Thursday, December 31, 2015

The Cunning Linguist (Troy Conway, 1970)

And now for something completely different! Why not finish this year in some style?

Won't even try to analyze this. Cannot be done, it is indescribable. And my vocabulary and my sense of humor are both beneath this little masterpiece of craziness. Just take a couple of minutes and go through the facts section below. Satisfaction guaranteed!

Not even sure to call it a guilty pleasure but in any case this deserves five out of five stars for its sheer insanity. Cannot believe this stuff was actually written. And published. And that it followed 31 novels in this series!

So happy new year 2016! I'm off to eBay to buy myself a gift. Yes, you've guessed it - more of the Coxman's adventures. They are a bit pricey but I have no doubt that this will be money well spent! Stay tuned for more of the Rod's whipping...

5/5

Facts:

Hero
I am a Wisconsin Whoremaster, after all is said and done.
But still a spy, for all of that. A Coxeman, a secret agent, a transatlantic James Bond with wheels on. A very hard working spy, to tell the truth and shame the Commies. Nobody had accomplished more in so short a time as Rod Damon.

"...the leading sexologist in the universe. Since I am barely thirty, and am well-hung and uncomplicated, I am the cock of the walk. And rightly so. I have made thousands of female truth-seekers happy."
 "No man is bigger than I am. Nor as insatiable. I simply can never get my fill. My women have to quit on me long before I do."

But thinking this over I'm reluctant to consider that probably Rod's rod is the actual hero. Only that it's not called a rod or something as vulgar as dick or cock or even penis. Instead it ranges from the good old fashioned "family jewels", "shipping department", "heavy artillery", "secret weapon", "instrument of desire" to somehow more daring "shaft", "whip" and "ploughboy" to slightly bizarre "glittering kingpin" and "Great White Waler". Among others...

Or simply "my greatest gift to womankind"!

Sally Parker had stretched  the truth a bit in her gratitude for the kicks we had had. Let the truth be known. I'm not fifteen inches, bless her two-coloured eyes.
Fourteen and three quarters is nearer the fact.

Location
Like The Devil's Cockpit this one also takes place in Budapest and once again for some unexplained reason Red Commies are plotting against USA on Hungarian soil (btw - Hungary is frequently refereed to as "Over There"). But Rod hasn't done his home work in geography because he flies to Munich and then drives a small Fiat for 12 hours to Budapest. 

And it seems like Mr Conway had also missed a lesson or two in geography since Rod was able to see Austrian Alps from Budapest (app 400 kilometers away). Not sure if he had been aware of a political situation during the cold war either because Rod was able to cross the Hungarian border pretending to be a traveling salesman (selling bras) on his way to a convention in Budapest. 

But I'd better stop, this is just some needles and pointless hair splitting. We all know by now that Rod has plenty of other talents, right? Fuck geography, who needs it!

Body count
Only 6 which is probably a record low for a super-spy adventure novel. And there's a good (big?) reason for such a low total:

I'm not much for guns. I think better without them. Anyway, my other gun is quicker and far more reliable. I definitely do not like killing people. Any kind of people. Maybe that's another reason I am one of the world's greatest lovers.

None of the killings are special but they do make Magda even hornier so the orgies that follow them are unforgettable!

Object of desire:
Albanians (?!) working for China (!?) trying to stir shit between USA and Russia:

"Say, a colder cold war, where the Soviets will eternally worry about the U.S. and not about China nibbling away at her Siberian border? Yes, that is even better, I think. It is devoutly to be desired."

Colder cold war!? Don't you just love this stuff? 
 
Dames
First and foremost there's Magda. For her detailed and juicy description I would suggest you read the whole page 40. But some short ones below will give you a starting point: 

She was the Lust and the Bust and the Power and the Glory. All in a nice wholesome blonde package.

There was nothing I could ask of her body that it could not perform. She was in a word - magnificent. Magda the Magnificent. Magda the Great. She might have been a female Rod Damon. That's how good she was at being a woman.


My kind of woman, all right. Her raison d'ĂȘtre, like mine, was Sex!

And then there's mysterious Siri and we come to the only part of the Cunning Linguist I didn't like. Because you see, Siri is a Lesbian (yes, with a capital L) and (as you would expect) Rod's mission is to convert her into a "real" woman. Which turns into a bit nasty misogynistic crap to be honest...

Whatever Siri was or might turn out to be , personality-wise, there was nothing wrong with her in the physical department. In a word - ring-adinga-ding! ... was a dream out of Orgyville... Her face was an oval of amazement. A remarkably chiseled set of features, as if they had been chipped out by a Michelangelo. 

But finishes of the two scenes (each one several pages long) in which Rod has sex with them for the first time are unforgettable

Magda (after she has been "demolished sexually"): 
"Merry me... Never have I - you must whip me again and again. I want you to whip me twenty-four hours a day." 

Siri (after her "Venus Mound had been bombarded with monumental force and savagery"):  
"You will stay with me... and we shall live happily ever after."

And in case you're confused about that Magda's whipping, do not be alarmed! With a couple of exceptions (again, both funny as hell) there's no fucking. But we do have "whipping", "scourging", "tattooing" (!?!), "jouncing", "pumping", "love-humping", etc, etc

Blackouts
nope, unless we count an orgasm as a momentary loss of consciousness
 
Title: 
I know what you're thinking but stop your dirty mind! Rod is of course cunning and he speaks several languages (Hungarian - the "goulash language" is one of them) but the title is about Siri. She operates the "Transmitter X" which intercepts radio signal of "Voice of America" (don't ask) and uses her linguistic skills to impersonate and alter voices of the UN speakers (I told you not to ask!).

"This Siri. A cunning linguist, a great scientist, a sex fiend, and a bit of a maniac. It was frightening. I stared down at her  with fresh respect."

Edition:  
Flamingo Paperback, 1973

Cover
Rod and Magda (we can tell this for sure because Magda is blonde and Siri is dark). It's sexy but it could be better (as all the American editions covers are). For one thing, Rod's face looks stupid. And he uses a gun only once (he uses The Gun frequently though!) . Plus I don't recall Magda wearing a bikini...

Notable cover blurbs: 
No blurbs, but story summary on the back cover describes Rod as a "Capitalism's favorite tool" which is a spot on!
 
Cool lines:  
The whole damn thing is infinitely quotable. At some point I simply stopped taking notes because it took me too long to actually read it. Here are some of the finest:

As much as they wanted me, they wondered how they could stand up to such a man. I smiled to relieved their fears.

[after the whole chapter of fucking the triples on their birthday]
Nobody, man or woman, on their twenty-first birthday, has ever blown out a bigger candle.

I stepped out of the shorts and shirt and let the horse escape from the stable. Never have I seen a woman's eyes try to pop that much out of her head.

I could tell she'd been to the races before. She'd obviously just never had a jockey as big as me. Poor denied child.

I continued like a maniac. I was mad but like Hamlet, there was method in it..

I only hoped they they wouldn't shoot me below the waistline. The undertaker that gets me ought to get the thrill of his life.

We moved as a unit and produced barrels and barrels of oil. 

One thing I would never do is kill a rabbit. Or a bull or a rooster.
Like me, they have far too much to live for.

She looked good enough to eat. I intended to do so if the opportunity presented itself.

For a woman in her thirties, I must have been something not to be believed or confused with reality.

"Yes, it is big. Very big. But can you use it? A gun is only as good as the man who uses it." 
"You saw Shane too, huh?" I bowed. "Like him, I am the best gunslinger in my field."

Time plays tricks on you, specially screwing time.

Little things can mean a lot. Big little things, of course.


She shifted her snake pit to accommodate the sliding majesty of that with which no other man is blessed.


But speaking sexually, I was my own thermonuclear fallout. Ask Siri, ask Magda, ask anybody. No explosion they would ever encounter would match the galvanic, bombastic assault I was now delivering for their education, edification and exhilaration. I was slamming them them with all the slam at my command.

And for the grand finale let me leave you with a list of Rod's sexual techniques. Each and every one of them totally insane (not sure if I got half of them). His sexologist books are unfortunately long out of print (apparently he has sold over three million copies) so if you're interested into a particular one, send me a message and I'll be happy to transcribe it and send you the details. Or even better - go find this book and check them all yourself! You won't regret it...
  • Toronto Trot
  • The Damon Drop
  • The Wheelbarrow
  • Nokama's Nip
  • The Texas Twister
  • The Grand Central Getaway
  • The Rear March
  • Japanese Rope Trick
  • Lost Horizon
  • Bookend Play
  • Yankowski's Ploy
  • The Tent,  
  • Dealey's Gambit
  • Trots, Gallops, Walks
  • 178 Positions
  • Samson's Northwest Passage
  • Magda's Ploy 

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

The Lady Kills (Bruno Fischer, 1951)

Two acts. The first one - as predictable as it can be - is pretty cool. Right away, on the very first page, our hero tells us that "already I was being bewildered by her; and it would be years through passion and heartbreak and blood, before I would stop" and a couple of pages later her father warns him that "she won't be good for you, son". And so, as the title has already hinted, we have a femme fatale. What follows is the formulaic conflict of the free press vs the evil alliance of politicians and mobsters. Plotted nicely with suspension and body count rising slowly but surely. But when it reaches its peak, when our hero gets properly fucked over (literally and figuratively), it digresses from its formulaic path. It just stops.

Instead of fighting back, Simon simply packs his shit and leaves the town. And goes back to live with his parents! For five fucking years!! And then he returns to this small town. And the second act follows.

Okay, so he's no hard-boiled bad-ass tough guy. But by now he has become the owner of the local daily newspaper and one would expect that he would turn into some sort of a relentless crusader and do some serious Pulitzer prize winning type investigative journalism in order to expose the bad guys and win back his girl. Well, one would be wrong. At least I was. He falls for another girl instead and the whole thing plays out more like a melodrama than hard-boiled noir novel.

Which was little disappointing but I didn't mind that much. It's still cool. Cover blurb quote from New York Times promises "a nice balance of physical and cerebral action" and I tend to agree with it but would add that neither of those are delivered sufficiently. A twist or two wouldn't hurt as far as the cerebral aspect goes and a bit raunchier sex than simple "domestic bliss" (see 'cool lines') would make physical action part more interesting.

4/5

Facts:

Hero
Simon Field, initially the editor, then promoted to a reporter and finally the owner of the Indale Star daily newspaper.

Location
Fictitious (I think and Google maps confirms it) small town called Indale

Body count
4, not counting the old dog King and also not counting George Antler (cancer)

Dames:
Beth Antler: "I've never yet had trouble handling a man, whatever his age" [Fatale]

As two dimensional greedy and possessive bitch as she is supposed to be it's kind of unusual that parts of the novel in which she appears actually breathe with life and vitality. I think Fischer must have really liked writing about this girl.

Blackouts
None, but it's pretty close. Simon gets beaten by a couple of  thugs who leave him afterwards "crumpled to a miasma of sickness" but next paragraph simply concludes the action with "Time passed. Gradually I realized that I was alone in the street.
 
Title: 
"You enjoy killing, " her father had once told her.

Edition:  
Gold Medal original, Third printing, March 1958

Cover
Super cool and seductive. It depicts Beth (minus her eternal cigarette) in a scene in which she uses her feminine charms to get something from our poor Simon. A scene which will later reoccur several times in different variations.

I found her waiting for me in the narrow upstairs hall, and she was wearing nothing but a Turkish towel and her eternal cigarette. A big Turkish towel wrapped completely about her from under her armpits to halfway down her thighs and held together by one hand at her bosom. It covered her as adequately as a short robe. 

Beautiful illustration, I love that vortex in the background. It's definitely in the top ten of my modest paperbacks collection. Was really surprised that Google search didn't find it (came up with the original Gold Medal edition #148 which is also cool). Surely this one was done by some famous old school artist?

Cool lines:
"I think that few men can be rational under the assault of luscious female flesh." [The Coolest!]

She moved her mouth up to mine.
After a minute I said lightly, "One thing is sure: I haven't a frigid wife."
"Again so soon, dear?"
"Again and again and forever. There, that's it, Mrs. Field, you're doing fine."
"I feel so brazen, Mr. Field."
"This isn't brazen. This is domestic bliss. Sweetheart!"
"Oh, Simon, my husband!"

Friday, December 25, 2015

Made in Miami aka Lust is a Woman (Charles Willeford, 1958)

Boy meets girl. And falls for her big time. Which is unfortunate since she's already in love with herself. But this won't be Ralph's biggest problem. The thing is that Maria is not the smartest girl on this planet and she doesn't exactly think twice before deciding to progress her current career as a NYC secretary into more lucrative one as a Miami prostitute. Drama ensues.

Loads of drama, way too much in my opinion. Not that I have much against the genre and have in fact really enjoyed Willeford's early non-crime novels Pick-Up and High Priest of California. Both of them excellent character studies written in his distinguished style. But this one is simply extraordinary plain. Not good, not bad, just... well, it's just ordinary. It never really takes off and grabs you. Maria and McKay are characterized decently but our hero is pretty dull and (probably intentionally) pathetic, third person narration that alternates between Ralph and Maria slows down the pace and takes away suspense, dialogues are somewhat corny and let's not forget that the villain's henchman is called Tarzan. I kid you fucking not!

I don't know, must have missed something or misinterpreted the whole thing. Was this novel Willeford's way of saying fuck you to America 50s conformity, consumerism, materialism, conservatism... Or is it about young artist going (literally) crazy in this surreal environment? I couldn't say but I did remind myself again to finally read his biography in which I'll probably find the answer.

2.5/5

Facts:

Hero
Art student Ralph, working in Miami over summertime as a bellboy.

Location
Miami

Body count:  
"These aren't dead people," Ralph said quietly. "They can't be. This one is Gila monster, that one is an alligator. The brown one inside the door is a toad, and she - she's a black widow spider."

Dames
Maria stepped in close to the full-length mirror reflection, pressed her body against it, and kissed her bright red mouth against itself.
"I love you," she said. She really meant it.

"Will you be all right?"
"Sure. And thanks loads, Helen."
"I'll see you out in the arena in a few minutes. Just let that blank mind of yours stay blank."
"That's easy for me - I'm pretty dumb anyway."
"That goes for all of us, sweetie."

Blackouts
Poor Ralph tries to storm into pimp's house to rescue his darling but he gets knocked off right away:

A searing white light flashed inside his head, his knees buckled and, as he fell forward, the fingernails of his lifeless hand made a faint scratching noise as they raked the wooden door. 

Title: 
Not sure why publisher decided to change the original title since this story could have happened in any big city. Lust is a Woman sounds way cooler and it's also more accurate.

Edition: 
Point Blank Express, an imprint of Wildside Press, 2008. 

Cover
Again, nothing special about it. Don't really like it, looks a bit plain and too much like some psychedelic 60s novel cover or movie poster. By Olva design.

Notable cover blurbs: 
The usual one by Elmore Leonard (and one that got me hooked on Willeford btw): "No one writes a better crime novel than Charles Willeford".

Nothing to disagree about it but unfortunately this one hardly classifies as a crime novel...
 
Cool lines:  
"A young man can't be too careful, you know. Lot of things going around Florida these days. Asian Flu, sputniks, wheels, nuts and bolts, athlete's foot, old retired couples without driver's licenses..." [The Coolest!]

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Wax Apple (Donald E. Westlake writing as Tucker Coe, 1970)

Structured somewhat similarly to the first one of the Tobin series Kinds of Love, Kinds of Death. Once again our disgraced hero must pause his garden wall building and investigate a crime in an unusual surroundings. But nothing as exciting as a mob underworld this time - he needs to find an injurer in some local sanatorium. An injurer? A person who planted a few nasty booby traps in sanatorium that have severely injured several patients.

Again his investigation is based on a list of suspects and he methodologically checks them one by one. At least he tries to. But to be honest, he has no idea what to do. Three quarters through he gets so lost that out of the boredom even starts reading some psychoanalytical books. It never gets explicitly confirmed whether those books have enlightened him but he finally does get an idea!

Everybody thought that was a fine idea. At least, everybody thought it was an idea, and it gave us something to do, something to think about, and that was fine.

So what's this brilliant idea you might ask?
- Let's search the suspects' rooms to get some clues.

Mitch and his team of amateurish detectives made up of two doctors and one trustworthy patient promptly perform this room-by-room search and... find nothing. So still no breakthrough. In fact they remain totally clueless until the very last ten pages before the end. Which got to be some kind of a record in crime novels. But even if I'm wrong here, this super incompetency isn't something I'll remember Wax Apple by. It's the grand finale, the mighty round-up and culprit revealing scene which probably still makes good old Agatha spinning in her grave.

By now our hero has somehow managed to narrow down his list of suspects to the last six and decided to wrap up the case during the group therapy session with all of them rounded up. Even though he still doesn't know who the guilty party is, he is determined to get to the bottom of this mystery. Somehow. His first technique is to reveal to the group that the killer left him a note... and then to observe suspects' facial expressions when reacting to this shocking news. But nothing. Then he tries to bullshit them by pretending that he knows who the killer is but lacks the evidence. This bluff also doesn't pay off. As a last resort he starts pleading to a culprit to reveal him/herself and surrender. Which of course doesn't happen either... so there's nothing left to do and session continues without anyone even mentioning the crime!!! But eventually Mitch gets another brilliant idea (pretty sure that those books did help him on this occasion) and breaks the case.

I like unconventional and unintentionally funny anti-climax endings (this one isn't too bad) but this crap is simply pathetic.

150 pages of small print without much white space at all. Endless dull descriptions sometimes broken into no more than a couple of paragraphs per page. Poor dialogues that don't help at all in bringing characters from their comatose state. Uninspired and simplistic plot... It was just a struggle to finish this one.

You never know with Westlake. The last one of his I read was "The Comedy is Finished" few months ago and really liked it. He is the Grand Master but I think he was too prolific and some of his stuff is very mediocre. Like this one which is memorable only for its crazy ending. Skip the whole thing or just read the 24th chapter.

2/5

Facts:

Hero
Mitch Tobin, an ex-cop

Location
Little town called Kendrick - "two hours from New York and a hundred million miles from home"

Body count: 1
Dames: /

Blackouts
yes, almost immediately upon his arrival he becomes another victim of the injurer when he falls down the stairs and breaks his arm: "When I hit I heard the dry quick snap in my right forearm. And nothing more."

Title: 
Mitch is admitted into the conservatory in a "Shock Corridor" manner. Undercover, pretending to be a patient:

"But I was in neither camp, really. The man in the brown suit would no more accept me as a policeman than these people would accept me as a resident. I was a wax apple in both bowls."

Edition: 
No Exit Press, 1989

Cover
Generic but pretty cool, I like the vivid colors on a white background. But motive is totally unrelated to the story.

Cool lines:/

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Nick Carter - The Devil's Cockpit (Manning Lee Stokes, 1967)

After I'd read Ice-Trap Terror I started to check out the back covers of Nick Carter paperbacks. Not that I've been expecting to find some plot that would surpass the one from Ice-Trap in its insanity (nothing can) but it's always fun to read about some crazy doomsday machines nearly finishing off our civilization unless Killmaster is there to save us all. The Devil's Cockpit is not one of them, it merely promises a total "destruction of the West". Which in itself wouldn't be all that interesting if the means of such destruction wouldn't be nothing more than a simple pornography. I quote:

Somewhere in the dark pit of Budapest, a highly trained group was producing thousands of reels of pornographic propaganda for a terrifying, barely human reason - total destruction of the West!

It's a bit vague and intriguing as a good blurb is supposed to be. Since sex still sells in my book I had no troubles departing from three euro coins. Wise decision this proved to be indeed!

Needs to be said though that this sex angle doesn't get much clearer. What is clear is that yellow commies are shooting skin flicks in Budapest (?) using some ex-Hollywood actress as their star. Three actresses (models/prisoners?) die after and not during the filming so I don't think these are snuff movies. Especially since they are shown to millions of Chinese comrades (which btw poses the question how can that corrupt Americans?). I probably did miss something and it's not really important because they are also guilty of another, much more serious corruption - flooding America with smutty comics based on children cartoons:

One could not, without extreme revulsion, accept the perverted sexual antics of Blondie and Dagwood, Maggie and Jiggs, or watch the seduction of a willing Orphan Annie by a wolflike Daddy Warbucks. Yes, they had even stooped to that!

So Nick Carter aka Killmaster - a man who would pursue, avenge and destroy - is mighty pissed off and he sets off to Budapest. But before he can go behind the iron curtain he needs to make a stop-over in London to do some investigation and prepare his plan. Which is cool because I don't like the usual excessive globetrotting in these man adventure/spy novels. Here we simply go to England and Hungary (not counting Vietnam from where he had just returned before he was called on this 'porn' mission). Anyways, London episode is pretty cool and surprisingly non-violent as he only leaves a single fresh corpse behind him. A fat fucking German pimp for whom we don't feel sorry about! And stage is now ready for some serious action.

He chuckled to himself now. The worst was over - the tension of waiting. Now it would begin. This was what he had been born for, no matter how much he told himself he hated it. Action! Now, Killmaster was at work, one man on his own with only his hands and a few primitive weapons. But they would be enough.

We are already on the page 100 now and at this point Mr Stokes probably realized he was approaching his word count too fast so he just wrapped it up. Action is not even broken into decent chapters and if I remember correctly a single chapter towards the end covers Killmaster's capture, torture and escape and (of course) killing a bunch of bad guys along the way. Furious stuff. My little objection to it would be that we don't really get to know the bad guys, not even how high they are in their corrupted and immoral hierarchy. Not that I cared that much for a detailed characterization but at least crazy (and tragic) Mona would deserve additional paragraph or two.

But it's still great fun. Plot is just crazy enough, action is balanced perfectly with some brain/leg work, sex descriptions are unforgettable and it's cool too. Front cover blurb from Buffalo News claims that "Nick Carter out-bonds James Bond!" but I would be a bit careful with such statement. The thing is that not everything goes according to Killmaster's plans. In fact more often than not his plans go to shit - he gets stuck in London almost abandoning the whole operation, after spending a million dollar on saving some girls their cover gets blown after one hour, Pam gets abducted and Nick himself is caught like an amateur when tailing some bad guys.

Could use a bit of a dialogue rewrite and few additional badass one-liners but nevertheless, it's pretty cool. I'll definitely check out more of the Lee Stokes' Nick Carter!

3.5/5

Facts:

Hero
Nick Carter, senior-ranking Killmaster for AXE, and it was he, as much as any single man alive, who had thus far managed to keep the planet in one piece.

He probably was the best agent in the world. He was even better when goaded by the cold anger.
[Even better than the best?!?]

Along with the wolf and tiger, Nick Carter also possessed a fair share of bloodhound.

...has extraperipheral vision - it saved his life more than once.
...drinks coffee as black as Satan's dreams.
...is oriented as well as a compass 
...can stay under water for over four minutes

Location
London, Budapest

Body count
8 (one of the main henchmen Kojak with Jekyll/Hide kind of split personalities/identities is taken into account only once)

Dames:
Florence Vorhees:

He kept his promise not to spare her. He had long been a devotee of yoga and his old guru had taught him many tricks, some of them sexual. So Nick, who was by nature a highly sexed man, had learned how to add tremendous endurance and iron discipline  to an already bursting vitality.

Florence Vorhees learned about men that night. The first thing she learned was that she had never known a real man before, in spite of a record of promiscuity that would shocked her parents to death.
After a time it began to be too much, yet she kept her bargain and did not scream for mercy. She knew she would not get it. And she did not really want it.

Pamela Haworth, ex-hooker now Carter's recruit for an AXE operator:

"Darling, I think I'm in love with you. And that does make me a fool, doesn't it?"
... 
Nick kissed her, then pulled the robe around her and fastened it. "You are not only a terrible brute," she whispered, "but you are also inhuman. Where do you get such self-control?"
"Later," said Nick. "Later, I'll show you something about self-control."

And let's not forget poor old crazy Mona Manning:

Her face filled the screen. She was a beautiful woman. Or would have been, in repose. On the screen now, she looked like Medusa gone mad.

Blackouts
Yes, but not much to write about - he simply gets hit in the back of the head with the butt of a tommy gun and then chapter ends.

Title: 
It's never explicitly stated but I would guess that the devil's cockpit would be one of the old fortresses lined along Danube where Chinese shoot porn movies.

Edition:  
Tandem, First printing 

Cover
Okay, but not nearly sexy enough! Girl lying on the sofa looks really hot, but most of the space is covered with text...

Cool lines:  
[on the train from Vienna to Budapest]
At Nick's laugh, someone several seats ahead had turned to stare at him. They were about to enter Hungary, and that was no laughing matter.

This character, Nick told himself, is a real character![The Coolest!]

Monday, November 16, 2015

The Caper of the Golden Bulls (William P. McGivern, 1966)

We all know about the Spanish fiesta and people "running the bulls". But I'll bet you didn't know that this insanity runs for three days (at least the one in Pamplona does) and that each morning at six o'clock "race" starts with a couple of explosions detonated at the nearby river. The first one signals the runners that bulls had left the corral and the next one informs them to better move their asses since bulls had formed something called encierro and they are running towards them.

Our hero Peter did his homework and he knows all about these things. And how can he not since he used to be a legendary thief nicknamed Black Dove famous for masterminding capers? Good old black dove is now a restaurant owner but is forced out of retirement by his ex-associate Angela who blackmails him into planning and executing the "one last job": stealing the priceless jewels from the bank located in the middle of the city of Pamplona! It's a monumental task but he gets a tantalizingly amorphous idea and comes up with a plan that essentially involves blasting into bank's vault with explosions carefully timed to coincide with the ones used in ceremony.

Which makes sense, right? I mean, drunken mob of several thousands can never tell a difference between the explosions that were set few hundred meters (or more) apart. And both police and bank security staff are too stupid and incompetent to check the bank's premises every once in a while. But anyways, Peter seems to be so enthusiastic about this whole silly folklore that he even incorporates cabezudo into his plan. Cabezudos are of course those giant costumed figures with creepy faces and master Peter gets one made to help him make a loot hand-over. Because you see, instead of taking a loot with him and handing it over to Angela later, it's much more convenient and risk free to hand a bag full of diamonds to a giant costumed figure (with a creepy face) passing the bank's entrance exactly at the same time when the job is finished.

And yeah, after each explosion, he and his companeros must run along with the bulls...

Do I need to go on? Actually, I think I do because it wouldn't be fair to finish this text without mentioning Peter's fiancee Grace who herself used to be some sort of an uber thief (her nick was Black Diamond). Their romance scores perfect 10 on a corny-meter (they keep calling each other "dear" and "darling") which is bad enough but really irritating stuff is 100+ pages where she doesn't waste a moment to annoy him to either abandon the whole thing or let her help him. And it typically goes like this:

Peter was shaken, not by her threats, but by her passion. With her slim strong legs spread wide, and the anger blazing purely in her eyes, she was like a creature struck from the ice and rock of mythology, proud, indomitable, fantastic.
"You are wonderful," he said simply. "Absolutely wonderful."

Do I still need to go on?

2.5/5

Facts:

Hero
Peter Churchman, ex thief now restaurant owner. It's not explicitly stated but he took his last name after accidentally bombing a cathedral in Manchester during his WW2 days. So besides being an over-complicating thief, he's not much of a navigator either...


Location
Spain. Mostly in Pamplona, San Fermin where fiesta takes place. Plus southern Spain where Peter lives and there's also a short trip to Gibraltar.

Body count: 1

Dames: 
Peter's fiancee Grace. A note from his diary:

She is tall as a silver beech tree. Bonfires of excitement blaze in her eyes. She is an orchestra of sex. Throbbing drums sounding the charge. Pinwheels of excitement flashing in the tympani. Bugles and trumpets screaming splendid abandonment. Violas (contra-bassoons?) sobbing the final surrender.

I did mention that this stuff is corny, didn't I?

There's also bitchy blackmailing Angela with an attitude and I quite liked her but unfortunately asides some poisonous remarks she doesn't get much stage time.

Blackouts
There is one and it's not bad at all:

The marble floor was cold against his cheek, and his limbs were filled with a shuddering impotence. And the darkness fell about him like the wings of a great black dove...

Good old darkness theme combined with a shuddering impotence. A bit crazy but nevertheless quite original. Also a nice touch to thrown in his black dove knick-name.

Title: 
It's half right (the caper) and half silly (no golden bulls in this one)

Edition: 
First Sphere Books, 1968

Cover
Cool and kind of sexy. To be honest, it's a main reason why I bought the book.

First time on this blog: 
Is it possible that this is actually the first "one last job" type of bank robbery on this blog?

Cool lines
Something hard prodded Peter's spine.
From behind him Blake said: "Take it nice and easy now. If you think this is a gun, go to the head of the class."

She said quietly: "This throws high and to the right. Francois, if you take another step towards me, I'll aim for the middle of your left thigh. I'm a good enough shot to put a very painful cloud over your technical qualifications to manhood." [Fatale]

Monday, October 26, 2015

Duel For Cannons (Dane Hartman, 1981)

Do not read this. Here's all you need to know about it:

Chapter 1: 
Texas sheriff Boris Tucker is killed in an amusement park in southern California while visiting it with his family. He was Harry Callahan's only friend. Because, you see:  

Harry’s definition of a friend was someone he didn’t know from his immediate job that he was willing to go and see. Otherwise he kept up a friendly banter with the guys at work and let the girls come to him when they both found time.

Chapter 2:
We are in San Fran now. Tucker's death has been covered up as a suicide but we know better. And so does Harry!

Chapter 3:
Before Harry can dedicate his attention full time on his late friend case, he needs to solve the current serial rapist/murder case he's been working on. Fortunately, the gods of incredible coincidences are good to him because he runs into the perpetrators while having a dinner in some night club. Shoots three and captures one.

Then he immediately takes off to LA where another corpse confirms that he's on the right track. He also gets involved into some ridicilous chase on the studio lot where they shoot a western movie.

Chapter 4: 
It all added up to one thing; the hitman wanted Harry to come after him. Killing a friend, kidnapping a residential girl, leaving behind a stoolie-related clue, it was all part of his warped way to offend Callahan’s sensibilities.

Huh? Dirty Harry's sensibilities? At least his superiors have some sense left:

That sort of personalized logic fell on deaf ears. Neither Bressler nor his superiors could be convinced that Harry had a case.
Instead, Bressler was convinced Harry was working too hard that he was having paranoid delusions. He suggested Harry take a little time off. 

And naturally:

Harry agreed. On his own time and with his own money, the cop reserved a ticket to San Antonio, Texas. 

Upon his arrival in San Antonio Harry's met by some street toughs and dirty cops. Taxi drivers too act very unfriendly so:

Harry had figured that a powerful politico was behind it all along. Now, however, Harry had to amend his reasoning. Anyone powerful enough to mobilize the police, the street gangs, the redcaps, and the cabbies went beyond area politics. Harry admitted to himself that he was dealing with a power beyond that. A power of money. A power of business.


We learn that the villain is a "wetback made good" (wetbacks are Mexican immigrants) Edd Villaveda aka H.A. Striker and that his henchman is some John Wayne obsessed psycho called Sweetboy Williams. We also get to know the good guy: he is Peter C. Nash and he is one of the few remaining good cops in San Antonio. Nash asks Harry to be his enforcer. Harry reluctantly agrees.

Chapter 5:
Not very eventful. Harry breaks up a dirty cops payoff deal. Also a few cracks begin to show in Striker/Willams relationship and the former one decides to terminate latter one's employment. So there's a glimmer of hope that this will take some detour from the horribly formulaic direction it has taken.

Chapter 6:
Harry's second assignment as an enforcer. It goes wrong and he's arrested. But gods of police stupidity (Strughold is so sure of himself that he leaves .44 Magnum lying next to Harry) are kind to him and he manages to escape. River boat chase follows and Harry once again manages to outsmart and outmaneuver his adversaries. Chapter is concluded simply with: It wasn’t easy, but he did it anyway.

Chapter 7:
It opens with Harry being in the late Tucker's now empty house and author doesn't even attempt to explain how he got there unnoticed. All wet with his cloths torn, wounded leg and - last but not least - by being fucking handcuffed!? I guess it wasn't easy but he did it anyway...

Anyways, now our main man is really pissed off:

Harry’s depression was displaced by dark anger; the kind Harry used to fuel his life. It was a quiet, painless rage at all the injustices of civilization rolled together. It was a dark sense of realism. A feeling of reckless capability. Harry knew he had to do something.

The game was over, the playing had stopped, no more fooling around. Dirty Harry was taking over now.

He then calls Striker and they arrange time and place for the next shoot-out. Their conversation concludes by them both agreeing on Harry's mental state:

“You’re crazy,” said Striker. 
“Yes, I am,” Harry agreed.
 
The shoot-out follows in which "it was every bullet for itself" and Harry kills a bunch of bad guys but unfortunately this is still not a final act. We need to keep enduring this nonsense.

Chapter 8:
Harry fucks Peter's wife Carol. Very unexpected and a bit sneaky too since Peter is still alive! And check out his pathetic rationalization:

But Harry would never talk about it. And Harry wasn’t analyzing it. And Harry wasn’t enjoying it. It went beyond anything like that. It was like the rest of his life. He was doing it because he thought it was right and he had to.

Then he manages to hack the Peter's home computer by guessing the password (it is ".44 Magnum") and sets off to another shoot-out.

Chapter 9:
Final shootout:

Although he tried not to, he couldn’t help realizing that this was the biggest fight he had gotten involved with since World War II.
...
They had everything. As Harry threw open his door and dropped below the top of the sunken level, he saw AR-15 Sporters designed from the Colt M16, Ruger Mini-14, .223 carbines with twenty-round box magazines, thirteen-round, 9mm automatics, army forty-fives, and shotguns of all types.

Harry teams up (!!?!??) with Williams and they kill Striker:

Striker’s head blew apart like a flower blossoming. The force of two .44 bullets burrowing into his skull at once all but decapitated him. Literal gouts of blood erupted from his neck like a scarlet fountain. Both men had to move back to avoid bathing in it.

Chapter 10:
By now everyone's dead except Williams. He stages one-on-one stand off with Harry in Alamo (ahem):

It was an absurd situation. Two men who hardly knew each other. Two men who had fought side by side. Two men who wanted more than anything else, to kill each other. Two men negotiating how they’d do it. If it wasn’t so deadly, it would be laughable.

And you do know who will come alive out of it, right?

The fucking finally end!

I could go on about why I think it's bad, but the main reason is that it is simply fucking boring.

2/5

Facts:

Hero:
Inspector Harry Callahan - No, they didn’t call him Dirty Harry for nothing.

Location:
Fullerton, southern California, San Francisco, LA, San Antonio, Alamo

Body count: 24
 
Not counting a poor sucker on whose head Harry throws a beer keg (with a noise that was reminiscent of the sound the gong made at the beginning of a J. Arthur Rank film).

Four cops go on Williams's account (Williams in action was astonishing) and there's probably another half dozen more killed by him in the last shoot-out (since he was doing the same thing as Harry). Also not counting an unspecified number of victims of the explosion in that shoot-out.

Object of desire: 
Revenge, clearing his good (ahem) name, cleaning up the San Antonio police department

Dames:/

Blackouts
Not sure if it counts but there's pretty (unintentionally?) comic scene in which Harry tries to set himself free of the handcuffs. You see, the problem is that his dear Magnum's barrel is too long to simply shot the chain off so instead he unsuccessfully tries a bunch of different techniques and one that involves a door, some bolt and doors ends up like this:

His skull slapped the bright floor tile, sending a starblaze across his eyes. He stared at the multicolored firework display of his mind while cringing on the floor. When his vision cleared, he was lying with his legs almost in the lotus position. He sat up without moving his legs. His vision clouded again and a little knife stabbed his brain a couple of times, but then the pain and the purple haze went away.
  
Title: 
see Striker's demise in the chapter 9

Edition: 
First NEL Paperback Edition June 1982 

Cover
Clint with his favorite toy

Cool lines:  
Shannon didn't need much convincing. For a homicide detective, his demeanor was as bland as his face was handsome.

It was a beautiful weapon, which Harry knew how to use.Once some people knew how to ride a bike, they could ride any make or model. So it was with Harry and his handgun.[The Coolest!]

Sunday, October 18, 2015

The Sometime Wife (Carter Brown, 1965)

This one opens with a pretty silly bit of wisdom:

The next best thing to having a rich, good-looking dame for a client is having a rich client.

It then proceeds straight away to the most narcissistic main protagonist introduction I can remember of. Along with a witty response of which Oscar Wilde himself would be proud of:

"My name's Boyd," I told her. Then I gave her a look at my left profile, which is sheer perfection in itself, to bring a little glamour into her drab life. "Mr. Vanossa is expecting me."
"He's waiting in the library." She gave me a cold beady-eyed look. "And with a name like Boyd, you should be able to look people straight in the eye without twitching your head like that the whole time!"

So tone is set and we know better than to expect some ultra hard-boiled stuff from here on. Our sleuth in this one is Danny Boyd and he is hired by some extravagant (sort of) upper middle-class (kind of) asshole to find his missing wife. And his motive for bringing her back is pretty cool: since she has access to the household money, he wants to bring her home in time to pay the bills at the end of the month.

Which is cool, I like plots driven by simple vehicles. Of course no simple missing person case stays just that for a long period of time in any crime book. They sooner or later all turn into murders and in this one it is pretty soon - body count meter starts rolling in the second chapter. From then on the whole thing loses a bit of intensity. You see, Danny's MO is a bit strange: he keeps changing his clients and every new one points him to a fresh suspect. So he basically wonders around and instead conducting some proper interviews he keeps explaining what he knows to anyone who's willing to listen to him.

But since the man is a private detective, I still had a feeling that he knew what he was doing. Wasn't so sure once I came to this:
 
"Why are you taking me back there?"
"Because that's where it happened," I said. "Because whoever murdered Randolph wanted him dead, and you and Charlie didn't."
"What's that supposed to mean?" she snarled.
"I'm not too sure myself," I admitted. "That's why we're going back to the beach house to find out."

Whoever murdered Randolph wanted him dead!? I don't know how Bill Pronzini missed this one when he was putting together his two Gun in Cheek masterpieces.

Anyways, they do reach the beach house where the whole cast is assembled so the stage is ready for the final revelation. Don't like much that Agatha Christie type shit at all and just when I started to yawn it happened! The best part of the book by far! The whole whodunit revelation drama thing goes spectacularly wrong. Danny is so incompetent that he fails to notice that not just one, but two of the bad guys are carrying guns. So they disarm him and then even start to plot some shit to make our hero a fall guy. Not sure how intentionally funny this is supposed to be but I loved it. This is what I call an original twist! And don't worry - Danny will shoot his way out (although it's not explained how did he manage to obtain a gun) and save the day.

It's an easy read and with only 120 pages this is a perfect book to take on a plane. Lots of charming craziness in it and I would almost call it cute but there are few nasty (not needed at all) fags remarks and our hero is a kind of obnoxious every now and then. I mean, for fuck's sake - you don't get girl drunk in order to fuck her!

3.5/5

Facts:

Hero
Danny Boyd, PI
 
"Oh no! This is hysterical, it really is! Don't tell me you're some kind of professional snooper, Boyd?"
"Private detective," I grunted. 

And he has this weird thing about his profile. Seems he tries this "trick" to impress every woman he runs into and (hardly surprising) it never actually works:

"My name's Boyd - Danny Boyd." I gave her the profile, right then left, and kind of slow so she'd have plenty of time to appreciate it.
"You have a stiff neck?" The caution in her voice warmed into sickening sympathy. "It's the humidity."

Location:
New York City + several trips to Northport on Long Island.

Body count:  3

Dames:
Mrs Karen Vanossa: She had a kind of tempestuous beauty, with smouldering dark eyes colored to match her hair, a straight nose, and a firm but strongly sensual mouth.

Nina North: She was in her early twenties, I figured; a blue-eyed blonde with the kind of hungover lower lip which said she knew what she wanted, while the upper lip had a slightly hesitant look like it agreed about that okay but was still surprised.

Mrs. Randolph: She also had that indefinable something that a good maitre d' can spot at fifty paces, that combination of breeding, social position, and - best of all - money.

And I should probably also mention Danny's red-headed, green-eyed secretary Fran Jordan. They have some sort of Velda/Hammer relationship with lots of sexual innuendo around them but it's all pretty silly and she doesn't contribute much to the story. 

Blackouts
Not sure. There's a cool scene when the blonde volcano (=Nina) storms into Danny's apartment screaming "Snake-in-the-Village!" at him:

"I'll kill you!" she announced passionately. "I'll beat your brains out and feed them to the ducks on Central Park Lane!" [Fatale]

She cracks him across the nose with her purse and then he trips over the rug (because rather than paying attention to volcano he instead chooses to admire its sexy body) and nosedives across the floor:

I had a vague impression of a million little white balls flying over my head, then her knee stuck me in the shoulder. The rest was a combined blur of sound and sight, something like Cape Kennedy in miniature.

So I'm not sure if this counts as a proper unconscious moment but you'll agree that it's definitely worth mentioning. Snakes in the Village, ducks in Central Park!
 
Title: 
Don't really get it.

Edition:  
New English Library, Four Square Books, 1966. Couldn't find a scan of this edition's cover online and I'm too lazy to make one so I've taken the Signet edition cover which is practically identical.

Cover
It's got to be Nina since neither of the other two is blonde. And besides that they both have small breasts (Karen's are high-peaked and Mrs. Randolph's are pointed with desire!). 

Illustration is not credited but it's pretty obvious its author is McGinnis. If nothing else, check out her unproportionally long left leg.


Cool lines:  
Maybe it wasn't his fault, I though generously; maybe he came from a long line of kissing cousins who just kept right on marrying each other and Charlie was the end product.

"Didn't I tell you Karen is a nympho?"
"Not in so many words," I muttered. "It doesn't faze you any?"
"I find it somewhat of a relief," he said casually. "I hate any form of physical exercise."

"You've found Frederic!" Jane's face was suddenly animated again. "That's wonderful! Where's he?"
"Down at the beach," I told her. "To be strictly accurate, he's down in the beach."[The Coolest!]

Monday, September 28, 2015

A Killer is Loose (Gil Brewer, 1954)

Surprisingly, there are no virgins or femme fatales in this Brewer's pulp. Instead we have Ralph Angers - an eye surgeon specialist who only wants to build a hospital. He even has the exact blueprints of this hospital and he carries them manically with him all the time. I say manically because he in fact is a maniac. A poor guy is a Korean war veteran who has suffered a nervous breakdown and now wonders around some Florida small town where he stumbles upon our hero Steve. To be precise, it's the other way around since it is Steve who saves doc's life and by doing this (unknowingly) forms a band between the two men. Which in practical terms means he becomes (a kind of) a hostage who must follow the crazy doc on his killing spree.

It's fast moving, told in real-time and totally unpredictable. Cool stuff but unfortunately it doesn't work all the time. Especially parts where action takes place outside are not always totally believable. I mean - surely someone would have noticed a couple of guys walking around in the evening covered in mud with one of them carrying a gun in plain sight? But parts that take place indoors are excellent! Home invasion on Mrs Graham's house is a masterclass in tension escalation (reminded me to see Desperate Hours again) and scene with that little girl alone in the big house repeatedly having to play "Dancing in the Dark" on piano is the creepiest stuff I've read in a long time.

It's not exactly an in-depth study of mental illness but it's not just another serial killer story either. I think it tries to say that we sometimes need a bit of a shock therapy in order to appreciate the things we have. Steve is an invalid, he's jobless with his house under two mortgages but once he gets on this insane journey into darkness with Angers, all he can think of is his wife delivering their baby. Nice.

4/5

Facts:

Hero
I guess technically Steve would be our hero. But he keeps whining and doesn't do much about the situation except repeating how hopeless it is. And sometimes even praying. Fucking praying! So I think I'll chose Dr. Angers as a hero in this one.

Location
Some unnamed small town in Pinellas county, Florida

Body count
5, not counting the old man who was shot (but never confirmed as dead) after the accident and also not counting a cop towards the end (who simply dropped after being shot). Btw and for the record  - didn't feel too bad about that real-estate asshole.

Object of desire: 
To build a hospital where Dr. Angers could perform eye transplantation surgeries.

Dames
Lillian, a former dancer from Seattle and now (involuntary) girlfriend of Dr. Angers. There's also  large-breasted and round-hipped Mrs. Graham.

And there's a couple of appearances of Harvey Aldercook's woman. She is totally irrelevant to the story (don't remember if we even get to know her name) so it is even more surprising how viciously she is presented:

She was an insult to the female gender, a short circuit in the voluptuous, tender woman flesh man dreams upon. She was one of these ash-blonde, bony, saucer-eyed, skull-grinning, jut-jawed, false-breasted, fake-fannied, angle-posing, empty-thighed in-betweens they stamp out like tin slats for Venetian blinds in some bloodless, airless underground factory to supply that increasingly bewildering demand for sexless models such as she for certain women’s fashion magazines, where they loll backward gaping and pinch-nostriled in tight red and silver sashes, over an old freshly varnished beer barrel, holding long skinny umbrellas, point down in a sand dune. Sometimes you see them swooning pipe-lidded, paper-pale over a swirling Martini in a triple-sized cocktail glass with their long fleshless golden-tipped claws clamped buzzard-like around the stem.

Blackouts: /

Title: 
Dr. Ralph Angers is loose and he is killing people.

Edition: 
eBook

Cover
Pretty cool but it could be better. Angers' face expression doesn't look particularly psychopathic. And he doesn't have a briefcase for his roll of blueprints.

Cool lines:  
The drunk down the bar lifted his head. "I'm alcoholic. Will somebody buy me a beer?"

The Luger was like a melting chocolate cake in my hip pocket. [The Coolest!]

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Johnny Staccato (Frank Kane writing as Frank Boyd, 1960)

Damsel in distress saved by the knight in a shining armor - pretty typical and formulaic P.I. pulp story. Slightly below average to be honest.

First thing that didn't seem right was a pretty lame motive for the initial killing. Doubtless, Les was an ultra-mega asshole and probably did deserve what he got... but is it possible that radio DJ in the early 60s would be really such powerful figure in show-business that he could (and this guy actually did) make or break the careers of singers? I somehow doubt it, even though he was the nation's number-one disc jockey.

Story is a bit flat. Although there is some action and Johnny tries hard to make something happen, everything is centered around a handful of suspects who - by some weird coincidence - had all visited our unfortunate DJ an hour or so before he was killed. Busy guy he was indeed.

Last little problem I had was the protagonist. Not that the author isn't trying, but Johnny simply doesn't come across as a likable guy. He's full of himself, macho guy (he gets laid twice) with near zero sense of humor (still he keeps grinning to everyone after delivering his "witty" one-liners) and some kind of a wanna-be artist (he plays piano in a night club) with a sensitive soul.

But more importantly - he's not much of a detective either (he has hunches and stuff is bugging him all the time) so it is quite surprising when NYPD and DA decide to hand him over the case for 48 hours. Johnny's plan? Believe it or not, here it is: 

“So now I take the forty-eight hours you've given me and I try to retrace my steps to see if I can pick up what it is that's bugging me.”

But it's still okay, I quite liked it. There's a nostalgic feel of the 30s and 40s and in that sense it works great. Straight-forward plotting with clues leading our hero from point A to B and finishing in a staged round-up of all the suspects and (not very) surprising revealing twist. Dialogs are pretty weak but slang is cool and some archaic expressions left me laughing out loud.

2.5/5

Facts:

Hero
Johnny Staccato P.I. - A smooth man on the ivories, hot on the trigger, and cool in a jam—he's the toughest private eye to hit America in a decade.

Must admit it took me some time to decipher that "ivories" bit (remember - he's a pianist). But finally managed to do it with a little help of a dictionary.

Location
New York:
As he walked past, little groups on the sidewalk in front of some of the places parted for him silently, from the doorways of others came a word of greeting. Some he returned, some he shrugged off. There was a lot to be desired, but in the last analysis, it was the Village. And to Staccato, the Village was home.
Body count:  3

Object of desire: 
Sex for Johnny and Les, fame and money for Shelley and Delia, Johnny for Gabby, money for Mr. Seymour

Dames
Shelley Carroll aka Snow Top:

She was tall, voluptuously built. Her blue-white hair complemented the deep tan of her face and bare shoulders. She wore a daringly decollete white satin gown that clung to the generous curves and seemed to be having difficulty restraining full, thrusting breasts. A small waist hinted at full hips and long legs concealed by the fullness of her skirt. Her mouth was a vivid, moist crimson slash in the cocoa color of her face.

Gabby:

Gabby swivel-hipped across the floor, the abbreviated skirt giving full play to her long shapely legs; the sheer blouse giving ample evidence that the magnificence of her facade needed no artificial support. 

Delia Moore:

She was short, but the sloppily tied kimono couldn't conceal the fact that her breasts were full, her hips well rounded.

Blackouts
Two of them. First one is pretty plain with an evergreen black pool and exploding lights motives:

He never saw the blow that felled him. There was a whooshing sound, and lights exploded in the back of his head. He went to his knees, shook his head groggily in a desperate effort to dispel the black pool that was threatening to engulf him. A puddle of yellow light spilled onto the bedroom floor from the living room beyond. In it, he had a momentary impression of a man's black loafers with ornamental tassels. Before he could see more, the second blow slammed his face into the floor.

But the second one is a bit better. I liked that insect thing:

There was another roar from across the street. An insect stung Staccato on the side of the head. He heard the roar of thunder and his head started to spin. He was dimly aware of the sound of footsteps, a familiar voice that seemed miles away. He tried to focus his eyes on the doorway from which the shots had come, found his gun too heavy to lift. It seemed to drag him down. He was unaware that his face had hit the pavement.
 
Title: 
See 'hero'

Edition:  
eBook

Cover
see 'hero' and 'dames'

Notable cover blurbs: 
see 'hero'

Cool lines:  
[after having sex with Gabby]
"How do you feel, Johnny?" the redhead wanted to know.
"Like I wrestled an octopus. And lost."

“I heard what he said,” Waldo wagged his head. “I also heard they're saying they're going to shoot a man to the moon. That don't mean they know what they're talking about.”

Monday, August 31, 2015

Perchance to Dream (Robert B. Parker, 1991)

Style is okay and there are few moments of brilliance (see hero and cool lines sections) although sometimes I got the impression that Parker tried too hard to emulate Chandler and came up with some truly corny dialog.

Problem is the story. Or lack of it... Marlowe basically breaks the case and finds the bad guys after the first ten chapters (and chapters are pretty short btw). And then for some reason he keeps calling Vivian and she keeps whining and the damn thing doesn't move anywhere. So Parker throws in some Chinatown-like water rights conspiracy nonsense that just doesn't make much sense either.

Simply not good but it is at least bearable. Unlike that abomination of Black-Eyed Blonde published last year.

2/5

Facts:

Hero
"You're a private detective," he said. He had one of those Hollywood elocution voices which has no real accent but sounds nearly British, especially if you haven't heard a real one. He sounded like a guy that recited bad poems on the radio.
"When I'm not polishing my yacht," I said.

Location
L.A. and fictitious (I think) Neville Valley 200 miles north of L.A.

Body count:  
4, not counting the unfortunate kitten thrown out the open porthole into the sea by that asshole Simpson.

Dames:
Vivian, still beautiful with eyes nearly coal black and full of heat and a full lower lip that seemed specifically meant to be nibbled on. And still tough:

"I'm not as tough as I look, Marlowe," she said
"If you were as tough as you look", I said, "you'd probably have to be licensed." [Fatale]

And of course horny and a bit kinky Carmen, still cute as a ladybug but far dumber, with the moral sense of an hyena.

Blackouts
Yes, no less than three of them:

...something erupted against the side of my head and the lights coalesced into a brilliant starburst and then blackness into which I slid as peacefully as a drunken seal.

Huh, drunken seal? The second one lacks this kind of imagination and is more or less limited to use of a comparative (or is it superlative?) of the adjective red:

I couldn't breathe. The reddish haze got darker and redder and finally enveloped me and I plunged into it and disappeared.

The last one lacks any imagination at all. Pretty standard stuff:

Something hit the side of my head and I went back once again to a place I'd been spending too much time in.
 
Title: 
According to Wikipedia it's another euphemism for dead.

Edition: 
Futura, 1991

Cover
She is definitely young Bacall but the guy looks more like the dude who played Eddie Mars in The Big Sleep. Is it possible that artist was given the wrong film still?

Cool lines
"This your car?" the fat cop said.
"Nice huh?" I said. "You want to sit in it?"
"What the hell's that supposed to mean?" the fat cop said.
"Sorry," I said. "I didn't mean to talk so fast."
"You'll be talking fast in the back cell under the big lights in a little while," the fat cop said.
"The smaller the town, the tougher the buttons talk," I said.[The Coolest!]