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.

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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).

Sunday, July 09, 2017

Things I Do When I'm Awake by Will Viharo

(pb; 2016. Published by Thrillville Press.)

From the back cover

"Things I Do When I’m Awake is erotic horror noir distilled into a surrealistic mood piece, a series of confessional prose poems that are psychologically complex, sensually stimulating, and emotionally challenging, collectively conveying a seductive nightmare. . ."

Review

The back cover blurb is a good description of this short, intense work, which takes on bold themes of fractured-but-well-meant maternal instincts, rape (emotional and otherwise) and other forms of violence, while maintaining a plot pushing is-this-a-dream-state feel. Things is an experimental and more personal than usual novella (for the author), meaning this will not appeal to readers looking for something light and formulaic.(Viharo's works are not formulaic.) 

If you are willing to enter this distinctive darkness, and appreciate short, sharp and troubling kicks to the brain (entertainment-wise), chances are this would be a worthwhile purchase for you.

Tuesday, July 04, 2017

War for the Planet of the Apes: Revelations by Greg Keyes

(pb; 2017: prequel to the film/movie novelization War for the Planet of the Apes by Greg Cox)

From the back cover

"Driven from their woodland home, Caesar and his apes are still recovering from the takeover by renegade ape Koba. Caesar is desperate to avoid war with the humans, but this is a faint hope, as his enemies are about to receive military reinforcements headed by the ruthless Colonel McCullough.

"While trying to hold off McCullough's soldiers, Caesar sends his son Blue Eyes on a mission to the south to try to find a safe haven for the apes, despite rumors of terrible things happening there. Meanwhile, the supporters of Koba's revolt are spreading dissent among Caesar's ranks."


Review

Revelations is an excellent, entertaining and humane novel that bridges the timeline between Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (2014) and War of the Planet of the Apes (2017). It starts off as a steady build read and around the middle it kicks into high gear with plenty of oh no cliffhanger moments that continue on to the end of the book.  Revelations ends on satisfactory note, one pregnant with future drama and violence that will, no doubt, be shown in the next film/movie tie-in.

As with previous Ape titles, it has many of the characters from the previous film (as well as Rise of the Planet of the Apes, 2011). Eagle-eyed readers may spot a lot of references to the "classic" Apes films, e.g., Ursus, Armand, etc., which added -- for this reader -- to the enjoyment of Revelations.

Is this worth owning, if you are a fan of the Apes franchise? Heck, yes. Even if you are not, it might prove to be a fun read, one worth checking out from your local library. =)

<em>The Freak</em> by Eleanor Robinson

(pb; 1980 ─ a.k.a. The Silverleaf Syndrome ) From the back cover “He was born monstrously deformed, a freak of nature. Possessed of ...