Thursday, September 29, 2011

Plugged by Eoin Colfer

Like a lot of people, I know Eoin Colfer from his Artemis Fowl series, and, having listened to one on audiobook, I was eager to read his first adult novel, Plugged. I admit, I wasn't sure how it would work out, but I hoped that Mr. Colfer would be able to pull off that mix of suspense and humor. He did. The story was both dark and humorous, and full of dialogue that makes you miss both Raymond Chandler and Ken Bruen at the same time. I hated for it to end.

From the side flap:
Daniel McIvoy, an Irish bouncer at a seedy New Jersey club. Dan has a problem. Well, he has several, but the worst is that the girl he loves was just murdered. Then more people around him start dying, and not of natural causes.

Suddenly Dan's got the mob, cops, and an unstable lovesick neighbor after him, and the only clue points toward the crooked doctor who gave him hair implants before vanishing into thin air. Luckily-or perhaps not so much-he has the help of a volatile detective, a permanently hungover army psychologist, and a mischievous ghost.

I will say that mischievous ghost was a nice touch. Having been to a question and answer book signing with Eoin Colfer, and hearing that he really enjoys writing YA novels because he can add that bit of the supernatural, I was glad he was able to fit that into his adult novel story also. I will also say that that book signing was one of the most enjoyable I've been to, since the author had some really great stories to tell. (One of them involving duct tape and kids he happen to be directing in a play. Working at an elementary school myself, I could relate.)

And, as it happens, you can win a free signed copy of Plugged over at Crime Always Pays. Enjoy and good luck.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Absolute Zero Cool and Buried Secrets

I'm in shock this morning as everyone left the house for work or school and I find myself with some time to actually sit down on the computer and blog. I think it seems like forever since that has happened, or, at least since school let out last spring. It's been an insane summer with a lot of changes going on in out family and reading time, much less blogging time, has all but been abolished. Somehow, none the less, I have managed to work my way through a couple of books amid the insanity. Both of these books deserve their own post but seeing as how I'm not sure when I'll have time to sit down and type again, I'm going to take the safe route and just get it all out now. A little recognition is better than none after all, right?

Lets start with Declan Burke's Absolute Zero Cool since I just finished it and it's relatively fresh in my mind. The main thing I thought when I finished the last page of Declan's latest was "that was the most unusual, twisted book I've ever read". And that's saying something considering some of the books I tend to read. I think what made it so different for me was that instead of the story focusing on the murder/mystery plot, it focus' on the insane rationality of the main character's musings. In the beginning, I admit, it took a bit of getting used to to figure out who was who and exactly how it was going to work, but it does work. The gist of it, I think, is a character in the authors book, appears and convinces the author to re-write the book the character is in while the character is writing part of the book. Clear as mud? I promise, it makes sense once you get into it. The plot however, goes something like this:

“Close it down, blow it up – what’s the difference?”

Billy Karlsson needs to get real. Literally. A hospital porter with a sideline in euthanasia, Billy is a character trapped in the purgatory of an abandoned novel. Deranged by logic, driven beyond sanity, Billy makes his final stand: if killing old people won’t cut the mustard, the whole hospital will have to go up in flames.

Only his creator can stop him now, the author who abandoned Billy to his half-life limbo, in which Billy schemes to do whatever it takes to get himself published, or be damned . . .

amidst all of the twistedness thought, that bit of wry Irish humor manages to sneak in, like this rant about Tuesday that I will now think of every time something goes wrong on a Tuesday.

All of these creatures need to defecate. Sooner or later, the works gum up. Everyone waits until the porter hoses out the Augean edifice. Then it all starts again.

I like to call this process "Tuesday."

Everyone has a thing about Mondays, but Mondays do their best.

Tuesdays are evil.

Tuesday is Monday's Mr. Hyde, lurking in the shadows and twirling its luxuriant mustache. Tuesdays take Friday the 13ths out into the car park and set their feet on fire, just to see the fuckers dance. If Tuesday was a continent it would be sub-Saharan Africa: disowned, degraded and mean as hell.

Tuesdays are in a perpetual state of incipient rebellion. I can feel it. Tuesdays want to be Saturday nights, and a few pancakes once a year aren't going to keep them sweet forever. When it all blows up in your face, don't say you weren't warned.

We have chained Tuesdays too tightly, allowed them no time off. We have taken no notice of Tuesday's concerns about working conditions. Tuesday is Samson, blind and furious, his hair growing back by imperceptible degrees.

You have been warned.

The union rep is on the phone, so it must be Tuesday.

It continues on for a couple more pages, but you get the idea. I really like that particular rant.

Ok, so I've gone on about Absolute Zero Cool more than what I intended, but like I said, the book deserves it own blog.

Joseph Finder's Buried Secrets was another one I managed to sit down and read. Unfortunately, I finished it some time ago and with all of the distractions in my life, I honestly mainly remember liking it, and the whole Nick Heller series altogether. Nick Heller is a character that's very easy to just fall in love with. He's tough, loves his family, and does what needs to be done even though he at times hates he has to do it. In Buried Secrets, Nick Heller is called in by a friend of his family to rescue their daughter who has been buried alive. The family doesn't know where, or why and only has a live internet connection with a video and voice stream from inside the girls casket. They can clearly see her suffering and will do anything, or so they say, to stop it. It's Nick's job to save her at any cost.

Buried Secrets is the second book in the Nick Heller series, and I hated to actually finish it because there wasn't a third one to start on. I'm hoping there are more to come since Mr. Heller has become yet another fictional character on my "character crush" list.

And, last, but not least, a quick mention of a fun app I found for a handful of ebooks. If you get a bit, and have an Iphone or Ipod touch, search Booktrack in the app store. They are short stories that have sound effects and some mood music added. I just finished their version of Arthor Conan Doyle's Sherlock Homes and The Speckled Band and loved it. I've never really gotten into the original Sherlock Homes stories but I couldn't get enough of this one. Parts of it even made it seem as if I was reading a ghost story with all of the sound effects. I loved it. Next time I'm at the bookstore, I will definitely have to give Conan Doyle's series another try.

Well, if you're still with me, I hope you'll check out these books, and let me know what you think. I've enjoyed them.