Friday, October 28, 2016

Friday's Forgotten Books, October 28, 2016


STRANGLEHOLD, Ed Gorman (from the archives)

A few years ago, I read Ed Gorman's first book in the Dev Conrad series (SLEEPING DOGS) and asked him if he planned on writing another one. He said he was mulling it over. It felt like a perfect fit for Ed then and the second book just solidifies that feeling. Ed knows the world of political campaigns well and his portrait of it is completely convincing.

Dev is a political consultant, called in by campaigns to straighten out messes more often than not. Not as a "cleaner" or anything sinister, but more to give advice, succor, and to straighten out the kind of trouble a life in politics seems to encourage. Dev is a guy easy to spend time with. He reminds me of Jim Rockford or Travis McGee.

This time his client is a Congresswoman who's acting strangely and worrying her family and staff in the midst of a campaign. She's disappearing for hours at a time. Much of her support comes from her wealthy stepmother who doesn't like the behavior she's witnessing and is used to calling the shots. The candidate had a troubled youth and there's worry she's returned to her errant ways.

Dev follows the trail to some nasty adversaries and into the Congresswoman's back story, which is an interesting one. As I said, Ed Gorman knows politics and every note is pitch perfect here.

What I love about Ed's books are three-fold. He is a great instructor (for anyone learning to write) in the art of moving a plot along without any lag time. At the same time, he is able to work in little asides: humor, cynicism (and who over fifty doesn't have that) and his knowledge about how politics work--all without even seeming didactic or dull. Thirdly, and I have said this before, Ed likes women. He writes about them well; his protagonist treats them well. Do you know how rare this is lately?

If I was in trouble, Dev Conrad (or Ed Gorman) would be the first one I sought out. Look for this book: Stranglehold. The time is right for a look at politics through Ed Gorman's eyes. His vision is clear.

Mark Baker, SUNSET EXPRESS, Robert Crais
Yvetter Banek, "Skeleton Crew"
Les Blatt, MURDER IN PICADILLY, Charles Kingston
Brian Busby, RECALLED TO LIFE, Grant Allen
Bill Crider, Four by Alistair MacLean
Martin Edwards, DUMB VENGEANCE, Stella Tower
Richard Horton "An Ace Double"
George Kelley, CORNERED and THE LONG RIDE, James McKimmey
Margot Kinberg, THE FIXER, John Daniell
Rob Kitchin, A GENTLE AXE,  R.N. Morris
B.V. Lawson, AH, SWEET MYSTERY, Celestine Sibley
Steve Lewis/William Deeck, DEATH ON THE SET, Victor MacClure
Todd Mason, "Helen Hoke: Anthologies
J.F. Norris, DARK WAYS TO DEATH, Peter Saxon
Matth Paust, FAHRENHEIT 451, Ray Bardbury
Reactions to Reading, WHAT STRANGE CREATURES, Emily Arsenault
James Reasoner, MURGUNSTRUMM, Hugh B. Cave
Richard Robinson, Birthday Swag 
Kevin Tipple, STUFF TO DIE FOR, Don Bruns
TracyK, QUOTH THE RAVEN, Jane Haddam

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Do You Remember When the Mask Was the Main Thing in a Costume?

Man's Best Friend

Continuing on the theme of friendship, we watched two shows last week where dogs starred . "Grandpa" was an episode of HIGH MAINTENANCE, an HBO anthology. It is told entirely from the dog's POV. He falls in love with his dog walker and like all romances, it has its ups and downs.

Then we watched DUMB WITNESS, a Hercule Poirot, where a fox terrier has the key to the mystery. I have never had a dog but this one was a temptation.

What are some other books/movie dogs that stand out for you?

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Tuesday Night Music: American Honey


 The death last week of Michael Gleason reminded me of an old favorite.

REMINGTON STEELE was on TV from 1982 to 1987 and starred Stephanie Zimbalist and Pierce Brosnan. It was a light romantic detective series. Their chemistry worked for a while-and then it didn't. But in the early years, it gave us lots of pleasure. More a romance than a detective series, it still managed to put out 20 some episodes a year with concrete plots.

It began like this:

Try this for a deep, dark secret. The great detective Remington Steele? He doesn't exist. I invented him.

I always loved excitement, so I studied and apprenticed, and put my name on an office. But absolutely nobody knocked down my door. A female private investigator seemed so . . . feminine. So I invented a superior. A decidedly masculine superior.

Suddenly, there were cases around the block. It was working like a charm. Until the day he walked in.

With his blue eyes and mysterious past, and before I knew it, he assumed Remington Steele's identity.

Now I do the work and he takes the bows.

It's a dangerous way to live, but as long as people buy it, I can get the job done.

We never mix business with pleasure. Well, almost never. I don't even know his real name.

We know what happened to Pierce Brosnan but what happened to Stephanie Zimbalist? 

Monday, October 24, 2016

Monday Night Music: Copperhead Road


Friendship is a common theme in children's literature but less so in adult literature. I just read ANOTHER BROOKLYN where four teenage girls in seventies Brooklyn sustain each other through a lot of difficulties. But they are still children. In books for adults, there is, of course, OF MICE AND MEN and THE GROUP but what else. In KRAMER V KRAMER, Ted  and Margaret forge a friendship, which was somewhat novel at the time. The idea that a man and a woman could be friends and not romantic interests.

The Lansdale books about Hap & Leonard stand out. And the Walter Mosley and Robert Parker series.What else?