Category: Books

Back Story (A Spenser Novel) by Robert B. Parker

Every year I go up to Indiana to visit family and friends. Once a year is all I see many of these people, but because they’re old friends, it’s always a welcome visit. We quickly catch up with where we left off and share tales of things that have happened since we last were together. It’s always fun and I end up looking forward to the next visit as the current one ends.

That’s exactly how it is each time I read a new Spencer novel by Robert B. Parker. Back Story is the latest entry in the Spencer series. [It’s the 30th book, so if you’ve never read any of them, you’re in for a lot of fun!] The Spencer books come out once a year and like my visits to Indiana are always fun.

Spencer is a wise-cracking PI who has guts, intelligence and a strict moral code. His best friend, Hawk, hovers on the edge of the criminal element and although gutsy and intelligent has no qualms with doing what needs to be done. Although Hawk and Spencer are different they are also the same. Their interactions are half the fun.

Back Story finds Spencer investigating a 28 year old murder. Soon he discovers that the FBI, and mobsters want him to drop the case. Things heat up when he doesn’t. Throw in a stone cold killer named Harvey and you have yourself a story!

If you haven’t read any of the Spencer books, you should. You might find that you like them. And then you, too, can look forward to his annual visit!

Following Dan Simmons to Different Genres

Dan Simmons writes in a lot of different genres. That could be the sign of an artist looking for his voice. In Simmons’ case, it’s a talent who refuses to be constrained.

Simmons‘ first published story, “The River Styx Runs Upstream,” won the Rod Serling Memorial Award. His first novel, Song of Kali, won the World Fantasy Award. His first horror novel, Carrion Comfort, won the Bram Stoker Award. His first science fiction novel, Hyperion, won the Hugo Award. The man can do no wrong. He’s also gone the dark streets of the tough guy genre with two very well received Joe Kurtz novels.

I’ve just finished reading Darwin’s Blade which is described as a suspense thriller. Ok, an intelligent suspense thriller. Or better yet, an intelligent action-packed suspense thriller. I loved every page, but who wouldn’t when you have Russian Hit Men, car chases, glider vs helicopter gun fights, death by elephant dung, and more! Actually all of these things are in the book, but it also contains two of the best written leads, a realistic backstory and romance that doesn’t seemed forced or out of place.

Dan Simmons writes in a lot of different genres. So far I’ve loved every book that I’ve read of his. Looks like I’ll be expanding my reading to a lot of different genres

Steve Niles is Quite a Writer

Steve Niles is quite a writer.

I guess he should be though since he’s been making a living at it for about fifteen years. What? You haven’t heard of him? Sure you have! I wrote a ZONE piece on Steve way back on January 4th, after I read his novel, Guns, Drugs and Monsters.

I was so impressed with Guns, Drugs and Monsters that I immediately bought Savage Membrane, the first Cal McDonald novel. It was just as good! There are more Cal McDonald novels in the works, as well as a series from Dark Horse Comics.

Steve is also the author of 30 Days of Night, a vampire graphic novel that Ben Templesmith illustrated. It has just gone into it’s third printing, and was optioned [for a cool million bucks] by Sam Raimi‘s production company! Plus Steve get’s to write the screenplay!

You might think that all of this has gone to Steve‘s head. You’d be wrong. I got to meet Steve at MegaCon and he was very kind, gracious, and appreciative of his fans. Read this interview with Steve, check out his website [tell him I sent ya!] and then order his books. You’ll be glad you did because…

Steve Niles is quite a writer.

Leviathan

“It is the greatest beast to walk the Earth, a beast without equal. A beast without fear. It has not ruled the world of men for six thousand years.

Until now.”

Trapped on an island, a handful of people must find a way to kill the beast before it kills them… and to make matters worse, an atomic bomb is set to explode there in a just a few hours! James Byron Huggins has written another winner.

The Art of Sin City

FRANK MILLER is a genius. Although he’s worked in both movies and comics, it is in the latter that he has really made his mark. In the early ’80s, MILLER re-invented Daredevil taking him from a thrid rate hero to one of the most popular comics hitting the stands. After Daredevil came Ronin, and then Dark Knight Returns, the series that woke up mainstream America to the fact that comics were still around. MILLER went on to create Batman: Year One, Sin City and the groundbreaking 300.

But it is MILLER’s SIN CITY series that remains my favorite. All of the stories are set in the same corrupt big city and quite often feature overlapping characters. Every tale is well worth the price of admission and now MILLER even has released a book dedicated to The Art of Sin City. My copy hasn’t made it to the bookshelf yet, as I keep looking through and admiring the genius that is FRANK MILLER.

John Ridley’s Drift

JOHN RIDLEY is best known for his “noir” novels. He wrote Stray Dogs which was turned into the cult classic movie “U-Turn” which starred SEAN PENN, JENNIFER LOPEZ [before she hit it big], and BILLY BOB THORTON. His other books have for the most part been in the same vein…

The Drift is unlike anything that RIDLEY has written before. Well, that’s not exactly true. You see, RIDLEY‘s other book s have all been very good and The Drift is no exception. In fact The Drift may be RIDLEY‘s best book yet.

The Drift is the story of a man[Charles Hanson] who seems to have it all… a good job, a loving wife and a child on the way. Charles sees it differently. He sees his life becoming more and more repetitive. He feels confined… until he decides to leave it all behind for a life on the rails. That’s right, he decides to become a modern day hobo. He meets many strange characters [most who wish to do him harm] and has many adventures in his effort to save a young girl from the life he has chosen for himself. The problem is, he has to find her before she is murdered. To say more would be to say too much.

Guns and Monsters

STEVE NILES writes a mean hard-boiled novel. He also writes a wicked horror novel. What makes NILES unique is that he does this in the same book! Guns, Drugs and Monsters is actually the second in a [hopefully long-running] series featuring Cal MacDonald. Cal is a human with the gift / curse that he knows that monsters walk among us. He knows this because he hunts them. Well, a guy has to make a living somehow, doesn’t he?

NILES skillfully combines the best elements of CHANDLER and HAMMETT along with a dose of KING, plus a good bit of humor as well. I read through Guns, Drugs and Monsters in nearly one sitting [it’s that much fun]. It also features spot illustrations by ASHLEY WOOD that are the icing on the cake. I’ve already ordered Savage Membrane [the book that started the series]. If it’s just half as good as Guns then I’ll still have a winner.

A Real Hardcase

Have you heard of Dan Simmons?

Simmons‘ first published story, “The River Styx Runs Upstream,” won the Rod Serling Memorial Award. His first novel, Song of Kali, won the World Fantasy Award. His first horror novel, Carrion Comfort, won the Bram Stoker Award. His first science fiction novel, Hyperion, won the Hugo Award.

Even with all the awards, I was only vaguely familiar with his work. I don’t read fantasy, and very little science fiction or horror. I do love a hardboiled thriller though! You know, the kind written by Vachss, or Izzi, Hunter, or Stark… or Simmons. That’s right! With one book, Simmons has jumped to the top of the list!

Joe Kurtz was a PI… before he was an ex-con. See he killed a man, a couple of men actually. They’d murdered his girl and unborn child. While it’s pretty reasonable to me that he threw one of ’em off a six story building, the jury didn’t see it that way.

Now, out of prison after eleven-and-a-half years…

…you’d think things would be looking up for Kurtz. You’d be wrong. Too many people want him dead…

Hardcase is the best novel that I’ve read this year [tied with Jack Kelly‘s Line of Sight]. For more about Hardcase, click here.

Ever heard of Dan Simmons?

My prediction is that you will. But remember that you FIRST heard about him here!

Hardcase rates an A+

Bobby the Brain

Heenan spent nearly 40 years in the world of pro wrestling. He wasn’t your typical wrestler. He wasn’t gigantic. He wasn’t musclebound. He didn’t fly through the air [unless being thrown by the Bruiser or some other good guy].

Fans loved or hated him, but no one was neutral about Bobby Heenan. He could “rassle” with anyone and make them look better. No one could work a crowd like “the Brain.” And Bobby Heenan was witty. His one-liners and off-the-cuff comments were at times more entertaining than the matches themselves.

Bobby Heenan has written a book and he “tells all the stories, names all the names and doesn’t care who gets mad about it.” Hulk Hogan, Andre “The Giant,” and Vince McMahon are just a few of the many colorful characters that Heenan discusses.

Heenan‘s book is available now [and at a 30% discount]. So call him what you want… BrainWeaselEntertainer… but be sure and add author to the list!

Bobby the Brain rates an A

Hostage as Cool as Elvis

I was lucky enough to discover Robert Crais with his second novel, Stalking the Angel [ his first was The Monkey’s Raincoat which introduced detectives Elvis Cole and Joe Pike.] The series was modern, well written and reminded me of an updated version of Robert B. Parker‘s Spenser and Hawk [well actually, an updated Spenser and Sylvester Stallone‘s Cobra].

Crais is one of the few authors whose work I buy in hardcover as soon as it’s published. With my time being what it is, I just got around to reading Hostage, Crais‘ latest [which is now out in paperback]. Although not an Elvis Cole novel, it is without a doubt my favorite work by Crais [who as I’ve said is always very good].

The cool thing about this novel is that the suspense starts on page one and continues to build and build and build. The book has received outstanding reviews from critics and fans alike. Bruce Willis has optioned the book for a movie [which would be an excellent vehicle for him]!

So what are you waiting for? Click here to order the paperback… and watch for Elvis and Joe Pike to return soon in Crais The Last Detective!

Sahara Worth the Trip

I just finished reading my second “Dirk Pitt” adventure by Clive Cussler. Sahara is being considered for a major motion picture… can you say franchise?

Excerpts from Simon and Schuster:

1996.. a disease is driving thousands of North Africans into madness, cannibalism, and death. The suspected cause of the raging epidemic is vast, unprecedented pollution that threatens to extinguish all life… Racing to save the world from environmental catastrophe, Pitt and his team… run a gauntlet between a billionaire industrialist and a bloodthirsty West African tyrant. In the scorching desert, Pitt finds a gold mine manned by slaves and uncovers the truth behind two enduring mysteries — the fate of a Civil War ironclad and its secret connection with Lincoln‘s assassination, and the last flight of a long-lost female pilot….Now, amidst the blazing, shifting sands of the Sahara, DIRK PITT will make a desperate stand — in a battle the world cannot afford to lose!

“Killer Inside Me” Coming But Who to Play Lou Ford?

Earlier this week Variety reported that Dominic Sena (“Gone in 60 Seconds”) will direct the 1952 pulp fiction classic “The Killer Inside Me” by Jim Thompson. While I didn’t care much for “Gone in 60 Seconds” because of the story, I am fairly excited about the prospects for “The Killer Inside Me.”

First of all, it’s an excellent book, considered by many to be Jim Thompson‘s best. Stanley Kubrick called it “the most chilling and believeable first-person story of a criminally warped mind that I have ever encountered.” I agree.

But who to play the main character, Lou Ford, a sheriff’s deputy with a psychopathic side? My vote would be for someone totally unexpected… someone like Sylvester Stallone! Fans have been wanting to see him play a bad guy… well, this could be the role. Whoever is chosen should be playing totally against character… someone that everyone would NEVER suspect is a psychopathic murderer… if not Sly then maybe Harrison Ford? At any rate… check out the book!

Line of Sight

“One of the rules… you don’t mess with married women. It’s tempting, sure. Forbidden fruit. He got, I want. But you’re only buying trouble and there’s enough trouble to be had for nothing.”

Ray Dolan finds out just how much trouble can be had, when his infatuation with a married woman turns to murder. Line of Sight by Jack Kelly is one of the best books that I’ve read in a long time. If you’re a fan of crime writers such as Andrew Vachss, James M. Cain, Jim Thompson, Frank Miller and Walter Mosely or if you love film noir… movies like “Double Indemnity,” “Body Heat,” and “Out of the Past” then you’re going to love this book. You can read more about it by clicking [Here] or on the picture to the left. (And ya gotta love the novel’s cover!)

Line of Sight rates an “A+”
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