, if at all, from the original source material, a lot of the text lifted right from King's novel. Still, there are gaps even in this pivotal scene that I wish weren't there.
It's probably a mistake to read these graphic novels and judge them against King's books. Different format and all that, but I can't help it. And while I'm desperate for more Dark Tower, I'm probably much better off to just go and read the novels again rather than trying to find solace and satisfaction in the colored panels of a comic. A re-read is definitely on the table, but I will stick it out with the graphic novels too. When and where they've worked, I've been extremely pleased. (less)
Meh. It was okay. But for a trilogy that began so strongly, and appeared to pick up momentum in book 2, I found this final installment to be a tepid a...more Meh. It was okay. But for a trilogy that began so strongly, and appeared to pick up momentum in book 2, I found this final installment to be a tepid affair. From the very beginning this series tantalized me with mentions of Black Wings and sinister, dangerous things. It never quite lived up to that promise for me. There is simply waaaay too much emphasis on the romantic elements to suit my tastes. These books were obviously not written to please me.
The pacing for this one just felt "off" as well, really uneven. The ending feels rushed, and important developments are over too quickly. (view spoiler)[Hell was a few pages. Getting in and getting out should have been a much bigger part of the novel (hide spoiler)].
And *enough* with the love triangles already!! Jeesh. (view spoiler)[Killing Tucker pissed me off (it felt like cheating to suck as much angst out of the plot as possible). This worked in book 2 when Clara's mom dies, but to use this device again felt overly manipulative. Then to *bring him back* from the dead just felt too *deus ex machina*. Oh, it's okay. Haha. Fooled you! He's not really dead! You didn't think I'd kill him for *real* did you? Silly girl.(hide spoiler)]
And now I do feel like a silly girl for having stuck with this series for so long.
I'm going to go read about zombies and the end of the world.
Huh. Well, that was...interesting. Overall, I can say I enjoyed it. But two things chipped away at the star rating: 1) not enough creee-py (though a f...more Huh. Well, that was...interesting. Overall, I can say I enjoyed it. But two things chipped away at the star rating: 1) not enough creee-py (though a few scenes work incredibly well) and 2) waaaaay too much solving of codes and clues and shop-talk about genetics and DNA (oh, and these biological aspects are much more strap on your suspension of disbelief fantastical than this guy's done his research science fiction with the emphasis on science).
There's some crazy ass theories going on in these pages and if you don't commit to just sit back and enjoy the ride you will not. This is j-horror, not a medical thriller nor Isaac Asimov. Reality bends, and bends some more. Just go with it.
For fans familiar with the Ring movies, this is a pretty wild *evolution* of the original premise and curse. It seems overly ambitious to me at this point, without the "meat" to sustain it in a satisfying, credible way. But I'm willing to give Suzuki a chance and see what he can pull off in the final installment of the trilogy - Loop.
One more thing: (view spoiler)[is the identity of the young woman coming out of Mai's apartment supposed to be a "big reveal" moment towards the end of the novel? I assumed immediately this is vengeful Sadako in the flesh. And it also seemed fairly obvious to me that the only way she could be walking and talking is if she's the "thing" Mai gave birth to (because we know Mai gives birth to something). When Ando receives the fax and figures out the woman he's been shtupping is in fact Sadako, his terror and bewilderment is way out of proportion to the reader's. I felt like saying, "d'uh man, pay attention." (hide spoiler)]
Scudder is three years sober when we run into him again in Book 7, Out on the Cutting Edge. He's faithfully attending meetings, and even leading a few...more Scudder is three years sober when we run into him again in Book 7, Out on the Cutting Edge. He's faithfully attending meetings, and even leading a few when the mood strikes him. He's also still living in his spare hotel room lodgings and with a lot more time on his hands now that he's quit the bar scene and sipping bourbon coffee by the quart. While the vapor fumes of booze no longer waft from his person, there is yet an elemental quality of loneliness that continues to seep from the pores of our favorite New Yorker.
No wonder then that he should take up the case of a missing young woman at the behest of her distraught parents, and that he should find himself taking a much closer look into the sudden death of fellow AA member Eddie. Eddie is a man who dies with dark secrets on his lips, and Scudder's spidey senses are urging him to uncover those secrets no matter what the cost.
The thing I love most about the Scudder books is that they are such fine pieces of place -- Scudder's New York is just as much a character as Scudder himself. We've hit the late 80's where rents are sky-rocketing in the Big Apple and rent control is a landlord's sworn enemy. I find the details Block is able to pepper his books with always fascinating. He drops them into the story like a pro, as they work seamlessly side-by-side with the unfolding mystery. Like when Scudder interviews an actor who, with bitter amusement, comments on all the young men sick with AIDS:
We're all whirling merrily through the void on a dying planet, and gay people are just doing their usual number, being shamelessly trendy as always. Right out in front on the cutting edge of death.
It's a heart-breaking sentiment, and in an instant we are thrown back in time living and breathing the gritty reality of Scudder's city. It's not misty-eyed nostalgia, or even vintage. It's authentic, it's time travel.
This Scudder installment is also noteworthy because it's where we first encounter Mick Ballou, a.k.a The Butcher Boy. Ballou is a giant man with big hands and a bloodstained apron. Rumors abound about his violent prowess, and include toting around a head in a bowling ball bag and beating a man to death with a baseball bat. Despite Ballou's possible homicidal tendencies, he and Scudder hit it off and talk to each other in a way usually reserved only for the confessional or perhaps the man pouring your whiskey. Inexplicably, there is an instant kinship and unbeknownst to either man, Ballou is the key to solving the mystery of not only the missing girl, but Eddie's untimely death. This is a *great* character, and I can't wait to get more of him in the future.
The first time I killed someone I wasn't paid for it. Like many other kids I drifted into my career by accident, because it was the first industry to offer me money, because, with my record, nowhere else would have offered me any. ~Something You Are, Hanna Jameson
Meet Nic Caruana. Actually, you better hope you never meet Nic Caruana because if you do it likely means you are in for a world a hurt: perhaps some disfigurement...creative mutilation...and only if you're really lucky, a quick death.
Nic is your average English bloke just trying to make a living on the mean streets of London's underbelly. He's not a psychopath, but he is a murderer for hire. He's done some very bad things that he doesn't really feel all that bad about. He can be brutal, detached, ruthless. But he remains human and interesting and sympathetic. He is estranged from his normal, suburban parents, his junkie sister, and a war hero brother flying helicopters in Afghanistan.
Nic was a good kid until something very bad happened to him. Now he isn't good any more.
To all my crime loving GR friends out there, this is a fresh new voice in the genre to make your toes curl. It's noir that's black as night, with pages that bleed violence so in your face you can hear the bones cracking. The dialogue is sharp as razor blades, not only moving the plot forward at an adrenalized rush, but constructing flesh and blood characters right out of the ether one word at a time.
And are you ready for this? In a genre that's predominantly male territory, Something You Are was written by a slip of a girl who drafted Nic's story when she was just 17 years old. Now she's an old maid at 23, but she's got at least two more London Underground books drafted and I can only hope we see them sooner rather than later.
I will warn off more sensitive readers: this book features a lot of graphic violence and is set firmly in London's unforgiving, unsentimental crime scene of amoral people breaking all kinds of laws along with a shitload of bones. But goddammit, it's pretty damn fine storytelling. A punch to the kidneys, an uppercut to the chin, and I think I'll have an Irish whiskey and a fag now, thanks very much. (less)
"I can't be an angel. I'm a librarian. That's absurd."
"You? One of heaven's brutes. Unthinking drones, that's all you ever were, and all you'll ever be. A coward who didn't even have the courage to stand with us and Fall. Now look at you! Neutered. A little puppy dog waiting for its master to throw it a scrap."
I came across this one quite by accident poking around looking for something else. Anything with blood and feathers in the title is going to get my attention. Not because I have anything against birds, mind you; this has much more to do with my on-going fascination with bad-ass angels and when they get to warring with each other in a most epic way and humans are caught in the crossfire.
I could blame all the Catholic catechisms I was forced to endure as a restless child who would have much rather been reading Stephen King, but no. Quite simply, if you extract all of the awesome potential of these creatures away from the sticky, rigid confines of religious canon, what you end up with is a tremendous mythology to fuel a thousand stories and then some. Vampires? Werewolves? Fairies? Shapeshifters? Piss on that. Give me glorious, prideful, warring Angels and their Fallen Brethren any day of the week (and twice on Wednesdays when the CW's Supernatural airs).
This isn't one of the best angel/demon books I've read, but I did enjoy parts of it very much. Lou Morgan has set up her "world" and the rules that govern it quite nicely. I liked her application of angel lore. Figuring out the differences between Earthbounds, Fallen, and Descendeds kept me interested for the first half, and her vision of Hell and its frigid, demented landscape kept me turning the pages for the second half.
Where this one is lacking for me is with character and dialogue. If you're going to introduce Archangels and Lucifer, you better give them some awesome things to say. They shouldn't speak (or act) like anybody else. Just about everything that pours out of their mouths should raise the hairs on the back of your neck. There was a little touch of that, but not nearly enough for my liking. For comic relief, Vin is adorable, but I've seen his character done many times before, and done better. Alice and Mallory should have more chemistry. In fact, for all the main characters I kept expecting to feel more. Even when Alice descends into Hell itself I didn't feel worried or afraid ... just curious, as in ... this should be interesting.
The series shows promise however, and I'll probably seek out the next book. Blood and Feathers is very cinematic and plot-driven. I can see it making a decent movie.
This series is flipping fantastic! I feel like it's been written just for me. It has everything in it that I love right now and want to be re...more4.5 stars
This series is flipping fantastic! I feel like it's been written just for me. It has everything in it that I love right now and want to be reading to escape from life and have a helluva good time. I blew right through this one in a day and a half, not realizing there won't be another Sam Thornton adventure until Summer(?) 2013. Boo. But these are well-crafted, crazy mash-up fantastical noir crime novels that need time to grow. I get it. You take all the time you need Mr. Holm, just keep them coming!
This time around we learn a lot more about Sam's life as a Collector of doomed souls, the rules involved and the wicked dangers. The world-building here is so fine. I could eat it up with a spoon. Lilith (yes, that Lilith) is becoming more of a character and I love her. Femme-fatale indeed. One of the addicting things about this series is that the stakes are always so astronomically, apocalyptically high. I can't get enough of the scenarios. I am totally buying what Holm is peddling. Listen to me, I'm raving like a fangirl. Is what I'm writing even making sense?
No matter. Look, this series isn't going to be for everyone. But it just might be for you. If you like crime stories with a noir bent, if you like road movies and buddy pictures, if you enjoy a well-meaning sarcastic narrator with a past who is as funny and clumsy as he is smart and tough then you just might love this. If the fantastical elements of angels, demons, heaven, hell and the Inter-World intrigue you, then I know you will love this. Give it a chance, you really have nothing to lose. But start with Book 1, Dead Harvest.
(view spoiler)[I have to add a few spoilers here that will help refresh my memory when Book 3 comes out. First of all, LOVE the concept of soul skimming. Demons jonesing to get just a small taste of human memories and experience life in God's grace. LOVE the concept that splitting a soul apart is the equivalent of splitting the atom -- bad, cataclysmic shit will happen. Earthquakes, floods, the end of times. Depends on how completely a soul is damaged. LOVE the concept of Collectors being 'shelved' - put into a vegetative body that is a long ways from death, where they will likely go mad before the person actually dies and releases them. LOVE the Inter-World and the Deliverants (who come to collect the collected souls). Can't wait to find out more about these beings who are neither demon nor angel and operate under their own set of rules. I want more! (hide spoiler)](less)
a post-apocalyptic zombie soap opera, where the soap is made out of lye. The story is harsh -- almost nihilistic in its way -- extremely violent, and peppered throughout with characters hooking up in almost sure to be doomed relationships.
Now, after wading through another 1068 pages of Compendium 2 I can't say much has changed.
Other than the fact I'm completely, utterly exhausted from all the carnage and devastation.
Seriously guys, when this series goes dark side it does not fuck around. It is bleak goddammit, B-L-E-A-K. Surviving the zombies is the easy part; it's all the crazy, fucked-up, out to slice and dice you and take what you have humans with Grade A mental issues that Rick's gang has to worry about the most. It's one tragedy heaped upon one depravity after another. And what does it do to a person to take on the savages and repel them? End them? Mutilate them? It's certainly changed Rick from the man we first came to know in the first few issues. It's most definitely changed little Carl (who is starting to creep me out a little bit truth be told). In some ways, all the survivors have been carved into new animals by forces beyond their control.
It's good. It keeps the pages turning most of the time, but it can become positively grueling and yes, even a bit repetitive at times, over the long haul. Especially if you're a pig like me and devour the story in huge non-stop helpings. (view spoiler)[The big shocker for me this time was Carl getting half his head blown off. My jaw literally dropped open. But then he survives, and I mean, nothing against the kid, but I felt cheated. I felt like Kirkman was out and out cheating. That's the kind of thing that happens on soap operas all the time and we roll our eyes. I'm surprised there wasn't an "experimental" brain transplant tried or some such thing. (hide spoiler)]
What's more, I find myself missing characters introduced in the television show -- namely Carol, Daryl and even Merle. It really sucks not to have those guys around and I find the story is suffering from their absence. Michonne however, continues to be kick-ass and delightful. She is the saving grace of this entire series character wise if you ask me, reminding me of Agent 355 from Y: The Last Man series. I like Glenn too, but I find Maggie really whiny most of the time. I should be more forgiving I suppose considering everything the poor thing has been through.
So the series is not without problems. By issue #96, it's starting to repeat itself and Kirkland needs to get serious about wrapping this baby up. Go out on a high note, man. Some are already saying you've stayed too long at the party. The goal should be for the narrative to remain fresh and bloody and vital. The gore should still feel wet on the pages. Unfortunately, it's starting to feel like a limping, dessicating zombie. I've given it my all, I've suspended my disbelief where I had to, and I would argue this remains required reading in the genre; however, let's end it. It's time. (less)
First of all, Carol knows what she's talking about. This is another great installment in the Scudder series and I really wavered over whether to give...more First of all, Carol knows what she's talking about. This is another great installment in the Scudder series and I really wavered over whether to give it five stars or not. It's a flashback novel, back to Scudder's hard drinking, bar crawling days of wee morning hours and head splitting hangovers. This is Scudder in all his glorious dysfunction, surrounded by the other barflies that make up his small cadre of "friends". It's 1970's New York, where Irish bars have Republican Army connections.
Because this is the most intricately plotted of the series thus far, I feel like I didn't get as much Scudder this time around. There's so much going on in this book that Scudder is nearly lost in the details and dialogue required to drive the action forward. Don't get me wrong; he's there, just not as there when it comes to his private ruminations and general observations about life. Turns out that's what I really love even more than a richly constructed plot. My favorite thing about this one is that ending. Holy moses. Betrayal and backstabbing, revenge and a couple of suicides.
(view spoiler)[ I was surprised that Skip went ahead and turned in the actors, including best friend Bobby Ruslander. Betrayal is a horrible thing, and Bobby is a huge asshole for what he did, but for Skip to turn them in to the Irish heavies knowing full well they would be killed, well, that's going to be tough to live with. Scudder takes the reward though "and somewhere along the line it stopped being blood money and became...just money."
Carolyn's suicide was a bit of a shock, but Scudder using her death to frame Tommy really shocked me. He was pretty positive Tommy killed his wife after all, and Tommy is a huge sleazeball, but still. Just desserts? Poetic justice? Scudder justice anyway. I can't help question though whether Scudder would have made the same choice sober. (hide spoiler)]
The last few pages of the novel are the best. Scudder's voice is so strong, the bittersweet nostalgia acute as he recounts all the landmarks that have crumbled and disappeared, all the lost souls lost for good to the hereafter: "So many changes, eating away at the world like water dripping on a rock." It's a strong man looking back from a better place in his life, yet it's a man who still finds himself longing, just a little bit, for "the good old days" of bourbon and coffee, and nights spent drinking til the sacred ginmill closes.
And so we'll drink the final drink That cuts the brain in sections Where answers do not signify And there aren't any questions.
I broke my heart the other day. It will mend again tomorrow. If I'd been drunk when I was born I'd be ignorant of sorrow.
And so we've had another night Of poetry and poses, And each man knows he'll be alone When the sacred ginmill closes.
This was a blast -- a seamless mash-up of pulpy noir goodness set in a gritty urban landscape featuring soul Collectors and very bad ass mofo angels a...more This was a blast -- a seamless mash-up of pulpy noir goodness set in a gritty urban landscape featuring soul Collectors and very bad ass mofo angels and demons. Who would I recommend this book to? Fans of the movie The Prophecy most definitely. And to a lesser extent that movie Fallen starring Denzel Washinton and Elias Koteas (I love Elias Koteas).
And if you've ever been a fan of Supernatural's angel-demon-apocalypse epic story arc then this is most definitely the book for you. Even though Dead Harvest is laced with all the delicious tropes of detective noir fiction, I would find it hard to believe that the author hasn't also been influenced by the Winchester Family Business. The references to 'vessels' and 'meat-suits' and fallen angels, and 'free will' and souls and a war on earth between the hosts of heaven and the legions of hell... well, I know the writers of Supernatural didn't invent this mythology, but they've certainly put their own stamp on it in a way that it shone through the pages of this book with the brightness of a soul ripped from its mortal host.
That's another thing -- even the way the souls are harvested. I could not help but be reminded of this:
Not that you have to be a Supernatural fangirl like myself to enjoy this book. Not in the least. Soul collector Sam Thornton is a great character -- and while I had an easy time picturing him as Dean Winchester -- he's also cut from the mold of classic noir detectives. He's an anti-hero with a past. He's stopped consciously looking for redemption but somewhere deep inside he still hopes for it. Even though his line of work whittles away his humanity one job at a time, Sam still manages to hold on to some of who he used to be. He smokes, he drinks, he curses. He's not impervious to fear, or to making stupid mistakes. Or to still long to "do the right thing."
Never in his wildest dreams though, would he have imagined himself smack dab in an otherworldly conspiracy between angels and demons to kick-start a war on earth to bring on the apocalypse.
You think either side wants a war? When last it happened one-third our number fell -- and all because a son of fire refused to kneel before a son of clay. You couldn't begin to understand the world of shit that would rain down upon us...
While this book is largely a plot-driven, action piece, it also contains some great dialogue that had me snickering a few times:
Just because you're thinking about stabbing somebody doesn't mean you have to be a dick about it.
"Is he - I mean, do you have to go..." she stammered. "Is he in hell?" I laughed. "Near enough - he's in Staten Island."
This is an Angry Robot book. If you've never heard of these guys, check them out. They are publishing some wickedly fine shit. I've become so enamored of their catalogue that I've given them their very own goodreads shelf. High praise indeed.
Hope you check this one out. If you do, be sure to let me know what you think! Unless you hate it. Those thoughts you can keep to yourself. I won't mind. (less)
Matt Scudder continues to impress and please me. He has become such a richly realized character, after only three short books, that I have a hard time...more Matt Scudder continues to impress and please me. He has become such a richly realized character, after only three short books, that I have a hard time believing he isn't living out his golden years somewhere (on or off the wagon -- haven't decided yet) with a lovely lady by his side or a scruffy Heinz 57 mutt to keep him company.
The temptation to just plow ahead and read all the books in the series as fast as I can is a strong one. As soon as one case wraps up, I find myself immediately jonesing to check in with Scudder again to see what's up with him now. Each book brings a little more insight into his private life, and an update on the status of his on-going battles with booze and various other personal demons of guilt and self-loathing.
Published in 1976, there is a real vibe of authentic '70s New York City, replete with seedy settings and gritty characters. Corruption is rife in the NYPD and Block's fictional account is written in the long shadow of the infamous Serpico case of 1971 giving these early Scudder books welcome depth. Sometimes I'm so wrapped up in the time and place I'm reading about, I want to walk out my front door, turn the corner, and get a drink at Armstrong's. This is vintage New York, and for anyone with a Big Apple fetish, it's the bee's knees baby, I'm telling you.
I wasn't too crazy about the mystery this time around, what really got me is the way Block makes it all about something else anyway and it's in the little touches (view spoiler)[the way Scudder keeps calling the murder victim's phone to hear her voice, the way Scudder makes a connection with his client's wife to the point where he even cuts back his drinking (for a day). His return to the bottle when this "might have been" opportunity is lost struck me as sharply poignant. Although, truth be told, this lady did nothing for me and did not seem like a good match for our guy so part of me was very relieved. (hide spoiler)]
The best part for me continues to be watching Scudder as he quietly goes about his investigations, relying on his wits, instincts, and natural ability to talk to anyone in any setting under any circumstances. This man is unflappable in his cool. In his even handedness. Yet, the cracks are beginning to show. Scudder recounts a blackout where he experiences lost time. There are a few occasions where his behavior seems erratic, where he seems not quite in control of all his faculties.
Where is all this headed, Matt? I'm worried about you now. (less)
Ahhh, Scudder...I have a bone to pick with you. Why you wanna hurt me so bad?
More on that in just a bit, first just a little note on the numbering of...moreAhhh, Scudder...I have a bone to pick with you. Why you wanna hurt me so bad?
More on that in just a bit, first just a little note on the numbering of these early Scudder books. Feel free to skip this paragraph which cuts right to the nerd in me. I tend to be a tad OCD when I take on any series, and always want to read them in order. Goodreads has this book listed as #2 which turns out to be correct. In the afterword Block explains that Time to Murder and Create is the second Scudder book he wrote, but it was the third to be published. If I had been going by another source (like the Great and Terrible Wikipedia), I would have read In the Midst of Death second (when it's actually third). OCD, I know, I know, considering all the books were written very close together in the same year and don't spoil each other in any way, but still. Now I know I've read the books in the order which the author intended. Somebody give this girl a cookie to make her shut up already.
On to the review. Time to Murder has all the good stuff I've already come to expect. First and foremost great, snappy dialogue that's sharp and sexy. There's no flowery language here, no overly complicated metaphors. Scudder's world is populated by New Yorkers who have seen more of the underbelly and bottom-feeding side of humanity than they care to recount. Blunt and direct is the catch of the day. That's not to say some wordplay is entirely absent. Scudder can be a cheeky bastard when he wants to be, especially when anyone is trying to put the squeeze on him. I like the way he talks to the ladies too, the ones he likes, and the ones he's wary of. Buy me a gin and tonic and light up my Marlboro, Matt, I'd shoot the shit with you til the bar closed any time. I'd even let you walk me home afterwards.
The mystery is a bit meatier this time around than the one introduced in Sins of the Fathers. Matt finds himself investigating three victims of blackmail who are desperate to keep their secrets. One of them has had enough and murders the blackmailer holding all the cards. That would be low-life Spinner Jablon, who ends up with his head caved in and his body dumped in the East River. Low-life though he may be, he was smart enough to leave all the juicy details to Scudder in a sealed envelope (which Scudder is not to open unless Spinner winds up in the morgue). When that day arrives, Scudder is on the case and uses himself as the bait. I love the unintended consequences that arise as Scudder quietly and diligently goes about his unconventional investigation. Nothing is ever as simple as it seems, and that goes double for Scudder's emotions and reactions.
Here's the thing: Scudder is no saint, nor does he pretend to be. But he's one of the good guys always trying to do the right thing, whatever that might be. It's not always clear though, especially if you're a live and let live kind of guy. Scudder doesn't suffer from a self-righteous arrogance, or a moral certainty of what's right and wrong. The only real crime in Scudder's books (that I can see so far) is murder. You can steal, lie, prostitute yourself, blackmail, extort, bribe, whatever, and he'll shrug and look the other way. It's your business. But intentionally with malice aforethought take the life of another human being? Not on his watch.
I like that. I like that even in this Scudder doesn't suffer from hubris:
"I don't know if human life is sacred. I just don't like murder, and that bothers me, and there's just one thing I'm going to do about it. I don't want to kill you, I don't want to expose you...I'm sick of playing an incompetent version of God."
And that almost makes it okay for me to swallow the fact that (view spoiler)[Scudder is willing to let a pedophile -- a rapist of children -- basically walk away scot-free with his dirty little secrets in tact. I'm trying to look at this through a 1970's lens and give it some context. While distasteful, was it pretty much acceptable to bugger young boys (landing one of them in the hospital from internal injuries) forty years ago? Is it unfair to let my 21st century knee-jerk repulsion inform how to react here? I thought for sure Scudder would have something appropriately nasty and poetic planned for Huysendahl whether he turned out to be behind Spinner's murder or not. Getting him to write a ten thousand dollar check to Boys Town is not what I had in mind. At all. But Scudder has never proclaimed to be a crusader for the protection of children nor does he see himself as a force to prevent the corruption and theft of innocence. But it sticks me where it hurts. I'm choking on it. I guess for me, there is something as bad as premeditated murder, and that's rape. (hide spoiler)]
I'm still with you though, Scudder. We just have a little making up to do.
Oh yeah, baby! Should I have taken this much pleasure from a cannibalizing FDA special agent who gnaws on dead things to solve crimes? Probably not, b...more Oh yeah, baby! Should I have taken this much pleasure from a cannibalizing FDA special agent who gnaws on dead things to solve crimes? Probably not, but nothing can stem the tide of my glowing praise for such an original story concept delivered with this much dynamic flair, humorous overtones and an underbelly of noir nastiness. Can you spell epic win? The action is punctuated by ripping dialogue and graphic art that puts you into the scene, no muss no fuss.
No disrespect meant to all you vegetarians out there, but I love me some chicken, okay? I love it roasted, fried, cold in a salad or on a sandwich. I love it dark and white, leg and breast, bone in and boneless. Don't even get me started on chicken wings. Take it away Homer:
That's why just the idea of a future without poultry -- where it's been outlawed like booze during Prohibition -- sends me into a feathery panic. In Tony Chu's world, an avian flu has killed millions of people across the globe. In response to the pandemic, the processing, distribution, sale and consumption of chicken has been criminalized and a thriving black market of chicken bootleggers has risen up. This may sound stupid, but it's actually quite smart and nasty in all of its implications.
As you read on in the story you realize there is more than meets the eye. Was there ever really an avian flu pandemic? Is the government trying to cover up something much more sinister? Cibopath Tony Chu is on the case with his unique talent. Whatever he puts into his mouth gives him pictures, clues, a story, from the innocuous details of how an apple got from the tree to his hand, to the bloody details surrounding a victim's torture and mutilation. It isn't something he can turn off, and his only reprieve are beets, the only food that Tony can taste without being bombarded by a wave of other sensory input. Go figure. Works for me. But if I had to give up chicken and eat beets all the day long? That isn't a life worth living my friend.
Tony has a MASSIVE GOON of a partner at the FDA named Savoy, who also shares Tony's cibopathic talents. Chu also meets food critic Amelia, who is able to harness her powers of food description to the point where she can make you taste anything, really taste it, just by describing it.
I love that I have no idea where this story is heading next. But I am hooked and hungry for more, despite several gross out moments of Chu's gnawing on the dead (including a putrid, decayed dog) for information.
Pretty sure it's gonna be chicken for supper tonight :) (less)
Silly, sweet and lots of fun, yet with a pleasing underbelly of bite. Newly minted grim reaper Lex returns in this sequel to Croak. Like most sequels...moreSilly, sweet and lots of fun, yet with a pleasing underbelly of bite. Newly minted grim reaper Lex returns in this sequel to Croak. Like most sequels worth reading, the stakes have become higher, and the world-building a little more fleshed out and fully realized.
Things I liked:
The Junior Grims of Croak actually act like normal teenagers. They don't know everything and can be impulsive and smart-mouthed. The chemistry between Lex and Driggs continues to be made of win. And while the copious make-out sessions had me rolling my eyes, what else would two hormone driven teenagers living in such close proximity get up to? Plus, hilarity ensues when Uncle Mort has to play chaperone all the time. His vigilant attempts to halt any over-enthusiastic pawing sessions did make me laugh.
Speaking of -- Uncle Mort. I keep picturing him as Woody Harrelson. He's brash, funny, sarcastic and a welcome adult presence in a world populated with angsty teen Grims.
The world-building. This version of the Afterlife rules, even if it is a little too rainbows and lollipops sometimes (Edgar Allen Poe needs a bigger part in the next book). Zara's plan, the search for the Wrong Book, Lex's exploration of her Damning capabilities - (view spoiler)[not to mention Drigg's discovering his exact opposite ability to un-Damn (hide spoiler)] - all add up to a nice bit of escapist reading. I'll be definitely seeking out the final book in the trilogy.
I've finally found my way to Matt Scudder. And ladies and gents? There ain't no going back. I'm intrigued, a little titillated, crushing for sure, may...more I've finally found my way to Matt Scudder. And ladies and gents? There ain't no going back. I'm intrigued, a little titillated, crushing for sure, maybe even falling in love. I had my reservations at first. I don't "do" hardboiled detective stories. I have a kink for classic noir films that has never translated into a love for that hyper-masculinized breed of pulp fiction. I chalked it up to "dick-lit" and moved on, assuming these stories were written for the menfolk, and would contain very little appeal for a gal such as myself. How could I have been such a stupid asshole for so flipping long? I have nothing to offer in my defense.
I began to come to my senses when I started to read some of the men's reviews, the same men who read LOTS of detective fiction but continue to single out Scudder again and again as one of their favorite go-to guys -- Dan, Kemper, Stephen all share in a Scudder man-crush so let's just say my interest was piqued. Then Carol comes along and starts blasting through the Scudder books like they're made of chocolate rolled in potato chips. She just couldn't stop at one. The more she read the more I knew I had to see for myself what all the fuss was about.
And if I needed one more reason to sanction this virgin foray into Scudder territory, I got it when the edition I picked up featured an introduction by my man Stephen King. So I get an entire King essay I didn't even know existed. Thank you Matt Scudder. I have a feeling this marks the beginning of a beautiful friendship.
Well that's enough about me, what about the book? The mystery is very secondary here; in fact, I didn't think the mystery seemed all that important. Much more vital to the story is our introduction to weary, troubled, lonesome ex-cop Matt Scudder and his booze-soaked life in the Big Apple. Scudder has had a very bad thing happen that's driven him out of the force and away from his wife and sons into a solitary life of unlicensed private investigating. People come to Scudder with questions they want answered. For a variable fee, he'll try to help them out.
What I love about Scudder is that he's not a macho, bullying asshole strutting around intimidating people and getting in their face. He goes about his business with a quiet intensity that speaks volumes about his integrity. Don't get me wrong; he's no pushover. If he's got to get tough he will, he just prefers to keep things civilized and on a low simmer. He's got class and despite his unquenchable thirst for coffee laced with bourbon and a talent for greasing palms, he's got a built-in moral compass that's always pointing true north. That isn't to say he's a saint. There are flaws, but flaws that make him human and a little tragic (and only more lovable in my books).
I also appreciated how unflappable and non-judgmental Scudder is (self-righteous people piss me off). He treats everyone with the same level of respect whether a gay bar owner, a prostitute or a minister. He knows he doesn't have all the answers and adults should be free to live their own life as they see fit. If you want to try and get away with murder though, don't expect to do it around him. He will figure out a way to make you pay, one way or the other.
A totally unexpected source of joy came from the book's dated references. Published in 1976, Sins of the Fathers is filled with details about life before the personal computer, before Google and Facebook and smartphones. When Scudder visits his lady friend Elaine she's got a pile of vinyl on the record player. It's subtle, but it creates a kind of unintentional nostalgia that I found inexplicably pleasing.
Block's writing is crisp and uncomplicated. The dialogue has a natural rhythm that caresses the ear. The prose might be stripped to its bare essentials, but it manages to retain depth and texture. It's emotional writing, intuitive and smart. Out of it comes Matt Scudder, fully realized, three dimensional and ready to take on the world. Okay, I think I've gushed enough, wouldn't you say? I'm off to read the next book in the series. I want more Scudder now, but I've promised myself not to gorge, to save some for later. Let's see if I can hold to that. (less)