Monday, May 6, 2019

Favorite Reads for March and April

Events overtook my shout-outs for my favorite reads in March so we’ll catch things up here.

Trigger, David Swinson. The third of the Frank Marr trilogy finds Marr trying to clean up his act. Well, a little. The thing with Marr is that he likes how he is but comes to realize he’s paying too high a price in other aspects of his life to continue to indulge in the “WWHSTD?” lifestyle. (What Would Hunter S. Thompson Do?) Here Marr’s helping his old police partner defend himself in an officer involved shooting that looks dirty. Marr wants to help but is less than enthusiastic about the prospects until he runs into a former adversary he almost killed in The Second Girl. Watching Marr trying to bring a former banger along as a partner gives the reader insights Marr can’t get into on his own even in a first-person narrative and makes this book stand out. I still like The Second Girl best of the three, but that may well be because it was so unlike anything I expected.

November Road, Lou Berney. A worthy successor to The Long and Faraway Gone, a book that won so many awards organizations had to invent new ones. The story takes place immediately after the Kennedy assassination as a mid-level New Orleans mobster who was peripherally involved realizes he’s a cut-out and hits the road, where he hooks up with a housewife who’s had enough and is taking the kids west to no one knows what. He needs her as cover, she’s in over her head and doesn’t see through him until it’s too late. There are few around who tell a story as well as Berney and though I wasn’t crazy about the ending I’ll still bet November Road end up in the ten best books I’ll read this year. (I don’t like saying something doesn’t work for me and not saying why, but that would be a spoiler in this case.)

I Will Find You: Solving Killer Cases from My Life Fighting Crime, Joe Kenda. Kenda is a retired Colorado Springs detective with a homicide clearance rate of well over 90%. The show based on his career, Homicide Hunter, is a staple of Investigation Discovery’s programming. This memoir moves from his younger days in Western Pennsylvania (less than an hour from where I grew up and based Penns River) through his career in Colorado Springs and his early retirement. Kenda shows more personality in the book than the TV show allows, including a dry wit that he uses in just the right amounts. An informal and entertaining book that should be read by anyone interested in how law enforcement actually works.

American Tabloid, James Ellroy. While not the Great American Novel, is it certainly a great American novel, and the Quintessential American Novel. Here’s to all the rogue cops and shakedown artists and wiretappers and soldiers of fortune and faggot lounge entertainers who shaped American history as we know it.


pattinase (abbott) said...

Loved NOVEMBER ROAD but not as much as the first one.

Dana King said...

I agree. I liked THE LONG AND FARAWAY GONE better. In fact, TLAFG was not his first. His first two book are more Elmore Leonard-ish, titled GUTSHOT STRAIGHT and WHIPLASH RIVER. Both are good, but he raised his game to another level with THE LONG AND FARAWAY GONE.