I heard about this because Cemetery Dance was touting a signed edition or something. Not really buying a lot at the moment, but I did notice that Denn...moreI heard about this because Cemetery Dance was touting a signed edition or something. Not really buying a lot at the moment, but I did notice that Dennis Lehane had blurbed it, and I really like Lehane's work (Mystic River is one of those books I keep around to loan at people), so I got it out of the library.
Having finished it, I sort of feel like I've had a few light blows administered to my head with a hatchet.
It's sad. It's almost unbearably harsh. It gets very difficult to put down; I made it through the last quarter of the book early this morning, before I could get to sleep. (Note that finishing this book did not enable me to get to sleep. It was just something I had to do first.)
I need to return this book to the library. I think I also need to get my own copy.(less)
Well. Picked it up and started reading and I would just like to note that the first dozen pages or so are... slightly less bleak than Threads, and mor...moreWell. Picked it up and started reading and I would just like to note that the first dozen pages or so are... slightly less bleak than Threads, and more horrible.
(It made me think of the story that Shane Hensley tells about the first Deadlands game--or game that would become Deadlands, too. It does not have the comforting excuse of being monsters who do this.)
Continuing to read. About three-fifths of the way through. It's mellowed some, which is good; I don't think I could have handled the tone of the first part through the entire book, never mind that it's a short book. It's... almost slow, in a way, the steady progression of the life of a town.
I am terribly afraid the Bad Man will come back, and sort of hoping Jenks is around and useful if he does.
Read this five or six times, now, and hadn't realized I hadn't put it in Goodreads until now.
It's the seventh Watch book in the Discworld; I think it...moreRead this five or six times, now, and hadn't realized I hadn't put it in Goodreads until now.
It's the seventh Watch book in the Discworld; I think it probably requires a little bit of background. This is a shame, since it's a book I love enough I would like to be able to recommend that people read it with as little wait as possible.
It's about fear, and the problems inherent in trying to manage people, and secret police, and what you are and are not willing to give up for the right thing. History and revolutions and how many of the things you want will be there in the morning--from Truth, Justice, and Freedom, all the way down to a hard-boiled egg. All the things you didn't know soon enough, and all the things you know now that it was easier when you didn't know.
And cigar cases, and spoons, and the sprigs of lilac on the Glorious Twenty-Fifth of May.
It's a very sad book, and a very happy book, and I would say the protagonist is a shining example of nobility in the face of crushing odds except that I think calling Sam Vimes noble is the sort of thing that gets lumped in with gilt armour and a plume allowance. But he is a good man. This is too rare, and too quiet, and very fine.
Pleasantly surprised; I was coming to this with expectations of both quality and convention. Quality was met. Convention was met and exceeded.
There ar...morePleasantly surprised; I was coming to this with expectations of both quality and convention. Quality was met. Convention was met and exceeded.
There are a three science fiction stories, and now that I think about it, that's not unheard of; consider the Great Whatsit from Kiss Me Deadly. A similar (not identical!) story could have been told without the gadget in question in each case, but they worked well and even when I wasn't surprised by the ending (which is not a reflection on the story; just, honestly, halfway through a noir anthology a double-cross becomes less of a surprise) I was enjoying them. And plan to look up more Mister X stories--I mean, psychetecture with horrible effects on the city's inhabitants, an epidemic of sleep disorders, the once-shining Radiant City now named Somnopolis? I'll be over at the bookshelf.
One of the stories struck me as a bit of a stretch--not that it was implausible, but that I wasn't sure the narrator could rely on events unfolding as comfortably as they did.
The rest were solid, ranging from simple slice-of-life in a mean-streeted city to more heavily plotted stories of what I'm going to call depravity, combining crime and murder and the occasional twisted thing (and I'm going to wrap this up before I end up with a third Mike Hammer reference). Pretty sure one of them recast Batman's origin story, which made me grin a bit.
Overall; solidly enjoyable, veering into damn good on occasion. Graphic novels tend to be a really fast read, and at 116 pages I would recommend reading before buying if you're budgeting either cash or shelf space, but I would definitely recommend reading.(less)
I may have read a more wrenching book at some point.
I'm not sure what it would have been.
I *may* up this to five stars later. I'm not sure; I never do...moreI may have read a more wrenching book at some point.
I'm not sure what it would have been.
I *may* up this to five stars later. I'm not sure; I never do that lightly.
I have Shutter Island on my to-read list, and I've remembered Lehane's "Running Out of Dog" since I first read it a decade ago. I'm going to be picking up the rest of his stuff; meanwhile, I suggest reading Gone Baby Gone if you like crime/mystery stories.
(Caveat: The plot involves a child going missing. The setting is not particularly happy. Please keep this in mind; I know at one person I've advised to never read this book because of that.)(less)
A game for when you feel like sitting around with friends and playing through a decent neo-noir or crime movie, instead of sitting down to wa...moreThe good:
A game for when you feel like sitting around with friends and playing through a decent neo-noir or crime movie, instead of sitting down to watch one. What's not to like?
The writing's very evocative; snappy and slick, it's really suited to the dirty setting. Do bad things for good reasons; it's a good summary and a great character motivation, and everything seems set up to let you do exactly that. On top of the Savage Worlds system (which I'm a longtime fan of), Streets of Bedlam builds some really lovely setting-specific rules on top of it--I'd consider cribbing the crime scene rules for nearly any investigative setting. There's a very well-detailed starting adventure, a handful of adventure seeds, and dozens of characters--highly detailed archetypes, decently outlined major players, and a ton of quicker NPCs.
It's also very user-friendly for someone looking to run the game, with advice on how to set up an adventure, what to aim for in a scene, how to trim unnecessary details, how to balance player involvement for different patterns of scene-running, card-based ways to whip up a crime story... seriously, I would loan this book to nearly anyone looking for advice on running a dynamic game.
I want to play, dammit.
Glitchy editing. I can forgive a few typos, and I'm not getting snippy about turns of phrase--I'm still grinning a bit over "Thomas takes off like a bat out of similes". But there are sudden name changes for characters, sentences that don't make sense although you can figure them out from context ("Florence knows anything about anyone or anything else"), some punctuation sneezes...
Streets of Bedlam is a cinematic game, and it's a good one. But these lines are like catching a scene where the actor playing a down-and-out guy living in a cardboard box checks his smartphone in between answering questions.
With everything else this book has going for it, it's not quite enough to knock it down to three stars--but it was close. Hope the next edition tidies up a bit.
Meanwhile, I'm gonna go put Five-Story Drop on my wishlist. I hear it's coming out soon.(less)
Well. That was the most upsetting crime anthology I've read this year. Read in a while, in fact. (This isn't a bad thing, just a heads-up.) Favourite...moreWell. That was the most upsetting crime anthology I've read this year. Read in a while, in fact. (This isn't a bad thing, just a heads-up.) Favourite stories were "Immaculate" by Marlon James, "Roll It" by Leone Ross, and "Sunrise" by Chris Abani.
Two of the stories (out of eleven) struck me as more slice-of-life than crime or mystery stories. Out of the remaining nine, two came across as merely solid--one straightforward, one that made me smile. A couple struck me as strange; the characters were well-drawn and behaving consistently with themselves, but I wasn't sure I could buy into how they interacted with each other.
The other five ranged from good but leaving me feeling like I needed to reread it on a day when I wasn't feeling slightly under the weather to leaving me sitting there thinking "I just read that? People do that-- oh, god, they do. Ohgod."
I'm breaking it down like this because... honestly, having read the book, I am currently feeling very safe, and suburban, and a bit ignorant.
Well worth the read, not (personally) traumatizing, but worth making a small extra effort to note this is not a feelgood book. ---  Which is not to say they are uninteresting. One of the two (namely "54-46 (That's My Number)") struck me as more of a mystery than a crime story; the other was "Immaculate", which, er, did not.(less)
I'm going to quietly live in the hope that this series will come back, recommend it to all and sundry who are comfortable with a distinctly gruesome (...moreI'm going to quietly live in the hope that this series will come back, recommend it to all and sundry who are comfortable with a distinctly gruesome (and if slightly implausible, well, no more so than any other superhero-comic) crime story, and read my copies to tatters.
...I haven't been so hooked by a graphic novel since I picked up Uzumaki, Vol. 1. And exactly like when I picked up Uzumaki, I am swearing because th...more...I haven't been so hooked by a graphic novel since I picked up Uzumaki, Vol. 1. And exactly like when I picked up Uzumaki, I am swearing because the comic book store has closed for the day, and now I have to wait before I can see about getting the next one in the series.
Spoilers for the first twenty-odd pages follow.
Like it says on the tin: the generically utterly evil technically-not-supervillain-because-no-superpowers-but-come-on-now Madder Red has, after years of therapy, apparently been cured of his anti-social drive. Now he'd like to do some good.
I picked it up expecting a crime story. In the first fifteen pages, it had me blinking a little at what was being depicted (villain cheerfully slitting a child's throat in front of the hero), and then twisted the standard "ha-ha, holding the city hostage by means of threatening something terrible" schtick into an entirely new direction.
It's a murder mystery, sure. It's grim and fast-paced and makes a creepy kind of sense. It's beautifully drawn; the story weaves along between modern-day (full-colour art) and flashbacks to various points in the past (black and white and red all over). I am going to go reread it, once I am done posting this.
But beyond that, it feels thoughtful in a way that comics about characters like this--characters that are like how Madder Red started out, I mean, he's quite different in the modern day setting--usually don't, and for "usually don't" read "never have".
Series was apparently cancelled after enough comics to make two graphic novels. I am saddened by this, but... I guess it ups the odds of being able to convince other people to read the whole thing? ---  Dead kids. Lots of dead kids. And dead women. (He hurt and killed woman and kids by preference.) And dead cops. And along the way, dead cats. His backstory rap sheet is drawn in in relatively few pages, and remains the kind of thing which is jaw-droppingly violent in a way I cannot recall having previously seen in comics.(less)
Perhaps oddly, I liked the one of the two straight-up non-supernatural stories in this collection the best. "Johnny Halloween" is something I'd expect...morePerhaps oddly, I liked the one of the two straight-up non-supernatural stories in this collection the best. "Johnny Halloween" is something I'd expect to run across in a decent noir anthology.
"The Man Who Killed Halloween" was well-done; it didn't fit with what I was expecting from the book (non-fiction!), but it's a decent and evocative piece. Together with Partridge's introduction, it provides a thoughtful basis for the contrast between Ricks and the October Boy.
Actually, now that I'm thinking about it, this may be why "Three Doors" and "Treats" (which I've read before, along with "Black Leather Kites") didn't stand out for me quite as much, although they're both good stories and would normally be the kind of thing I'd expect to be my favourites. The trio of Hallowe'en/Jack o'Lantern-titled pieces echo each other on the question of masks, and real monsters, and the deceit that lets the latter go unpunished, and their supporting each other makes them stand out above the rest.(less)
Well, it's a crime novel. It's in a slightly alternate reality that predates the current day. It's a very fast and good read, with a beautifully set-o...moreWell, it's a crime novel. It's in a slightly alternate reality that predates the current day. It's a very fast and good read, with a beautifully set-out world. I would not call it steampunk. I definitely would call it noir.
(It made me sad I did not have a way to copy and paste stretches of text that were a page long and send them to some people I know who would really really like them.)
I am trying to think up a better review, and I will keep trying, but in the meantime I highly recommend you read it.
It's odd--I'm positive I've read this before, but I have no record of it. It's one of those situations where you're remembering the stories as you rea...moreIt's odd--I'm positive I've read this before, but I have no record of it. It's one of those situations where you're remembering the stories as you read them, if you know what I mean.
Anyway. A lovely collection; harsh without being overdone, clean writing, sad and sly and occasionally hopeful. Much recommended.(less)
Was looking for some relaxing reading, and decided that rather than continue Strange Things and Stranger Places, I'd pick up MacBride. Because apparen...moreWas looking for some relaxing reading, and decided that rather than continue Strange Things and Stranger Places, I'd pick up MacBride. Because apparently gritty and rather gruesome Scottish crime fiction is my go-to when I'm stressed and need to unwind.
Some day I will figure this out. Right now I'm just going to kick back and enjoy it working.
Finished reading this this morning. It was actually grimmer than I expected, and yes, that's saying something. I was sort of staring at the page, and then I kept reading, and then it got worse. A very compact stab wound, deep and painful.
(Hopefully the next one in the Logan McRae series will come in soon. The local book store does have a copy, but I ordered it specifically in paperback so that it would fit with the others on the shelf. (Stuart MacBride actually sent them an e-mail thanking them for all their work selling his books. Which makes sense; the owner is a big crime fiction fan, and actually nice to talk to about things like The Wire and Prime Suspect as well.))(less)