Monday, November 23, 2015

Harry Bosch is Back in THE CROSSING by Michael Connelly

The Crossing by Michael Connelly sees popular character Harry Bosch return in a new police procedural mystery. Bosch is now retired as an LAPD detective. When defense attorney Mickey Haller asks Bosch to assist as an investigator in a homicide case, Bosch doesn't want to do it. He spent his whole police career putting such criminals behind bars. It would mean "crossing over" to help the other side if he works to free an accused defendant.

But Bosch does grudgingly agree to at least take a preliminary look at the murder case. The victim was a woman brutally beaten to death in her home. The accused suspect is a black former gang member, whose DNA was found at the scene.

The case looks solid until Bosch starts digging deeper. He doesn't like what he finds. Too many things don't fit. It looks like Haller's client may have been set up, possibly by someone inside the LAPD.

When new murders occur as Bosch keeps probing, things take a dangerous new turn. Someone unknown will keep killing to protect themselves and Harry Bosch is the next target on the list.

The Crossing is a riveting, outstanding read for mystery fans. Michael Connelly continues to deliver, book after book, the best novels in the police procedural genre.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Stephen King's BAZAAR OF BAD DREAMS a Dark Ride

Bazaar of Bad Dreams by Stephen King is a short fiction collection that ranges across genres from Horror and Fantasy to dark mainstream fiction. Running through the stories are the two common themes of fatalism and fear of the dark things that are always waiting somewhere in human lives.

The best tale in the collection is the outright horror novella, "Mile 81," about a monster in the form of a derelict car that sits waiting for victims at a deserted highway rest stop. The story has echoes of the straight horror shudders that King produced early in his career. Other entertaining tales are "The Dune," "Obits," "Ur," and "The Little Green God of Agony."

Less successful are a few of the mainstream fiction pieces like "Morality," "Under the Weather," and "That Bus is Another World." These are dark meditations that feel like they're reaching too hard for something and are ultimately unsatisfying.

That said, Bazaar of Bad Dreams is on the whole Stephen King's best story collection since Everything's Eventual. The stories are all told in the author's trademark earthy, colloquial, "Big Mac and Fries" style. Faithful King fans should be pleased with this new volume of his work.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

ROGUE LAWYER an Enjoyable Read from John Grisham

Rogue Lawyer by John Grisham features maverick street lawyer Sebastian Rudd, who takes on the most toxic criminal defendants that other attorneys shy away from. Rudd pays a price for that, needing a bodyguard and riding around in a bulletproof van because of the many threats made against him.

The novel follows Rudd as he defends a series of controversial clients. An accused child murderer. A cage fighter who beats a referee to death. A homeowner who shoots back at a SWAT team that mistakenly raids the wrong house.

The events are narrated in the first person by Rudd. His cynical commentary about the dirty little truths of the criminal justice system is both entertaining and troubling. But Rudd knows all the dirty inside tricks himself and he is only too willing to use them to win his cases.

Rogue Lawyer is a fast paced read with an admittedly flawed, but unapologetic main character. The novel is one of John Grisham's wittiest and most enjoyable in his long writing career.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Big New Mystery/Crime Books For Fall 2015

Fall 2015 will see the release of new mystery and crime novels by big name authors:

Rogue Lawyer by John Grisham - Lone wolf, security protected attorney Sebastian Rudd takes on dangerous cases of the most outcast, undesirable clients. He defends a drug addict in a child murder case. (October)

The Crossing by Michael Connelly - Hard nosed cop Harry Bosch, now retired from the LAPD, crosses over to the defendant side to help an attorney in a brutal murder case. The case appears to be a slam dunk conviction until Bosch's investigation leads to new evidence and a waiting killer. (November)

The Promise by Robert Crais - Unconventional L.A. private eye Elvis Cole returns to join forces with an LAPD canine officer and his dog as they track missing explosives and a sadistic killer. (November)

Bazaar of Bad Dreams by Stephen King - New short fiction collection that includes dark crime and suspense stories as well as some of the author's trademark eerie horror tales. (November)

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

FARGO Best Crime Series on Television in Second Season

Fargo (FX Cable) opened its new season this week as the best crime series on TV. The series is a spin-off from the cult classic neo-noir movie by Joel and Ethan Coen. The TV version has faithfully lived up to the standards of its acclaimed movie predecessor.

The familiar plot elements are still present. The snowy, blank whiteness of the Minnesota landscape. Slow thinking, earnest small town cops. An act of stupidly impulsive violence that triggers a chain of out-of-control consequences. The pervasive undertone of quirky, deadpan black humor.

Add to that a brewing gang war between a local family crime business and invading organized crime mobsters. Caught in the middle is a hapless, none-too-bright married couple who accidently kill one of the criminals, then clumsily try to cover it up.

The great theme of the Coen brothers has always been a bleak, fatalistic view of humanity and the misguided acts that people undertake which lead inexorably to their own destruction. The empty white landscape serves as a metaphor for the amoral blankness in which the characters flail futilely about.

The Fargo TV series is faithful to that theme, offering a pitch black, quirky crime drama and a cast of dumbly motivated, morally vacant people who can't get out of the disastrous situations they have blundered into.

Monday, October 5, 2015

DRY BONES a New Walt Longmire Wyoming Mystery

Dry Bones by Craig Johnson is the latest in the popular mystery novel series featuring Wyoming county sheriff Walt Longmire.

A highly prized T-Rex fossil skeleton is discovered buried on a local ranch. Soon afterwards, the body of the ranch owner is found floating dead in a fishing pond and it looks like he was murdered.

Longmire pursues the homicide case while the valuable T-Rex fossil is the subject of a tangled legal dispute involving a museum, federal agents, and an Indian tribal group that also claims title to the skeleton. Longmire looks for a link between the murder and the T-Rex find, or was there another less obvious motive?

The real charm of the Longmire series is Walt's own dry, unflappable nature and the set of eccentric characters surrounding him. His tough talking deputy, Victoria Moretti. Walt's wise and mystical friend, Henry Standing Bear. And all the colorful members of reservation tribes that Walt must regularly deal with.

Dry Bones is another entertaining tale for readers who like their mystery stories salted with wry humor and a backdrop of rugged Western landscape.

Monday, August 31, 2015

Collected Inspector Rebus Stories a Crime Fiction Gem

The Beat Goes On by Ian Rankin is the complete collection of Inspector Rebus short stories, featuring the irascible Edinburgh, Scotland detective.

The collection of 31 stories includes three not previously published. The stories are presented in chronological order, running over the span of years as John Rebus moves from young Detective Constable to veteran Chief Inspector.

The crimes involve everything from theft and violent assault to murder. But the true focus is the character of Rebus himself, with his sour cynicism and sardonic remarks. Rebus is often in conflict with his plodding bosses. But he plunges ahead regardless, like a rude bulldozer that won't be stopped until a case is closed.

The Beat Goes On is an entertaining set of crime stories and a treat for Inspector Rebus fans.