Friday, 11 June 2021

ANDERSEN PRUNTY - KILL YOUR NEIGHBOR (2017)

 


Synopsis/blurb ....

When Emma and Kip Dupree bought their first home together, they got a lot more than they bargained for. They wanted to get out of the city and get on with their lives on the quiet cul-de-sac. Instead, an object of obsession brings their lives to a screeching halt.

Who is the woman living next door?

Why does she do the curious things she does?

Why do Emma and Kip feel like their lives have been so disrupted?

How do they get her to stop?

The Duprees are only sure about one thing: the social contract must be upheld at all costs.

A short book so a short review.

Every homeowner or renter's nightmare - a difficult, irritating, unreasonable neighbor.

Our young couple, Emma and Kip move to, if not the house of their dreams, one which is at least affordable. You buy the house, but you don't buy the neighbors. The old woman next door rebuffs friendly overtures and over the next few months along with her dogs (and the product of their bodily functions), makes life hell for our twosome.    

Communication issues, disagreements, outright hostility, escalation allied with a reduction in rational thought and behaviour. The situation spirals out of control. Peace and a sense of tranquility is restored but at a price.

I quite liked this one. It's easy to relate to a difficult and sometimes impossible to resolve situation. I can't imagine being driven to those extremes, but hey who knows what we're all capable of if enough of our buttons are pushed.

4 from 5

Mr Punty has been enjoyed before - The Driver's Guide to Hitting Pedestrians and Jack and Mr Grin


Read - (listened to) June, 2021
Published - 2017
Page count - 42 (1 hr 10 mins)
Source - Audible purchase
Format - Audible

Thursday, 10 June 2021

JEFFERY DEAVER - AN ACCEPTABLE SACRIFICE (2012)

 


Synopsis/blurb ....

They call him 'Cuchillo' – the Knife. Not because he kills with a blade – he has plenty of men to do that kind of work for him – but because his mind is so sharp. As Mexico's government wages war on the drug cartels, it takes brains to survive, and Cuchillo has not just survived – he has prospered. But when Cuchillo begins to cut too deeply, the federal police of both the United States and Mexico step in to dull his blade.

P. Z. Evans and Alejo Díaz know the Hermosillo cartel is planning an attack on a tourist bus in Sonora, and they know they will have to capture or kill Cuchillo to stop it. The cartel leader has just one weakness: rare and ancient books. To destroy the intellectual's evil empire, this unlikely pair of policemen will have to appeal to his inner bibliophile.

A long short story from an author that I have tried once before, though can't actually remember what or when. Maybe the first in his Lincoln Rhyme series? At some point in the future I would like to give him a proper go. For now I tried this story.

I quite liked it to be honest. We have two main characters, both likable and interesting with appealing traits and both on on a collision course. I think I found the suspected bad guy, Cuchillo a little bit more engaging than his, as yet undetected nemesis, Evans.

Evans has come down from Washington to Mexico. He doesn't enjoy the heat, but other than a few grumbles he gets on with things. He's intelligent, inventive, capable and well versed in sneaky tricks. 

Cuchillo is a Mexican businessman and he's the target of an assassination attempt by Evans with his black ops, off the books, American agency sanctioned but deniable operation. US Intelligence (an oxymoron - I'm joking!) think he's plotting an attack which will kill a bus load of innocents. The intention is take out him and prevent the attack. It's a lot easier said that done, as Cuchillo is well protected and insulated and is aware that he may be on someone's hitlist. He's a very careful man.

We spend time in his company and for long periods there is an inkling that the intelligence is wrong and that a pre-emptive strike by the good guys, will kill an innocent man (and not for the first time). We also see his weakness; a fondness for books and an impressive library and the avarice of a true collector.

I liked how things developed. Maybe the revelation regarding Cuchillo's true nature - evil or innocent - was a little bit blunt, but it got us where we were going. Deaver serves up a few more twists before a decent enough outcome.

Overall I had an entertaining hour or two reading this one. My appetite is whetted for something a bit more substantial from him. 


4 from 5

Read - May, 2021
Published - 2012
Page count - 74
Source - FREEBIE copy from Mysterious Press
Format - PDF read on laptop

Tuesday, 8 June 2021

GERRY BOYLE - BLOODLINE (1995)

 


Synopsis/blurb ....

Hoping for a fresh start and a clean slate, McMorrow has a new home in the cheerful-sounding town of Prosperity, Maine. But nothing ever goes easy for Jack, so when a freelance gig leads him to a teen mother and some high school hooligans, it's not child's play. A girl is murdered and Jack's investigation places him squarely in the killer's sights.

My second time around with author Gerry Boyle and his investigative reporter, Jack McMorrow. I'm happy to declare that I enjoyed it a bit more than my first pedestrian outing, Deadline. Perhaps my expectations were lower, or maybe the pace wasn't quite so sedentary.

McMorrow is hired to write a piece on teenagers in the area .... low expectations, poverty, lack of ambition, lack of opportunity, delinquency, pregnancy, teenage parents, thirty something year old grandparents with the following generations repeating the cycle. 

After a run in with a gang of lads - one in particular not too impressed as what he perceives is an outsider judging them - and lasses, he has a name to follow up on - a girl who despite an alcoholic feckless mother and an absent father, broke the cycle. She fell pregnant herself, had the baby, gave it up for adoption and went off to college to build a life. He contacts her, they talk.

In the meantime, McMorrow's house and vehicle are attacked in a drive by shooting and an arson attack. McMorrow feels the incidents are connected to the run in he had with the local youth. This reader didn't and was kind of frustrated at what I perceived as McMorrow's denseness. Maybe because I knew the book still had 7 or 8 hours to run and Jack didn't have that knowledge?

The girl he interviews gets dead, accidentally or not and McMorrow gets sucked into a police investigation where he feels like he is a suspect. He has a physical altercation with the guy he rowed with. Other things happen .... he carries on researching his article, he gets stonewalled by a fair few people, the dead girl's relatives subject him to some intense scrutiny, then satisfied want him to carry on digging and his on/off romance from the series opener with a woman who's name I forgot is resurrected.

I actually quite liked this. I enjoyed the dynamics of McMorrow's relationship with his friends up the road. They're good people who look out for him. I liked his interactions with the cops and I enjoyed the slow reveal as to what happened and why, even though I had twigged the raison d'etre for events. I knew the why, just needed to wait for the who.

Better than the first book and I'm quite positive about continuing with the series at some point. Lifeline, the third in a series currently running to a dozen books will be the next one up. 

  
4 from 5

Read - (listened to) May, 2021
Published - 1995
Page count - 376 (10 hrs 55 mins)
Source - Audible purchase
Format - Audible

MAY 2021 - ADDITIONS TO THE LIBRARY - 6 OF THE BEST!

May's best and brightest additions to the collection ....


                                A.F. Carter - The Yards (2021) - Net Galley review copy

Another new author and I do like the premise of this one.

In this twisty crime novel, a hotel hook up gone wrong finds a single mother suspected of murder

Git O’Rourke is from the wrong side of the tracks—even if, in the depressed Rust Belt town of Baxter, it’s not always clear where that designation begins. A single mother, she works hard to support her daughter Charlie, but still finds time to cut loose every once in a while, to go to a local bar, drink martinis and find a companion for the night. Which is exactly how she ends up in a hotel room with a strange man passed out on heroin, and how she comes to possess the bag of money and guns that he left open as he got his fix.

When the dead body is discovered at the Skyview Motor Court, a bullet through its forehead, officer Delia Mariola is one of the first on the scene. She recognizes the victim as the perpetrator in an earlier crime—a domestic violence call—but that does little to explain how he ended up in the situation in which they find him. She knows he’s connected to the local mob, but the crime scene doesn’t exactly resemble their typical hit. Instead, all signs point to a pick-up gone wrong. Which means that all signs point to Git.

A twisted tale set in a tough town, The Yards is a multiple-voiced mystery with two unforgettable women at its core; its suspenseful, thrilling, and unpredictable plot will keep the reader guessing until the very last page.



                                Kelly Braffet - Save Yourself (2013) - purchased copy

A kind of punt, but it came recommended.

When Patrick Cusimano's alcoholic father kills a child in a hit-and-run, Patrick is faced with a terrible choice: turn his father in - destroying what's left of his family in the process - or keep quiet. But can Patrick's brother, Mike, live with the choice that was made that night?

Layla Elshere was once a poster girl for purity. But when her evangelical father forces her to spearhead a campaign against her school, it compels her to question everything she's ever known. Now Layla is doing all she can to obliterate her past. Verna loves her older sister Layla, but as events begin to spiral, Verna must make the hardest choice: save the person she loves most in the world - or save herself.

Save Yourself is a stunning novel about power struggles and divided loyalties, and the way in which one terrible decision can alter the whole course of your life.



Paul Batista - Accusation (2021) - review copy from Edelweiss - Above the Treeline reviewer site

A new to me author and a legal thriller - the kind of book I like reading but don't try often enough.

An icon’s life implodes—at two in the morning

World renowned, revered actor Aaron Julian is awakened at two a.m. by his agent who informs him that he has been accused of sexual harassment. Young actresses will break the story on prime-time TV that morning—with their lawyer, the attorney who led the charge in the priests’ sexual abuse cases.

Aaron and his celebrity pop-singer wife, Veda, vehemently deny the charges, and hire powerful defense lawyer Raquel Rematti. But when the plaintiffs’ lawyer is murdered in Central Park, the stakes skyrocket and the conspiracies spiral out of control.

Despite revelation after revelation, Aaron continues to proclaim his innocence. And in his defense, Rematti uses every tool in the legal system to produce courtroom drama that is unparalleled.

The outcome—impossible to predict—is guaranteed to stun and to linger with you for a long time.

Fans of John Grisham and Scott Turow will devour this cutting-edge thriller



                   A B Morgan - Throttled (2021) - review copy from publisher Hobeck Books

I've tried the introductory book, Old Dogs Old Tricks to Morgan's Quirk series and enjoyed it. Throttled is the second full length series novel after Over Her Dead Body. I've some catching up to do.

Scott Fletcher is dead – his lifeless body in a pool of blood.

Sarah Holden’s life is turned upside-down the day she is discovered with her fiancé’s body next to the motorbike he’d been working on. She has blood on her hands, but the screams do not come.

If she didn’t kill him, then who did?



                                      Abby Ross - The Poop Diaries (2020) - purchased copy

A speculative punt and probably a different kind of book from my norm. Not to be read while eating, I think.

"Disgusting, hilarious, and scary..." –Chicago Tribune

"Stories from plumbers that will make you smile, giggle, and laugh out loud." –Arizona News Independent

They come into our homes. They see us in our most fragile moments. Plumbers are a fixture in our lives. When a toilet clogs, a faucet leaks, or a sewer line plugs, we call those unsung heroes, desperately seeking help. They scoop out our poop and pull underwear, toothbrushes and cotton balls out of our toilets, doing whatever it takes to get the job done.

On a late Wednesday evening, after my toilet clogged, I asked our plumber to share his top five “greatest hits.” The stories were so hilarious, I had to share them with the world. The Poop Diaries features true stories told by my plumber, and many other plumbers, about the most memorable service jobs they have worked on and most unique people they have helped. Whether it’s nudity, rats, fake vaginas, dildos, snakes, weapons and so much more, these plumbers have seen and smelled it all.



                                  Jeremy Brown - The Wrench (2021) - purchased copy

A new to me author and from the blurb my kind of book and author. The Wrench is the first in a series. The second is The Box, soon to be followed by The Wake.

When you steal from people who pull the trigger instead of calling the law, you’d better be good at it. Bruder is the best.

Bruder is a career master thief, an apex predator hijacker who takes what he wants from people who would never turn to the cops for help. His jobs are planned down to the second, pulled off with a professional crew he knows and trusts.

And all of that doesn’t mean a damn thing when the plan makes first contact with the job...

When Bruder sees the chance to steal a couple million in untraceable Wall Street bonus cash, he moves fast to scout the job and put the crew and plan together.

But the money belongs to a group of people you don’t steal from—ever. The heist turns into a bloody killing ground, testing loyalties and pushing Bruder’s abilities and instincts to the brink. And whoever holds the money will owe a debt that must be paid in blood, a debt telling Bruder exactly how much his life is worth.

The Wrench is the first book in the gritty Bruder Heist Novels. If you like professional hard case criminals with a relentless focus on pulling off the job and getting away with it, join the crew and buckle up.


Monday, 7 June 2021

RICK E. GEORGE - COOPER'S LOOT (2019)

 


Synopsis/blurb ....

It's 1972, but the Neanderthal editors of reporter Bev Wikowski's newspaper don't have a clue. They've assigned her to the Women's Pages and put her desk near the door so she can greet newsroom visitors. It's a wonder they haven't asked her to make coffee.

Then Bev meets a buddy of the infamous hijacker DB Cooper. Cooper has sent him to gather a posse to find and dig up the loot he buried in the Cascade Mountains. Would Bev like to join the group?

Suddenly, Bev's looking at the possibility of a front-page story on every newspaper in the nation—and maybe a Pulitzer Prize. A young widow whose husband died in Vietnam, she leaves her four-year-old daughter with her parents, hides her work identity, and joins the group. But it doesn't take long before an even bigger challenge demands every ounce of her strength: Survival.

I've always been fascinated by the story of DB Cooper. In 1971, Cooper hijacked a plane, got paid a ransom then parachuted away to .... death, freedom, a life on the lam .... nobody knows, or if they do they ain't saying. Here, author Rick George imagines a friend of Cooper's rustling up a search team to go into the Cascade Mountains to recover the stash of cash in return for a split of the take. It's an interesting premise.

I quite liked the story. Six or seven go off on the hunt and in an almost Christie like And Then There Were None riff, the number of treasure hunters diminish after they locate the loot. Our main focus is Bev Wikowski, an under-appreciated journalist who has the scent of a big story in her nostrils and the chance of some career impetus.

I enjoyed the adventure, probably a lot more than the participants. During the trek, they encounter an extreme blizzard, which threatens their safety. In addition, the inevitable happens - greed sours them and they turn on each other. Tension, paranoia, mis-trust, secrets, death, injury, snow, freezing cold, extreme adverse weather, limited rations, hunger, thirst, shelter, alliances, drugs, guns, burials, fire, and for only a couple of the particpants a long walk to civilisation.

I enjoyed it, though I kind of got a bit bogged down in the middle when reading it. I'm unsure if it was me (tiredness, lethargy, reading burn-out), or if the story sagged. Maybe a bit of both. I enjoyed the outcome and overall was entertained without feeling stunned or amazed. 


3 from 5

Read - May, 2021
Published - 2019
Page count - 238
Source - review copy courtesy of Voracious Readers
Format - Kindle
  


Saturday, 5 June 2021

CRAIG TERLSON - MANISTIQUE (2021)

 


Synopsis/blurb .....

Luke Fischer doesn’t think he’s a detective, but he can’t stop trying to find missing people. As a favor to his friend, and fueled by a steady diet of Pacifico beer and cholula peanuts, Luke goes on a quest to solve a murder that never happened… only to find one that did.  

In Manistique, Michigan, Luke teams up with the local sheriff, Sam, a tough, determined woman with a hell of a spin kick. Together they try to solve how a modern-day Johnny Appleseed spread $400,000 across Upper Michigan before ending up on the bottom of the Manistique River.   

From the winding roads of perpetually raining Michigan to the sun-baked land and purple skies of New Mexico, Luke Fischer searches for the reason behind the killings, while being pursued by those who would rather he was dead. He never signed up to be a knight errant, but damned if people don’t expect him to be one.

Manistique was a really enjoyable second outing with author Craig Terlson and his main man Luke Fischer. Fischer is a kind of beach bum, who has a knack for finding people when asked and when he needs to put a few dollars in his pocket. He reminds me a bit of a modern day Travis McGee, without the dated attitudes to women and not just because Fischer is reading a MacDonald book here.

Here he's playing back-up to a pal at a dodgy poker game when it turns into a gunfight. The woman his friend was interested in gets shot and Luke heads north to find out why. 

A road trip, death, a feisty female sheriff, skimmed drug money, family relationships, secrets, hidey holes, addicts, a hunting party, a resurrection of sorts, much digging and investigating, hiking in the wilderness, shootouts, negotiations, an alliance, another trip - south this time, more conflict, a maybe romance and a helluva lot more besides.

It's kind of hard to do this one justice. It's a busy book, lots going on but it never feels rushed getting where we're going. Plenty of incidents, plenty of interesting characters, popping up along the way, enjoyable interactions between Luke and cops, Luke and crims, Luke and allies. He's as easy making new friends as he is attracting enemies. 

Great scenes of action and dialogue and some great writing.

“So where’s the other brother?” Sheriff Clarence asked. 
“Dead.” 
“Shit on a stick, is there anybody you don’t come across that don’t end up dead? Remind me not to go fishing with you."
“It’s been a bad few weeks,” I said. 

I really like the main character, though I'd probably enjoy slightly more back story for him. I think he hailed from Canada originally and my spidey sense tells me he fled due to matters of the heart. Terlson kind of drops little hints and nuggets very sparingly. Sheriff Sam is an interesting sidekick to Luke and there's a great dynamic between the two. The pages turn faster when they're at the centre of happenings.

Interesting story, tremendous characters, reasonable pace, perfect length, multiple settings, decent outcome. So what more do you want from a book?

4.5 from 5  

Surf City Acid Drop, the first Luke Fischer book was enjoyed recently. There's a couple more from the author on the TBR pile that I'm interested in reading. I'll also look forward to a future outing the next Luke Fischer book when it drops.

Read - June, 2021
Published - 2021
Page count - 236
Source - review copy from Book Sirens 
Format - Kindle

LAWRENCE BLOCK - TANNER ON ICE (1998)

 


Synopsis/blurb .....

Cold War superspy Evan Tanner lost the ability to sleep on a battlefield in Korea. So where the heck has he been since the '70s? 

Frozen. Cryogenically. A Tanner-sicle. Which he never thought would happen when he walked into a basement in Union City, New Jersey, more than a quarter century ago. Now he's unthawed and ready to rumble, and his somewhat addled, former super-secret boss, "the Chief", is glad his favorite operative's active again. 

Tanner awoke to a different world, though some bad things have remained the same...or gotten worse. Even before he can fully acclimate himself to this perplexing future, Tanner's off to Burma (which isn't really Burma anymore) to pose as a monk, destabilize the government, dodge a lethal double-cross, and rescue a beautiful prisoner. 

The world's still full of conspiracy, corruption, greed, political chicanery - and beautiful women. So Tanner's back with a vengeance, with a lot of lost time to make up for.

Second time with this one and unlike most of my re-reads there was no massive gap between the two outings, as I only read it for the first time earlier this year.

Still it's Lawrence Block, Evan Tanner and the dulcet tones of Theo Holland narrating.

I liked the set-up with Tanner unfrozen after a quarter century and slowly catching himself up on all he's missed in the meantime. Including the fact that Mina his unofficial daughter/charge is a fully grown woman and uncomfortably closer to his own age, taking into account the fact that he hasn't aged during his time on ice. Unbelievably, the old man, his handler is still around and has a mission for him in Myanmar (Burma).

Great fun, interesting, observational, and a decent adventure, after an arrest an escape and flight from the country disguised as a Buddhist monk with a half-Russian, half-indian widow for company.

4 from 5 and a decent end to the series.

Read - re-read (listened to) - May, 2021
Published - 1998
Page count - 256 (7 hrs 29 mins)
Source - Audible purchase
Format - Audible

*February's thoughts below

The eighth and last Evan Tanner mystery, Tanner on Ice was an enjoyable read a few months after the seventh was devoured. Thankfully this time there were none of the irritating and odd troubling episodes from the earlier books where Tanner has inappropriate dalliances with some of the fairer sex. I'm far from a prude, but really? This time the dalliances occur but with an age acceptable companion.

In brief.... Tanner after getting himself defrosted catches up with his old handler, his sort of daughter and a quarter century of political events and upheavals and embarks on a mission to Burma. 

The usual shenanigans occur.... death threats, surveillance, spy stuff, dead bodies, temple visits, drug plants, encounters with the police, imprisonment, escape, romance and a long walk to freedom disguised as a Buddhist monk. 

A good fun read, with humour, snappy dialogue, action, incident, sex, social commentary (albeit a wee bit out of date) in an exotic setting. Top notch entertainment.

I must have read over 50 Lawrence Block books of various types and lengths in every format possible since I started recording my reads back in 2012. With the odd exception, I pretty much love everything of his I've encountered. 

One series - Evan Tanner - has now been conquered. Scudder, Keller, Bernie and Chip await.

4 from 5



Read - February, 2021
Published - 1998
Page count - 256
Source - owned copy
Format - paperback


Friday, 4 June 2021

QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS WITH CRAIG TERLSON

Craig Terlson, author of Manistique, Surf City Acid Drop and a lot more besides answers a few questions for me on his reading and writing habits.


Surf City Acid Drop featured on the blog yesterday. Manistique is currently being enjoyed.

Is the writing full time? If not, what’s the day job and can you give us a quick biography of yourself?

After graduating art school in 1985, I started a 26-year career as a professional illustrator for books, magazines, and newspapers across North America. It was a great gig, but as the industry began to shift, so did my career. The day job now is lead designer at a small university full of wonderful colleagues. I still do a bit of illustration, and teach part-time.

Writing was always on my mind, but it wasn’t until about 2005 that I really started doing it seriously. With a full-time day job, I write in the morning before work, or in the evening, or just whenever I can fit it in. Vacation days often mean writing days for me.



*I’m about halfway through Surf City Acid Drop, your first Luke Fischer novel (and enjoying myself). The second Luke book dropped recently - Manistique. Can you pitch it to a potential reader in 50 words or less? (*Long finished now)


1970’s style anti-hero takes a road trip to Upper Michigan, where he teams up with tough local sheriff with a helluva spin kick. Together they try to solve a murder that never happened and find one that did.

(Hey, that’s 38 words, not bad.)

Previously you've had a collection of stories published - Ethical Acts of Animal Husbandry, and three other novels - Bent Highway, Correction Line, and Fall in One day. Which one would you press into the hands of a new reader?



Correction Line would be a good place to start, as it really combines a lot of my loves, which run the gamut from South American magical realism to gritty neo-noir, and baseball on the radio. This novel was really where my career started.



Would you class them all as crime fiction, or do they reach into other genres?


I have a long-standing problem with genre in general – I do know that publishers, agents, and booksellers need to be able to put a book in a category, so they can sell it. But classifying them as this way robs the reader of discovering someone they might love, but never go into that section of the bookstore. So sure, they’re crime fiction, but they are also literary, slipstream, and historical, and one of them even wanders into YA (Young Adult),

Do you have a favourite of the bunch? Is there one you're most proud of?

Maybe all authors think their newest is the best – but I do believe Manistique is my most accomplished piece of writing thus far. Though, I do have another waiting in the wings that I’m pretty excited about, too.

Do you have a typical writing schedule?

When I’m on schedule, it’s early morning before work for an hour or so—evenings are for editing. But the schedule is very flexible, as there are days I don’t write, and then days when I’ll go for hours.

Do you insert family, friends, and colleagues into your characters?

Not really – I guess some are amalgamations of people I’ve met, but I don’t really think of character like that. Fall in One Day is my most autobiographical novel, so for sure in that one there’s both family and friends from where I grew up. It’s funny, I’ve had long lost school friends contact me after one of my short stories is published. They always ask, is that me? I always answer, no. 

Some of my characters come fully formed. Lawrence in Correction Line, Mostly Harold in Surf City Acid Drop, and Sheriff Sam in Manistique were like that. Not based on anyone, just a gift from the writing gods.

When you have an idea and you sit down to construct your stories – do you know what the end result is roughly going to look like? Are you a plotter, or do you make it up as you go along?

The term I’ve learned is “pantser”, as in writing by the seat of ones. This is totally my method. My ideas are very rough in the beginning, and it almost always starts with character. In the beginning, I follow the characters to see what they do. That may sound kind of weird, but if I’m honest in my listening, I end up in some fascinating places. Pantsers also write themselves into corners, so the method has its dangers. I have nothing against those whose outline, they just don’t work for me.

Are there any subjects off limits?

None come to mind. I guess there is violence in my work, but I’ve never been a fan of graphic descriptions, torture, or certainly any harm to children. In Fall in One Day, there are children in peril, but I walk carefully when I write about that. 

How long from conception to completion did Manistique take? 

I never know the answer to that question, as I’m usually working on a few projects at once. The first draft of Manistique lay dormant for a couple of years, before I picked it up and started working on it again. Probably somewhere between two and four years, but as mentioned, other work was completed within that time.

Has the end result mirrored your expectations at the start of the process, or is it a very different book to what you imagined?

I love this question. I’m not quite sure what my expectation was, beyond learning more about my main character, Luke Fischer, as he is part of a series. It’s hard to know if the book is different, though when readers comment on it, those are like mini-revelations to me.

Were there any bumps in the road along the way? 


Truth in character is very important to me, so an ongoing “bump” was the question of what drives Luke to do what he does. I think I answered that in Manistique, but I’ve still got more books to explore this guy. Finishing a book is hard, but to quote Gloria Steinem, “Writing is the only thing that, when I’m doing it, I don’t feel like I should be doing something else.”

Are there any unpublished gems in your bottom drawer?

Is anyone interested in a time-travelling Samurai who inhabits another body in 1980s Toronto? Oh, and remember what I said about genre? Yeah, well I’ve never figured out what this one is.

What’s the current project in progress?

I’m working on the third Luke Fischer book. It’s been exciting to have readers respond to him lately, and that’s driving me to create a new one. Hopefully this won’t take as long as some of the others.

What’s the best thing about writing?

I love when I lose myself in it. I often write first drafts to music, especially during action scenes. When Dick Dale is pumping surf rock, and Luke is dodging a punch to the head, I sit back and watch. It’s like I’m not even really writing.

The worst?

I don’t mind the editing process, I like sharpening the prose, and making the structure work. But fixing those continuity errors is kind of draining. What kind of car did that guy drive in chapter three?

Moving on….

What are the last five books you’ve read? 


A Swim in a Pond in the Rain, George Saunders. A couple by the UK crime writer Ed Church, Look Down and Probably Dead. I re-read Slow Bear by Anthony Neil Smith. And an unpublished great book by J.B. Stevens (that should be published), The Blue Silence.





Who do you read and enjoy?

I’ll read every word George Saunders writes. The list is long after that. A few notables, Richard Ford, Alice Munro, Joe Lansdale, Jennifer Egan, Elmore Leonard, Don DeLillo. I also read philosophy, theology, and a whack of film criticism. I’ll read anything

Is there any one book you wish you had written?

The Last Good Kiss, James Crumley


Favourite activity when not working or writing?

I do love film – I’m currently in a film studies class that I am loving.

What’s the last film you watched that rocked you?

Sorcerer from 1977. A William Friedkin film that should have received a lot more acclaim.


TV addict or not? What’s the must watch show in the Terlson household?

I don’t watch a lot of TV, except for maybe Colbert, and my wife likes those home-reno shows. I watch to be a good partner, but they just seem like an extended job list to me. Better Call Saul is one of the best things to ever appear on TV – the writing is stellar, maybe even better than Breaking Bad, which I thought was amazing. What the hell is Vince Gilligan drinking?


What are the last three pieces of music you’ve listened to?

Those who know me would probably guess Wilco, Wilco, and Wilco. But let me check my spotify.. Brass in Pocket, The Pretenders, Smoke from a Distant Fire, Sanford Townsend Band, and Devil’s Haircut, Beck.


-----------------------------------

RANDOM TRIVIA FUN QUESTIONS

What’s your favourite vegetable?

Gotta go with the cucumber here. Is that weird? 

When did you last have a fist fight?

Grade 4 (10 years old) – I recall getting my ass kicked.

Have you ever been thrown out of a bar or a club?

Um, yes. In Plentywood, Montana on New Year’s Eve. There was a bar fight going on, and I got swept up with the others. Hmm, I may need to change that previous answer.

Do you have any tattoos?

Nope. But I want one (low pain tolerance).


What was your first pet’s name?

Maurice. And yes, he was a French Poodle.

What’s the worst meal you have ever eaten?

I loved my mom, but she was a really bad cook. Like really bad. I’m thinking one of her “casseroles”, if that’s what they were.

Do you have any irrational fears?

I hate heights. But I’m not sure that’s irrational – it’s dangerous up there.



What’s your favourite holiday destination?

Mexico. I can’t wait to go back. Particularly, a small town called Melaque.


When did you last tell a lie?

That question about the last fist fight.

-------

Many thanks to Craig for his time.

You can catch up with him at the following haunts.....

Twitter: @cterlson

Blog: http://woofreakinhoo.squarespace.com

Manistique his latest book is well worth a look.

Luke Fischer doesn’t think he’s a detective, but he can’t stop trying to find missing people. As a favor to his friend, and fueled by a steady diet of Pacifico beer and cholula peanuts, Luke goes on a quest to solve a murder that never happened… only to find one that did.  

In Manistique, Michigan, Luke teams up with the local sheriff, Sam, a tough, determined woman with a hell of a spin kick. Together they try to solve how a modern-day Johnny Appleseed spread $400,000 across Upper Michigan before ending up on the bottom of the Manistique River.   

From the winding roads of perpetually raining Michigan to the sun-baked land and purple skies of New Mexico, Luke Fischer searches for the reason behind the killings, while being pursued by those who would rather he was dead. He never signed up to be a knight errant, but damned if people don’t expect him to be one.

“Luke Fischer is an utterly addictive character—my favourite knight in tarnished armour since the great Travis McGee.”   - Ed Church, author of Probably Dead and Non-Suspicious

“Manistique is a MOOD! It’s a tense, fast-paced crime novel with an irresistibly atmospheric literary tone and a cast of unforgettable characters. Luke Fischer has a twisty sense of humour and straight sense of honour that together make him an everyman hero who you just want to share a couple Pacificos.” - Theresa Therrien, author of Rules for Revolutionaries

Thursday, 3 June 2021

CRAIG TERLSON - SURF CITY ACID DROP (2018)

 


Synopsis/blurb ....

In between happy hours at the El Rayo Verde, Luke Fischer is hired to find people – even when he denies that he is a detective.

When Luke finds a dead junkie in his hotel room, he knows his lazy days of Mexican beer, surf rock, and Cholula soaked peanuts are about to end. Fearing the local policia will tie him to the murder, Luke bolts from Puerto Vallarta and abandons his search for his client’s wandering brother.

When Luke runs into a thug known as Mostly Harold, who has a fondness for lizard boots and Burt Bacharach, he discovers that he is not the only one looking for his client’s brother. Luke chases leads into Colorado Springs, the hazy mountains of Missoula, and all the way to the street life of Montreal. Along the way, Luke finds out the truth about his client, and why someone would pay a fortune for a bag of stolen rocks... but more importantly, why he was really hired.

Surf City Acid Rock is the first in Craig Terlson's Luke Fischer series. (Manistique, the second Fischer and one of my current reads, dropped about a month ago.)

In a nutshell .... a search for a missing person - for reasons that may or may not be truthful, a road trip or three, a couple of ass kickings received, with a few doled out, a few beers sunk, some decent coffee necked, plenty of miles on the clock, and after numerous other scrapes some answers. There are a fair few casualties along the way.

I had fun reading it, though I kind of felt as clueless as Luke seemed to be while on task. He denies he's a detective and I'll take him at his word. He just seemed to be always one step behind, a little bit like a puppet with someone else yanking his strings. Still what else did he have to do? More beer and coffee probably.

Beer, art, music, bus rides, heat, secrets, lies, food, restaurants, rest room brawls, a corpse in a motel room, lizard skin boots and more than one collision with Mostly Harold, a far more capable people finder than Luke. Harold gives Luke a run for his money in the interesting character stakes.

Overall - an enjoyable PI-type novel, chocked full of entertaining incidents, dialogue, humour, action, story, characters and setting.

Great writing to boot as Terlson has a tremendous way with words .....
Luke on a taxi ride...

"You like jazz?" He spit on the passenger side floor. "American masturbation." He did another gesture at his dashboard. 

"Ha. Someone said that jazz is five guys playing five different songs at the same time."

I would say deal me in for the next outing, but I'm already on it.

4 from 5


Read - May, 2021
Published - 2018
Page count - 279
Source - purchased copy
Format - Kindle

Tuesday, 1 June 2021

MAY 2021 - FILMS + TV (HOME VIEWING)

 Some ok TV dramas and some disappointing ones in the month, as well as just the one film.


                                              Briarpatch (2019) - TV Drama Series

Last couple of episodes watched and more out of a sense of completism than any actual enjoyment. At least there isn't a second series to get disappointed over. I still have high hopes for the book of the same name by Ross Thomas, when I eventually get around to it.

From Wikipedia ...

Briarpatch is an American television series starring Rosario Dawson based on the 1984 Ross Thomas novel of the same name. The series was picked up in late January 2019 by USA Network, after being ordered to pilot in April 2018.

In advance of its broadcast premiere, several episodes of the series received a preview screening in the Primetime program of the 2019 Toronto International Film Festival.

The series premiered on February 6, 2020. On July 17, 2020, the series was canceled after one season.

Premise

When Detective Felicity Dill is killed in a car bombing, her sister Allegra Dill, an investigator working for a senator, returns home to San Bonifacio to find her killer. In the process of her investigation, she uncovers a web of corruption in the small Texas town.



                                 The Righteous Gemstones (2019) - TV Comedy/Drama Series

Now this one I did love. Hopefully it will be back in the future. US evangelists - comedy gold!

From Google ....

Well into the second generation of a grand televangelist tradition, the world-famous Gemstone family is living proof that worship pays dividends in all sizes. Patriarch Eli, the man most responsible for the tremendous success of the family's megachurch, is in mourning over the loss of his wife. Jesse, the eldest of the three grown Gemstone siblings, looks to lead in his father's footsteps, but finds his past sins jeopardizing the family ministry. Next in line comes middle sister Judy, who secretly lives with her fiancé and dreams of escaping the Gemstone compound. Rounding out the dysfunctional trio is pseudo-hipster Kelvin, the youngest of the preachers and a thorn in Jesse's side. As the family battles numerous threats to their renowned religious empire, they continue to spread the good word... and make a solid buck doing so.



                      Extremely Wicked Shockingly Evil and Vile (2019) - Netflix Film

Pretty sure I have seen this one before but had forgotten about it. Zac Efron is pretty good IMO. There's probably far too much been written about Bundy already. My tuppence-worth ... vile, disgusting, sick.

From Google ....

A chronicle of the crimes of Ted Bundy, from the perspective of his longtime girlfriend, who refused to believe the truth about him for years.


                                 Innocent Series 2 (2021) - ITV Drama Series

Enjoyable. Four episodes long which is the perfect length for my attention span. Gripping and tense. Quite twisty. I'll admit to a bit of surprise at the outcome. I'll have to see if I can catch up with the first series, something I missed a few years ago.

From Wikipedia ....

Series 2
Matthew Taylor, a 16-year-old school boy was brutally murdered in the quiet Lake District. Five years later the accused is found not guilty and released from prison.



                                                Viewpoint (2021) - ITV Drama Series

Well you would have to be living in a cave in the UK to have missed the Noel Clarke uproar when credible allegations about his disgusting behaviour on the sets of various productions over the years surfaced. It's always disappointing when people you admire for their talents, are revealed to be douchebags.

We had this one on record ready to binge-watch and we pressed ahead with the plan. One small problem, the final episode was pulled from the small screen and got a limited time-span window on the ITV hub to watch. By the time we watched the first four, the final episode had disappeared. Shame I was enjoying it upto that point, despite the revelations and allegations. Still there's more important principles in play than just my viewing enjoyment. You have to feel sorry for the rest of the cast and the production team, having some respect and credit for their efforts stripped away from them and tarnished through no fault of their own.

From Wikipedia ....

Viewpoint is a British police procedural drama thriller television miniseries created by Harry Bradbeer and Ed Whitmore and starring Noel Clarke and Alexandra Roach. Produced by Tiger Aspect Productions, it aired on ITV nightly from 26 April 2021,[1][2] with the final episode premiering exclusively on ITV Hub.

Premise
Viewpoint follows a tense police surveillance investigation into a tight-knit Manchester community and explores whether it is ever possible to observe the lives of others with true objectivity and zero effect. Surveillance detective DC Martin Young (Noel Clarke) sets up his observation post in the home of single mum and secret voyeur Zoe Sterling (Alexandra Roach). Zoe’s windows command a panoramic view of Westbury Square, and more importantly provide a direct sightline into the home of missing primary-school teacher Gemma Hillman (Amy Wren) and her boyfriend - and prime suspect in her disappearance - Greg Sullivan (Fehinti Balogun).


                                  Harrow Season 1 (2018) - TV Drama Series

Aussie crime drama. I do like the main guy - Ioan Gruffudd. I've enjoyed seeing him in a few things before. I kind of dipped in and out of this one as the family worked their way through the first season. I liked it but I wasn't gripped.

From Wikipedia ....

Harrow is an Australian television drama series that stars Ioan Gruffudd as Dr. Daniel Harrow. The first series premiered on ABC on 9 March 2018, and consisted of 10 episodes. In May 2018, ABC renewed the programme for a second series, which premiered on 12 May 2019. In October 2019, ABC renewed the programme for a third series, which premiered on 7 February 2021.

Premise
Harrow tells the story of Dr. Daniel Harrow, a forensic pathologist with a total disregard for authority. He has an unfailing empathy for the dead which helps him solve even the most bizarre of cases. Willing to bend every rule, he is determined to give victims a voice and reveal the truth behind what happened to them. Meanwhile, a terrible secret from his past threatens him, his family, and his career.



                                 Line of Duty Series 6 (2021) - BBC Drama

Watched probably a month after the rest of the UK and I did well to avoid all the chat about the outcome, one which seems to have been regarded as a bit of a let down.

I was kind of disappointed with the last series, truth be told, so maybe my expectations weren't too high this time around. I enjoyed it and I probably think the ending was the most realistic way of closing the show. 

My take - the establishment does what the establishment does ... find a patsy and shut things down, status quo maintained ..... move along, nothing to see here. Turkeys don't vote for Christmas.

From Wikipedia ...

The sixth series of Line of Duty, consisting of seven episodes, began broadcasting on BBC One on 21 March 2021. The story follows the actions of AC-12, led by Superintendent Ted Hastings (Adrian Dunbar) and DI Steve Arnott (Martin Compston), as they investigate DCI Joanne Davidson (Kelly Macdonald) and her team, including former AC-12 officer DI Kate Fleming (Vicky McClure)

MAY 2021 - FILMS (CINEMA)

Happy to report our Odeon re-opened shortly after the middle of the month and we got back to doing one of our favourite things....


                                                   Nomadland (2020)

I can't say I've watched every film Frances McDormand has ever made, but I pretty much guarantee I've enjoyed the few I've seen her in - Fargo, Burn After Reading, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri - all spring readily to mind. I'm sure there were others.

She's pretty damn good in Nomadland. My daughter thought the film was quite slow and sad and I kind of get her point, but I probably disagree. I don't think the stories the picture relayed could have been told any differently and I didn't necessarily agree with her interpretation of sad.

I guess anyone who has lived to be a certain age has encountered loss, bereavement, disappointment and failure. It's how you deal and adjust to those traumas that define you.

Here we had people deciding to live life as much on their own terms as they could and despite the lack of wealth and material goods, they seemed to be doing a good job of it. Outsiders? Yes, but they probably had more fulfilling and satisfying lives doing their own thing than they had when subscribed to the rat race.

If there was a sadness in the film, it came to me in the death of a community that existed because of one employer. Close the plant and the reason for the town ceased to exist. Shortly thereafter it didn't.  

Verdict - pretty damn good.

From Wikipedia ....

Nomadland is a 2020 American drama film based on the 2017 non-fiction book Nomadland: Surviving America in the Twenty-First Century by Jessica Bruder. The film is written, edited, produced, and directed by Chloé Zhao, and stars Frances McDormand (who is also a producer on the film) as a vandwelling working nomad who leaves her hometown after her husband dies and the sole industry closes down, to be "houseless" and travel around the United States. David Strathairn also stars in a supporting role. A number of real-life nomads appear as fictionalized versions of themselves, including Linda May, Swankie, and Bob Wells.

Nomadland premiered on September 11, 2020, at the Venice Film Festival, where it won the Golden Lion. It also won the People's Choice Award at the Toronto International Film Festival. It had a one-week streaming limited release on December 4, 2020, and was distributed by Searchlight Pictures in selected IMAX theaters in the United States on January 29, 2021, and simultaneously in theaters, and streaming digitally on Hulu, on February 19, 2021.

The film was praised for its direction, screenplay, editing, cinematography, and performances, especially of McDormand. It was the third-highest rated film of 2020 on Metacritic, which found it to be the most frequently ranked by critics and publications as one of the best films of the year. At the 93rd Academy Awards, it won Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Actress for McDormand, from a total of six nominations; Zhao became the first non-white woman and second woman to win Best Director, while McDormand became the first person to win Academy Awards as both producer and performer for the same film. It also won Best Motion Picture – Drama and Best Director at the 78th Golden Globe Awards, four awards including Best Film at the 74th British Academy Film Awards, and four awards including Best Film at the 36th Independent Spirit Awards.



                                 The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It (2021)

Horrorish in tone, which is not my favourite genre. I'm just too nervous by half and I hate the anticipation leading up to a scare. My heart rate is usually quite low - high 50s maybe. Pretty sure it got up close to 100 here, which is probably more a reflection on me than how scary the film was.

Enjoyable performances from Patrick Wilson (The Switch, Insidious), Vera Farmiga (Bates Motel) , Ruairi O'Connor. Pretty sure I've seen one, if not more of the earlier films in the franchise, featuring Wilson and Farmiga.

Verdict - Not the worst I've ever seen. Enjoyable and a decent night out.

From Google ....

Paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren take on one of the most sensational cases of their careers after a cop stumbles upon a dazed and bloodied young man walking down the road. Accused of murder, the suspect claims demonic possession as his defense, forcing the Warrens into a supernatural inquiry unlike anything they've ever seen before.



                                                 The Little Things (2021)

First film back after lockdown and a cracker in my opinion.

I like dark crime flicks and this was one of the better ones I’ve seen of late. The final scene with the trash burning at the end was maybe a tad predictable and is something I’m pretty sure I’ve seen somewhere else …. possibly in a book or maybe another film? I can’t quite remember.

Other than that, I bloody loved it. The film served up several surprises for me throughout and I wasn’t quite sure how it was all going to unfold.

I loved the performances of the three main characters – Denzel Washington, Rami Malek and Jared Leto. Leto exudes menace. Malek is intense. Denzel is Denzel.

Verdict - Top banana viewing. One I would happily watch again in a wee while.

From Google ...

Deputy Sheriff Joe "Deke" Deacon joins forces with Sgt. Jim Baxter to search for a serial killer who's terrorizing Los Angeles. As they track the culprit, Baxter is unaware that the investigation is dredging up echoes of Deke's past, uncovering disturbing secrets that could threaten more than his case.

Ranking

1. Nomadland

2. The Little Things

3. The Conjurist: The Devil Made Me Do It


Monday, 31 May 2021

ALAN PARKS - THE APRIL DEAD (2021)

 


Synopsis/blurb ....

When an American sailor from the Holy Loch Base goes missing, Harry McCoy is determined to find him. But as he investigates, a wave of bombings hits Glasgow - with the threat of more to come. Soon McCoy realises that the sailor may be part of a shadowy organisation committed to a very different kind of Scotland. One they are prepared to kill for.

Meanwhile Cooper, McCoy's longtime criminal friend, is released from jail and convinced he has a traitor in his midst. As allies become enemies, Cooper has to fight for his position and his life. He needs McCoy to do something for him. Something illegal.

McCoy is running out of time to stop another bomb, save himself from the corrupt forces who want to see him fail and save the sailor from certain death. But McCoy discovers a deeper, darker secret - the sailor is not the first young man to go missing in April.

The April Dead is the fourth in the Harry McCoy series from author Alan Parks and much like the previous three, Parks nails it again. He's one of my favourite authors and this is a favourite series, 2022 can't come around quick enough for the fifth instalment.

70s Glasgow, a missing US serviceman, a distraught father, a strange bombing campaign (Irish links, possibly?), Special Branch scarers, the TA, gypsies, fairgrounds, a hippie commune, a private army and boyhood pal and hardman gangster, Stevie Cooper fresh out of jail and about to butt heads with another Glasgow pscho. Harry McCoy has his hands full.

Multiple strands of plot to follow, woven effortlessly together by Parks. 

Familiar characters .... McCoy, Cooper, Wattie, Iris, Murray, Lomax, Billy and Jumbo - all bound together by a combination of history, shared experience, criminality, friendship, loyalty, fear, work and opportunity.

Enjoyable dynamics - McCoy and Wattie, an experienced, older detective and a slightly green, younger one; McCoy and childhood pal Cooper, both the products of an abusive upbringing.

McCoy .... 'Sort of remembered being out this way on a day trip from the care home outside Dunoon. Wondered how many other childhood memories he'd lost trying to forget the bad ones. A price he was happy to pay.'  

I enjoy seeing a decent, mostly honest cop, treading an incredibly thin line between duty to his badge and the job and loyalty to Cooper. There's an unbreakable bond between them stronger than any blood ties; forged in fear, shame, abuse and helplessness when wee boys. McCoy is at times put in jeopardy because of his friendship. Resentment, anger, physicality is never far from the surface with these two, both on their polar opposite career paths.

Cracking plot (or plots), great characters, pacing, dialogue, setting, and resolution.

Parks smacks it out of the park again - unsurprisingly.

5 from 5

Bloody January, February's Son and Bobby March Will Live Forever are the earlier entries in the series. Do yourself a favour and check any or preferably all of them out. Thank me later.

Read - May, 2021
Published - 2021
Page count - 352
Source - review copy from publisher, Canongate 
Format - paperback