Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Movie Trailer: Joe R. Lansdale's Cold in July

Great novel, This looks great!

Book Review: Doyle After Death by John Shirley

Doyle After Death by John Shirley

339 pages

Witness Impulse (Harper paperback)

Known for his novels of science fiction and horror John Shirley has several classics in both those genres. With more than one novel in each category that is strong enough to be considered classics and masterpieces. Known for political edged genre with a message the majority of John Shirley novels deliver intense experiences unlike novels written by anyone else. Each novel has different feel but more than any other novel in recent years I can’t think of one I can compare Doyle After Death with.

Doyle After Death is a metaphysical mystery, what I can compare it to is Richard Matheson’s What Dreams May Come. That comes mostly from the afterlife setting, but beyond that they are very different novels. They share a conceit, but Matheson’s novel is a love story and this novel is murder mystery.

Nick Fogg our narrator dies on the first page and ends in a afterlife that at first seems like our world. Shirley sets up the rules long before the mystery begins. The place is a plane of reality know as Garden Rest. Nick doesn’t know how but he chose to come there. A detective in his now former life, it is suggested that maybe it was to be with Sir Arthur Conan Doyle who calls Garden Rest home.

He soon meets up with the famous author and they begin to investigate a murder. Of course how a soul in the next reality loses its existence is a part of the mystery. Doyle makes for a interesting companion and through the lens of this novel we get view into creator of the famous detective Holmes.

This is a strong and interesting novel if any thing was missing was a long discussion about what death means for the characters beyond Doyle and Fogg. A slow burn novel it takes a little while to build but once it does, it does so with visionary style. The highlight being “The Raining lands” in the second half of the novel.

Doyle After Death suggests a sequel as new characters appear towards the end but it might be interesting if Fogg traveled to other planes and met other writers in the after-life. Agatha Christie? Who knows. I am ready for it.

Another well written Shirley novel, is it a classic? Time will tell but it shows a side of Shirley we have seen before and what is more impressive than a writer stretching their wings and doing something totally different?

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Book Review: Hot in December by Joe R. Lansdale

Hot In December by Joe R. Lansdale

105 pages

Dark Regions Press

I was very excited to read this novella by a master writer Joe R. Lansdale. If you are not familiar with his work you should be. Not only is he a great story teller and a fantastic word smith, but he works in many genres from southern gothic mystery, horror and western to crime thrillers. Lansdale always has little throw away lines that make you laugh like Elmore Leonard did. Lansdale however has his own gritty and hilarious east Texas feel to most of his books.

This is a good time to get on board as new films based on his work are coming your way including The Bottoms written and directed by the duo behind the criminally under rated horror film Frailty and Cold in July starring Dexter’s Michael C. Hall.

I felt kinda stupid that it took me a few pages to get that Hot in December is a companion piece to Cold in July. You see the title should have done that for me, but I opened up the book and started reading without looking at the back, not even thinking about the title. It was a Lansdale book and that was all I needed to know. Oot into the plot I thought to myself this plot is so much like Cold in July. Duh.

Cold in July is a great short novel, and Hot in December is a equally quick and fun read. Lansdale establishes characters with skill, and builds the suspense almost from page 1. I knew some of the characters from the fantastic novel Leather Maiden, it was nice to see Booger and Cason again. Connections to the Lansdale-verse are all over this book. I think he could have written a much longer book and I would have been along for the complete ride. None the less 105 pages is a perfect quick read and Lansdale fills very page with tons of story value.

I loved it and think you will too.

Book Review: Heaven's Fall by David S. Goyer and Michael Cassutt

Heaven's Fall (Heaven's Shadow #3)

by David S. Goyer, and Michael Cassutt

Hardcover, 432 pages

Published August 6th 2013 by Ace Hardcover

Shadow’s fall by David S. Goyer

David Goyer has made a name for himself for being involved in some of the most sucesscful movies of all time. He has made excellent movies as a screenwriter, director and a producer. He has written comics and TV. He knows how to tell a story. The first novel in this series was written during the writers strike and I personally think the quality of that book over the two follow-ups shows more focus.

Goyer’s partner Michael Cassutt is also a screenwriter after all. The first novel worked well and I liked it a lot. I was excited to read the second book. I liked it but found the ending to be a bit weak. I read this one almost just to feel I completed it. Frankly right now I want him focused on Constantine which i hope will totally rule.

The third book took me forever to finish. I found that I was drifting my attention to other books. The only reason I put my finger on was that the story was not clear to me. The adventure was not clear to me. What the Characters were doing was not clear to me. So if it seems like there is not much to this review that is why.

There is an interesting shift in the story going twenty year ahead in the story, extra terrestrials have taken over the earth, the humans who were taken by Keanu have returned. Etc. It is interesting concept but nothing in the execution captured my interest

Honestly I am not going to go deep here. I didn’t enjoy the book, yet I did really enjoy the first book.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Book Review: 14 by Peter Clines

14 by Peter Clines

350 pages Permuted press

Nate finds the perfect apartment. For LA it is amazingly cheap, so cheap he is surprised there is even an opening. After he moves in he finds that only one or two of the residents have been there very long. The German caretaker is an odd duck, and yeah he has been around awhile. He doesn’t like the residents getting nosey about apartment 14 that is double locked. The basement storage that is locked down, or the odd markings on the cornerstone of the building. Some rooms have crazy lights, some never get warm and many more mysteries.

Once Nate moves in he finds out that the strange-ness of the building has driven out several people who lived in the building. Some leaving months on their lease. Nate makes friends with the people in the building and begins to investigate.

14 as a novel is many things, Gothic horror, a supernatural mystery, A haunted house story, (in this case a Los Angeles apartment building) and a Lovecraftian bizarro freak out. All those elements make for a fun novel but what makes it work are the well- written characters and perfect story structure. The three acts of the book connect well but each have a different feeling in a strong way.

I am positive I’ll be writing about this book again when I do my end of the year review. The setting is effective and as creepy as meant to be. Clines really gives the building a living breathing feeling, without this sense of place the book would have failed. On the same note the strongly defined characters are essential for adding weight to the mystery.

I read the first book of Clines zombie super heroes cross over and was impressed by his skill. 14 showed me that novel was not a fluke. He is a powerful story teller.

Would make a great companion novel to Lisa Morton’s Castle of Los Angeles. Both have a great LA gothic horror feel.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Chargers Talk: John Elway in the long run is helping our Bolts!

During the first couple days of free agency I assume the fans of almost all 32 teams freak out. Either they over react assume there team is not going enough, or over react buy assuming their massive free agent signings are the key to the super bowl.

As a Chargers fan I have watched the message boards “Sign this guy!” or “Sign that guy!” All great players and if it were fantasy football it would make sense. The reality of the current collective bargaining agreement means teams have to adhere to a salary cap. If you are a serious football fan you should understand this , but it seems like no one understands.

Some Charger fans have been complaining that GM Tom Telesco is not doing enough, when Denver our main divisional rival is spending BIG. With Denver spending big Talib at Cornerback, Demarcus Ware at Defensive end, and TJ Ward at safety all with big contracts on the defensive end. The reality is these signings are for the most part fool’s gold.

Running the front office John Elway has not only pushed all his chips in, but he stopped at the bank to get a loan borrowing money to gamble even more. With a lot of the big money in the back end of the contract, Elway is basically admitting the window to win a super bowl is short with Peyton Manning who has two years to get it done. If he doesn’t it wont matter 3 years from now the Broncos will not be able to afford to keep Manning and half it’s bloated contracts.

Brock Osweiler’s Broncs will be a cellar dweller for years, I expect Manning and Elway to retire at that point. In the mean time the Bolts are building their team in a sustainable manner. Building through the draft, making small quiet moves that will help the team.

Consider the 3 year contract for former Colts Running back Donald Brown, decried by many fans as not a big deal. Consider the last play-off loss at Denver. In the regular season The Bolts beat down Denver on the road by controlling the clock through the run game. With Ryan Mathews injured and heavy winds that made passing difficult the chargers went 3 Quarters score-less before storming back and losing the game by one score.

Considering the Bolts were one score away from the AFC Championship, imagine what a difference a second high quality RB in that game would have made. A few years ago the Jets had two lock down corners so the Patroits designed the offense to go up the middle with two Tight ends. The AFC west arms race has the Broncs going heavy on the pass rush, thus the Chargers are wisely building a three-headed monster in the backfield with Ryan Mathews Donald Brown and Woodhead. Those backs setting up short 3rd downs will be key to give Rivers 3rd and short to work with. It was the reason The Chargers led the NFL in 3rd down conversions last year.

It is impossible to say, but I don’t think we would have been scoreless that long if we have Donald Brown instead of Ronnie Brown. Check out his highlights from last year’s Thursday night game against the Titans. If you don't believe me...

Stop playing fantasy football with your Chargers on the message board. Trust Tom Telesco, Mike McCoy and Phillip Rivers. We are almost there.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Chapter 21 Excerpt from Boot Boys of the Wolf Reich...

Excerpt from Boot Boys of the Wolf Reich:
Chapter 21:

“A voice shouts loud: 'We'll never surrender.'

A voice in the crowd: 'Never surrender.'

A hand in the crowd's flying propaganda:

'Never surrender, We'll never surrender.'

The Skins in the corner are staring at the bar.

The Rude Boys are dancing to some heavy heavy ska.

It's getting so hot people are dripping with sweat

The Punks in the corner are speeding like a jet,

Staring at the Rude Boys...”

---The Ruts

Sonny kept expecting to wake up. It was all so unbelievable. A week had passed since Klaus Schroeder came into their lives, but it went by like a blur.

At first, when they went into the night as a pack, it was like the world was a videotape stuck on fast-forward. The various new senses coming to life were still overwhelming. By the second night he understood why Klaus warned them about losing yourself.

It was like a high. Stuff like driving, watching TV, or even walking, felt so mundane. He wanted to be in the pack, to be a wolf, all the time.

They didn't all go out at once. They forced others to sleep, be ready for the store in the morning. It was a terrible feeling. Sitting at home watching TV, or listening to music, knowing the pack was out there. Still, no matter what what he did, it felt unreal. Like a dream. Sonny never woke up.

The pack waited, down in the backyard. He could hear the faint but familiar sounds of the Transformation happening. He hadn't been with them on the night they found the cab driver. Tonight was his first real hunt.

Sonny reached in the bag he packed back at home and pulled out a vintage paperboy cap that Marcus traded him, back in the day. Sonny smelled the hat closely. He could smell his own smell, but there was the smell of Marcus still buried in the threads of the hat.

Sonny looked at himself in the mirror. “Not King Skinhead for long...”

* * The horn section danced when they could. Marcus danced all night like a man half his age. His wife Shawna had never been a fan of Oi or hardcore, so Ska shows were a big deal. Marcus put on his best suit and porkpie hat and wore his braces up. Last but not least, he shined up his three-hole Docs for the night. The Vespa scooter got dusted and pulled out of the garage, and they showed up to the club in style.

Medusa's was a house club. They did shows from time to time. Tonight, it was packed with Ska fans from at least three states. The Toasters only had two shows in the Midwest all year, Chicago and Minneapolis, before the band headed out West. They were on their encore, and everyone was on pins and needles knowing they saved the song “East Side Beat.”

The song started, and the skinheads locked arms to Chant “OI!” with the horn section. It was a daze, the last song. The dance floor swirled with old-timers and young people skanking to the beat. Marcus knew the song had about a minute left when he leaned over to Shawna. “Hey I'm gonna beat the crowd, pick up beer...”

Shawna didn't want to be bothered. She pushed him back and kept dancing. “See you at Rooster's!” Marcus shouted, but Shawna didn't hear him or even acknowledge him. Marcus used his size and height to push through the crowd and never lost his balance.

When he got to the long stairwell that lead down to the street, he laughed at how empty it was. He was used to shuffling out like sardine at the end of shows.

On the street the night air felt chilly despite the summer humidity. He had, of course, walked out of an oven. He let his braces down and searched his pants pockets for his scooter keys.

His black Vespa was the third scooter in the line of fifteen parked in front of the club. It was shined up, with five mirrors set along the front, stickers for London scooter shops and the first Specials album cover on the wheel casing. Pain in the ass to maintain in the States, but Chicago had a shop where they worked on them, near Lincoln Park. Marcus had learned a thing or two about scooter repair, but the scooter didn't come out except special occasions, and a Toasters show qualified.

Marcus sat down on the Vespa. Just as he put the key in the ignition, he heard a growling dog. Marcus didn't turn the key.

He looked up, and saw an impossibly large dog on the sidewalk. It stepped close, into the light from the club. He thought it was a Husky at first, but this was no dog.

A wolf, but larger than one he had ever seen a picture of. Everyone in the neighborhood had been on edge since the cab driver was killed. It seemed likely this was animal that did it. Marcus wondered if it was rabid.

“Shit.”

The band stopped. The crowd chanted, loud enough to be heard clearly down the stairs. They were stomping their boots, sounding like an army marching.“One more song!”

The wolf turned its head slightly, as if it was listening to the chant. It took small steps towards Marcus, staring straight at him.

Marcus didn't know shit about animals, so he didn't know what to do. It looked ready to pounce. Maybe the motor coming on would scare it away. Marcus turned the key, revving the small motor. The wolf arched its back, like it was ready to run.

Over the sound of the crowd chanting and motor of the scooter, he heard a faint chorus of growls from behind him.Marcus turned his head slightly, just enough to see three more wolves behind him on the street. The crowd roared inside. The Toasters must have walked back on stage. Marcus shifted the scooter back off the kickstand. The wolf on the sidewalk pounced and swung its paws at the front of the scooter as Marcus peeled backwards.

There was an intense roar as his scooter slammed into the wolves behind him. He felt the hot breath of a beast fan his neck. A claw slashed at his side as he moved past them.

The scooter pulled back in the middle of Sheffield Street. Cab lights were bouncing down the street now. The light changed, a block away on Belmont.

Marcus felt a dull pain as he revved on the motor. The wolves jumped at him. The scooter squealed as it headed up the street. He pushed it as hard as he could. This was a side road, compared to Clark and Belmont, and empty at the moment. He thought he'd feel safer if he could make it to Clark Ave., and the busy bar scene. He got the scooter going to thirty-five miles an hour, and the wolves ran with him. One flanked him on each side. The lights and sounds of Clark got closer. Marcus twisted the gas so tight he felt his muscles tighten. The wolves still ran beside him.

Marcus looked up, expecting to see Belmont Avenue. A wolf stood up straight on its back legs in the street. It looked seven feet tall. Marcus turned to avoid it, and crashed into a car parked on the street.

Marcus fell back, slamming his back on the pavement. Before he could scream in pain, he felt a paw at his shirt collar. The tall wolf had hold of him.

Marcus looked back to see the burning yellow eyes of the monster. It dragged him across the pavement toward an alley. The other wolves ran ahead of them.

He wanted to fight, but his back was shattered. Marcus felt nothing but pain pulsate through his body. And he couldn't feel his arms or legs.

The tall wolf stopped in the middle of the alley. Marcus tried to stand, but sharp new waves of pain were all he could feel. His racing thoughts turned to Shawna. Would she be able to keep the house? Stay in the country? Could she keep the house?

Marcus screamed as one of the wolves stepped over him, baring its teeth in his face. He felt more teeth tearing at his legs, at his stomach, like cats with a scratching-pad. He looked up at the sky between the buildings, and saw the nearly full moon before he closed his eyes forever.