Noir is alive and well in the future. The Troubleshooter: New Haven Blues by Bard Constantine takes the atmosphere and sensibilities of a '30's detect...moreNoir is alive and well in the future. The Troubleshooter: New Haven Blues by Bard Constantine takes the atmosphere and sensibilities of a '30's detective novel and blends it well with sci-fi cyberpunk into a tasty and appealing cocktail.
The Troubleshooter begins where all good noir crime fiction should, with a slightly disreputable, down on his luck shamus, excuse me, private detective. In this instance, it’s Mick Trubble, a guy with money problems and a price on his head. The twist in the plot is this private dick works out of dystopian, post-apocalyptic sci-fi city called New Haven. Mick takes a case to pay off his debts, a high risk venture, almost guaranteed to get him killed. The deeper he investigates, the wilder things become as he finds mayhem, android killers, and dark secrets from his own past.
I loved the style and sensibilities of this novel, a cool hybrid of Blade Runner and the Maltese Falcon. The characters are tough and gritty, with a side order of sneaky. You can trust no one, and everybody has something to hide. The author does a nice job of creating this world, the noir and sci-fi blend seamlessly. The plot does a lot of twisting, but manages to keep the reader along for the ride (and at the edge of your seat once or twice), and comes to a satisfying conclusion with just enough left over to whet the appetite for a sequel.
I can recommend The Troubleshooter: New Haven Blues easily.(less)
It has been a while since a book has compelled me to sit down and read it mostly cover to cover without stopping. But this one did. It's also a book w...moreIt has been a while since a book has compelled me to sit down and read it mostly cover to cover without stopping. But this one did. It's also a book where I find myself lacking somewhat in words to describe it properly, to do it justice. The book really doesn't need a review; it speaks for itself.
It's an old-fashioned fairy tale, wrapped up in mythology, at times sad, scary, sweet, and full of imagination. The book gets in your head and swirls around, sticking in places as you turn the page. You, as the reader, are immersed in sounds, sights, and smells most wondrous and fantastic and characters haunting and magical. It simply is an amazing book. (less)
Gastien (Part 1: The Cost of the Dream) is an interesting novel, a blend of history, sex and artistic dreams. It is an illustrative glimpse into a pas...moreGastien (Part 1: The Cost of the Dream) is an interesting novel, a blend of history, sex and artistic dreams. It is an illustrative glimpse into a past world decorated with steamy sex and colour.
Set in 19th century France, book tells the beginning of Gastien’s story, a French peasant who wants to be an artist. It details his abusive childhood, his escape to Paris, new friendships and sexual relationships, and the suffering he endures to fulfill his aspirations.
The novel’s strength is in its main character, a well-written and relatable persona. You do feel for his trials and get a good sense of his personality when reading, as well as engage with his life. Plus, the author did an excellent job with the details of an artist’s existence in the time period and the details of painting and technique; I found them realistic. There are some nice historic particulars, too, and the sex scenes are vividly portrayed.
However, the novel does have its problems. I found the prose did get repetitive at times, the plot to be stretched a bit thin, and the story lagged in the middle of the book. Some of the characterization (other than Gastien) is a bit one-dimensional, especially with secondary characters and I found much of the dialogue peppered with too many modern phrases such as “okay” and “gig”. These words detracted from the historic feel of the book for me and I felt the characters’ speech was at odds with the setting. The author also had the occasional tendency for explanative narrative regarding Gastien’s state of mind which I found unnecessary and distracting.
Overall though, I did enjoy the book, so I give it a mild recommendation, though readers should be warned this novel is quite explicit in the portrayal of sex and abuse. (less)
The second book in the Mac Faraday mystery series, Old Loves Die Hard is just as enjoyable as the first. It is another satisfying murder mystery chock...moreThe second book in the Mac Faraday mystery series, Old Loves Die Hard is just as enjoyable as the first. It is another satisfying murder mystery chock full of fascinating characters.
This time around, Mac Faraday’s ex-wife comes calling, bringing a lot of old baggage and some dead bodies, including hers. Mac becomes a suspect in his ex-wife’s murder, but ends up investigating the killing. He delves into his past, both personal and professional, to find answers and the killer.
The charm of the first book remains consistent in Old Loves Die Hard, with its compelling main character the strongest asset of the novel. The author provides a nice bit of character development as well, in both the ongoing relationship between Mac and Archie and insight into his previous marriage. The well-rounded characterization is astutely managed.
The plot is solid as well, spinning several threads and then pulling them into a nice tight conclusion. Several suspects are juggled nicely until the final reveal, which provides an interesting, and fateful denouement.
Overall, I can recommend Old Loves Die Hard, as a gratifying murder mystery and a great read. (less)