Friday, May 15, 2015

Friday's Forgotten Books, May 15, 2015

I have to leave here to attend my grandson's school at 8:00. I will add any links not up when I return around noon.

From the archives

Neil S. Plakcy is a U.S. writer whose works range from mystery to romance to anthologies and collections of gay erotica. He has twice been a finalist for the Lambda Literary Award for Best Gay Men's Mystery Novel. 
The Zoo Gang by Paul Gallico

When I was a teenager I read everything by Paul Gallico that I could get my hands on, from his comic Mrs. 'Arris novels to the tear-jerker The Snow Goose, right up to The Poseidon Adventure, from which the blockbuster movie was made.
But my favorite was a book called The Zoo Gang, which is so far out of print these days that Amazon can only find one used copy.The jacket of my paperback edition calls it a caper novel, though really it's a collection of four stories, and they are more puzzles than capers. The protagonist is Colonel Pierre Roquebrun, proprietor of an antiques store in La Tourette, on the road between the towns of Vence and Grasse, in the back country of the French Riviera.In his youth, Colonel Roquebrun aka Le Renard, or the Fox, led a group offighters in the French Resistance. They include the Wolf, the Elephant, the Leopard and the Tiger, and though all are in the evening of their lives, they are still as clever and cunning as they were during the Second WorldWar.
In "The Picture Thieves," the first of the four stories, a French police detective comes to Colonel Roquebrun for help investigating a series of art thefts. The puzzle involves not only how the paintings could have been stolen, but how to parlay the knowledge of that theft into the prevention ofan entirely different crime. This story introduces the members of the ZooGang as well as their specialties during the war. The characterization ispretty shallow, though, because Gallico's emphasis is on the details of the crime.
In "How to Stick up a Fifty-Million-Dollar Gala," the five friends engage in solving a similar puzzle. "Snow Over the Cote d'Azur" is the longest of the stories, in which Roquebrun's niece dies of a drug overdose, leading him to go after the suppliers of drugs into the Riviera.
The final story, "LeSnatch Double," is another marvel of complicated plotting, in which two children are kidnapped, and a terrible price is exacted for a piece of wartime treachery. Rereading it now, I'm less impressed than I was as a teenager. The characters are flat, and I never was able to keep a handle on the other animals beyond the Fox. There isn't much of a real sense of the Riviera, either, beyond a few place names and some details of the floats in Nice'spre-Lenten Carnival. But the puzzles are very clever, and it's an interesting insight into the kind of men who fought in the French Resistance.

Sergio Angelini, JOYLAND, Stephen King
Joe Barone, BEAT NOT BONES, Charlotte Jones
Bernadette, TWICE SHY, Dick Francis
Les Blatt, CALL MR. FORTUNE, H.C. Bailey
Brian Busby, THE PLOUFFE FAMILY, Roger Lemelin
Bill Crider, THE EVIL SLEEP, Van Hunter
Martin Edwards, THE BLUNDERER, Patricia Highsmith
Curt Evans, DEATH OF A BEAUTY QUEEN, E. R. Punshon
Ed Gorman/Duane Swiercyncki, Great Heist Novels from Noir Originals 
John Helgenberge, LOST IN TIME AND SPACE WITH LEFTY FEEP, Robert Bloch
Rick Horton, THE WALLED ORCHARD, Tom Holt
Nick Jones, Work by Jim Woodring George Kelley, THE SPACE OPERA RENAISSANCE, Hartwell and Cramer
Margot Kinberg,DANCING TO ALMENNDRA, Mayra Montegra
Rob Kitchin, VINNIE GOT BLOWN AWAY, Jeremy Cameron
B.V. Lawson, BLOOD LINES, Ruth Rendell
Evan Lewis, "Five Reviews from Dashiell Hammett," SATURDAY REVIEW
Steve Lewis/William Deeck, FLETCHER FLORA, Skullduggery
Todd Mason, BEST SF '71 ed. by Harry Harrison & Brian Aldiss (Berkley 1972); YEAR'S FINEST FANTASY ed. by Terry Carr (Berkley 1978)
J.F. Norris, DEAD MAN"S QUARRY, Ianthe, Jerrold
James Reasoner, THE GOLDEN AGE, James Robinson
Kevin Tipple/Barry Ergang, ONE SHOT, Lee Child


Jeffrey Meyerson said...

The was a six-part series based on THE ZOO GANG in 1974.

Jeff M.

Jeffrey Meyerson said...

I just checked. There are over 100 copies of THE ZOO GANG available on ABE, as cheap as $3.48 with postage. Also, my library system has a copy. So it is not that rare or hard to find, even if it is out of print.

Jeff M.

Jerry House said...

Nothing from me this week, Patti. My computer died last week and I just got it back. It still has a few glitches to work out. **sigh**

Anonymous said...

Hi, Patti and everyone else. John Norris here... My post will be delayed until I'm done at work. I left my iPhone at home and without it I cannot access Google, Gmail or Blogger. (why I resorted to "Anonymous" option to leave this comment) Ridiculous I know. Just ass I feared I've been enslaved by my iPhone. Arrrgh!

pattinase (abbott) said...

We are in Internet hell here so I know of which you both speak. Things come off and on, the Ipad doesn't work, the phone revert to their setting at our old house. The TV doesn't have ON DEMAND or Netflix.

Sergio (Tipping My Fedora) said...

Thanks for the roundup Patti and I hope your technology starts behaving itself properly soon!

John said...

Well, mine's finally up. Better late, etc... Maybe I need to chain my iPhone to me. (shuddering)

Dead Man's Quarry by Ianthe Jerrold

R.T. said...

I'm sorry that I missed the Friday posting deadline. All is well, and I will be back on schedule next week.

Margot Kinberg said...

Every time I visit this feature, I get more to add to my TBR list...
Thanks for including my post.

Deb said...

I read a news story recently about a person who moved into their "dream home" only to discover no wifi and limited internet access. Apparently, the person made repeated calls to Comcast to verify that the area had good internet service and is now trying to sue them (good luck with that!). Being connected is such an important part of our lives it's terrible when we're without a phone or the ability to get on-line.

I read somewhere that any society is only three days away from anarchy. I think if everyone lost cell phone access, I'd give us 24 hours!

pattinase (abbott) said...

That may be the case. I think it's installed where it was technically a carport and the signal can't make it through the brick. COMCAST arrives in two hours. We'll see.

Todd Mason said...

Bernadette's link is faulty above:

Thanks for assembling even given troubles!

Anonymous said...

The Leo Blatt link redirects to Bernadette's Dick Francis link, not to the promised Mr. Fortune stories link. / Denny Lien