Friday, March 23, 2012

Friday's Forgotten Books, March 23, 2012

Reminder: April 13 is John D. MacDonald week. Let me know if you'd like to do a review if you don't ordinarily do one.

Ed Gorman is the author of BLINDSIDE, the newest Dev Conrad story. You can find him

The Plastic Nightmare, Richard Neely

Richard Neely wrote non-series crime novels that pretty much covered the entire range of dark suspense. I mentioned that in the best of them the weapon of choice is not poison, bullets or garrote. He always prefered sexual betrayl.

Plastic is a good example. Using amnesia as the central device ,Dan Mariotte must reconstruct his life. Learning that the beautiful woman at his bedside all these months in the hospital--his wife--may have tried to kill him in a car accident is only the first of many surprises shared by Mariotte and the reader alike.

What gives the novel grit is Neely's take on the privileged class. He frequently wrote about very successful men (he was a very successful adverts man himself) and their women. The time was the Seventies. Private clubs, privte planes, private lives. But for all the sparkle of their lives there was in Neely's people a despair that could only be assauged (briefly) by sex. Preferably illicit sex. Betrayl sex. Men betrayed women and women betrayed men. It was Jackie Collins only for real.

Plastic is a snapshot of a certain period, the Seventies when the Fortune 500 dudes wore sideburns and faux hippie clothes and flashed the peace sign almost as often as they flashed their American Express Gold cards. Johny Carson hipsters. The counter culture co-opted by th pigs.

The end is a stunner, which is why I can say little about the plot. Neely knew what he was doing. Watching him work was always a pleasure.

THE UNQUIET NIGHT, Patricia Carlon

Reading Michael Robotham recently and it reminded me of Patricia Carlon, another Aussie who I read about a decade or so ago when my library purchased copies of her reprinted books (Soho Press).

This was her novel that truly impressed me. Martin Deeford, a lonely clerk picks up Rose Gault, a young woman waiting for a bus on a rainy Sunday afternoon. She is willing to have sex, but he wants to talk and it ends badly for Rose. Leaving afterward, he runs into a woman walking nearby with a child. He then tries to find and silence the witness.

The woman, a jeweler, hasn't witnessed anything at all and Rose, it turns out is not dead. This is a game of cat and mouse, where neither party knows his/her role in the game. At 190 pages you can read this in a sitting and you probably will. Carlon reminds me of Margaret Millar with her psychological insights into the lives of two lonely people.

Sergio Angelini
Yvette Banek
Joe Barone
Brian Busby
Bill Crider
Scott Cupp
Martin Edwards
Elisabeth Grace Foley
Randy Johnson
Nick Jones
George Kelley
Margot Kinberg
K.A. Laity
B.V. Lawson
Evan Lewis
Steve Lewis
Todd Mason
David Rachels
James Reasoner
Gerard Saylor
Ron Scheer
Kerrie Smith
Kevin Tipple/Barry Ergang


K. A. Laity said...

I'm getting back into the swing of the FFB with a Westlake title. Looking forward to seeing what everyone recommends this week. I've never heard of Carlon before.

Nick Jones (Louis XIV, the Sun King) said...

Hello, Patti. Quite by accident I've posted a review today of a book that fits in with Friday's Forgotten Books: Geoffrey Household's overlooked 1952 short story collection Tales of Adventurers. And I guess it also fits in with your post yesterday about short stories.

All the best,


Casual Debris said...

I've got my article up for Alan Arkin's "Whiskaboom."

Casual Debris said...

Hmmm... my link seems to have failed.


pattinase (abbott) said...

If you let me know a night ahead I can have them up at the start. But no problem usually adding them in.

Casual Debris said...

I'll do that, though this one didn't quite exist last night :)

Elisabeth Grace Foley said...

I'm a bit late, too, since my post just went up this morning...I'd like to join in again this week:

Elisabeth Grace Foley said...

Thanks for including me...but it's Elisabeth (with an S) Grace, not Elizabeth Jane. :)

pattinase (abbott) said...

I am hopelessly bad at that sort of thing.

Ron Scheer said...

The Seventies. Lived through them and once was enough. But thanks for the sharp review...Did John D. MacDonald ever write a western? (just kidding...)

Todd Mason said...

148 · The Corpse Rides at Dawn · John D. MacDonald · nv 10 Story Western Magazine Apr ’48

--now you have me wondering if he wrote enough of them to make a nice collection, in the manner of the Elmore Leonard of a few years back...

The film SHATTERED, which wasn't very good despite the participation of an old media-crush of mine, Greta Scacchi, is based apparently loosely on the Neely novel, and the latter-day Vintage edition has apparently decided that it should be called that...unless there's another Neely novel called SHATTERED that the film stole its title from...

While Neely is only familiar to me due to Ed's and Bill's and Steve's efforts, some time after I rather randomly picked up the paperback of THE WALTER SYNDROME and enjoyed it, having forgotten any recollection of Neely being the distant source of SHATTERED, Carlon is unfamiliar to me, as well...thanks for the pointers...and thanks for riding herd on what looks like it's been a busy day!

The link to Steve/Bill with a link to Ed:

Anonymous said...

Patti - How kind of you to include my post :-). Thanks :-)

Deb said...

Patti--I think I already posted this, but I plan to write about THE DREADFUL LEMON SKY for the MacDonald FFB on April 13. I will email you my write-up a few days prior. If you need it earlier, let me know. Thanks!

pattinase (abbott) said...

Thanks, Deb.

wutheringwillow @ A Paperback Life said...

Hello! I have been participating on Tuesday's Forgotten Films meme for a few weeks now. I would like to participate on Friday's Forgotten Books too but the problem is my home computer is not working. As a result I am always behind on my posts.

Anyways, my this week's post is up. I know I am too late but I figured it's worth a shot. :-)

My post is here,