Posted in Audiobooks, Book Reviews, Novels

REVIEW: The Goliath Bone (Mike Hammer #14) by Mickey Spillane & Max Allan Collins

GoliathBone

*No Spoilers*

On an amateur dig in Israel, two students discover what appears to be the femur of a very large humanoid, and there’s compelling evidence to suggest that it is the thigh bone of the Biblical giant, Goliath. Back in New York, they are heading into the subway carrying the carefully wrapped bone when a hitman attempts to kill them. Hammer comes to their rescue.

But it is only the beginning of their troubles as various factions will stop at nothing to get their hands on the precious item, each for their own venal and nefarious reasons. Hammer and his loyal assistant Velda assure once again that the decent guys triumph in this cracking post-9/11 hard-boiled detective thriller.

I am a huge fan of crime noir and hard-boiled detectives. The grittiness of the detectives and femme-Fatales was something that attracted me in the first place and keeps me coming back to this genre of story. This one interested me first off because of the book cover, but the synopsis was the other grabbing point.

I felt that, to a certain extent, Mike Hammer was a bit out of place so far in that the way presents himself and his ability to solve crimes fits more in the 20s with mobs and gangsters rather than post 9/11 terrorism. Overall the story did keep my interest based on the religious mythology of David & Goliath and how much interest the cast of characters in the story had in the Goliath Bone itself.

On the negative side, I did feel that the ending was a bit anti-climactic, more in the way that the characters “all win” and yet, no one wins. You’ll have to read the story to see what I mean.

Overall it was a good story to read to pass time, but I’d be interested to read further back into the series to get a larger grasp on the entirety of the series.

Read my review of “Blacksad” by Juan Diaz Canales if you’re looking for more crime noir!

Advertisements
Posted in Book Reviews

REVIEW: Holmes on the Range (Holmes on the Range #1) by Steve Hockensmith

bdh9-square-1536

*No Major Spoilers*

1893 is a tough year in Montana, and any job is a good job. When brothers Big Red and Old Red Amlingmeyer sign on as ranch hands at a secretive ranch, they’re not expecting much more than hard work, bad pay, and a few free moments to enjoy their favorite pastime: reading stories about Sherlock Holmes.

When another hand turns up dead, Old Red sees the perfect opportunity to employ his Holmes-inspired “deducifyin'” skills and sets out to solve the case. Big Red, like it or not (and mostly he does not), is along for the wild ride in this clever, compelling, and completely one-of-a-kind mystery.

“You can follow a trail without even knowing you’re on it. You start out just ambling, maybe get to thinking you’re lost–but you’re headed somewhere all the same. You just don’t know it until you get there.” – Holmes on the Range by Steve Hockensmith

As much as you hear about how Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s fictional detective Sherlock Holmes affected pop culture, you really don’t see it much outside of the United Kingdom. I am thrilled to see a western twist on the Sherlockian mystery subgenre. It makes the western genre unique and intriguing, not knowing who’s behind the murder until the unveiling at the end of the novel.

The Amlingmeyer brothers are just trying to survive in the late 1800’s America. When they stumble unto a murder mystery too difficult to ignore, they are in for an adventure. Lives and reputations are at stake as Old Red starts to meddle in places where he doesn’t belong.

The unlikeliness of a poor ranch hand solving an intricate mystery made the Amlingmeyer brothers’ struggle to solve the mystery all the more difficult. Old Red was more of an illiterate Sherlock Holmes and Big Red more of a brother trusting his kin. Big Red and Old Red is the only family they have left, so there’s no other choice but to stick together when things get dicey.

I would highly recommend this novel for lovers of westerns, mysteries, and Sherlockian style storytelling. This novel will leave you guessing until the big reveal, and even then you may be surprised to learn the answer to the mysteries.

Posted in Book Reviews, Graphic Novels

REVIEW: Blacksad (Blacksad #1-3) by Juan Diaz Canales

9781595823939*No Spoilers*

Private investigator John Blacksad is up to his feline ears in mystery, digging into the backstories behind murders, child abductions, and nuclear secrets. Whether John Blacksad is falling for dangerous women or getting beaten to within an inch of his life, his stories are, simply put, unforgettable.

If you are looking for a good crime noir, you have found your book.  Blacksad is a private investigator trying to navigate his way through the Cold War era America. With racial tensions and political tensions at their highest, it makes Blacksad’s life even more complicated.

This is rated M for Mature for nudity, language, and some violence. I just thought this needed to be stated just to be on the safe side.

I can relate to Blacksad in the fact that he’s just trying to live a decent life and maybe one day write a memoir that will be turned into a fiction novel. He is jaded by the world around him but is still open to having a serious relationship in his life.

This graphic novel demonstrates how high the communist threat actually was. It paints a grim picture of the past, and also possible future. Public hangings just on the slight suspicions of them having communist ties. This paints the story into a very dark tone.

I am not going to spoil anything because you need to read this book in order to fully enjoy it! The stories go along nicely and the artwork is fantastic!

I would highly recommend this for graphic novel readers as well as readers of Cold War era fiction. I would be very interested in reading the next volume of this series. I haven’t decided whether I’m going to review it or just read it for my personal enjoyment. Let me know what you think in the comments!

Posted in Book Reviews, Graphic Novels, Manga

REVIEW: Baccano! Vol. 1 by Ryohgo Narita

34672378_10213753989938107_225026195769524224_n

*No Major Spoilers*

New York, 1927.

In a corrupt city where crime rules the streets, Firo Prochainezo is Camorra, an Italian criminal syndicate distinct from the mafia. A member of the relatively small Martillo family, Firo nevertheless got big ambitions and is determined to make his mark. But while the Martillos may not be the biggest bad guys on the block, they’ve got some distinct advantages working in their favor. Does Firo have what it takes to become a made man?

Let the crazy ruckus begin!

I was really excited about this manga when I saw this at my library. I enjoy 1920’s era stories as well as Mafia/the Mob stories. Sadly, this one disappointed me.

The characters were generic, I had a difficult time telling them apart. Generic mobsters all fighting for control. For example Similar hairstyles and hair colors between each one it was a bit of a headache trying to distinguish them apart

The storyline only got interesting when I was more than half-way into it. At that point I had lost my enthusiasm for the rest of the story. I did finish the story though. When I finished it things started finally making sense, but up until that point, it was like going to a family reunion and seeing most of the people you’ve never met.  Kind of like when Aunt May comes up to you and squeezes your cheeks and says “OH I REMEMBER YOU WHEN YOU WERE JUST A BABY!!” And you’re standing there like “Mom, why is this strange woman pinching my cheeks?”

I did like when the plot fully came together and started to make more sense. I would be willing to read the next book in the series to give it a second chance.

I would recommend this to people who are more into 1920’s era New York and a bit of the Noir theme.

Buy it here on Amazon!

Posted in Book Reviews, Novels

REVIEW: The Run-Out Groove by Andrew Cartmel

51VDXTOAVgL.SX316.SY316

*No Spoilers* 

The Vinyl Detective is on the case again! He is hired to find out where a famous musician’s child is after her suicide. Normally he hunts records, but now the stakes have been raised. They know they’re getting close to the truth when their lives are put at risk in various and dangerous ways. Will he solve the case? Or will he even live to tell the tale?

I have read the first novel in this series and I fell in love with the series! I thought the fact that this is a “detective” who finds rare and collectible vinyl was very unique and intriguing. I was not disappointed with this newest installation in the series.

My favorite character was Celeste Drummond. She had suffered an emotional breakdown after her sister committed suicide. She plays piano and is really amazingly talented with the black and white keys.

I would recommend this for people who love musical mysteries. The hunt for vinyl records isn’t in much of the novel as the first one. However, I wouldn’t let that detour you from this one. The action is thrilling and kept me glued to the pages!

You don’t need to read the first novel in the series to understand this one. I know that’s a huge question concerning jumping into the middle of a series. They do reference the first book a bit, but not enough to be spoilers or confusing.

Buy This Book on Amazon

 

Posted in Book Reviews, Novels

ARC REVIEW: Isabella’s Painting by Ellen Butler

9780998419336_d7600

*Spoilers*

*Thanks to Power to the Pen for giving me the chance to read this novel early*

This novel follows Karina Cardinal as she’s living as a lobbyist in D.C. and dating one of the most desired bachelors, Patrick Dunne. The Dunne family is one of the most famous and wealthiest families in D.C. Martin Dunne working for a contracting company and Patrick following in his father’s footsteps.

Karina accidentally discovers a stolen painting in Martin’s study during a family Christmas party. Curiosity gets to Karina as she starts to research the hidden painting and realizes Martin is dealing with a mafia-tied mystery.

Desperate to help those she cares about, she returns the painting to the rightful owners. However, she ends up being hunted for revenge. Will she survive long enough to solve the mystery and help the ones she loves?

I was enjoying this book for the first few chapters. Stolen painting, classic art, mafia ties, how could you get more suspense? Then when Karina goes to Colorado for a family emergency and her boyfriend, Patrick, shows up soon afterward. As soon as they revealed this, I knew where it was going. Patrick ends up proposing, you know the rest.

The book started dragging with the romance drama. I wanted to get back to the mystery! I don’t want this relationship drama in my mystery books! (Stephanie Plum is the only exception to this rule) About 3/4s of the way through the book the mystery picked back up and I was binging this book as much as I could!

Overall, I thought this book was alright. Interesting premise. I’m all for women sleuths or women detectives, but the deep-seeded romance took what could have been an awesome story into a melodrama.

I didn’t particularly like any of the characters. Karina is not very interesting, she felt dull and not very strong. Patrick is a jerk and so is Martin. If you’re looking for deep characters you won’t find them here.

I would recommend this if you want a cheesy romance with some light mystery. It’s alright if you like this kind of thing. It’s just not my cup of tea.

Order it on Amazon

Posted in Book Reviews, Novels

REVIEW: The Ballad of Black Bart by Loren D. Estleman

BART0002

*No Major Spoilers* 

Between July 1875 and November 1883, Wells Fargo coaches were robbed in the middle of gold country. One bandit, in particular, robbed these coaches a record of 28 times. Soon this mysterious bandit became known as Black Bart, the Po8.

Others know the notorious Black Bart as Charles E. Bolton. A well dressed middle aged man enjoying the riches of the mining industries. Living in the booming San Francisco, Bolton can live in the high life without looking too suspicious.

Hot on the heels of Black Bart is James B. Humes. Lead investigator for the Wells Fargo company. Tasked with the jobs of catching the criminals who dare try and rob from the company. It becomes a battle of wits, luck, and vigilance to bring the infamous Black Bart to justice.

I am not a fan of westerns, being raised with a father who loves westerns (good and bad) and trying to read Louis L’Amour; didn’t leave a good impression of the genre with my young self. I did start liking Bonanza when I got older, however, Gunsmoke still makes no sense to me.

This book, however, caught my eye. The imposing stagecoach, the gentleman in the bowler hat holding the stagecoach at gunpoint made me pick up this book from my local library. I thought I’d give westerns another try.

The story was great! The development of characters and their motives were relatable. Being in California both during the Gold Rush and after the rush would drive anyone to rob just to keep food in their bellies.

In the afterward, Mr. Estleman stated that he took a few liberties with the story. The poetry was fiction, but I think it made the story better. I could tell this author did his research with his novel.

Now for the negatives, the vocabulary at times was difficult. I tried to look up the words so I could understand, but it got so tedious that I quickly gave up and just took my best guesses at what the words meant.

This is a good book, for anyone who loves westerns will enjoy this novel. It’s a nice quick read, and I enjoyed reading this novel. I would say unless you have an excellent vocabulary, or don’t mind having a dictionary on hand as you read, you can decide whether this book is good for you or not.

Buy it now on Amazon (not sponsored)