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Monthly "Reads" > Barry's August

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message 1: by Barry (new)

Barry (barrypz) | 2997 comments


2009


Aug 09

Rain Gods: James Lee Burke
He may be getting on in years, but the quality of his writing had not suffered for it. The blurbs were warning me of the nastiest villains yet, but as with all of Burke's bad guys, they had a code and morality all their own, and some understanding of this code was a prerequisite to living to the end of the book.
The M/C was Hackberry Holland, related to Billy Bob Holland, and star of a long ago previous book (also quite good). He is a survivor of Chosin, and a man of moral character. We first met him as a drunken congressman, and now see him in his twilight years as a Texas lawman.
The writing is a lyrical as ever. Nobody paints with words quite like James Lee, but if he used a canvas, we would call him Hyronemous Bosch. (A-)

Blood Thirsty: Marshall Karp
I'm happy to say that the great premier novel was not an aberration. Bloodthirsty continues the trend of well written novels with a strong sense of humor and good plotting. We remain in Hollywood, where our dynamic duo gets assigned a series of celebrity murders, with the small twist that the bodies are drained of blood. The killers were an interesting choice, and I love interesting choices. (B+)

The Night Stalker: James Swain
A new protagonist, Jack Carpenter, an ex cop who worked missing persons, or more specifically, missing children. In character, the new guy is not so much different from the old guy, and the general structure of the book is the same with a major case and a series of minor cases where the M/C gets to show his brilliance. The book is written with good humor, and the dog is a good character and addition to the book. (B+)

Bloody Mary: JA Konrath
When I finished Whiskey Sour, I was not convinced I was a Konrath fan. Bloody Mary has changed that, with a nice, twisty story melded into a nice twisted life, and a good sense of humor on the side. Too many turns to tak about this one without giving something away. (B+)

Dark Harbor: David Hosp
A Board recommendation, I am not ready to wax poetic after the first book, but I am willing to admit to enough promise to go on to the next, when it falls into my hands. The story was well written, even if the theme of lawyers having brushes with the law is kind of old. My quibbles involved "who knew what", in that characters seemed to gain knowledge that I, as the reader, had, but they, as the character, had not earned. (B+)

The Traffickers: WEB Griffin
Back to his Philadelphia cop series, which he has not written to in decades. The plotting was WEB, but the writing itself lacked soul, so was likely the work of his son. (B)

A Welcome Grave, Michael Koryta
A good, honest hardboiled mystery. The misdirection was sublime, and if I could complain about anything, it would be the amount of times that people were being led around at gunpoint. The tale was one of revenge for a murder 5 years earlier. Much can be forgotten in that time, much can disappear. Our hero is wrongly accused, and we get 300 nail biting pages of his trying to set it right. (B+)

Flippin Out: Marshall Karp
Still entertaining, but Karp could not keep up the manic pace he set in the first book. There are stiull some great lines, but the mystery itself, the murder of police wives who were "flipping" houses, lacked some of the rigor of past mysteries. (B)

The Dangerous Hour: Marsha Muller
Much as there was an attempt to steal her identity in an earlier book, in this one, it is her agency under similar attack. I had some problems with the villain in this one, both in his ability to pull off the scam, and his desire to do that rather than take more drastic revenge. (B-)
Joint Task Force America: David Meadows
I can tolerate an awful lot in a techno-thriller, since they are so few and far between, but this was too close to the bottom of the barrel, wooden charcters (but a certain amount of technical accuracy) (C)

Play Dead: David Rosenfelt
Some humor seems very natural, like Karp or Evanovitch, or even Brian Haig. Some seems more forced, like Westlake, or, in this case, Rosenfelt. The books have an honest mystery incorporated, and a fairly likable cast of characters, but for all the entertainment value, you can see he works at it. (B)

Hunting Season: Nevada Barr
I never thought much of the Natchez Trace till Lorraine posted her trip there. The pictures and description added color to the two Barr stories that took place in that area. Hunting Season put Anna in a place and time that was uncomfortable for a woman, and for a black man. Events occurred, and in the context of the little part of her world I saw, convergence was inevitable, but Anna took much more time to put the pieces together. And just maybe, she has gotten a bit cold, though not in her relationship (think Julia Spencer Fleming) with the sheriff/priest.(B+)

Gun Shy: Ben Rehder
If you like a Robert Altman movie, the kind where where there are millions of characters and they all seem to be doing different things and talking at once and somehow it all comes together in the end, then you will love this. I had trouble keeping track of characters, I needed a scorecard, but the book was written with good humor (think: Thank You For Smoking) and a multifaceted mystery solved by a variety of interesting cops. (B+)

Cat Chaser: Elmore Leonard
You never know what to expect with Leonard, sometimes he will endear a character to you, then kill him. Sometimes the criminal is celebrated as the hero. Sometimes it is a bit of both, or just something different. Add to the mix that this book is over 25 years old, but still reads well.
In this case, the "hero" is an ex marine who owns a small resort in Florida, and wants to settle in with the woman of his dreams, who happens to be married to a rich Central Amarican general. Toss a couple scammers in the mix, add Leonards trademark dialog, and a fun time is had by all, or at least the survivors. (B)



message 2: by Marcy (new)

Marcy | 865 comments I just put Bloodthirsty on my TBR list. You reminded me how much I liked The Rabbit Factory.


message 3: by Susie (new)

Susie Fevella (susieinks) | 1610 comments Great list Barry! I have Play Dead on audio and really need to get around to listening to it.


message 4: by Melodie (new)

Melodie (melodieco) | 3604 comments I read BUCK FEVER by Ben Rehder a few years ago, and equating his books with a Robert Altman film is a good description. I met him at Bcon in Vegas and he was really a kick.


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