RARA-AVIS: New Reads

From: Schooley ( gsp.schoo@skylinc.net)
Date: 23 Nov 2001

Some of my new reads:

DOOM FOX by Iceberg Slim Slim's style pulled me through the book in boogie time: quick, rythmic, colourfully descriptive. It's the story of a frustrated boxer, his beautiful wife and the men she ruins. The characters are hustlers, pimps, whores, gamblers, preachers and others who make their ways through the black ghetto. Slim skillfully applies the language and observation skills he learned as a pimp to his second career as a master storyteller.

JUST FOR COMFORT by Ralph Osborne Another great stylist. The reader is plunked into the middle of this story of a highly dysfunctional family and must work our way out with Frank, the father, as guide. Frank has returned to a small prairie city
(Regina, Sask.) to save his son from marital bedlam by killing off the bride. It's hardboil without the PI's code, or much of any code at all. Very funny stuff. Osborne has seen life up close, working street-outreach programs, managing a bistro and Rochdale College, Toronto's infamous 60's experiment in drugs, sex and education. He shows how life is assembled from the gradual accumulation of everyday foolishness.

A FIRING OFFENSE by George P. Pelecanos Rara Avis put me on to this writer. Mark Sullivan and Kevin recommended this book to start. It's a Nick Stefanos story. Washington and environs, and Nick's place in the Greek community are capably handled, but the real treat was Pelecanos insight into the frantic monotony of the corporate workplace, specifically the sales floor of a chain retailing home electronics. Any organization that has so lost it's sense of purpose cannot avoid corruption.

The ending was a disappointment, introducing new characters and elevating another I didn't care enough about to make climax meaningful, and the denoument went on way too long. But even if these problems aren't solved in more recent work, I look forward to reading more Pelecanos for his insights into characters and settings alone.

IGUANA LOVE by Vicki Hendricks Hendricks was part of the Tart Noir panel at Bouchercon which seemed to bounce between exuberance for exploring noirish subjects and worry over critics who think decent women shouldn't write about "those things." Exuberance won out, fortunately, but Hendricks' book has a touch of the same reticence. It's the story of a girl gone bad, with all the Tart Noir enthusiasm Hendricks can muster with her skill at writing hot sex. But if the journey's all fun, there's concern about the destination, and the bills that come in like statements from a credit card. There's a direct line to this book from Margaret Atwood's "The Edible Woman", that I'd happily see extended.

LOST SANITY by Brad Kelln I've always felt that serial-killer stories are blends between psychological thrillers, police procedurals and horror stories that usually show self-important public officials descending into monstrous hyperbole. Fortunately Kelln hasn't quite the skill to do that, but he does begin with an interesting premise: a serial rapist who spreads his madness to anyone who's alone in a room with him for the play-time of a hit single. This includes the doctors, nurses, cops or anyone else who stops to see what makes this guy tick. The book has its moments, but not many of them were mine.

I've posted longer reviews at http://www.murderoutthere.com if anyone really wants to tell me how wrong I am.


<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<LOOKING FOR FUN>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

The evil that men do lives after them at http://www.murderoutthere.com
Literary events in Ontario's Golden Horseshoe and around the world at http://www.lit-electric.com
<<<<<<<<<<<IN ALL THE WRONG PLACES>>>>>>>>>>>>

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