Monday, November 5, 2018

Favorite Reads: October

Mom is nearing the end of her rehab stint (“home” to assisted living on Thursday) and work has been six different kinds of goofy so my reading time has deteriorated. The good news is that most of what I did get to read was first-rate.

Where the Bullets Fly, Terrence McCauley. Hard to believe he’s my friend. Wide as his talents range, I should hate him. He’s such a nice guy I don’t, but such a good writer I’m still tempted. As with his Prohibition-era crime stories and his University techno thrillers, McCauley makes it all look easy. This is a Western that pays homage to the glory days of the horse opera while clearly written in the revisionist period we’re in now, with awareness that was lacking in the 50s and earlier. This is harder to pull off than it looks (I should know, or my Western would have been done a couple of years ago) and McCauley does more than pull it off; he succeeds.

The Hook, Donald Westlake. Speaking of writers who seem to be able to anything they want and make it look easy, there’ Donald Westlake. Not a Richard Stark/Parker novel, and certainly not a Dortmunder, The Hook is a twist on Strangers on a Train, where a writer who’s successful but blocked hooks up with a writer who’s fertile but can’t get a contract; together they put one over on the blocked writer’s publisher. There’s a catch, though, and given my reference to SOAT you can probably guess what it is, but the complication is completely original and Westlake’s set-up is so masterfully done it doesn’t matter that you’ll see the end coming a chapter or two ahead of time. By then you’ll be wondering less “what” than “how,” and the pace at which the “how” is revealed will fill you with dread.


Elgin Bleecker said...

Dana – Terrence McCauley’s SYMPATHY FOR THE DEVIL is in my TBR, and I am adding his THE FAIRFAX INCIDENT and WHERE THE BULLETS FLY. His WWI novel, DEVIL DOGS OF BELLEAU WOOD also sounds good to me.

Dana King said...

Terrence is always a good read. There doesn't seem to be anything he can't do.