Thursday, August 30, 2007

THE MASTER SNIPER by Stephen Hunter

I’ve been in a thriller mood recently, but most of what the current crop of thriller writers puts out doesn’t do much for me. Their writing seems flat, uninteresting, and their plots are full of holes and so unbelievable that I usually can’t get through the first fifty pages. It doesn’t help that many of them are 500 pages long or more. That’s why I recently read an older novel written by a thriller writer who has never disappointed me. The novel: The Master Sniper. The writer: Stephen Hunter.

The Master Sniper is an early novel by Stephen Hunter; it was originally published in 1980. It is a thriller of the Second World War—a sub-genre I love—and it reminded me just a little of Jack Higgins’ bestselling The Eagle Has Landed.

Captain Leets is an officer with the Office of Strategic Services, a paper-pusher really, who specializes in Nazi firearms. He, as everyone else, is waiting out the war. It is January 1945, and the Nazis are against the ropes. They still have enough muscle to do some damage, but the end of the war is in sight, and no one wants to take too many chances, and Captain Leets is no different.

That all changes when a strange report crosses his desk: a small shipment of Stermgewehr-44s—an assault rifle that was produced and requisitioned in the thousands—was sent from the factory to a place called Anlage Elf. Leets isn’t sure why, but something bothers him about this shipment of rifles. It’s not just the number of rifles being shipped, but no one has heard of the requesting agency, and why would the Germans risk shipping such a small amount of rifles across the country when the war is lost?

This sets up a mystery that Captain Leets will struggle to solve throughout the rest of the novel. He will go against his superiors, participate in a parachute raid of an enemy camp, discover things about himself that he doesn't like, alienate friends, and slowly, ever so slowly discover what the Germans are up to.

The Master Sniper is a rewarding read. The prose is quick and spry, while the plot is rich enough to keep you guessing until shortly before the end. Mr. Hunter ratchets the tension and suspense perfectly, and the characters are enjoyable and likable—Mr. Hunter does an excellent job of creating a likable hero, while also creating a villain who doesn’t seem terribly bad until the novel begins to unwind, and then he is unmasked as a truly despicable and dangerous person.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Run, Fat Boy, Run -- Trailer

This past weekend I saw the trailer for Run, Fat Boy, Run--the latest satire starring Simon Pegg. I enjoyed his two previous films Shaun of the Dead, and the more recent Hot Fuzz. The trailer for Fat Boy made me laugh, and so here it a minute anyway.

Run, Fatboy, Run stars Simon Pegg, and Hank Azaria. It is directed by former Friends co-star David Schwimmer. It is scheduled for release October 26, 2007. The Yahoo!Movies descriptions reads:

A charming but oblivious overweight guy leaves his fiancee on their wedding day only to discover years later that he really loves her. To win her back, he must finish a marathon while making her realize that her new handsome, wealthy fiance is the wrong guy for her.

To visit the IMDB site click Here.
To visit the Yahoo!Movies site click Here.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Saddlebums Update

This is a week for the books, and it's only Tuesday. What does this mean? I'm busy. Super busy. I have a few classes that are starting out rocky, and I'm also in charge of the content on Saddlebums this week.

I posted a review for Ed Gorman's latest Cavalry Man novel: Doom Weapon, and tomorrow I'll post an interview I did with Robert J. Randisi--he wrote the Joe Keough novels, The Ghost With White Eyes, and one of my favorite horror novels Curtains of Blood. He is a true gentleman, and for this interview he went out of his way to be generous with his answers. He goes into great detail about his long-running series The Gunsmith, and touches on several interesting points about writing, reading, and the western genre in general. It will up tomorrow, and you won't want to miss it.
To read my review of Doom Weapon click Here.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Zingers 3: More First Lines with Grab

I love the first few lines of novels. When they are done well they set the tone, theme, and just about everything else that makes a story a story. They all also act as a hook—they need grab, or the reader will put them back on the bookstore shelf and move down the line until they find a book with an opening that appeals to them, and bam. If it has grab they’ll be at the cash register before the clerk can ask them if they need help.

As usual I have three opening lines, or paragraphs as the case may be, that were especially appealing when I picked these books up. They are from three divergent genres—the first is a mystery and traditional western rolled into one, the second is a techno-thriller, while the third is an adventure / spy novel.

There are two things you can’t escape out here in the West: dust and death. They sort of swirl together in the wind, and a fellow never knows when a fresh gust is going to blow one or the other right in his face. So while I’m yet a young man, I’ve already laid eyes on every manner of demise you could put a name to. I’ve seen folks drowned, shot, stabbed, starved, frozen, poisoned, hung, crushed, gored by steers, dragged by horses, bitten by snakes, and carried off by an assortment of illnesses with which I could fill the rest of this book and another besides.

So it’s quite a compliment I bestow when I say that the remains we came across the day after the big storm were the most frightful I’d ever seen.

This is the opening paragraph and some from Steve Hockensmith’s humorous hybrid mystery / western Holmes on the Range. The opening line sets up the entire story so well that it only takes a few seconds to realize there is something special and different about this novel. And the rest of the novel certainly doesn’t let you down.

Most of the time they didn’t f*ck around with the executions. A bullet in the back of the head or a blade drawn across the throat and the body left pretty much where it fell. But when Rashid was there it was different. Rashid liked to play.

This is one of the coolest openings I have read recently. It creates a situation of change seemingly effortlessly—we don’t know whose perspective it is coming from, but we do know that he is in a bad situation that just got much, much worse. This one is from Overkill by James Barrington.

There were times when Jean Mercier wondered what life was all about and this was definitely one of them. Somewhere beyond the boat in the darkness was a shoreline that he could only guess, and the lack of navigation lights wasn’t helping.

This is the opener for Jack Higgins’ A Fine Night for Dying, and like everything written by Higgins—at least his early work—the opening is smashing. Why the hell are the navigation lights not on? And why didn’t Mr. Mercier start thinking before he decided to take a midnight cruise?

Thursday, August 23, 2007

ACT OF PASSION by Harrison Arnston

When I was a teenager my parents belonged to a bulletin board service called Prodigy. It was around 1990—I was in High School, but the exact year escapes me. The Prodigy service was cool. It had a large array of discussion boards that—for the most part—got some pretty neat participation. The arts and literature board was active and it attracted quite a few writers including Douglas Clegg, David Bischoff, Marc Iverson, C.A. Mobley, S.K. Wolf, Harry Arnston, and so many others that it would be impossible for me to remember them all, let alone list them.

Harry Arnston had his own discussion group called Harry’s Bar and Grill, and it was a gathering place for readers, writers, and anyone else who wanted to discuss genre fiction—both what to read, and how to write it. I was in awe of Harry. He wrote nine, by my count, novels; they were all paperback originals and very much in the mystery genre. Two were courtroom dramas; one was a thriller with its seeds in World War Two, while still another was more like a private eye novel. His work was interesting, and he was a consummate gentleman. I emailed him several times, and he always responded with an obvious kindness that I still admire.

Unfortunately Harry died in the mid-1990s—the last email I sent him, somewhere between 1993 and 1994—asked him when his next novel was due out. His response (certainly not verbatim): I have two novels completed and sold to St. Martin’s Press, but I don’t know when they will be released because they keep firing my editors. I never saw those two novels, and I have always wondered what happened to them—did they ever hit print, or did they die with Harry?

I haven’t read all of Harry’s work, but over the few years I frequented Prodigy I read everything he put out, and I really quite liked it. Which brings me to my belated point: A few months ago I came across one of Harry’s novels in a thrift shop. It was in surprisingly good condition, and even better, it was one I hadn’t yet read. The title: Act of Passion.

Act of Passion is a straightforward courtroom drama. Ann Cohen is the mistreated wife of real estate developer Marty Cohen. Their marriage is a sham—Marty is a little man who loves to bed other women, and his taste trends toward the kinky. The novel opens with Ann drinking herself the courage to confront Marty—earlier in the evening Ann and a friend had seen Marty in a perverted sex act with his mistress, and Ann has had enough. She is finally going to file for a divorce, but before Marty makes it home the police knock on her door.

They ask her several disturbing questions: Where were you this evening? Do you own a gun? She doesn’t understand what they are doing until they arrest her for the murder of her husband. This is where Act of Passion begins, but it is a long way from its end. Ann enlists the help of one of the most highly sought criminal attorneys in the country. He made his name representing a local mobster, and he readily agrees to represent Ann.

Act of Passion was a fun novel to read. It was published in 1991 when the courtroom drama was all the rage, and it has all the elements of the genre: courtroom scenes, investigators, lawyers, judges, and even gangsters who know more than they want to tell. The characters are well conceived—they are not fully developed, but they fit the story perfectly and they, specifically Ann, are rendered to be likable and believable. The plot is also very much the expected, but Mr. Arnston adds enough twists and turns to keep it fresh and exciting.

I enjoyed Act of Passion a whole lot, and while it does have few a creaky moments—the favor of a mobster, the incredulous naivetĂ© of Ann—it holds its own as not only a blast from the past, but it also still has a voice and power sixteen years after its original publication.

If any of you have any information about Harry’s work, especially those two novels he sold to St. Martin’s, please clue me in. I enjoyed his work when he was writing it, and Act of Passion reminded me I need to keep looking for his novels, and there are several of them I haven’t read.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Nowhere Man -- Main Theme

It's the first day of my last semester, and to cheer me up--I also just looked at the syllabus for my Corporate Income Tax class and so I really need cheering up--I took a cruise through YouTube, and of course found something pretty darn cool.

In the mid-1990s the fledgling network UPN green lighted a series called Nowhere Man. It starred Bruce Greenwood, and it was one of the coolest shows on television. I watched every episode when they originally aired, and then waited patiently (I only threw two or three tantrums) for its release on DVD. Unfortunately it only made it one season, and the conspiracy theory I started about the lost season two being released is nothing more than a vicious hoax.

This clip includes the introduction as well as the end credits. Enjoy.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Saddlebums Goes Live

I have some exciting news—I know, I’m a nerd, but it really is exciting. I’m part of a new blog called Saddlebums that is dedicated to the western genre in all its forms: traditional, contemporary, films, novels, or anything else western. In a phrase, if it’s western, we’re interested in talking about it at Saddlebums.

Why do I announce this right now? Well, today is the grand opening, and we have something pretty darn cool waiting for you. Somehow, someway, Gonzalo—my overworked and under-appreciated partner at Saddlebums procured an interview with the legendary author of several of the better westerns written in the 1970s.

The author: Brian Garfield, and he has some interesting things to say about his experiences with Hollywood—he is the author of Death Wish, and Death Sentence, which has been made into a film starring Kevin Bacon and will be released at the end of August. He also shares his insights into the world of his fiction, the western genre and a slew of other things. This is an interview that should be of interest to everyone.

We also have several more interviews in the can: Ed Gorman, Robert J. Randisi, James Reasoner, Johnny D. Boggs and several more that are just as exciting. We have a few reviews written and ready to go live. To give you a taste I reviewed Ed Gorman’s latest Cavalry Man novel and loved it. Surprised? You shouldn’t be because Ed Gorman is one of the most reliable writers working today.

Our goal is to update the site at least once a week, but we really would like to post several new pieces each week—this is where everyone who loves, or even just likes, the western comes in. We don’t want to hog the discussion, but rather facilitate it. If you have something you want to say, Saddlebums welcomes your comment. Whether you simply want to comment on an article, interview, or if you have more on your mind, we are more than happy to accept thoughtful guest bloggers.

Go over and take a look and let us know what you think. The address is: Or you can click Here.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

An Interview with Alan Weisman

I stumbled across something pretty cool a few weeks ago—an interview with author Alan Weisman about his new book The World Without Us. The interview was in the July 2007 issue of Scientific American, and Weisman pontificates about what would happen tomorrow if humanity disappeared today.

The idea is fascinating to me, and while I haven’t read the book I plan to—I have a hold on it at my local library. The interview begins with Weisman explaining what would happen to Manhattan’s skyline:

I discovered that our huge, imposing, overwhelming infrastructures that seem so monumental and indestructible are actually these fairly fragile concepts that continue to function and exist thanks to a few human beings on whom all of us really depend.

Mr. Weisman goes on to explain how the natural waterways—there are something like 40 streams and numerous springs on Manhattan—would reclaim their former routes and slowly undermine Manhattan’s infrastructure. The tunnels would be the first to collapse, and then slowly the buildings would begin to topple from corrosion caused by the unchecked flow of water.

The interview also discusses how the eco-system would change with humanity gone, and it also briefly touches on why Alan Weisman wrote it. It is an environmental book about how we can become part of the environment rather than attempt to control it. The interview is fascinating. It reminded me a little of George R. Stewart’s Earth Abides, and damn if it didn’t make me want to find another last man story to read; and soon.

To read the interview in click Here.

There are also numerous interviews, articles, and reviews online. If you Google “Alan Weisman” you will get more hits than you can possibly deal with, but many of them are great fun.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Painted Lady

I generally don’t review much film, but every so often I see something that feels a little special, and obscure—most movies and television get so much publicity that I don’t know how, or what, to add to the conversation. This past weekend I watched an older—it was originally aired in April and May of 1998—Masterpiece Theatre mini-series titled Painted Lady. It stars Helen Mirren—who captured my imagination in her role as DCI Jane Tennison in the Prime Suspect series—and Iain Glen. It was written by Allan Cubitt, and directed by Julian Jarrold.

Helen Mirren plays aging blues singer Maggie Sheridan—Sheridan was one of the most popular blues singers in the 1960s, but she has faded away with a long trail of drug abuse, hard living, and depression. Maggie is penniless and living off the goodwill of Sir Charles Stafford. Sir Charles and his son Sabastian took Maggie in after a failed suicide attempt, and she now lives in the guesthouse on the Stafford estate. She is relatively happy, and even recording again when one night a robbery in the main house goes wrong. The robbers want the artwork hanging on the walls, but Sir Charles interrupts them, and they gun him down.

It doesn’t take long for Maggie to realize that nothing adds up in Sir Charles’ murder, and she doesn’t trust the police with her suspicions. Maggie's suspicions lead her the long process of uncovering what really happened that night. In the course of her investigation she goes undercover as an art dealer, faces brutal criminals, finds heart-breaking betrayal, and finally discovers the truth she is seeking, and it is much more than she had ever anticipated.

Painted Lady has the feel of a novel. Its running time is more than three hours, and the plot moves along swiftly while each character—specifically Maggie and Sabastian—are developed into full and likable people. The mystery has the feel of something you would read in a Dick Francis novel. We get a view into the art world—something I know very little about—as well as the world of professional musicians. The mystery is also strong: the early whodunit of Sir Charles Stafford unravels to reveal much darker and more sinister plots. It kept me guessing until the end, and when it was done I actually wished there was another episode.

I don’t know how much the DVD of Painted Lady costs—I checked it out from my local library—but I do know it is, at a minimum, worth the rental fee, or better yet looking for in your local library. I enjoyed it very much, and it reminded me just how good some of the mysteries on PBS are.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Death Sentence -- Trailer

Sorta good news. I just found the trailer for the new film Death Sentence—scheduled for release August 31. It stars Kevin Bacon, Kelly Preston, and John Goodman. The director: James Wan, who also directed Saw (a film I didn't enjoy). It is based on Brian Garfield’s novel of the same title, and it looks decent—heck nearly every action-type movie looks good to me.

The Yahoo!Movies page description reads:

Nick Hume is a mild-mannered executive with a perfect life, until one gruesome night he witnesses something that changes him forever. Transformed by grief, Hume eventually comes to the disturbing conclusion that no length is too great when protecting his family.

I read the novel about two years ago, and loved it. The film doesn’t look much like the novel, but who knows, it might be great.

Ed Gorman posted a letter from Brian Garfield on his blog a few days ago, and Garfield was pretty positive about the film: It's based, in theme if not particulars, on my novel of same title. I wrote a couple of the scripts; the shooting script is written by Ian Jeffers. I think he did a good job.

Unfortunately he hasn’t actually seen the finished product.

Click Here to read the entire letter on Ed’s blog.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Mystery Scene's Top 100 Private Eyes

I was at the library yesterday—a different branch than usual—and like I do every time I have occasion to go to this particular branch I thumbed through the most recent issue of Mystery Scene magazine. It's the 100th issue, and there were several celebratory types articles: a short essay by Ed Gorman on where the magazine came from, Lawrence Block’s five favorite novels, and my favorite, the Top 100 Eyes of the of the Mystery Scene Era by Kevin Burton Smith.

The only rule Mr. Smith followed was the private eye had to appear during the period Mystery Scene has been in publication—1985 to the present. They are listed in alphabetical order, and it is an impressive list indeed. A few of my favorites included are: Sam McCain, Veronica Mars, Burke, Adrian Monk, and Dave Robicheaux.

A couple I would add, and don't laugh because you will hurt my feelings, are: Joe Copp by Don Pendleton and Murdock by Robert J. Ray. The Joe Copp series was cheesy, but damn I loved those books as a teenager, and I have the same fond memories of the Murdock books. They were good old fashioned southern California fun.

It is a list well worth taking a look at, and luckily Mystery Scene has the article posted online as a PDF—to check it out click Here.

Click Here to go to the Mystery Scene website.

Monday, August 13, 2007

New Rat Pack Mystery by Robert Randisi

While I was doing some research for an interview a few weeks ago I ran across the cover art for Robert J. Randisi's second novel in his very entertaining Rat Pack series. The title: Luck Be a Lady, Don't Die. It's scheduled for release December 2007.

The first Rat Pack mystery, Everybody Kills Somebody Sometime, is a terrifically entertaining and very well written mystery that gives life to the Las Vegas of the 1960s--it follows the Rat Pack, as they begin shooting the film Ocean's Eleven, through the eyes of Eddie Gianelli. Gianelli is a pit boss at the Sands, and when Frank Sinatra asks him for a favor, Eddie can't turn him down even if he wanted to, and that's exactly what he would do if he could.

It doesn't take long for the bodies to start piling up, and Giannelli is in for much more than he signed on. This is one of Randisi's better novels in the past few years, and I enjoyed it a whole lot. Needless to say I can't wait until Luck Be a lady, Don't Die is released. It doesn't hurt that the cover art is pretty cool in its own right.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Hubble Space Images: Galaxies

I'm a geek. I love to surf through the NASA website and look at all the cool images they have posted. They have photographs of astronauts, space vehicles, stars, and even our own planet. It is just about the coolest place I can think of going on the Internet, and I wanted to share a few images of our neighboring galaxies as taken by the Hubble Space Telescope.

I'm about as far from an astronomer as a human can be, and still be alive, but these are absolutely beautiful and I certainly don't need a description of what they are, or where they are to enjoy them. I hope you feel the same way.

This is the ESO 510-G13 Galaxy. It is described by the Hubble website as a "warped" galaxy taken at an "edge-on" angel.

This one has an outrageously cool name: Hoag's Object Galaxy. It is described as: ring of hot blue stars pinwheel around [the] yellow nucleus.

This is the NGC 5866 Galaxy.

This one is NGC 1512 in near-ultraviolet light.

To visit the official Hubble website click Here.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

IN THE DARK by Richard Laymon

Richard Laymon is one of my favorite horror writers, and of the novels he wrote, two stand out as my favorites. The first is his Bram Stoker winning novel The Traveling Vampire Show and the second is his novel In The Dark. I recently reread In the Dark, and it was as good as I remembered. And my memory had built it pretty high, because it is the first straight horror novel I had read since I was a teenager. Sure I read the stray Stephen King and Dean Koontz, but I hadn’t ever really been much of a regular horror reader.

Then one autumn evening I stumbled across In the Dark at my local bookstore. It was the Dean Koontz blurb on the spine that caught my attention, but when I flipped to the first page and began to read I was hooked. In fact I spent the better part of the next year or so “catching up” on the horror field. I read Jack Ketchum, Graham Masterton, Edward Lee, Douglas Clegg, Tom Piccirilli, Al Sarrantonio, and so many others I couldn’t possibly list them here—at least not list them and keep you reading.

Jane Kerry is the head librarian at the Donnerville Public Library. She is young, not too far out of college, and she only recently moved to Donnerville, so she hasn’t made many friends around town. Her existence is lonely, a little sad, and not very exciting. That all changes one evening just before closing time when she discovers a plain white envelope on her chair; it is addressed to JANE. Inside she finds a fifty-dollar bill and a note. The note reads:

Come and play with me. For further instructions, look homeward, angel. You’ll be glad you did.

The note is signed MOG (Master of Games), and it is the first of many notes that will lead Jane into increasingly dangerous situations with the promise of larger and larger monetary rewards. It will test not only Jane’s courage and perseverance, but also her ethics and morality.

In the Dark is a suspenseful, enjoyable, and all-around fun novel. Richard Laymon’s plotting is perfect—there are no questions left unanswered and he builds the suspense slowly, ratcheting it up until the climax, where he throws everything he can think of at the protagonist. The characters are likable—particularly Jane and her friend Brace—and he avoids, for the most part, the gratuitous sex and violence he is known for. The narrative does, at times, feel juvenile: towards the beginning Jane is searching an old cemetery for her reward from Mog, and her thoughts are less like an adult woman and more like an adolescent boy, but it works to create tension, and also endear the character to the reader.

In the Dark is one of the few Richard Laymon novels I would recommend to nearly anyone. If you enjoy suspense, horror, or simply well-crafted storytelling, In the Dark will be a good fit. But be warned, if you upset easily, or can’t handle much violence, tension, or a few graphic scenes, you should look elsewhere.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

The X-Files -- Main Theme

I loved the first several seasons of the The X-Files. It was new, interesting, and it hovered on the edges of several terrific genres--including two of my favorites, horror and science fiction. It seems like it was the show just a few years ago, but as I watched its introduction I couldn't help but think it looked dated. Although it still got me excited. I may have to break my season one DVD set out and watch an episode tonight.

When I was doing a random search for the The X-Files on YouTube I ran into a teaser for the upcoming film. I was dubious at first, but I did a quick search on IMDB, and sure enough. According to IMDB it is scheduled for a 2009 release, but this teaser says it's scheduled for release in 2008. Which is right? Beats me. Enjoy.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

New Hard Case Crime: ZERO COOL

I don’t know how this got past me, but it did. Hard Case Crime announced the publication of another John Lange novel a few months ago. The title: Zero Cool. You may remember HCC also published Lange’s Grave Descend in November 2006. You should also know that John Lange is a pseudonym of Michael Crichton, why they don’t promote them as such I don’t know; unless Crichton is concerned his current readers won’t like them, but I really can’t imagine anyone not liking his John Lange novels.

They are all nearly perfect 1970s adventure novels. They all take place in exotic locations. They have a protagonist who never really wants to be involved, but once he is look out, and they each have enough mystery to keep them interesting. Not to mention they are written in a stark and very readable style that lends itself to brevity and action.

I found the Lange novels in the early-Nineties, and I spent years skulking through used bookstores—usually on my knees since, for some reason, the “L” section always seemed to be on the bottom shelf—looking for any John Lange title I could find. And I did find a few, but Zero Cool wasn’t one of them.

Zero Cool's release date: March 2008.
The cover art is by Greg Manchess.
The HCC description reads:

American radiologist Peter Ross just wanted a vacation. But when he meets the beautiful Angela Locke on a Spanish beach, he soon finds himself caught in a murderous crossfire between rival gangs seeking a precious artifact.

From Barcelona to the rain-swept streets of Paris, from the towers of the Alhambra to its darkest catacombs, Peter Ross is an ordinary man in desperate circumstances: racing to uncover a secret lost for centuries, before he becomes its next victim.

Too cool.

To visit the HCC promotional website for Zero Cool click Here.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

"Exit Without Saving" by Ruth Nestvold

“Exit Without Saving” is the story of Mallory, an operative of the Softec Corporation. The United States government has fractured into geographic zones controlled by large corporations. Corporate espionage is all the rage, and it is Mallory’s job to commit it. Softec has developed a new technology that allows their operatives to create clones and insert their own intelligence into them. They use this technology to clone the corporate officers of their competitors in order to gain access to privileged information and trade secrets. It is called morphing, and it can be addictive and very dangerous.

“Exit Without Saving” is the first story I have read by Ms. Nestvold, and it has the feel of an old episode of The Twilight Zone. It is technology based, but it also has meaning in the form of identity. Ms. Nestvold examines not only the fragile sense of identity, but she takes it one step further by making the point that sometimes one must escape identity. I enjoyed “Exit Without Saving” very much, and as I read it, it reminded me why I read anthologies—often you find the most interesting stories and discover great new writers. And Ruth Nestvold is a writer I plan to keep an eye on.

“Exit Without Saving” originally appeared in Futurismic in 2006. It is also currently available in the anthology Science Fiction: Best of the Year 2007 edition, edited by Rich Horton.

To read this story online at Futurismic click Here

Thursday, August 02, 2007


This is a repeat post. It was origianlly posted August 26, 2006, but most of my readership has arrived since then, so many of you probably haven't read this review. I wanted something original today, but unfortunately the world conspired against me. I'm in finals, my air conditioner died, and a myriad of other less interesting happenings. I do have some original reviews in the works however, including Kickback by Garry Disher, and another older novel Act of Passion by Harrison Arnston.

The Crimes of Jordan Wise was the best novel I read in 2006. It is a modern noir with a heck of storyline and writing that is wonderful and all Bill Pronzini.

Bill Pronzini is best known for his spectacular Nameless Detective series, but his stand alone work more than holds its own. I look forward to his non-series books because they have a similar atmosphere and style of the old noir novels, but they are anything but cheap copies--they are unique, sparse, heavy with meaning and melancholy, and all Pronzini.

The Crimes of Jordan Wise is a nifty thriller with an anti-hero who has committed three perfect crimes in his life, and as his life draws to a close he wants to share the story. Pronzini is an old hand at plotting and you can tell—there is nothing out of place; no missing segments, and nothing left hanging. The prose is simple, almost haunting in a melancholy way, and easily disguises the complexity of the story: the layers peel away to reveal something deep and meaningful. It says something about life, friendship, and love, all while navigating the darkness that burrows its way into the human soul. The Crimes of Jordan Wise is sad, gritty and dark, at times sweet and tender, and always entertaining.

Bill Pronzini, particularly his stand alone novels, deserves a larger audience than he has. His writing yearns back to the old days, but his style, talent and voice are uniquely his own. The Crimes of Jordan Wise is, if not the best, one of the best novels I have read this year.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

3:10 to Yuma -- Trailer

There is a new big budget wide release western scheduled for release this September. The title: 3:10 to Yuma based on an Elmore Leonard story. It is directed by James Mangold, and stars Russell Crowe, Christian Bale, and Peter Fonda. The Yahoo!Movies database description reads:

A rancher struggles to support his ranch and family during a long drought. Desperately needing money to build a well, he takes an assignment to transport a notorious felon, in the hands of authorities, to Yuma for imprisonment. But, once the two meet, the criminal tries to tempt him with--in exchange for allowing him to escape--an offer of much more money than the rancher ever expected, the result of a hidden loot.

This is the second film based on Elmore Leonard's 3:10 to Yuma. The first was released in 1957. It was directed by Delmer Daves, and starred Glenn Ford and Van Heflin.

Clcik Here to visit the Yahoo!Movies site for this film.