Posts Tagged ‘Crime Books’

It is a truth universally acknowledged, dear Crimeziner, that one should never make a purchase of any kind in an airport departure lounge. To ignore such advice is foolish indeed, as it invariably leads severe punishment of both the wallet and the gastro intestinal tract.

With this salutary warning in mind Crimezine hobbled into the departure hall at Tam O Shanter International, Scotland, swishing at the gills with near lethal quantities of premium Speyside malt and prescription meds. The faustian horror encroached, as wailing travelers struggled to negotiate the hordes of baton wielding air marshals, exploding Islamian extremists, and junk fondling CSA facilitators with a poor collective body image. How brave these heroic travelers were, struggling as they did through this Boschian landscape so they might squander their hard earned–tourist dollars in the overpriced sky mall.

Crimezine meanwhile, slunk to the very darkest corner of the airport bar for a twenty dollar cocktail that had received only the briefest acquaintance with hard liquor and came ready paired with a ghastly tummy ache sandwich that was surely sponsored by the gastric bypass industry.

Airports rarely carry books these days. The FAA and their corporate partners have no doubt decided that anyone who buys literature is a clear and present danger to national security. They have therefore replaced bookstores with a carefully selected range of bovine snack foods and overpriced city souvenirs featuring NFL teams and rainbow unicorns. We did however manage to find the latest crime masterworks by Conners and Coben, along with the latest Jimbo Patterson entitled, “Cross Legged”, lovingly knocked together by his army of crime elves, but then, the excitement suddenly peaked—

Talking with Psychopaths and Savages—a journey into the mind of evil by Criminologist/investigative journalist, Christopher Berry-Dee.

Hurrah, hurrah and thrice hurrah! “A chilling study of the most cold blooded, manipulative people on the planet”, the cover screams. “Look around you, because the person sitting right next to you could be a cold heartless murderer!” Gulp!

CBD, as we shall call him, is very important. He tells us this very clearly in the first fifty pages or so. He is involved with television and stuff. He has interviewed “Cold-blooded heartless monsters” and heinous horrible people about their horrific crimes! Yikes. How scary that sounds. So who is first up? Not so fast eager beavers. You need to know what a Psychopath is right? Because CBD has read books and done research stuff on the “World Wide Web” He’s also found a stack of well thumbed copies of True Detective Magazine and The National Enquirer in the abandoned surgery of the horrific and heinous serial killer Dr. Harold Shipman—he was a doctor who killed people and stuff—it was really horrible. “You should read the Psychopath Test by Jon Ronson,” blurts CBD. Really? What about your book CBD, the one we have just forked over ready cash for?

But, seeing as you mention it—Jonno Ronson’s book, “The Psycopath Test: A Journey through the madness industry” (2011) has been rejected as “Abject nonsense” by The Society for the Scientific Study of Psychopathy, and by Robert D. Hare, creator of The Hare Psychopathy Checklist. Hare has also described the Jonson book as “frivolous shallow and professionally disconcerting.”

Oh dear. But at least Johnno could be arsed to get out and actually interview some people. After a lackluster start In which CBD talks endlessly about “aggressive narcissism” and fails to see the irony of constantly tooting his own trumpet, we are treated to potted histories of Oscar Pistorious and the aforementioned Harry Shipman, both of whom have been yawnsomely over-exposed to media scrutiny in recent the years. CBD offers no evidence of talking with these men, no real insight or analysis either, just the same old yackity-yack you have heard a thousand times before.

Subsequent chapters do however reveal CBD has actually gone into jail to meet killers and spoken to their families which is progress of a sort. But oh double dear, virtually everyone he speaks to gives him short shrift. Worse, these ‘momentous events’ all happened many decades ago. CBD meanwhile boasts constantly about how much smarter he is than those he speaks with. Most of the folks he has met are little league murderers— nasty despicable, career felons you probably wouldn’t want to know about. CBD mentions he once visited notorious psycho serial killer Henry Lee Lucas, but he leaves it right there—one sentence—no details—nothing. This is what passes for “investigative journalism” in the world of CBD.

So, as you can see, this book has little to offer. And in that way it is very similar to an afternoon spent at an airport departure lounge. Right about now CBD would sign off with yet another moan about word count. Writing books for money is such an arduous job isn’t it? So much so that certain folks can hardly be bothered.

 

 

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RJ Ellory-Crimezine

A Simple Act of Violence

Who is the mysterious Catherine Sheridan and why was she murdered? This masterful and unique novel is anything but what the title so teasingly suggests. A Simple Act of Violence breaks new ground as a hybrid novel of stunning depth and nuanced complexity, provoking questions that will have you wondering at the very nature of morality itself.

What starts as a murder investigation for cops Robert Miller & Al Roth quickly turns into a hunt for a vicious serial killer, but the hunt for the ‘Ribbon Killer’ raises more questions than it answers and pretty soon Detective Miller is delving solo, into a byzantine world of political intrigue that threatens to destroy both him and his career

As usual R.J.’s deliciously enticing prose is hard-hitting and deeply suspenseful. He engages the reader with poetic flourishes and a philosophical undertow that questions not only the Kafkaesque nature of US covert operations, but also the moral code of those who govern us.

The philosophical heart of this book is adapted from a popular French term: Sacred Monsters, whereby we are responsible for creating something that ultimately becomes our undoing. For the cop Miller, this Sacred Monster is his compulsion to seek the truth, even if it means his own destruction. For Miller’s mysterious nemesis the Sacred Monster involves countless acts of murder, sanctioned in the name of justice and the higher ideals of government.

Stylistically, we get a third person police procedural, that weaves hypnotically with a mysterious and disturbing first person voice, that could almost be the voice of our own consciousness. When these two worlds collide there is a cataclysm of Shakespearean proportions, most appropriate—as Ellory hails from the great bards home turf, although with his masterful grasp of Americana and the American crime milieu you would never know.

Certain naughty treats do however give the author away—did Mr. Ellory seriously think we would miss the fleeting appearance of 2000AD’s goon squad killers Sinister and Dexter? Not on Crimezine’s watch bucko, we are personal friends with the Mighty Tharg.

Although the story seems to move in real time, it has a cinematic vibe that just aches for big screen accolades. Hollyweird will get wise to the Elloryian vibe in it’s owns sweet-time, meanwhile you can catch the buzz on the ground floor—or as Crimezine always prefers—the lingerie department.

Already an award winning UK novelist with great acclaim in his native Europe, R.J Ellory is aching to make the leap into major league success in America. He now has a body of work that will facilitate this transition: Each story different, yet possessing the same unique voice. Each story a masterpiece of nuanced and individualistic storytelling. Crimezine thinks A Simple Act of Violence is his masterwork. So if you like big budget crime thrills and a masterful level of suspense, this is the book for you. Tell ’em we sent you Crimeziners.

 http://rjellory.com/biog.aspx

Crimezine-Jo Nesbo

The Leopard: Grusome

Here comes The Leopard, by hot shot flavor of the month—the Nebuchadnezzar of Nordic Noir, Jo Nesbø.

Now Mr Nesbø, is the author of the serial killer schlocker The Snowman, which is not exactly Crimezines cup of fijord flavored hot-fondue. But legendary filmmaker Martin Score-sleazy is in disagreement, and he has decided to make The Snowman into a movie [As Exclusively reported in Crimezine] Well, hurrah to that! We are sure Marty will tune up the story considerably.

Crimezine has been impressed by previous Nesbø efforts, The Devils Star and The Red Breast and we wouldn’t hesitate to recommend these tales to Crimeziners everywhere.

Why then should The Leopard be any different? We hear you ask. Well— fans of films such as The Saw, Final Destination and the charming Hostel series, will no doubt love this book.

But for others, this bloated shock fest of serial killer torture and mindless splatter core pukiness will have you chocking into a barf-bag after page four, and this gory-borey tome is five hundred —count ’em—pages long.

No doubt you will hear marketeers try and convince you that Jo Nesbø is the new Stieg, Girl With a Dragon Tattoo Larson. This is not true. He is Thomas Harris with a chainsaw and a tool-kit full of sharpened screwdrivers.

So what of the story? Well, Harry Hole has made an opium-smoking sojourn to Hong Kong, after his gruesome encounter with The Snowman, only to be persuaded back to Norway by the piranha toothed Kaja, who tells him his father is dying. What follows is a web of inane chat, dumb gags and half-baked memories, from touchy feely childhoods, that it’s hard to give a damn about.

Layered throughout this, we get a collection of gruesome torture killings seemingly related to a meeting at a ski-lodge. Confusion reigns. The plot is by turn nonsensical, then preposterous, and just when you think respite is heading your way, Harry heads to the Congo, where further scenes of carnage ensue: rape, gore, genocide, mutilation. But all is not lost Crimeziners. Heroic Harry Hole rushes to the rescue, saving the innocents who are the subject of his mission of mercy from death in a fiery Volcano. We kid you not. We hoped Tarzan would swing in to cheer things up. Unfortunately he never did.

Jo Nesbø can do much better than this, his public expects it and so does Crimezine.

 

Crimezine-watch me die

Lee Goldberg: Watch Me Die

Lee Goldberg has been compared to Elmore Leonard. That is a big compliment to live up to for any writer. Problem for young Lee is he has trouble being Karl Hiaasen and that is on a good day.

Don’t get us wrong Crimeziners, we like his latest book Watch Me Die, we even liked his last book My Gun Has Bullets, even after Goldberg promised us that it would make us cackle like a TV laugh track—that good eh?

Young Lee has written a bazillion books it would seem, Crimezine wonders how he finds the time, especially as he is so deeply involved writing scripts for bottom of the barrel TV shows such as Seaquest, Martial Law and Baywatch [They have scripts?] a genre he calls T&A. [Chortle]. In his bio Goldberg also refers to a show he has written called Highwayman, which he lovingly refers to as utter crap.

Still, back to the task in hand. Watch Me Die is an unusual book, it concerns the adventures of a fictionally obsessed Security Guard, Harvey Mapes, who is tasked with following the beautiful wife of one of the residents who lives in the Spanish Hill community which he guards.

Mapes may have aspirations to be a Private Detective, like the fictional hero’s he idolizes, but he doesn’t quite have the skills required for the job. He is certainly no tough guy and in one confrontation gets beaten so badly he cries and wets himself. Oh dear.

While there are many jokes and allusions to the likes of Travis McGee, Shaft, and Jim Rockford to be found in this book, it is a quirk that can be annoying, rather than entertaining. The story does have redeeming features however, namely Mapes’ determination to tenaciously solve the mystery behind the death of his clients wife, when she inexplicably leaps from a bridge.

Humor is deeply subjective , it may be that you are a Goldberg veteran, if so you will no doubt reward yourself with the hardback $26 version of this book, complete with it’s eye wateringly repellant cover. If however you want to dip your toe in the waters of Goldberg’s comedic oeuvre, you would be well advised to try the kindle version, which retails at an altogether more reasonable $3.77.

According to Lee Goldberg, he:  lives in Los Angeles and still sleeps in “Man From UNCLE” pajamas. Hilarious.

John le Carré  Writer

John le Carré

English writer John le Carré was born David John Moore. After an international education, at Lincoln College Oxford and The Shelborne School, in Berne Switzerland, where he studied German literature, le Carré became a schoolteacher, at posh English school Eton, before joining the British Foreign Service.

From 1959 to 1964 le Carré worked at the British Embassy in Bonn Germany and as Political Consul in Hamburg Germany. It is here, if we are to believe the hype, that le Carré became a spy for British Intelligence at the very height of the Cold War spying era.

It is this much vaunted experience, that gives le Carré’s work it’s authenticity. There is one problem however. le Carré denies he was ever a spy. He calls his works fabulations. He says he despises himself as a ‘fake guru’ and says that his writing is the ‘stuff off dreams not reality.’

le Carré’s pops was a confidence trickster, an associate of notorious London Gangsters the Kray Twins. Moore senior spent time in Jail. It is conceivable that the man called Dave is telling the truth regarding his spying career, or he might be engaged in an elaborate confidence trick of his own. When you are dealing with an author who has spent decades writing about deep-cover bluff and double bluff, you can never be sure what is truly real. It is no surprise then that le Carré the writer remains as enigmatic as his deeply plotted fiction.

The reader will always consider le Carré’s denials a cover story however. If he was a cold war super spy he would deny it, wouldn’t he? Wouldn’t he also hide away on a rural Cornish cliff top, eschewing media attention? Such is the life of the man called Dave.

But is le Carré a crime writer? Although he writes principally about the world of spies, his descriptions of political intrigue, moral turpitude, and criminality are linked in such baffling webs of complexity and ambiguity, it is often impossible to decide who is right and who is wrong, in the traditional sense of crime writing. le Carré is therefore the master of a genre he himself created.

The Crime Writers Association awarded le Carré their Diamond Dagger award in 1988, so clearly they consider Dave to be a crime writer, though Crimezine would suggest that le Carré might more accurately be described as a mystery writer and a damn good one at that.

So why John le Carré? Dave started writing in 1961. He was still working for the British Secret Service when his first books A Murder of Quality and The Spy Who Came in from the Cold were published. The pseudonym, literally John in the square in French, was a required condition of his continued service.

Reportedly Dave left the service when he and many other agents had their cover blown to the KGB, by British traitor Kim Philby. To date le Carré has written 22 novels, the majority are complex spy stories, but others such as 1993’s excellent Night Manager are not and no matter what Dave would have us believe, the man is a genuine legend.

Crimezine Numbreone for Crime,Crimezine #1

Los Angeles is the birthplace of noir crime fiction. It is home such crime legends as Mickey Cohen king of the West coast, gangsters and Bill Parker godfather of the LAPD. Home to Dragnet, the Postman Always RingsTwice, and the righteous cop show forerunner to just about every movie and televisual cop series you can think of. CSI Miami? They film that in the Universal studios backlot in Hollywood, just like all those episodes of Starsky and Hutch you loved so much. New York City? Nah, that was Hollywood dude, pure Hollywood. Then there are the writers. From Raymond Chandler to James Ellroy the best crime writers in the world have lived, worked and based their fiction on the mean streets of Los Angeles. It is there fore no surprise that Crimezine should be based in the Hollywood hills looking out over Mulholland drive on a city where crime never sleeps.