RARA-AVIS: recent reads

From: DJ-Anonyme@webtv.net
Date: 21 May 2008

Dirty Money by Richard Stark

Very nicely completes a trilogy. I may go back and read all three, because although only about a week passes in the three books, I read them over a three year period, so some of the details are not that fresh in my mind (though Stark does remind you of essential back knowledge). This may be my favorite of the comeback Parkers.

Small Crimes by Dave Zeltserman

A very good pure noir outing from Dave (now that I think about it, it's the only one of four of his I've read that is wholly within a single genre). Just out of prison, an excop returns to is old town. No one wants Joe back there, not the other corrupt cops whose names he never gave up, not the dying crime lord (who may be planning on a deathbed confession) and his psycho heir for whom he once did collections, nor the DA whose disfiguring (plus a little bit of arson) led to his prison stint. Not even his parents welcome him; they just want him to stay away from his kids. Joe keeps telling himself he'll straighten up for his kids, but first he has to do just one more bad thing . . . and then another . . . He keeps thinking he can dig himself out, but digging only leads in one direction.

Chasing the Devil's Tail by David Fulmer

Valentin St Cyr is a mixed race Creole PI in turn of the century (1900) New Orleans. Most of his work comes from retainers from whorehouse madams and Tom Anderson, the King of Storyville. They want him to quietly investigate a series of prostitute murders the cops are being told to sweep under the rug. One of those cops resents being sidelined almost as much as he resents St Cyr. The case gets personal for St Cyr when his childhood friend, real life jazz legend Buddy Bolden, is implicated and his "sporting girl" girlfriend is threatened. Fulmer has clearly done serious research about Storyville and, more importantly, tells a good traditional PI story set there. I'll definitely be reading more by Fulmer.

Big City Bad Blood by Sean Chercover

Thanks to whoever recently recommended this. I didn't think it was a quite as good as that endorsement, which seemed to imply it was something more than a straight PI book. But it's a very good straight PI book. And PI novels are my comfort reading, so I was quite happy.

The Dead Past by Tom Piccirilli

From Berkeley Crime after they trimmed their list to small town and/or female protagonists. This "Felicity Grove Mystery" is an odd mix, teaming a feisty grandmother and her somewhat bullheaded grandson who gets called home from the city every time granny imposes herself in a case (their first case, told in backstory, was solving the deaths of his parents and the crippling of granny in a car accident that had been ruled accidental). As Ed Gorman (to whom the book is dedicated) says in a blurb, he's her Archie Goodwin (though she's not a housebound Nero Wolfe). It's good for what it was, kind of reminds me of John J Riggs's mysteries, and I'll probably eventually read the second, though I doubt I'd read more than one more. Nowhere near as good as his recent Cold Spot.

On deck: Made in Miami by Willeford, Fever Kill by Piccirilli, Hard Man by Guthrie and the recently raved about Robbie's Wife. (Also Ishmael Reed's Mumbo Jumbo, but that doesn't look like it fits in here.)


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