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treeduck's MYSTERY AND SUSPENSE THREAD


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#21 treeduck

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Posted 19 January 2007 - 02:38 PM

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And there it was, Free Fall a tale of South Central Los Angeles gangs and dirty cops and a young girl, with Elvis Cole keeping his cool amongst it all. Joe Pike rules though, he's more powerful than GOD!!

And there's good news for Joe Pike fans (like me), after all these Elvis Cole novels, seeing everything from the Elvis point of view, Crais' latest novel is a Joe Pike novel. So now we're gonna see Crais' LA through Joe Pike's eyes for a change and we'll know what he's thinking and feeling (and what he really thinks of Elvis Cole) instead of Joe just making a few fleeting appearances about halfway through the story. This is dangerous though, the more you expose the hitherto shadowy existence of a mysterious character the more his power diminishes. I mean look at Hannibal Lector for instance. So it's a daring move by RC and it's a fresh idea that Robert B Parker never used, imagine a novel starring Hawk instead of Spenser, that would have shaken Parker's work up I think. In fact I'd rush out and get a hawk novel tomorrow if he did it. But for now I'll be snapping up the Watchman when it comes out at the end of Feb. Here's the cover...

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Meanwhile...

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#22 treeduck

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Posted 19 January 2007 - 02:50 PM

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I'm going to continue with the Elvis Cole series with the follow up to Free Fall, Voodoo River. I can't remember the story of this one at all but I know it's the tale that takes Elvis out from the glitter and smog of LA and off and away to bayous of Louisiana (of course I'm gonna read a book set in Louisiana when THE SAINTS are preparing to win the super bowl whooo hooo). Crais is actually orginally from Louisiana so he was probably able to draw on his old memories of the place to colour the story...

Yep I'm looking forward to reading this and I've got three more Elvis Cole novels after that, that I'll read later on in this MYSTERY AND SUSPENSE FEST plus there's two more recent ones that I haven't read at all yet. All I'll say to you people if you haven't read Robert's stuff yet is get going!!! Get busy!! Get Crais!!

#23 treeduck

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Posted 21 January 2007 - 11:36 PM

Fave characters so far:

Martha Guidry the dotty old lady obsessed with annihilating bugs real or imaginary with great gas cloud sprays of Raid...

Luther the 100 year old 200 pound snapper turtle...

Jimmy Ray Rebenack the redhead, ridiculously pompadored, would-be private eye/blackmailer with the worst tailing technique in the world...

Rene the 400 pound freak show on legs, leg breaker for the local bad ass business man and giant turtle handler...

No Joe Pike yet, surprise surprise and on page 125

I've almost totally forgot the story altogether on this one, it's like a new book, with Free Fall it all came back to me but here there's just one or two bits filtering through...





#24 treeduck

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Posted 25 January 2007 - 12:58 PM

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One thing about Elvis Cole I noticed from reading Voodoo River and Free Fall is he listens to Jim Ladd in Los Angeles and he often asks when listening to George Thorogood or someone: what could be better? Well Voodoo River is slightly better than Free Fall but didn't Jim Ladd do an interview with Neil Peart recently? Hmmm.

Anyway yeah, while Free Fall had more action and a few more exciting moments, Voodoo River was a stronger, more in-depth story, with more interesting characters and even though it took 236 pages before he appeared more from Joe Pike than usual.

I'll return to Elvis Cole's LA not too far into the future but that's it for Robert Crais for now...



#25 treeduck

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Posted 25 January 2007 - 01:11 PM

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Dan Simmons is best known for his sci fi and horror novels but he's turned his hand to suspense in a Robert Crais style with his Hard Freeze and hard and Nails novels. This one here, Lovedeath, (that's how my 1993 UK trade paperback looks) is in the horror genre but as I remember more of the subtle variety rather than the gory one. This isn't a novel but a collection of 5 tales, involving romance and death, hence the title, 4 short stories and 1 100 page novella in a 300 page book. Looking at the back, the tales are quite varied: from the first world tale to the story of a sioux warrior. So quite a change of pace to the first few novels featured here...

This isn't my favourite Simmons book but hey I'll get to my favourites later for now this'll do nicely...

#26 treeduck

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Posted 28 January 2007 - 01:43 PM

Anyone who hasn't read Dan Simmons and who reads this introduction (which is overlong) will realise right away that he's a clever, well read guy. The first story though is almost too clever by half with it's multiple flashbacks and many story threads. The second story is much better a tale of modern age vampires, revenge, AIDS and sex called Dying in Bangkok. These two tales are linked by the Vietnam war as both main characters are veterans and are still haunted by their time there.

The third tale, the one I'm on now and the longest one so far, is a story of an old man of the Sioux who tells a tale of a young boy to an unknown listener, entitled Sleep with Teeth Woman. Before he gets into the meat of his story he has to get something off his chest though, this is an excerpt that cracked me up, with apologies to Kevin Costner...


"After throwing up, I wept that evening during my long walk before Leonard and the others realized that I was going home and came to find me in their pickups. I wept because my own descendants would think that such a movie showed our people as they were. I think that anyone who would make such a movie is weasel and that movie should be called Dances with Weasels. The movie star who made it and directed it and starred in it is a weasel. I think that he acted slow and stupid and weasel-like in the movie and that rather than fawning over him and giving him a home and a good name such as Dances with Wolves and a woman, even a captured Wasicun woman, my ancestors would have ignored him. Or if he had persisted in coming around, they would have cut his balls off.

"No what made me throw up and then weep was that my own people could not see the contempt in the movie. It is a contempt that only a total conqueror can show toward the totally conquered.

"At first the Wasicun feared the Plains Indian. They were at our mercy in the earliest days of our contact. Then, when the numbers of the Wasicun increased and their fear was balanced by their greed for our land, they hated us. But at least it was a hatred reinforced by respect.

"The simpering, peace-loving, ecologically perfect idiots I saw portrayed as Lakota Sioux in this abortion of a movie would exist only in the mind of a  blond, California-surfer Wasicun such as the one that made the movie. It was condescending. It was filled with the contempt that can come from having no fear or respect whatsoever for a people who had once happily cut the balls off your own ancestors. It was the condescending arrogance of one who can only offer pity because it costs nothing.

"Walking home that night, I was reminded of a game I played as a child. it was called isto kicicastakapi and it consisted of chewing rosebush berries, spitting the pits into your hands and then tossing them into someone's face. Usually there was a lot of spit there with the pits.
    
"This movie was a Wasicun isto kicicastakapi. It was only spit and  fruit pits in the face. There was nothing real there, nothing of substance.
    
"So again - listen. There are no stupid, grinning Wasicun blond surfer heroes in this story; all of the characters are of the Ikce Wicasa - pronounced Ik-che Wi-cha-sha- the natural, free human beings, the people you call the Sioux.
    
"But listen anyway."

#27 treeduck

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Posted 31 January 2007 - 06:05 PM

QUOTE (treeduck @ Jan 25 2007, 01:11 PM)
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Dan Simmons is best known for his sci fi and horror novels but he's turned his hand to suspense in a Robert Crais style with his Hard Freeze and hard and Nails novels. This one here, Lovedeath, (that's how my 1993 UK trade paperback looks) is in the horror genre but as I remember more of the subtle variety rather than the gory one. This isn't a novel but a collection of 5 tales, involving romance and death, hence the title, 4 short stories and 1 100 page novella in a 300 page book. Looking at the back, the tales are quite varied: from the first world tale to the story of a sioux warrior. So quite a change of pace to the first few novels featured here...

This isn't my favourite Simmons book but hey I'll get to my favourites later for now this'll do nicely...

I finished the final story, a detailed account by an officer/poet of his experiences during the Battle of the Somme in 1916. It's written in the form of a journal and it was absorbing if a little depressing and horrific. The trenches with their rats, lice and fetid rotting corpes must have been soul destroying in the worst way. And up above in No Man's Land the air filled with a the buzzing metal of certain death. There's a note of hope though in the story. The narrator is a fictional character but the accounts are pretty much true to the real events and the poems used as the work of Simmon's fictional war poet are in fact the work of the real poets of the Great War, A.G West, Sigfried Sassoon, Rupert Brooke, Charles Sorley and Wilfed Owen.

I'm going to quickly type out an excerpt to give you a flavour of the story, nothing too horrific though so don't worry...

Tuesday, 15 August, 1.20 p.m.
This Friday, 18 August, will be the fiftieth day of this battle. A while ago, alone in my tent, I took out my revolver, made sure it was loaded, and seriously considered shooting myself. It would have to be a fatal shot, since any attempt at a self-inflicted wound is punishable by execution.

The Irony makes me laugh

Wednesday, 16 August, 2.30 p.m.
Late this morning, Brigadier-General Shute himself - the commander of our entire brigade - showed up with the pompous Colonel and several red-tabbed Staff adjutants in tow. The men were assembled in the rain, three companies on a side of an open square. The order went out to stand at ease and there we were, several thousand men in dripping waterproofs and sodden khaki caps (we put away our tin hats this far behind the lines), with all eyes on General Shute astride his tall black horse in the centre of our square. The horse was nervous and had to be reined in, which the General did without apparent thought.

"Well, I think that... yes ... ahem, it seems to be incumbent upon me... that is to say, all you chaps should know that action with the enemy is ... well, imminent, shall we say?" The General cleared his throat, reined in the nervous horse, and sat higher. "I have no doubt that each and every man jack of you will comport himself with, you know, courage. And uphold the honour of this Division, which has covered itself with, well, glory since the Battle of Mons."

At this point the horse wheeled around as if leaving and we thought the lecture was over, but the General reined in the recalcitrant animal, almost stood in his stirrups, and got to the crux of his address. "And one more thing lads," he said, voice rising, "I visited your reserve trenches two days ago and I was well appalled. Simply appalled. Sanitary arrangements were far from satisfactory. Hygiene was as lax as the discipline. Why, I saw human excrement lying about in places. You all know the regulations on burying one's waste. I need to tell you that i won't have it - I simply won't have it! Do you hear? I know you have been under some artillery harassment recently, but that's no reason to behave like animals. Do you hear me? After this attack, if I find anyone not keeping their section of the trench clean and disinfected according to precise regulations, I shall have that man or men up on charges! And I include officers as well as the lower ranks in this charge."

As we all stood stunned in the increasingly heavy rain, General Shute wheeled his horse around a final time and almost galloped to the rear, his covey of adjutants and aides-de-camp racing to their motorcars to catch up.

We were not finished. We were called to attention and made to stand there for another forty minutes as first the Colonel ticked us off with spittle flying, echoing his commander's sentiments about human waste found lying around, and then - when the Colonel had left- the Sergeant-Major gave a stern lecture about how the severest military penalties would apply to any slacker who held back during the attack. Then the Sergeant-Major read an endless list of names - names of men executed for such offences, complete with the date of their cowardice. their rank and unit and finally the date and hour of their execution. It was profoundly depressing, and when we returned to our leaking tents our thoughts were more on floating shit and firing squads than on covering ourselves with glory for Blighty or King.

Same day, 9.00 p.m.
I may have found a way out of this war more clever or at least more certain than shooting myself.

After I penned that last entry, I sat in my tent and wrote a poem. Because I wrote it on foolscap rather than in this journal, Lieutenant Raddison - Raddy - evidently came across it later and showed it to some of the chaps. I was furious of course, but it was too late. The poem has made the rounds of the camp by now and i have heard laughter from a hundred sources. Even the stern old NCOs are reported to be delighted by it, and many of the lower ranks have begun singing it as a marching ditty.

As of now, only a few of the other officers know that i was the wit behind this broadside, but if it is discovered by the Colonel or anyone higher in rank, I have no doubt that my name will be on the list next time the men must hear of executions. Captain Brown knows, but he merely gave me an exasperated look and said nothing. I suspect that he secretly enjoyed the poem.

Here it is:

The General inspecting the trenches
Exclaimed with a horrible shout,
"I refuse to command a Division
Which leaves its excreta about.

But nobody took any notice
No one was prepared to refute,
That the presence of shit was congenial
Compared with the presence of Shute.

And certain responsible critics
Made haste to reply to his words
Observing that his Staff advisers
Consisted entirely of turds.

For shit maybe shot at odd corners
And paper supplied there to suit,
But a shit would be shot without mourners
If somebody shot that shit Shute.


Thursday, 17 August, 4.00 p.m.
Marched the Brigade back to the reserve trenches by noon, then forward to the advanced trenches held by the devastated 55th until this morning. All the way back here in the rain I kept hearing snatches of the Brigade's new "marching song" . But the singing died as we occupied our old trenches and then moved forward to the advanced line opposite Orchard Trench.

I would like to write now that I feel fatalistic about all this, that I have been through it all before and that nothing can frighten me after what I have seen, but the truth is that I am more terrified than ever before. The thought of dying is like a great void opening within me. Marching here I look at a field mouse scurrying away from the road in the valley and I think, Will that mouse be alive in forty-eight hours when I'm dead? The idea - no the probability - that I will be condemned to an eternity of non-sight, non-sound, non-touch while other things continue to live and sense the universe is almost unsupportable.

For the past hour I have been trying to read The Return of the Native. I do not want to die before I finish this book.

The men are pooling their cash to be divided amongst the survivors after the attack. Their feeling is admirable - If I should die, better the money goes to some chum or fellow sufferer than rot in the mud of No Man's Land or be looted by some souvenir-hunting Hun. If the attrition is as bad as it was with my 13th Battalion, or the 34th, or the Church Lads Brigade of the 33rd, or the 51st or 55th who still lie in silent rows, their faces to the rain, in the fields behind us... well there will be some wealthy chaps this time tomorrow evening.

The religious fellows in the platoon attended a communion service not an hour ago. The altar was two stretchers on which the blood of the wounded was visible on the stained canvas beneath the chalice holding the Blood of Our Saviour. I envy the men who found comfort there.

This advance trench is only seven feet deep, barely deep enough to keep our tin hats out of sight. An hour ago a lance-corporal from D Company peeked his head up for the briefest second and a bullet caught him square in the ear and took his face quite off. We are all aware that to show any part of ourselves, for even the briefest time would bring a bullet. And tomorrow we will stand up there on those sandbags and walk out towards the enemy? It seems hardly sane.

Captain Brown was talking about the barrage and how the artillery chaps will try a different approach this time - walking a "curtain" across No Man's Land in front of us. God knows they have tried everything else. for the Australians, our officers commanding the 17-pounders followed the old recipe of twenty-four hours of barrage, then the crescendo... and then waited ten minutes for the Germans to come flocking out of their dugouts and reinforced bunkers.... and then resumed it again, trying to catch them in the open.

We do not know how effective this clever plan was - the Australians who went out by the thousands to capture those trenches did not, by and large, return.

Captain Brown is quite sanguine about our Brigade reaching and taking its objective. At times i want to shout at him that the objective is not worth the floating shit that General Shute found so offensive. What use is another hundred yards of bombed-out trench if it costs a hundred thousand lives... or three hundred thousand lives... or a million? it is common knowledge that General Sir Douglas Haig calls the deaths of thousands of us "the usual wastage" and has said that half a million casualties before this battle is over would be "quite acceptable".

Acceptable to whom, I wonder? Not to me. My life is all I have I thought that at the advanced age of twenty-eight, I would be less worried about losing my life. Instead, I hold every second of experience to this point as sacred and detest those who would take away my chance to see another sunrise oe eat another meal or finish Return of the Native.

My hand is shaking so that I can hardly read this writing. What will the men think if their Lieutenant cannot muster the courage to lead them over the top? Who cares what the men would think if my funk would gain me even a minute more of life and breath.

I would care. For whatever bizarre reason, I care. Perhaps it is just fear of having one's comrades think poorly of one that sends us each over the top.

It is time for high tea. Bully beef and a bulb of onion for the men tonight. The days of oranges and chestnuts are past. It is the flies favourite meal for us tonight - and tomorrow? many of us will be meals for the flies.


The poem about General Shute was actually written by A.P. Herbert and called The General Inspecting the Trenches.

From Dan Simmon's end notes: Alan A.P Herbert was present when General Shute dressed down the 63rd Division for their filthy trenches. The Division  had just gone into the line formerly held by the Portugese and the men resented Shute's comments. Herbert's "poem" became a song to the tune "Wrap me up in a Tarpaulin Jacket" and soon spread throughout the Division and then through the whole army.

The irony of the situation was that although Shute was remowned as a spit and polish man and a bit of a martinet, he was admired by many of his men for his tremendous courage and willingness to crawl through No Man's Land  with scout patrols. Thanks to Herbert's limerick what tends to be remembered about Shute now is "The general Insepcting the Trenches".



And now after Dan Simmons' Lovedeath and tales of the Great War poets it's time for something completely different...

Edited by treeduck, 31 January 2007 - 06:22 PM.


#28 treeduck

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Posted 31 January 2007 - 06:15 PM

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Tim Willocks is an English author who writes thrillers set in America. His most well known novel and my favourite by him is the prison thriller Green River Rising, which makes the TV shows like Oz and Prison Break look like Sesame Street. Bad City Blues is his first novel  but I read it after the two that came after and it concerns the same character Cicero Grimes from his third novel Blood-Stained Kings. I'll read GRR and BSK again at a later date...

#29 treeduck

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Posted 05 February 2007 - 12:46 PM

QUOTE (treeduck @ Jan 31 2007, 06:15 PM)
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Tim Willocks is an English author who writes thrillers set in America. His most well known novel and my favourite by him is the prison thriller Green River Rising, which makes the TV shows like Oz and Prison Break look like Sesame Street. Bad City Blues is his first novel  but I read it after the two that came after and it concerns the same character Cicero Grimes from his third novel Blood-Stained Kings. I'll read GRR and BSK again at a later date...

The main characters in Bad City Blues are all crazy, that is to say violently deranged. And they're very entertaining. Some of their motivations and some of their actions though border on the ridiculous at times and the dialogue very slightly lacks a certain authenticity. Especially the motivations and actions of Clarence Jefferson the immoral and criminal police captain. Mind you it could be just a question of style, most people might not notice. One thing that's true though the book is entertaining, exciting and funny. And it certainly makes you want to read more of his work. Luckily I have more.

Dennis Hopper apparantly made a film of the book back in 1999, but I've heard he made a mess of it. Ah well...

One interesting thing about the book and the author is the main character Dr Eugene Cicero Grimes, the kung fu shrink with a violent inner landscape, shares some characteristics with Willocks himself; when Willocks isn't writing violent thriller novels he works as a psychiatrist treating adiction and he happens to have a black belt in shotokan karate. I'm not sure about the violent inner landscape though, he could be a pussycat for all I know.

He was in a bit of trouble a couple of years ago, well the clinic he used to work at was being investigated by the GMC (General Medical Council. he and 4 of the doctors were later cleared, but three were found guilty. Here's the story...

GMC probes drug clinic doctors

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Dr Timothy Willocks faces charges

Seven doctors who worked at a private clinic for heroin addicts are facing charges of serious professional misconduct.

A General Medical Council hearing into the work of the Stapleford Centre, which has sites in central London and Essex began on Monday.

The doctors are accused of inappropriate prescribing of drugs.

The hearing heard how one patient died after using a "DIY detox" kit without medical supervision.

The 29-year-old man choked on his own vomit in his sleep in September 2001 after taking the cocktail of drugs, including diazepam, rohypnol and temazepam.

The GMC hearing was told that instructions on how to use the kit were "unclear, confusing and inadequate".

It is thought that the GMC has never before heard a case where seven doctors have been jointly charged with serious professional misconduct.


Among those facing charges is Dr Colin Brewer, the founder of the clinic and one of the world's leading experts on treating drug addiction.

He faces questions about the amount of drugs, and the combination of drugs he prescribed to some of his patients.

Dr Ronald Tovey
Dr Ronald Tovey arrives at the GMC
It is also alleged that he did not manage the care of patients properly, and did not have adequate contact either with the patients themselves, or their GPs.

The professional conduct committee, sitting in London, was told how Dr Brewer's treatment of a heroin addict in 1997 failed to take into account the fact that the 26-year-old woman had become pregnant, had had a fit and was suffering from depression.

It was also claimed that Dr Brewer failed to respond properly to the medical needs of another female patient, who struggled with anorexia, excessive drinking and fits.

In total, he is accused of serious professional misconduct in relation to 13 patients stretching back to May 1990.

The remaining six doctors, some of whom no longer work at the clinic, are Anthony Haines, Hugh Kindness, Nicolette Mervitz, Martin O'Rawe, Ronald Tovey and Timothy Willocks.

They also face charges of inappropriate prescription of drugs.

Home Office investigation

The allegations surfaced after routine monitoring by the Home Office drugs inspectorate, which checks that controlled drugs are being dispensed in accordance with government guidelines.

Ian Harris and his wife Jill
Ian Harris supports the doctors
Current government policy is to give addicts rapidly diminishing doses of methadone to get them off heroin quickly.

Critics say the clinic, which has an international reputation, has been too liberal in handing out drugs.

There is concern that if methadone is made too readily available to addicts, it will find its way onto the black market.

But supporters say its policy has helped saved lives.

Ian Harris, a patient at the Stapleford clinic, attended the GMC hearing to demonstrate public support for the doctors.

He said the treatment he had received had given him stability - and warned people could die if it was forced to change its methods.

"The reality for many will be they will once again be at the mercy of drug dealers and some will resort to crime or prostitution in order to stop horrendous side-effects. Their health will be weakened beyond belief."

Dr Brewer is also accused of interfering with a potential witness by asking authors of a report criticising doctors at his clinic to withdraw their findings.

All the doctors deny acting improperly.

The hearing is expected to last for three months.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/3512925.stm


Meanwhile Dr Tim has been hard at work on a new novel which is now out and called The Religion and is an historical novel and sounds very good. he wrote it locked away in a cabin in the woods in Upstate New York. I'll see if i can grab a copy and bring it into this thread. The next Willocks novel I'll read though is the sequel to Bad city Blues - Blood Stained Kings but not right now...

Edited by treeduck, 05 February 2007 - 12:51 PM.


#30 treeduck

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Posted 05 February 2007 - 12:56 PM

Ok next up is Doug J Swanson's Big Town. Which is a little like a Carl Hiaasen novel only set in Dallas, Texas instead of South Florida. I've read a few books by Doug, 96 Tears, The Umberella man and Dreamboat but Big Town is the best of the bunch. Here's how my paperback copy looks in this blurred picture...

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#31 treeduck

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Posted 05 February 2007 - 03:41 PM

QUOTE (treeduck @ Feb 5 2007, 12:46 PM)
Dennis Hopper apparantly made a film of the book back in 1999, but I've heard he made a mess of it. Ah well...


Ah I forgot as regards this film adaptation, here's what willocks made of it, as the project's screen writer...

The Script

‘Bad City Blues’ was the Devil’s own job to adapt; or to use a colloquialism, ‘a right bastard’. The process wasn’t made any easier - even if the script was made much better - by the ceaseless scourge of the director’s lash. The novel is a hellish maelstrom of crazed, mentally unbalanced, demon-driven characters, most of them with personal histories of considerable complexity and great importance - exactly the kind of characters worst suited to contemporary film. The events of the story range over five different narrative time-space zones - some stretching back to childhood, some representing the fevered nightmares of the protagonist, and set in numerous locations - Central and South America, New Orleans, guerilla strongholds and bayou swamps. Flashbacks and hallucinations abound. A multitude of interwoven sub-plots fight each other like wild dogs for prominence. And the entire central portion of the novel, a good 50% or more, is taken up by a ‘conversation’ - an unhinged journey into madness and revelation - between two men in a single room. Whilst the novel as a form is able to take such gymnastics in its stride, film - certainly modern film - runs screaming in terror. Which in a way sums up my own instinctive impulse on first contemplating the task I had set myself.

The problem is this: a novel may effortlessly weave in and out of a character’s head, dip into both memories of the past and visions of the future, and convey fascinating information by the ton without breaking the mood, the grip, the flow - because it’s all there in the words on the page which come to life in the dance with the reader’s imagination. On film all these things are either invisible - or the subject of dialogue of intolerable tedium and turgidity. As in life, a person in a novel may transport himself or herself into any corner of the universe, known or unknown, whilst sitting on the back of a bus. We do it all the time. It’s called daydreaming. Or remembering. Or worrying. Or fantasizing. Without this gift we would go insane; or turn into plants. But in a film, all you have is a guy, or gal, sitting on the back of a bus - or standing against a wall with a black bag on his head as his mind splits apart like rotting fruit. How do you convey such inner experience on film? How do you communicate the teeming psychic turmoil of a silent man? How does one make visual a world in which the coin of survival is secrecy - the guarded-with-one’s-very-life secrecy of love and hatred and shame? How does one portray a twenty-four hour conversation - for all that it’s an epic duel with neither rules nor limits between two men of mythic stature - in the middle of an amphetamine-fuelled film without sending the viewer into a coma?

These were only some of the challenges that faced us.
The great writer and director Paul Schrader once described the conventional Hollywood Movie thus: ‘You tell the audience what’s going to happen; then you show it happening; then you tell them what they’ve just seen.’ Clearly this wasn’t going to work for us, if only because so much does indeed happen in the underbelly of Bad City that the film would be nine hours long or more. In the cauldron of collaboration, we realised that only an approach as bold, as driven and as unconventional as the characters themselves would stand any chance of success. So the structure of screenplay - and the film itself - became a kind of narrative Rubik’s Cube: with each twist of the story one knew - or at least hoped - that one was somehow getting closer to that distant resolution that would only arrive at the very last moment - the moment of truth. We had to place our trust in the veracity and conviction of the characters, of the many superb artists of every stripe that we hoped would join us, and most of all in the willingness of the audience to throw caution to the winds, engage heart and mind, and dance to the Bad City Blues like pagans beneath a blood red sky. We cut, we re-defined, we re-invented. We condemned important characters into oblivion and introduced new ones. We changed motivations and histories. We simplified. We complexified. We spoke in tongues. We sat staring into space waiting for our foreheads to bleed. We prayed to the muses and we cursed God. We abandoned all fidelity to the novel itself in order to remain faithful to the mysterious and elusive truth that lies at the heart of any story. Or as Shakespeare might have put it, ‘a dark tornado of betrayal, vengeance, sex and redemption by any other name would smell as sweet’. After many months, and over two hundred and fifty e-mails no less driven and intense than the story itself, we decanted the molten residue from the cauldron’s bottom, scraped away the dross afloat on top, and gambled all we had, bollocks included, on what was left. We believed it to be gold. A sufficient number of actors, investors, cinematographers, production and costume and make-up designers, stunt men, musicians, Panavision and Technicolor executives - a motley collection from the four corners of the world and mad gamblers each and every one - believed it along with us in order to get the film made.

Against all logic and odds the film came to be.

When Giuseppe Verdi was adapting Macbeth into an opera he wrote to his librettist, Francesco Piave:

‘If we cannot do something great, let us at least do something out of the ordinary.’ Giuseppe Verdi

Bad City Blues is out of the ordinary.
Come and see.


Tim Willocks


http://www.badcityblues.com/script.html

#32 treeduck

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Posted 08 February 2007 - 12:19 AM

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Well this first tale of Jack Flippo, the former assistant D.A. who's fallen from grace, now getting involved with a bunch of scam artists, was pretty good. I can't help feeling though that a lot of the story seemed unfinished and it led to a very disappointing and unsatisfying ending. You know the feeling where there's very few pages to go and still a lot of issues to resolve. Well that was the case here. With a couple of annoying characters too, Paula Fontaine for one, a blackmailer, who never did give a straight answer to a question, which is ok if that's her character but we never find out her motivations or her point of view and to some extent this was the most interesting part of the story. Ah well, still it was a fun read for the most part, reminiscent of Elmore Leonard, but I'll pass on re-reading the rest of the Jack Flippo novels...

#33 treeduck

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Posted 08 February 2007 - 12:30 AM

Next...

I know very little about this next guy, except that I read this one book by him back in the mid 90s and i found it again along with a lot of other ones. This is the book...

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I can't remember a thing about this one, a good reason to read it maybe. The blurb on the back of the book says it's a cross between Silence of the Lambs and Elmore Leonard's Stick. Well my advice on blurbs is don't believe the blurbs until the book backs it up...

Since I've given a taste of the blurb here's the synopsis as well...

"The minute he saw her, 'smooth skin tanned a dark honey colour, sleek young muscles making the honey skin ripple as she moved', Frank Limosin knew Suki Flood was trouble. But when Frank spotted the sexy 18 year old perched on the rear deck of a fire red Trans Am in the middle of the scorching New Mexico desert, stranded by a flat tyre, he knew he had no choice but to help her.

Fixing the Trans Am's tyre proves not to be enough. The car won't run and Frank isn't about to leave Suki to die on the way to the De Baca mountains. then Frank finds out that Suki is on the run from a sadistic con man named Mink and his mean flunkies, Mote and Jersey. It seems that Mink didn't take too kindly to Suki doping him with Seconal then tattooing her own version of 'Crook' on his forehead.

Limosin has problems of his own - a stash of $77,000 in the back of his camper, the proceeds from a truckload of stolen ball bearings... and the police are on his case! But Frank gets caught up in a dangerous roller coaster of a fight to save Suki's life and all his other problems fade into insignificance."


Well it does sound a bit like Stick maybe but already I can't see the Silence of the Lambs comparison at all. Blurbs are for the birds.

Ok now you know as much as me...

#34 treeduck

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Posted 13 February 2007 - 11:57 AM

QUOTE (treeduck @ Feb 8 2007, 12:30 AM)
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I can't remember a thing about this one, a good reason to read it maybe. The blurb on the back of the book says it's a cross between Silence of the Lambs and Elmore Leonard's Stick. Well my advice on blurbs is don't believe the blurbs until the book backs it up...


So did this book back up it's blurb?? Well it was a little like an Elmore Leonard novel inasmuch as it had a blue collar good guy, who was honourable and chivalrous and a sassy gal who could stick up for herself under fire plus numerous lowlife villians that managed to be both stupid and cunning. What about the silence of the Lambs comparison I hear you mumble?? Well the only  thing that even reminds me of the book is the story's main psycho bad guy, Mink AKA Simon Vorhees. He has all the hallmarks of the superior psycho bad guy: high intelligence, sadistic imagination, remarkable insight, physical lethality and a monstrous ego. It was clear to me immediately though, that he was not entirely convincing, certainly compared to Tom Harris' Hannibal Lector.  Mink's just not in that league. Where Mink rings slightly false, Lector is the truth...

Despite that gripe brought on by the blurb's comparison this was an enjoyable  thriller which built toward an exciting denouement. And I did care about the characters and what happened to them. Sometimes in books like this I turn against the good guys and root for the bad guys if I'm not entirely moved by them, but not this time. The quirky combination of a stocky 54 year old truck driver and a statuesque, 18 year old blonde beauty worked very well.

So yeah I'd recommend this one if you happen to stumble across it on your travels...

#35 treeduck

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Posted 13 February 2007 - 12:10 PM

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Martin Amis is not known for his suspense novels but in 1997 here he was doing his version of the American police procedural. Once again I can't quite remember if this was any good or not (if I can remember them too well I leave them till I forget them enough to make a re-read worthwhile). Apparently Amis's American vernacular in the narrative of this work was heavily criticised by John Updike among others, but defended by Janis Bellow, wife of Amis's "mentor" Saul Bellow. Thinking back this is one of those novels that's more interesting than mind-blowing...

It's one of the shortest to feature here, a mere 150 pages and the type is rather large therefore not much text on a page. So I don't think this train will be taking me for a very long journey, but let's hope it's a short and sweet trip...

#36 treeduck

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Posted 15 February 2007 - 09:13 PM

I only just started Night Train earlier, it's very fast paced and I'm already halfway through. Amis is a craftsman of language but he name drops details here like Bret Easton Ellis in American Psycho...

I was going to start this last night but then the Snakes and Arrows news broke and I knew I couldn't concentrate on reading so I left it unopened and followed the forum...

Talking of Snakes and Arrows there's a minor coincidence I was just reading on page 68-69, here's the paragraph it's near the opening of part two: Felo de se...

"As part of my job I completed, as many others did, the course called "Suicide: Harsh Conclusions," at Pete, and followed that up, again on city time,  with the refresher lecture series on "Patterns of Suicide," at CC. I came to know the graphs and diagrams of suicide, their pie segments, their concentric circles, their color codes, their arrows, their snakes and ladders..."



#37 treeduck

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Posted 16 February 2007 - 01:35 PM

The charge of unconvincing American dialogue against MA is noted and I can see what Updike means. I get the feeling he thinks Amis used his memories of Micky Spillane films for his characters in Night Train. Mike, his female detective does use words like "broad" which I'm not sure people use anymore under the age of 70. The way I see it though, Amis has done this on purpose, it's a character trait, Mike is sort of eccentric and doesn't use words that everyone else might use. When all is said and done the vernacular question is not a big factor at all really.

One thing I liked about this is you don't for second think that Mike is Amis doing his woman thing, she is fully realised and very convincing considering it's a VERY short novel. The story is interesting but it's not got much meat on it, the way it's told by Amis is the strength of this book, he's a clever wordsmith.

#38 treeduck

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Posted 16 February 2007 - 01:50 PM

I've read most of Walter Mosley's Easy Rawlins series but I'm only going to read one here. The most famous of the series is the first one, Devil in a Blue Dress, which was made into a Hollywood movie starring Denzel Washington. This is the one I've chosen to re-visit though...

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My favourite one was Black Betty, but I couldn't find my copy. And yes each of these has a colour in the title. Not all of them have a colour but there's also Red Death, White Butterfly and so on...

#39 treeduck

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Posted 19 February 2007 - 01:10 PM

The first Easy Rawlins novel, "Devil in a Blue Dress" was set around in LA in 1948 and Yellow Dog, the 5th in the series is set years later in the mid-60s, so we have a much more mature Easy here who wants to leave his past life on the streets behind and just be a simple working man, do his eight hours and pick up his pay. But of course things don't quite work out like that. Mosley just won't let Easy go...

I'm well into this one now, though I started very slowly, think i was distracted or something...

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#40 treeduck

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Posted 22 February 2007 - 03:13 AM

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The Easy Rawlins is a detective series, but Easy isn't really a detective, he's just a man who gets caught up in murder and trouble on a regular basis and ends up having to do his own ad-hoc investigation just to save his own arse...

He's older in this story, middle-aged and retired from his life on the streets and in fact even his dangerous gangster pal Mouse has become a working stiff. There's plenty of excitement in this one though as suddenly events, and his own past, conspire to drag him back down.

I found out when the book was set near the end when Easy finds out that JFK, the only President he ever loved, has been shot...

The biggest mystery for me in the book is why the dog hates Easy so much, everyone else the mutt was friendly with. When Easy was battling for his life with a killer, instead of attacking the guy who happens to be beating him to a pulp, the dog attacks Easy instead, nearly ripping his ear off!! He never did get rid of that dog either and he was trying to ditch it right from the beginning...







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