Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Blood Runs Cold, by Robert Bloch

(pb; 1961: short story anthology)

Overall review:

This excellent seventeen-story collection showcases Bloch’s trademark cleverness and dark humor, as well as his economic, effective use of words.

Standout stories:

The Show Must Go On” (a womanizing actor is confronted by the outraged father of one of his conquests);

The Cure” (a trio of criminals, waiting for their heist money in the tropics, encounter macabre complications);

The Masterpiece” (a painter gets revenge on his treacherous lover);

Where the Buffalo Roam” (on post-atomic war Earth, buffalo herders are shaken out of their happy reverie when a burning light fills the night sky);

Is Betsy Still Alive?” (suspenseful tale about a burnt-out writer, a shady Hollywood player and a dead movie star);

Word of Honor” (darkly funny occurrences happen when a plague of truth-telling takes over a town);

The Pin” (creepy tale about a painter who rents a loft in a supposedly abandoned building, and discovers he’s not alone);

The Big Kick” (two beatnik con artists play a “creepnik square”);

Sock Finish” (great work about an aging silent film-era star who’s used and dumped by his Hollywood “friends”).

Other stories include: “Daybroke”; “Showbiz”; “I Like Blondes”; “Dig That Crazy Grave!”; “Final Performance” (with its Dead Silence-like denouement); “All on a Golden Afternoon”; “The Gloating Place”; “I Do Not Love Thee, Dr. Fell”.

By all mean, check this out.

Bimbos of the Death Sun, by Sharyn McCrumb

(pb; 1988)

From the back cover:

“Even before the murder of the world’s most detestable cult author, Rubicon was destined to go down in fen history as the most outrageous fantasy convention ever. The great chronicler of the fantasy adventures of the noble Viking warrior, Tratyn Runewind, was suddenly no more. Appin Dungannon was dead – a bullet through his heart and a spilled bottle of scotch at his side. Who hated him enough to kill him? The answer: Practically everyone.

“James Owens Mega, creator of that deathless tome, Bimbos of the Death Sun, dons the role of Dungeon Master, and solves this uproarious whodunit in the ultimate role-playing game climax.”

Review:

Less a mystery than a good-natured spoofing of geekdom, Bimbos focuses on humor, not murder.

Read strictly as a mystery, Bimbos fails. The writing’s good, but the identity of the killer is obvious way before the Thin Man-like finale. Combined with its comedic elements, it’s an innovative (with its con backdrop), fun beach read.

Worth your time, this.

Followed by Zombies of the Gene Pool.