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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Domain (James Herbert)

This novel is better in every way than its predecessors and could be read as a stand alone. However, reading all three gives you the ongoing story of the evolution of the Rats and the twists this takes are genuinely shocking. Herbert’s style may be a bit pulpy for some and some of his characters nothing more than stereotypes but like many enjoyable Hollywood films, what it lacks in depth it more than makes up for in high impact thrills. The author has added a little more depth and intrigue to the characters, missing in the first two, this time round.
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The Dead Pool (1988 USA)

“If you wanna play the game you better know the rules, love.” So sayeth Harry Callahan. Thankfully, director Buddy Van Horn and his team knew how to end the franchise on a high note. This is just as good as its two predecessors. In fact, Sudden Impact and The Enforcer were both pretty lackluster to the point of being almost boring. At least this swansong for Harry has a high degree of pure 80’s trash going for it. You want rock music videos, silly accents, some amusing dialogue, Uzi machine guns ejaculating at glass elevators and even a high speed car chase that involves a toy? With The Dead Pool, you’ve got all that and more.
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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 Wolves of Willoughby Chase (Joan Aiken)

 

Set in an alternative 1832 where the monarch is James III (implying that the House of Hanover never came to the throne) and wolves have entered England during a bad winter by crossing the Channel Tunnel (not opened in our reality until 1994). Unlike the children’s books of today – this was first published in the early 1960s – the whole thing proceeds at a rip-roaring pace with very little build-up. There are a number of other books in the series, all set in the same alternate history but I don’t know if all the characters are the same in each. [Read more…]

Nightmare In Pink (John D MacDonald)

Nightmare in Pink is the second book in John D. MacDonald’s 21- novel Travis McGee series. Although McGee gets involved in mysteries, he is not a police officer or a private investigator. Instead, he is a “salvage consultant” who lives on a houseboat (“The Busted Flush”) in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. He prefers to be a beach bum, get a tan, reel in some fish, drink some beer, etc and seems a little uncomfortable in the big city. He is also a ladies’ man. [Read more…]

The Light of Day (Eric Ambler)

Winner of the 1963 Edgar Award for best novel this is an enjoyable crime/espionage vehicle typical of the era: crooks with scruples, the beautiful but unobtainable beauty & the luckless hero in the wrong place at the wrong time. The second half, with its collection of various misfits planning a heist, I found overlong and the stakes not high enough. Its hard to feel that Arthur, our hero, is in any genuine danger either (obviously because the first-person narrative guaranteed that he lived beyond the outcome of the plot) and everything was a little too languorous to be compelling. But the book has aged well even if Arthur’s character hasn’t.  [Read more…]

Phantoms (Dean Koontz)

At the beginning of this novel, the author has added an apology for writing it and I understand why. Phantoms is scary! There is something so extraordinarily powerful, capable of wiping out a whole town, capable of being everywhere at once, something omnipresent and omnipotent…and yet I had no clue what it was for a good chunk of the book. But I was aware that everyone in that town pretty much got their asses kicked (and worse), and I thanked my lucky stars that I wasn’t there with them. But I won’t give away any major plot spoilers. [Read more…]

Frenzy (1972 United Kingdom)

“Goodbye Piccadilly, Farewell Leicester Square” by Arthur La Bern is not a novel I’ve read so I can’t say if this is better or worse than the printed page its based upon. All I do know is sometime in 1971 Alfred Hitchcock came back to dear old Blighty to do it to his audience one more time. And here he dons the chef’s apron to serve us up a classic of cheap and nasty: forced sex, murder and food. I wonder what Hitchcock’s wife and family thought of Frenzy. “That’s…lovely dear…” They probably reacted the way any family would if the patriarch had just been arrested in your local brothel. Yep. Frenzy is red light entertainment all the way! [Read more…]

The Parallax View (1974 USA)

At 12:30pm, 22 November 1963, Jewish rag trade man Abraham Zapruder shot his JFK film from one angle of Dealey Plaza, Dallas — and 12 other people also shot film or photos at the moments of assassination, all from different angles (or points of view). Not to mention the many other people who were present that day to witness it, who also saw things from their own point of view. Some folks saw movement in the grassy knoll, others didn’t. The Parallax View states that many conspiracies work because relatively few people are in on the whole joke; some are involved in the set up, some in the telling, and some in the punchline, but only a precious few are given the whole picture, making detection almost impossible.  [Read more…]

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