Point Blank discussion

23 views
Currently Reading > What we're reading right now #2

Comments Showing 1-20 of 20 (20 new)    post a comment »
dateDown arrow    newest »

message 1: by Joe (new)

Joe Nicholl | 75 comments Mod
Thought we could use a fresh "What we're reading right now #2" topic folder...We had 110 "Comments" and reviews of crime-fiction novels last time around...always fun to see others recommendations...! -I was going to put up a few mini-reviews in the next couple of days...see ya then...


Dennis L Mcguire | 3 comments I just finished the three-book series of Thomas Kyd novels by Timothy Harris - all very good. I've been reading and planning to read mysteries from the 1980s. Some authors include Stephen Greenleaf, Jonathan Valin, Arthur Lyons, Robert B. Parker, Newton Thornburg and Charles Willeford (the Hoke Mosley books). If anyone has suggestions for other authors who were writing in the 80's, I'd like to hear from you. Thanks.


message 3: by Joe (last edited Oct 11, 2020 09:01PM) (new)

Joe Nicholl | 75 comments Mod
Dennis L Mcguire wrote: "I just finished the three-book series of Thomas Kyd novels by Timothy Harris - all very good. I've been reading and planning to read mysteries from the 1980s. Some authors include Stephen Greenleaf..."
Hey Dennis, Thomas H. Cook is a solid crime-fiction author who started in the 1980 with his first novel Blood Innocents, Blood Innocents by Thomas H. Cook a NYC murder mystery that's a pretty good start. His 1996 book The Chatham School Affair The Chatham School Affair by Thomas H. Cook is excellent. Cook is still writing away today publishing a book yearly, check him out....-Charles Willeford is great....I've got The Shark-Infested Custard sitting in my pile...my favorite Willeford is The Pick-Up...he quite often throws in some comedy but in that book it's very intense...-I'll check out Tim Harris and the other authors! Thanks for posting!


message 4: by Joe (last edited Nov 15, 2020 02:25PM) (new)

Joe Nicholl | 75 comments Mod
Here's a few recent reviews I put up at My Books and in-turn pasted here....I welcome any comments...what have you read lately?

Pop. 1280 (Crime Masterworks) by Jim Thompson Pop. 1280 (1964) by Jim Thompson...I like absurdity, and Pop. 1280 is as absurd as they come...a twisted, sadistic sheriff runs his town in a slow, peaceful, nonchalant fashion so no one connects to his evil selfish ways...actually he's quite brilliant, gets what he wants (especially women), when he wants...on top of the absurdity it's very tongue-in-cheek, but...that doesn't allow the racist theme through-out the novel...I enjoyed the read, it's true noir and a classic of the genre...but it's not for everyone, soooooo, I'm not sure I can recommend it, either you'll love it (and 'get-it')...or not...4 stars outta 5!

Blacktop Wasteland by S.A. Cosby Black Top Wasteland (2020) by S.A. Cosby...just finished Blacktop Wasteland by S.A. Cosby...this is an Excellent noir-crime-fiction...I highly recommend. First, it's rural noir...lot's of action, cars, cars, cars and gritty violence...it's a well told story (plot centers around a heist), solid prose but nothing fancy, and strong realized characters (the lead character, Beauregard, is very cool)...this is probably the best crime-fiction I've read this year (tied with The Chatham School Affair by Thomas H. Cook)...4.5 outa 5.0
Coal Black Stories by Chris McGinley Coal Black: The Stories (2020)...Enjoyed reading this collection of East Kentucky rural noir...settings and characters were top notch...up to date stories with modern drugs of choice, that being oxy & fentynal....yet plot lines and troubles old as the hills with just a pinch of superstition & mysticism thrown in..the final three stories were outstanding and introduced two cool characters, sheriff curly Knott, an aging Vietnam vet law man who is a country version of Harry Bosch, featured in two stories, and, Cilia, star of the final story who is a near professional thief who finds her way out of trouble but is troubled by past relationships, so, she goes it alone. Yeah, I liked both characters very much, they could both be turned into lead characters in novel length books...the only take away is a few loose endings in a number of the stories. You could say they leave you in suspense but I would have liked to see more firm conclusions...other than that Coal Black: The Stories is really good rural noir...I recommend! 4 outta 5 stars!


message 5: by Nicholas (new)

Nicholas | 3 comments I just finished the second Juniper Song novel, Beware Beware, by Steph Cha. This book is great noir, but with a lot of references to Chandler, so I guess it’s also meta-noir.


message 6: by Joe (last edited Nov 15, 2020 04:11PM) (new)

Joe Nicholl | 75 comments Mod
L.A. Confidential (1990)... L.A. Confidential (L.A. Quartet, #3) by James Ellroy ....One of the few books where I saw the film, actually a number of times, before reading the novel. Another oddity, I have read nearly all of James Ellroy's books before L.A. Confidential, although this is his most popular book... Just the way things worked out for this reader...Book three of the L.A. Quartet, I found L.A. Confidential to be a mixed bag and a let down after Ellroy's previous book, a masterpiece of noir-crime-fiction, The Big Nowhere. Through 400 pgs., or 80%, of L.A. Confidential, the book has it all...Solid plot, strong characters, seedy L.A. atmosphere, lot's of suspense...then, around page 400, the book goes off the rails. The writing gets inexplicably confusing with suddenly new characters introduced, mindless sneaking around by character Jack V., a lot of standing around by the rest of the cast with again mindless yelling & screaming going on...I was scratching my head wondering if it was the same book -? Then, I'll admit, in the final 20 pgs the book does come together with a sensible, somewhat satisfactory ending...but even there I had an issue on how it was delivered (through newspaper articles)....Sooooo, this book, being "the legendary L.A. Confidential” and coming right after the fantastic, The Big Nowhere, I expected a little better...3 outa 5 Stars....oh well, can't win them all...Besides, Mr. James Ellroy, who many believe is he best crime-fiction writer over the last forty years, has given us three classics, The Big Nowhere, American Tabloid, and My Dark Places: An L.A. Crime Memoir...plus, many other near classics like the hilarious Bloods A Rover (LOL..."Hi! We're Archie Bell and the Drells from Houston, Texas"...so flipping funny!) and the recent Perfidia & This Storm...L.A. Confidential not living up to it's reputation for this reader is no big deal...who knows, I may be just blowing smoke and you might love L.A. Confidential...I hope you do! :-) Looking forward to White Jazz, #4 of the L.A. Quartet! -A side note...I've met James Ellroy three times at film-noir get togethers...he's a Good Dude! He gives all attendees his time, will sign any of his books, and I noticed he just loves to stand around with a group of guys shooting the breeze about crime, crime-fiction, films, etc...he becomes one of the gang quickly (so do I, he-he!)...James Ellroy, good people!


message 7: by Girard (new)

Girard Bowe | 10 comments Hi, Joe - LA Confidential was my first James Ellroy, and I remember having trouble following all the storylines. However, as I like to say, I was along for the ride. It was a fun read and subsequent re-readings help sort out the storylines. It's still among my favorites. I thought the film did a good job of adapting the characters and stories and keeping the flavor of the book. Black Dahlia, by the often fatally-flawed Brian DePalma, was a disappointment.

I just loved White Jazz, the apotheosis of Ellroy's trademark pared-down style. There was talk at one time of a Joe Carnaham film of this, with George Clooney as the main character (bad, bad cop) and John Cusack as his partner. Too bad it never got made - it would have been great to see Clooney play against type.

I agree with you about The Big Nowhere, which somehow gets neglected after The Black Dahlia and LA Confidential. Great book. Might be time for a re-read of Ellroy's LA Quartet. I enjoyed those more than the more recent novels. That said, all Ellroy's novels are worth reading. He's probably my favorite crime writer.

I had the pleasure of attending an Ellroy book signing/reading in DC for White Jazz. He was very entertaining, and could not have been more gracious. Even my wife, not a crime-fiction reader at the time, thoroughly enjoyed him. I had several hardbacks for him to sign, which he held up to the crowd, many with bags of paperbacks, and said, "Look, folks - full pop!" Definitely a Good Dude.


message 8: by Joe (last edited Nov 17, 2020 04:25PM) (new)

Joe Nicholl | 75 comments Mod
Hi Girard, Thanks so much for the reply and input...sounds like we're on the same page concerning the L.A. Quartet...I felt both Dahlia & Confidential had it all except plot structure which broke down in both at the 3/4 point...BUT...The Big Nowhere...To me that book is a classic and up there with Raymond Chandler, Ross Macdonald, top tier...Ellroy lives here in Denver (last I knew) and for about two years running he sponsored a once a month Film noir night at the local Alamo Movie Theater (in Littleton) where he played a film or two, finish off with some discussion, crack-a-few-jokes, then hit the bar and joke some more (although he never drank)...a very small, informal group, I even took my teenage daughters along...lots of fun. He sponsored a film-noir festival here but I don't think it pulled in a big crowd (at least when I attended), then This Storm was published and I think he ended film-noir night! -Thanks again , please submit a review anytime you'd like...its fun to see what others are reading! (I typed this on my phone, probably lots of typos...)


Dennis L Mcguire | 3 comments Joe wrote: "Dennis L Mcguire wrote: "I just finished the three-book series of Thomas Kyd novels by Timothy Harris - all very good. I've been reading and planning to read mysteries from the 1980s. Some authors ..."

Thanks for the Thomas H. Cook recommendation. I read The Chatham School Affair and agree that it was excellent. I didn't know about Blood Innocents but it sounds pretty good.


message 10: by Joe (new)

Joe Nicholl | 75 comments Mod
Dennis L Mcguire wrote: "Joe wrote: "Dennis L Mcguire wrote: "I just finished the three-book series of Thomas Kyd novels by Timothy Harris - all very good. I've been reading and planning to read mysteries from the 1980s. S..."

Hi Dennis, Glad you liked The Chatham School Affair...always dicey when recommending books! :-) I thought it wasa great book, one of the best I've read this year...I like Thomas H. Cook...a lot...he's a very solid writer. I've read five or six of his now and plan on reading them all...up next for me is Cook's The Crime of Julian Wells which I'm going to read only because it's offered for $2.99 at Kindle...looks really good too. Blood Innocents is Cook's first novel, a police procedural following an old Detective as he investigates a murder(s) in NYC...describes NYC very well...a little rushed at the end but it is a first novel...a solid, quick read...-drop by and post a review or observations on any book, anytime you'd like! Thanks again for reading Chatham, Joe


message 11: by Dennis L Mcguire (new)

Dennis L Mcguire | 3 comments I liked Blood Innocents, as well. Not as polished as The Chatham School Affair but definitely entertaining. Thanks for the recommendation.


message 12: by Joe (new)

Joe Nicholl | 75 comments Mod
you bet Dennis! Than you for reading...yeah, a really good first novel!


message 13: by Joe (last edited Apr 22, 2021 01:16AM) (new)

Joe Nicholl | 75 comments Mod
I've been busy with digitizing old photos lately so not much on the Good Reads Point Blank scene....but I always like to list my five recent crime-fiction reads...feel free to comment, debate, list your own...-other than Dead Dogs by Manny Torres (#3) it's been kind of slim-pickins' since the first of the year...-also, I sometimes write too much...read what ya want....

1. Winter Counts by David Heska Wanbli Weiden Winter Counts by David Heska Wanbli Weiden (2020), A solid first novel for author David...strong plotting beginning to end...characters realized...action scenes believable...overall a fun read about Lokota tribe enforcer Virgil who must save his nephew from evil elements. Only negative is the writing, or prose, from word to word by the author...there's this odd cadence to the way he puts words together...sentences & paragraphs....I found it repetitive & boring...I wish I could put it in words better...maybe a better editor -? But this can be can be tweaked and there will be more excellent books & stories by this author, David...3.5 outa 5 stars...

2. The Dead Are Discreet by Arthur Lyons The Dead Are Discreet by Author Lyons...The Dead Are Discreet by Arthur Lyons (1974) is a first novel and isn't very good. I read it because I like to read crime-fiction that was written in '70's. The book introduces former reporter now a Private Investigator, Jacob Asch. to the genre. The plot is unimaginative, A to Z, Private Investigator fodder..the cast is cardboard cutout...it gets kinky near the climax (pun intended) and that twist barely makes sense, it came off obligatory...and...the final two paragraphs are absolutely horrible, made me want to puke...I'd like to exlpain why the very final was so bad, but I try my best to stay away from spoilers...if you read it you'll see why..Oh, also, the 'who done it' portion of Discreet was lame and barely made sense I am going to read the second book in the Jacob Asch series, All God's Children, supposed to be about L.A. Biker Gangs and got good reviews...we shall see...barely 2 outta 5 Stars only because it's a first book...read my entire review at My Books...the torture never stops...

3. Dead Dogs by Manny Torres I liked Dead Dogs by Manny Torres ALOT! (2020, Kindle, $5.99, 151 pgs)...it's a quick slam-bang Road-Noir novel...it's follows two mis-fits, Phobos and Chuck (they kinda reminded me of the John Mellencamp song Theo & Weird Henry only dipped in a stenching, caustic, bubbling, poisonous brew of Road-Noir), who are in debt to wheel-chaired bound local kingpin Boots, who has a side endeavor of running nightly dog fights...To work off their debt to Boots, Phobos and Chuck must dispose of the Dead Dogs, and the occasional human! From this point on you delve into the carrying on of these two, and the mostly mean people they get entangled with, and the violence they encounter around every corner...Did I say Violence! Yes sir! If you like slam-bang violence this one's for you! But I wanted to point out the well crafted writing of Manny Torres...I wouldn't say he has prose, wording is pretty straight forward, but the way he pieced the novel together makes for interesting reading...He starts with Phobos and Chuck, who they are and their predicament/conflict...then he cuts to a whole, seemingly unrelated group and what they are doing...and then he jumps again...etc...makes for interesting reading, keeps you on your mental toes. In fact, I wish I had taken some simple notes of characters names etc while reading...But
never fear, all comes together quite satisfactorily at the end with a strong ending...-I plan on re-reading Dead Dogs a second time this summer and have a pencil & paper handy to jot down some simple notes and character names along the way...yeah, I liked Dead Dogs plus it's an interesting read...4.0 outta 5.0 stars!

2. Kiss Me, Judas by Will Christopher Baer Kiss Me, Judas by Will Christopher Baer Man, I've been picking a lot of Bad books lately...I was really looking forward to this one....a new author to me, pretty good reviews, a neo-noir, had me thinking maybe a new Jason Starr..also, it takes place in Denver where I live and one setting is Ft. Logan Mental Health where my wife used to work for 16 ears. It had me excited...then, I got close to the half-way point in the book and said, 'This ain't doing it for me!' The lead character was cartoon like..very quickly there's a lot of meaning-less woman and meaning-less sex...the two main crimes in the book are NOT enough to keep one centered on the plot (that's due to the writing)...so, yeah...stick a fork in me, i'm cooked...i've got some very good books on my pile, i'm-a gonna move on! 0 Stars...it SUCKS!

1. A Coffin for Dimitrios by Eric Ambler A Coffin for Dimitrios by Eric Ambler...the high-mark is Eric Ambler's writing, his prose is top-notch. It's always fun to read a writer who is unique, uses the English language like a palette, and has his own voice ( ex: Don Delillo, Ross Macdonald, Hemingway, etc.), author Eric Ambler is one of those writers...-Dimitrios was very similar in plot to Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness (Apocalypse Now)...the main charactor, Englishman Latimer, a mystery writer...basically gets pulled into the case of the murdered Dimitrios in Turkey...Latimer's investigation leads him on a journey to Sofia, Bulgaria, and on to Paris. On the way Latimer interviews a number of characters...at each stop the departed Dimitrios legend builds & builds making him a larger-than-life character...See the resemblance to Heart of Darkness...a journey, characters along the way, a huge build-up of the antagonist...even the end is similar to HoD (no spoilers)...so, the story was familiar...Next, I found a lot of the scenes took place in discussion or in flash-back....there was some real time action but it happened in the last 30 pages...sooo, I got kind of bored reading this book...and for me that's the last nail in the coffin...-To sum-up, Dimitrios was well written but I feel the plot was borrowed and I got bored reading it (But, I did finish)...3 Stars from me...


message 14: by Justin (new)

Justin | 96 comments It disappoints me to say this, but I was deeply unimpressed by winter counts. I wanted to be blown away. I wanted it to be one of the best reads of the year. But it wasn’t for me in part for the reasons Joe stated. But more than that, I didn’t think the characters were very well developed and I thought the plot was so paint by numbers that I knew everything that was going to happen before it happened. Too predictable. Anyway, I hope David writes another one and works out the kinks, because I like the setting and the theme and we need more indigenous noir!


message 15: by Joe (last edited Apr 27, 2021 08:39PM) (new)

Joe Nicholl | 75 comments Mod
for me it's been slim-pickin's though 2020 up to today...I've taken a new/old approach, I'm going with my old stand-by favorite authors for five books...I just finished one by Thomas H. Cook, The Crime of Julian Wells, which wasn't his best but was pretty good, plus I knew what I getting into for an enjoyable read and not rolling the dice on unknown author...I'll continue that plan with David Goodis Dark Passage up next...-Ha!!! LOL...always changes...I read The Expendable Man by Dorthy Hughes within the last year...BUT...haven't read Pink Horse...I'm gonna do it! Goodis is gonna have to wait one book!


message 16: by Justin (new)

Justin | 96 comments Dark passage is very good, but pink horse is special.


message 17: by Simon (new)

Simon (toastermantis) | 20 comments I am right now reading House of Fear by Leonora Carrington, which tangentially relates to horror but certainly not the realistic crime fiction this group is dedicated to.


message 18: by Joe (new)

Joe Nicholl | 75 comments Mod
Hello Simon, House of Fear sounds interesting...you mention horror -?... The advertising blurb says Leonora Carrington is a mixture of fiction with realty & surrealism...I'll give it a read soon... -I used to read a lot of Don Delillo (Underworld, White Noise, Libra...) who ventures in the surreal-realty territory...and of course you could draw a line back to James Joyce (Ulysses), William Faulkner (The Sound & the Fury), Thomas Pynchon (Gravity's Rainbow)...I would even put Jack Kerouac (On The Road) in that territory...but I'm sure all are stylistically different from Carrington. I started off reading crime-fiction as a teen, then fell into years & years of sci-fi and free-form as listed...but since 9/11 it seems I've reverted back to reality-based crime-fiction (and non-fiction) as is read on Point-Blank (Justin & Kurt do a great job leading the way through this genre with their podcasts). I for one feel that the noir & P.I. authors write the rules of real-life in an entertaining way that connects with me (simplified an eye-for-an-eye maybe)...That would be the classics David Goodis, Ross Macdonald, to Ed McBain & Lawrence Block to modern writers like S.A. Crosby and too many to mention...then there's the neo-noir crime-fiction movement (for lack of a better title) led by Jason Starr, and followed by Paul Heatley and many other writers in the same vein...In this heated-world realism speaks to me better than free-form, sci-fi, fantasy, etc....-I'm very impressed by your logged book count of 1,000+...LOL...I subscribed to GoodReads in 2013 but never logged a book till 2019! Oh well!

on wrote: "I am right now reading House of Fear by Leonora Carrington, which tangentially relates to horror but certainly not the realistic crime fiction this group is dedicated to."


message 19: by Simon (new)

Simon (toastermantis) | 20 comments I am reading Olaf Stapledon's Star Maker... as I am currently taking a break from crime fiction to read more science-fiction and fantasy insted.

On the other hand I have started reviewing more old favourite crime novels I remember fondly, most notably Ross Macdonald's The Way Some People Die and Find a Victim. Also The Barbarous Coast by the same author, which I found not up to the author's usual standard but very entertaining nonetheless.


message 20: by Justin (new)

Justin | 96 comments I'm looking forward to returning to Ross Macdonald soon. We are reviewing Margaret Millar's Beast in View in the next episode (#64).


back to top