RARA-AVIS: Recent reads

From: Karin Montin ( kmontin@sympatico.ca)
Date: 04 Jun 2005

Val McDermid, A Place of Execution (1999). This is pretty well a police procedural, but not exactly of the standard variety. A teenaged girl disappears from a tiny isolated village, never to be seen again. A suspect is identified etc. Years later the story picks up again. There is a noir feel to the whole thing and the notion of justice is provocative.

Thomas Perry, Big Fish (1988), The Face-Changers (1998) and Blood Money (1999). I love Thomas Perry and if I say that the Face-Changers and Blood Money are Jane Whitefield books that should be enough for fans. Jane helps innocent people whose lives are in danger change identities and start new lives. I'm always fascinated by her methods. Blood Money has a beat-the-clock and beat-the-Mafia angle, which leads to some high tension. Big Fish is different. It is one of his earliest novels, if not the first. (It's not even listed on Perry's Web site.) Anyway, it's about a husband and wife gun-runner team who discover a plot to make an atomic bomb. They and their motley ad hoc crew of assistants from the movie biz (a producer, a director, and an accountant), jet around the world tracking down and foiling the plotters, not trusting the police to do the job. A wild story with some crazy scenes.

Perry has some interesting things to say about his writing process on his Web site: http://www.thomasperryauthor.com/

Charles Willeford, Cockfighter (1972). After all these years of listening to you guys rave about this, I finally got hold of the book and was not disappointed. Who says noir can't have a happy ending--for some, at least?

Harry Crews, Body (1990) and The Gypsy's Curse (1974). Thanks, Vicki, for plugging Crews. A trip through archives shows that various people having been dropping his name since way back, but I never followed up. That mistake has been rectified. Some unique characters, good development, and inevitable, dreadful outcomes. Great reads.

Right now I'm working on Night and Fear, an anthology of Cornell Woolrich stories. So far, so good. A surprising number of happy endings. I haven't quite decided whether I like the editor's little afterwords to each story.


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