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treeduck's MYSTERY AND SUSPENSE THREAD


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#41 treeduck

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Posted 22 February 2007 - 03:35 AM

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I'm going to return to Carl Hiaasen's wacky South Florida next in Strip Tease. This one was made into a disasterous film starring Demi Moore and the woefully miscast Burt Reynolds. Ugggh just thinking about it makes me snarl. Demi may have looked good in it but the script was dog ugly. I'm hoping to purge the movie images from my mind with this re-read...

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#42 treeduck

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Posted 25 February 2007 - 03:22 PM

The trouble with Hiaasen is he's got a pretty flat writing style, he writes like a reporter. His little asides and back story subplots read like pieces he may have written in the Miami Herald and then outlandishly exaggerated for the book. None of this mattered in his first novels and Native Tongue because his main story, wacky ideas and weird characters were so good that the whole thing just worked almost pefectly. In this one the ideas, characters and the story are poor. There's a kind of pieced together feel, some of these character's stories don't fit or match, like they've been weaved  together clumsily to make a novel length work...

Also he's made his main character Erin, way too smart and resourceful to be a downtrodden stripper who can't even keep custody of her own kid. She's like some kind of working class super hero the way he paints her here but if she was so smart would she be working in a lowly dive of a strip club doing a job she so obviously loathes? Would she have allowed this to happen? I don't think so. Would she have allowed her doofus of an ex-husband to run rings around her for years. Would she have even taken a second look at him in the first place. It's possible maybe, but not the way she's presented in these pages, she's too knowing too clever. She's handled everyone so far like she's some kind of wonder woman, without the panties...

It's still waaaaay better than the film version, but well down on the one I read a bit back by Carl, Skin Tight...

Ah well, half of the book still to go, maybe it'll shock me with it's incredible denouement...


#43 treeduck

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Posted 05 March 2007 - 01:40 PM

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I've already almost finished my next book, a james W Hall mystery, yet another of the South Florida mystery cartel. It's good, quirky and funny, although it started of slowly. I forgot most of the plot but certain parts came back to me (the villainesses suddenly going lesbian was one part of the book that sprung to my mind). It's a good quirky thriller and it's way better than Strip Tease which never got any better unfortunately. Hall even seems to mock the celebrated Miami Herald columnist's eco sensibilities at one point, of ocurse it's from a murderer's point of view so that covers his ass in case Hiaasen ever picks him up on it:

"He set a section aside and picked up the local pages and read a paragraph or two from the Herald's star columnist - a middle-aged guy who'd discovered sarcasm in fifth grade and had never gotten over it. Today he was being snide about a new real estate development out on the edge of his precious Everglades. A scathing tack on some business man who had the gall to build some houses where the columnist used to fish with his cane pole as a kid. Because the guy had grown up in Miami and remembered it when it was a drowsy backwater tourist town, he thought he was the pope of alligators. Everybody was supposed to squirm up to him, kiss his ring, and let him decide what got built, what didn't. f***ing journalists."

Akk for all I know Hall is Hiaasen's best pal and it was a novelist's in-joke or something ah well...

#44 treeduck

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Posted 06 March 2007 - 04:12 AM

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Even though it started a little bit slowly with a flashback prologue, this turned out to be best one so far in this M&S thread. It was a serial killer style thriller but much more interesting and diverse than the usual books of this kind. It had great characters who all had their various quirks and idiosyncracies like real people instead of the stereotypes you often find in these stories.

I was a little disappointed that Stan, Emma and Norman got wiped out in ways that prevented what could have been a series of exciting confrontations but that's not the way the story went and it's just a minor gripe as the second of half of the book was particularly satisfying with a really page-turning conclusion.

I really recommend this one it's fairly original and the main character, Alex and particularly her father are great characters. And the killer was very effective a lot more entertaining and engaging than the average fictional psycho killer, plus he was much more convincing,

And it was funny too, here's an excerpt that had me laughing and it doesn't give away the plot or even a sub-plot...




The big redneck came up to Stan's window, bent down to look him over, then said, "Don't do no full service after 7 P.M.. Gotta pump it yourself."
    Stan looked at the dashboard digital clock.
    "It's only six-fifty."
    "'At's not what my watch says. And my watch is what we go by around here."
    The big man was wearing a railroad cap and overalls and an orange t-shirt that was giving Stan an instant headache.
    "Jesus Christ man I got a broken leg," Stan said, tapping on the white plaster. "I'm in a Goddamn cast. Cut me some slack, why don't you?"
    The big man stepped away from the window.
    "Don't be cussing me, mister. Rules is rules."
    The man started back to his office.
    "Hey!" Stan yelled. "Hey, you porker. Look at me. Turn around, doofus and look me in the f***ing eye."
    With his back to Stan, the man halted, shot a thick dollop of tobacco juice into the weeds beside the pumps, and turned slowly. His mouth was set in a snarl, but when he saw the .38 pointing at him out the window, his face went slack.
    "You know who I am pig man?"
    "Don't reckon I do."
    "I'm Machine Gun Kelly is who I am. I'm Richard Loch and Alfred Packer and Lee Harvey Oswald all rolled into one. I'm Charles Starkweather and Frank Nitti and Joseph Michael Valachi."
    "You're all those people, are you?"
    "You bet your sweet ass I am. Them and more."
    "If you say so."
    "So fill it up, fat boy." Stan said. "Regular unleaded."
    While the guy pumped the gas, Stan kept one eye on him in the rearview mirror and the other one on the yellow pool truck across the highway. Jennifer and the dark girl had gotten out and gone over to the john together while the water buffalo who'd been driving the truck was filling the tank. Stan just got a glimpse of the two women together, he didn't like what he saw. Reading their body language, it didn't look like Jennifer was a hostage at all. Way too friendly. A couple of girls out for a Sunday ride, kidding around, playful.
    For close to six hundred miles now, Stan had been following them. Never saw anyone drive so slowly. A hundred times he'd considered passing them by, speeding on ahead, getting to Seaside a few hours before they did. But things could go wrong with that. He could have car trouble. They could pass him, get there first. This way, at least he could keep them in sight, and maybe, if the opportunity arose, ambush them somewhere along the way.
    He'd always hated that white Galaxy, but now he'd begun to appreciate the car because it was so damn bland, it was practically invisible. Even with no traffic to speak of for the last few hours, the three of them didn't have a clue he was back there. Just another boxy white car.
    "You're full up," the porker called.
    Stan looked over at the pump, then pulled out his wallet and counted out seventeen dollars and held them out to the man, but the big guy eyed the money suspiciously and backed away.
    "Take it," Stan said. "This isn't a f***ing holdup."
    "It's not?"
    "No, you idiot. I just wanted full service that's all."
    "We don't do full service after 7 P.M.," the porker said.
    "Yeah so I heard."
    Stan waggled the money at the man until he leaned over and snatched it out of Stan's grasp.
    By then, the pool-service truck was pulling out of the Exxon plaza and cranking back up the highway.
    "Before I go," Stan said, and showed him the gun again, "I want you to swallow that plug."
    "Say what?"
    "That chewing tobacco, swallow it." Stan sighted on the man's broad, smooth forehead. "The whole damn mess, gulp it right on down."
    Stan thumbed back the hammer.
    "Shit," the man said. "It's too got-damned big to swallow."
    "No cussing. Just swallow it down you oinker. The whole thing. Hurry up. I gotta go. Do it or I'll shoot your measly pecker off."
    With his eyes on the gun, the porker craned his neck and took a quick breath, then choked down the wad.
    "That stuff'll kill you boy, if you aren't careful. Give you mouth cancer and kill you deader than a bullet through the heart."
    Stan uncocked the pistol, put the car in gear, and rolled onto the highway.
    When he looked back, the porker was bent over the grass, vomiting, and a couple of chickens were scurrying over to feed.

Edited by treeduck, 06 March 2007 - 04:55 AM.


#45 treeduck

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Posted 06 March 2007 - 06:20 PM

Next up it's time to bring back Joe Lansdale...

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This is the first in the Hap Collins/Leonard Pine mystery series, one of the funniest and suspenseful in fiction. I'm gonna read about 5 of these, Mujo Mojo follows this one and it's the best of the bunch, so I'll save that till last. I'm not going to read them one after another anyway... Who knows what's next?? This is only about 170 pages so a nice short little story...

#46 treeduck

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Posted 10 March 2007 - 03:44 AM

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Savage Season is so short it's almost like an appetizer for the whole series. And it only really kicks into high gear at the halfway point. It's good stuff all the way through though as Joe introduces his characters and builds up steadily to an explosive finish.  

#47 treeduck

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Posted 10 March 2007 - 03:51 AM

David Morrell is best known for creating the legend of John J Rambo in his 1972 novel First Blood. He has done quite a few other good thrillers of varied types. one of the best ones is the next book I'm gonna re-visit...

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This is one hell of a spooky tale, so spooky it even gave Stephen King the willies when it was published back in 1979...

I can't remember the story at all of course I read it way back in the late 80s, so I better find out what the hell is going on up there in Wyoming before it's too late...

#48 treeduck

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Posted 13 March 2007 - 01:47 PM

The Totem starts like a cross between Dean Koontz's Phantoms and Stephen King's Salem's Lot but ends up being a kind of medical horror novel. It's not in the league of Phantoms or Salem's Lot actually but it's still quite good.

The condensed, zero-padded writing style makes it very fast paced but also makes it a bit confusing with too much happening too fast. One thing about this style though it's certainly not boring...

I've got about 80 pages to go and I still don't know what the hell's going on. Which is rare at this stage of any suspense book. So plus points to DM for that...

#49 treeduck

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Posted 14 March 2007 - 07:36 AM

Yeah The Totem is one of the most unusual and cleverly mysterious horror/suspense novels out there. It's not written in a style that appeals to me and there's little depth beyond the surface but you have to admire any book that can keep you guessing almost to the final page. The evil in the Totem had all the hallmarks of Vampires, werewolves, zombies, aliens you name it, but it wasn't any of them and if you want to find out what it was you'll have to read it yourself...

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#50 treeduck

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Posted 14 March 2007 - 07:54 AM

Next is a guy called Robert R McCammon who was kind of a low-key rival of Stephen King's in the late 70s through the 80s and up to the early 90s. A lot of his books were similar in ideas to some of King's work, not a rip-off, but similar. Sort of like an echo if you will.

You can match them up thus:

Salem's Lot - They Thirst
It - Stinger
Misery - Mine
The Stand - Swan Song

All these echos, as I've dubbed them, were very good or even excellent novels, though didn't quite match the King counterpart. They're too good to miss though if you like this genre.

McCammon disappeared off the radar in the early 90s. I think he's made something of a comeback recently but nothing to match his former glory.

But some of his books were of course nothing like King's like Baal, Usher's Passing, The Wolf's Hour and so on. And here's the one I'm gonna read and this is my Uk trade paperback version from 1989 via my attic...


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This one is a collection of short stories and one novella at the end about the strange relationship between a priest and a porn starlet, hence the title Blue World... I don't think King's done one like that has he??

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#51 treeduck

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Posted 19 March 2007 - 12:38 AM

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I've finished all the short stories now so just the novella about the priest and the porno star to go.

The stories have been generally good and enjoyable. they've been mostly in the horror/sci fi genre with a rich variety of subject matter: a thief who steals monster makeup that is more than just makeup, a vietnam veteran who's dreams are so real they come to life, a psycho kid who controls hordes of stinging insects, a has-been superhero actor who dons his moth-eaten costume one last time and goes on the trail of a serial killer, a good luck town that has to make special offerings to the devil on halloween, a man who wakes up to find death has come in the night and found his wife and so on.

It's not far off being as good as Stephen King's Everything's Eventual, almost as good but not quite. There's that King comparison again. He even mentions King in his introduction. I suppose anyone who writes horror is going to always be compared to King though...

#52 treeduck

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Posted 25 March 2007 - 12:19 PM

Ok now I'm reading Elmore Leonard's Rum Punch, which was adapted to film and dubbed "Jackie Brown" by Quentin Trannytino and drawn out into a three hour piece. The book however is a taut caper of less than 300 pages. Here's a picture of how my 1992 UK hardback copy looks, although mine is more blood red looking than this one...


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#53 treeduck

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Posted 28 March 2007 - 02:01 AM

The thing I don't get about Jackie Brown, the film, is why Tarantino changed Leonard's Rum Punch character Jackie Burke, into Jackie Brown a white woman into a black woman. I mean it's not like they needed a token black character or anything and it's not like he changed the character to fit his new vision of the story. She's the same in the book only white, so why change it? Especially when it's the only thing you change. All I can think is he wanted Pam Grier for the part and she happened to be black.

As for the name maybe they thought Burke wasn't cool enough and Brown was. Of course it sounds right to people familiar with the film and not the book  but it doesn't explain why it was changed...


#54 treeduck

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Posted 30 March 2007 - 12:44 PM

Rum Punch is an enjoyable thriller, great dialogue, great characters and great fun. Not the best novel by Elmore Leonard but pretty good. My only complaint was Jackie Burke the airline stewardess of 20 years standing was a little too clever to be believable. She outsmarted customs,the cops, the crooks, Max Cherry. There was no doubt at any point that she was going to get away with even the most outlandish elements of her plan from the beginning. So the suspense was minimal. If she was so clever what was she doing as a stew for 20 years? Did she only turn her brain on at the beginning of the story or what?



#55 treeduck

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Posted 30 March 2007 - 03:15 PM

Next is another Florida suspense king, Les standiford, who's John Deal novels are what he's mostly known for. The one I'm gonna read though is a stand alone thriller set in the mountains of Wyoming...

I happen to have the original American hardback that I picked up about 10 years ago from Waterstones...

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#56 steelcaressed

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Posted 30 March 2007 - 05:44 PM

Hey duckie, on an unrelated topic, I posted this for you yesterday.   cool.gif



#57 treeduck

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Posted 30 March 2007 - 06:17 PM

QUOTE (steelcaressed @ Mar 30 2007, 05:44 PM)
Hey duckie, on an unrelated topic, I posted this for you yesterday.   cool.gif

They do look some cousins of mine...

Meanwhile here's a pic of my neighbours...

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#58 steelcaressed

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Posted 30 March 2007 - 07:41 PM

QUOTE (treeduck @ Mar 30 2007, 07:17 PM)
QUOTE (steelcaressed @ Mar 30 2007, 05:44 PM)
Hey duckie, on an unrelated topic, I posted this for you yesterday.   cool.gif

They do look some cousins of mine...

Meanwhile here's a pic of my neighbours...

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Not quite as handsome as the one w/ the green head mate, but what can you say about neighbors?   cool.gif  

#59 treeduck

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Posted 02 April 2007 - 12:58 AM

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This one has an amazing list of accolades on the back from celebrated authors such as Elmore Leonard and Robert Parker, all saying it's brilliant. One of them James Hall compares it to James Dickey's Deliverance but so far I'm finding it hard work. I can't put my finger on exactly why, it just lacks atmosphere somehow, in fact it's just a bit dull. The best thing I've read by Les is "Spill" a sci-fi/suspense novel which is good, this one is nothing like that though unfortunately...

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#60 treeduck

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Posted 04 April 2007 - 01:19 PM

After the slightly drab and disappointing Black Mountain, I think it's time for a vampire novel. Say one that combines the ancient Transylvanian myth with a modern day AIDS twist? Yeah? ok.

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This is a book I got on trade paperback back in the 90s and the cover is the one you see above, very spooky looking. It's funny how Dan chose a very cliche title for a his attampt at a new slant on the vampire novel...

No idea how this one goes, so it'll like reading it for the first time...




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