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.
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
TracyK, ACCOUNTING FOR MURDER, Emma Lathen