Monday, September 28, 2009

Death of a Nurse, by Ed McBain

  • Title: Death of a Nurse
  • Author:  Ed McBain 
  • Purchased from: Lot of paperback books won at Weschler's Auction in Downtown DC.
  • Started: 9/20/2009
  • Finished: 9/27/2009
One of the few non-87th prescient books I've read, didn't love it but it was a short, easy read none-the-less.  I have one more McBain book remaining from my Weschler's win a few months back titled Guns.  Another non-87th prescient book, I don't have high hopes.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Vanilla Ride, by Joe Lansdale

I came across Joe Lansdale's work years ago, I don't even remember how now. I suspect I was looking for someone who wrote stories similar to John MacDonald's Travis McGee series. Tough guy mysteries, but the tough guy has a buddy, and they're both deep down good people trying to do the right thing. Corney? Hell yes. Entertaining? Hell yes.

Anyway I took to Lansdale's Hap Collins & Leonard Pine immediately. The mysteries were decent, nothing great but entertaining enough. But the conversations between Hap & Leonard, and the narrative by Hap... that's where these books excelled. I don't laugh out loud at many books, but I've laughed numerous times through everyone of these books. Even when some pretty horrific things were happening. The narration, Hap Collins, is just so damn entertaining.

About 2 weeks ago I found out via Lansdale's website that another book in the series had come out, Vanilla Ride. I put a hold on it at the public library and picked it up a day or two later. The story was probably the worst of the series, but the characters of Hap & Leonard rise above the story, fun as ever. I don't know if there will be any more books in this series but if there are, I'll read them.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Find a Victim, by Ross MacDonald

This is one of those times where I find I'm reading a book for the second time... part of the whole reason I started this blog. That is, to stop that from happening again, at least on accident. Normally this wouldn't a big deal with a Lew Archer novel as I love these books, but Find a Victim is the rare exception; I don't like this one. Didn't like it the first time, still don't like like it the second time.

Also, it took me a long time to read such a short novel. Not so much because of my feelings towards the book, but because of two different reasons: Vacation is over so I'm back to work, and I bought a guitar and have been trying to learn to play. The guitar is now taking up most of my free time.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

The Mugger, by Ed McBain

  • Title: The Mugger
  • Author: Ed McBain
  • Purchased from: Lot of paperback books won at Weschler's Auction in Downtown DC.
  • Started: 9/3/2009
  • Finished: 9/5/2009

When my wife and I were on our honeymoon in August of 2007 in Portugal we came across a small used bookstore in the town of Cascais. This bookstore had tons of 1940's-1960's pulp/detective fiction paperbacks in English. I bought a bunch of books for cheap including 3-5 of the very early 87th Precinct books by Ed McBain. Of course now I have no idea which ones I've read, but today's book was not one of them.

The early 87th Precinct books were great; short and fun, fast paced great reads. I remember one of them I later realized was the basis for an episode of the TV show Alfred Hitchcock presents. I've heard that the later 87th Precinct books are not very good, but I've enjoyed these early ones and The Mugger was no exception.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

The Crack In The Lens, by Steve Hockensmith

A few years ago I came across a website discussing a fun take on the Sherlock Holmes mysteries. The set up was a couple of cowboys in the old west who like Holmes try to solve mysteries as well. The book sounded fun so off to the library I went and sure enough they had it, the book was titled Holmes on the Range. I'm a sucker for buddy stories and Holmes on the Range was just the kind of book I liked. Since then I've read all of the series as they're published, most recently today's entry The Crack in the Lens.

While I've enjoyed all the books in the series (there are also 4 or 5 short stories that are entertaining as well) the first book and this newest one are by far my favorites. The middle two (The Black Dove & On the Wrong Track) were fun reads but not quite as good as the first and fourth. The author (Hockensmith) also maintains a website that is updated reasonably often, responds to emails quickly, and generally seems like a nice guy. I always look forward to new Holmes on the Range mysteries, the only fiction I buy new are these books.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

The Princess Bride, By William Goldman

Another one where I'd seen the movie a zillion times and never even considered it might be based on a book (I don't often pay attention to opening/closing credits). If you can struggle through the first, miserable chapter of this book (it was much better in the movie version with Peter Falk as a grandfather reading to his sick grandson) the book is fantastic. All of the elements from the movie are there, but it is somehow even better in print. I say better, but I guess I really mean this one for me was better having seen the movie first. It was a lot of fun for me to read this imagining Andre the Giant, Mandy Patinkin, Wallace Shawn, etc as the characters I was reading about. It also helps that the movie is very close, almost word for word, to the book for most of the movie.

Anyway a very fun read that I highly recommend, again if you can stomach that introductory chapter.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

To Hell and Back, by Audie Murphy

I don't care if he's not the real author and instead his story is written by a ghost writer. To Hell and Back is an amazing story, Audie Murphy was a real life bad ass, and I can only imagine how many thousands of kids must have enlisted in the Army because of this book.

I'd seen the movie before so I knew the basic story, but it just doesn't matter. The movie, no matter how good it is, cannot do justice to this book and the story behind it. The day to day horrors these kids went through, and the insane bravery Murphy shows is just too amazing for words. It is well known now what a tough time Murphy had with what used to be labeled battle fatigue; If you read this book you'll know why.