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.
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)
“Wonderful what Hollywood will do to a nobody. It will make a radiant glamour queen out of a drab little wench who ought to be ironing a truck driver’...more“Wonderful what Hollywood will do to a nobody. It will make a radiant glamour queen out of a drab little wench who ought to be ironing a truck driver’s shirts, a he-man hero with shining eyes and brilliant smile reeking of sexual charm out of some overgrown kid who was meant to go to work with a lunchbox. Out of a Texas car hop with the literacy of a character in a comic strip it will make an international courtesan, married six times to six millionaires and so blasé and decadent at the end of it that her idea of a thrill is to seduce a furniture mover in a sweaty undershirt.”
A woman from small town Kansas travels to California and hires Marlowe to track down her missing brother. In his quest to locate the man in question, Chandler will take Marlowe into the world of Hollywood and the shady characters that occupy it.
In The Little Sister, Chandler packs about ten pounds of plot into a two pound sack. As many of his fans have said, trying to follow a Marlowe novel is about as simple as reading a road map upside down and backwards. Ice picks, gunshots and fist on face violence make up the fifth installment of Chandler’s signature series and while the plot twists hit harder than a flurry of punches to the solar plexus, it’s Chandler’s writing that once again blew me away.
Not known for having a positive worldview, Chandler is increasingly bitter this time around. Briefly working as a screenwriter in Tinseltown, certain experiences soured him on the whole industry. Through Marlowe, he muses on the whole damn state of California, hitting it with stinging criticism.
“California, the department store state. The most of everything and the best of nothing.”
“I ate dinner at a place near Thousand Oaks. Bad but quick. Feed ‘em and throw ‘em out Lots of business. We can’t bother with you sitting over your second cup of coffee, mister. You’re using money space. See those people over there behind the rope They want to eat. Anyway they think they have to. God knows why they want to eat here. The could do better home out of a can.”
“They are what human beings turn into when they trade life for existence and ambition for security.”
Despite his general dislike for most of the people he meets, Marlowe spends the entire novel manipulating evidence and tipping the scales in favor of others which makes the ending all that more shocking. If you saw it coming, I’ll bake you a dozen cookies.
I’m sad to see that I’m reaching the end of my Marlowe marathon. Two more Chandler-written novels remain with arguably the best of the best on the horizon. The Little Sister may not be sitting at the top but it’s certainly a worthy piece of Marlowe legacy.(less)
Ever hear about that time Bill Murray swiped a lady’s french fry and left her with the words "..and no one will ever believe you?" What about the alle...moreEver hear about that time Bill Murray swiped a lady’s french fry and left her with the words "..and no one will ever believe you?" What about the allegedly telekinetic James Hydrick? How about pro-wrestlers Brian Pillman and Hulk Hogan – two men who fooled promoters and fans alike. These are the subjects that Stuart Millard tackles in his collection of essays dubbed; “Smoke & Mirrors and Steven Seagal.”
Smoke & Mirrors was a fun, quick read. Millard clearly did his homework when it came to all the pop culture topics he explored. It certainly doesn't hurt that he’s hilarious as well. There were more than a few occasions I found myself laughing out loud. I’m sure he could have just compiled all the rumors and tall tales surrounding several of the text’s subjects but where’s the fun in that? Had it not been for his endlessly entertaining wit, I’m not sure the book would be as enjoyable a read.
For someone like myself – who is as big a pro wrestling fan as they come – I had a great time during the Hogan and Pillman bits. His dissection of the immeasurable number of lies spewed from the mouth of Hulk Hogan had me in tears from laughter. Such highlights include:
Hogan once kicked John Belushi out of a bar in 1986 – despite the fact Belushi died four years prior to that night.
Hogan saying that Andre The Giant died days after he bodyslammed him in 1987 at WrestleMania III. Andre died six years later.
Darren Aronofsky begged him to star in his 2008 film, The Wrestler (he did not). Oh and his films, Mr. Nanny and Santa with Muscles made thirty to forty million.
It should be worth noting that Millard runs a blog dubbed Frantic Planet. Seeing as a few of these essays are basically expanded blog posts, much of his new material should be in line with what’s on the site.
As a child, Kit “Kick” Lanigan was abducted in broad daylight. Missing for nearly six years, an intensive FBI investigation led to her recovery. Ten y...moreAs a child, Kit “Kick” Lanigan was abducted in broad daylight. Missing for nearly six years, an intensive FBI investigation led to her recovery. Ten years later, at age twenty-one, One Kick follows Lanigan as she struggles with PTSD, dodges reporters who are desperate for updates while distancing herself from her fame-hungry mother. When not firing her Glock or learning a new self-defense discipline, Kick keeps her ear to the ground regarding recent abductions, struggling to find a way to help.
Everything changes when a mysterious man named “Bishop” shows up at her door asking for her help. He’s with a group that works to recover missing children and asks for Kick’s assistance. Can Kick lend a hand and help locate two missing children or will her past get in the way?
I received a review copy from Simon & Schuster in exchange for an honest review.
The character of Kit Lanigan is a memorable one and her struggle to maintain somewhat of a normal life following her abduction felt very realistic. In a world where news coverage is literally twenty four-seven, reporters are always desperate for content so when an event like Kit’s rescue captures the hearts and minds of America, it’s only natural that the public are going to want follow-up stories; whether Kit likes it or not. It certainly doesn't help matters that her mother clings to her daughter’s relevance in the same vein as a Dina or Michael Lohan, always trying to parade her daughter into the public eye.
While Bishop and Kit work well together – Kit’s intimate knowledge of the type of person they’re hunting is invaluable – I always felt that Kit played second fiddle to Bishop far too often. I get that she’s less experienced than she thinks she is when it comes to tracking criminals but it seemed like Bishop was picking up the pieces more than he should have to.
This was my first Chelsea Cain experience and while I wasn't blown away, I did enjoy myself. I’d be interested in seeing where the series goes from here and whether or not Kit can evolve into a true kick-ass heroine.
When the folks at Nintendo released the 8-bit NES (Nintendo Entertainment System), the home console industry was on its last legs. Following a spectac...moreWhen the folks at Nintendo released the 8-bit NES (Nintendo Entertainment System), the home console industry was on its last legs. Following a spectacular crash of the gaming market in 1983 (Atari’s E.T. fiasco), Nintendo had its work cut out for it if it believed it could take the medium off of life support. By limiting supply, taking a hard stance on game quality and working with some of the largest retailers in North America, the Japanese company single-handedly resurrected the industry and put gaming back into the popular culture.
While Nintendo was enjoying record profits and unparalleled success, a competitor was sitting on the sidelines, struggling to find a way to get into the game. Sega had released their own 8-bit console dubbed The Master System and while they sold a respectable number of units, they were nothing more than a blip on Nintendo’s radar. With their new 16-bit (double the power of the NES) next generation console, the Sega Genesis, they needed a true visionary to lead the company into battle.
Enter Tom Kalinske. While he’s not a name you may know at first glance, his work with toy giants Mattel and Matchbox could be considered legendary. Armed with a team of marketing mavens, Kalinske would revolutionize the gaming industry and take it to Nintendo like no one had before.
Being born in 1984, I was the target market for both Sega and Nintendo. However, I was lucky enough to own both consoles. Having lived through their fiercely competitive battle, I thought I knew a great deal about each company’s drive to control the gaming market. Turns out, I was wrong. I learned so much from this book and Harris’ choice to present this in a narrative style kept the pages turning and made putting the book down nearly impossible.
Tom Kalinske’s dream team of marketing experts did so much to revolutionize the industry. They beat Nintendo to the 16-bit market, they organized the first ever global video game launch with Sonic 2sday (the first “street date” established for a video game with their sequel to the mega-successful Sonic The Hedgehog) and even went so far as to blatantly attack their competition with their commercials and the "Welcome to the Next Level" campaign.
As with any business, competition forces creativity. Nintendo had a virtual stranglehold on console gaming and without Sega’s constant drive to be better, Nintendo may not have explored the true power of the SNES (Super Nintendo Entertainment System). Games like Mario Kart, Star Fox and the groundbreaking Donkey Kong Country may never have been made if Sega had not forced Nintendo’s hand.
While Sega was never able to reach the dizzying heights they had with subsequent consoles (the Sega Saturn or the Sega Dreamcast), their hard work and brilliant ideas can still be felt throughout the industry today. Their signature character Sonic the Hedgehog continues to appear in countless games developed for the three leading video game companies - one of which being Nintendo itself!