Monday, December 5, 2016

#8 December, 2016- End of the Year, what's worth the reading effort?

Hope the year has been reasonably good and you, my reader (if such exists), has some quiet time to put feet up and get down with a good book. Several new books by that stalwart thriller writer, Thomas Perry, caught my eye recently. Perry, the author of the "Butcher's Boy" and Jane Whitefield series, introduces two married couples, Sid and Veronica Abel, who retired from the LAPD and are private investigators and Nicole and Ed Hoyt who are very well-paid assassins for hire. When the body of a black man, who is a scientist for an LA company, turns up in the LA storm sewer with two bullets in his brain and the police case is very cold after a year, the Abels are hired to investigate. And when their investigation leads to a very serious attempt on their lives and home, they try to tackle the assassins. Both couples are very interesting and the plot ticks along as they all discover who is paying the Hoyts and why the man had to die.

Perry's latest will be published in January and is certainly worth the wait. "The Old Man" is Dan Chase, a 60s something widower living quietly with his two big dogs in rural Vermont, but an observation on the street while walking his dogs sets him off. Thirty-five years earlier,as a military intelligence officer in the middle east, Chase was supposed to deliver a large amount of cash to a rebel leader, but he didn't and now enemies from overseas and within the US government want an accounting and his life. But Chase has skills,many complete identities, millions of legitimately earned dollars squirreled away in accounts around the country and world, a daughter who is privy to his story, and his two, big dogs who have their own very special skills.

I was in New Orleans in September-- and if you think you know humidity, forget it...NOLA works in humidity like Rembrandt worked in oil-- for the Bouchercon Mystery Writers Convention and it was excellent. I picked up the Perry book and several others awaiting reading, but I had to read Julie Smith's "New Orleans Noir: The Classics" part of the Akashic Press series. The 18 stories are presented chronologically from one written in 1843 about a strange, slave-related tradition to several post-Katrina period stories. All are set within the fascinating neighborhoods of New Orleans and are illustrated on a map of the city. Authors included in this collection are Kate Chopin, O Henry, Eudora Welty and Tennessee Williams, Shirley Ann Grau, Ellen Gilchrist, James Lee Burke, Nevada Barr and Ace Atkins. Almost as good as walking through the Quarter at sunrise!

A truly amazing piece of writing is Patrick Hoffman's "White Van" which presents Emily Rosario, a drug-hustling woman of San Francisco's Tenderloin district who grabs a chance to spend some time with a Russian businessman. When she awakens days later in a drug-induced stupr, the Russian has been joined by a woman and a hard looking young man, Emily takes part in a bomb-laden bank robbery that goes wrong, but walks away with the money. A SFPD detective takes on the case as the solution to all his problems and the story scrapes along with no redeeming characters but with a crackling plot that forces attention. Great!

Finally, Patrick Millikin, a bookseller at Scottsdale's Poisoned Pen Bookstore, and an aspiring editor has collected 15 great stories from the A-List of writers in "The Highway Kind:Tales of Fast Cars, Desperate Drivers and Dark Roads. A Labor of Love for him and his authors, these stories are the REAL thing about cars and the road. Contributors include Michael Connelly, George Pelecanos, C.J.Box, Diana Gabaldon, Ace Atkins, Wallace Stroby, James Sallis, Joe R. Lansdale, Gary Phillips, Willy Vlautin, and Luis Alberto Urrea. Not a Loser in the Bunch.