I liked the way this was a different kind of ghost story, but I had some difficulty connecting with the characters. Still, my appreciation for the cor...moreI liked the way this was a different kind of ghost story, but I had some difficulty connecting with the characters. Still, my appreciation for the core idea makes me curious as to what Ms. Langan might accomplish in the future.(less)
I realize that for 40 cents I can only complain so much, but c'mon Bruen, you could have done better. It didn't feel like the book or the protagonist'...moreI realize that for 40 cents I can only complain so much, but c'mon Bruen, you could have done better. It didn't feel like the book or the protagonist's response to the book had anything to do with the rest of the story, which was a missed opportunity. It had a first draft kind of feeling.(less)
I'd call this one a work for Bruen purists only. It has a lot of classic gritty noir elements, but they don't add up to anything, not even a character...moreI'd call this one a work for Bruen purists only. It has a lot of classic gritty noir elements, but they don't add up to anything, not even a character piece. The author's penchant for pop culture references is in overdrive, and adds the additional complication of unmooring the story's place in time: in one sentence it's mentioned that the movie Repo Man recently came out, then a little while later there's a reference to the sitcom Friends, without the passage of several years in between.(less)
These are barely warmed-up leftovers that for a bonus flirt with trademark and copyright violations.
If you read any author long enough there's a prett...moreThese are barely warmed-up leftovers that for a bonus flirt with trademark and copyright violations.
If you read any author long enough there's a pretty good chance you're going to recognize bits and pieces from their previous works, and I'm certainly willing to forgive that up to a point, as well as stretching the definitions of "novel-length". But what Andrew Vachss has done here is expand the story he created for Predator: Race War with some alterations so that the killer is no longer an extra-terrestrial big-game hunter, yet still kills the same kinds of targets in the same method. I realized that early on, and while I considered it unfortunate it took me a little while longer to realize that he was re-using the core plot aspects from Predator: Race War. While I'm too lazy to dig around for the original comics (yes, I do have them), other similarly licensed works tend to belong in full to the original trademark holder. He certainly retains ownership of his original characters, but the plot? That's questionable.
In addition to that this already short work is padded with an "epilogue" that is a previously published story by Vachss with a few minor changes to tie it in with the rest. There is, unsurprisingly, no mention of this on the copyright page.
I have an immense amount of respect for the work Andrew Vachss does for child protection. He has always been clear that his writing exists to support his real work, both financially and through the spread of information. But the lack of integrity shown by this book appalls and saddens me.(less)
I'm a sucker for a trapped-with-a-killer story, whether it be And Then There Were None or the movie Alien. 1222 gives us a premise that embraces this...moreI'm a sucker for a trapped-with-a-killer story, whether it be And Then There Were None or the movie Alien. 1222 gives us a premise that embraces this idea wholeheartedly: a train derails in an already isolated area of the country and the survivors, though they have found a nice hotel to gather in, are further isolated by a storm of increasing and incredible ferocity. There are a few people traveling in groups and a few people with a certain amount of notoriety, but mostly they are all strangers to one another. Then the first night there someone is murdered.
As this is a more realistic type of murder mystery we understand that the victim's death was likely due to a motive specific to that individual and that it is highly unlikely that the rest of the people there are in danger of being picked off by the murderer. Unless, of course, it is in order to avoid discovery. You get a sense that the greater danger in this situation might come from the other survivors' panic, especially as some of them were already prone to hyperbole and a short step away from hysteria.
I really enjoyed the characters in this novel, especially the prickly protagonist who, as antisocial as she prefers to be, is not incapable of sympathy for even some intensely unlikeable people. I also quite liked Dr. Streng, a dwarf that I could not help but mentally cast as Peter Dinklage (with probably more than a little Tyrion Lannister thrown in), but there were many well-drawn characters to be found in the book.
There was a subplot that, while it provided some interesting fodder, veered dangerously close to the silly at times, and might provoke anger in some readers. I however found it a reminder that while the world may be growing smaller it is not completely homogenized, which I consider to be a good thing.(less)
I was initially really put off by the cover art, but I had to get it anyway because it has a story of Ellen Kushner's Riverside in it. As it turns out...moreI was initially really put off by the cover art, but I had to get it anyway because it has a story of Ellen Kushner's Riverside in it. As it turns out I'm really glad I went ahead and got it, as the anthology has several stories that are above average. Ignore the currently hot authors listed on the covers and take a look at the table of contents: Peter S. Beagle, John Crowley, Delia Sherman, John Ford, Pat Cadigan, Lucius Shepard, Caitlin R. Kiernán and others.
I was particularly pleased that Caitlin R. Kiernán chose to write a story concerning the horror of geologic time. While it may be said to be an idea that grew out of the cosmic horror of Lovecraft, it's also a subject that is in a way uniquely hers. She used it masterfully in Threshold, and I wish she would write about it more often.(less)