We were on a smallish trip earlier this week: we went to Denmark, where we've never been. We visited Legoland, the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art (highly, highly recommendable) and the vintage Tivoli entertainment park in the centre of Copenhagen. It was a fun trip, for most part, but I'm not going to write about it. Instead, in the spirit of this blog, I'll say something about the books I read during the trip. I had nothing with me but my Kindle. I download only free e-books, since I don't have a credit card with which I could buy e-books, so I'm dependent on what comes free. Even with this approach, I've managed to accumulate a pretty good selection of new noir and hardboiled writing, with some westerns and horror thrown in. Mentioned should also be some classic noir stuff that's coming from publishers like Prologue Books.
Okay, to the books. Peter Brandvold's better known as a western writer, but I've never read any of his books in that genre, but they seem quite good. I read his short novel Paradox Falls that I think is mislabelled as horror. It's more like a suspense thriller, with a possible serial killer hunting some hikers in the Colorado mountains. The book reads pretty fast, but the ending is a bit abrupt. There was also some interesting stuff on being a writer that seemed a bit autobiographic, as the main character, a sympathetic young man yearning for his early love affair, makes his living writing sex westerns. Paradox Falls could've been published as a cheap paperback in the early eighties, and I mean this as a good thing.
Allan Guthrie's Kill Clock was even a shorter book, a novella-length tale of Guthrie's occurring character, Pearce. Guthrie tells his brutal tale with short sentences, but also manages to make Pearce a sympathetic character in all his bruteness and tendency to sudden bursts of violence. Kill Clock also has a good plot for a novella. Recommended quite highly.
Paul Levine's Last Chance Lassiter is the first Jake Lassiter story I've ever read, as I'm not very keen on courtroom thrillers. But this one was so funny and entertaining I'd be willing to try more of Levine's work. Very fluent writing, very smooth plotting, some quite funny wisecracking.
J. David Osborne runs Broken River Books that's a very interesting crime and horror fiction outfit specializing in edgy and bizarre neo-noir. Osborne's own short story collection Our Blood In Its Own Circuit is full with, well, edgy and bizarre stuff that's not easily labelled. I read the first three stories on our flight back, and two of them were very strong: the titular story is about Mexican cops who bathe in the blood of chickens, and the western story "Amends Due, West of Glorieta" is full of shocking violence and characters straight out of a Cormac McCarthy novel. Check out this free Broken River Books sampler!
I also started Gerard Brennan's novella The Point, a brutally realistic story about two brothers whose life goes to hell when they move to a small town on the seaside and the other one starts dealing stolen cars. The plot could be more original, but Brennan's clipped style makes it interesting. I'm only halfway in the middle, so there might be some surprises coming.