A horror story sans ghosts or goblins. Perly Dunsmore is an auctioneer recently moved to the small New England town of Harlowe. He sets up a schedule of auctions that begin innocently enough, until people begin to realize that he's not only auctioning off goods they didn't want to give up, but auctioning their courage, their self respect...indeed, their souls. The Auctioneer is a can't-put-downer of high order, worthy of 5 stars if the dialogue weren't written in a New England dialect that wears thin rather quickly. The human psychology underlying the story qualified the book, in its heyday, for use in a number of college courses. I highly recommend it.
Often comic, sometimes shocking, sometimes sexy, sometimes tragic, Back Roads is the story of 19 year old Harley Altmyer's attempt to deal with his upside down life. His mother's in prison for killing his father and Harley's in charge of caring for his three younger siblings, all girls.
A first novel written in the primitive prose of a primitive segment of American society--the rural underclass that flies beneath the radar of "normal" American society. The Beans are the people whose places we drive by and shake our heads--an old house trailer, a pickup on blocks with the wheels missing, a rusty old wringer washer abandoned on a sagging porch, chickens and naked children in the yard.... "Beans" is a gritty and disturbing portrait of a class most of us refuse to acknowledge, written by an author who lived what she writes about.
John Saul's fans are legion, but I'm not one of them. Saul's writing and his so-called horror are aimed at young-adult level reading. A coming-of-age novel haunted by ghosts and witchcraft the book has its moments but is ultimately too simplistic for this reader.
A page-turner of a legal thriller. Drugs, sex and Miami vice are the back drop for Barbara Parker's complex plot and perfectly developed characters. She's particularly skilled at using the smallest details in nearly every sentence to make readers forget they're reading a book and live within the on-going action and suspense. Very good book.
John Sandford has one of the best ever crime fiction series going with his "Prey" novels. "Broken Prey," the 16th and most recent story in the series is, arguably, his best effort yet. Sandford's knack for using detail and sense of place to transport the reader out of their armchair and into an alternate world is supberb and it truly excels in this story. His characters are alive from first introduction, whatever scene he sets is right there for the reader, his plotting is perfect yet invisible...on and on. Add to that an incredibly well written climax--an action scene that ranks as the best I've ever read--and you have, with Broken Prey, John Sandford at the pinnacle of his game.
Hap and Leonard are at it yet again, this time getting sucked in by the beautiful but coniving daughter of a poor Mexican fisherman. They end up in Mexico battling a nudist Mexican mafioso. Death, gore and violence galore, the trademarks of macho author, Joe R. Lansdale.
When a spring thaw disinters the body of a young woman who's been missing for over a year, Minneapolis detective Lucas Davenport doesn't have much to go on except the victim's rumored connection with an unnamed man, who may be an artist and also, perhaps, a priest. But then the deserted property where her body was discovered turns out to be a killing field full of other young blondes last seen in the company of a man with a nasty habit of superimposing their faces on pornographic drawings. Davenport begins to close in on a serial killer whose perverted hobby provides the clues Davenport needs to stop him in his bloody tracks. James Qatar isn't a priest, and he's not really an artist, but he's definitely a monster, one who's met his match in Davenport.
A disturbing novel that takes the reader right down on "the street" in the drug-ravaged 'hood of street-smart dealer Strike and the brutal and burned out cops who pursue Strike and his ilk. A powerful, harrowing read.
Lewis Burke, a New York salesman, is one of the passengers aboard an airliner that crash lands in the jungles of the Congo and is taken over by Congolese rebels. In a desperate moment he chooses escape over being held hostage and flees into dense jungle with only the clothes on his back. Thus begins a two-sided story, one a riveting adventure of survival in equatorial Africa, the other a frustrating struggle by his wife, Helen, to find him in the confusion of African politics and culture and not give in to her growing despair. Beautifully written, The Curve of the World, is a gripping story of loss, love, self-discovery and healing.
Excellent writing, a style that makes the reader feel as if he or she is right there on the mean streets of Dempsey, New Jersey. The story is grim, the streets are grim, the nearly hopeless souls that people the story are grim and Price makes no attempt to lighten any of that. A gripping novel in all respects.
Bart Darling is a driven man, driven to escape the ghosts of his past through self-destructive behavior that includes parachuting off of bridges, drunken motorcycle rides, staged car crashes and endless dives into the bottom of a bottle. Still, it's a story about love and the fallibility of human beings--a poignant and tender novel.
I got half way through this book, sensed what would come the farther I got into it, and couldn't bring myself to finish it. Horror written about things fantastic, things imaginable, things possible but so unlikely as to pose no real threat can be tittilating, thrilling and leave-the-light-on unnerving. Horror writing that delves into and develops the psychopathic id and human cruelty at its worst, primarily for its prurient effect, is unnerving but more, it's debasing of the human animal. That was my take on The Girl Next Door. This was my first Ketchum novel. I'll try another to see how it compares but....
Gritty hard-boiled suspense thriller from the all but hopeless streets of Washington D.C.'s worst neighborhoods. Pelecanos's rich eye for detail and his gift for the speech patterns and slang of black D.C.'s mean streets drags the reader right down into the violence and racism his characters endure day in and day out. Excellent storyteller, excellent book.