Friday, April 14, 2017

Recent Reads Roundup

Book: Mr Clarinet by Nick Stone
Publisher Penguin 
Length 560 pages
Format paperback
Published 2006
Series Max Mingus #1

My Copy I bought it

Mr Clarinet is a book that takes time to get going and even then, the story is very much a slow burn as the author focuses in detail on firmly establishing the place-setting and building an atmosphere as apposed to progressing a missing persons investigation. For the most part this tactic works with Haiti a character in itself. Nick Stone paints a picture of poverty and injustice that few authors would have the stomach to muster while still making it all feel relevant to the Max Mingus investigation into the kidnapping of Charlie Carver some 2 years prior. Max himself is a deep and complex character, this book picks up with Max leaving prison after serving a sentence for murder from an earlier case, it's interesting to see a PI at the end of his career working a last case rather than just staring out or being somewhere in the middle. Personally I liked this approach, it made Max more real and really helped to define his character. Mr Clarinet also has a touch of black magic and voodoo thrown in to keep things interesting. This is a great start to the series and I am looking forward to reading the next book, King of Swords (currently in my tbr pile) which takes the reader back in time to a case which left a long lasting impression on Max. 3.5 stars.  

Book: The Turnaround by George Pelecanos
Publisher Hachette Audio 
Length 5hrs 48mins
Format audiobook
Published 2008
Series standalone

My Copy borrowed from the library

The Turnaround isn't so much about crime, rather the lasting effects that crime has on the lives of those directly impacted by split decisions of provoked violence. Told in two distinctive time frames; the first centering on a racial encounter which led to the murder of a young man, the second centering on those same men as adults many years later with children of their own. The Turnaround is about redemption, remorse, and hurt. It's also about hope. This is a character driven story that does feel like a slow-burn at times but it's worth it. I listened to the abridged audio version narrated by Dion Graham who was a perfect match for these characters. 4/5 stars. 

Book: The Devil by Ken Bruen
Publisher Transworld 
Length 288 pages
Format paperback
Published 2010
Series  Jack Taylor #8
My Copy I bought it

'I look to you like a guy who does happy?' If a line could sum up Ken Bruen's masterful creation more accurately, I'd like to see it. Jack is back and not much has changed in his vice dependent life. Adding to his ever growing list of failures, rejections, beat downs and misrepresentations is a refused ticket to America. His fresh start thwart before it even begun. Naturally it's smooth sailing down hill with the breeze at his back straight to hell courtesy of the devil himself. While not necessarily investigating a crime this time round, Jack's latest does accumulate a high number of murders while providing further insight into Jack Taylor's inner circle of friends/enemies. For the first time, Bruen adds a hint of the supernatural to a Jack Taylor novel. The Devil is Jack Taylor doing as Jack Taylor does with something a little different - you'll either like it or lump it, I liked it a lot.

The Devil was a reread and interestingly enough I rated it significantly higher this time round time giving the book 4.5 stars whereas last time I thought it was middle of the road at 2.5 stars (back in 2011). 

Book: Low Town: The Straight Razor Cure by Daniel Polansky
Publisher Hodder and Stoughton
Length 368 pages
Format softcover
Published 2011
Series Low Town #1
My Copy I bought it

I should have loved this book and I'm disappointed that it left a sour taste in my mouth. The Straight Razor Cure had all the ingredients catering towards my fiendish-like obsession with noir/darker crime fiction mixed with an equally dark fantasy setting; drug dealings, missing persons, criminal gangs, police corruption, sorcery, skulduggery, and an urban setting backdrop not for the fainthearted. So why didn't it work? I found ex lawman Warden two dimensional with his rise in the criminal underworld somewhat shallow and unfounded, while the back-story into the war felt out of place with the plot (there was linkage but it just didn't work for me). Perhaps my biggest compliant in the fact it read like a second or third book in a series rather than book 1; there was just too many ideas floating around here and too much story to cram in that I lost my way in some passages.  2/5 stars.