Career criminal Parker is double crossed and left for dead but they didn’t confirm the kill. After surviving an attempt on his life, Parker’s search f...moreCareer criminal Parker is double crossed and left for dead but they didn’t confirm the kill. After surviving an attempt on his life, Parker’s search for the scumbag responsible has led him to New York City. While finding the man may prove difficult for Parker, one thing is for sure, he’ll get his revenge or die trying.
While I’ve read all of Darwyn Cooke’s tremendous graphic novel adaptations as well as watched the late 90s movie “Payback”, I’ve yet to check out the original source material - Stark’s acclaimed Parker novels. Given that I’m immersing myself deeper and deeper into the world of noir and crime fiction, I figured it was about time that I checked out one of the genre’s standards.
This is truly textbook noir - despicable people doing despicable things to other despicable people. Sure, you can root for Parker to succeed but he’s no better than any of his adversaries. He’s a tough bastard who wouldn’t think twice about taking you out if you got in his way. He’s a man driven by his own sense of what’s right in a world where everything is wrong. His relentless pursuit for what he feels is rightfully his, by his own admission, is crazy and it makes him a great character. Everything he does in The Hunter makes sense - I didn’t find myself questioning his actions or the actions of others.
Both the writing and the dialogue are sharp and precise, like a surgeon’s scalpel. The tight 198 pages it takes to the tell the story are used with precision. Nothing is wasted and there’s no sense of filler.
I’ve got a long road ahead of me (about 24 books in total) but I’m strapping myself in for the ride. Why oh why did I wait so long??
Ian Doescher’s presentation of William Shakespeare’s take on the original Star Wars trilogy has come to an end. Hopefully Doescher stays away from the...moreIan Doescher’s presentation of William Shakespeare’s take on the original Star Wars trilogy has come to an end. Hopefully Doescher stays away from the prequels – if not, I’d fear Shakespeare could rise from the dead to keep his name far from that garbage.
Luke Skywalker and the rebel alliance are getting ready to make their final stand against the tyranny of The Empire. The second Death Star is fast approaching completion and the good guys must find a way to regroup following the events of The Empire Striketh Back. I could go on but if you’re not aware of the Star Wars saga plot, why are you reading this review? Come on!
All the creativity that Doescher has shown throughout his time adapting the “holy trilogy” once again shines in the final chapter. While he closes out the series on a simplistic note keeping things very by-the-book, he still assigns himself a challenge in working with the Ewoks. While he mainly stuck to the script in the first two installments in leaving many characters’ alien vernacular untranslated – he did something different with the Ewoks, offering up a sort of pseudo-English which expands upon their roles in the story. Very nice.
Overall, I liked it. It’s clear that Doescher had a vision from the very beginning and throughout the whole journey, he didn’t lose his creative edge nor phone it in. Quirk Books seems to have cornered the market when it comes to these cross-over experiments. More!
Following Deadpool’s murderous rampage through the Marvel Universe, he decides to jump into the classic tales that inspired the comic book crusaders o...moreFollowing Deadpool’s murderous rampage through the Marvel Universe, he decides to jump into the classic tales that inspired the comic book crusaders of today. With a hit-list consisting of Ebeneezer Scrooge, Captain Ahab, Mark Twain and many others, Deadpool is set to wipe the classics from literature’s illustrious history.
Deadpool is easily one of my favorite comic book characters and why wouldn’t he be – he’s Deadpool, the merc with a mouth! He consistently breaks the fourth wall, his verbal jabs are hilarious and he’s got a sweet skill-set that would put any adversary to shame.
In this slim four issue collection, Deadpool runs the gamut of literary greatness, wasting everyone in his path. This leads to cool visuals, some hilarious moments and the usual air of originality that accompanies the character. While I enjoyed most of it, it was a little on the short side and I was really disappointed with the lack of time given to A Christmas Carol. It also falls short when compared to the very funny and creative run that both Brian Posehn and Gerry Duggan are on as the current series writers.
All in all, Deadpool Killustrated is a quick read that feels like it finished too early.
Detective Gabriella Versado is called to the scene of a brutal murder. A boy who had recently been declared missing is found chopped in half, his life...moreDetective Gabriella Versado is called to the scene of a brutal murder. A boy who had recently been declared missing is found chopped in half, his lifeless torso sewn to the lower half of a deer carcass. The crime, albeit an exceptionally grizzly one, is yet another statistic within the husk of the once powerful city of Detroit and it’s not long before the person believed to be responsible for the murder kills again. With a serial killer on the loose, can Gabi track down and put an end to the rampage or will the body count continue to rise?
I received a free copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Despite the straightforward description above, Lauren Beukes’ Broken Monsters is so much more. While the murder mystery and the pursuit of a serial killer both form the backbone of the novel, commentaries on the fragility of the American Dream, the permanence of social media and the ever increasing poverty problem flesh it out, giving it certain richness that could have easily been lost in a run of the mill, by-the-book thriller.
Very much like Stephen King’s Carrie and more recently, Nick Cutter’s The Troop, Beukes pulls information from the world outside Gabi’s case in the form of internet culture, slipping it into the story. By injecting posts from fictitious Facebook accounts, a subreddit titled “r/detroitmonster” as well as comments through various YouTube videos, Beukes applies a real world feel to the thrilling tale that extends the story beyond the city limits of Detroit.
From beginning to end, Beukes had me hooked and the pages kept flying by. I can’t wait to see what she does next. With Broken Monsters, Beukes doesn’t have to worry about eclipsing her previous effort, The Shining Girls; she outshines it (excuse the terrible pun).
Bob Howard spent nearly fifteen years performing all over the world as “Hardcore Holly”, a tough-guy wrestler in WWE (World Wrestling Entertainment)....moreBob Howard spent nearly fifteen years performing all over the world as “Hardcore Holly”, a tough-guy wrestler in WWE (World Wrestling Entertainment). After retiring in 2010, Holly chose to write a memoir detailing his time in the business. While Holly didn’t achieve true superstardom, he was a loyal, dependable worker who maintained a featured spot during wrestling’s hottest period – the late 1990s and beyond.
What sets The Hardcore Truth apart from other wrestling memoirs is Holly’s flat-out brutal honesty. He’s a man who admits that had he played the political game backstage, he might have achieved greater success but by staying honest to who he was, he has no one to blame but himself. It was refreshing given that the majority of these books tend to fall into the “poor me” category and fault is placed on just about everyone else’s shoulders other than the performer. At times, it does feel like he’s straying a little into humble brag territory but the majority of what he says here can be backed up with facts.
When I say he’s brutally honest, I mean it. Holly does nothing to hide his feelings about Paul Levesque (a.k.a WWE performer Triple H), the executive vice president of talent, live events and creative. It’s been suggested by many others that Levesque has done more harm to the business over the years than good and while Holly sings the praises of his ability as a performer, he vilifies him as a businessman and backstage politician. The same goes for performers Shawn Michaels, Scott Hall (Razor Ramon) and Kevin Nash (Diesel) who terrorized the locker room during their run on top in the mid 1990s. This leads to Holly detailing who he believes received a raw deal and who also deserved better during that time.
I wasn’t a huge fan of the sections devoted to his racing career but given that it is a relatively big part of his life that did in fact lead to Holly getting his foot in the door of WWE, you can’t expect it to be left out. Thankfully, like his life before wrestling, it’s only a small portion of the book.
Overall, there’s some great stories involving Holly standing up to management, schooling rookies and a plethora of other backstage shenanigans littered throughout the book. It’s an enjoyable read that offers up a glimpse into the life of a solid mid-card performer that isn’t often seen in the number of wrestling memoirs that get released.
At the urging of an opinion piece, a vigilante takes to the streets of New York knocking off an accused child molester who up until now, has escaped t...moreAt the urging of an opinion piece, a vigilante takes to the streets of New York knocking off an accused child molester who up until now, has escaped the hand of justice. Succeeding in his mission, he dubs himself “The Will of the People” (or “Will” for short). Shortly after, he writes into a prominent New York newspaper threatening the lives of several other less than savory citizens.
It isn’t until a particularly well known lawyer finds himself in Will’s crosshairs that Matt Scudder is brought into the fold. Hired to track down and uncover Will, Matt enlists the assistance of his sometimes employer, Reliable Security to keep an eye on the frightened barrister.
If that isn’t enough on Scudder’s plate, he’s also recruited to look into the murder of a friend of a friend; a man named Byron Leopold, who had been shot in cold blood while sitting on a park bench. With Matt unsure of where to begin with Will, he concentrates his time tracking down this other killer. With such a heavy workload on his shoulders, can Matt juggle both cases?
While I was disappointed Mick Ballou’s small role, Block shines the spotlight on both TJ and “Hard Way” Ray, hoping they can hold their own as the supporting cast. A relatively new addition to the world of Scudder, “Hard Way” Ray provides a great wall for Matt to bounce theories off of and offers a distinctly different viewpoint that no other character can offer – what with being a criminal defense lawyer and all. TJ makes strides as Scudder’s right hand man as the two grow closer than ever; further developing a father/son relationship.
While I enjoyed the case surrounding “Will” and the payoff was surprising; it’s the case that involves Byron that I found most compelling. It’s hard to really talk about how interesting it was and how it unraveled without getting heavy into spoiler territory but given my chosen profession, I thought it was an intriguing angle (even if it is a common staple of the detective fiction genre) and brought to light a practice I wasn’t even aware of.
Even The Wicked is another strong entry in the Scudder saga that clearly shows that despite being the thirteenth entry in the series, Block still has plenty of gas left in the tank.
With the summer of 1927 being one of America’s most historic, celebrated non-fiction writer Bill Bryson took a long, hard look at everything that went...moreWith the summer of 1927 being one of America’s most historic, celebrated non-fiction writer Bill Bryson took a long, hard look at everything that went down that year in his acclaimed 2013 release, One Summer: America, 1927. Events covered include:
- Charles Lindbergh becoming the first man to cross the Atlantic Ocean alone in an airplane – without stopping for refueling or for navigational purposes.
- The sensationalization of crime and the rise of the tabloid.
- Babe Ruth breaking his own record for home runs in a single season.
- The beginning of the downfall of ruthless mobster and bootlegger Al Capone.
- A meeting among financial minds that ultimately planted the seeds for the legendary stock market crash of 1929.
- The debut of the first "talking picture" exploding out of Hollywood.
..and so much more!
I had such a tremendous experience with Blake J. Harris’ Console Wars that I began seeking out other acclaimed non-fiction to digest. On a routine trip to the local bookstore, I spotted Bryson’s One Summer and decided to give it a shot.
I learned so much from this book! Did you know that the only reason the steering wheel was shifted from the right side of the car to the left so that the “lady of the home” could avoid stepping onto the road? Were you aware that Henry Ford was an ignorant anti-semite? I sure didn’t. In fact, it seemed most people were anti-semites as racism and bigotry ran wild during the roaring twenties.
Of all the subjects studied, I found Henry Ford to be the most fascinating. A giant egotist, the man frequently shunned advice from anyone who claimed to be an expert in any given field. One of his biggest blunders involved completely stopping production on his immensely popular car the Model T to concentrate on designing and producing his next creation, the Model A. The only problem? He didn’t know what the Model A was. He completely shut down operations without a clue on what he would manufacture. This led to massive job losses and a huge decline in business (no cars to sell=no revenue).
His other ridiculous idea involved buying a huge chunk of land in South America and creating a model American community that would produce the rubber required for his vehicles. Dubbed “Fordlandia”, the venture failed spectacularly. He seemingly did zero research into the climate and location and appointed dangerously under-qualified men to oversee the operation. How the Ford Motor Company survived is astounding.
One of the biggest obstacles with writing non-fiction has to be getting the flow or style right. Obviously Bryson has a wealth of experience with writing non-fiction, but I’m sure it’s always a delicate balance when trying to stay somewhere between page turning prose and blatantly regurgitating facts. While Bryson does a fine job, there were still moments (albeit few) when I found my mind wandering and skimming over long patches of information without digesting anything. Bryson has clearly done his research so there’s a wealth of knowledge crammed into a tight four hundred plus pages – probably why it took me a few weeks to get through the book. It’s a style that I find is best absorbed in small bursts.
Three jailbirds are being transferred when an escape plan goes horribly wrong. With nowhere left to turn, one of the escapees decides to call in a fav...moreThree jailbirds are being transferred when an escape plan goes horribly wrong. With nowhere left to turn, one of the escapees decides to call in a favor and request the assistance of one Charlie Manx. Manx has a talent for making folks disappear so he offers a solution to their problem – only they may not like where he takes them.
I received a free copy from the fine folks at Netgalley for review.
The Wraith is a great companion piece to Hill’s 2013 novel, NOS4A2 and expands on what is already a compelling character in Charlie Manx. With The Wraith, Hill delves into Manx’s history, detailing what drove him to become the man he is, the origin of Christmasland while establishing a face to the holly, jolly land of terror.
The artistic style of Charles Paul Wilson was very reminiscent of Hill’s long time collaborative partner Gabriel Rodriguez (which of course, is a good thing) – with whom Hill worked with on the critically acclaimed series Locke & Key. Wilson thanks Rodriguez within the acknowledgements so it’s possible he played a hand in the style chosen.
If you liked Hill’s NOS4A2, The Wraith is not to be missed. What could’ve easily been a by-the-numbers expansion of the original material feels like a fresh, interesting story from an author who clearly wasn’t done with his creation.
Retired Detective Bill Hodges is toying with the idea of ending it all. Alone in his home, he spends the majority of his golden years in front of a TV...moreRetired Detective Bill Hodges is toying with the idea of ending it all. Alone in his home, he spends the majority of his golden years in front of a TV, stuffing his face with processed food and keeping a watchful eye on his father’s gun; his passport to the afterlife. Everything changes when he receives a letter from the Mercedes Killer, a madman who plowed into a crowd of people using a Mercedes SL500 - hence the flashy name. Hodges retired before he could find the bastard responsible and rather than bring the new evidence to his former colleagues, he decides to track the perp (or perk) down himself.
I received a free copy from Simon & Schuster in exchange for a fair review.
It’s no secret that my absolute favorite genre is crime fiction. It’s also probably not a secret that Stephen King is one of my favorite writers. Combine the two and you should have a recipe for a surefire great tasting literary meal. Even though Mr. Mercedes is not made up of the best ingredients, it’s still pretty tasty.
It seems that the novel’s hero Det-Ret Bill Hodges is getting the brunt of the criticism, and with good reason. The man is reckless; he’s not showing any signs of a man who was largely a by-the-book detective in his days behind the shield. His plan to wind up and basically poke a homicidal maniac is pretty thin and he’s lucky the killer doesn't self-destruct immediately. Even when Hodges' back is against the wall and he knows he should turn the investigation over to the proper authorities, he keeps on keepin’ on.
Fortunately for us, The Mercedes Killer himself is the real star of the show here. King has crafted a real sick puppy with his newest villain. There’s no rhyme or reason why he went bowling for bodies and when his thoughts drift to what he could potentially do for an encore, the fact that the few devious plans that come to mind appear through mere flights of fancy make it all the more chilling - and don’t get me started on his beyond unsettling relationship he has with his dear mother.
Mr. Mercedes isn't the tightest of thrillers but I’d be lying if I said I had an easy time putting it down. I’m not sure how I feel about it being the foundation of a planned trilogy but I’m sure I’ll check out to see what book two has to offer. Now, to patiently wait for Revival.
Unlicensed detective Matt Scudder is hired by a member of a secret group of men who meet once a year to discuss progress made in their lives. In 1961,...moreUnlicensed detective Matt Scudder is hired by a member of a secret group of men who meet once a year to discuss progress made in their lives. In 1961, the group started out strong with thirty-one members and now, some thirty years later, they’re down to fourteen. It doesn't seem uncommon - people die all the time - but when you look at the circumstances behind a select few deaths, it sure looks like someone has certain members in their cross-hairs. Murders, suicides, accidents - they all add up. Can Scudder prove that someone is knocking them off like proverbial ducks in a carnival game?
Scudder is trapped between a rock and a hard place. While Scudder thinks one of the best options is to get the police involved, the members wish to stay under the radar and would rather not be subjected to the inevitable media circus that would come with thrusting the club of thirty-one into the public eye. With that option out, Scudder has to rely on his ingenuity and good old detective skills to crack the case - which has never been a problem before. However, unfortunately for Scudder, he doesn't even know where to begin.
In one of the best parts of the novel, Scudder shares an evening with his friend and feared New York gangster Mick Ballou as they chat about growing up with their fathers and a multitude of other topics. If for some reason Block felt compelled to write a novel that was just a conversation between Scudder and Ballou, it would be welcomed by this reader.
The villain reminded me of James Leo Motley, the murderous psychopath from Block’s eighth Scudder novel, A Ticket to the Boneyard. While the ending isn't typical of a Scudder novel, it’s wholly satisfying and sticks out as one of the more memorable conclusions in the entire series. I was grinning from ear to ear. You will not be disappointed.
A man is gunned down and the person deemed responsible is caught red handed at the scene of the crime. While the accused’s brother realizes that the e...moreA man is gunned down and the person deemed responsible is caught red handed at the scene of the crime. While the accused’s brother realizes that the evidence is damning, he cannot imagine his brother committing such a horrible act. He remembered meeting a man who identified himself as a detective during an AA meeting and reaches out for his help. The man in question is Matt Scudder and he agrees to take the case even though he has his doubts he’ll make a difference.
As with all the books in Block’s Scudder series, one of the most important characters is New York City itself. Whether he’s writing about dingy bars like the infamous Grogen’s or the folks that live in the city’s high-end condos, Block finds away to let the Big Apple play a central role in all of Matt’s cases. While talking with a homeless man about the shooting, the man tells Scudder that even though he shares the same neighborhood as the deceased, they couldn't be further apart.
"Man, how would they know him? He didn’t live here."
"Of course he did," I said. "You can see his building from here."
He made a show of following my finger as I pointed at the top floors of Holtzmann’s apartment building. "Right," he said. "That’s where he lived, up on the fortieth floor."
The twenty-eighth, I thought.
"That’s another country up there," he said. "Man commuted from the fortieth floor over there to some other fortieth floor where his office is at. Where you and me are is the street. Man like that, the street’s just a place he’s got to pass through twice a day, getting from one fortieth floor to another."
The Devil Knows You’re Dead is seemingly about Matt wandering through different worlds without ever leaving New York City. However, I suppose that’s life in and of itself. No one carries the exact same experiences that make up a life and because of this, everyone seemingly exists within a different world. With Scudder being a detective, he finds himself drifting in and out of the lives of others, trying to see the world from their eyes while absorbing as much as possible.
Of course while the crime plays an important part in this novel, it’s what Matt experiences in the course of the investigation that gives the story its legs. Whether he’s exposing his sometimes sidekick TJ to questionable situations, comforting an old friend who has received devastating news or figuring out where his relationship with his girlfriend Elaine stands, The Devil Knows You’re Dead is a very important novel for the character of Matt Scudder.(less)
The Bard is back and he’s about to get all Lando Calrissian on your ass!
Ian Doescher has put forth The Empire Striketh Back, the second volume in his...moreThe Bard is back and he’s about to get all Lando Calrissian on your ass!
Ian Doescher has put forth The Empire Striketh Back, the second volume in his critically acclaimed William Shakespeare’s Star Wars series. Adapting episode five into a true Shakespearean tragedy shouldn’t be all that difficult seeing as the source material is about as Shakespearean as it gets. You’ve got all the common elements: contrast, fate, supernatural, catharsis – you’ve even got asides and soliloquies for added measure!
I liked this one more than Verily, A New Hope as it seemed to fit the Shakespearean mold a little better given the subject matter and ending. Again, the artwork is excellent as it helps to inject a little humor and lightness to an otherwise dark and dreary story.
Doescher’s experiment has merit and seems to be getting more mileage than I expected. If you’re a fan of the movies, the first two in the series are definite must-reads that help to expand on an already expansive mythology.