I’m so close to the end of “Under the Ember Star” I can taste it, and I’ve been writing myself out on that so I don’t have a lot of energy to blog. Here’s a few capsule book reviews.
I recently read two books in Ed Gorman’s Sam McCain series, a private eye series set in small town Iowa in the 1960s. These were Breaking Up is Hard to Do and Everybody’s Somebody’s Fool. Both were very good and very easy reads. I’ve already ordered more.
Do read Michael Connelly’s The Narrows. This is a serial killer book but it was quite well done and persuaded me to get some of his earlier works.
Read Koontz’s The Good Guy. Although Koontz has written out most of the darkness within this one hearkens back in some ways to his older work. It has one of the strongest beginnings in recent memory.
Read Rumble Tumble by Joe Lansdale. This is a Hap and Leonard book, and if you don’t know what that means then you need to find out. Email me if need be and I’ll explain. These books are suspense but I wouldn’t call them “straight” suspense. There’s always some pretty weird shit in any Lansdale book. Rumble Tumble is the good stuff. A quick read, and very brutal.
Probably you shouldn’t bother with The Forty Fathom Bank by Les Galloway. Galloway, who is dead now, attempts a Hemingway riff and doesn’t quite pull it off. I really didn’t like the main character, who is a whiney little bitch, and the ending is telegraphed very early. But I did admire the prose. It’s a novella of 108 pages. Galloway wrote it when he was 72 so that was kind of cool.
Of interest to early paperback readers, Pocketbook Writer: Confessions of a Commercial Hack, by Charles Nuetzel. Nuetzel wrote a few ERB type books back in the 60s, as well as a lot of other stuff. This is his autobiography. It includes an interview I did with him years ago.
A very good book is In the Courts of the Crimson Kings by S. M. Stirling. This is the first in a proposed Martian series. It was far superior to The Sky People, the first in a proposed Venusian series. Stirling did an excellent job updating the Sword & Planet genre here. He created an interesting way for the Martians to express themselves and kept it up throughout the whole book. There was plenty of action, as well, and quite a twist ending. Check it out.
Maybe, if you want, read Ice Prophet by William R. Forstchen. I’ve liked every other book I’ve read by Forstchen, especially his Lost Regiment series, but I didn’t really care for this one. I believe this is one of his first, written in 1983. The idea is good, a future ice age world where religion rules and ice ships sail the glaciers. It has similarities to Ice Schooner by Moorcock, but is not as good. Forstchen spends too much time on the development of the society and less on the characters and action. The ending is pretty cool, though.
Another very good book is Nightblood by T. Chris Martindale. An even better book by him, however, is Where the Chill Waits, which I read a few years back. Both books are excellent horror novels, and I also feel that Martindale writes with a style similar to what I used in Cold in the Light.
As for Heart-Shaped Box, by Joe Hill. If you like Stephen King you’ll probably like this. Joe Hill writes much like his pappy. The book started out good, then slowed way down in the middle. I almost put the book down then, but am glad I didn’t because the ending was a real roller coaster ride and was very good.
The Rocket’s Shadow and The Lost City, by John Blaine. These are two YA books, both written in 1947. This is a Tom Swift/ Tom Corbett kind of series but I didn’t think they were as exciting. “The Lost City” had a neat twist in that the “city” in question turned out to be a hidden Mongol city where the actual grave of Ghengis Khan was hidden. I would have loved these books when I was in my early teens, but they were a bit much of a sameness for me now.