Friday, July 24, 2020

Favorite Reads Since Last Time

It’s been a while since I passed along my favorite recent reads, so let get right to it.

Remo Went Rogue, Mike McCrary. Every time I see Mike McCrary on a panel I decide I need to read him, and I never get around to it. I saw him at Bouchercon in Dallas, walked up and asked who to see in the bookstore so I could march right down and get one. He told me he’d been unable to work anything out, but I was welcome to the copy of Remo Goes Rogue he’d read from on the panel. Free. Gratis. He even autographed it. That’s the kind of guy Mike McCrary is. And the book kicks ass, too. He always stops just before things get too over the top, but no one hangs you on that precipice as well, or for as long, any better than he does. Great fun. I’ll be back.

The Hook, Tim O’Mara. Former cop turned schoolteacher Raymond Donne is back (finally) and hasn’t missed a beat. The Donne books are of a genre I don’t much care for, the amateur sleuth. This series has a difference. Raymond is from a family of New York cops. His uncle is Chief of Detectives. Raymond himself was on the job until an injury forced him into retirement. When trouble breaks out in or around his school, certain instincts kick in, and he has the skills do know what to do. He has help: His girlfriend is a reporter—and believable friction results there—and his best friend runs a small security business. Add a wordsmith of considerable talent to the mix and you have a series that has not earned near the acclaim it deserves. Start here or anywhere. You’ll be hooked. (See what I did there?”

The Second Girl, David Swinson. This a re-read, and one I looked forward to. This one made Swinson’s name, and deservedly so. All three Frank Marr books are outstanding, but this is still my favorite, if only because of meeting a character unlike anyone else I’ve read.

400 Things Cops Know, Adam Plantinga. I review this one whenever I start a new book. Every crime writer needs this one, even if the cops aren’t the main characters.

The Cold Six Thousand, James Ellroy. Yet another re-read, as I work my way through the Underworld USA trilogy a second time. This was my first Ellroy, and I had no idea what to expect; it was the most unpleasant reading experience I ever had. Now I see it as the masterpiece it is. I’ll have more to say about TC6K when I have a chance to do it justice.

Police Craft, Adam Plantinga. Everything I said about 400 Things Cops Know applies.

Burglars Can't be Choosers, Lawrence Block. My first exposure to Block was years ago, in a Keller anthology. I’m not a fan of hit man novels—I detest most serial killer stories, and a professional hitter is just someone who figured a way to make a living doing what he’d do for free. I got tired of hearing about how good Block is and was in the mood for something lighter, so I started at the beginning of the Bernie Rhodenbarr series. Smart and full of wit, now I understand how Block came to occupy the position he has. Now I’m all in and expect I’ll like Matt Scudder at least as much.

Left Turn at Albuquerque, Scott Phillips. Everything one would expect from the author of The Ice Harvest. A lawyer who’s not close to as smart as he thinks he is comes up with a caper to solve all his problems. Problem is, he can’t do it alone, and his issues with impulse control make it difficult to pull off a long con. Always witty and laugh out loud funny in spots, this one’s a gem.

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