***1/2 A fine early Leaphorn novel involving a bank robbery, two murders and the aims of a radical offshoot of the American Indian Movement who want t...more***1/2 A fine early Leaphorn novel involving a bank robbery, two murders and the aims of a radical offshoot of the American Indian Movement who want to exact revenge on whites for an obscure massacre that occured in Texas in the 19th Century. Well paced, but lacks the character exploration of the Navajo police that Hillerman gives us in later novels in this series. The villians's backstories are engrossing, and the action scenes, especially the claustrophobic forced spelunking that Leaphorn is forced into, are believable and effective. PEOPLE OF THE DARKNESS remains my favorite Hillerman novel; THE BLESSING WAY is my least favorite (Leaphorn as Navajo MacGyver).(less)
A fine serial killer novel marred by the inclusion of email writing, webcam using ghosts. Utterly moronic. Also, doubly disappointing because Straub i...moreA fine serial killer novel marred by the inclusion of email writing, webcam using ghosts. Utterly moronic. Also, doubly disappointing because Straub includes his alter-ego and recurring character, Tim Underhill, in this King-ish supernatural mystery, while the other Tim Underhill novels (The BLUE ROSE Trilogy) were firmly embedded in reality, albeit the harsh reality of human depravity & violence. If Underhill were not included or the idiotic web-using spirits were omitted the rating would be much higher.(less)
***1/2 A solid short story collection with only one dud, 'Hunger: an Introduction,' which is an unfocused rambling glimpse of a man's becoming a ghost....more***1/2 A solid short story collection with only one dud, 'Hunger: an Introduction,' which is an unfocused rambling glimpse of a man's becoming a ghost.
This collection of 7 stories offers a series of portraits of either murderers 'in-the-making' or seasoned and happily practicing their alternative passion.
I listened to the Audiobook version. Beth MacDonald's matter-of-fact delivery of the first story was chilling. Ron McLarty's deep sonorous actorly voice brought the rest of the stories to life in a way that my internal voice could not (especially on 'Porkpie Hat' and the final story). Many thanks to Mr. McLarty.
1)'Ashputtle' - a portrait of an unexpected monster. In its references to Art it is Straub's opposite answer to Kafka's 'The Hunger Artist.' Grade: A
2) 'Isn't it Romantic?' - The cliched 'final job of a hit-man' story. Grade: B.
3) 'The Ghost Village' - An eerie mass murder and its aftermath at a small village in Vietnam during the War. This story was included, in part, in Straub's THE THROAT. Grade: B+
4) 'Bunny is Good Bread' - One of the finest (is this the correct word?) stories written about child abuse. Very disturbing and sad. If you read THE THROAT you MUST READ THIS STORY! It adds another dimension to the 'Blue Rose' killings. Grade: A+
5)'Porkpie Hat' - An enigmatic jazz musician recounts a life-changing Halloween incident that occurred when he was eleven years old. A writer has to piece together the truth. A beautiful piece of writing. Grade: A
6) 'Hunger, an Introduction - BOMB
7) 'Mr. Clubb and Mr. Cuff' - A story of jealousy and revenge taken to extremes. If Poe had written Melville's 'Bartleby the Scrivener' you would get this story. Grade: A-(less)
The final volume in the BLUE ROSE TRILOGY answers (almost) all questions one may have asked while reading KOKO & MYSTERY; however, it takes Straub...moreThe final volume in the BLUE ROSE TRILOGY answers (almost) all questions one may have asked while reading KOKO & MYSTERY; however, it takes Straub A LONG TIME to express those answers. My only major criticism of Straub lies in his verbosity. He needs a new editor. As a mystery THE THROAT is top-notch. Although there are a number of false endings (which get tiresome once the reader realizes there are hundreds of pages left to read), the detailed investigations, digressions, misunderstandings and revelations grip the reader's interest throughout. One digression that this reader found so appealing was the Vietnam War sub-plot. Straub has created his own surreal 'Colonel Kurtz' in the character of Frank Bachelor, a special-ops who 'goes native' resulting in atrocious consequences. THE THROAT's Vietnam sections coupled with the Vietnam sections of KOKO stand as some of the finest FICTION written about the War. In THE THROAT's acknowledgements section Straub thanks writer Joe Haldeman, which leads me to believe that Mr. Haldeman, a Vietnam vet, was the source for or guide through the Vietnam material. One aspect of volume 2, MYSTERY, that bothered me so much (and which made Straub seem lazy) was the inconsistent time-line of authorship/publishing of the book, THE DIVIDED MAN (written by the character, Tim Underhill), that is central to and often referenced in both KOKO & MYSTERY. In the opening of THE THROAT, Straub and his alter-ego (and first-person narrator for this volume) Tim Underhill self-reflexively reveal the writing genesis of KOKO & MYSTERY, which clears up any time-line inconsistencies (and it put a smile on my face). In THE THROAT Straub reveals who the Blue Rose killer (or is it killers?) is. However, I recommend that at around page 500 you should momentarily stop reading, pick up Straub's MAGIC TERROR short story collection and read the story "Bunny is good bread." Underhill, in THE THROAT, references that title phrase without explanation. What does it mean? How does Underhill know it? The short story is central to a full understanding of the Blue Rose killings; it is a sad, but chilling portrait of a serial killer in the making.
3.5 - 4 Stars. KOKO is book one of the BLUE ROSE TRILOGY; it can be read as a stand-alone. It is a lengthy tome (in need of the editor's blade)/meditat...more3.5 - 4 Stars. KOKO is book one of the BLUE ROSE TRILOGY; it can be read as a stand-alone. It is a lengthy tome (in need of the editor's blade)/meditation on the life-changing horrors of war and abusive parenting (both equally damaging to the child/individual). Unlike several of Straub's other novels, this one is not a supernatural/horror mystery; it is a straight-forward murder mystery concerning a series of bizarre murders occurring in Southeast Asia that resemble war crimes from the Viet Nam War. A group of American Viet Nam Vets believe one of their own is responsible and decide to find him first before the law does. (less)