Friday, June 22, 2018

Friday's Forgotten Books, June 22, 2018

THE WALKAWAY by Scott Phillips (recommended by Jay Stringer)

THE WALKAWAY was literally a forgotten book for me. At least, it was until recently. I had it on my bookshelf, right next to THE ICE HARVEST which I’m a big fan of.
But something about the follow up stopped me from cracking it open. Maybe it was because it was about Gunther. Really? Of all the characters to follow up with?
He didn’t seem to have any pull for me, not compared to all the other characters that had been drawn so vividly in the first book. More fool me.
One of the strengths of Scott’s writing is that he can take that and make you feel foolish. He invests character into every part that he writes, no matter how small, so that there is something there to return to and draw you in. At this point, I couldn’t imagine the book without Gunther.
It’s a complex book to describe, but a very simple one to read. It spans two time periods, one in the 1950’s and one in the 1980’s. The former is a deliciously messed up slice of noir; it has pimps, addicts, sleaze and violence. It has a sex lottery, and a sociopathic soldier who wants apiece of the action. In the middle of this, Gunther Fahnstiel fins himself trying his best to stop everything going to hell.
The 1980’s builds on this story, but is a separate narrative. Gunther got very lucky at the end of THE ICE HARVEST, but that luck didn’t solve all his problems. The end of the decade finds him living in a care home, fighting a losing battle to keep his memory. Through all of that, though, he is still trying to put things right. He knows that he has something out there somewhere that will bring back his wife and help his friends. He just can’t remember what it is or where he left it.
I can’t think of many, if any, books that manage to combine so many dark noir elements with a real heart and tenderness. This has some real heart of darkness stuff, make no mistake, but it boils down to a very simple and moving love story.
It tends to get billed as both the sequel and the prequel to THE ICE HARVEST. And sure, it is both of those. But that doesn’t really do the book justice, it stands alone as one of the best crime novels of this decade or any other.

Frank Babics, KEEPING HOUSE, Michael Blumlein
Mark Baker, K IS FOR KILLER, Sue Grafton
Les Blatt, KEEP IT QUIET, Richard Hull
Elgin Bleecker, HORNS FOR THE DEVIL, Louis Malley
Brian Busby, DEEPER IN THE FOREST, Roy Daniels
Martin Edwards, GO LOVELY ROSE, Robert Barnard
Curt Evans, The Crime Novels of Sara Elizabeth Mason
CrossExamingCrime, A MURDER IS ANNOUNCED, Agatha Christie
Richard Horton, The Nemesis from Terra, by Leigh Brackett/Collision Course, by Robert Silverberg
Jerry House, WEEPING MAY TARRY, Raymond Jones and Lester DelRey
George Kelley, YEAR'S BEST SCIENCE FICTION NOVELS 1953, Bleiler and Dikty
Margot Kinberg, PLUGGED, Eoin Colger
Rob Kitchin, BONE ISLAND MAMBO, Tom Corcoran
Kate Laity, TWO FACES OF JANUARY, Patricia Highsmith
B.V. Lawson, NINE COACHES WAITING, Mary Stewart
Steve Lewis, BORROWER OF THE NIGHT, Elizabeth Peters
Todd Mason, ESQUIRE'S WORLD OF HUMOR edited by Lewis W. Gillenson ; TRUMP: THE COMPLETE COLLECTION (ESSENTIAL KURTZMAN, V. 2) edited by Denis Kitchen; THE BEST AMERICAN COMICS 2015 edited by Jonathan Lethem and Bill Kartalopoulos (
J.F. Norris, THE ANGEL OF DEATH, Philip Lorraine
James Reasoner, THE MELTING DEATH, Curtis Steele
Richard Robinson, What I Read, Part 9 
Gerard Saylor, THE LIKENESS, Tana French
Kerrie Smith, THE LIAR IN THE LIBRARY, Simon Brett
Kevin Tipple, THORNS ON ROSES, Randy Rawls
TracyK, THE BECKETT FACTOR, Michael David Anthony


Anonymous said...

The Walkaway sounds like a good read, Patti. Thanks, as always, for doing this (and for including my post).

Todd Mason said...

I'm up and at 'em! beat me to posting!

K. A. Laity said...

I got one this week!

Jeff Meyerson said...

It's funny. I read (and really liked) THE ICE HARVEST, but can't remember reading the sequel.

J F Norris said...

Very late today... Can you add me to the list please? Grazie!

The Angel of Death by Philip Loraine

TracyK said...

I liked THE ICE HARVEST, although I am not used to reading books that bleak. I should find a copy of THE WALKAWAY. That review has convinced me it would be worthwhile.

Charles Gramlich said...

I'm amazed at folks who do this every week. I can't keep up.