Friday, December 29, 2017


I just love a simple story told extremely well. The premise here is simple: a terrible car accident causes the lives of two very different women to tragically intersect, and author Edward Lorn has such a confident grasp of character, theme, pace, and the juggling of multiple viewpoints, that it became one of my most enjoyable reads this year. The characters of Lei Duncan and Belinda Walsh instantly grew familiar to me. I was invested in them from the first few pages and they will stay with me for a while even now that I've finished the book. Belinda Walsh in particular is handled very well; I loved the fact that the way I expected her to act after being introduced to her evolved subtly as I learned more about her character. At first I saw her as this clueless pushover, but by the end, I realized that she's much more aware and sharp than I expected in the beginning.
"But that's how insanity works. When you break, you don't hear the snap."
The reason I didn't rate it higher is because I'm not a fan of the kind of ending found here, which I won't go into detail about. It was a near perfect read for me right up to that point. But it's really a personal preference and many others might love it. I've been learning to judge something based on what it is and what it sets out to do rather than what I want or expect. And what Lorn does here, he does it very well. It was one of the smoothest and quickest reads I've experienced this year.


Saturday, December 23, 2017


In what seems like a trademark for Lemire, this new series is a pensive, melancholy family drama that examines regret, death, relationships and a reckoning with the past. It follows the Pike family as they deal with the near-death stroke of the family patriarch, while each family member is haunted by the youngest brother Tommy, who drowned in an accident, something the family has never gotten over.

Once again, Lemire is so efficient here in his visual storytelling, that it packs more of a punch in it's 160 pages than many of the prose books I've read this year. It's very cinematic in the way he uses imagery and this juxtaposition of images. The whole graphic novel has a beautiful structure. I love the way each family member interacts with Tommy in a way that they each would prefer to remember him;  in ways that suit their present predicament. In a way, it reminded me a lot of one of my favorite TV shows: the HBO classic Six Feet Under, in it's magical realism and in the way it approached tragedy. So if you enjoyed that show, you will love this one: yet another memorable piece of art by Jeff Lemire, and one of the best graphic novels this year.


Thursday, December 21, 2017

GRAVEYARD LOVE by Scott Adlerberg

"If I wanted to hurt you, I would’ve when you begged me to."
One of the reasons I'm such a fan of noir is that I can't seem to resist reading stories about doomed losers and lowlifes making unfortunate decisions leading them deeper into ruin. This book might be a turnoff to some who prefer their fiction to have characters with mostly likable qualities. It's a creepy, sleazy bit of noir about a loser ex-writer that lives with his overbearing mom and the obsession he has with spying on a mysterious redhead who apparently plays with herself in a dead woman's tomb in the neighboring cemetery.
"I wish there was a curse. I sincerely do. I’d fuck you in a second, this instant, if I thought you were going to die afterwards. It’d be the easiest way to get rid of you."
It's a fascinating and brave psychological thriller that is constantly surprising. It takes the unreliable narrator, Kurt Morgan, from being just a man with a crush, straight in to pure stalker territory, and then to potentially something even darker. It's a sly, slippery little psycho-sexual noir that Hitchcock, Patricia Highsmith, or Brian DePalma would love!
I’m not a violent person. I didn’t get into fights at school and I don’t remember scuffling with anyone as an adult. What transpired with Charlotte began as consensual activity, then degenerated from there. And that activity wasn’t violent in the true sense; it involved the use of paraphernalia. None of which is what killed her; the drugs did that. But our time together did leave me with handcuffs.


Saturday, December 9, 2017


If Songs of Innocence was simply another John Blake mystery, a sequel to Aleas's serviceable first novel, Little Girl Lost, it would still be a pretty good read. But it's much more than a simple sequel, outshining the first book in every conceivable way. It begins as just another detective story, with the retired Blake putting his detective hat back on to investigate the death of his classmate and lover, Dorrie Burke.

But things get darker as the book progresses, pushing Blake further and further into the abyss as he begins to discover the kind of collateral damage that his actions, his mistakes, as well as his discoveries ultimately lead to. It really is better than it has any right to be, crushing its mystery genre expectations and ascending into tragic crime opera territory. And like the best mysteries, the conclusion isn't as cut-and-dry as many would expect. 

It's hard to pinpoint exactly how the book achieves the effect that it has, but at some point I became completely engrossed! I've been tired of standard mysteries lately but this is one of the best detective stories I've read in a while, right up there with the best of Lehane, Mosley, or Lawrence Block. If you have any interest in crime or mysteries, put this one on your list.
I hadn't meant to end up this way, counting the dead, apologizing to the ghosts of the dead women I'd loved. 
But here I was, with apologies to make and so little time to make them.