Friday, January 29, 2010
Friday's Forgotten Books, January 29, 2010
Femme Fatale: Ida Lupino Reminder: you can find all 20 months worth of forgotten books here.
Is it me or are too many people dying lately?
While you may know Kevin R. Tipple mainly by his book reviews, his short
fiction has appeared in such magazines as “Lynx Eye,” “Starblade,” “Show and
Tell,” and "The Writer's Post Journal" among others and online at such
places as "Mouth Full Of Bullets," "Crime And Suspense," "Mysterical-e" and
others. His story “By The Light Of The Moon” is available in “THE CARPATHIAN SHADOWS VOLUME TWO” anthology available from him, online and through bookstores. Examples of some of his published work can be found on his
website at http://kevinrtipple.com/
Milton T. Burton broke onto the crime scene a few years back with his
powerful debut novel, “The Rogues’ Game.” Set in an unnamed West Texas small
town, the book tells the tale of an unnamed narrator who arrives in town to
play cards and carry out an act of revenge. The con is the thing and the
heavily atmospheric and complex book twists and turns all the way to the
end. While I really enjoyed that book, I think his second novel, which came
out in 2006 is a bit better.
Titled “The Sweet And The Dead” the book is set in the fall of 1970 in
Mississippi where Manfred Eugene "Hog" Webern is deep undercover in Biloxi.
Hog is a retired Dallas County Deputy Sheriff, a good man, and a damn good
cop despite the word on the street. It is coincidence and nothing more that
he got into some money at approximately the same time his former partner was
gunned down and a couple of other nasty things happened. The word on the
street is that Hog is dirty which makes him a perfect candidate to
investigate from the inside the group dubbed the "Dixie Mafia."
Bob Wallace is a Texas Ranger and a man that Hog has worked with before more
than once and a man that Hog trusts without question. Wallace tells him that
Curtis Blanchard, one of the chief felony investigators for the Mississippi
Department of Public Safety wants Hog to come to Mississippi, hook up with
Jasper Sparks, head of the aforementioned Dixie Mafia, and gather enough
evidence to bring Jasper and as many others as possible down. Hog agrees for
several reasons and before long finds himself deep undercover in a twisting
case that seems to know no end.
In both of Milton’s books, the tales twist and turn on themselves and
features a main character full of internal demons and unresolved guilt who
is seeking his own form of justice. A dark hero who finds a brand of honor
in the criminal element and one isn’t sure about the character’s motivations
until the final word on the last page.
Books that I simply can’t say enough good things about or do justice to in
reviews. The author, like his characters, goes quietly about his business
and eschews the limelight and self promotion that so many routinely engage
in on every forum possible. Milton T. Burton deserves considerably more
acclaim than he is getting and his books deserve a place on your reading
Patti Abbott: Books that meant a lot to me:
THE RECTOR OF JUSTIN, by Louis Auchincloss, who died this week. Rather than try to jog my memory to speak about a book I read 45 years ago, let me refer you to a piece by Jonathan Yardly. Auchincloss may have written about and from a particular class, but he did it well.
Nine Stories-I bet you've read this one.
Ed Gorman is the author of A TICKET TO RIDE and editor of the anthology BETWEEN THE DARK AND DAYLIGHT. You can find him here.
The Luck of Ginger Coffey, Brian Moore
When I was but a lad I read an interview with Graham Greene in which
the master said that “Brian Moore is my favorite living novelist.” Who?
I’m afraid that the “Who?” still pertains today. Despite accolades from
every conceivable quarter Brian Moore never came close to getting the
readership he deserved, this despite seeing at least three of his
novels turn into well-received feature films and TV movies.
He is a literary dazzler of the highest order. After I’ve
pistol-whipped somebody into agreeing to read one of his books, I
generally hand them a copy of The Luck of Ginger Coffey, a novel I’ve
read at least ten times in forty-some years.
The situation is this: as long as he was in the Army, Irisher James
Francis Coffey was all right. His life was laid out for him. But when
Coffey (much like Moore himself) takes his wife Veronica and their
daughter and moves to Montreal he fails at a series of jobs he
considers beneath him (John D. MacDonald did the same thing—he said
bosses resented him telling them how to run their businesses after he’d
been there two days). His various failures have taken their toll on his
marriage. Veronica can’t take any more of his daydreams. (He will be
Somebody by God.)
A man named Gerry Grosvenor befriends him and gets him a job as a
proofreader. Coffey promises Veronica that he’ll take this only until
his “break” comes along. In other words he’ll quit or get fired soon as
he usually does. She leaves him, taking her daughter and the little
money Coffey has, and flees to Gerry Grosvenor.
We then follow the disintegration of James Francis Coffey in a country
not his own wandering lost in the pipe dreams he’s had since childhood.
Hilarious, brutal, sad, loving, we watch Coffey try to face reality
while winning back his wife. We’ve all known Coffeys; a fair share of
us WERE Coffeys in our twenties. But, as F. Scott Fitzgerald said, if
you use a type then your burden is to turn him or her into a true
person. And what a person Coffey is, so vividly alive that half the
book you want to get your hands around his throat and squeeze real real
tight; and the other half buy him a beer and say for God’s sake, man,
and start talking to him as if you were his father. Now cut out the
bullshit, Coffey. For your sake and for your poor little daughter’s.
This book is so elegantly written, so perfectly conceived and rendered
that I hold it as a marvel of novel writing. If you’ll give it a
chance, I think you’ll agree with me.
By the way, this became a fine motion picture with Robert Shaw as
Coffey (a bit older than Coffey in the novel but excellent casting
nonetheless) and the wonderfully wistful Mary Ure.
By The Way #2 Brian Moore wrote two at least two Gold Medal novels and
one Dell in his hungriest days. Somewhere between them he published The
Lonely Passion of Judith Hearne which won a number of notable European
literary prizes. He got the awards but no money to speak of so he went
back to paperbacking.
Wreath for a Redhead (1951) (U.S. title: Sailor's Leave)
The Executioners (1951)
French for Murder (1954) (as Bernard Mara) GM
A Bullet for My Lady (1955) (as Bernard Mara)  GM
This Gun for Gloria (1957) (as Bernard Mara) GM
Intent to Kill (1957) (as Michael Bryan)