Tuesday, September 29, 2009
Review: SALT RIVER (Walker & Company 2007)
Author: James Sallis
SALT RIVER finds its ex-cop/ex-con/ex-therapist protagonist John Turner serving as de facto sheriff of the small town outside Memphis that he's come to think of as home (the actual sheriff, Lonnie Bates having, for all intents and purposes, retired). The town, however, has succumbed to the ravages of time and decay. Like so many other people and things in Turner's life, the place is dying.
An auto accident involving Bates' wayward son is the inciting event for this story, which (as with the previous Turner books) serves as more of an excuse for conjuring up the ghosts of Turner's past than a traditional narrative. However, a narrative is implied within the scenarios cobbled together in this book – some from Turner's experiences as a therapist, some from his time in prison, others involving various people and situations in the present.
The mystery storyline, such as it is, comes out in fits and starts. In fact, the plot details emerge almost at random, appropos perhaps for a series that emphasizes life's random qualities.
Read the rest at: http://mysterycrimefiction.suite101.com/article.cfm/review_salt_river
Saturday, September 26, 2009
Review: WHERE ANGELS FEAR (Oak Tree Press 2009)
Author: Sunny Frazier
Christy Bristol is a unique protagonist in a part of California not usually featured in crime fiction. She's an administrative assistant at an outpost of the sheriff's office in the San Joaquin Valley who – in a truly unusual twist – moonlights as an astrologist. Christy gets sucked into investigating a series of suspicious deaths linked to an exclusive and highly secretive sex club, after a wealthy woman hires her to prepare her missing husband's astrological chart.
Christy goes (somewhat reluctantly) from astrologer to investigator at the urging of her best friend and former co-worker/roommate, Lennie Watkins. Lennie left the sheriff's office to work at a detective agency and is determined to play Sam Spade, after Christy tells her about her latest astrological client. Together, as the women investigate the husband's disappearance, they stumble across a series of seemingly connected deaths – all well-to-do men and all related in some way to the Knights of Sensani, a mysterious and kinky sex club.
They follow a twisted trail leading to the club itself, the Veterans Hospital, a sly college professor whose field of study might make Kinsey blush and a string of widows, reacting in highly varied ways to their husbands' deaths. Naturally, they cross paths with the police (and Christy's own boss) along the way. These run-ins with law enforcement, along with the appearance of a fresh-faced, go-getting co-worker (Lennie's replacement) in Christy's office, create no small degree of stress for our heroine. Plus there's also Christy's DEA agent boyfriend, whose work keeps him on the road a lot, but who makes at least one untimely and awkward appearance in the story.
Read more: http://murder-mysteries.suite101.com/article.cfm/review_where_angels_fear
Tuesday, September 22, 2009
Author: James Sallis
In CRIPPLE CREEK, James Sallis' protagonist John Turner has become somewhat entrenched in the small Southern community he came to know in the previous Turner novel, CYPRESS GROVE. Turner, an ex-cop, ex-con and lapsed therapist, who helped the local sheriff solve a crime in the first book, is now a deputy with all that position's attendant status and responsibilities. Turner's also acquired a family (if only a de facto one, at first) in this sequel, including his girlfriend, attorney Val Bjorn, his staunch buddy Sheriff Lonnie Bates, the redoubtable curmudgeon and local sawbones/mortician Doc Oldham and, eventually, a blood relative.
The story is ostensibly about solving a violent crime committed against a fellow deputy and office assistant, after someone springs an arrestee from lock-up – a guy caught rolling through town drunk with around two grand stashed in his car. Turns out the arrestee's connected to some heavies from Memphis, Turner's old stomping grounds. So Turner heads back to the big city to find out who's responsible and dispense justice his own way. Turner's foray stirs up a hornet's nest of bad guys, putting him at risk for a potentially deadly payback. Thus, the novel is deftly transformed from cop story to suspense/thriller.
Saturday, September 19, 2009
Review of RAIN GODS (Simon & Schuster Audio 2009)
By guest blogger Star Lawrence
Author, James Lee Burke; read by Will Patton
Hackberry Holland is an old man, sheriff in a small South Texas town, but a former politician and womanizer. He lives on a little ranch with two frisky horses, overhung with sky, weather, and nature of every description. And you will get the descriptions, as any James Lee Burke fan knows. No tinted sunrise or bruised thunderhead leaping with lightning goes unnoticed.
But trouble has come to town and in the form of "Preacher" Jack Collins, a mercurial killer on a mission, and his mission at one point has involved machine-gunning nine Thai women brought to town for the purposes of prostitution. Hackberry dredges them up from their shallow rest behind an abandoned church and takes it personally.
The theme is "unlikely heroes," which as the book unwinds, include a young Iraq vet, his singer girlfriend, a pudgy strip club owner, his wife, and of course, Holland himself. The irony is that even "Preacher" Collins does not behave as a depraved killer should.
Will Patton is the perfect reader for Burke books, with his sleepy, Southern voice and reassuring tone even in the midst of the most depraved scenes.
No country for old men? This is the perfect country for old men who have learned a thing or two and grown some principles. Young men, too.
Star Lawrence owns a recession coping website called Do the Hopey Copey (http://hopeycopey.blogspot.com). She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tuesday, September 1, 2009
Having just announced the end of the August 10% off promotion on my book, IDENTITY CRISIS, what does Lulu do, but turn around and offer another 10% discount for another month.
So I'm happy to say that the 10% discount on my novel will continue throughout the month of September.
The code has changed, but the procedure's the same. Just go to the order page, order a copy and enter the code LULUBOOK at checkout.
And I have absolutely no idea how long Lulu intends to keep this up.
Author: James Sallis
In CYPRESS GROVE, "[a] haunted ex-cop and therapist trying to put the past behind him gets drawn into a small town murder investigation."
I think this book represents literary crime fiction at its finest (or at least it's among the finest, anyway).