Saturday, May 05, 2018

Urban Waite: Sometimes the Wolf

I really liked Urban Waite's first novel, The Terror of Living. It's a tough crime novel, a bit reminiscent of Cormac McCarthy, but standing still very much on its own. I haven't read Waite's second novel, The Carrion of Birds, but I happened to pick up his third novel, Sometimes the Wolf, not long ago, and now I decided to read it.

I don't know what happened. The book started out strong and well and I got the hang of it. The story about a bad cop getting out of prison possibly looking for the loot of 200,000 dollars and his son working as a sheriff in a small town felt interesting.  Then somewhere on page 150 or so I realized I didn't anymore know what was going on and what the persons were after. There had been too many days when I'd only been able to read only a few pages, and that started to show. I pushed through, since the book was well-written, but even in the end I couldn't really tell what had happened between. The ending was strong, though.

I really wanted to like this. Hell, I would've liked to know what happened in the book! I'm sure it's totally my own fault - it's been really hectic around here for some time now, and I've also done some travelling, which is never good for reading. As I said, the start of the book was really strong with interesting characters and a good plotline.

Nevertheless, next I'll pick up Waite's The Carrion of Birds. It was translated in Finnish, as was The Terror of Living, but I believe Sometimes the Wolf won't be, which is a pity.

Friday, May 04, 2018

Photo of William Campbell Gault

I once spotted a French Série noire edition of a novel by American hardboiled crime writer William Campbell Gault. As I don't speak French, I had no use for the book, but I noticed it had a photo of Gault in the back. So, here it is, with the actual cover. As the French book covers usually go, this is pretty bland.

Monday, April 23, 2018

Favourite crime novels written by female authors

For no apparent reason at all, I decided to list my favourite crime books written by woman writers. The list includes only books written originally in English, some of them have been translated, which is indicated in the list. I published this first in Facebook.

Vicki Hendricks: Miami Purity
Dolores Hitchens: Sleep with Slander
Elizabeth Sanxay Holding: The Blank Wall
Dorothy B. Hughes: In a Lonely Place (translated as Yksinäisessä paikassa, 1981)
Megan Abbott: The End of Everything
Celia Fremlin: The Hours Before Dawn (Hetket ennen aamunkoittoa, 1963)
 Margaret Millar: Like an Angel (Kuin enkeli, 1996)
Patricia Highsmith: The Cry of the Owl (Öinen huuto, 1998)
Gillian Flynn: Dark Places (Paha paikka, 2014)
Christa Faust: Money Shot & Choke Hold (Money Shot translated in Finnish as Koston enkeli, 2010)
Marisha Pessl: Night Film (Yönäytös, 2013)
Sarah Weinman (ed.): Troubled Daughters, Twisted Wives

Bubbling under:

Dolores Hitchens: Footsteps in the Night (transl. as Askeleet yössä, 1962)
Doris Miles Disney: The Magic Grandfather (transl. as Kosto, 1969)
Lionel Shriver: We Need To Talk About Kevin
Sara Gran: Claire DeWitt and the City of the Dead

Friday, April 20, 2018

Michael Moorcock: The Steel Tsar

Just a quick note to possibly encourage more constant blogging:

Finished the last entry in Michael Moorcock's Oswald Bastable trilogy, The Steel Tsar. I really liked the two earlier installments in the series, but this one was too talkative and lagged. The normal steampunky Moorcock touches are of course intact, with Josef Stalin being a steel monster of the title and him chasing the anarchist leader Mahno with a zeppelin. But still, I liked the two earlier parts a lot more.

Life has been crowded, hence no blogging. I'll try to squeeze some posts in.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Paul Johnston: The Golden Silence

Paul Johnston is a writer I've had some interest in for quite a while. His thrillers have been published in Finland only under Harlequin's Bestseller imprint, and the books haven't had almost any kind of recognition. Yet I've heard good things about them, and I've been looking for a cheap copy (meaning one euro, tops) in thrift stores and used book stores. Finally I found The Golden Silence, Kultainen hiljaisuus in Finnish (it's a literal translation) and read it a week ago wanting to read something light-weight. 

The book was light-weight all right, but it also clearly wanted to be something deep, yet not really achieving that status. There are many original things about the book, though. First, the hero: private eye Alex Mavros lives and works in Greece. Second, the mystery he deals with in The Golden Silence has to do with the Greek dictatorship of the early seventies and the Leftist uprising against the said dictatorship. Mavros's older brother disappeared in the aftermath of the uprising and he keeps looking for him, and this case brings him closer to finding him. 

Mavros is a likable character, though not very multidimensional, and the Greek setting is believable - Paul Johnston lives in Greece -, but there's still something that unfortunately doesn't make to want to back for more. The style is too straight-forward and flat, and there were lots of stilted moments throughout the book. During some of these I thought of letting the book go, but the mystery remained interesting. It also made the torturing duo of father and son more intriguing and essential to the plot, though I wasn't all the time sure if they were necessary characters. 

The Golden Silence is not bad at all, and it may have suffered from the hasty translation (Harlequin is not really known for their good salaries), so if this sounds your kind of stuff, go for it. In the back cover there are enthusiastic blurbs from George Pelecanos (!) and Mark Billingham, so if you have any trust for blurbs, you could do worse than picking up Paul Johnston.

Wednesday, January 03, 2018

Marisha Pessl: Night Film

During the holidays, I wanted to read - as always - something that is not at all related to my work, usually something criminous. Normally I like to read something hardboiled or noirish, but during this holiday I decided to try something else entirely.

I'd heard good things about Marisha Pessl's Night Film, and though it's over 700 pages in Finnish translation, I read it. I wasn't disappointed, and the length didn't bother me at all. There's bound to be some padding in 700 pages, but not overtly so in this case. Night Film (translated Yönäytös, which is a literal translation, though it misses the "film" part) is about the mysterious film director Stanislas Cordova and his legacy, and the death of his daughter that seems like a suicide at first. An investigative journalist starts to dig around Cordova and finds himself deep in the mysteries and even horrors of Cordova's films.

There's some forced deepness in the book, especially in the end, but then again the ending is also fitting with the rest of the book and the themes of Cordova's films, which, quite wisely, are described only shortly. There are also some scenes that are gripping as all hell, and I found myself turning a page after another and not wanting to stop reading. (This also affected our Christmas holiday, as I didn't seem to be interested in the festivities.)

Night Film wasn't 100 % non-work reading, as I have an unfinished novel manuscript in which similar things happen, but in a Finnish milieu instead. Don't really know if reading this helped, but I also wanted to know what roads had already been traveled. I'm thinking I'd order me a copy of Tobe Hooper's novel, Midnight Movie, and maybe go back to Theodore Roszak's Flicker (a great novel, if you ask me). Night Film resembles Flicker, by the way, but not too much, and the conspiracy theories Roszak weaves are much more world-embracing than the ones Pessl has.

By the way, I seem to remember stumbling on a mention of a new novel, possibly translated from German, that's also a thriller about a mysterious film or a film director. I can't trace this anymore, so if somebody could help me identify the book, I'd be grateful.

I also managed to squeeze in a Sue Grafton title (C Is for Corpse) in a memory of her death. I've never read her much, but can't see why: Kinsey Millhone is a likable protagonist and the stories are believable and complicated.

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Craig McDonald & Kevin Singles: Head Games

I've never read any of the Hector Lassiter novels by Craig McDonald, but have read several good reviews of them, so I picked the graphic novel version of his first novel, Head Games, up in the comic book store my friend runs here in Turku. The drawing style looked stylish, and the story line sounded good.

I wasn't disappointed. The story about Pancho Villa's severed head and people hunting it is funny and tragic, and it reminded me of several other novels and films, such as Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia. I liked how the father George Bush Sr. was brought into the story.

Hector Lassiter himself is an interesting character, a bit macho adventurer, cynical but still humane, good-looking but aging. Lassiter's sidekick, free-wheeling poet and reporter  Bud Fiske is maybe even more intriguing: with him Mcdonald brings up points about the whole era and its change during the late fifties and sixties. The art of Kevin Singles is quite nice, retro but not too retro, which is fitting, since the story takes place in 1957 (there's also an epilogue that takes place in the early seventies). The pictures are black & white with only one process colour (not sure if this is the right word), which works quite well. The style in all is a bit reminiscent of Darwyn Cooke's great Richard Stark graphic novels. It's not only a film noir pastiche.

There are quite many crime graphic novels coming out at the moment. There have of course always been crime comics, but this seems like a boom or a trend, starting perhaps with Road to Perdition, 100 Bullets and Scalped and going on with the Hard Case Crime comics, My Friend Dahmer and what not. Head Games is an entertaining addition to the cycle, which seems to concentrate on hardboiled and noir.