Monday 27 February 2017
That shoeless foot looked incongruous lying on the pavement next to another foot encased in a shoe made of black kid leather. It was naked, private.... It was Maigret who retrieved the other shoe, which lay by the kerb six or seven metres away.
A series of strange phone calls leads Inspector Maigret through the Paris streets towards a man out of his depth amid a network of merciless criminals.
Maigret's Dead Man was my first taste of prolific Belgian author, Georges Simenon's Inspector Maigret in what was his 29th case. It was enjoyable, not least because of its overall length and is hopefully not my last encounter with the Parisian detective.
An unidentified man has been murdered on the streets, a man who had been phoning Maigret throughout the afternoon of his death. Maigret directing operations has to identify the man and discover his killer, all while placating or ignoring the magistrate with overall responsibility for the case.
Quite the challenge, but slowly Maigret builds up a portrait of the man. A careful analysis of his clothing, determining what work he may have performed; the contents of his stomach informing his social status and the type of establishments which he might frequent and enjoy his meals.
We have a few underlings ready to do Maigret's bidding without question, phone here, stake-out there, some door knocking elsewhere. Not especially fast-paced, but not pedestrian either, just a really enjoyable read. Maigret logically gathering information, turning supposition and guesswork into fact.
We identify the victim, we get a break in the case, again after some patient police work, cause some panic in the ranks of those responsible and after a few more mini-adventures close out the case. (I doubt I'm spoiling this for anyone by disclosing this.)
Plenty of applied logic, a bit of action, a surprising bit of graphic detail when interrogating a suspect and a satisfactory conclusion. Where's Simenon and his main man been all my reading life?
4.5 from 5
Originally published in 1948, Penguin Classics reissued this one last year. Part of a project to bring all 75 Maigret's give or take to a modern readership.
Read in February, 2017
Published -1948 (and 2016)
Page count - 240
Source - review copy from Penguin Classics team.
Format - paperback
Wednesday 22 February 2017
Hobbs is a professional thief who takes on a heist even though the money doesn't match the risk....but the woman behind the job does. It's a bad play that blows his world apart.
This novella is a prequel to THE SOAK, a searing crime novel that introduces an exhilarating new voice in noir fiction that’s as sharp, cruel, and relentless as the story’s unforgettable hero.
A quick and exciting 29 page read from a new-to-me author courtesy of Brash Books (and my wife – who is signed up to receive the publishers’ newsletter. The Lucky Dime being a February FREEBIE.)
I do like novels and stories featuring thieves and Patrick McLean’s man Hobbs is an interesting addition to my gang of favourites – Max Allan Collins and his character Nolan, Garry Disher’s Wyatt, Westlake/Stark’s Dortmunder and Parker to mention a few.
Hobbs has a sidekick here Brogna, who provides a bit of muscle and some solid back-up. The job itself is a take-down of a family laundry business, planned by one of the owners. Teddy Ida is dissatisfied with his sibling, Ervin and his running of the chain of laundries. Teddy’s fed-up being ignored and fancies a bit of pay back.
Add Grace, Teddy’s current floozy to the mix – a floozy he pinched from Ervin and who within half an hour of meeting Hobbs is get down and dirty with our thief and Teddy might be regretting getting some ideas above his station. Hobbs takes what he wants from who he wants, especially if they’re weak.
Sexual tension, violence, confrontation, a bit of safe blowing, a plan thwarted and a twist in the tale. Book buying embargo or not, I’m tempted to check out The Soak a bit later in the year.
Hobbs is my kind of character and Patrick E. McLean an author I reckon I’d enjoy in the longer format.
Patrick McLean has his website here. Not too sure where he originally hails from which is a bit frustrating for my OCD reading stats.
Read in February, 2017
Source - Brash Books Freebie
Published - 2017
Length – 29 pages
Format - Kindle
Thursday 16 February 2017
Who’d have thought a bright, but fairly ordinary young man from middle class America who got just above average grades, dated the same girl throughout high school and went to church most Sundays, would grow up to eventually head a very secretive band of brave individuals-both men and women-who regularly put their lives on the line because they wanted to protect the rest of you. Yet that’s what we did, often sacrificing our personal lives (four marriages for me, all in the book) and our health (countless broken bones, major surgeries, even death) to do it.
Meanwhile you’re just going to have to call me “Papa” like everyone else around the globe has through most of those wildly unpredictable and dangerous years.
Not a memorable read by any stretch of the imagination, I'm afraid. Code Name: Boring would be a fitting alternate title in my opinion.
"Papa" went to Vietnam, made a couple of life-long friends in combat and was recruited along with them to a shadowy, secretive organisation which set about eliminating threats to Joe Public's well-being all around the globe.
Corrupt American Generals, dodgy politicians, Mafioso types, drug-runners, human traffickers......BOOM, because with Papa and his trusty crew on the case......they're going down!
In between our missions, we have chapters spent training, recruiting, planning and living a far from normal family life.........dull, dull, dull.
Early on - maybe chapter 5 from a total of 43, I knew I wasn't going to be thrilled by this book, but was still minded to complete - albeit at a pace of a couple of chapters a day while enjoying a couple of more entertaining reads.
Missions described were vague and sometimes seemed a bit too fanciful to be true. Conversations recalled and reported seemed incredibly wooden......
He said, "Very good sir, would you like me to have the kitchen fix you anything to take with you?" I declined.
"You do know the plane has been waiting for you for approximately an hour?"
I replied I knew.
He said, "Sir, we will miss him also, but we understand you are our primary concern from now on. We will do our best to meet your needs."
I softly thanked him. After he closed the doors, I walked over and picked up my briefcase. I opened it, checked my revolver, and put it back, along with some papers I needed.
True - false? Who cares? Memoirs or fantasy? I'm not sure, at times it read like The Man Who Saved The World meets The X-Files.
Disappointing and 2 stars from 5.
(In fairness, a few folk over on Amazon.com seemed to enjoy this a lot more than me....24 reviews - 14 @ 5 STARS, only 1 @ 2!)
After finishing chapter 43, page 313, I softly closed the book.....plucked the skewer from my eyeball - implanted around 200 pages earlier, so I could experience a different kind of pain while reading, whispered "thank fuck" to myself and went off to make a sandwich.... (turn the page to discover just what type of lunch I made for myself)......yawnsville.
Read in February, 2017
Source - Book Publicity Services review copy. (Cheers Kelsey)
Published - 2015
Length - 326 pages
Format - trade paperback