Monday, July 30, 2012

MY CROSS TO BEAR by Gregg Allman with Alan Light

Finished Su 7/29/12

This is my post at Good Reads:

This is a very interesting and entertaining biography from one of the preeminent statesmen of Southern Rock. It's told in a very readable, conversational style, and Gregg never minces words. Also, he's quite forthcoming about his drug and alcohol abuse, and the highs and lows of the rock'n' roll lifestyle are recounted in great detail. Also, he allows the reader a real peek at the inner dynamics of one of the most dysfunctional bands in music. If you are a fan of The Allman Brothers, or if you are just curious about American popular music, this might be the book for you.

Link to Allman Brothers at Wikipedia:

Sunday, July 29, 2012


Finished Sa 7/28/12

My post on Good Reads:

This is Val McDermid's twenty-fifth novel, and the seventh in the 'Carol Jordan/Tony Hill' series. This novel concerns serial killer, Jacko Vance. This man is a notorious English killer, and was caught by Tony Hill and Carol Jordan many years ago, but he was able to insinuate himself into a minimum security section of the prison and was then able to engineer an escape. Jacko Vance was an Olympic athlete who lost an arm, yet went on to become a serial killer of young teenage girls. And, all the while enjoying a very successful English television career. Jacko is carrying out bloody and devastating acts of revenge against Tony, Carol, and people who turned against him before he leaves England to disappear with his sizable fortune. This is the primary focus of the novel, but McDermid does feature one other killer, Eric Fletcher, who murders prostitutes. This man sexually abused his daughter, and she later began working the streets as a hooker. He is killing prostitutes to get her to quit 'the life'. This sub-plot added little to the overall thrust of the novel, and probably could have been left out.

The novel is compelling and the characters are well-developed, and it's a very engrossing read. This is my first book by Val McDermid, and I think I would have enjoyed it more if I had started with the first novel in the series. There is quite a bit of back-story between criminal profiler, Tony Hill, and detective Carol Jordon in THE RETRIBUTION, and it might have been easier to absorb if I had more familiarity with these two characters, but this is only a minor complaint.

Thursday, July 26, 2012


Finished We 7/19/12  Featured selection for Contemporary Book Club July 25, 2012
(Post on Good Reads)

Newly retired NYPD detective, Dave Gurney, is trying to acclimate to early retirement with his wife Madeleine when he is asked to be a consultant on a gruesome murder. Dr. Scott Ashton's wife has been brutally beheaded on their wedding day. Hector Flores, their Mexican gardener, and the suspected killer has disappeared into thin air. The developing investigation uncovers a lurid international murder/prostitution ring involving Dr. Ashton's Mapleshade Residential Academy.
This is a real page-turner and a well-written thriller. The second novel in a series, and I'll try to find the first one, and look forward to more by John Verdon. 

Jack Hardwick- NYPD cop friend of Dave's and he gets him to contact Val Perry, the mother of the victim.

 Jillian Perry (Ashton)- Nymphomatic sociopath with an IQ of 168.

ART OF DECEPTION/EUREKA FALLACY- These are the subjects that Dave lectures to current police officers. He was an expert on undercover police work. "In order to fool a person into believing your story, you must demonstrate credible passion and valid emotions". "What people say about themselves can be believed, but what you find out about them yourself is the 'most' true".

Kiki Mueller, married to Carl- She is beheaded and rumored to be the lover of Hector Flores. Carl is demented, and spends his time running his toy trains in the basement and listening to Xmas carols.

MELLERY CASE- This is the investigation that is the subject of the first Dave Gurney novel. It's only alluded to in this book, and you really don't find out much about it. Madeleine and Dave lost a four year old child in a car accident, and they also have an older son, Kyle, who was working on Wall Street, but now is getting his law degree (to may The Big Bucks).

Calvin Haleu- 'White Trash' neighbor of the Ashton's, violently racist, and serves as a 'red herring'.
Marion Elliot- Another neighbor who is a retired professor of philosophy who fills in the back story about Dr. Scott Ashton. He wrote a book claiming that Self is a manifestation of 'boundary confusion', and sociopaths don't have this problem. Then, he released another book, under a different name, and attacked the premise of the first book.

Hobart Ashton- The father of Scott Ashton. However, his real name is Giotto Skard, one of the three brothers who head up the evil Skard criminal family. Scott is his son, and really named Leonardo.

George and Peggy Meeker- Friends of Dave and Madeleine and Peggy solves the 'Edward Vallory' subplot in the novel. A very misogynist play-write from the 16TH century.

Sonya Reynolds- Dave's art dealer who brokers his 'Mug Shot Portraits'.

Jay Jykynstyl- Dave's afternoon visit with this multimillionaire who wants all of Dave's portraits for a million dollars. Dave is given a drug, and possibly raped at the meeting, but he has no recollection.

Irana Magelena- Married to Giotto and mother of Leonardo (Scott). She is a coke addict and abused Scott and this is the reason he hates women.

Karnala- Worldwide prostitution ring that operates as a Fashion Photography company. Rich men view the photo spreads which supposedly advertise the clothing, but really they are buying the models. When they are finished with them, they must behead them. This offers further cover for Dr. Ashton.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

SHARDS by Ismet Prcic

Finished Sa 7/14/12

Link to Amazon

A review of the novel that seems to capture the what the novelist was getting at, maybe.....

Ismet and Mustafa and Izzy- the novel/memoir is a composite of all of them
Not so much thought-provoking, as it gives you an emotional reference point as to what it would be like if War Hit Your Town.

Streamed through, and absorbed what I could. This is the kind of novel which would be great to discuss in a Book Club. 

Post on Good Reads-

This is not an easy book to read because the author uses two narrative voices that may or may not be two entirely different characters. The word 'shards' refers to broken pieces, and the style of the novel is most definitely 'fragmented'. However, the novel does give a first-rate impression of what it might be like to have lived and fled from war-torn Bosnia. The novel is in three sections. The first two are told by Ismet (he also has the Americanized nickname of 'Izzy'), and concern his journey and experiences in Los Angeles, and his upbringing in Bosnia. While in Bosnia Ismet becomes part of a theatrical group that leaves the country and travels to Scotland. And, from there he makes it to the US. The third section is told by Mustapha, who might be an entirely different character, or a different and more brutish version of Ismet. Mustapha relates his involvement in the armed conflict and how he internalized it.

The novel worked best when I tried to forget about exactly how the 'shards' fit, and just allow myself to be carried away by the emotional pull of the characters, and learn how Ismet/Izzy/Mustapha incorporate the savage violence of a civil war into their lives.

If anything, this is certainly a fresh approach to the 'memoir' style of writing.

Monday, July 9, 2012

THE THIN MAN by Dashiell Hammett

Finished Mo 7/9/12

I am not a fan of this particular style of mystery novel. Many characters are introduced and set in motion with the barest of background. The plots are always wildly tangled, and when the 'evil doer' is finally revealed, the author spends five or ten pages telling us 'why' and 'how'. I prefer mysteries that are driven by character development, and that's why I didn't like this author or anything in the Agatha Christie catalog. I would rather read anything by John D. MacDonald than these kinds of 'whodunits'.

Nick and Nora drink a lot(too much!), and have a cute dog, but that's not enough to make me care, or come back for more. Maybe the film is better.

MORE ROOM IN A BROKEN HEART 'The True Adventures of Carly Simon' by Stephen Davis

Finished Mo 7/9/12

I read this over the weekend, and although I am not a fan of this type of music (Lite Rock/Soft Rock/Adult Contemporary), the story of Carly Simon's life made for an entertaining and gossipy read. She is no doubt a child of wealth and privilege, and has led a remarkable 'storybook life'. Her father was the co-founder of Simon and Schuster, she is the friend and lover to numerous super famous men, the ex-wife of James Taylor, and she has written and sung songs that are undeniably part of America's Pop Lexicon.

I enjoyed the book and was a bit dismayed to learn that it is perceived as a hatchet job, and paints an unfair portrait of the singer/song writer. I didn't get that impression at all.  In the Forward to the book the author,  Stephen Davis, claims that he was a big fan of The Simon Sisters, an early Folk Duo with Carly and her sister, Lucy, and he didn't meet Carly until he went home with a college roommate, and found that this guy's sister (Peter Simon, who later became a noted professional photographer) was "The" Carly Simon.  Davis readily admits that his work is an 'unauthorized' biography. However, the book does contains a few factual errors. The author claims that the great Brooklyn Dodger, Duke Snider, was Black! And, apparently there are many more, but this to me seemed the most glaring.

Overall I thought that the Carly Simon portrayed in this book is a sexy, big-hearted, artistically gifted, yet neurotic woman, and it didn't seem like she would have much of a problem with this characterization. But, maybe I'm wrong.

Friday, July 6, 2012

TOKYO YEAR ZERO by David Peace

Finished Fr 7/6/12

This novel is based on the true story of Japanese serial killer, Kodaira Yoshio. He was executed on the fifth of October, 1949, and at the time of his death he was forty-four years old, and had confessed to the rapes and murders of ten women.

The novel is a first person account  by Detective Minami who has been assigned with a group of detectives in August of 1946 to investigate a murdered young woman , and soon it becomes clear that she is one in a series of murdered prostitutes who were raped and strangled by Kodaira Yoshio.  Detective Minami is also involved with a local crime boss, Senju Akira, who is after him for information about the killing of another gang leader, and this further aggravates his deteriorating mental condition. Detective Minami is operating under a crushing loss of spirit and extreme depression, and this sets the novel's tone which is abject demoralization.

Although the book is a police procedural, and deals with the investigation and apprehension of  a serial killer, it is more of a documentation of Detective Minami's depressive mental state, and the depiction of the harrowing economic conditions in Tokyo of August, 1946. .

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

CHOKE HOLD by Christa Faust

Began and Finished, Wednesday, July 4th 2012

My post at 'Good Reads'-

MONEY SHOT is the first novel of this series, and CHOKE HOLD is the second, and they both feature the harrowing and melodramatic adventures of ex-porn star, Angel Dare. In this novel she's left The Witness Protection Program, and is waitressing in Yuma, AZ and waiting for a new set of ID to be made. One afternoon, out of the blue, 'Thick Vic' Ventura shows up at the diner accompanied by his eighteen year old son, Cody. Vic worked in the Adult Film Industry with Angel, and is is a recovering Meth head. Just as Angel is introduced to Cody for the very first time, heavily armed thugs enter the diner, and apparently are out to murder either Cody or Vic. Vic is mortally wounded, and Cody and Angel seek out, Hank 'The Hammer' Hammond, who is a Mixed Martial Arts instructor at Cody's dojo. And, under Angel's leadership, this group runs from and murders various thugs, gangsters, and killers for the rest of the book. 

I read the book in a single sitting on the July 4th holiday, and it was a pleasant read. It's lurid , shocking, very fast-paced, and you do learn a bit about The Porn Industry and Mixed Martial Arts competition. Although the book has nothing to do with zombies, it did remind me of the work of Poppy Z. Brite, and if you enjoy that particular style, you will most likely appreciate this novel.

Link to author's blog-

Amazon Books-

Yuma, AZ and Las Vegas, NV- the setting for the story

Angel Dare- Ex-Porn star, and heroine. She is in the WitSec (Witness Protection Program) for ratting out a white slavery operation run out of Eastern Europe. These people are still after her. She was on the Northeast Coast, and taking therapy. Her shrink is attacked, and Angel splits. 

Angel ends up in Yuma, and working at a diner. The owner is a 'gun nut' or 'weapons enthusiast'. He is promising her a clean passport and ID.

Truly Richard- She is the  Evil Bitch. Runs her dead husband's dojo, and was a lover of Cody's. 

Hank 'The Hammer' Hammond- works at Cody's dojo. Will become Angel's lover. He is brain damaged, yet needy. Musclebound, and ugly, but lovable.

 Mr. Lovell- The criminal boss who runs the dojo, and smuggling cocaine, and arranges fights in Mexico.

Vaskasin- This is the Croatian crime boss that Angel turned in and ended up on WitSec. They were running a White Slavery operation and she ratted. He is back to kill her.

Thick Vic Ventura (Pagliuca)- This porn star is murdered early on. The ex-lover of Angel, who is the heroine of the story. Vic is addicted to meth when she left him, but now he is on the mend, but dead-shotgunned in the diner that she was a waitress.

Cody (Noon) Ventura- Vic's kid , raised by Skye, hippie chick now bloated, fat, and downed out, suicidal.

Monday, July 2, 2012

ALL THE DEVILS ARE HERE- The Hidden History of the Financial Crissis Bethany McLean/Joe Nocera

Finished Su 7/1/12

One very hot July afternoon I spent four hours reading and skimming this thought-provoking book which dealt with the financial meltdown of 2008. This is probably the definitive statement on one of the most disastrous failures of government and finance ever perpetrated on the American people.

I don't see how you could possibly finish this book and still feel that a completely free and unrestricted market-place is the way to go. Clearly there must be stringent rules and regulations because the facts seem to prove that if financial leaders within either political party are allowed to do as they wish, greed takes over, and honest investors and the tax payers are left holding the bag.

A link to Amazon featuring what readers thought of the book:

Sunday, July 1, 2012

DEAD SOULS by Ian Rankin

Finished Su 7/1/12

My Post on Good Reads:

I am an avid fan of Ian Rankin, so I would recommend all of the John Rebus series. Primarily this book concerns Darren Rough, a Sex Offender who is just out of prison, and he is involved with the death/suicide of Rebus's friend, James Margolies. Also, Cary Oakes, a Scottish criminal who went on to become a multiple murderer in America is back in the Edinburgh area, and is being interviewed by journalist, Jim Stevens. And, as with all of the Ian Rankin books, DEAD SOULS concerns numerous plot-lines and character developments, but I think the that the major development in this book is that John Rebus is drinking again.

John Rebus is a remarkable character, and it's always a treat to traverse 'the mean streets' of Edinburgh with this good-hearted, yet neurotic detective.

Link to Amazon about the novel:

Numerous plot-lines and character developments   John Rebus is drinking again, and his adult daughter is paralyzed from the waist down and in a wheelchair ,  and this seems to be because of a hit and run driver. This is not a story that is developed. 

Darren Rough- Sex Offender who is just out of prison, and Rebus 'outs him' to the locals. He had something to do with the death/suicide of a cop, James Margolies.

Cary Oakes- Born in Scotland but had a career as a multiple murderer in America. He has been released, and his back in Edinburgh and being interviewed by a journalist, Jim Stevens.

Cal and Jamie Brady (Mother is Van)- They live in the housing complex with Darren Rough, and they lead a public campaign to have him thrown out. GAP

Janice Mee and Brian Mee- Married couple and Rebus was a boyfriend of Janice several decades ago. No sex, but he seemed to really love her, and he has a great respect for Brian (Barney). Brian fought for Mitch when he was attacked at a dance years ago. And, this led to John Rebus joining the army, and not marrying Janice.

Damon Mee- the son of Brian and Janice. He is missing and this makes Janice reconnect with Rebus.

Alan Archibald- A retired cop who is trying to find out if Cary Oakes actually killed his niece.

Ama Petrie and Nicol Petrie- Brother and sister and they are kind of 'Upper Crust Rich'. Nicky is a drag queen and is the person seen with Damon when he disappears at the bar.

Dr. Joseph Margolies- He is an administrator in a children's home and a child molester. He is the father of the cop that Rebus knew, and responsible for the cover-up. He is not caught.

Shiellion House- This is a court case about child molestation that Rebus is involved with. Darren Rough was abused by these people. but his life is forever ruined.