Wolf in White Van by John Darnielle

Last summer I joined Camp TOB 2022, my first time with the Tournament of Books summer reading game. I’ve enjoyed reading along and voting in the Tournament of Books for the last couple of years, and I’ve even found a few “new favorite books” as a result. So, I thought I’d give the summer reading game a go. I did find a “new favorite book,” … Continue reading Wolf in White Van by John Darnielle

The Expendable Man by Dorothy Hughes

The greatest American crime novelist you’ve never heard of is Dorothy Hughes. Unless, of course, you’ve already heard of her. Ms. Hughes wrote some 14 crime novels in the 1950’s and 60’s, then retired from the scene to become a leading critic of the genre. She’s something of a writer’s writer, long admired by those working in crime fiction but not widely known. You may … Continue reading The Expendable Man by Dorothy Hughes

Nazis in the Metro by Didier Daeninckx, translated from the French by Anna Moschovakis

On May 8, 1945, the day Nazi Germany surrendered, the French government began a massacre of Muslim nationalists in Algeria that ended with the deaths of 15,000 to 20,000 civilians. There were soldiers who fought for France in Germany who returned to Algeria only to find the families dead, and their homes destroyed. Not something I expected to learn in a gritty, noir detective novel … Continue reading Nazis in the Metro by Didier Daeninckx, translated from the French by Anna Moschovakis

The Madman of Bergerac by Georges Simenon for Novellas in November 2022

At 144 pages The Madman of Bergerac just fits the 150-page definition of a novella over at the Novellas in November reading challenge. It was first published in 1932 which makes it old and therefore a classic which is the challenge category for this week. It’s also a fun read for fans of Inspector Maigret. I’m not sure I’d send it along to anyone else. … Continue reading The Madman of Bergerac by Georges Simenon for Novellas in November 2022

Shadowbahn by Steve Erickson

Years ago, many, many years ago, I heard a bit from a Stan Freberg radio show about why radio was better than television.  The bit featured a lot of impossible things, done through the magic of story telling and sound effects, that ended with something like a bunch of helicopters dropping a giant sponge on Lake Michigan sucking up all the water. The point being, … Continue reading Shadowbahn by Steve Erickson

Mississippi Noir is for Lovers

This is now my favorite volume of the many, many Akashic Noir series. It’s a high quality collection without a dud in the bunch. A few things struck me. Three that I’ll talk about here. First, I was surprised to find so little crime in Mississippi Noir, edited by Tom Franklin.  Does an actual crime have to take place for a story to be considered … Continue reading Mississippi Noir is for Lovers

The Ballad of Black Tom by Victor Lavalle

The Ballad of Black Tom by Victor Lavalle is a good time. If I say that it’s just a good read, does that do it a disservice? Do you think I mean to say that it’s not really a great book with something to say? Is calling a book simply a good read marking it down a bit in your estimation? In mine? I don’t mean … Continue reading The Ballad of Black Tom by Victor Lavalle

My New Favorite Book: Fat City by Leonard Gardner

Add Fat City by Leonard Gardner to the list of great anti-California novels. That’s a new sub-genre I’m creating.  The anti-California novel looks at the great California dream’s underbelly.  What happened to all those people who came to California and didn’t strike it rich, but stayed here anyway? Think Nathenial West’s The Day of the Locust, Charles Bukowski’s Ham and Rye, John Fante’s  Ask the Dust.  There’s a rich body of … Continue reading My New Favorite Book: Fat City by Leonard Gardner

The Art of Losing by Rebecca Connell

First of all, isn’t this a beautiful cover?    Last fall, when I saw a table full of Europa editions at Mrs. Dalloway’s Bookstore in Oakland, I thought how great it would be to collect books with beautiful covers.  I recognized a few of the Europa editions as books I’d read and enjoyed, and there were several others on the table that I hadn’t read … Continue reading The Art of Losing by Rebecca Connell

Bunny Lake is Missing by Evelyn Piper

You go to pick your three-year-old daughter up from her first day of pre-school.  You wait with all of the other mothers, none of whom you know since you are new in town and on your own, as they watch their children come down the stairway.  You wait.  And wait.  But your daughter does not appear. You look for her, for her teacher, but you … Continue reading Bunny Lake is Missing by Evelyn Piper

Acts of Passion by Georges Simenon

From the very first page, we know who the killer is; we know that he’ll be captured, found guilty and sentenced to prison; but we don’t know who his victim is. Georges Simenon’s novel Acts of Passion takes the form of a long letter, written by a killer to the judge who sentenced him.  The killer wants to explain why he did what he did; … Continue reading Acts of Passion by Georges Simenon