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Old 07-12-2014, 05:40 AM   #1
JAMESBJOHNSON
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JBJs BOOK REVIEWS: The Real Shit.

THE MONKEYS RAINCOAT by Robert Crais.

This was Crais' first noir novel, there are now 18. Crais wrote episodes of many popular tv series, like QUINCY, HILL STREET BLUES, LAW AND ORDER, ETC.

The story: A distressed wife, Ellen Lang, hires Elvis Cole (real name John Cole) to find her husband and their son, Perry. Mort Lang's honey is also missing in action. Mort is a Hollywood pimp in the guise of a talent agent. Things start to happen. Lang's home gets tossed, Lang is found murdered, and a mobster demands that Cole return 2 kilos of cocaine Lang stole....or else. Its nonstop action from start to finish.

The Real Shit: This is a Raymond Chandler copycat. Elvis Cole is Philip Marlowe with a cat: Mid 30s, alcoholic, unmarried, fucks his female clients and their friends (Mort Lang was dead 2 days when Cole fucked the wife). Cole lives on fast food and booze. And has the same love-hate affair with the Los Angeles Police. Cole is a smart-ass tough-guy who gets his ass kicked almost every day. Cole's partner is an ex-Marine assassin named Joe Pike.

To make a long story short, the mobsters have friends at city hall who actively obstruct the cops and work against Cole and Pike. At the end, when lead is flying, the cops sit it out then arrest the good guys. There are some WTF moments, Joe Pike takes a bullet in the heart but requires almost no medical care, and a mobster takes Cole's pistol during a shoot-out. The other mobster needs 6 bullets in his gut to stop him. The book was excellent till the very end, when all the magical shit was unleashed.
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Old 07-12-2014, 05:47 AM   #2
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Don't you just feel robbed when the magical shit is unleashed in the last few pages!?

I once had an editor who said that the 'magic' has to be revealed in the first 20 pages - or forget it altogether.
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Old 07-12-2014, 07:15 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SamScribble View Post
Don't you just feel robbed when the magical shit is unleashed in the last few pages!?

I once had an editor who said that the 'magic' has to be revealed in the first 20 pages - or forget it altogether.
It makes for an absurd ending.
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Old 07-12-2014, 10:02 AM   #4
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I generally like the Pike/Cole series. I also like Sandford's Davenport/Flowers books.
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Old 07-12-2014, 10:22 AM   #5
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I generally like the Pike/Cole series. I also like Sandford's Davenport/Flowers books.
I recently discovered a black writer named GAR ANTHONY HAYWOOD. His first book FEAR OF THE DARK won awards and is pretty good. A white kid goes in a militant black bar and shoots up the bruthas when they object to his presence in their watering hole. But Haywood's recent fare is pussied up with all the testosterone removed to appeal to the girls.

I'll checkout Sandford.
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Old 07-12-2014, 10:51 AM   #6
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Joe Pike is hot. He's all wounded and mysterious, with scars and a secret heart of gold.
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Old 07-12-2014, 11:55 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JAMESBJOHNSON View Post
I recently discovered a black writer named GAR ANTHONY HAYWOOD. His first book FEAR OF THE DARK won awards and is pretty good. A white kid goes in a militant black bar and shoots up the bruthas when they object to his presence in their watering hole. But Haywood's recent fare is pussied up with all the testosterone removed to appeal to the girls.

I'll checkout Sandford.
You've probably read him some...he does the Prey series, among others.

I'll checkout Haywood.
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Old 07-12-2014, 12:52 PM   #8
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The boss, james r scouries, recommends the Scandanavians and their crime noir scene. During his illness he read all sorts of them. Try some of these:

NESBO Sweden
INDRIDASON Iceland
LACKBERG Sweden
FOSSUM Norway
Asa LARSSON Sweden
ADLER-OLSEN Denmark
NESSER Scandanavia
KEPLER Sweden
etc., etc., etc.

However his advice is to start at the beginning - the 10 Martin Beck stories written by MAJ STOWELL and PER WAHLOO in the 60's and 70's... they set the stage for MANKELL, Steig LARSSON and all of the above.
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Old 07-12-2014, 01:18 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by ScouriesWorld View Post
The boss, james r scouries, recommends the Scandanavians and their crime noir scene. During his illness he read all sorts of them. Try some of these:

NESBO Sweden
INDRIDASON Iceland
LACKBERG Sweden
FOSSUM Norway
Asa LARSSON Sweden
ADLER-OLSEN Denmark
NESSER Scandanavia
KEPLER Sweden
etc., etc., etc.

However his advice is to start at the beginning - the 10 Martin Beck stories written by MAJ STOWELL and PER WAHLOO in the 60's and 70's... they set the stage for MANKELL, Steig LARSSON and all of the above.
This better be true and good shit or I swear to God youll awake one morning changed to SR71PLT.
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Old 07-13-2014, 01:11 PM   #10
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GHOST STORY by Peter Straub (I wrote this is 2009)

Peter Straub breaks the cardinal rule of fiction writing with this loser: SOMETHING BETTER HAPPEN IN THE FIRST 5 PAGES. Nothing much happens in this book for 66 pages....a character sees a ghost briefly. Whoopee. Then two kids 'cross-over,' like they were catching the bus to school.

Fiction exists to give you vicarious experiences, lessons, and feelings. GHOST STORY reminds me of schizophrenics with 'happy feet,' who wander aimlessly about the asylum's grounds, and bump into fences and trees. The queerness of the spectacle quickly decomposes to boredom.

Good horror should be identical to what you experience when you put your hand up your girl's leg and discover something that shouldnt be there. Something that immediately puzzles and alarms you.

Straub (and King, lately) remind me of horror writers who've crossed-over to the Special Olympics section of literature.
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Old 07-13-2014, 02:27 PM   #11
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That guy/girl above you is nuts. Scandanavian mystery is just as uneven as everything else. The Girl with a Dragon Tattoo series is horrrrrrible. And now anyone with a -sen in their name gets published.

Wallander series good.

I recommend South African writer Rennie Airth. River of Darkness. A truly terrifying killer. A WW I shell-shocked cop. Hot lady doctor. Several intriguing gruesome murders. I absolutely guarantee it will get a rave.


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GHOST STORY by Peter Straub (I wrote this is 2009)

Peter Straub breaks the cardinal rule of fiction writing with this loser: SOMETHING BETTER HAPPEN IN THE FIRST 5 PAGES. Nothing much happens in this book for 66 pages....a character sees a ghost briefly. Whoopee. Then two kids 'cross-over,' like they were catching the bus to school.

Fiction exists to give you vicarious experiences, lessons, and feelings. GHOST STORY reminds me of schizophrenics with 'happy feet,' who wander aimlessly about the asylum's grounds, and bump into fences and trees. The queerness of the spectacle quickly decomposes to boredom.

Good horror should be identical to what you experience when you put your hand up your girl's leg and discover something that shouldnt be there. Something that immediately puzzles and alarms you.

Straub (and King, lately) remind me of horror writers who've crossed-over to the Special Olympics section of literature.
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Old 07-13-2014, 02:31 PM   #12
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Quote:
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That guy/girl above you is nuts. Scandanavian mystery is just as uneven as everything else. The Girl with a Dragon Tattoo series is horrrrrrible. And now anyone with a -sen in their name gets published.

Wallander series good.

I recommend South African writer Rennie Airth. River of Darkness. A truly terrifying killer. A WW I shell-shocked cop. Hot lady doctor. Several intriguing gruesome murders. I absolutely guarantee it will get a rave.
The library has a copy of the Airth book.
I don't care for Stegg Larsson.
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Old 07-16-2014, 05:51 AM   #13
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Fear Of The Dark

FEAR OF THE DARK by Gar Anthony Haywood.

Haywood's first noir novel featuring black detective Aaron Gunner. He lives in a shithole, works for his cousin as an apprentice electrician, and drives a pristine 60s Shelby Cobra Ford Mustang. He was tossed out of the police academy.

The story: A crazy fucking white dude goes in a ghetto bar and orders a beer. The bruthas do not like it. The bartender gets his shotgun and others confront the white about being in their bar. The white dude then whips out his pistols and shoots up the bruthas. Two bruthas die and the rest haul ass or hide under tables crying. Its a scene from the old Schlitz Malt Liquor Bull ad. The next day Aaron Gunner awakes with a sista atop his ass pointing a pistol at his nose, she wants to hire him to find the killer but has no money. He accepts some pussy as a retainer.

Gunner goes to work hunting the killer and finds the man, sitting beside him in the Mustang (blood all over the carpet and upholstery), shot tween the eyes with Gunner's pistol. Oh my! Denny Townsend is the killers name, and he's a very crazy homo fag (aren't they all!).

Bottom line: Radical white and black pols pooled their money to hire the killer to start some shit. They want the cops to look bad. Shit is good for both sides. They set Aaron Gunner up to play the fool. And everybody sneaks up on poor Aaron.

Assessment: You can read worse by better writers. It could be polished a little but isn't a waste of time. It promised much in the future, but Haywoods later books suck. They suck because Haywood got sensitive and caring, adding subplots about female issues I call PROM GOWN ANGST.
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Old 07-17-2014, 08:53 PM   #14
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LULLABY TOWN by Robert Crais

A BIG Hollywood producer hires Elvis Cole to find an ex-wife and their son. He hasn't seen them in 10 years. Cole finds her 3000 miles away in CT. She runs a bank and works for the Mafia laundering money. She wants outta the mafia but the capo sez no.

The 'no' starts a major pissing contest between Cole and the mafia. Then the big producer sticks his nose into the fray and it all gets much worse when he's captured and set to be murdered. Then Cole lets the mafia capture the kid. It aint the first time Cole aint watching the store.

About the time all is well and the end is nigh hell breaks loose again.

The book doesn't need the kidnapping; its silly and serves no purpose to advance the story. And it makes Cole look like a clown.
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Old 07-19-2014, 04:36 AM   #15
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STALKING THE ANGEL by Robert Crais

Its his 2nd novel.

The Story: A rich hotel tycoon loses a rare, expensive book and hires Elvis Cole to find it. The tycoon doesn't own the book. Cole stirs up the mafia and they make trouble. The tycoons 16 year old daughter disappears. The tycoon fires Cole but he stays on to hunt for the girl and things get crazy. He arouses a sleeping cluster-fuck.

The girl has a mafia lover and some addictions. She's not a beautiful female. Anyway, daddy's money has damaged her; that's how money is. Cole finds her and attempts a reconciliation with Ma and Pa. The girl kills her father, the money was destroying her soul. And the mafia jumps in to help the lover steal the book from the girl. But no one knows what to do with the girl, I mean she killed her father but meant well.

Crais, in this book, didn't know when to leave well enough alone. I woulda ended the book where Cole finds the girl...after he kicks some ass and takes her home. She coulda sneered at daddy, said I HATE YOU, and the girls therapist would bleat WITH ALL THE MONEY YOU GOT A CURE IS CERTAIN.
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Old 07-19-2014, 10:42 AM   #16
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Library didn't have Fear of the Dark so I'm reading Haywood's Assume Nothing. It has that vague familiar feeling like maybe I've read it before or it's derivative...we'll see.
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Old 07-19-2014, 11:11 AM   #17
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Library didn't have Fear of the Dark so I'm reading Haywood's Assume Nothing. It has that vague familiar feeling like maybe I've read it before or it's derivative...we'll see.
I see that Crais taught Haywood how to write hard crime.
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Old 07-19-2014, 12:35 PM   #18
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I generally like the Pike/Cole series. I also like Sandford's Davenport/Flowers books.
Ditto on the Sandford books. I've read them all, along with the Kidd ones too.
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Old 07-21-2014, 10:02 PM   #19
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FREE FALL by Robert Crais.

The story: A woman hires Elvis Cole to find out if her fiancée is a criminal. The man seems to be Dudley Doright but the woman suspects the worst.

The book is compelling till the end when it morphs into a cluster fuck. I cant put my finger on one flaw till the end. You cant put it down its so enchanting, then it goes to hell. It fits together like a Swiss watch then falls apart.

Crais uses too many subplots. Theres the relationship, then the guy is fucking another woman on the sly, then there's the criminal snooping, then there's the police suppressing police brutality, gangbangers dealing drugs and shooting up LA, Cole goes to jail charged with murdering 3 dope dealers, etc etc etc. At the end its like an old Fearless Fosdick strip where lead is flying everywhere and bodies litter the streets and Fosdick runs in circles. Whew. Too much.

But its sublime till Crais loses control.
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Old 07-21-2014, 10:31 PM   #20
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Michael Slade: Ghoul.

Sick as hell and one of those endings that makes you go back and re read the book for clues because your first reaction is "No way"

But....the final twist at the end seemed unnecessary and gratuitous
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Old 07-22-2014, 01:34 AM   #21
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A small question for you guys...

Narration in present tense:

Are they a hit or a serious flop?
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Old 07-22-2014, 06:37 PM   #22
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I feel inspired to put Elvis Cole on my reading list.

I suppose one should begin with The Monkeys Raincoat, since it is first in the series...
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Old 07-22-2014, 06:45 PM   #23
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I feel inspired to put Elvis Cole on my reading list.

I suppose one should begin with The Monkeys Raincoat, since it is first in the series...
I've read the first 4 and I don't think it matters what order you read them, cuz he repeats the salient facts about Cole and Pike in each book. He improves with each book, tho.
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Old 07-22-2014, 08:23 PM   #24
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I've read the first 4 and I don't think it matters what order you read them, cuz he repeats the salient facts about Cole and Pike in each book. He improves with each book, tho.
Same goes for Lee Child and the Reacher series, which I also really enjoy.
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Old 07-22-2014, 08:38 PM   #25
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Same goes for Lee Child and the Reacher series, which I also really enjoy.
Let me make a note.

I caught Crais in an error, Joe Pike complained of a pool's chlorine stench but chlorine is odorless unless reacting with urine, and the home was uninhabited.
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