Saturday, February 27, 2016

ALL YOU DESPISE by Tom Piccirilli

"Some would say I was pessimistic and self-defeating. I tended to think that I dreamed from the bottom up."
All You Despise is another great piece of work by the peerless Tom Piccirilli. It's less a crime novella and more of a painful, tragic confession of regret. It's a short but powerful character portrait of fathers and sons, the vice-grip hold that family loyalty can have over someone, and the dark-side of brotherly love and a father's legacy. The ideal that you love your family no matter what is a beautiful one, but it could also be a crippling one. Focusing on a lonely man that wakes up to find his brother arriving at his trailer  in the middle of a drunken blackout and soaked in someone else's blood, not a whole lot of action actually happens in this short book. But it is still gripping, a testament to Piccirilli's power with character and prose.


Sunday, February 21, 2016


This novel opens with a neat but pretty unbelievable premise where a lonely, drunk sign-maker overhears a couple of strangers plan a kidnapping plot and decides to get in on the action. It's basically a noir-within-noir structure where the main character has his very own James M. Cain story playing out in front of him and he decides to write a role for himself, interrupt the whole shebang and take off with all the ransom money, while trying to also deal with a horny girlfriend, and a man that shows up knowing all of the dark secrets of his past.

The events that follow were difficult to buy into and I was never truly engaged beyond the surface action. It just felt too "conceived," like I could see the uneven gears of Brewer's plot turning. Thankfully, Brewer's trademark pacing kept things going at a quick clip and there were a few tense scenes. But then things just fizzled out with a weak climax and a forgettable resolution.


Saturday, February 13, 2016

DIG TWO GRAVES by Eric Beetner

Goddammit. I'd hoped to get this over with in one bullet. At this rate, I'd empty the clip before morning. 
When gangster and bank robber Val gets arrested after a perfectly executed heist, he finds out the hard way that you can't trust anyone these days! He discovers that he's been ratted out by the one person who he expects to be trustworthy: Ernesto, his prison-bitch when he was inside; the one he has started to catch a few feelings for. Val escapes from police custody and stalks the city on a manhunt to track down the snitching bastard and get his vengeance.

Starting off strong with a great title that's both deceivingly simple and completely illustrative, this revenge story stays strong to the end. The book is fast-paced, violent, and many times laugh-out-loud funny. Author Eric Beetner maintains a great balance between the dark noir tones and the humor and creates an engaging voice in the narrator Val, a man who seems to be desperate to maintain his reputation for having a cool and collected demeanor throughout the whole thing but whose composure starts to strain as the odds and betrayals stack against him. This is the first book I've read by rising pulp noir star Beetner and I quickly scooped up some of his other awesomely-titled work to check out soon!


Monday, February 8, 2016


*Book 11 of the Hap and Leonard series*

I'm disappointed. It might be my book series fatigue but the Hap and Leonard series seems like it's turned into an epic talk-fest. Because this novel was just released, I decided to jump ahead a couple books in the series and read it. The first four books in the series were exciting reads, with compelling plots, a great balance of both light-hearted humor and palpable danger, and tender bits sprinkled throughout. But as the series went on, it seemed like Lansdale started to depend solely on the humor and witty dialogue over developing a memorable story, losing the great balance that he started out with. Here, Hap and Leonard, and especially Jim Bob Luke, blabber on and on throughout the book, trying to make us laugh, which they succeed at for the most part. But while it's hard to resist the unending charm of Hap and Leonard as characters and Lansdale's talent with words, I immediately forgot what the plot was once I finished. I remember it had something to do with a mystery involving a tranny car salesman and redneck assassins that take their victims severed nutsacks as it has that going for it!


Monday, February 1, 2016


*Book 6 of the Hap and Leonard series*

Hap and Leonard have been in some pretty bad situations over the years but nothing can prepare them for the open seas. After Hap gets a sizeable reward for saving a teenage girl from a tweaked out murderer, he decides to go on a cruise ship vacation with Leonard. But rather than the restful trip they had planned, they end up on the cruise from hell and find themselves balls-deep in trouble as usual, when their ship leaves them stranded in a Mexican beachtown. 

One weird thing that stood out is that this novel felt like the most negative Hap and Leonard installment. With how much they constantly nagged, it felt like everything that the boys experienced was the absolute worst thing to ever happen to them: from the ocean, to the food on the cruise ship, to the hotel in Mexico and every person they meet along the way. In the past, our heroes have usually been pretty positive throughout everything, but here, both Hap and Leonard felt like those friends you have that just complain about everything under the sun. But, this book is ultimately a big improvement over the last one, Rumble Tumble, because of its much more engaging storyline. The story takes it's time to get going, but once it does it really takes off and you forget the grumbling first act. The action is clear and concise, many of the supporting characters really come into their own here, and the new characters really shine, including Leonard's new boyfriend John. Even with issues, it's hard to resist reading about the adventures of Hap and Leonard, and this novel is no exception.