Friday, October 24, 2014

Friday's Forgotten Books, Friday, October 24, 2014

Off to the symphony so additional links will be added mid afternoon.

Charlie Stella is the author of seven novels about the New York underworld.

LET IT RIDE, John McFetridge

John McFetridge’s Let It Ride presents a lot of subplots to keep readers engaged. A husband and wife, fresh from a swing party, are mistakenly whacked by a hit man while in a semi-compromising position in their car while driving home from a swing party.The hit man could only see the driver (so yous figure out the position). A couple of veterans used to hustling drugs and guns out of Afghanistan are
joined in Toronto where one of them,
JT (a Canadian Afghanistan veteran) is about to earn his full patch (become a made man, so to speak) for the gang run by Richard Tremblay (another subplot), a full patch who seeks the ultimate power (cappo di tutti cappi, so to speak). Vernard “Get” McGetty is the Detroit half of the connection and always looking for something better. After delivering some hardware up to JT in Toronto, he’s shown the ropes of the motorcycle gang world (and notices how many of the motorcyclists drive SUV’s) … JT shows him how they operate and it is impressive.
There’s also Sunitha, an Indian "rub and tug" (hand job) hooker with a second gig heading a small band of women who rob massage parlors of the almost rich and not so famous. She wants more and is ambitious enough to get it. Once she hooks up with Get (after JT takes him for some relief), she sees gold in her future.
Literally gold.
There’s also a subplot that has to do with the law trying to solve the couple murdered in their car … Maureen McKeon is cop no longer satisfied with her home life, her husband or young infant ... and she’s drinking again.
There are also those pesky, but not so powerful eye-talians out and about; with a subplot within their story as well.
Hookers and hit men abound … the names of the characters sub-title each chapter so there’s no reason to get lost. Let It Ride is chock full of references to the author the author of Let it Ride is most often compared to (say that three times fast). The name Elmore Leonard and several of his works make a few appearances, in tribute, I suspect. The references work well, as does the writing in this exciting page turner from the Toronto Bills very own crime fiction specialist.
The bit about full patches … essentially, a Full Patch = Made Man … north of the border there are motorcycle gangs that operate much the same way traditional organized crime does (or did); those seeking full honors in the program need to prove themselves over time … earn their stripes (so to speak) and then be approved by a board (of sorts) before they can become full patch members. There are rules one needs to abide along the way (or at least not get caught breaking them) and some are pretty similar to those the Italian-American mob are supposed to abide by.
Like don’t screw the wife of a made guy/full-patch and get caught without expecting to meet your maker. It’s one of the rules tested by JT …
No spoilers here … but know that McFetridge does very good work. He teaches as well as entertains. Let It Ride offers convincing snapshots of the different characters who inhabit our world. Like them or not, their choices are much more understandable by the novel’s several endings (each character has one, whether open ended or not). I never imagined motorcycle gangs were so powerful until I saw a documentary on the subject. It was chilling. Let It Ride was a reminder of just how powerful a group of determined sociopaths can be in a society unprepared for the violence and protected by law enforcement as corruptible as politicians.
Take a journey with this character driven novel of crime that takes place north of the border. You’ll meet interesting people at each turn; characters that both frighten and intrigue. Let It Ride is the character driven page turner we expect from McFetridge and we’re always glad to see some of his characters from prior works appear. Comparisons to the master from Detroit are valid.North of the boarder, McFetridge’s people inhabit the gritty world it is better to read about than taste first hand. Let It Ride lets us do that. An intriguing novel about opportunistic characters seizing their day. Carpe Diem indeed. McFetridge is the real deal.

Forgotten Books: Fright by Cornell Woolrich


Cornell Woolrich's first novel emulated the novels of his literary hero, F. Scott Fitzgerald. Judging from the first act of the new Woolrich novel Fright from Hardcase Crime, the Fitzgerald influence lasted well into Woolrich's later career as a suspense writer.

The young, handsome, successful Prescott Marshall could be any of Fitzgerald's early protagonists. New York, Wall Street, a striver eager to marry a beauiful young socialite and acquire the sheen only she can give him...even the prose early on here reminds us of Fitzgerald's "Winter Dreams" and "The Rich Boy." Strivers dashed by fate.

Bu since Woolrich was by this time writing for the pulps and not Smart Set or Scribners Magazine, young Prescott Marshall's fate is not simply to lose face or be banished from some Edenic yacht cruise...but to face execution at the hands of the State for killing a young woman he slept with once and who turned into a blackmailer. This is in the Teens of the last century, by the way; a historical novel if you will.

From here on we leave the verities of Fitzgerald behind and step into the noose provided by another excellent writer and strong influence on Woolrich...Guy de Maupassant. In the Frenchman's world it's not enough to merely die, you must die in a tortured inch-by-inch way that makes the final darkness almost something to be desired. And dying for some ironic turn of events is best of all.

I read this in a single sitting. It's one those melodramas that carry you along on sheer narrative brute force. I woudn't say it's major Woolrich but I woud say that it's awfully good Woolrich with all the master's cruel tricks at work and a particularly claustrophobic sense of doom. Readers will appreciate its dark twists. Collectors will want to buy a few extra copies.
Ed Gorman is the author of the Sam McCain and Dev Conrad series of crime novels. 
Sergio Angelini, THE BLACK SPECTACLES, John Dickson Carr
Yvette Banek, Seasonal Fare
Joe Barone, IN A DARK HOUSE,Deborah Crombie
Brian Busby, Books about the Trudeaus
Bill Crider. RIDER FROM WIND RIVER, Marvin H. Albert
Martin Edwards, FOURFINGERS, Lynn Brock
Curt Evans, A Look at Medora Field
Rick Horton, HEYDAY, W.M. Spackman
Randy Johnson, COPP ON FIRE, Don Pendleton
Nick Jones, Assorted James Mitchell publications
George Kelley, GUN GLORY FOR TEXANS, Marshall McCoy
Margot Kinberg, NIGHT HAS A THOUSAND EYES, Cornell Woolrich
Rob Kitchin, VILLAIN , Shuichi Yoshida
B.F. Lawson, THE HAND IN THE GLOVE, Rex Stout
Evan Lewis, SATAN'S REVENGE, Carroll John Daly
Steve Lewis/ William Deeck, THE MOONFLOWER MURDERS, Beverley Nichols
Todd Mason, Books and Magazines Influencing My Early Reading
Neer, DEAD MAN'S TALE and WIFE OR DEATH, Ellerry Queen
J.F. Norris, THE LONGBOW MURDERS, Victor Luhrs
Gerard Saylor, WAYS OF A WANTOM, Richard S. Prather, BIG BLACK MARIA, Johnny Shaw
Ron Scheer, CAMPFIRE TALES, Andy Adams
Kevin Tipple, PATTERNS IN SILICON, Maureen Robb
TomCat, THE BONE IS POINTED, Arthur Upfield
Prashant Trikannad, GREYLORN, Keith Laumer
Tracy K, KEEPER OF THE KEYS, Earl Derr Biggers


Charles Gramlich said...

both sound appetizing

Todd Mason said...

Ha, Patti! I actually filed mine in the wee hours this morning, so it's been up for a while...

FFB: books (and of course magazines) that greatly influenced me in my early reading...

John said...

Mine's up now, Patti. Thanks.
The Longbow Murder by Victor Luhrs

David Cranmer said...

I was halfway through FRIGHT when someone swiped my copy. But it was damn good.

John said...

Wow! Both Woolrich books as "George Hopley" reviewed on the same Friday. Margot wrote up her take on NIGHT HAS A THOUSAND EYES. Synchronicity strikes again at FFB. FRIGHT has perhaps the cruelest of endings in all of Woolrich's work. One of his best novels, IMO.

Margot Kinberg said...

Patti - Oh, I see we have a case of 'great minds' here, with both Ed and me posting on Woolrich's 'Hopley' novels. Or did you plan that... ;-) Thanks for including my post.

Gerard said...

The Canadian Biker Wars of the '90s and '00s made for some big headlines. I followed some of those headlines after reading CITY OF ICE by John Farrow (Trevor Ferguson).

Sounds likes LET IT RIDE is a good one.

Todd Mason said...

Both Hopleys, an unusual number of westerns...and, trivially, I post a bonus post...

Small favors...

Kelly Robinson said...

I'm a big fan of Woolrich, and also of Hard Case Crime.