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Archive for July, 2009

Vanilla Ride: A Hap and Leonard novel by Joe R. Lansdale

I’m not as glad to see a new Hap and Leonard novel as I am to be able to read Lansdale’s excellent dialog between these two and with anyone else that gets in their way. Christopher Moore makes me laugh with his innane situations and character dialog – but Lansdale has Hap and Leonard, two tough guys who are either getting their butts kicked or are doing the same to others, talking trash to one another all through the story. Their dialog is hilarious, and dead-on for two guys who have known each other forever, long enough to give each other a line of bull about each and every subject.

As usual, Hap and Leonard’s warped sense of honor gets them into trouble, this time trying to free the granddaughter of their former-cop friend Marvin from her drug dealer boyfriend. They do so with a lot of fists and one bullet, then throw the boyfriends cocaine down the toilet. This gets them on the bad side of the Dixie Mafia. The boyfriend and his posse come after Hap, Leonard and Hap’s girlfriend Brett while they are trying to get Brett, Marvin and his family out of town. Lots of people get shot, all of them the bad guys. This gets the threesome thrown in jail, and then into a plot with the FBI to help one of the Dixie Mafia middle layer guys get his son back so that the middle layer guy will turn over names and places of the Dixie Mafia to the FBI. (more…)

The Angel’s Game by Carlos Ruiz Zafon

Only a small number of Seņor Zafon’s books have be translated into English, including this latest one. The translator, Lucia Graves, must be given due credit for making Zafon’s writing as enjoyable in English as I am certain they are in their native Spanish; I am attempting to read his other books in their native Spanish, slogging through with my dictionary at my side.

It is apparent that Zafon is not only an excellent writer, but enjoys the process of writing, and of reading. He once again includes the fascinating setting that is The Cemetery of Forgotten Books, where all books have a home, a biblioholics dream come true; Sempere and Sons bookstore, where the proprietor puts his love of books and finding them a home above business and revenue, plays a key role (Daniel Sempere is, of course, the main character of The Shadow of the Wind; and, from the very first paragraph, the love and pain of authorship is at the forefront: (more…)

The Day the Universe told us NOT to Gamble

My wife has won trips to the Super Bowl and the Atlanta Gran LeMans, among many other prizes. She does this with a bit of luck, but mostly dicethrough the daily hard work of an internet “system” she has perfected over the years.

So when she said we should drive to a casino in Louisiana on July 11 because it was “lucky 7/11″, and a certain casino was giving away additional prizes,  I quickly agreed. We rarely if ever go gambling, but my wife’s instincts are almost always dead on.

The universe was talking to us…just not quite in the way we were expecting.

About a month earlier, my wife’s car, an ultra-dependable BMW X5, had died at the most in-opportune time – driving to the airport to pick up my daughter, with other relatives in town for my son’s high school graduation. The BMW dealership had supposedly fixed the problem, an air sensor which when faulty made the reliable car sputter, not accelerate, then die.

As we were driving along I-10, almost to Lake Charles, my wife took over the driving. She wanted me to look up slot machine strategies: finding and playing the loose machines, how to maximize the payback percentages. She was excited and energetic; I knew she was tapped into something.

Then the trusty Bimmer died in the same way…only this time it was while we were going 70mph up the bridge leading into Lake Charles. It coughed, it sputtered, it wouldn’t accelerate…with an 18 wheeler in the rear view mirror, accelerating to make it up the bridge. (more…)

Quiet Teacher by Arthur Rosenfeld

In the 2nd Xenon Pearl martial arts thriller from Mr. Rosenfeld, Xenon is presented not as the master martial artist of movie and legend, calm and reflecting inner quiet, but as a troubled human, spiraling like his art, but out of control and searching for a path, any path to self-control. A well written and sometimes disturbing look at a man on the cusp, of madness on one side and enlightenment on the other.

Beginning shortly after the end of The Cutting Season (the 1st Xenon Pearl novel), the story picks up with Dr. Pearl still banned from neurosurgery at the hospital, and trying to take care of his girlfriend Jordan (she was attacked and is now paralyzed in spite of Pearl’s surgical skills). Xenon is still fighting his inner demons, his other selves that force him to pick up his sword and right the wrongs that he sees. His cop step-sister Wanda tries to warn him off, taking him to a prison in a ‘scared straight’ sense; Jordan tries to stop him; Xenon even tries to stop himself, by seeking out new teachers to try and take the martial arts his nanny taught him (an unnamed art, with no roots given). But he cannot quell the need to ‘fix’  problems with his sword; he manages to alienate Jordan, and anger Wanda. He also finds that some of his victims from the 1st novel have a lawyer building a case against him. (more…)

The Man of Bronze (Doc Savage #1)

The very first Doc Savage novel (unless you are counting chronologicallymanofbronze the Philip Jose Farmer authored Escape from Loki) is, as it should be, an origin story, showing how Clark Savage, Jr., returning from his Fortress of Solitude and finding his father dead and possibly murdered from a disease called the Red Death, embarks on a mission with his five fellow adventurers to find the legacy his father left him, and to track down his murderer. The trail, including clues left by his father, take him to the Central American country of Hidalgo, to the Valley of the Vanished and a tribe of Mayan Indians. Doc’s father left him legal documents stating that he has a claim there. But Savage has barriers put between him and his destiny by Mayans with red-tipped fingers, the warriors led by a villain masked as Kukulcan, the Feathered Serpent. The Secretary of State of the Republic of Hidalgo tries to deny the claim, but the President, who was sick and healed by Doc’s father, supports Savage. The group heads to the Valley of the Vanished, where the meet with King Chaac and his daughter, the lovely Princess Monja. The warriors with red-tipped fingers try to stop them from learning more from the tribe, and battle/treachery ensues. (more…)

Dusk Before the Dawn

Dusk Before the Dawn

Software By the Kilo

Software by the Kilo