“I know what you’re thinking. ‘Did he buy six old movie and TV show tie-in books at the used book store a few years back or only five?’ Well, to tell“I know what you’re thinking. ‘Did he buy six old movie and TV show tie-in books at the used book store a few years back or only five?’ Well, to tell you the truth in this excitement I kinda lost track myself. But being that you’ve got 44 unread novels laying around and since your shelves are groaning under the weight of all those unread books and would knock your head clean off if they collapsed, you’ve gotta ask yourself one question. ‘Do I feel lucky?’ Well, do ya, punk?”
No, I certainly don’t feel lucky.
It’s short, so it’s got that going for it, but it added nothing to the movie. In fact, even Harry’s famous question about feeling lucky is written out differently. It makes for a fun book to have as a curiosity if you’re a fan of the film, but you’d be better off watching the movie instead of reading it. ...more
Apparently there’s a lost episode of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia that was titled The Gang Gets A Book Deal.
Fans of the show might be slightly coApparently there’s a lost episode of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia that was titled The Gang Gets A Book Deal.
Fans of the show might be slightly confused as to how these selfish, delusional, scheming, amoral, profane, drunken misfits with an uncanny ability to wreck the lives of anyone they encounter have managed to write a book, let alone get it published. (Hell, Charlie can’t even read!) The fact that it’s supposed to be a self-help book makes it even more mind boggling considering that the most important thing this pack of jackals has ever accomplished with their miserable lives is managing to somehow stay out of jail.
The introduction from a former editor of Harper Collins sets the stage that one of their employees with a substance abuse problem found his way to Paddy’s Pub and after a blackout drunk signed The Gang to an ill-advised deal. They, of course, instantly see this as being an easy way to wind up as famous authors who will be on the best seller list in no time. However, it should come as no surprise to regular viewers that things start going off the rails when they realize they’re actually going to have to set their beers down long enough to write the goddamn thing.
The book uses the idea of each character is writing different sections to do a hilarious job of capturing the voice and tone of everyone. So we get details on Mac’s delusions of being bad ass, Dennis’ narcissism, Frank’s various previsions, Sweet Dee’s neurotic insecurities, and Charlie’s deranged worldview. It’s very funny and more than a little terrifying to spend time in the minds of these people. The running gag that The Gang is getting increasingly frustrated with writing the book and the exasperated notes from the editors that show how much money and time they’re costing the publisher also provides some of the book’s best bits.
However, it does rely a bit too much on calling back to incidents and jokes from the show. Any tie-in book like this is going to lean on the history, but when it’s done really well, like say How to Archer, it seems like a continuation of the show and not just references. When there are things like a whole chapter based on Dennis getting shushed one time it feels a little too much like a call back rather than building on what's come before.
Still it’s a pretty funny companion piece to the show. It probably won’t mean much to anyone who isn't a hard core fan, but if you aren't a hard core fan, then why would you read the book? Any member of The Gang would tell you that you’re just an idiot if you did that. ...more
I received a free copy of this via NetGalley in exchange for this review.)
A crime novel set in Michigan? A slightly shady hero? A woman roped into doiI received a free copy of this via NetGalley in exchange for this review.)
A crime novel set in Michigan? A slightly shady hero? A woman roped into doing something against her better judgement? A lowlife with delusions of grandeur thinking he can steal a fortune in drugs and get away with it? A couple of thug characters, one of which likes to engaging in long rambling conversations that function as veiled threats as a way to intimidate people?
Seriously, how is this NOT an Elmore Leonard novel? It isn’t, but that’s the obvious comparison to this reprint published by the new Brash Books of Tom Kakonis’s 1988 novel.
Tim Waverly is an ex-con turned professional gambler who gets bored cleaning out suckers in Florida and takes a trip to revisit his old stomping grounds of Traverse City, Michigan. There he meets Holly Clemmons, a/k/a Midnight, who has come to town to help her dumb-ass half-brother who thought it’d be a brilliant idea to rip off a bunch of dope from the man he was working for. Now he has the chatty sex-crazed Shadow and his partner, the quiet Native American Gleep, after him. Although Waverly is a guy who knows all the odds and sees getting involved as a bad move, he’s so intrigued by Holly that he gets drawn into the shenanigans.
This is a solid crime novel with a colorful cast of characters that does a lot of shifting viewpoints to let you know how they all see one another and themselves along with some clever dialogue. Again, it sounds like Elmore Leonard, but Kakonis does enough to differentiate his own style. Waverly is a bit more introspective and philosophical than you’d usually see in an EL hero, and the bad guys have a bit more of nastiness to them.
The biggest problem I had with this is that it doesn’t really do much with the idea that Waverly is a professional gambler, which I thought was one of the more interesting aspects. Rather than come up with some kind of plot based around that, it’s just part of his background for the stolen drugs story which seems kind of run-of-the-mill these days. So while I liked the characters and the set-up, the story just didn’t do enough to lift it above average.
Elvis Cole was instrumental in clearing Lionel Bird after he was accused of brutally murdering a young woman. Three years later Bird commits suicide aElvis Cole was instrumental in clearing Lionel Bird after he was accused of brutally murdering a young woman. Three years later Bird commits suicide and leaves behind a photo album that indicates that not only did he kill the woman that Cole investigated, he also murdered others before and after that.
Cole reexamines the evidence he gathered and is still convinced that Bird was innocent of that crime. So where did the pictures of the dead women come from? And why is a LAPD task force led by an ambitious deputy chief declaring the cases now closed but still secretly gathering evidence? Is Cole just grasping at straws to avoid admitting that he screwed up and potentially got some innocent women killed? With the help of his trusty partner Joe Pike, Elvis is determined to get answers and refuses to quit even when confronted with pressure from the cops and angry family members of one of the victims.
This one comes at a point when Elvis and Joe had spent several of the previous books working cases with intensely personal angles to them with severe consequences. The set-up for this seems like it’d be another in that line with Elvis starting out understandably upset that he might have inadvertently helped a murderer go free to kill again, but that angle sort of fades away in the second half of the book. In fact, it’s a little odd how this one starts out with Elvis having so much personally invested, but then it turns into what could be considered an almost routine investigation by Cole and Pike’s usual standards. It’s almost as if Crais started writing this and decided to scale back how much it’d personally impact Cole by the end of it.
There’s also some loose ends and things that don’t make a lot of sense plot wise. (view spoiler)[Part of what makes Elvis and the reader believe that Deputy Chief Marx is dirty and covering for a murderous politician is the threat that Marx makes against Elvis’ cop buddy Lou Poitras. But that threat doesn’t make a lot of sense once you know that Marx was actually trying to do the right thing and secretly investigate the politician. We're supposed to buy that Marx is a good guy after all, yet he is willing to ruin the career of another cop because Elvis is asking questions? Marx might be making an empty threat to back Elvis off, but what if Elvis had told Lou and then he kicked up some kind official fuss about it?
Elvis and the cops come across as a little simple at the end because they get caught flat-footed when the sister kills Levy, and Cole even says something about having no idea she might do something like that. Really? The woman either killed or set-up one guy she thought killed her sister, and you had no clue she might pull something similar on the guy who actually did it? Hell, I know what she was going to do as soon as Crais described her fake stumble into the tools in the van, and I’m not a cop or a bad ass PI.
And for all guilt that Crais tries to heap on Elvis with him taking shit from the cop Crimmens and the Repko family, we don’t get much satisfaction in the way of atonement at the end. The final scene with Cole and Marx watching them pull bodies out of Levy's rose garden wasn’t a bad way to end it, but it would have been nice to know that Crimmens actually felt guilty for all the crap he’d flung Cole’s way. Or that Cole settled up with him as he promised to do for putting the family on his ass in the first place. It would have been nice to get something from the Repko family thanking Cole for finally helping to find the real killer. All of this stuff is a big part of the book, and yet it just seems to drift away with no effort to address any of it. (hide spoiler)]
It’s typically solid work from Crais, but it almost seems like he started one book and then turned it into another that wouldn’t put Cole through such a wringer this time out so it never reaches the kind of highs I’ve seen from this series at its best.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
I’ve had a long-standing policy that I will not read an unfinished sci-fi/fantasy series because I spent ovI got nobody to blame but myself for this….
I’ve had a long-standing policy that I will not read an unfinished sci-fi/fantasy series because I spent over a decade waiting for a certain master of horror to get off his ass and finish what he started. Plus, I have no urge to join the ranks of fans of other fantasy writers who seem to spend more time coming up with excuses and side projects rather than producing new books to finish their on-going series.
Ignorance isn’t a good defense, but it’s all I can claim. I picked this up on a whim after hearing it mentioned on the Incomparable podcast. I was a little leery when I saw it was almost 600 pages, but I didn’t bother looking into exactly what I had gotten myself into until I started the book That’s when I freaked the hell out:
“9 novels?!? 9 goddamn novels and they’re all this long? Holy shit! Only 5 have been released? It’s an unfinished series?? IT’S AN UNFINISHED SERIES! Oh, sweet jebus what have I done? And holy shit snacks they’ve been releasing off-shoot novels! ARGGHHH!! This is a nightmare…. OK, calm down. Let’s see, there’s actually two guys writing it under one pen name. Two guys can keep each other focused and moving forward. They’ve been releasing books like clockwork and have a schedule to bring it home. That’s good news. And these off-shoots are Kindle shorts so it looks like they’re really just true extras and not them filling their pockets while dawdling on the main series. Oh, and the Syfy network is doing a TV series based on it? That could be cool. Maybe this isn’t so bad after all. Wait, one of the authors also works as an assistant to….Uh oh. Well, maybe he’s learned what NOT to do when you’re working on a series…Or maybe I‘ll end up not liking it very much and can just stop here.”
No such luck. Damn it. I’m a sucker for the kind of sci-fi where even though they’re in space the characters have dirt under their nails and skinned knuckles rather than lounging around in pristine uniforms on ships that look like corporate cube farms. I’m also much more of a believer in the idea that if humanity does make it to other worlds that we’ll be dragging all our collective baggage out there with us rather than being explorers from a utopian society. Plus, I’m a big mystery fan and one of the main characters is a burned out space detective with a cynical outlook. And I also like (view spoiler)[zombie stories. So when it’s alien vomit zombies? (hide spoiler)] Oh, yeah. I’m in.
I particularly liked the push/pull between the two main characters. Holden is an idealist who thinks that people will make good collective choices as long as they’re told the truth, and that contrasts well with Miller’s bleak outlook that people are stupid sheep. Put those two guys in a society built out among our solar system’s asteroid belt that is about to go to war with Earth and Mars as they try to unravel the conspiracy behind it, and you’ve got yourself a pretty damn compelling sci-fi story.
I still kinda feel like a rube though….["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
I like crime stories set back in the days of fedoras and trenchcoats, and I’m a big fan of Dennis Lehane’s. So this should be perfect, right? Sadly, tI like crime stories set back in the days of fedoras and trenchcoats, and I’m a big fan of Dennis Lehane’s. So this should be perfect, right? Sadly, the best I can say is that it isn’t bad.
Set 10 years after the previous book, Live By Night, Joe Coughlin has left behind his days of building a criminal empire based on bootlegging to the more respectable position of being a prominent man in Tampa. Joe runs several successful businesses but his real job is to work as an advisor and fix for the Mob. As World War II rages, the same shortages of men and resources have hit even organized crime. Thanks in part to Joe’s help the drugs, gambling, prostitution, and various other criminal enterprises are still doing well as he splits time between Florida and Cuba.
As a man who makes no enemies and is a cash cow for the Mob, Joe’s days of danger seem to be behind him so he’s shocked to get a tip that a contract has been put out on his life. As Joe tries to find out if there’s any truth to the rumor he also has to deal with an escalating conflict between a white mobster trying to muscle in on the turf controlled by a black man as well as being leaned on by the war department to help them try to root out spies on the docks.
I wanted to love this one, and I found Joe a fascinating character in a lot of ways, this really comes across as kind of a generic gangster story. The last book was Joe’s rise to power and made for the more interesting of the two as he fought to build a bootlegging empire, and this one just didn’t do anything that adds anything new or different to the genre.
The whole trilogy is a little weird because the first one, The Given Day, was more of a look at post-World War I Boston from a social and economic perspective with elements of a crime story that focused on Joe’s family when he was supporting character as a kid. Shifting from that to Joe as a reckless bootlegger and then into the older, wiser counselor was a good story, but didn’t really seem to match up to the first book. ...more
I love Scott Snyder writing Batman, but this is one of those cases where he tried to put 10 lbs. of story in a 5 lb. sack.
The rebooted origin continueI love Scott Snyder writing Batman, but this is one of those cases where he tried to put 10 lbs. of story in a 5 lb. sack.
The rebooted origin continues with a fledgling Batman trying to stop a complicated scheme created by the Riddler involving Doctor Death that leaves Gotham devastated. He’s also struggling to figure out where Bruce Wayne fits into his vigilante plans as well as coming to terms with characters like Jim Gordon and Alfred.
As I noted when I reviewed Zero Year - Secret City, Snyder wisely sped by the standard points of the history of Batman. Bruce Wayne’s parents are murdered in front of him, he travels the world learning crime fighting skills, he realizes that he needs a symbol to bring justice to Gotham, yada, yada, yada. Those are the fixed points in the Batman universe, and while you can tweak them, you can’t change the basics.
Snyder treats Bruce donning the cape & cowl as the beginning of this rather than the end point, and that’s the best part of the story. Seeing a younger, reckless and more arrogant Bruce think he can wage a one-man war on crime with no help and getting taught some harsh lessons is great stuff. The character interactions between an angry young Batman and Jim Gordon and Alfred were some of the best bits. Snyder also continues to deftly weave in some nods to past versions of Batman like things will remind fans of No Man’s Land, The Dark Knight Returns and The Dark Knight Rises movie.
Unfortunately, the story starts collapsing under its own weight and at times feel like it’s descending into a Grant Morrison level of confusion. I would have preferred if Snyder would have focused in on a young Batman dealing with one major villain rather than two and operating in essentially a post-apocalyptic Gotham for a large chunk of the story. I guess you could make the point that it required something that catastrophic to get Batman recognized as a force for good by the city so that the cops aren’t constantly chasing after him, but it really feels like way too much is going on at times. ...more
I might have liked this martini more if it came with some blue cheese olives.
One of the things I love about Pelecanos is that he creates a great senseI might have liked this martini more if it came with some blue cheese olives.
One of the things I love about Pelecanos is that he creates a great sense of time and place which makes his characters come alive, and I was slightly worried about reading this collection because I wasn’t sure how well he could pull that off in short stories rather than novels. The way he builds a character by describing the streets they walk, the liquor they drink, the music they hear, and the restaurants they eat in didn’t seem like seemed like something that he could condense down easily.
However, I was pleasantly surprised at just how well he was able to almost instantly create characters you felt like you understood whether it was a middle-aged loser in an inner city trying to get his father’s respect by turning into a confidential informant to the cops or a ruthless insurance investigator chasing a lead to South America.
My favorite aspect was The Martini Shot novella which is the first person account of a TV writer working on a cop show in a rundown city who feels the need to get some justice for a friend who has been murdered. Pelecanos’ has done some TV and film work (Most notably his time as a producer and writer on The Wire.), and he made the whole day-to-day routine of working on a show interesting. He also does some clever stuff with the main character blending the real and fictional together while giving us the idea that he kind of sees himself as the lead in a crime story he’s writing. I’d be more than happy to read an entire book with this setting and character. My only complaint is that the sex scenes provided a graphic amount of detail that seem to cross over into soft core porn. Maybe he was going for some of those 50 Shades of Grey readers.
The short story I liked most provided the background of one Pelecanos' lead characters in a series, Spero Lucas, by telling us how he came to be adopted by his parents and what their family was like when he was a kid. Those are things that have been touched on in the Lucas books, but this added a lot of details that I enjoyed. However, the problem is that like the rest of this collection, it really just made hungry for another Spero Lucas novel.
So while Pelecanos has the ability to write short stories, what I really wanted from almost everything I read here was more. (Except for those sex scenes. Then less would have been better.) It’s like Pelecanos is great chef who makes entrees that make my mouth water, but here he’s only offering a tray of appetizers. They’re great to pop in your mouth with that martini, but they don’t make for a full meal. ...more
Hawkeye goes to LA. Maybe they’ll reform the West Coast Avengers?
Not likely as this isn’t Clint Barton, it’s the other Hawkeye, Kate Bishop. After KatHawkeye goes to LA. Maybe they’ll reform the West Coast Avengers?
Not likely as this isn’t Clint Barton, it’s the other Hawkeye, Kate Bishop. After Kate gets tired of Clint’s messy personal life turning him into a grumpy bastard, she takes Lucky the pizza dog and heads to LA to get some space. However, since she’s an Avenger (Or practically an Avenger as she often has to clarify.) Kate soon finds herself on the bad side of Madame Masque as well as having her finances cut off by her rich father. Rather than call Clint or anyone else for help, Kate decides to set up shop as a Rockford-style PI with her own trailer on the beach.
I was let down by this one at first. Kate’s misadventures in LA didn’t seem to have the same kind of zing that the Hawkeye title had when it focused on Clint Barton. Maybe that was because Clint’s story has been about what it’s like for a regular guy who works with superheroes when he’s not helping to save the world. Clint being kind of a screw-up who insists on trying to do things himself makes sense when you know the history of him always feeling second rate compared to the other Avengers. But Kate had also come across as pretty confident and sure of herself. She was the kind of young woman who just decided to be a superhero and claimed Hawkeye’s name when he was mostly dead for a while.
This Kate seemed more Barton-esque at the beginning, doing things the hard way when there were far easier and smarter ways to go about it, and that seemed to clash a bit with what I knew about the character. So it took me a while to warm up to the story. Eventually, the idea of a superhero that no one knows trying to play LA private detective won me over. Kate emerges from this a bit beaten up but an even more interesting character.
Oh, and I really liked the joke about The Champions, too....more