RARA-AVIS: Some recent readings

M-T (matrxtech@sprintmail.com)
Mon, 28 Jun 1999 12:31:39 -0500

_Twelve Tales of Suspense and the Supernatural_ by Davis Grubb (author ot _The Night of the Hunter_). A superb collection (1965, Fawcett Crest d814, 40 cents) of truly weird tales. Grubb was a wonderful writer. The story _Moonshine_ is a hardboiled and horrifying gem.

_Always Leave'em Dying_, a bizarre novel by Richard Prather, featuring Shell Scott. This time he's up against a California cult and its crazy and crooked leader. At some point, Prather has to tie up and resolve the story, and he does it with superior disregard for credibility - and with hilarious results. This hardboiled novel is much better than I remembered it. Particularly striking is its running topic of abortion, unusual in a 1954 work supposedly aimed at the mainstream male reader. For the curious, Shell Scott speaks explicitly and stronly in favor legalizing abortion.

_Blind Man's Bluff_ by E. Richard Johnson. This 1987 novel (with a striking photo of Johnson on the dustjacket, in a background that looks like a prison) is an intensely cold and brutal procedural. This book was not well promoted and is not well known, unfortunately. The theme is, as usual in Johnson, the underworld viewed from the inside, with a clinical and cynical description of the police's attempts to solve a series of dope-related murders in an unnamed midwestern town. This excellent book is the most recent Johnson I have. Has he published anything since?

_Upon Some Midnights Clear_, by K.C. Constantine. Sterling stuff, with Balzic in prime form. Some of the most authentic-sounding dialogue in the business and the usual compelling characters. Next, I am planning to read Constantine's very recent novel, once again featuring Balzic.



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