Monday, April 16, 2012
Ha-BITCH-ual offenders, Surreal Journeys, Morally Troubled Hitmen, and the Outlaw Marshall
You reading anything good right now? I ask because, if you’re not, you might want to check out some of these recent reads that I thoroughly enjoyed:
THE BITCH, by Les Edgerton.
Before you get all snooty and annoyingly PC, I should point out that the title THE BITCH doesn’t refer to an unpleasant female (we’ll leave that sort of thing to Jackie Collins) but instead is a reference to “habitual offender”—ha-BITCH-ual, get it? This one starts off with a fairly standard premise, as ex-con Jake, trying to get his new life together, is drawn against his will into another criminal scheme. Read that before, right? Well, hold on. Because about half-way through this one, Edgerton starts ratcheting it up, expertly tightening the screws as one disaster after another makes our man Jake’s situation worse and worse. By the time THE BITCH reaches its shattering conclusion, your nerves will be frayed. An absolute gem of pure, unadulterated noir, this one.
THE SISTERS BROTHERS, by Patrick DeWitt.
An unusual, darkly funny Western. Charlie and Eli Sisters are hired killers working for The Commodore, on a mission to find and kill a man who supposedly wronged their shady boss. But on their long, sometimes surreal journey, Eli begins questioning the morality of his job. Eli is a troubled, strangely sympathetic narrator, and seeing through his eyes the dark world he and his brother inhabit comes off like a strange cross between, say Charles Portis’ TRUE GRIT and Tom Frankin’s SMONK. But not quite. I really loved this one.
THE HUNTED, by Dave Zeltserman.
This is the first novella-length entry in an exciting new series from noir master Zeltserman. Dave Willis, recruited into a shadowy organization called The Factory, seeks out and exterminates anyone whom his superiors deem “threats to national security”. But he’s soon riddled with doubts about the job and begins to suspect The Factory is not what it claims to be, forcing him to make a moral choice that could put his name next on the hit list. There’s maybe a bit too much exposition in this first outing as Zeltserman lays out the premise, but the action soon kicks into high gear and the reader is swept along in the high-octane thrills. Looking forward to seeing where this one goes.
MANHUNTER’S MOUNTAIN, by Wayne D. Dundee.
The first full-length novel (although maybe it’s more a novella) featuring Edward Grainger’s “outlaw marshall” Cash Laramie. Dundee nails it with this one. Our man Laramie comes to a small mining town in pursuit of a fugitive, but finds himself involved in something much bigger when a pair of prostitutes need his help in getting out of town. Laramie faces off against not only his fugitive, but an angry posse of townsmen who want the soiled doves back, a ruthless bounty hunter who will stop at nothing, and most challengingly, a bitter winter storm that threatens to close off escape from the mountain. This is a flat-out exciting story, full of great, quickly-sketched characters and swaggering action set-pieces.