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Crime Fiction Thread 2.0.

post #1 of 3063
Thread Starter 
You all need to read this: http://www.amazon.com/Bang-Theo-Gang...1987416&sr=1-1

I would have written about Bang Bang, but the publisher fucked me over. The author assured me I'll get his next book. If its anything like Bang Bang, funny, hard-edged, thoughtful and soulful and somehow uses the tired setting of New York in a new way, we'll be seeing the growth of a major new talent, and in 5-10 years, this guy might be mentioned in the same breath as Pelecanos or at least Lehane. (And in a nice shout out to the guys he's influenced by, one character has books by Pelecanos, Price, and Higgins)
post #2 of 3063
So it's "Omar goes to New York?"
post #3 of 3063
Thread Starter 
Its not. You'd like it though.
post #4 of 3063
Read a really good one, Blood of Paradise, over the holidays, and re-read it recently. Top notch. Authentic and reminiscent of Joe Gores and Don Winslow in some ways; in some ways better. By David Corbett, who wrote The Devil's Redhead.

Also, The Blade Itself by Marcus Sakey. Sorry to say, despite the mad props on the cover, it didn't do much for me; a story I've read a hundred times before. I have to remember a Lee Child recommendation is not exactly uncommon.

And Adrian McKinty's conclusion to the Michael Forsythe trilogy, The Bloomsday Dead, is out in paperback. Nice to see the carnage Forsythe brought to Harlem and Mexico brought home to Ireland. Sorry to see him go. McKinty's currently working on a kid's trilogy, and surprise! The main character has lost a limb as well.
post #5 of 3063
I recently finished George Pelicanos' Night Gardener. I have to say I was very disappointed. Not a bad book mind you (6 out of 10), but a very, very slow one. It got better as it went on, but I have no desire to read anymore of his work.
post #6 of 3063
Quote:
Originally Posted by JudgeSmails View Post
I recently finished George Pelicanos' Night Gardener. I have to say I was very disappointed. Not a bad book mind you (6 out of 10), but a very, very slow one. It got better as it went on, but I have no desire to read anymore of his work.
I would beg you to reconsider. Even though i've only read a few of his novels I have to say that Pelecanos is fantastic. As a matter of fact I'm starting "Nicks Trip" tomorrow. I just wish my library had "A Firing Offense". Back on topic, give Pelecanos another shot. Try the Derek Strange series that starts with "Right As Rain".
post #7 of 3063
Quote:
Originally Posted by Subotai View Post
Read a really good one, Blood of Paradise, over the holidays, and re-read it recently. Top notch. Authentic and reminiscent of Joe Gores and Don Winslow in some ways; in some ways better. By David Corbett, who wrote The Devil's Redhead.

Also, The Blade Itself by Marcus Sakey. Sorry to say, despite the mad props on the cover, it didn't do much for me; a story I've read a hundred times before. I have to remember a Lee Child recommendation is not exactly uncommon.
"Blood of Paradise" sounds pretty interesting and you did mention Winslow so I'm there. The review on Amazon wasn't exactly glowing though. I think I'll try "The Devil's Redhead" first.

I have to agree with you about "The Blade Itself". I think it started out pretty well but went downhill fast. The protaginist (Evan?) just kept making the wrong move over and over. I gave up on it about halfway.
post #8 of 3063
Frankie Machine. My thoughts:

Anyway, one of the debates that constantly comes up in the world 'o' message board posting is the debate over "genre." Because something is written, or filmed for that matter, in a particular style, does that automatically make it less worthy of discussion or consideration? Is the fact that most genre fiction is, by and large, crap weigh down the good stuff that manages to slip through?

One of the guys this most applies to are Raymond Chandler and Dashiell Hammett, who are now widely considered to be a couple of the best writers of the WWII and post-war era, as well as pretty much inventing an entire genre, but because of their pulp origins, there's still that literary snobbitude. Or something.

Anyway, this debate most recently came up again in a thread on the CHUD Message Boards, and it was on my mind while reading The Winter of Frankie Machine by Don Winslow. Frankie Machine is not high art by any means, and it's not great literature. But it's a pretty fantastic genre novel that I whipped through in about two days.

What's it about? Well, see, there's this guy, Frank Machianno. He's a bait shop and linen service owner, surfer, coffee fanatic, does his crossword puzzles just like Stanley from The Office. He's a good guy, and one of the things I love is that he takes us through Frankie's daily life before pulling the reveal that's not really a reveal at all, because it says so on the back cover: Frankie's a retired hit man for the San Diego mafia.

I believe that great genre fiction, and particularly great crime fiction, is like jazz. The same basic form is there, the themes are repeated, and in order to set yourself apart, it's how you riff on those themes. It's the singer, not the song, as it were.

Frankie Machine is like great jazz. Sure, Frankie's a hit man forced out of retirement after he's set up, but Winslow creates an engaging and compelling character that we want to see turn out all right. Frankie's not a lug, he's a smart guy, a guy who likes opera and cooking. So we're willing to follow Frankie on his journey of discovery and vengance, which is filled with humor, quotable lines, and several really great action beats along the way.

One reason I really enjoyed reading The Winter of Frankie Machine is that, in Frankie's journey to figure out which someone set him up the bomb, we get flashbacks seeing how Frankie got involved in this thing of ours in the first place. Winslow brings the West Coast/San Diego mob scene of the late 60s through the 80s to as vivid life as Scorsese brought Vegas or New York and Chase brought New Jersey. What's notable about this, though, is that the years I mentioned are really about the decline of the mafia, and if it ever becomes a movie, it would be a nice counterpoint to Casino and the missing chapter in the American mob movie saga. This, to me, belongs between Goodfellas and Sopranos in terms of looking at the mafia from the ground level, from the inside.

Plus, it has a cameo from Richard Nixon. gotta love that.
post #9 of 3063
Quote:
Originally Posted by BorisTheCheese View Post
I would beg you to reconsider. Even though i've only read a few of his novels I have to say that Pelecanos is fantastic. As a matter of fact I'm starting "Nicks Trip" tomorrow. I just wish my library had "A Firing Offense". Back on topic, give Pelecanos another shot. Try the Derek Strange series that starts with "Right As Rain".
Like Lawrence Block, I find Pelecanos' earlier novels more powerful. The Night Gardener is a terrific book, and his Strange/Quinn series is brilliant. But every book need not be an epic crime drama. Down By The River Where Dead Men Go is still his best, imo.
post #10 of 3063
I really enjoyed the first Joe Pitt book by Charlie Huston, had to get used to the lack of quotations but I needs to check out the other two in the series.
post #11 of 3063
Quote:
Originally Posted by RathBandu View Post
Frankie Machine is like great jazz. Sure, Frankie's a hit man forced out of retirement after he's set up, but Winslow creates an engaging and compelling character that we want to see turn out all right. Frankie's not a lug, he's a smart guy, a guy who likes opera and cooking. So we're willing to follow Frankie on his journey of discovery and vengance, which is filled with humor, quotable lines, and several really great action beats along the way.
Exactly. Winslow is talented enough and familiar enough with the world of crime that he doesn't have to follow the rote pattern which so many crime novels fall into these days. It may not be literature, but it may be a classic.

Winslow wrote a terrific non-fiction book about a Vietnam war hero for some post-doc work. I bought it off Amazon and it's a great read for military buffs and hardcore Winslow fans. I'll post a link later.
post #12 of 3063
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by JudgeSmails View Post
I recently finished George Pelicanos' Night Gardener. I have to say I was very disappointed. Not a bad book mind you (6 out of 10), but a very, very slow one. It got better as it went on, but I have no desire to read anymore of his work.
Your loss.
post #13 of 3063
Quote:
Originally Posted by Cameron Hughes View Post
Your loss.
I can live with that. I'm a good 12 books deep on what I'm behind on reading. Nothing against GP but when I just read a mediocre (IMHO) book it isn't enough to bump the other 11 on my list. To each their own.
post #14 of 3063
I would suggest - in my humble opinion - go with his early stuff, maybe Nick's Trip or a really terrific tie-in called 'The Big Blowdown'. Pelecanos' stuff varies as does any author's, but he's too good to write off completely.

Check out this publisher: http://www.serpentstail.com/books?g=502

Most of the stuff they have is gold. I'm almost tempted to pick up the new edition of Adrian McKinty's Dead I Well May Be and Mosley's Always Outnumbered, Always Outgunned.
post #15 of 3063
Is anyone hip to this:
http://www.amazon.com/Dawn-Patrol-Do...2334421&sr=1-7

I checked out Winslows website and it hasn't been updated in forever.
post #16 of 3063
Thread Starter 
I've read a little bit of The Dawn Patrol and should be getting a copy soon, but it looks to be brilliant.
post #17 of 3063
It's about surfers. Hopefully good.
post #18 of 3063
Thread Starter 
I'm currently in a fascinating discussion with Sean Chercover over e-mail about what's wrong with the P.I. genre and why people obsess over the tropes when they're not really used as tropes. Chercover is a hell of a nice guy, down to earth and very serious about what he writes. Plus, the dude sent me a great Christmas card. Thought you'd all enjoy our thoughts, more as the conversation progresses.

Cameron:

I was talking to David Montgomery yesterday and we were talking about things we see too much in detective fiction, one thing we agreed on was Jazz. Now, I like Jazz, Its lovely and often great atmosphere music, and Miles Davis's Doo Wop is one of my favorite CDs ever, but where are the 30-40ish aged detectives that listen to funk, rock and soul?

So my question is, will your own musical taste bleed into Dudgeon's world besides jazz?

Chercover:
Great topic, and one which people (including me) feel very strongly about. Please feel free to share my response with David, if you think he'd be interested.


First, let me talk about Ray's tastes, then I'll address the Jazz issue.


In BC,BB Ray quotes two lines from Paint It Black by the Rolling Stones, and makes another reference to Keith Richards. He assaults Booker Washington to the song World Is A Ghetto by WAR, and says he knows the song well (in fact, I used the lyrics in the manuscript but the band would not grant me rights because they read the scene and didn't want to be "promoting violence"). In the parking garage waiting for Frank DiMarco, Ray tests himself to see if he can remember the complete lyrics to some of his favorite songs - Tangled Up In Blue by Bob Dylan, Stepping Razor by Peter Tosh, and Home of The Brave by Lou Reed. At Gravedigger's place, he listens to Running Away by Bob Marley & The Wailers. Driving to DC, he buys some CDs and listens to them in the car - Al Green, Jimmy Buffett, Moondance by Van Morrison (which reminds him of a previous girlfriend), and Little Richard (he even sings along to Keep A Knockin'). In a restaurant in Washington, he listens to Chopin. On the way down to Georgia at the end of the book, he puts Bob Marley's Uprising into the CD player.


Those are just the ones I can remember off the top of my head, without consulting the book. Oh, and I also mention The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down by The Band.


And the title of the book is made up of two blues songs - Big City by Luther Allison, and Bad Blood by Son Seals.


That's a pretty wide range, including Rock, Funk/R&B, Soul, Reggae, Folk-Rock, 50s Rock & Roll, Blues, and Jimmy Buffett (who is his own category). And during an early scene in his apartment, he talks about being an obsessive music fan. Says he's got over 1,000 CDs, and mentions that he has a bunch of Cajun music as well, and a little classical.


But do I ever hear anything about Ray's wide-range of music? Hell, no. All I get is the accusation that I tried to cop some cheap cool for Ray by making him a Jazz fan.


Yes, in addition to all the types of music mentioned above, Ray is also a big Jazz fan (as am I, obviously). If Ray ONLY listened to Jazz, I could understand the accusation. But the jazz references in the book are far outnumbered by non-jazz references.


I do not get why people only remember the jazz references (including a couple of reviewers who took me to task for the jazz). And I do not get why people seem to have declared, "There shall be no more jazz in PI fiction." I see no reason why a man in his 30s-40s can't be a jazz freak. I am, as are many of my peeps.


Yes, previous fictional PIs have been jazz fans. But I don't think most of the authors were trying to make their PI 'cool'. Some, yes, but not most. I just think the music spoke to them and they thought it would also speak to their PI. Previous fictional PIs were also drinkers (as are most of the real-life PIs I've known). Does that mean that all future PIs should be non-drinkers? Previous fictional PIs had relationship problems . . . should all future PIs be as happy as Spenser and Susan? Truth is, it's a shitty job and it tends to lead to drinking a lot and troublesome relationships. Maybe the authors are just trying to be true to that.


But I've been stung by the jazz criticism (as you can tell). In TRIGGER CITY, I actually went so far as to have Ray talk about how he can't listen to jazz much, these days. And the music references in the new book include Dylan (again) and Marley (again) and The Cure and XTC and Hound Dog Taylor and Son Seals and Stiff Little Fingers and Iggy Pop and David Bowie and The Cars and Sly & The Family Stone and Saul Williams and a whole bunch more...


But I bet I'll hear about the jazz again, even though there's very little of it in the book.


Long email. I hope I didn't bore you, and I'm glad you brought it up. If you have any insight into why readers only remember the jazz references when they're outnumbered 4-1 by non-jazz references, please share.


Why do you think people are sick of jazz, when they're not (apparently) sick of PIs who drink? I mean, I totally understand when the ONLY music mentioned is jazz, or when it feels like the author isn't really into jazz but is forcing it into the story for "coolness". Believe me, I hate that too (just as I hate it when the PI is a drinker but I get the sense that the author has never been a drinker and is putting on a pose because he thinks he has to conform to some 'hard-drinking PI' cliche). But I mean, when it is one of many types of music referenced?


What other things do you guys feel are overused in PI fiction?


And yeah, Doo-Bop is a great album. I love it, but Ray doesn't care for it. Ray's taste in music is wide, but not as wide as mine. And Ray doesn't listen to any Miles after Decoy. Which is too bad, because he's missing out on Tutu and Doo-Bop - both great albums, and a bunch of lesser stuff that is still worth a listen.



Cameron:

Jazz is remembered mostly from detective books because its such a trope. We, especially the guys that have to write about the books, expect to see the tropes and when we do, we tend to recall what we're expecting more than what's actually there(And I did catch a lot of the music references, but the jazz, because I expected it, stuck out, sorry about that and I hope my e-mail didn't have an accusatory negative tone). Music is often done badly though, like the writer just inserts it to add character to their protagonist. I don't believe for a second that Billingham likes country(though he says he does, it doesn't feel like it), and just had his protagonist Thorne like country for the weirdness factor of an Englishman loving such an American music. Drinking is more accepted, I think, because tons of people in high stress situations do it. Few have done it well. Ken Bruen and Block are the best, and Bruen took a LOT from Block's Scudder for Jack Taylor, one reason I can't wholly love those books, good as they are.

I hate the fancy car. Good God. Especially when used regularly when working on a case. I grin and bear it when Mark Coggins has August Riordan tool around in a Galaxie 500(And I love Coggins). I like the psycho sidekick-when it makes sense-but in worlds like Ray's, Scudder's, or Jack Taylor's, they don't make sense, so I was happy one didn't show up in yours. All Gravedigger was to me was a very sad and disturbed individual. I think New York is owned by Block, and is pretty much done to death, so I'm happy you use Chicago.

I'll die a happy man if real estate scams are put away for awhile. Same with ex-cops turned private investigators(Bonus hate if they left the force disgraced). Don't much care for detectives that don't like modern technology, as a former reporter, I'm glad Ray isn't part of that club and recognizes the importance of computers and cell phones.

I like that Ray is a struggling to quit smoker rather than drinker. That's a nice and different detail.

Thanks for the thoughtful response, and I'm a little ashamed that I elevated Ray listening to jazz to a level where I was thinking that's what he mostly listened to.
post #19 of 3063
Thread Starter 
Chercover:

Hey, man. Please don't take me the wrong way. I was not offended at all by your email. Sorry if it sounded that way.


I was just stung by the criticism in a couple of newspaper reviews, and I'm amazed that nobody remembers all the other music in the book. So my strong response is about that, and when I spoke of the "accusations" I was referring to the reviews, not to your email.


Ever since BC,BB came out, I've been reading reviews that bitch about the existence of jazz (not just in my book, but in lots of PI fiction). And yeah, I hate it too when it feels false, so some of that criticism is totally valid.


Speaking of feeling false - I can tell you for a fact that Mark B. is a HUGE country music fan. I don't care for most country music (with some exceptions - Cash and Williams (Sr.) and Willie and Steve Earle and a few others). But most of it does nothing for me. Anyway, Mark loves the shit. Go figure.


But anyway, even though I was sincere in my use of jazz, the reviews that criticized it and the many complaints I've since heard about jazz in PI fiction have made me wary of mentioning jazz in future books. And I really don't know what to do about that.


Any suggestions?


Interesting point about the drinking. In an earlier Ray manuscript (which I abandoned at about page 150), Ray was a much heavier drinker, with blackouts and all that. And although I felt authentic with it, I kept thinking that it was derivative of Scudder. He casts a large shadow.


I love the Jack Taylor books, and I also loved Caught Stealing by Charlie Huston, where the protag drinks like Taylor and Scudder. Huston's heavy drinker didn't feel derivative of Scudder or Taylor to me.


Totally agree with you about the fancy car. Even though Ray got a fancy car in BC,BB, I never had him use it when on a surveillance. And you'll be happy to know that he loses the car in TRIGGER CITY. I absolutely HATE it when a PI follows someone around while driving a fancy car and is never noticed. The Magnum PI syndrome. Nobody would notice a red Ferrari behind them for three hours, right? Bite me. That shit is rank.


Also agree about the Luddite PI. I've never met a PI who didn't take full advantage of the newest technology available. I also hate it when a PI would like to use his cell, but his battery is dead. Please. A working PI will carry a spare, fully-charged battery. No-Signal is acceptable, if he's in an elevator or basement or subway.


Ray is still struggling to quit smoking. He may succeed, but he hasn't yet. His drinking will probably increase and decrease from book to book (as it does in the lives of many drinkers) but I don't think he will ever go completely dry.


Your comments about Gravedigger touch my heart. Seriously. I've done a few interviews where I've been complimented on Ray's "psycho sidekick" but I don't really see Gravedigger that way at all. I see him as you do. A very sad and disturbed individual (with a good but damaged heart, I'd add). He never does Ray's moral heavy-lifting for him (and never will). I want Ray to carry that burden himself. Like you, I enjoy a good psycho sidekick (Mouse is my favorite) but it just doesn't fit into Ray's world.


Some of my favorite fictional PIs are ex-cops, and some of them were forced off the force ("forced off the force" - Ha!). But I see your point, and I'd be very happy to see more PIs who were never cops. Of course, most of the real-life PIs I've known were former cops - maybe 70 or 75% if you include former FBI, former CIA, former MPs or military intelligence officers. Still, there are too many in fiction. Writers tend to make them all former city cops, not the other categories I mentioned, which is too bad. And only a few are former journalists or come from other professions . . . or just always worked as PIs, straight out of college. Nothing wrong with that, but few writers go that way. I think part of the reason is, former cops have a network of contacts in the PD and that makes writing the book easier, because the PI can always call a buddy on the force to get things done for him.


Anyway, I'm sorry if my strong response was taken personally. I didn't mean it that way and I wasn't offended. Believe me, I'm not shy - when I feel offended, I say so. Truth is, I love talking about this stuff. Helps me think about why I'm doing what I'm doing, and ways to do it better.


I was totally sincere when I said, thank you for bringing it up. I enjoy the back-and-forth, and it helps me see thing clearly.

Cameron:

I levelled that charge at Jack Taylor for a couple reasons. Ex-police and drunk. Lives mostly in a hotel. Wanders the streets of his city. Feels like Scudder in Galway. Good thing Bruen is a good writer. Like you said, Matt Scudder casts a long shadow and writers who do a hard drinker need to be mindful of that.

San Diego actually has a fairly good jazz scene. You're ever here, check out a place called Dizzy's in downtown. It's a famous San Diego Jazz club.

You could expel the "Gravedigger is a psycho" shit by having him fail at doing something that a guy like Joe Pike or Hawk would normally do, or just not have him kill anyone. Another thing I hate is when the P.I. has a rather large body count and gets off nearly immediately by saying its self-defense. Ray only killed(really murdered) that one guy and barely only got off through lying and a good story(That no one really believed, but couldn't call bullshit and back it up). It tells a reader and a reviewer like me that Ray only has so many times he can do that before he does time. At least John Connolly, Lawrence Block and Bruen are willing to say that their characters are not particularly good people, they just try and do good and live with what they can achieve. Spenser is a super-hero and not realistic, and that's okay, because Parker at the top of his game? Fucking incredible. The ending of Rachel Wallace with Spenser crying floors me. Parker created genius there when he split the P.I. character into two people with Hawk as the funny and totally amoral guy and Spenser as the violent but thoughtful guy who'd rather just have a nice dinner with Hawk and Susan. (For the record, I LIKE Susan. Most don't, but most are just jealous they can't write a long-term relationship that works and has flaws. I think Parker is fully aware that Susan is overly talky and isn't flawless). If a writer does the psycho partner badly(And there are loads), he missed the point and just wanted the cool violent partner. Jeff Shelby, Henry Hunsicker, others...

And readers have short memories, focus on rock or something for a book, and they'll remember THAT instead of jazz. Have Ray engage in a discussion about what he likes with someone. Have diverse background music in restaurants and bars, both older stuff and modern music. That stuff works wonders for Pelecanos. When I get my book done, rap is gonna finally make its entrance into crime fiction. I'm no historian of music, but good hip hop can be beautiful.
Chercover:

I get what you're saying about Jack Taylor, but he feels authentic and original to me. Maybe because I'm so in love with Bruen's writing. But yeah, Scudder casts a very long shadow, especially for guys like you and me. I'm still shocked at how many people either haven't read the Scudder books or just read a couple and didn't love them. It's another thing that I just don't get.


Parker at the top of his game? Hell, yeah. The first seven Spenser books are some of my favorite PI books ever. I agree, the ending of Rachel Wallace is stunning. And he's written a handful of great ones later, but now he's just phoning it in. It's not Susan, per se, that I object to; it's the lazy writing of Susan. So in every damn book we're gonna read about her tight little Stairmaster ass and how she sipped another thimble-full of wine and bit off another microscopic piece of her sandwich and how her idea of making dinner is making reservations, blah-blah-blah etc. Often using the EXACT same phrases. Gets annoying after a few books.


There are far more bad psycho sidekicks than good ones. As I said, I love Mouse. And Hawk. And Joe Pike. And Clete Purcel. But I never liked Bubba, and I don't like most of them.


Re: Hip Hop. I'm glad you're working with that. That will be refreshing (and I'll learn some good hip hop to check out). I dig some of it, but I'm pretty ignorant of most. I love Saul Williams and Guru (with Gangstar and on his own, and of course his Jazzmataz albums). I like the first two Kanye West albums. And The Lost Poets are very powerful stuff. I've heard that Common is good, but I've never listened to him. Same goes for NAS. I liked The Game.


But that's about the extent of my hip hop education, to date. I do not like wannabe tough guys rapping endlessly about their bitches and ho's and diamonds and cars. I'm more into the political stuff.
post #20 of 3063
Chercover's cool with you posting this?
post #21 of 3063
Just checking, btw. Chercover's a good writer, and I'm looking forward to his next book. He's got roots in Toronto, too - autographed copies available all over the place.

I'd like to hear what other writers he's reading right now - besides the Bruens and the Blocks, I think they're pretty much a given.

I don't know that Block owns New York, though - he owns a certain part of Manhattan. New York is huge. SJ Rozan has a piece of Chinatown, and a few guys run in Brooklyn. McKinty is up in Harlem.

Bruen has never felt derivative to me - if you're familiar with his bio you know that description of the damaged soul comes from the heart. And Block gave up his claim on that territory when he made Scudder upper-class.

And Parker, I've mentioned this before, but he's really done a better job his last several books...He seemed to be in a rut from the mid-80s through about 5 years ago; I don't know what it was, but he has stepped out of the tried and true Spenser mold - had Susan or Hawk absent for a book, more vulnerability, deeper, more sympathetic side characters. Of course you wind up with adults acting like middle-school dropouts, that's kind of a given in Parker. But I've bought the last few Spensers in HC for the first time since A Catskill Eagle. Maybe, as Mike Wallace says in The Insider, it's the knowledge that you're close to the end of the road than the beginning.
post #22 of 3063
Thread Starter 
Yes he is.

I'm liking Parker a lot these days. I loved School Days.
post #23 of 3063
Lawrence Block and Matthew Scudder do for Manhattan what Chandler and Marlowe did for Los Angeles. I'm sorry, but there's no better post-war New York City detective. Period.

I'm about halfway through "Death and Life of Bobby Z" and already "I have a problem with impulse control" is my new favorite catchphrase.
post #24 of 3063
Thread Starter 
You're gonna love The Dawn Patrol, Brendan.
post #25 of 3063
Quote:
Originally Posted by Cameron Hughes View Post
You're gonna love The Dawn Patrol, Brendan.
Well give the rest of us a taste. Subatoi mentioned surfers. How about a little more? Pretty please???
post #26 of 3063
Thread Starter 
I can't talk about The Dawn Patrol yet. Give it a couple weeks.

Looks like I'll be having lunch or dinner with Winslow next Saturday(My birthday. I will be a quarter of a century old) at his house in Julian.
post #27 of 3063
Just popping in, seeing there's a crime fiction thread, to mention a book I just read.

Said book was the Point Blank reprint of Fred Zackel's 1977 novel Cocaine and Blue Eyes, featuring sad-sack low-end PI Mike Brennen.

It's a mystery and a dissection of 70's culture and 70's culture in the San Francisco area. It's garnered quite a following over the years, well regarded and I thought it lived up to the hype. This is according to some one of the key novels of a 70's PI fiction resurgence. What hype indeed. Consider what Ross Macdonald said about it back when it was released:

Quote:
"Fred Zackel's first novel reminds me of the young Dashiell Hammett's work, not because it is an imitation, but because it is not. It is a powerful and original book made from the lives and language of the people who live in San Francisco today."
The PI in this one is Mike Brennen, ex-MP, recently divorced, recently fired from his job at a private security firm, ekeing out a living on unemployment as his PI ticket is getting ready to expire.

He feels he deserves it. He'd cheated on his wife, no excuses, he'd sort of wandered into the job at the firm, desparate for work, and feels he was more lucky than anything at solving a case.

However he decides to take on the case of some sleazy fellow's missing girlfriend (or that's what the guy says she is) because he's got nothing better to do. Of course, the case ends up involving murders, skullduggery and the missing girl's incredibly screwed up family.

There was a sequel, Cinderella After Midnight that I've been looking into finding.
post #28 of 3063
Nice, love that 70s stuff. Have to look that one up.
post #29 of 3063
Thread Starter 
Cocaine and Blue Eyes is a classic. I love it.
post #30 of 3063
Has anyone read Loren Estleman? I picked up "Gas City" from my library and it sounds pretty interesting.
post #31 of 3063
Started reading him back in the day. Top-shelf. He and Rob Kanter were two of my favourites, with characters located in Detroit (the latter sadly gave up writing some years back). I'd quickly recommend his Amos Walker to those looking for the leaner variety of the genre, which is a little harder to find these days. Has also done some interesting historical mysteries and some very good westerns.
post #32 of 3063
Has anyone read L.A. Rex by Will Beale ? Police corruption novel by a serving LA cop. CHUD gave it a rave a year or so ago.
post #33 of 3063
I like me some Estleman. I got started on his westerns, esp. his novels about Marshal Page Murdock which are as grim and hardboiled as any crime fiction. Amos Walker may be an anachorism but he's very aware of it. Just got my hands on Retro and Nicotine Kiss, wanting to read the most recent Walker, American Detective.

Also, Estleman has a new novel coming out soon about an amateur detective called Valentino, a film archivist who works for UCLA, who already appeared in short stories in Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine.
post #34 of 3063
"Gas City" isn't doing it for me. I'll try out something else from Estleman I guess but I'm through with this one. Oh well, I'm on to "Done for a Dime" by
David Corbett.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bluelouboyle View Post
Has anyone read L.A. Rex by Will Beale ? Police corruption novel by a serving LA cop. CHUD gave it a rave a year or so ago.
Love "L.A. Rex" except for the ending. I can't wait for the "The Lion Hunters"
post #35 of 3063
Thread Starter 
Boris, my favorite Estleman is Retro, where Walker is hired by an old madam to find her son before she does or so that the ashes can get to him. And it has one of my favorite opening lines ever "What do you do with an old madam when she's peddled her last pound of flesh?"
post #36 of 3063
Just read my first Spenser/Robert B. Parker book. Man, Spenser is a real dick.

Anyway, I kinda enjoyed it, but it was BAD BUSINESS, which is recent and presumably just Parker spinning his wheels. Are there any classic Spensers I should have a stab at next? By classic, I mean: accessible. With a healthy helping of Hawk, the usual tics, etc.
post #37 of 3063
Anyone looking forward to Richard Price's new one? I hear amazing things.
post #38 of 3063
Richard Stark (Don Westlake) has a new Parker novel, Dirty Money, coming out in April. I mentioned it in the old Crime Fiction thread but it was destroyed in the revamp.
post #39 of 3063
Thread Starter 
For great Spenser, you wanna get Early Autumn, which is amazing. Its a big argument about what's best between two of his books, Early Autumn or Looking for Rachel Wallace(Which is amazing too)
post #40 of 3063
Preferred God Save the Child, but for all the early reviews of Parker the heir to McDonald or Chandler, he never quite demonstrated the talent or insight of either. His books since the turn of the century have demonstrated some admirable restraint.

Read a pretty good one this week, City of the Sun by screenwriter David Levein. Tough ex-cop helps family try to find missing boy while also helping them come to terms with his disappearance. A story done a hundred times, but Levein's strength in characterization and avoidance of some of the genre's cliches help immensely here. The fault of the story - As Dellamorte recently remarked about the movie Running Scared - is its focus and then retreat from the horror, the terrible crimes within. Still, a solid book.
post #41 of 3063
The first eight or ten of Parker's Spenser novels are the best. My personal favorite, maybe because it was the first of his books I ever read, was Looking for Rachel Wallace. Somewhere along the time the bland Robert Urich TV series came along Parker turned lazy and just started churning them out for a fat paycheck. That's when Spenser turned into a Superman/James Bond nothing is impossible for him cliche. It doesn't seem that way now, but back in the early and mid '80s when Robert Parker was first getting published his books and the Spenser character were very revolutionary. There had never been a P.I. like this before in American detective fiction. Totally breaking the Hammett and Chandler mold that had been diligently followed by other writers since the genre's inception. Unfortunately, today it seems the Spenser type of character is all we get in private eye novels.
post #42 of 3063
I've been reading some of the lesser known, or at least not-quite-so-well-remembered series from years past. I started getting into the late Benjamin Schutz' Leo Haggerty series, which ran for six books in the late 80's/early 90's. Harsh stuff, in a good way. Haggerty was hard edged, cynical, and less flippant than some of the other eyes who were being cranked out in the 80's. He wrestled with the ethics and moral dillemas of his job, but not like one of those lesser fictional PI for whom introspection meant readers being treated to shallow, mopey passages full of dime-store psychology. A tough guy, sure but not a superhero either. The last couple of books, he went through hell.

Quick title list:

Embrace the Wolf
All the Old Bargains
A Tax in Blood
(won the 87 Shamus award for Best Novel)
The Things We Do for Love
A Fistful of Empty
(a particularly harrowing novel, I think)
Mexico Is Forever

There were also three Haggerty short stories, including a final story to tie up loose ends, which were collected in an anthology of Schutz' short work entitled Mary Mary Shut the Door. So at least there was some closure.

Another series I remember liking was penned by one Robert J. Ray, about Murdock, a PI whose beat was Orange County, living in Newport Beach. Recovery of lost things and people, bodyguarding, etc. Ex-Army CID, Ex-cop and police tactics instructor. Likes the ladies, likes his detective work challenging and keeps an aresenal handy. Indeed, some of his detective work involves more two-fisted action and gunplay than detecting but there you go.
post #43 of 3063
Quote:
Originally Posted by BHWW View Post
I've been reading some of the lesser known, or at least not-quite-so-well-remembered series from years past. I started getting into the late Benjamin Schutz' Leo Haggerty series, which ran for six books in the late 80's/early 90's. Harsh stuff, in a good way. Haggerty was hard edged, cynical, and less flippant than some of the other eyes who were being cranked out in the 80's. He wrestled with the ethics and moral dillemas of his job, but not like one of those lesser fictional PI for whom introspection meant readers being treated to shallow, mopey passages full of dime-store psychology. A tough guy, sure but not a superhero either. The last couple of books, he went through hell.

Quick title list:

Embrace the Wolf
All the Old Bargains
A Tax in Blood
(won the 87 Shamus award for Best Novel)
The Things We Do for Love
A Fistful of Empty
(a particularly harrowing novel, I think)
Mexico Is Forever

There were also three Haggerty short stories, including a final story to tie up loose ends, which were collected in an anthology of Schutz' short work entitled Mary Mary Shut the Door. So at least there was some closure.

Another series I remember liking was penned by one Robert J. Ray, about Murdock, a PI whose beat was Orange County, living in Newport Beach. Recovery of lost things and people, bodyguarding, etc. Ex-Army CID, Ex-cop and police tactics instructor. Likes the ladies, likes his detective work challenging and keeps an aresenal handy. Indeed, some of his detective work involves more two-fisted action and gunplay than detecting but there you go.
I never read those last two Haggarty novels. Have to put those on my list. He was a favourite of mine in the 80s, along with Richard Hilary's Ezell "Easy" Barnes series, a terrific series about a black P.I. in New Jersey, a worthy predecessor to Walter Mosley's Easy Rawlins series.

I also dug Wayne Dundee's Joe Hannibal series, which first I picked up because of an Andrew Vachss blurb on the cover. Hannibal shared much with the description of Haggarty above. Dundee, thankfully, is still kicking around (you can visit www.waynedundee.com to see if he's your thing).

I also enjoyed the Matt Murdock stories, but I guess it ended when the main character up and left for Seattle. I read somewhere the author just hung it up.

There was just something about those 80s novels, they had a hard, rough edge and lacked the 'look-ma-I'm-writing' self-indulgence so many of today's authors suffer from.
post #44 of 3063
I haven't thought of Wayne Dundee in a good while. Yeah, he wrote some great stuff. The Skin Tight Shroud was all about Joe Hannibal's investigation into a murder in the porno business and The Brutal Ballet went deep into pro wrestling. He also wrote many solid Joe Hannibal short stories.
post #45 of 3063
Thanks for the Spenser info. While Early Autumn sounds pretty uneventful, I'll seek out Looking For Rachel Wallace ASAP. In the meantime, I'll take a crack at The Judas Goat, simply because it has a funny title and apparently concerns Spenser & Hawk engaging in a worldwide battle against terrorists!
post #46 of 3063
Thread Starter 
The lack of action and understated plot(parents want the kid so the other can't have him)of Early Autumn is the entire point. It talks about growing up, being your own man, the cost of violence and where to draw the line(Hawk, I believe, has one scene and after it, Paul simply states "He scares me". Hawk was once a shady character rather than gun-toting magic negro sidekick. ). Its a brilliant detective novel.
post #47 of 3063
Dundee's more recent Joe Hannibal novels were pretty satisfying, especially The Fight in the Dog which manages to take the reader on a 'tour' of the world of dogfighting without feeling as if the author took their research into a matter and infodumped it all over the reader.

In the 'really shortlived crime fiction series' department, I recall another novel Murdock series author Robert J. Ray wrote that I enjoyed, it was to have been the first of a projected series but none followed apparently. More mayhem in the O.C., 1988's The Hitman Cometh was the debut of Frank Branko, a Newport Beach homicide detective who investigates an assassination attempt on an evangelist running for Congress during a rally. The candidate was wounded but Branko's partner, working security, was killed. The investigation turns up all sorts of colorful folks, from a lesbian gun-for-hire, the evangelist's overly freverent wife, the hitman who pulled the trigger at the rally and a paranoid millionaire mercenary with a private fortress in the Santa Ana Mountains. Great book, shame there weren't any followups.
post #48 of 3063
Yeah, it's nice to see Dundee is still plugging away....I just googled Ray and he's apparently around 75, so I doubt much chance of Murdock Rocks Back or anything. Still, a fella can dream.

BTW, iirc Dundee was a force behind Hardboiled magazine, that great 80s/90s crime magazine.
post #49 of 3063
Big article about Price and "Lush Life" in Newsweek this week. I smell Pulitzer.
post #50 of 3063
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