Friday, September 11, 2015

Friday's Forgotten Books, September 11, 2015

MURDER OF A BEAUTY SHOP QUEEN, Bill Crider (Patti Abbott)

Bill Crider makes writing delightful books look easy. In fact, it is not easy to combine a satisfying crime and its solution with great characters, terrific local color, a wry sense of humor and a style of writing easy to digest. Sheriff Dan Rhoades solves crimes and keeps order (and it is not always simple with a domestic animal population that is as troublesome as their owners, and in the case of feral pigs, no owners) down in Blacklin County, Texas.
In this outing from 2012, Lynn Ashton, a pretty hair stylist has been bashed over the head with a hair dryer. Suspects range from scorned lovers, to jealous wives, to two outsiders who have been scraping the town. Or maybe Lynn saw something she shouldn't have as she waited for a rendezvous with one of her clients. The characters, both new and old, all are the beneficiaries of inventive character development and the conclusion is satisfying and solid.

 The Collected Stories of Stephen Crane (Ed Gorman)

As the prime creator of Realism Stephen Crane shocked the world of letters both in his writing and his personal life. His first book was Maggie: A Girl of The Streets and he spent a good share of his adult life (as much of it as there was--he died at twenty-eight) living with Cora Taylor, the madame of a brothel. He wrote dozens of short stories as well as his masterpiece The Red Badge of Courage.

While he was accepted and praised by the literary critics of the time, he was frequently derided for the pessimism and violence of his stories. He brought "the stink of the streets" into literature as one reviewer said. But his streets could be found all over America, not just in the cities.

The Open Boat, The Blue Hotel, The Bride Comes to Yellow Sky, Shame and The Upturned Face give us portraits of different Americas. As I was rereading them lately I realized that they all have two things in common--their utter sense of social isolation and the intensity of their telling. Hemingway always put up The Blue Hotel as one of the most intense-"bedeviled"--stories in our language and man he was right. The fist fight in the blizzard on the blind side of the barn is one of those most hellish insane scenes I've ever read. And the ironic words at the last honestly gave me chills, even though I knew what was coming. His years as a journalist gave him a compassion for society's discards no matter where they lived or what color they happened to be.

His sense of place changed writing. Whether he was writing about the slums of Brooklyn or the endless ghostly plains of Nebraska in winter, his early years as a poet gave his images true clarity and  potency. One critic of the time said his stories were possessed of "a filthy beauty" and that nails it. 

Only a few of his stories are taught today; Red Badge is mandatory in schools. But in the many collections available of his stories you find a passion for life and language that few writers have ever equaled. Too many American masters get lost in the shuffle of eras. Crane is not only an artist he's one of the finest storytellers I've ever read.

Sergio Angelini, HEAT, Ed McBain
Yvette Banek. PASTIME, Robert Parker
Mark Baler, B IS FOR BURGLAR, Sue Grafton
Joe Barone, THE PATRIARCH, Martin Walker
Les Blatt, DIVIDEND ON DEATH, Brett Halliday
Brian Busby, MURDER WITHOUT REGRET, E. Louise Cushman
Bill Crider, A STRANGE KIND OF LOVE, Sheldon Lord (Lawrence Block)
Martin Edwards, KNOCK,MURDER, KNOCK, Harriet Rutland
Curt Evans, DEATH COMES TO TEA, Theodora DuBois
Ed Gorman, SATURDAY GAMES, Brown Meggs
John Hegenberger, TIMESCAPE, Gregory Benford
Rick Horton, TIMES WITHOUT NUMBERS, John Bruner
Jerry House, COME TELL ME HOW YOU LIVE, Agatha Christie Malloran
Nick Jones, THE SCORE, Donald Westlake
George Kelley, TALES OF THE OCCULT, ed. Isaac Asimov et al
Rob Kitchin, Mangrove Squeeze, Laurence Shames
B.V. Lawson. MISTLETOE FROM PURPLE SAGE, Barbara Burnett Smith
Evan Lewis, KILLER IN THE RAIN, Raymond Chandler
Steve Lewis/Barry Gardner, KISSING THE GUNNER'S DAUGHTER, Ruth Rendell
James Reasoner, THE EROTICS, Gil Brewer
Richard Robinson, THE MOOR, Laurie R. King
Kevin Tipple/Barry Ergang, A TIME OF PREDATORS, Joe Gores
TomCat, NINE MAN'S MURDER, Eric Keith
TracyK, WHERE MEMORIES LIE, Deborah Crombie
Westlake Review, BUTCHER'S MOON, Part 2


Jeff Meyerson said...

You can't go wrong with Bill Crider and Sheriff Rhodes.

Jeff M.

Unknown said...

Thanks for the kind words, Patti & Jeff.

Charles Gramlich said...

the stink of the streets seems to permeate every corner of America these days.

Jerry House said...

My is up now, Patti: Agatha Christie's memoir COME, TELL ME HOW YOU LIVE.

Sergio (Tipping My Fedora) said...

Great mixture Patti - and can't wait to start reading the Crider - thanks.

J F Norris said...

It's 10:35 here in Chicago and you know what that means. I've finally finished and posted my contribution. ;^)

Bring the Bride a Shroud by D. B. Olsen

Thanks, Patti!

(Don't forget to pause to remember all who died on 9/11 fourteen years ago.)

Todd Mason said...

Up on this slightly busy day: ALFRED HITCHCOCK'S A HANGMAN'S DOZEN edited by Lisa Belknap

The schedule will be more uncluttered for next Friday's subbing. Thanks, Patti.

(And one might spare a thought for all the victims and survivors of all the political cruelty we as a species witness all around us, when not wittingly or unwittingly participating...)

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Patti, as ever, for including my post. And thanks for reminding me of Crider's great writing. I need to spotlight one of his books at some point.

neer said...

Thanks for including my post, Patti.