RARA-AVIS: Bruen, Huston

From: Stewart Wilson ( stewart@stewartwilson.com)
Date: 22 Aug 2006

Some short comments on very recent reading:

 CALIBRE by Ken Bruen. Though the 'Brant' Series features Sgt. Brant, it has really become an ensemble series. I have come to enjoy these books more than Bruen's Jack Taylor series,both because of the cast of characters, and because I find the plotting superior. I enjoyed this book immensely. It has some of the first person/third person alternating chapters style (which I dislike) going, but the first person is yelling at the reader to read Jim Thompson, so I can forgive it in this case.

 ALREADY DEAD by Charlie Huston. Picked it up based on a recent list posting of a promotional review excerpt. It's hardboiled, noir & either scifi or horror depending on your interpretation; it's got vampires but their existence is explained scientifically. A massively-violent fast-moving novel. The over the top violence reminded my of the Dan Simmons HARDCASE novels, but I found this one more realistic because the vampire characters are supposed to have superhuman strength. There was a small lull around the 3/4 mark, but I highly enjoyed this book.

 CAUGHT STEALING, also by Charlie Huston. Not a bad first novel. This one is straight noir. Charlie has a very readable style. This novel is more violent than ALREADY DEAD, and also has over the top
'hard' characters. I sensed a strong Pulp Fiction influence. I liked it enough that I'll seek out the next one. Reminded me a little of Jason Starr, but has less realistic characters and much less realistic situations. Hmm... maybe it was just because it's noir set in NYC that it reminded me of Starr. It's also more booze-and-blackout--soaked than any mid-80s Block Scudder or any Pelecanos Nick Stefanos story.


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