Jul 152014
 
Junior Bender, burglar and PI of the criminals is back... And this time it's personal. When he's asked by Wattles, a criminal who sets up hits, to find out who broke into his home he ends up discovering the dead body of his old mentor, Herbie. Of course, Junior sets out to avenge his death.
Along the way he meets a colorful cast of criminals among which some great female criminals who are attractive and strong.
There's laughs, but don't be mistaken... This is no cozy! The deaths are violent, most of the plot is pretty dark.
As always I enjoyed hanging out with Junior, he's got a very engaging voice and really brings the reader right into the story. It was interesting to find out a bit more about Junior's past, finding out how he became the man he now is.

Jul 082014
 
I was very sad to see the Burke series end, but was confident Andrew Vachss would still give me the best entertainment and food for thought in fiction with his new Cross series. That series doesn't beat this new series featuring ex-Legionnare Dell though. With this guy and his love, former Médecins Sans Frontières nurse Dolly Mr. Vachss has found the perfect guides into the world of sexual violence and the advocates for justice for the abused, just like Burke and his crew were.
When a teenage girl shoots a fellow student in the hallway people try to compare it to Columbine. The girl's not talking at first, but Dell sets out to investigate her reasons for shooting the student and discovers their hometown has a dark secret.
This story is a perfect combination of court room drama and vigilante justice as Dell enlists the aid of a lawyer and a really cool and original forensic psychologist to find out the truth.
Great, dark and chilling hardboiled prose, the best dialogue Vachss has written so far and a lot to think about.
A winner.
Jun 182014
 
There's an original twist here... The main character is not a PI although he is certainly a tough guy. In fact, he's
part criminal, part hero. Ex-cop Bruno Johnson has set up an underground railway-system for abused / neglected kids together with his girlfriend and his dad. To finance this he sometimes does jobs for a criminal.
When a cop he used to work with bullies him into going after a high-profile pyromaniac / killer his life becomes even more complicated.
The writing style reminded me a bit of Walter Mosley at times, especially his newer series work.
The author has been involved with law enforcement most of his life what gives this book an extra realistic edge. I hope most of the people Mr. Putnam had to work with were a bit nicer than the cops introduced here, though.
While the plot might have been a bit tighter or more logical at times the realism and original subject matter still makes this book a winner.
Jun 032014
 
It's so good to have someone in your life you can depend on. McKenzie is one of those guys for me, even if he is fictional. Every year there's an entertaining new novel coming out that never lets me down.
In this one the cop-turned-millionaire-adventurer is asked by the daughter of an old enemy to track down her missing lover. It turns out this lover might not be who he said he was and soon McKenzie is involved with a psycho badguy, the FBI and Mexican Mafia.
Besides this main plot we see how the relationship between McKenzie and his spunky lover Nina contintues in what might be the best relationship in a PI novel since Spenser & Susan.
I read this one in no time. David doesn't exactly leave out the parts people skip like Elmore Leonard but has a fun, easy to read style that has you turning the pages quickly and the tone is so perfectly mixed between light and dark you are always in the mood for more.
Looking forward to the next one next year.
May 282014
 
VI Warshawski for the new millenium... That's how you could describe Fina Ludlow. She's the black sheep of a family of wealthy lawyers. She isn't afraid of some casual sex (with a fuckbuddy / massage therapist) or threatening people with a gun. In fact, she's a pretty tough cookie although she does get beaten up several times in this novel.
She investigates the disappearance of her sister-in-law and discovers some dirty secrets of her brother and his daughter. Secrets involving high-class callgirls and gangsters.
I liked Fina. She's a spunky girl and certainly hardboiled without becoming a man with boobs. I liked the story in general but thought the novel might have benefited from cutting some scenes. The plot just doesn't seem to ask for more than 400 pages. At 300 it might have been better paced.
May 142014
 
I await each Conway Sax novel eagerly. Not only because I love the character but also because the writing improves with every new book. And by that I don't just mean the plotting or the pacing but also the rhythm of the writing. I am fascinated with the spare, effective prose. You can't really compare it to the overly short style of James Elroy or the leave-out-the-parts-people-skip style of Elmore Leonard or Robert B. Parker. It's more like an incredible merger of those styles, infused with some James Lee Burke darkness. The start of each sentence, the way the paragraphs are structured... It's all brilliantly used to get the story across, to get Conway's feeling across. Steve Ulfelder surprises me every time, each novel better than the one that came before.
After his dangerous adventures in the last novel Conway Sax, mechanic and fixer for his AA buddies, is out on his one, having fallen out with his wife. That gives him an extra, hardboiled edge that was tempered a bit before by his marriage. He's more agressive then ever, more open to using force to help out or avenge his friends.
He manages to rescue the son of a friend who's in his AA group from a few thugs in LA. When he gets back home the friend is killed by a sniper, starting Conway's search for her killer. That gets him into conflict with some dangerous baddies such as the cool-named Lobo Soto. He finds betrayal on every corner and gets caught in a deadly trap. In fact, this deadly trap went well with Conway's nickame as the "Batman of alkies". Conway has the coolness of a superhero but is still very real and believable, not a crackshot or master detective but a tough guy who's just been through so much he's able to do the things we're not tough enough to do.
It seems inevitable we have my favorite novel of the year here already.
Apr 302014
 
I've read some pretty hardboiled books in my life but this one kinda takes the cake. No wonder this one is labeled as horror instead of crime.
Larry and Mo are retired hitmen now working as PI's. Their dog is called Curly. That sounds funny, right? Well, a laugh-fest it's not. You see, they weren't just your average hitmen but specialized in killing pedophiles in gruesome ways, survivors of sexual abuse themselves. The scenes of torture when Larry tells about his past hits are pretty shocking.
The PI's are hired to find a missing daughter and as an added bonus request to kill her abductors. What follows is a series of flashbacks, gunfights and scenes of rape and torture that make Hostel look like a Pixar movie. I figure it's also the first time I've seen bestiality appear in a PI tale.
Still, I was able to stomach the gruesome scenes thanks to some pretty crisp writing and the original premise. If you like horror as much as PI novels you might like this one. If you think Robert Crais novels are violent, just don't pick up this one. And hey, they get in a fight with killer luchadores, so that's pretty cool, right?
Apr 232014
 
I praised the first in the Joe Tyler series before so it shouldn't be a big surprise I liked this one as well. I just think Joe is one hell of a character and the idea of a lone man trying to find his daughter while helping out finding other people help their children is a great concept. Together with the sparest and most effective writing style since Robert B. Parker Jeff writers my kind of book.
This time Joe ends up in Minneapolis, brought there by a picture of his daughter with another girl. He meets a woman who helps runaways and aids her in finding the missing son of a mobster. During his stay he gets some surprising clues about his daughters whereabouts.
I loved this one, but not as much as the first novel. Part of it might have been the fact the surprise effect of this great protagonist was gone, part of it was the story seemed a bit thinner than in the first one. Nevertheless, if you like hardboiled fiction you need to read the Joe Tyler series. Period.
Apr 232014
 
I know Mark Troy's work from his Val Lyon stories that used to appear online in the past. I was eager to check out his new Ava Rome series. I love novellas, so that was an extra plus for this one.
Like my own Noah Milano Troy's Ava Rome is a security specialist, specializing in bodyguarding. In this novella she's hired to protect a wealthy young man. When she's starting to get attracted to him and a hurricane is nearing things get pretty dangerous for Ava.
I liked this one. A fast-paced quick read which did a great job at introducing Ava Rome, a very strong female lead and managed to surprise me a few times.
I'm happy to tell Mark Troy will have an Ava Rome story appear in the second Shamus Sampler, coming soon.
Apr 152014
 
As a fan of Hunsicker's previous book (the Oswald series) I was excited to read this new novel, especially since it's been quite some years since his last one.
What can be found between the pages of this one is the same dark vision of Dallas, fast-paced plot and dialogue and a fair amount of action. The tone is bit grimmer though, where the Oswald series had a fairly goofy bunch of characters this one's characters are a bit darker and less prone to quips. The action is even bigger than in Hunsicker's last Oswald book. Yeah, where the Oswald books were mysteries in the vein of Robert Crais this is a thriller in the vein of Lee Child.
Jon Cantrell is a private contractor, working for the DEA on a commission basis, which I found an interesting situation. Together with his partner and sometime-lover Piper he ends up in possession of a star witness. What follows is a road trip through Texas with several violent encounters with past and new enemies. There's some time for good characterization among the explosions and firefights though, as a result of Cantrell's dysfunctional family, ex-cop past and Piper's remarkable hobby.
All in all an action-packed and dark ride that will appeal to lovers of general action thrillers but probably less to readers craving a bit more mystery.
I will be sure to pick up the next one in this series to see what happens to Cantrell and Piper.