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Showing posts from August, 2009

The Very Best of Mr. Michael Connelly - Part I

I was about 50 pages into the latest Michael Connelly book, THE SCARECROW, when I flipped to the front. This is the 20th novel. I decided that rather than write a review of the novel, pretty good by the way, I would write a think piece about the relationship between a highly regarded crime novelist and how reader's take for granted the author if the high standard to which they have become accustomed to is not maintained over a lengthy run of books.

This idea was quickly abandoned out of laziness. Instead, I decided to take a cue from my friend, Peter, who recently ranked all of the James Bond films. I didn't feel I could tackle all 20 novels so the list below is just the non-Harry Bosch books. Mr. Connelly's next book 9 DRAGONS releases in October so don't be surprised to see a Bosch only list then.

I wrote this list up a couple weeks ago. I have given it some time to marinate. I did make any changes but I do want to say that there is a definite break between ranking 5…

Queenpin - Review

QUEENPIN is the third book in an impressive run from Megan Abbott. All of her books wallow in the grime riddled noir of the late forties and early fifties. Categorizing the type of book QUEENPIN is is a worth debate, but I am not interested in the pulp vs. noir discussion in the context of this review. Nor I am really interested in the historical background of this period. Historians have been particularly interested in replacing the perverse wholesomeness of the fifties with an exploration of the soulless bankruptcy of that particular generation. I think these are all things that can be inferred consciously or unconsciously from Ms. Abbott's work, but I don't read crime fiction for the sociological exploration of American Society.

What I do read Crime Fiction for is the very thing that Ms. Abbott has accomplished here; another simply plotted but fantastically written piece of fiction. Small admission. What draws me to these books is not the cracking Noir speak, the authentic L…

Shamus 2009 Nominations

Shamus nominations for 2009 have poked their head out. The Awards are given out the Friday night of Bouchercon. Check my previous post for information on attending the festivities.

Right off the bat it is great to see both Jason Pinter and Dave White nominated in the PBO category. THE EVIL THAT MEN DO was one of the best books I read last year. I have more thoughts, but I'll close by congratulating all the nominees.

Best Hardcover
Salvation Boulevard - Larry Beinhart (Nation Books)
Empty Ever After - Reed Farrel Coleman (Bleak House Books)
The Blue Door - David Fulmer (Harcourt)
The Price of Blood - Declan Hughes (Wm. Morrow)
The Ancient Rain - Domenic Stansberry (St. Martins Minotaur)

Best First PI Novel
Stalking Susan - Julie Kramer (Doubleday)
Swann’s Last Song - Charles Salzberg (Five Star)
The Eye of Jade - Diane Wei Liang (Simon & Schuster)
In the Heat - Ian Vasquez (St. Martins Minotaur)
Veil of Lies - Jeri Westerson (St Martins Minotaur)

Best Paperback Original
Snow Blind - Lori Arms…

Shamus Awards Banquet

One of the highlights of the Bouchercon Weekend is the Shamus Awards Banquet held on the Friday of the Con. The PWA always picks a great place to hang out for good food and conversation. Here is the information for this year's fete.

The PWA Shamus Award Banquet will be held Friday, Oct. 16, from 6:30-9:00 at The Slippery Noodle, the most popular blues bar in Indianapolis. Good food, great music, and the Shamus Awards. Tickets are $50 and are available now. Reserve your place asap as seating is limited. Email Bob Randisi at RRandisi@aol.com with your home address and an invitation will be sent to you.

Where the Dead Lay - Review

I hate to write a bad review, so by extension this will not be a bad review of David Levien's second novel, WHERE THE DEAD LAY. However, this was a pretty close call. What went wrong, and what went ultimately right?

The 'what went wrong' is pretty easy; basically the first one hundred pages. Character, plot, pacing, all of it. A stunningly uninvolved dirge. The elements of a story are thrown up on a wall to see what sticks. Not much did . So what changed?

Well, right around page 96 The author finally decides to get down to business. You can almost see the moment where Mr. Levien finally gets what his own story is about. It is ok to have a story where your lead character is spiritually lost, but the Frank Behr of the first third is being written as lost. Mr. Levien uses the sign post of personal tragedy to tell me that Frank is a lost soul. Don't tell me, show me. Once Frank''s focus becomes finding justice for his murdered Jui-jitsu instructor, he can sublimate h…