Saturday, October 21, 2017

Cat's Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut Jr

(pb; 1963)

From the back cover

"Dr Felix Hoenikker, one of the founding 'fathers' of the atomic bomb, has left a deadly legacy to the world. For he's the inventor of 'ice-nine', a lethal chemical capable of freezing the entire planet. The search for its whereabouts leads to Hoenikker's three ecentric children, to a crazed dictator in the Caribbean, to madness. Felix Hoenikker's Death Wish comes true when his last, fatal gift to humankind brings about the end, that for all of us, is nigh."


Review


Cradle is an incisive, puzzle-build and brutal satire that targets blind patriotism, religion, militarism, human nature and the end of the world. It reads a bit overlong in parts, but it gets its points across in an effective if sometimes-chatty way. Despite this minor nit, Cradle is an excellent, distinctive and milestone read from a distinctive author.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Neon Golgotha by Michael Faun

(eBook/Print; 2017: novelette)

From the back cover

"Welcome to Hotel Neon Golgotha! A first-of-its kind “home away from home!” In these five freestanding life-stories, each taking place in New York City, we get to meet Laurent, Joel, Flynn, Amanda, & Barbara, whose deplorable circumstances has driven them to a hotel named Neon Golgotha. Each room in the hotel is perfectly designed for its guest's eccentric traits, and is sure to satisfy their outlandish inclinations... Murder! Incest! Sexual sadism! Mutilation! Lavish in decor, Hotel Neon Golgotha offers spectacular live shows (though not for the faint of heart!), tailor-made personal experience packages, and much more. Make your overnight stay perfect – from the welcome Champagne flute, to a visit to our Roman spa, and why not a trip down memory lane?"


Review

Neon is an entertaining, vivid sex-, violence- and drug-fueled short work. This hotel-hub novella is not for the squeamish. Its forty-eight pages, in heady fashion, detail the horrific deaths and subsequent Hells of various characters as they arrive at the Hotel Neon Golgotha. Readers who are expecting a typical characters-meet-up-and-figure-a-way-out trope should be warned that Faun does not incorporate that storyline here. It is Neon Golgotha that brings things together, not its guests.

Friday, October 13, 2017

The Devil's Star by Jo Nesbø

(2003, 2005: fifth novel in the Inspector Harry Hole series.Translated from the Norwegian by Don Barlett.)

From the inside flap

"A young woman is murdered in her Oslo flat. One finger has been severed from her left hand, and behind her eyelid is secreted a tiny red diamond in the shape of a five-pointed star - a pentagram, the devil's star.

"Detective Harry Hole is assigned to the case with his long-time adversary Tom Waaler and initially wants no part in it. But Harry is already on notice to quit the force and is left with little alternative but to drag himself out of his alcoholic stupor and get to work.

"A wave of similar murders is on the horizon. An emerging pattern suggests that Oslo has a serial killer on its hands, and the five-pointed devil's star is key to solving the riddle."



Review

WARNING: Possible plot spoilers in this review.

Like Nemesis, its direct prequel, Star is an excellent, reader-hooking and suspenseful novel. Star has less tale twists than Nemesis, but that does not detract from its entertainment value. This plot pretzel reduction leaves more room for the resolution of an ongoing subplot about Hole’s investigative crusade against his corrupt professional rival (Tom Waaler), an investigation sparked after Waaler’s murder of Ellen Gjelten, Hole’s partner (in The Redbreast).

T
his, like other books in the series, is worth owning. Followed by The Redeemer.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Vic Valentine: International Man of Misery by Will Viharo

(hb; 2017: seventh book in the Vic Valentine series. Published by Thrillville Press.)

From the back cover

"Vic Valentine, Private Eye is back in business -- as a dog walker. A really, really bad one. While drunk in a dive bar one rainy Seattle night, one of his canine clients tied up outside goes missing. The twisted trail leads him from Vancouer to Minneapolis to Houston to Mexico City and then all the way down to Costa Rica. Along the way he encounters nefarious businessmen, dangerous drug dealers, tropical cocktails, flesh-eating zombies, voracious vampire women, and a luscious Latina bombshell that may or may not turn out to be the long lost love of his life."


Review

International is a dark, delightful pulp novel. In it, Viharo weaves wild elements and sub-genres into an addictive, fleet-footed and hallucinogenic read: sexploitation, P.I. intrigue, conspiracies, zombies, dog-centered writing, vampires, divine(?) intervention (hello, Ivar!) and – as promised – international travel. Of course, all of this is punctuated with Viharo’s recurring characters, quippy-sometimes-silly humor, and an awareness of life’s underlying melancholy. 

What makes International one of my favorite Viharo books is how, over the course of seven books, he has evolved Vic’s character by making him wiser, even as Vic continues to embrace his inner freak-up.

As is often the case with Viharo’s works, this a heady brew, excellent and timely work, one worth owning. If you have not read earlier Vic Valentine novels, International works as an entertaining, stand-alone read.

Saturday, October 07, 2017

Marvel Essential: The Amazing Spider-Man Volume 3 by "Stan Lee, John Romita, Sam Rosen & Friends"

(pb; 1967, 1968, 1969 and 2001: Collects The Amazing Spider-Man #44-68)

From the back cover

"The popular reprinting of Spider-Man's earliest adventures continues with classic stories by one of the fondest remembered creative teams to ever tackle Marvel's wacky webhead.All of Spidey's "usual suspects" are here in this gargantuan 528-page black and white volume: the sinister Vulture, the maniacal Doctor Octopus, the enigmatic Mysterio and the senses-shattering Shocker, just to name a few. Perhaps most significant of all is the debut of the Kingpin, an ominous figure who claims to be a "humble importer of spices", but in reality pulls all the strings of New York City's organized crime syndicates. One of the most chilling villains in all of the Marvel mythos, the Kingpin's first stories are recounted here.

"The Marvel Essential line of trade paperbacks are extremely popular among consumers. These inexpensive volumes give readers a chance to catch up on years of comic stories and history without spending a fortune tracking down hard to find back issues."


Review

This comic book omnibus brings together issues 44-68 of The Amazing Spider-Man. As with Volume2, the artwork is excellent and realistic (particularly the figure work), and the action is visually exciting and fun. Thankfully, there is less melodrama with Peter Parker and Aunt May, an element that marred Volume 2, and the comic’s good-natured chatty narrative and dialogue is still in place.

Volume 3 is worth owning for its visual virtues and entertaining banter, if you can deal with a little unnecessary personal drama. Followed by Marvel Essential: The Amazing Spider-Man Volume 4.

Tuesday, October 03, 2017

Nemesis by Jo Nesbø

(hb; 2002, 2008: fourth novel in the Inspector Harry Hole series.Translated from the Norwegian by Don Barlett.)

From the inside flap

"How do you catch a killer when you're the number one suspect?

"A man is caught on CCTV, shooting dead a cashier at a bank. Detective Harry Hole begins his investigation, but after dinner with an old flame wakes up with no memory of the past 12 hours. Then the girl is found dead in mysterious circumstances and he beings to receive threatening emails: is someone trying to frame him for her death?

"As Harry fights to clear his name, the bank robberies continue with unparalleled savagery."


Review

Nemesis is an excellent, addictive, suspenseful and plot twisty read. Some of its multilayered tension is heightened by an unresolved, cliff-hangerish storyline from the previous book, The Redbreast (whose writing is less streamlined than Nemesis’s). This is one of the better entries in the Inspector Harry Hole series, one worth owning. Followed by The Devil’s Star.

Monday, September 25, 2017

Gun Crazy: The Origin of American Outlaw Cinema by Eddie Muller

(pb; 2014: nonfiction)

From the back cover

"Gun Crazy caused barely a ripple in public consciousness when it hit movie screens in 1950. Yet over time it would prove to be the most innovative and provocative motion picture of its era—a simple genre film, but packed with so much cinematic bravura and timeless symbolism, its power has spanned decades, crossed oceans, and influenced countless filmmakers.

"It's no stretch to declare Gun Crazy one of the essential American films—as well as a cornerstone of the auteur theory that's dominated cinema discourse since the 1960s. Its larger-than-life reputation among cinephiles has mainly been based on the recollections—also larger-than-life—of its director, Joseph H. Lewis, whose intriguing yet surprisingly short career never again reached the level of this bona-fide classic.

"In this thoroughly researched and vividly told tale, Eddie Muller explodes many of the entrenched myths about Gun Crazy—and the auteur theory itself. He subverts the film's legend with the fascinating story of its actual creation, a six-year struggle that involved an array of exceptional collaborators.

"Packed with never-before-seen ephemera —original script pages (some never filmed), production notes, on-set photos—Gun Crazy: The Origin of American Outlaw Cinema is available for sale online exclusively from Black Pool Productions."


Review

Gun is an informative, entertaining and hard-to-set-down read about the story, different personalities and behind-the-scenes events that brought about the realization of the 1950 film Gun Crazy, originally titled Deadly is the Female. This film would influence the tone and structure of later films, perhaps most famously, Bonnie and Clyde (1967). This is an excellent, glossy-paged book with lots of behind-the-scene photos and addictive text, penned by an expert in the noir genre.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

The Girl Who Takes an Eye for an Eye by David Lagercrantz

(hb; 2017: fifth novel in the Millennium series. Translated from the Swedish by George Goulding.)

From the inside flap

"Lisbeth Salander is an unstoppable force: Sentenced to two months in Flodberga women's prison for saving a young boy's life by any means necessary, Salander refuses to say anything in her own defence. She has more important things on her mind.

"Mikael Blomkvist makes the long trip to visit every week - and receives a lead to follow for his pains. For him, it looks to be an important expose for Millennium. For her, it could unlock the facts of her childhood.

"Even from a corrupt prison system run largely by the inmates, Salander will stand up for what she believes in, whatever the cost. And she will seek the truth that is somehow connected with her childhood memory, of a woman with a blazing birthmark on her neck - that looked as if it had been burned by a dragon's fire."



Review

Takes is an excellent, entertaining addition to the Millennium series that expands the themes, characters, action, conspiracies and cliffhanger-ish feel of its predecessor books. Of course, everything ties – directly or indirectly – to Lisbeth Salander’s past, a thrilling read that is worth owning, one that promises a sequel. If you are new to the series and interested in reading Takes, I would suggest reading its prequel, The Girl in the Spider's Web, otherwise you might not enjoy it as much.

Monday, September 18, 2017

The Sucking Pit by Guy N. Smith

(pb; 1975, 1989: prequel to The Walking Dead)

From the back cover

"Hopwas Wood is a place of mystery and for generations, tales have been told about an ancient gypsy burial site deep within.

"Jenny Lawson always knew she had Romany blood flowing through her veins and when given a secret book by her dying Uncle can't resist the urge to mix the ancient potions described inside. In a matter of hours the virginal jenny is transformed into a knife wielding nymphomaniac.

"Entranced by the mysterious Cornelius, Jenny uses all her womanly charms to persuade the wood's owner to let the gypsy's set up camp on their holy ground. Ex-boyfriend Chris, an investigative reporter, is horrified by the changes in the girl he once loved and embarks on a quest for the truth only to discover the terror that lies deep within The Sucking Pit!"



Review

Sucking is a solid, fun pulp novel with stock characters, salacious flirtations (its sex scenes are R-rated, not X-rated), blood and horror. Its plot moves lightning quick, sometimes too fast – e.g., when Jenny is possessed it is little more than an awkward eyeblink transition; also, when Chris and Pat fall in love, seconds after meeting, it feels forced and rushed. If you do not take it seriously, Sucking is a worthwhile guilty, sometimes awkward-sentence read, best borrowed from a local library or purchased for a bargain bin price. Followed by The Walking Dead.

Friday, September 15, 2017

The Redbreast by Jo Nesbø

(pb; 2000, 2006: third book in the Inspector Harry Hole series. Translated from the Norwegian by Don Bartlett.)

From the back cover

"1944: Daniel, a soldier, legendary among the Norwegians fighting the advance of Bolshevism on the Russian front, is killed. Two years later, a wounded soldier wakes up in a Vienna hospital. He becomes involved with a young nurse, the consequences of which will ripple forward to the turn of the next century.

"1999: Harry Hole, alone again after having caused an embarrassment in the line of duty, has been promoted to inspector and is lumbered with surveillance duties. He is assigned the task of monitoring neo-Nazi activities; fairly mundane until a report of a rare and unusual gun being fired sparks his interest. Ellen Gjelten, his partner, makes a startling discovery. Then a former soldier is found with his throat cut. In a quest that takes him to South Africa and Vienna, Harry finds himself perpetually one step behind the killer."


Review

Redbreast is a slow-build thriller that runs long in parts but is ultimately worth reading. Its setting is less exotic than the settings of previous books (Redbreast takes place in Hole’s native Norway). Despite that, it is still a mostly interesting book that digs into Norway’s Nazi past and brings it to the eve of the twenty-first century. When the plot and character strands come together, between the middle and the last quarter of Redbreast, the novel becomes a hard-to-set-down read, with its cliff hanger-ish chapter endings. I would not purchase this for full price but it is worth borrowing from a friend or the library. Followed by Nemesis.

Feverish Fiction issue #6 (May 2017) edited by Michael Faun

(2017; dark/horror/speculative fiction magazine. Published by Sleazy Viking Press.)

Overall review

The sixth and final issue of Feverish continues in the pulpy, speculative vein of its previous periodicals. Of course, there are the usual female pin-ups in various states of undress, whose themes often reflect the works of the authors. (Terry Bizarro’s six erotic and elemental-themed paintings are superb and eye-catching.) It is worth owning, if you are an adult fan of small press magazines and out-there sex works.


Stories, other works

The Lich-Queen” – Scott Couturier: Sex-, death- and supernatural-themed versework. Solid read.

Last House on Splattergore Avenue” – Alex S. Johnson: Atmospheric, fear-adrenalized, gory and hilarious tale about a high school senior’s walk home from school. Excellent, perverse.

Aleena, the Pitiful She-Devil – Part Two” – Lucas Mangum: Aleena’s bloody, barbaric quest for vengeance continues. Fun read.

Fire Sprite” – Ashley Dioses: Fire and sex amount to the same thing in this four-line poem. Entertaining and concise.

Don’t Go in There” – John Wayne Comunale: Blood and a bar are dominate this microtale.

Winter Baskets” – Zeb Carter: Macabre, tender story about dead babies being taken to a surprising place. Excellent, one of my favorite reads in this issue.

To His Anything-But-Coy Mistress” – Frank Coffman: Lust-focused sonnet “with a couple triplets thrown in”.

Absolution” – M.F. Wahl: A young girl, trapped in a basement, investigates her grim environs. Solid read.

Marvel Essential: The Amazing Spider-Man Volume 2 by “Stan Lee, Steve Ditko, John Romita & Friends”

(pb; 1965, 1966 and 2005: Collects The Amazing Spider-Man #21-43 and Annual issues #2-3)

From the back cover

"The bite of an irradiated spider granted high-school student Peter Parker incredible, arachnid-like powers. When a burglar killed his beloved Uncle Ben, a grief-stricken Peter vowed to use his amazing abilities to protect his fellow man. He had learned an invaluable lesson: With great power, there must also come great responsibility! Through all his trials, Spider-Man remains steadfast in his determination to use his gifts for the benefit of all!"


Review

The artwork in this comic book omnibus is excellent and realistic (particularly the figure work), the action is visually exciting and fun. My only criticism of Volume 2 is that the comic’s good-natured chatty narrative and dialogue can, at times, can be melodramatic, even for tales centering around an adolescent, emotionally muddled protagonist. This is a minor nit, though – after all, the writers and artists did this with their target audience in mind. Volume 2 is worth owning, if you are okay with the latter criticism and appreciate excellent, classic artwork.

Followed by Marvel Essential: The AmazingSpider-Man Volume 3.

Saturday, September 09, 2017

Hap and Leonard: Blood and Lemonade by Joe R. Lansdale

(hb; 2017: story anthology. Fifteenth book in the Hap and Leonard series.)

From the back cover

"Hap Collins is a complicated man. He looks like a good ‘ol boy, but his politics don’t match. After way too many jobs, Hap has discovered what he’s best at: kicking ass. Vietnam veteran Leonard Pine is even more complicated: black, Republican, gay—and an occasional arsonist. As childhood friends and business associates, Hap and Leonard have a gift for the worst kind of trouble: East Texan trouble.

"Joe R. Lansdale’s popular Texan crime-fighting duo are immortalized in this collection of new Hap and Leonard short stories and tall tales. Hap and Leonard: Blood and Lemonade follows the exploits of the early years of these beloved characters. Many of these intertwined stories appear for the first time."


Overall review

Excellent, entertaining, timely and darkly hilarious anthology that fills in a lot of tales about Hap Collins’s youth, many of which feature Leonard Pine, his longtime friend. Many of the stories are above average – even haunting, in some cases – and all are worth reading.


Story by story review

1.)  Parable of the Stick”: Hap and Leonard discuss the pros and cons of Old School schoolyard rules, over-parenting and schoolyard scuffles.

2.) “Tire Fire”: Hap tells the tale of the first time he met Leonard at a late night, backwoods fighting ring.

3.) “Not Our Kind”: In 1968, a young Hap and Leonard encounter racist, homophobic bullies. They also glimpse a scene from their possible future. This story also appeared in the 2016 anthology Hap and Leonard.

4.) “Down By the Riverside”: Hap recalls the day he discovered a childhood friend was less than honorable – a day that has tragic echoes. This is one of my favorite entries in this collection.

5.) “Short Night”: Hap and a friend with a secret hang out.

6.) “The Boy Who Became Invisible”: Originally published in the Hyenas novella and the Hap and Leonard anthology, “Boy” is told from Hap’s first-person perspective. In it, he looks back on an unfortunate childhood friend (Jesse) whose hard life leads to some brutal choices. The interaction between Hap and Jesse provide an effective heart punch to this timely, you-can-guess-where-it’s-going piece.

7.) “Blood and Lemonade”: During Hap’s boyhood, he and his mother help a black boy (Nathan) find his family – it proves to be an unexpected lesson for Hap. This is one of my favorite entries in this collection.

8.) “In the River of the Dead”: Hap and Leonard – seventeen and fishing at the time of this tale – are menaced by torture-dispensing rednecks. This is one of my favorite entries in this collection.

9.) “Stopping for Coffee”: An adolescent Hap goes to a coffee shop where a sudden conflict between older racists and youthful liberals takes place. The ending to this is disturbing and effective because of what is not shown.

10.) “Apollo Red”: Hap’s father stands up to a rich arrogant man and – in doing so – stirs up trouble.

11.) “Coach Whip”: Wise work about snakes and people.

12.) “The Bottom of the World”: In 1960, Hap’s father tells his ten year-old son a spooky story about the Water Witch, an undead river woman.

13.) “Squirrel Hunt”: Twelve year-old Hap and his father discover a dead body in the woods. Good tale about justice.

14.) “The Oak and the Pond”: Hap reminisces with Leonard about one of his old hangout places, a site since razed. This is a nostalgic and melancholic piece.

Friday, September 08, 2017

Warlock by Ray Garton

(pb; 1989: movie tie-in novel. Based on the screenplay by David Twohy, billed as D.T. Twohy.)

From the back cover

"Snatched by Satan himself from the fiery stake of a Salem witch-burning, a warlock lands right in the middle of a 20th-century Los Angeles. His age-old quest to bring about the reign of ultimate evil leaves a trail of blood and terror across America. Only one man can stop a witch hunter who has come from the past to stop the warlock and prevent the ultimate horror that will change the fate of the world."


Review

Warlock is a sexually explicit, (sometimes) darkly funny and gory B-movie novel that expands on David Twohy’s fast-moving barebones screenplay by adding a more perverse sexual element, altering key characters’ physiques and personalities and a savagery that is hinted at in the film version. It is entertaining and worth owning, if you are a fan of the film and do not mind barebones plotting.

#

The film version was released stateside on January 11, 1991. It was directed by Steve Miner by a screenplay by David Twohy, billed as D.T. Twohy.

Julian Sands played "Warlock". Lori Singer played Kassandra. Richard E. Grant played Giles Redferne. Kevin O'Brien played Chas.

Mary Woronov played "Channeler". Richard Kuss played "Mennonite". David Carpenter played "Pastor". Anna Levine played "Pastor's Wife".



Saturday, August 26, 2017

Cockroaches by Jo Nesbø

(pb; 1998, 2013: second book in the Inspector Harry Hole series. Translated from the Norwegian by Don Bartlett.)

From the back cover

"When the Norwegian ambassador to Thailand is found dead in a Bangkok brothel, Inspector Harry Hole is dispatched from Oslo to help hush up the case.

"But once he arrives Harry discovers that this case is about much more than one random murder. There is something else, something more pervasive, scrabbling around behind the scenes. Or, put another way, for every cockroach you see in your hotel room, there are hundreds behind the walls. Surrounded by round-the-clock traffic noise, Harry wanders the streets of Bangkok lined with go-go bars, temples, opium dens, and tourist traps, trying to piece together the story of the ambassador’s death even though no one asked him to, and no one wants him to—not even Harry himself."


Review

Cockroaches is dark, focused and exotic read, with obvious bad guys (not necessarily a criticism), intriguing characters, wry humor and a reader-hooking storyline. This second book is more a how-it-was-done than a who-done-it. It is also a vast improvement on its source book (The Bat) in that it does not run too long. The ending, with its satisfying wrap-up, is disturbing and portends darker sequels.

Followed by The Redbreast.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Doctor Who and the Face of Evil by Terrance Dicks

(1978: twenty-fifth book in the Doctor Who series. Based on Chris Boucher's teleplay.)

From the back cover

"Setting the controls for Earth, the Fourth Doctor is surprised when the Tardis lands in a primeval forest. Has the Tracer gone wrong or has some impulse deep in the unconscious mind directed him to this alien planet? In investigating the forest, the Doctor meets and assists Leela, a warrior banished from her tribe, the Sevateem. Through Leela, it gradually becomes apparent that the constant war between the Sevateem and the Tesh has been instigated by the god they both worship, Xoanon.

"Xoanon, an all-powerful computer, is possessed by a desperate madness – a madness that is directly related to Doctor Who, that causes Xoanon to assume the voice and form of the Doctor, a madness that is partly caused by the Doctor and that only the Doctor himself can rectify!

"The Doctor must not only do battle with Xoanon, but also must escape from the savage practices of the Sevateem, and the technically mind-controlling destructive impulses of the Tesh."
 



Review

Face is an entertaining, word-lean, plot-swift and sometimes humorous science fiction novel that reflects its source television episodes. It is an excellent adaptation, one worth owning.

#

The four-part television serial this novel is based on aired on the BBC channel between January 1st and 22nd, 1977. Pennant Roberts directed it, from Chris Boucher's teleplay. 

Tom Baker played The Doctor. Louise Jameson played Leela. Brendan Price played Tomas. 

Leslie Schofield played Calib. David Garfield played Neeva. Leon Eagles played Jabel. Mike Elles played Gentek. Peter Baldock played "Acolyte". Roy Herrick provided the voice of Xoanon.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

In the Miso Soup by Ryû Murakami

(pb; 1997, 2003. Translated from Japanese to English by Ralph McCarthy.)

From the back cover

"It is just before New Year's. Frank, an overweight American tourist, has hired Kenji to take him on a guided tour of Tokyo's sleazy nightlife on three successive evenings. But Frank's behavior is so strange that Kenji begins to entertain a horrible suspicion: that his new client is in fact the serial killer currently terrorizing the city. It isn't until later, however, that Kenji learns exactly how much he has to fear and how irrevocably his encounter with this great white whale of an American will change his life."


Review

Miso is an unsettling, excellent and off-beat take on the serial killer theme, with an oddball villain (of sorts), personal and provocative notions of politics and culture, darkly engaging and repulsive points of views, with occasional displays of Grand Guignol splatter. This book is one of my all-time favorite serial killer reads, unafraid to break established horror structures.

Friday, August 11, 2017

The Drowning Pool by Ross Macdonald

(1950; second book in the Lew Archer series)

From the back cover

"When a millionaire matriarch is found floating face-down in the family pool, the prime suspects are her good-for-nothing son and his seductive teenage daughter. . . Lew Archer takes this case in the L.A. suburbs and encounters a moral wasteland of corporate greed and family hatred--and sufficient motive for a dozen murders."

Review

Drowning, like its predecessor (The Moving Target), is a tightly plotted and fast-moving P.I. novel. In this case, Archer finds himself in a tangled web of twisted family dynamics, greed and disturbing violence. As he separates and figures out the skeins of these elements of human darkness, his empathy, philosophical and sharply stated, provides a sense of justice in an otherwise tragic chain of events. It is excellent, worth owning.

Followed by The Way Some People Die.

#

The resulting film was released stateside on July 18, 1975. It was directed by Stuart Rosenberg, from a screenplay by Tracy Keenan Wynn, Lorenzo Semple Jr., Walter Hill and an uncredited Eric Roth.(Rosenberg also directed Paul Newman in the 1967 film Cool Hand Luke.)

Paul Newman reprised his role of Lew Harper, the cinematic version of Lew Archer. Joanne Woodward, Newman's real life wife, played Iris Devereaux. Melanie Griffith played Schuyler Devereaux. Andrew Robinson, billed as Andy Robinson, played Paul Reavis. Coral Browne played Olivia Devereaux. 

Murray Hamilton played J.J. Kilbourne. Gail Strickland played Mavis Kilbourne. Anthony Franciosa, billed as Tony Franciosa, played Broussard. Richard Jaeckel played Franks. Paul Koslo played Candy. Helena Kallianiotes played Elaine Reavis.


Friday, August 04, 2017

Feverish Fiction issue #5 (April 2017) edited by Michael Faun

(2017; dark/horror/speculative fiction magazine. Published by Sleazy Viking Press.)

Overall review

The fifth limited-run issue of Feverish continues in the pulpy, speculative vein of its previous periodicals. Of course, there are the usual female pin-ups in various states of undress, whose themes often reflect the works of the authors. It is worth owning, if you are an adult fan of small press magazines and bordering-on-bizarre sex works.


Stories, other works

Orlock’s Mirror” – Adam Millard: A Nosferatu-esque showman welcomes a fresh guest to his home. Fun, reader-as-said-guest story.

Blood Fetishist” – Lee Clark Zumpe: Bloodplay graces another versework – solid poem, some especially good word pairings.

Aleena the Pitiful She-DevilPart One” – Lucas Mangum: Action-impelled, exciting tale about a barbarian warrior [Aleena] fighting a horde of graveyard creatures.

Cosmic Auto-Trauma” – S.C. Burke: Stream-of-consciousness apocalypse work.

Beauties in Black” – K.A. Opperman: Solid, rhyming BDSM poem.

Monday, July 31, 2017

The Moving Target by Ross MacDonald

(pb; 1949: first book in the Lew Archer series)

From the back cover

"Like many Southern California millionaires, Ralph Sampson keeps odd company. There's the sun-worshipping holy man whom Sampson once gave his very own mountain; the fading actress with sidelines in astrology and S&M. Now one of Sampson's friends may have arranged his kidnapping.

"As Lew Archer follows the clues from the canyon sanctuaries of the megarich to jazz joints where you get beaten up between sets, The Moving Target blends sex, greed, and family hatred into an explosively readable crime novel."



Review

Moving is a lean, tightly plotted and fast-moving P.I. novel with snappy dialogue, underlying sexual tension and quick-sketch, sketchy characters. It is excellent, dark and worth owning. Followed by The Drowning Pool.

#

The resulting film, Harper, was released stateside on April 9, 1966. It was directed by Jack Smight, from a screenplay by William Goldman.

Paul Newman played Lew Harper, the cinematic counterpart to Lew Archer. Lauren Bacall played Mrs. Sampson. Arthur Hill played Albert Graves. Janet Leigh played Susan Harper.

Pamela Tiffin played Miranda Sampson. Robert Wagner played Allan Taggert. Julie Harris played Betty Fraley. Tom Steele played Eddie Fraley. 

Robert Webber played Dwight Troy. Shelley Winters played Fay Estabrook. Roy Jenson played Puddler. Strother Martin played Claude.

Eugene Inglesias played Felix. Richard Carlyle played Fred Platt. Harold Gould played "Sheriff".

Thursday, July 27, 2017

The Man From St. Petersburg by Ken Follett

(pb; 1982)

From the back cover

"His name was Feliks.  He came to London to commit a murder that would change history.  A master manipulator, he had many weapons at his command, but against him were ranged the whole of the English police, a brilliant and powerful lord, and the young Winston Churchill himself.  These odds would have stopped any man in the world-except the man from St. Petersburg."


Review

Petersburg is a good political thriller, with romance, political and social upheaval, history and assassination. It is set in England in the summer of 1914. Its beginning is solid, with a lot of character and story set-up. About the middle it becomes more fast-paced and exciting, with an ending that does not disappoint. Worthwhile read, this – it would not be a bad way to spend an afternoon at the beach (or wherever).