Friday, December 31, 2010

The Big O by Declan Burke

I just finished Irish author, Declan Burke's, The Big O a few minutes ago, just in time to get it in as one last post before the new year, and it did make for a very enjoyable final book. It was clever, funny, the characters smart and witty, and a plot evocative of Elmore Leonard.

Rossi, Karen's ex-husband, is fresh out of prison, and ready to start anew by starting up a "charity" to help other ex-cons adapt to the real world, but he needs his sixty grand, that Karen is "holding" to use as start up cash. Karen, a receptionist and armed robber, has been dreading the day Rossi will be released. Things are just starting to go her way and she has finally met a seemingly wonderful guy, Ray, a professional kidnapper, pulling one last job. Karen has no problem with his vocation, that is, until she finds out he was hired, by her boss, to snatch his ex-wife, Madge, who happens to be her best friend. Add in a husky/wolf mix, a female cop with a crush on Ray and a narcoleptic wheel man and you have a very intriguing and fun story.

My favorite lines..
So then Ray had to explain murals to the shylock. This after Terry and Ray turned off their mobiles, in case someone might ring, incriminate the shylock in a dogdy deal. Then came the back-and-forth about how Ray owed it to Terry and the shylock not to walk away. How it could be dangerous having someone out there who knew what Ray knew, could put people away for serious time if he didn't keep his trap shut.

"First off, " Ray said, "nothing I can say touches you, right?"

"Damn straight, " the shylock grunted.

"Okay. So now we're talking about Terry." Ray looked across the desk. "You worried about me, Terry?"


"Why aren't you worried, Terry?"

"Because if you pull any shit that sticks to me, I'll have your heart cut out and fed to someone you're not so keen to see eating hearts."

Ray said, to the shylock: "Terry and me, we go back. Why would I want to fuck him over?"
Intelligence, humor, and wonderful characters all made for an enjoyable, and quick read in the middle of holiday insanity. I look forward to the sequel, Crime Always Pays which can be found here if you have an ereader. Also, Declan's blog of the same name can be found here.

The Big O

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Mindjacker by Sean Patrick Reardon

As I was reading Mindjacker I kept thinking what an insane ride the story was. It is fast paced, to say the least, and I'm not sure you really know what is going to happen until it happens. It reminds me of an amusement park ride in a way. That said, it also is the type of book I normally wouldn't read, since I'm not a big sci-fi fan. I did however enjoy the book, and I think Mr. Reardon accomplished what he set out to do according to this interview where he says
The audience I had in mind when I wrote it would be adults around ages of thirty to fifty, who enjoy pop culture and may not be avid readers. I think it is a known fact that men are not reading much overall. I wanted to write a story that a guy could read in a few sessions, be entertained, and maybe decide to start reading some of the great crime fiction that is out there today.
Mindjacker is the story of Joel Fisher, a rather egotistical and manipulative psychologist who seeks to create a device to control the minds of anyone he chooses. He, unbeknownst to his human guinea pigs, tests out his mind control device, the Dreemweever, and not only attempts to control their future, but does so by recreating their past. He isn't gentle in his test either...
"Enjoy the show," Mr. Kite's voice whispered through their speakers.

Ballroom Blitz blasted inside Scott's headset and the ride started. he really did feel like he was sitting behind the wheel of a car driving at night time. The ride moved his body with the visuals. Everything about it seemed realistic. The road was familiar and Scott recognized it was the 101, as the headlights beamed out over the road ahead of him. Suddenly, he saw something speeding toward him on the horizon. it flew at eye level, gaining speed, and then stopped in freeze frame just as it was going to smash into the windshield. Scott saw it had Tom's face. The screen unfroze and the black cloaked figure veered to the right, landing in the grass on the shoulder of the road.

the car cut hard right and crashed into the overpass abutment, slamming Scott's upper body against the torso restraint. The screen went black. Scott struggled to push the headset off, but it wouldn't move and he couldn't squirm out of the shoulder restraints.

Get me out of this fucking thing.

The shrieks and profanity laden screams coming from the other adult riders caused Scott to struggle harder.(pg.31)
Scott doesn't realize it, but that was the easy part. Eventually however, the testing is done, and as Joel is right on the verge of completing his project, and selling it to his investors, the Dreemweever is accidentally stolen by car thieves and Joel must figure out a way to move his pawns and get the device back..quickly.

Along with writing, our author also seems to be a fan of music from the 1970's, and wrapped throughout the story is a playlist of music the characters enjoy as their journey unfolds. You always know what music is playing in the background, and, If you're interested, a complete list of songs from the novel can be found here, along with a list of songs that inspired the author as he was writing. I personally don't think I've listened to any of them, but I was only a few years old during that time so I figure I have a valid excuse.

To find out more about Mindjacker, and Sean Patrick Reardon, you can visit his blog of the same name here


Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Borderlands by Brian McGilloway

My first thought after finishing Brina McGilloway's Borderlands was, "yep, it's an Irish novel alright". There is a lot of death, involving both bad guys and people you come to care about in the story, there is a lot of betrayal, and there is a lot of connections and interweaving of relationships. What makes this story stand out to me however are the imperfections and weaknesses in the main character, Inspector Benedict Devlin. He is not perfect, and not only makes mistakes as he investigates, which is common enough in the course of a murder inquiry, but also in his personal life with his wife and family. And, to add to Devlin's character, although he does struggle with the possible consequences, he is penitent and works to set things right.
"Debbie's a lucky woman," she said. "I was once, too." she smiled and waggled her finger at me. "ah, I remember. you couldn't control yourself with me once." Again she smiled coyly, but the impression in the darkness was anything but coy.

"A lot of water under the bridge since then, " I said. "I'll say goodnight."

"Goodnight, Benedict," she said. "Merry Christmas."

She leaned over to kiss me on the cheek, and so I leaned towards her. However, at the last moment, she moved her head slightly and the corners of our mouths connected with a tingle, like static. her lips were moist from her lipstick and I felt them tug slightly on mine. The gentle teasing of her lips, the warm haze of alcohol which filled my mouth and nose, the under scent of coconut which seemed to radiate from her skin - all took me back fifteen years. I shifted slightly in my seat, pressing my lips on hers, hearing her moan deeply, feeling the cool wetness of her mouth. Our teeth knocked together slightly, like a teenager's kiss. Feeling her tongue in my mouth, I touched the tip of it with mine. I placed my hand to the side of her face, her skin warm and soft.......
Unbidden images of my wife came to my mind and, with those, the sharp recollection of the threat of infection I carried. The haze lifted and I pulled away from her quickly.....
Then, over breakfast, while the kids played, I told Debbie everything: the arrest and the bite and my attack on McKelvey, nearly punching Williams, the incident with Miriam in the car, mcKelvey's death, and Costello sending me home. As I spoke I felt the familiar catharsis of confession and began to feel a little better - though aware that reconciliation requires penance and reparation as well as simple admission of guilt.
Throughout the story, you come to know an inspector who struggles, not only in his job, but also in life. It's a bit refreshing, and definitely adds another aspect to an already interesting plot.


Books I'm looking forward to reading in the near future: The Scarlet Pimpernel by Baroness Emmuska Orczy on the Kindle and The Lamb Enters the Dreaming by Nathanael Pepper if it ever arrives in the mail.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Catch up

I just noticed that my last post was about 10 days ago, and at the rate I'm going, I might only get 3 blogs in this month. However, I have been reading quite a bit despite my lack of blogging and the insanity that surrounds the holiday months, but what I'm reading just hasn't inspired me to write about it. I'm not sure why this is, since I have been enjoying the stories, but none the less, here is a little bit to get the 3 of you that read this blog caught up.

Dennis Lehane's Prayers for Rain and Moonlight Mile -I enjoyed both of these as a nice conclusion to the Kinzie and Gennaro series. I'm very glad Lehane wrote Moonlight Mile as a final ending and didn't leave things as they were in Prayers for Rain and I enjoyed the leap to the future that Moonlight Mile provided. My one gripe about the story is that little Gabriella has the reasoning of a much older person...I've yet to meet a four year old that can understand that throwing a temper tantrum in public is embarrassing. However, I find that a common issue in books, so I digress. On the whole however, I did enjoy both books.

Iris Johansen's Lion's Bride and The Treasure - Historical Romance is one of my guilty pleasures, and I do enjoy Johansen's version. Lion's Bride starts off the two story series with the story of Thea's escape from a house of Woman and her rescue by Lord Ware in a time when women were little more then a means of relief for whatever man might feel the need to use them. Thea however, has bigger dreams of opening her own embroidery shop and will do anything necessary to make those dreams happen. The Treasure continues the story by telling of Thea's little sister, Selene, and the ex-assassin, Kadar, and their journey to escape the hands of the power hungry and obdurate Nasim who wants Kadar to steal what he believes to be the famous Holy Grail in exchange for his life, and that of Selene's. I suppose both books are exactly what you would expect of a stereo typical Historical Romance, but they were very nice for a few hours of escape from this stressful time of year.

Next on my reading list, I'm going to attempt to read two books at once, which is something I've never successfully accomplished. I plan to attempt to read Charles Dickens A Tale of Two Cities on my Kindle while I'm out and about, and Brian Mcgilloway's Boarderlands while at home. We'll see how it goes.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Dennis Lehane's Gone, Baby, Gone

For anyone that has read Lehane's books, you know he's not gentle in his plots. Often times, I have a sense of heaviness when I finish one. Gone, Baby, Gone was no different, and it struck home with the type of choice I dread ever having to make. The choice between moral conscience and the law.

Beware of spoilers.

A four year old little girl, Amanda McCready, is kidnapped and P.Is Patrick Kenzie and Angela Gennaro are hired by the child's uncle and aunt to find her. Her negligent mother, Helene, claims she put her daughter to bed and went next door to watch television with a friend, the next morning, she discovers her daughter is gone. What she fails to mention is the trip to a bar and getting stoned while she was out. This is just the latest in a long string of abhorrent events in the little girls life. A week before her kidnapping, Amanda was left sleeping on the beach while the mom went out shopping with her friend. Helene, tired of the little girls crying, finally took her to her brother to deal with her saying she was being "a bitch". The little girls uncle, seeing his niece's face and back, promptly took her to the hospital and was told Amanda was just short of having third degree burns from being left in the sun too long without sunscreen. The poor 4 year old could do nothing but cry from the pain. Patrick and Angela, knowing all of this, must now ask themselves, when they find her, will they admit to it and give the girl back to her mom, who she legally belongs to? Or, do they follow their conscience and save the girls life?

It's not an easy choice, and Lehane tackles it with the brutality that seems to encompass his stories. His is not an easy world.
Devin reached into his pocket and removed a cell phone, dialed 411. When the operator answered, he said, "West Beckett Sheriff's office, please." He repeated the number under his breath as she gave it to him, then punched the numbers into his cell phone keypad.

Before he could press send, Angie put a hand on his wrist. "What are you doing, Devin?"

"What are you doing, Ange?" he looked at her hand.

"You're going to arrest them?"

He looked up at the house, then back at her and scowled. "Yes, Angie, I'm going to arrest them."

"You can't."

He pulled his hand away from her. "Oh, yes, I can."

"No. She's --" Angie pointed through the trees. "Haven't you been watching? They're good for her. They're...Christ, Devin, they love her."

"They kidnapped her, " he said. "Were you awake for that part?"

"Devin, no. She's..." Angie lowered her head for a moment. "If we arrest them, they'll give Amanda back to Helene. She'll suck the life out of her."

Also, in case you are interested, I've discovered a movie was once made based on Gone, Baby, Gone IMDB

Should be interesting.

Gone, Baby, Gone