Tuesday, March 29, 2016

LIGHTNING ON THE SUN by Robert Bingham

Finished Tu 3/29/16 This was one of my books and I first competed it Sa 1/5/02. At the time I wrote in the flyleaf that it would make a fine film. I still agree.

A nice slice of Noir.

Set in Phnom Penh, Cambodia during the early 1990's.

Asher had worked at UNESCO (managing the removal of bat shit from The National Museum) and wants to leave Asia, but he wants to leave rich. He buys a large quantity of heroin with his ex girlfriend, Julie. She's a bartender at a strip club in Manhattan. She has her boss (who she hates) finance the deal, and then she stiffs him.

Reese is a journalist and and a tennis partner of Asher in Cambodia. He has him take the heroin back to the states as part of Reese's mail drop. He tells Reese that the package is a screen play that he is writing.

When the heroin arrives in New York, Glen's gang tries to steal back the money that Julie has made on the sale of the heroin. Julie, Reese, and Weatherly, a friend of Reese, are attacked by hoods of Glen at Weatherly's Manhattan apartment. They kill one of the hoods, but they are able to claim that they were random victims of robbery and they were only acting in self defense. The police believe them.

Asher had to borrow money from his Cambodian landlord, Hawk and he wires Julie that he really needs money. She decides to come to his rescue. She delivers the money and Asher pays Hawk, but Hawk didn't think he would pay and the main crook, Hang Boonma. This man was on the plane with Julie and he and her struck up an acquaintance. She thought he was a pig of a man.

Although Asher paid his debt, Boonma and Hawk want to send a message to the people who don't pay, and decide to have Asher kidnapped. As Julie and Asher take the train to the Cambodian seaside the train is attacked and they are kidnapped with a Danish missionary.

Reese comes back after his adventures with Julie and the wedding of his sister in Maine and convinces the bank to withdraw Asher's money so that the ransom can be paid.

There is only enough money for one of them. Julie is released, and Asher and the missionary are killed.

"Sorry, I'd prefer to stand" are Archer's last words just before he is fatally hit on the back of the head with the hoe that he has just used to dig his own grave.

Page at wikipedia-


The author's page at wikipedia-


THE DRIFT by John Ridley

Finished Fr 3/25/16. This is one of my novels, and I had read it and finished it on Sa 6/14/03. That was the day of the library book sale.

Charles Harmon- (Uppity Nigger Charlie/Brain Nigger Charlie) Black lawyer who left his pregnant wife to 'ride the rails'. Terrified of the responsibilities of commitment. This is what he refers to as 'the drift'.

Chocolate Walt, another Black hobo, asked Charlie to find his niece, Corina.

She has left her life to ride the rails on 'the upper line' (Northwest, Seattle/Spokane area)

LIQUID EVIL and BUZZ CUT GIRL are two hoodlums that Charlie encounters. They are working for the pimp/gangster, Kessler. He looks like the early Peter Frampton.

'George Plimpton' is the name of the walking stick/weapon that Charlie carries. This apparatus is a character in the novel and communicates with Charlie.

FTRA- Freight Train Riders of America
NLR- Nazi Low Riders   These are the two gangs that rule the tracks.

A pair of serial killers are on the loose killing hobos at random. But it is believed to be an hispanic and a racially mixed man. It is Guillermo and Corina. Corina is doing the killing and making it look like the intellectually challenged Guillermo is the real Bad Guy. Men who come on to Corina will die by the blade.

A railroad detective, Haxton, befriends Charlie and helps him get to the bottom of the case.

Charlie kills Corina. Haxton shows up and seems to be the Bad Guy and tries to kill Cornina. He knows whats going on, and finally Charlie picks up on it. Charlie kills Corina. George Plimpton is broken.

In the end, Charlie gets 'Hope'. Might go back to his relationship, or not.

Link at amazon-


author's page at wikipedia-


THE BURGESS BOYS by Elizabeth Strout

March 2016 selection Contemporary Book Club (We 3/23/16)

I liked this one more than I thought I would, and most of the members agreed.

Bob and Susan are twins. Jim is their elder brother. When Jim was eight and the twins four, they were left alone in the family automobile, and the car backed up and killed their father. It was believed that Bob was at the wheel, but nearly forty years later, Jim confesses that he was really in the driver's seat.

This incident forever warps the emotional lives of the entire family.

Refugees from Somalia are trying to live in the small Maine town of Shirley Falls. This is the dominant sub-theme of the novel.

Zachary, nineteen year old son of Susan, is arrested for throwing the head of a pig into the Somali mosque. Jim and Bob are lawyers and try to handle the case. Jim is well known for his defense of a popular soul singer, and Bob is working in the government sector, and is nowhere near as successful.

Customer reviews at Amazon-


Link at wikipedia-


Sunday, March 20, 2016


Reread and finished Sa 3/12/16
I recently read two other novels by Brunner, so I went back to this one- a fave.

Great Idea but cluttered presentation. Too many characters and storylines.
If tightened up, this could have been great.

viral coefficient-  now this term is used to pertain to the Internet, but back when the novel was written, the seventies, it had a more biological meaning. Similar to 'infection'.

Amazon link-



Finished Su 3/20/16 (The first day of Spring)

This book was recommended to me by Anne, from the Contemporary Book Club. I had it on reserve for over six weeks and I picked it up after visiting the ophthalmologist on Th 3/17.

I loved the book. A Real page turner; on- the- edge- of- your- seat read.

Rowena Cooper's isolated Colorado farmhouse
Two children; Josh and Nell.
Rowena and Josh are murdered. Nell escapes to Angelo's cabin.
Angelo is a writer trying to find solace after the death of his wife to cancer. He is cripple with spinal pain.
Two killers- Paulie and Xander
They have been murdering women and crisscrossing the country in a RV

The novel hinges on an alphabet chart-
A is for Apple
B is for Ballon
C is for Cat

These objects are inserted into the dead and raped women's bodies.

Valerie Hart is the alcoholic and burned out San Francisco homicide detective that solves the case.

Saul Black, the author, is a pseudonym for Glen Duncan, the author of By Blood We Live, I, Lucifer, and many other books.

Link to Amazon-


Link to Glen Duncan at wikipedia-


Friday, March 11, 2016

THE STEPS OF THE SUN by Walter Tevis

Reread and finished We 3/9/16

One of my paperbacks that I got on Amazon and first finished We 12/13/06

This novel might be an elaborate fantasy about how a man might recover from sexual impotence.

Multimillionaire, Benjamin Belson buys a Chinese space ship to explore the solar system for more 'safe Uranium' for Earth. No more usable power sources, and the Earth is cooling and people are dying.

Belson- The planet that has obsidian rock and grass that 'sings and feels'. The planet also grows a product that is superior to aspirin.

Juno- The planet that has safe Uranium.

Belson comes back to Earth and put in prison by a Black congressman. Belsen becomes a Chinese citizen.

His real focus is to get back the dancer that he left because of his sexual problems. And, in the end, he reunites with his love and the lights of NYC start to come back (also, the elevators that had been shut down by government edict)

Saturday, March 5, 2016


Finished Sa 3/5/16

One of my paperbacks, and another oddity by John Brunner. I don't really know what to make of it, but I'm glad that I took the trouble to reread it (finished it the first time in October of 1993.

Children of the Thunder

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Author John Brunner
Country Great Britain
Language English
Genre Science Fiction
Publisher Del Rey
Publication date
December 13, 1988

Children of the Thunder is a 1988 science fiction novel by John Brunner.

The novel explores several themes: environment degradation of the modern world (which Brunner believed was shortening his own life), paternal irresponsibility (in the form of accepting cash for donating sperm to a sperm bank), and conservative (fascist) tendencies in British politics. The latter may reflect that the book was written during the Thatcher years.
Like other Brunner books, the novel lacks cohesiveness in various ways, and is best read as a series of interconnected vignettes, each of which explores the above themes in a different context, with a culminating scene at the end of the book which is frightening in various ways, including a partial role reversal of the protagonist and villain.
In those terms, the book can be seen as an attack of the author on excessive sexual freedom of men gained in the so-called sexual revolution. While sexual fulfillment itself is not demonized, the book catalogs extensive collateral damage in the form of single mothers and offspring not properly cared for. But this is not a kind-hearted appeal for better support systems for these people: they just might counterattack their oppressors which is to say the parents who abandoned (or neglected) them.

I'm not so sure that I think this is the gist of the novel. I thought the more interesting theme was the thesis that the 'mind control' of the children might have happened in the past. Brunner seems to feel that the Egyptians might have been under some kind of mind manipulation when this country decided to devote nearly all of its' resources to building the pyramids. Maybe Stonehenge was built under the same kind of cosmic direction.