Friday, March 1, 2019

February's Favorite Reads

Happy birthdays to the two women in my life: The Beloved Spouse™ and The Sole Heir™. You two make every day worth looking forward to.

Split Images, Elmore Leonard. Leonard’s best remembered for his hip dialog and organic humor but his early crime books are darker and harder than those that came after. This story of a Detroit cop who falls in love with a freelance journalist, both of whom have involvement with a rich sadist, shows all the elements Leonard became known for in a harsher light and has what I think is the most surprising scene he ever wrote. We can only re-read him now, but few hold up as well to repeated examination.

Trigger, David Swinson. Book Three of the Frank Marr shows Marr getting straight—at least he’s off drugs; okay, he’s off illegal drugs—but he still goes through liquor like it’s oxygen. His old partner Al Luna is jammed up over what looks like a bad shooting of an African American kid and Marr is working as part of the defense team. Swinson’s writing is as sparse and hard as ever, a style all his own. The plot has sufficient turns to hold the interest of the casual reader, but the good stuff is the writing and the exposure of Frank Marr’s soul.

November Road, Lou Berney. Few tell stories as well and no one combines storytelling chops with writing skill as well. An alternative history story based on the premise the New Orleans mob killed John Kennedy and now Carlos Marcello is looking to erase anyone who played any part in the plot, however unknowingly. Frank Guidry wises up in time and takes off, happening across an Oklahoma housewife fleeing a dead-end marriage with her two daughters. The woman’s chapters aren’t as intense in the first half of the book as are Guidry’s and his pursuer’s and there’s a bit of a Hollywood element to how things shake out near the end, but the story runs like a bat out of hell without ever sacrificing the quality of the writing. Berney is the whole package.


Elgin Bleecker said...

Dana – It is hard to go wrong with Elmore. I have yet to read the other two authors.

Dana King said...

Go for it, Elgin. Two entirely different styles but I vouch for them.

Elgin Bleecker said...

I am halfway through your second Penns River book, GRIND JOINT, and it is terrific.