Saturday, December 28, 2013

Friday's (or actually Saturday's) Forgotten Book: Victor Gischler: Go-Go Girls of the Apocalypse

Back in the days when I was planning and editing the short-lived paperback series of the Arktinen Banaani publishers one of the manuscripts I was sent was Victor Gischler's Go-Go Girls of the Apocalypse. I didn't read it at the time, because it seemed obvious from the start that the series wouldn't continue for long. I'd read Gischler's Vampire A-Go-Go and enjoyed it, but thought it wouldn't fit the paperback line easily; here's my blog post on the book. The manuscript of Go-Go Girls of the Apocalypse I'd printed out came up when I was cleaning my desk before the holidays and I decided I'd finally read it, but instead of reading the book from the printed sheets, I ordered a copy from a web store.

I'm glad to tell you that Go-Go Girls of the Apocalypse (GGGOTA) is a very good book. It's funny, exciting and violent, but there's also some warm humanity in the depiction of the protagonists. The set-up is good: one man has lived in a cage for nine years after the apocalypse (which is explained away in a short sentence, which is a good thing) kills three mysterious men he encounters in the woods and starts to think he should try to find out what's happened to the mankind. He also misses his wife he hasn't seen in nine years. Not all about their marriage is explained in the beginning and Gischler keeps important things away from sight till the second half of the book. The collapsed society of the near future is plausibly done, even though it's a mix-up of westerns and Mad Max. Gischler takes things over the top, but does that very well. GGGOTA is a grand adventure in the style of Huckleberry Finn. I would've gladly taken the book in with the Finnish paperback series, but alas the series didn't see the light of day after five books (and four that came out in hardcover - the format change didn't change a thing, even though we added two Finnish books in the bunch).

GGGOTA may not be to everyone's taste, but I liked the heck out of it. One point, though: I didn't like the scene with the crazy man-hating transsexual.

It seems Gischler managed to fund writing the sequel, but the book doesn't seem to be out as yet.

Didn't mean to do this as a part of the Forgotten Books meme, but here's a link to Todd's blog with the other links.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Christa Faust: Choke Hold

Some of you may remember that I had a hand in getting Christa Faust's admirable paperback original Money Shot in Finnish in the all-too-short-lived paperback series of the Arktinen Banaani publishers. The book is very good and got some good reviews (some bad as well), but it sold zilch. So the sequel, called Choke Hold, never came out in Finnish.

Which is a pity, since Choke Hold is a very good book as well. Truth be told, I didn't read it until now. I can't explain how this came to be, but now it's finally read - and as I said, it's a great book. It has the same virtues as Money Shot: non-stop action, solid characterizations of fallible human beings, no-nonsense narration and witty banter both in dialogue and the voice of the protagonist, ex-porn actress Angel Dare. She's in witness protection program, but her past - told in Money Shot - gets back to her and she has to flee.

Choke Hold is a short novel, read almost in a jiffy, but in this kind of book that's a virtue of its own. Faust shows respectable professionalism in that she creates memorable characters in just a few lines and scenes of action. You'll remember some of her characters for a long time. The ending tells that Angel Dare's story is not over, which is a good thing, even though I'm not sure if I like the idea of series characters. There's enough grimness in Faust's climax that the next book is bound to start from scratch.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Friday's Forgotten Book: H. L. Lawrence: The Sparta Medallion

H. L. Lawrence wrote only two books. The other one, called both The Children of Light (1960), is the better-known of the two, since Joseph Losey based his Hammer-thriller The Damned on it - and it's a pretty good film, too, almost completely without the usual clumsiness of many Hammer thrillers. Lawrence's other book is called The Sparta Medallion and it was published one year after The Children of Light.

It's a pretty solid thriller, with a decidedly British bent on it. It stars a British geologist on his way to South America. He meets a strange German in the plane. The plane crashes however and only three people are left to survive: the geologist, the German and an air hostess. The German is killed in the jungle in mysterious circumstances, the air hostess is captured by the Indians and the geologist is left to survive in the jungle with the German's stuff, so when he's found he's thought to be the German. The man finds out soon there was something mysterious about the German and his belongings, and as he reaches Lima, several people are trying to kill him and take the suitcase that belonged to the German. The geologist however makes nothing out of the stuff therein.

It all comes down to a large, world-wide conspiracy that harks back to the Nazis, but Lawrence deals with it nicely in just 160 pages (I checked: the British first hardcover edition has 160 pages, the Finnish paperback has 139 pages). Nothing larger than life, just a nice solid thriller. It's a wonder Lawrence wrote nothing more. If someone has an explanation, I'd like to hear. Seems like he worked in advertising, maybe he ran out of time to do extra work.

More Forgotten Books here.

Monday, December 09, 2013

Charlie Williams: Graven Image

Wanted to read something short and catchy and reverted to my Kindle that I've used all too rarely for these past months. Charlie Williams's novella Graven Image had landed free on my Kindle just some time ago and I decided to read it.

And it's very good stuff, smooth but edgy, funny but smart, violent, brutish and noirish. It's the story of a fallen man who tries to make it good, but never succeeds. You want him to, even though he's not a good man, but you know from the start it doesn't end well for him.

I just kind of lost in the end. I really have no idea what went down. Maybe someone could explain it to me? I'm sure the fault is all mine, not Charlie Williams's.

Wednesday, December 04, 2013

Paul Denver: The Deadly Chance (1973)

Okay, I'm cheating here a bit. This is one of the books I'm including in my forth-coming book on British paperback crime fiction. I only browsed through the book while cycling at the gym. I think that's enough for this book, which isn't exactly quality stuff.

Paul Denver was one of the pseudonyms used by the British writer Douglas Enefer. He has no Wikipedia entry, but there's always Goodreads. I've read some of his books starring private eye Michael Power, they are mildly ok, mediocre but still entertaining enough. (Actually I first thought, over ten years ago when I was writing my first book, Pulpografia, that Denver was American.) Enefer also wrote some Cannon novelizations as by Paul Denver, and the titular The Deadly Chance is one of them. I believe the story went like this: when the bona fide American Cannon novelizations (written by Richard Gallagher) ran out, the British publisher World Distributors asked Denver to write more of them. And that's just what he did. I don't know whether Denver wrote on an outline or a screenplay of an episode or whether he just made it all up. I'll have to check that out.

The first problem is that Denver/Enefer can't write like an American. There's always a feeling someone's cheating. Denver/Enefer is clever enough though to keep descriptions at minimum. The dialogue also gives the Britishness of the author away, but that doesn't happen all that often in the Finnish translation (though it at times adds layers of its own). The story is a bit silly with its depiction of a small town drug scene, but there's a twist that might keep the reader interested. I say "might", because I skipped lots that went on interim. There's something tired about the book.

There are good British paperback crime novels out there, but this doesn't seem to be one of them. Included is the Finnish edition from 1976, published in a series that consisted only of TV novelizations.

Edit: I changed the publisher from Consul to World Distributors. They put out the Cannon novelizations written by Paul Denver. Consul published earlier paperbacks by Denver.