Tuesday, 20 October 2009

Back In The Land of The Almost Living

Because my brain is still numb, here's a list of books acquired during Bouchercon, and why.

First of all, the non-crime-fiction waiting for me in my hotel room from my lovely friend Nicholas at Dissident Books (based on these, I dread to ask Nicholas what these say about his opinion of me):

This looks brilliant fun. A quote about it from Nick Tosches says: "This book is beyond blurbs, so let’s just get to the jack. If you have any interest in pot, pornography, punk rock, or professional wrestling, just buy this fucking thing. Much more important than food for the table or the starving children of wherever." A note for my Dad - I have an interest in punk rock. That's all, I promise.

"The Process Church of the Final Judgment was the apocalyptic shadow side of the flower-powered '60s and perhaps the most notorious cult of modern times.Scores of black-cloaked devotees swept the streets of New York, San Francisco, London, Paris, Rome, Chicago, Toronto, Boston, New Orleans and other cities selling magazines with titles like Sex, Fear, Love and Death.The Process’ no-holds-barred theology brought on accusations of sinister conspiracies. Personalities like Marianne Faithfull, George Clinton and Mick Jagger participated in Process publications, and Funkadelic reproduced Process material in two of their albums. Love Sex Fear Death — written by original Process Church member Timothy Wyllie — is the first book to provide the astonishing inside story of this fascinating group and the mysterious woman at its center. Included are contributions from six other former members and Genesis Breyer P-Orridge." A note for my Dad- I promise I'm not about to join a cult.

A gorgeous gorgeous book about Iggy Pop and The Stooges SIGNED TO ME BY IGGY POP!!! Need I say more? A note for my Dad - I know you have no idea who Iggy Pop is. Ask Mum.

And now the crime fiction:

A Hard Case ARC. Back cover blurb - "Usually, when you call a Burlesque act a 'show stopper', you don't mean it quite so literally. But this time, that's just what happened: the show stopped dead and so did the girl. And as I looked at her nearly naked and completely lifeless body and the bottle of poison in her hand with my fingerprints all over it, I thought to myself: 'Porkpie, you're in for it this time...'"
First line: 'The heel of the stiletto caught on the strap of the black lace bra she had dropped a few moments earlier.'

A Hard Case book, originally written in 1956 about a small time grifter who's a dead-ringer for a South American dictator.
First line: 'He should have paid the bill.'

LOSERS LIVE LONGER - Russell Attwood
Another Hard Case book (I love them). A down and out East Village PI investigates the death of another PI.
First line:'The downstairs doorbuzzer buzzed. I didn't answer it.'

TOWER - Ken Bruen and Reed Farrel Coleman
A parallel narrative about the deadly and destructive friendship of two minor New York wiseguys. I started this one on the plane home and it's sheer genius.
First line: 'Griffin coughed blood into my face when I made to slip the chains under his shoulders.'

HOGDOGGIN' - Anthony Neil Smith
Publishers Weekly says of it "Fans of darkest noir will be most satisfied." Excellent - what more do I need to know? Besides, I love his other books. I'm expecting dark and severely warped.
First Line: 'Steel God said "Fuckin' guilty."'

JACK WAKES UP - Seth Harwood
I'd been meaning to get this for a while and picked it up at the book giveaway on Sunday. A washed-up movie star who takes high-rollers around San Francisco's club scene gets involved in a drug war when he plays tour guide to a group of ex KGB agents.
First Line: 'Jack Palms walks into a diner just south of Japantown, the one where he's supposed to meet Ralph.'

GO WITH ME - Castle Freeman Jr
Bought because the way my friend Bobbie (whose judgment I trust implicitly) described this it made my heart beat faster. It sounds a little like Daniel Woodrell set in New England.
First Line: 'Midsummer: The long days begin in bright, rising mist and never end. Their hours stretch, they stretch. They stretch to hold everything you can shove into them; they'll take whatever you've got. Action, no action, good ideas, bad ideas, talk, love, trouble, every kind of lie - they'll hold them all.' Isn't that gorgeous? You can start a book with the weather.

HARD STOP - Chris Knopf
I bought this one because Knopf was excellent on the panel that I almost walked out of twice. The cover blurb says "Sam Acquillo is getting to be a lot more sociable. People are constantly dropping by, including guys in black outfits with .45 automatics breaking into his cottage in the middle of the night.
First line: 'I didn't like anything about that big, dumb, ugly SUV.'

TKO - Tom Schreck
I got this at the book giveaway for the same reason I bought the Knopf. He was great on the panel but I couldn't find this one in the book room - I think they had all sold out before I got there - obviously I wasn't the only one to be impressed. First in the series about part time boxer, part time counsellor Duffy Dumbrowski.
First Line: '"Just because a guy slits the throats of to high-school cheerleaders, axes the back of the quarterback's head and runs down the class president in his mom's LTD, doesn't make him a bad guy," I said.'

BOULEVARD - Stephen Jay Schwartz
This was another I picked up at the giveaway. I'd never even heard of this book. A debut novel about LAPD Homicide detective Hayden Glass who is investigating a series of vicious murders by a sexual predator. Meanwhile, Glass is hiding the fact that he is a sex addict and cruises Sunset Boulevard for prostitutes.
First line: 'Detective Hayden Glass of the Los Angeles Police Department's Robbery-Homicide Division drove his old Hollywood beat, crossing Fairfax, heading east on Sunset Boulevard.'

I need no other reason to buy this other than the fact that Tony Spinosa is the pseudonym of Reed Farrel Coleman but if anything else was needed, this is "a tale of greed, blackmail, corruption, vengeance, racism, fear, and what righteous men do in the face of a world gone wrong."
First line: 'At his best, Rusty Monaco was a miserable, self-absorbed prick and tonight he was paying even less attention than usual to the world outside his head.'

Another one bought because the author impressed me when he was on a panel. A debut about a Chicago private eye who is investigating the death of a young Vietnamese American girl who had a taste for drink, drugs and stripping in front of a camera.
First line: 'North Dearborn, a couple blocks off the Gold Coast high-rises, is a high-priced neighbourhood, full of forty-year-old guys fresh out of divorces from suburban wives.'

MANIFESTO FOR THE DEAD - Dominic Stansberry
A fictional memoir of Jim Thompson. Desribed as "top notch noir blended with biography, fiction, suspense and satire." Nice
First line: 'This was the end. The final trap. The last flimflam.'

42 DAYS FOR MURDER - Roger Torrey
Originally published in 1938.San Francisco detective Shean Connell is hired to clear up a divorce case in Reno and finds himself in the middle of a frame-up.
First line: 'Lester came in my office with the sun hitting his glasses and making them shine like headlights.'

HALO IN BRASS - Howard Browne
Originally published in 1949. Paul Pine is hired to find a missing girl.
First line: 'Almost the first thing Mrs Fremont said after I was seated on the edge of her lounge chair was that Laura had always been a good girl.'

THE BLIND PIG - Jon A Jackson
The blurb says "Guns. Everyone has one. The good guys. The bad guys. The guys in between. Mulheisen can't see the fascination, but he's made a career of cleaning up the messes. Now he's on a case that began when a cop shot a prowler, two hit men shot a jukebox, and a "delicious kumquat" of a woman used her own brand of ammo on Mulheisen in the after-hours world of blind pigs and jazz joints." How could I resist?
First line: 'Patrolman Jimmy Marshall sat at the wheel of the squad car parked in a dark alley off Kercheval Avenue.'

An old paperback from 1972. The front cover says it's "Chopper Cop #2" and the back cover says "Chris and Lisa were a pair of swinging stewardesses who were hooked on competing with each other. I try harder was the name of their game - in the air, on the ground, and in the sack. Terry Bunker had to choose one of them to help catch a motorcycle killer with a taste for young and pretty females."
First line: 'The pretty teen-aged girl with the long reddish-brown hair stood at the edge of the freeway, her arm out, her fist balled and her thumb extended.'

THE BIG PAYOFF - Robert Novak
The blurb says "Big Joe Blaze is maybe the best and worst cop in New York. He never fails to get results - or hell from his superiors."
First line: 'He was big. He was tough. He was important.'

An old Gold Medal book from 1967. How could I resist a book with a turquoise high-heeled shoe on the cover? "A heel was the weapon - and a heel the victim."
First line: 'Police statisticians will tell you that murders are seldom committed late in the afternoon.'

From 1960. "From sinister side-streets and dangerous alleyways, from sordid little 'night-clubs' and doubtfully named 'hotels,' they come - dangerous and desperate people enmeshed in the intrigues of vicious international crime.
First line: 'Later, whenever I thought back over the whole affair, I would begin by remembering the trouble with Ferguson at the Jickey.'

Picked up in the book giveaway "A domestic abuse case turns deadly, when the alleged abuser is killed and Sam McRae's client disappears."
First line: '
I've never been a morning person, and if it's one thing I don't need before my first cup of coffee, it's a visit from the cops.'

Anyone have any comments on these? Any thoughts on which one I should read after I finish TOWER?


  1. How come you found the good books? Every time I went to the room I couldn't find anything I wanted or got stopped by self published self publicisers. Next though, I'd go for Halo in Brass. Not as good as The Taste of Ashes by the same author but still worth your time. Or Manifesto for Murder because them I'll have someone to talk to about it.

    By the way, did I say how great it was to see you? See you soon.


  2. Hi Donna -

    "A heel was the weapon - and a heel the victim." How could you NOT go for that one?

    Although the fictional memoir of Jim Thompson sounds like a dinger, too ...

    Cheers, Dec

  3. Martyn - I might read the Stansberry then and then I can e-mail you about it :o) It was great to see you too. That was one of my favourite evenings - despite the sore feet, the scary underpass and the fact that I nearly wee'd myself - what fun :o)

    Dec - as someone else said to me - "it's a shoe-in" :o)

  4. Manifesto for the dead is awesome (and a super quick read.)if you're a Thompson fanatic (and even if you're not.) and then give Boulevard a roll. I've been eying it for the past couple of weeks and I'd like to get some else's opinion on it before I shell out the 25 bucks

  5. Hey, I was supposed to sign your books, wasn't I? Sorry I missed you later on.

    Dark and twisted and perverted and scared of spiders. That's me.

  6. I noticed you stopped explaining away your choices to your Mum and Dad after a while...

    Books AND shoes! No wonder you were overweight. In the nicest possible way.

    Throw a dart at the pile and see what it hits.

  7. Mum thinks Iggy Pop is that skinny fellow on the advertisements, I do not want to incriminate myself (we do not have the fifth ammendment in this country) As for punk, I seem to remember a girl wearing chains some years back, no, not into fetishism. All I can say, is Yuk!!!

  8. Keith - yep, I'm a big Jim Thompson fan, and I will definitely get around to BOULEVARD very soon - it looks excellent.

    Neil - you big softie :o) No worries on the signing front. I was sorry I didn't get to see you later, but it was good to get to see you at all - as is always the case with Bouchercon, there were several people I really wanted to see and never managed to.

    Bookwitch - I decided that it was only worthwhile justifying what someone else had bought for me. Justifying my OWN purchases was a non-starter :o)

    Dad - mother is correct - he is indeed the skinny fellow on the advertisements, but he's better known as...oh, never mind :o)And I cannot believe my father just uttered the word fetishism, but yes, I was that chain wearing punk girl :o)

  9. I read Tower on the plane home too. Great book.

    And A Taste for Ashes is good too. I think I have a signed copy of that around here somewhere. Haven't read Halo yet. And The Blind Pig is great. What made you pick up all the pulp stuff?

    Tower reminds me of the old pulps too. Short, violent, dark. Good stuff.

  10. John - I love the pulps and always pick up a few at Bouchercon - the old ones were $1 each :o) I'm really enjoying TOWER.

  11. I'm loving these posts, Donna. Please keep them coming.

  12. What struck me was that all but one of your haul were written by men. Given many of them are older books it's not surprising but it's nice to see we've come a little way since the 'old' days. I think any haul of modern crime, even the hard boiled stuff, would have a few more women like Megan Abbott and Gillian Flynn.

    As for what to read next I found the first line of GO WITH ME the most compelling so I look forward to your thoughts on that.

  13. Vince - thank you :o) I have a few more panel posts which I will write up over the next few days. Glad you've enjoyed them.

    Bernadette - Megan Abbott and Christa Faust were great on panels I went to but I already have everything they've written :o) Of the other female authors I saw on panelsor whose books I enjoy, I was tempted by Sophie Littlefield's book, could not find Barbara Fister's new one in the bookroom, or anything by Frankie Bailey. I already have (or couldn't find one I didn't in the bookroom) Yrsa Sigurdardottir, Lisa Cody, Ruth Dudley Edwards, Lauren Henderson and Cara Black.

    At conventions I tend to concentrate on spur of the moment 'new to me authors I saw on panels' purchases, or big favourites I can't wait to buy at home.

    Thinking about it (jetlagged and at 3am when I should be asleep as I have work tomorrow), I would have to say that of my top 20 favourite authors there are only maybe 5 women though. I never actually think about it, just buy what I like :o)