RARA-AVIS: recent reads

From: Mark Sullivan ( DJ-Anonyme@webtv.net)
Date: 26 Jul 2004

First of all, thank you, Juha, for publishing the following two books:

Two-Way Split by Allan Guthrie -- let me just add my endorsement of this book. Looking forward to your next, Al. Early next year from Hard Case, right?

Texas Wind by James Reasoner -- I've been looking for this book for close to two decades. You'd think that after all of that time my expectations would be so high that the book couldn't possibly live up to them. Wrong. It's the best PI novel I've read in some time. Good plot, great character. Sorry there aren't more books featuring Cody. It really reminded me that nothing hits me like a good PI novel, definitely my sub-genre of choice.

French Key by Frank Gruber -- I always wonder when reading older books if certain somewhat transparent plot points were as obvious back then or I have just seen them used too often since. For instance, there's a minor bit here about getting back a rare coin slipped into a coin slot that was used on last week's episode of Monk. Still, Gruber largely lives up to his goal of mixing the plotting of Gardner with the humor of Latimer, especially the latter. Johnny Fletcher and Sam Cragg are great characters. I often found myself laughing out loud. I've often stated how much I like con job novels. This is not one of those, but Fletcher is definitely a scam artist. Much of the humor comes from his ability to talk himself out of trouble. I will definitely be reading more books in this series.

Pulp Jungle by Frank Gruber -- this is where I read Gruber's intention for French Key. It also contains his formulas for writing mysteries and westerns. Best of all, it tells of Gruber's breaking into and later thriving in the pulp market, with numerous stories about fellow practioners. I meant to read this a chapter or two at a time between other books. However, it has such a conversational tone that I just kept reading. I agree with Richard Moore that it was probably dictated, but that just adds to the feeling that you are sitting across the table from Gruber as he regales you with stories of the old days.


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