RARA-AVIS: Recent reading

From: William Denton ( buff@pobox.com)
Date: 10 Feb 2003

Books by three Richards, though one's not a real Richard, and only one of the books is about a dick.

Richard Stark, BREAKOUT (2002)

This is the new Parker book, which I'm sure many of you have already read. It'll be out in paper later in the year. I really liked it, it's one of my favourite Parkers. He gets caught by the cops right at the start, and from then on, until the end of the book, in one way or another he's trapped: in jail, by circumstances, in a building he's robbing, in a house with a hostage, in a car with a cop. And Parker can't be closed in, he can't stand it, so he's always trying to move, trying to get out and away. This is top-notch stuff.

Richard S. Prather, BODIES IN BEDLAM (1951)

The second Shell Scott book. I've decided to read them all in order. This has some of the basic Shell Scott elements: being hit on the head, getting in fights, sleeping with beautiful women, knocking on a door and having a gorgeous naked woman answer it, lots of hilarious language, nice lean writing, and a non-stop pace. The story covers three days, starting with a Hollywood party where a blackmailer is murdered. Shell had just been fighting with him, so he had to find the real killer to clear himself. Cue the luscious starlets, like Constanza Carmocha:

| "Shell?"
| "Yeah?"
| "I'm gonna do something."
| "What's that?"
| "I'm gonna **** you."
| I said, "WHAAAT?"
| "I'm gonna **** you."
| There. She'd said it again. She was going to asterisk me.


I mentioned this before as one you'll want to read if you like books where a fellow wakes up with amnesia and can't figure out who to trust. Now, this one doesn't go to the classic extreme, where the hero wakes up an amnesiac, beside a dead blonde, in a motel room. Here, the hero gets back into his old life with his wife and work and friends, but something's not right, and he tries to figure it out. It's not well written, and there's little subtlety, but it moves quickly and you'll like the ending. It was turned into a movie, SHATTERED (1991), which I can't remember well, but I think was pretty good.

This book does have one of the worst sentences I've ever read: "I gasped as she enveloped the pulsating tumescence that now achingly demanded release." In 1969 Neely could be somewhat frank about sex (and that's the only sign of the 1960s in it, aside from the mention of some hippies once--the book could be set in 1943 with barely any changes) but he should have left it out, just to save us from lines like that.


William Denton : Toronto, Canada : http://www.miskatonic.org/ : Caveat lector.

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