Sunday, 23 November 2014

JONATHAN AMES - YOU WERE NEVER REALLY HERE


Synopsis/blurb….

A hero whose favourite weapon is a hammer clearly has issues. Lots of them.

Novelist, essayist, and creator of the beloved HBO series "Bored to Death," Jonathan Ames is celebrated not only for his comic sensibilities and devotion to the absurd but for his lurid attraction to inner demons. In this shocking and suspenseful new novella, the author goes darker than noir, with an ass-kicking and psychologically tormented guardian angel who rescues others but refuses to save himself.

A former Marine and ex–FBI agent, Joe has seen one too many crime scenes and known too much trauma, and not just in his professional life. Solitary and haunted, he prefers to be invisible. He doesn't allow himself friends or lovers and makes a living rescuing young girls from the deadly clutches of the sex trade. But when a high-ranking New York politician hires him to extricate his teenage daughter from a Manhattan brothel, Joe uncovers a web of corruption that even he may not be able to unravel. When the men on his trail take the only person left in the world who matters to him, he forsakes his pledge to do no harm. If anyone can kill his way to the truth, it's Joe.

"You Were Never Really Here" is a tribute to Raymond Chandler and to Donald Westlake and his Parker series, and it testifies to Ames's versatility and capacity to entertain in any medium or genre. A character for the ages, Joe shows us, with every bent cop, junkie, and pimp he confronts, that it's hard to be an angel in a fallen world.

PRAISE FOR “YOU WERE NEVER REALLY HERE”

“Like most people, I like my Jonathan Ames LONG, but it's amazing what he can do in 18,000 words, too. This piece would make Raymond Chandler happy.” —Gary Shteyngart, author of “Super Sad True Love Story”

"Ames' single is a good choice for lovers of Michael Connelly, Lee Child or Vince Flynn who are interested in character-driven thrillers." —Courtney Crowder, Chicago Tribune

Another short book this time, though in fairness it is over 50 pages so I am stretching myself here!

It’s another new author for me and someone who would have remained unknown to me had it not popped up in my recommendations from Amazon. Initially intrigued by the cover – I always find masks a bit freaky if I’m honest, especially animal-type ones in films, I clicked on the book and from the blurb above decided this was definitely up my street.

You can’t beat a bit of ass-kicking and psychological torment when the reading mood calls for it.

Dark, brooding, moody, powerful, violent, black, grim and sad – when we understand what Joe endured growing up. We discover Joe’s capabilities and indomitable will during the course of this short novella. He’s a loner, allowing no- one into his life. He lives with his mother, but they don’t communicate. We all know why.

Joe’s takes on a job rescuing a politician’s daughter, but things spiral out of control when the politician has a change of heart. When Joe’s mother and contacts and the only people Joe has a connection to – albeit with an emotional distance - become targets; Joe does what he does best with a frightening ruthlessness and capability.   

It’s quite interesting to consider what latitude we give the “good guys” to take down the “bad fellas” – are their actions excused because of the end result that’s delivered? An interesting question to consider in these difficult times.

I absolutely loved this one.

I did go and look up Ames' other books and this piece almost seems out of context with his other work. I have ordered a copy of I Pass Like Night though - short, cheap and off-beat.

5 from 5


Acquired recently on Amazon for Kindle. 

13 comments:

  1. I read a book by this chap years ago: it was called Extra Man, and I had very high hopes, but didn't like it all that much. It sounds very different from this one....

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    1. Extra Man didn't sing out to me when I looked up his work TBH.

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  2. Col - I like the fact that this one seems to deal with some tough and ambiguous issues. And although I'm generally not a fan of the 'horribly tormented protagonist,' simply because it's so often derivative. But this sounds like an interesting premise for a story. Glad you enjoyed it.

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    1. Margot, it definitely ticked all the boxes for me,

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  3. My usual answer... I like them longer. I may give this author a try someday.

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    1. I understand where you're coming from. I do think this had layers and depth to it.

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    2. You are persistent. I have purchased a copy for the Kindle, and will try it (when I cannot promise but 55 pages sounds good). I do have a problem with "hero whose favourite weapon is a hammer."

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    3. I do you enjoy it when you get to it Tracy. Looking forward to hearing your thoughts when you get there.

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  4. Col, Joe sounds a little like Mack Bolan, someone with no family or friends and often rescuing women and children from the clutches of global villains.

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    1. You're right - I think there's a lot of Lone Wolf avenging types in this genre's fiction. I'm quite partial to them myself!

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  5. Trying to find this as an old-timey book, you know, ink on paper? Can only find it as digital. Do you know where us old timers can get an analog copy?

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    1. Sorry I've had a look on the net and can only see it as a digital release I'm afraid.

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