Friday, November 22, 2013

Friday's Forgotten Books, Friday, November 22, 2013

Chris Knopf, Dead Anyway (2012), Jeff Meyerson

People always ask (I know, I ask too) how you decide what to read next.  Might as well ask, how do you decide what to read, period?  I have a list of favorite authors whose books I read when they come out but for newer writers or ones I don't know I tend to lean on recommendations from friends, reviews here or on other blogs, plus newspaper and magazine reviews.  If they sound interesting to me, I'll check them out.
Chris Knopf had two earlier series set in the Hamptons but this is the first in a new series.  Apparently Bill Crider reviewed it when it came out last year but somehow his review did not make enough of an impression on my brain until I read his review of the sequel a few weeks ago, linking back to his Dead Anyway review.  Then I thought, this sounds good. And it is.
How's this for starting with a bang?  Arthur Cathcart, an overweight 40ish guy working at home doing market research and other high end computer research, married to a gorgeous woman who owns a real estate firm near their home in Connecticut, comes home from a walk to find his wife sitting on the couch and a man holding a gun on her.  The man insists she answers five questions written on a paper, and to emphasize his seriousness, he shoots her husband in the thigh.  She answers the questions only to have the man, clearly a hired killer, shoot her in the head and kill her.  Then he shoots Cathcart, who somehow doesn't die.
Now you may be able to resist seeing what happens next, but I sure couldn't.  Cathcart is gravely injured and decides (with the help of his physician sister) to stay dead and use his computer skills to discover who killed his wife and why, not easy in the post-9/11 world.  But first he has to recover enough physically and mentally to be able to act.  Along the way he gets some help from a woman named Natsumi Fitzgerald, who throws her lot in with his.
I really enjoyed this one and will be reading the sequel as soon as it comes in to the library.  Definitely recommended.

THE FIFTH CHILD, Doris Lessing, Patti Abbott
Doris Lessing was one of the writer's whose works have meant a lot to me. Staring with THE GOLDEN NOTEBOOK (for me), she captured the experiences of women of our time. She wrote difficult feminist novels, science fiction novels, and horror with THE FIFTH CHILD.
THE FIFTH CHILD has pretty much haunted and influenced me since I read it. The idea here is a family with four lovely children decide to have a fifth. And the fifth pretty much  destroys all the equanimity they have enjoyed--all the smug self-satisfaction. 
 Ben looks rather horrid, eats insatiably, and acts even worse: he is abnormally strong and violent.  Neither his mother or father are able to bond with him. They are afraid of him and afraid of the feelings he has aroused in them because they regarded themselves as natural parents. His four sibling are also afraid. Age only exacerbates his tendencies. 
This is a terrific idea to me. To take a family that prides itself on being supportive and loving and throw something into the mix that will make them doubt what they believed themselves to be. This is not a novel for everyone. But it is one that makes you think. 

Can a child be evil from birth? Can a genetic mishap cause such a thing?

Sergio Angellini, A MAGNUM FOR SCHNEIDER, James Mitchell
Brian Busby, A STRANGER AND AFRAID, Marika Robert
Bill Crider, SKYLAR, Gregory Macdonald
Scott Cupp, DARK TANGOES, Lewis Shiner
Martin Edwards, THE GREEN-EYED MONSTER, Hugh Wheeler
Curt Evans, BANNER DEADLINES, Joseph Commings
Jerry House, GREAT DETECTIVE STORIES ABOUT DOCTORS, Ed. by Gross Conklin and Noah D. Fabricant
Randy Johnson, VENGEANCE VALLEY, Luke Short
Nick Jones, COUNT NOT THE COST, Ian Mackintosh
George Kelley, THE DOOMSTERS, Ross Macdonald
Margot Kinberg, LINE OF SIGHT, David Whish-Wilson
B.V. Lawson, A GENTLEMAN CALLED, Dorothy Salisbury Davis
Steve Lewis/Allen J. Hubbins, WOLF IN SHEEP'S CLOTHING, John Riggs
Todd Mason, HORRORSTORY, Volume Three, edited by Gerald W. Page and Karl Edward Wagner.
Neer, HEADS YOU LOSE, Christiana Brand
THE Novelettes Blog, BURY ME DEEP, Megan Abbott
Juri Nummelin, MURDER'S SO UNPLEASANT, Frank Struan
James Reasoner, THE THIRD SEDUCTION, Jack Lynn
RIchard Robinson, THE UNCOMPLAINING CORPSES, Brett Halliday
Gerard Saylor, A PAINTED BIRD, Jerzy Kosinski
Ron Scheer, TEXAS GOLD, John Reese 
Michael Slind, THE LAST KASHMIRI ROSE, Barbara Cleverly
Kerrie Smith, PIETR THE LATVIAN, Georges Simenon
Kevin Tipple, ON DANGEROUS GROUND: STORIES OF WESTERN NOIR edited by Ed Gorman, Dave Zeltserman and Martin Greenberg
TomCat. DEATH POINTS A FINGER, Will Levinrew
Prashant Trikannad, A GENTLEMAN FROM MISSISSIPPI, Thomas Wise
James Winter, DESPERATION, Stephen King 


Anonymous said...

Patti, I don't doubt that we have certain tendencies and personalities from birth. My mother would have told you that my brother (just a year younger than me) had his totally different personality from the time he was born, so yes I can see some people born that way.

The one Lessing book I remember is THE GOLDEN NOTEBOOK, which I liked a lot.

Jeff M.

Louis XIV, "The Sun King" (Nick Jones) said...

Arguably this one deserves to be forgotten, but here's one for you anyway Patti:

Louis XIV, "The Sun King" (Nick Jones) said...

As in, the book *I* reviewed arguably deserves to be forgotten, not the ones you featured. I like the sound of The Fifth Child a lot.

Kelly Robinson said...

Doris Lessing was one of my favorites (she's listed in my sidebar just behind Martin Amis). Her post-apocalyptic novel Mara & Dann is my favorite of her works.

Holiday biz prevents me from an FFB post today, but I'll be reading everything with pleasure.

Ron Scheer said...

I read only Lessing's THE GRASS IS SINGING, which is haunting in its own way and unforgettable. I remember it decades later. THE FIFTH CHILD strikes really at the dark side of nature/nurture itself.

pattinase (abbott) said...

Reading her obits, it seems she pretty much deserted her kids. This is perhaps her way of punishing happier families. Sad.

neer said...

Hi Patti

Here's my entry for FFB: Heads you Lose by Christianna Brand


Richard said...

The only Lessing books I've read are African Stories (1964) and Particularly Cats (stories and nonfiction, 1967). I enjoyed both.

Nice review, Jeff.

Juri Nummelin said...

Just posting mine, Patti.

R.T. said...

My favorite Doris Lessing--if I remember correctly the title--is the short story, "To Room 19." When it appeared in anthologies that I used, it was always a story that I included in literature course reading assignments. Ms. Lessing was--to my mind--an exceptional writer who did not receive adequate international praise, attention, and readers.

Todd Mason said...

I'm finally Up,'s been a Very long day...

HORRORSTORY, Volume Three, edited by Gerald W. Page and Karl Edward Wagner...

Sergio (Tipping My Fedora) said...

When I saw that Lessing had died I did go into a bit of private morning as it really feels like the end of an era - a great writer who experimented and never compromised. My mother has only ever written one fan letter in her whole life and that was to Lessing, back in the early 80s, who was gracious enough to write back - a treasured memory about a very classy woman.

Margot Kinberg said...

Thanks, Patti, for including my post.