Friday, May 30, 2014

Friday's Forgotten Books, Friday, May 30, 2014



July 12, 2014

I will be gone from 9-5 today. Latecomers will be seated then. 

The Plastic Nightmare by Richard Neely

I've written here before about Neely. He 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 preferred sexual betrayal.

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, private planes, private lives. But for all the sparkle of their lives there was in Neely's people a despair that could only be assuaged (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. Johnny Carson hipsters. The counter culture co-opted by the pigs.

The end is a stunner, which is why I can say little about the plot. Neely knew what he was doing and I'm glad to see his book back in print. Watching Neely work is always a pleasure. This was turned in the movie "Shattered" which pretty much ruined the book.

SERIOUS INTENT, Margaret Yorke

Back in the day when I gobbled down crime fiction, or mysteries as we called it then, 3-4 a week, one of my favorite writers was Margaret Yorke who always seemed to infuse her stories with a little bit more insight than other writers of her era. Maybe not quite a psychologically astute  as Margaret Millar but along those lines. Yorke died in 2012 after a hugely productive career. Some of her books feature Dr. Patrick Grant, a college dean, but many are standalones.

One of my favorites is SERIOUS INTENT.
No one knows Tom's son is in prison for murder--certainly not the boys who hang around his house. Just down the road, lives Richard Gardner with his second wife and her two sons. No one knows.she is seriously disturbed.All of the boys in this story are affected by absent or poor fathers and engage in petty thefts. Now Marigold Darwin, a retired civil servant, house hunts in Haverscot and begins to discover the intertwined serious intents in this supposedly benign neighborhood. And that lives--including her own are at serious risk. Yorke is very much a "why" writer rather than a how or who writer. And that's my favorite kind.

Yvette Banek, MISS PETTIGREW LIVES FOR A DAY, Winifred Watson
Brian Busby. RMS Empress of Ireland, Canadian Pacific Railroad
Bill Crider, ROOKIE BLUES, Richard A. Lupoff
Martin Edwards, SHADOW OF THE DOWNS, R.C. Woodthorpe
Rick Horton, LAUGHING BOY, Oliver LaFarge
Jerry House, BOOKS OF MAGIC: 4, Carla Jablonski
Randy Johnson, CAPROCK REBEL, Will C. Brown
Nick Jones, THE BLACK HOUSE, Patricia Highsmith
Margot Kinberg, THURSDAY NIGHT WIDOWS, Claudia Pineiro
Rob Kitchin, A DECLINE IN PROPHETS, Sulari Gentill
B.V. Lawson, HANGING DOLL MURDER, Roger Ormerond
Evan Lewis"House of the Seven Dragons" Robert Leslie Bellem
Steve Lewis/William F. Deeck, THE WINTER MURDER CASE. S.S. Van Dine
J. F. Norris, THE GLASS-SIDED ANTS' NEST, Peter Dickinson
James Reasoner, 361, Donald Westlake
Richard Robinson, THE BLUE MURDER, Brett Halliday
Gerard Saylor, PALE CRIMINAL, Philip Kerr
Ron Scheer, LIFE'S LURE, John G. Neihardt
Kevin Tipple/Patrick Ohl, THE DREAM WALKER, Charlotte Armstron
TomCat, THE CASE OF THE BAITED HOOK, Erle Stanley Gardner


Anonymous said...

I got the Neely book under the reprint/movie title SHATTERED last year and read it and it was indeed excellent. I need to look out more of Neely's works.

Jeff M.

J F Norris said...

It's 10 AM and that means... Mine's up.

The Glass-Sided Ants' Nest by Peter Dickinson

Thanks, Patti!

Charles Gramlich said...

That top story sounds like the plot to a movie I saw a couple of years ago. I wonder if it was based on the book.

Todd Mason said...

Yes, Charles. As Ed notes, "This was turned in the movie Shattered which pretty much ruined the book."

Mine's up, as well.

NEW WORLD WRITING 16: Tillie Olsen, Thomas Pynchon, Anne Sexton, Kingsley Amis, et alia...edited by Stewart Richardson and Corlies M. Smith (LIppincott Keystone 1960)

Yvette said...

I've got one today as well, Patti. Just thought I'd mention it. :)

Yvette said...

You've finally hit on the difference between the sorts of books you like, Patti, and the sorts of books I like.
(But that dosen't mean we can't still be friends.) :)

I rarely care about the 'why' of the crime's intent except if it makes no sense to me once explained. I mean, I guess, well, maybe I do care why but only in the periphery of things. Something has got to propel the murderous intent or the crime wouldn't have been committed - so to that extent yeah, I pay attention.

But I dislike murderous angst and anxiety and don't want to read things from the point of view of the killer. So I avoid books that spend a long time SETTING UP the crime or making things as grim as possible so as to make crime unavoidable. I am from a different generation. I don't want 'realism'. I want the good guys to triumph in the end. But I still want the ending to make sense and leave few stones unturned.

Jeez, I must be in some sort of talkative mood today. Ha!

Anonymous said...

Patti - Thanks so much for including my post. :-)

Kelly Robinson said...

I'm different from Yvette in that I don't always want the good guys to win. I like to know that any outcome is possible, however bleak. It's (unfortunately) the way the world works. Thanks for collecting the links!

pattinase (abbott) said...

I guess that what I want is a certain inevitability based on character.