I've been busier than a one-armed paperhanger at an ass-kicking contest lately, so the list of good books I read in November is tardy. No publishers have called to complain about the lack of the crucial OBAAT endorsement, so I guess I dodged that bullet.
Boyos, David Marinick - First rate crime story in the manner of Eddie Coyle. Marinick's a former Massachusetts state cop turned armored car robber turned writer who knows exactly how to leverage his experience in both previous careers to enhance the third. His characters are presented unapologetically and without judgment, and they talk like guys talking to each other, not for effect. Wacko Curran is a criminal bad enough to be successful in the Boston underworld, with enough fullness of personality to allow you to empathize with him. You'll end up thinking along with him, setting your moral code aside to work with his, not unlike how Tony Soprano sucked in so many people. He's definitely on the list to read more of.
Dancing Bear, James Crumley - I didn't care for The Last Good Kiss as much as I thought I would, and was about to give Crumley a pass. Then I went through a period of several weeks where I tripped over positive references to Dancing Bear every couple of days. I also remembered I was pretty sick when I read TLGK, and that could have clouded my judgment, so I ordered up Dancing Bear. Now I have to read TLGK again. Crumley reads like no one else, and Milo Milodragovitch is a protagonist--certainly not a hero--unlike any other.
Eight Men Out, Eliot Asinof - The true story of how the Black Sox threw the 1919 World Series. One of those stories you couldn't have made up, presented evenhandedly to allow the reader to make up his own mind whether the banned players were wronged, though there's no question where Asinof stood on the question of Sox owner Charles Comiskey. I NetFlixed the movie while reading the book, and truer depictions are rare. Highly recommended not just for baseball fans, but for anyone interested in a snapshot of America 90 years ago, and for the parallels to today.
Discount Noir, edited by Patti Abbott and Steve Weddle - A collection of over forty flash pieces, inspired by the web site, "The People of Walmart," created in response to a writing challenge on Patti's blog The stories were of such a high caliber, drew such a broad sample of talented writers, and offered so many different takes on the same germ of an idea, that e-publisher Untreed Reads took it on. A quick and varied read containing something to appeal to any fan of neo-noir, though not necessarily of Walmart.
Terminal Damage, by the writers of "Do Some Damage" - One of the most underrated writing blogs, "Do Some Damage" features eight crime writers discoursing on matters criminal. Terminal Damage is a collection of stories that all deal in some way with airport security. Fewer writers and longer stories than Discount Noir, still containing uniformly good writing and a wide range of takes from the same starting place, with the added benefit of working occasional bits of each other's stories into each other. This will make you want to read more by each of these writers.