Sunday, August 10, 2014

COLD IN JULY a Twisted, Surprising Noir Crime Drama

Cold in July is a new movie release that begins as one kind of Noir Crime plot, then twists unpredictably into something entirely different. A single, random violent incident sets off a chain of unforeseen events that plummet into a grotesque place.

The plot opens with a home break-in and the intruder being shot to death by the home owner. Then the dead burglar's father shows up looking for revenge against the home owner and his family.

We think we know where this is headed --- a family being stalked by a psycho, with echoes of the crime classic Cape Fear. But then the plot shifts unexpectedly, as it turns out the burglar who was shot was not who the police claim that he was.

The plot wrenches sideways repeatedly, each time taking us into a surprising new situation.  With a final, stunning switch, the real truth of events becomes all too clear. It's an ugly, stomach-turning revelation that drives the main characters --- the home owner, the vengeful father, and a cowboy private investigator --- into a fateful, violent reckoning.

Cold in July is a tense, disturbing ride with a tightly knotted plot that fans of dark, Neo-Noir Crime dramas should enjoy.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

UNDER THE DOME Veers Off Track This Season

Under the Dome (CBS TV) had a very popular first season last year as a summer mini-series. The show is based on a Stephen King novel about a small Maine town trapped under a huge, impenetrable dome that appears mysteriously without explanation.

The series is back this summer for a new season, with decidedly mixed results. Some main characters have undergone abrupt behavior switches. Other new characters who were never in the first season appeared conveniently from someplace inside the sealed dome.

The basic plot of survival inside the dome has veered uncertainly all over the place. Strange new phenomena occur suddenly, apparently controlled by the Dome. Characters muse vaguely about "what the Dome wants." The main plot line of escaping the prison of the dome seems to be going nowhere.

The problem here is taking an initial intriguing plot situation and trying to stretch it too far by continually adding new filler complications. We've seen this happen before with TV series that ran out of gas struggling to sustain an opening premise. Under the Dome started strong last year, but how much longer can it go without supplying real answers about the Dome?

Friday, July 18, 2014

THE PARK a Police Hunt For Mythical Predator

The Park by William Wilde -  Horror Thriller New Release.

An ancient, mythical predator is alive inside a huge, forested city park.

The Park is a vast, sinister place --- the largest forested greenspace inside the borders of an American city. But a series of savage attacks have recently been linked to the park.

Something that shouldn't exist roams the massive woods --- an ancient, mythical predator that draws its very life blood from the primordial roots of The Park.

A fanatical nature worship cult also considers the park to be sacred ground. But their night ceremonies deep in the woods are used to invoke something monstrous and bestial.

Police detective Mark Reid and reporter Dani Lake risk their own lives when they enter the night woods to uncover the frightening secrets of The Park.

"FOUR STARS! Action and suspense reign supreme from beginning to end. The Park will keep you on the edge of your seat. Terrific!"  - Huntress Book Reviews

Now Available at Amazon Kindle:

Thursday, July 3, 2014

THE BRIDGE a Disturbing Summer TV Crime Drama

The Bridge (FX Cable) returns July 9th for its second summer TV season. This dark, moody crime drama is set in El Paso along the U.S/Mexico border, against a backdrop of drug cartel brutality and rampant police corruption.

The series features two troubled police characters who are partnered together, one American, and one Mexican. Sonya Cross is an El Paso PD detective. She's afflicted with Asperger's Syndrome, which makes her unable to socialize well or to feel emotions appropriately. Marco Ruiz is a detective with the Mexican state police in Juarez. He's haunted by the sadistic kidnapping death of his son, which was a revenge act for Marco's own past sins.

The Bridge series title refers to the bridge crossing between El Paso and Juarez. The bridge is a great metaphor for the shadowy, dangerous world along the border, and for the twisted line between good and evil that exists there.

The Bridge is unsettling, sometimes frightening, and is one of the best crime dramas on TV. It's well worth checking out the new season.

BEACH RATING: 4 Palm Trees

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

THE SON a New Crime Thriller By Jo Nesbo

The Son by Jo Nesbo is the latest work by the Norwegian crime novelist, best known for his popular series of books featuring Oslo police inspector Harry Hole.

The Son is a departure by Nesbo, to a story about an escaped prison inmate and his trail of vengeful acts. The inmate is Sonny Loftus, known as The Son, who exacts violent revenge against people who he believes were responsible for the death of his policeman father. At times, the movements of The Son seem almost superhuman as he attacks his enemies from out of nowhere.

But the character at the heart of the novel is Chief Inspector Simon Kefas, who tracks The Son along his relentless rampage. Balding, out of shape, and near retirement, Kefas is an unlikely hero. In his private life, he agonizes over his younger wife's growing blindness and her need for an expensive operation to save her eyesight.

In his police work, Kefas is methodical and steady, qualities that make him an effective investigator. Simon Kefas is a striking contrast to Nesbo's long-running main character --- the obsessive, haunted, psychologically unstable Harry Hole.

The Son is a fast paced, gripping read with a wrenching late plot twist. The novel confirms Jo Nesbo's place as one of the most entertaining crime novelists writing today.

BEACH RATING:  4 Palm Trees

Thursday, June 5, 2014

MR. MERCEDES a Twisted Crime Tale From Stephen King

Stephen King's new novel, Mr. Mercedes, is a dark crime tale that involves a twisted, murderous contest of wits between a retired cop and a manipulative sociopath.

The retired cop is former Detective Bill Hodges. His sociopath adversary is Brady Hartsfield, a mass murderer who drives an ice cream truck. Brady had earlier plowed a stolen Mercedes into a crowd of people, doing horrendous damage before escaping. It was a case that Detective Hodges never closed before retiring.

The killer is back again with a taunting new letter to Hodges that reopens his investigation and sets off a new battle between the cop and the killer that moves inexorably toward another coming mass murder event.

The plot of Mr. Mercedes is not all that original, but it's a chilling, fast-reading work narrated in the author's usual sprawling, colloquial, "Big Mac and fries" style. Another familiar King touch is the joining of an oddball team of allies to stop an evil enemy. King has always excelled at the creation of offbeat characters. The most interesting one here turns out to be Holly Gibney, a middle-aged child-woman with mental stability issues, who nearly takes over the last part of the novel.

Stephen King is at his best in his Horror fiction, but he has tried his hand at other types of fiction as well. Mr. Mercedes is the best of the handful of Crime novels he has done, and is much more satisfying than last year's slow, tepid Joyland.

BEACH RATING:  3 Palm Trees

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

John Grisham Deals With Race in SYCAMORE ROW

Sycamore Row by John Grisham is the author's only novel to deal largely with race relations in the South since his first published work, A Time To Kill.

That early novel recounted the racially-charged trial of a black man who killed two white men after they had raped his daughter. The story was tense with racial prejudice, a cross burning, and a murder plot by violent Klansmen.

The defense lawyer in A Time To Kill, Jake Brigance, returns in Sycamore Row. But this time he's trying to execute the last will of a rich white man who inexplicably left his fortune to his black female housekeeper.

The black-white conflict in this case is now over money, not murder, which represents progress of a sort in the New South. But as the civil court trial unfolds, new revelations show that the ugly,violent secrets of the Old South can still come back to haunt the present.

As William Faulkner once wrote: "The past is never really dead. It's not even past."

Sycamore Row is set in the town of Clanton in Ford County, Mississippi, the site of much of Grisham's fiction. The novel brings back colorful local characters from past Grisham works, in particular The Summons, The Last Juror, and Ford County.

In Sycamore Row, the author continues his usual sardonic depiction of the seamier antics of the legal profession, as well as his wry commentary on the culture of his native South.

Sycamore Row is one of the best novels John Grisham has written during his long career.