Ride The River (Louis L’Amour)

A quick yet enjoyable read. Somewhere in the Tennessee hills in 1840, there is a young gal named Echo Sackett and she never wastes a bullet. Whatever this feisty girl aims at – she hits – and can ride and hunt as well as any man. One day a traveling peddler comes across her family name in a newspaper. Upon reading it, Echo decides to travel to Philadelphia because the newspaper reveals there is an inheritance waiting for the youngest living Sackett. Arriving in Philadelphia, however, Echo discovers that a greedy lawyer never intended the article to reach Tennessee, let alone hand the rightful heir the money. A kindly, old lawyer becomes involved and after attaining about three grand and a ruby in a box, Echo undertakes a perilous journey home with thieves and murderers constantly shooting at her or stealing her bag. But these legal shysters and evil doers do not know who they are dealing with…

Amid all the horse riding, stagecoach hopping, stream rolling, canoeing, and in between shooting off bad guys’ ears, Echo develops a crush on the kindly lawyer’s nephew, who has come along attempting to help her reach home safely. Echo shows us all that she is certainly capable of making it on her own, and with her sense of humour intact too. The only thing I didn’t like was the prose. Whereas I understand the use of uneducated prose when people are actually speaking, I found it unnecessary when Echo was simply narrating. This is a refreshing adventure that pits a small Sackett female against a bunch of big men a couple of decades before the Civil War. Neither city slickers nor run-of-the-mill woodsmen are going to steal from this mountain girl! Old fashioned fun but the two page ending is pretty abrupt. 🙂

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White Rabbit (Caleb Roehig)

Taking place within about a twelve hour period or so, this is a fast-paced thriller with a high body count. Featuring a queer main character and a romance, it’s a fun read. Don’t expect excellent character development (in fact, there’s little beyond Rufus’s own stereotyping of these rich jerks) but it’s refreshing to have a bloody thrill ride with those who seem to deserve their ends getting it…and not have suicide or mental health be the root cause of the story. [Read more…]

The Oblong Box (1969 United Kingdom)

Owing virtually nothing to Edgar Allan Poe other than the title, American International Pictures (AIP) did like to insult the public’s intelligence. The critics of the time did not have much enthusiasm for this flick, which is often surprisingly nasty for that era, but I think this has enough entertainment value for at least one viewing. The director, Gordon Hessler, who replaced Michael Reeves after his untimely death, does a good job of making the film into a reasonably compelling narrative, even if he is a little too fond of extreme close-ups.
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Alive (Piers Paul Reid)

On Friday, October 13, 1972 a Fairchild F-227, chartered from the Uruguayan Air Force, carrying a young amateur rugby team and their families and friends from Uruguay, slammed into the middle of the remote Andes Mountains in Argentina…This is a legendary book that shook the conscience of the world in the 1970s. And now, 45 years on from the tragedy, this non-fiction work still makes for compelling reading. Forty five passengers and the crew were on the plane before it crashed. Only sixteen of the passengers left the mountain alive. [Read more…]

Carnage (2011 France/Germany/Poland/Spain)

Yasmina Reza’s Tony Award winning play “God of Carnage” was adapted by the playwright herself for Roman Polanski’s 2011 film version, renamed “Carnage.” Reza’s word feast is a juicy smörgåsbord for actors and a showcase for the film’s four stars. Despite the glow of bagging 6 Oscars and 17 nominations, the four actors were evidently chosen for talent and range, not luster; all are better known for their on-screen and on-stage work, than their tabloid antics. Carnage is a short 80 minutes. Its fast paced, often funny, well written, superbly acted – and that rarity in cinema – it leaves the bastards hungry for more. [Read more…]

Twisted Nerve (1968 United Kingdom)

I’ve reviewed quite a few movies from that year of our Lord, 1968. A disquieting year for a number of reasons…Twisted Nerve, something of a link between Michael Powell’s “Peeping Tom” and Hitchcock’s “Frenzy”, has floated about like an apparition for so long it’s somehow managed to permeate the most seemingly unconnected crannies of pop culture. Its main theme, a haunting melody penned by legendary Hitchcock scorer Bernard Herrmann, was stolen by Hollywood’s pet magpie, Q Tarantino, for “Kill Bill, Vol 1”. Penned by celebrated “Peeping Tom” scribe Leo Marks, this is a fairly typical late-1960s psycho-thriller. [Read more…]

The Dark Room (Minette Walters)

This book gave my brain cells a real work out. The first page is an attention grabber – two children having underage sex, the girl sullenly pulling up her knickers while taunting the boy’s inability to last more than three minutes. But this fun opening is not the real plot dynamic: a woman wakes up in a hospital with amnesia and is told she tried to kill herself. Also, her friend and her fiance are dead. Did she kill them, or is she being framed? You have to be very alert reading this book, as events are presented out of sequence, and times and dates of actions are important. Who is lying and who is telling the truth? It kept me guessing right up until the end. This is a psychological thriller, where you are invited to be a] the protagonist b] the police inspector and c] the protagonist’s psychiatrist. Got it? [Read more…]

Revenge Of The Manitou (Graham Masterton)

The 71 year old Edinburgh-born author has an unusual pedigree. He used to write sex books like How To Drive Your Man Wild In Bed – 3 million copies of that one sold. He was also heavily involved as an editor for porn mags like Mayfair and Penthouse too. Then he became a prolifically successful horror novel writer. Interesting…anyway, this follow up to his earlier The Manitou is much more entertaining. At first I was leery as the book opened with the focus on an eight-year old protagonist, but I quickly warmed-up to Toby and the Fenner clan.  [Read more…]

The Veldt (read by Leonard Nimoy)

Broadchurch Season One (2013 UK)

broadchurch_ep01_4British crime dramas generally enjoy pacing and depth of characterization more engaging than the American ones, and there is often more emphasis on “mystery”. Whereas the Americans have more innovative plots that seldom have the holes that sometimes mar British crime stories. Unlike most murder dramas, this story isn’t about autopsies and gunfights. It’s about human nature. It’s about a very miserable but addictive British TV show…
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