Sunday, June 26, 2011

Chasing Filthy Lucre – Jarrett Rush

First off, I'm going to admit I don't remember all of the details of this novella, because Joseph Finder's novel came out the day after I read this one, and I couldn't keep myself from reading it!

I found out about this novella via a friend on twitter. It is another $0.99 Amazon special. At about 20,000 words, this is a novella you can easily read in a day.

This novella has a great start in an underground boxing situation. At first you think this is going to be a Fight Club type novel, but the next thing you know the main character is plugging a cable into his arm in cyberpunk post apocalyptic fashion. Apparently in this future time line, soldiers were implanted with a cybernetic type device so they could download tactical information while they sleep. As time went on, people found ways to increase the flow of information, which allows them to use the Internet like a kind of drug.

The main character is a kind of enforcer/transporter who makes sure that couriers (whose heads are packed with secret information) make it to their destination. One of his couriers dies, and he finds himself in the middle of an idealogical war, and decides to execute the plans that were stored in the courier's head.

This is a pretty short read, but it lays a great foundation for a future full length novel or perhaps a series of novels. This has some pretty strong similarities to Johnny Mnemonic, so if you like that, you will probably like this!

Up next, Superman: Red Son.

Buried Secrets – Joseph Finder

A colleague first introduced me to Nick Heller shortly after the release of Vanished. I think it was one of the first books I purchased on the kindle. I’ve actually read it twice, and my wife has read it as well. Shortly after getting into the book scene on twitter, I found out that Joseph Finder is actually pretty active on twitter. Shortly after following him, I found out about Buried Secrets.

This novel follows Nick Heller after he has moved to Boston (Finder’s home town) to start up his own security agency. Business is a little slow, as Nick is pretty selective about his clients. It turns out that the daughter of a family friend has been kidnapped and is being held hostage. Unfortunately, the girl’s family isn’t telling Nick everything he knows about his daughter. Fortunately, for the reader, we get to meet Nick’s professional colleagues as he tracks down the girls.

As you know, I am anti-spoiler, but it has been pretty well publicized that the girl is being held hostage in a coffin buried underground. Apparently Joseph Finder actually was locked into a coffin to see what it felt like. The research experience worked, because his initial description of being locked in the coffin is seriously anxiety inducing. Other than that, Joseph Finder has a pretty interesting choice of weapon for the villain, the WASP knife, a knife that injects air forcefully into the victim after they have been stabbed. It makes for a few gruesome scenes.

One of the strongest points of this novel is the pacing. This book just never stops! I actually read the book in one day, while essentially locked in a room with no windows (it’s a work thing that I have to do about once a month). Especially freaky was when the power went out for five minutes and I was stuck in the dark, not really knowing where the door was! I also know the ladies are pretty big fans of Nick Heller in general, and there is a love story/subplot in the novel that will keep most people satisfied.

I am classifying this as a MUST READ for the summer. If you haven’t read VANISHED by Joseph Finder, I would recommend reading it first, although I would not consider it a requisite.

I am currently reading Superman: Red Son, and have also read a novella called Chasing Filthy Lucre. They are both pretty short, so I’m not sure if I will make two posts or not.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Kingdom Come - Mark Waid, Alex Ross, Todd Klein

I've tried to read a graphic novel a month, but have fallen behind. They are actually kind of hard to read, because there is so much on the page visually, but you have to use your imagination a little bit more since there aren't many words. It took me a while to get used to that!

This graphic novel was actually easy to read. The story is compelling, and moves quickly. This book is based in the Justice League universe. That is helpful for me, because the last graphic novel I read (Justice) required a lot of research on my part to get to know all of the characters.

This novel takes place after Justice, when the superheroes we all know (Superman, Wonder Woman) are no longer active, but their kids (mostly nameless) have taken over. Unfortunately, they see the world as their playground, and it is not for the better. Regular humans are thinking of taking Earth back for their own, with possibly disastrous consequences.

The story is told through the perspective of a pastor and an angel, who are invisible to the world (think Scrooge!). They are seeing events unfolding around them, as the world progresses to eventual war. Superman comes out of retirement to help, with unintended consequences.

The story is fairly straightforward, mostly takes place in one time frame, and reuses most of the familiar Justice League characters. All of these things make for a quick, easy, and satisfying read. This is probably the most enjoyable graphic novel I've read yet.

I think the next graphic novel I'm going to read is American Splendor by Harvey Pekar. Right now, I'm reading Chasing Filthy Lucre by Jarrett Rush. It's a mixture of crime/sci-fi that is pretty interesting.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Hogdoggin' – Anthony Neil Smith

Hogdoggin' is the followup Billy Lafitte novel after Yellow Medicine, the story that originates the character. Without revealing too much of Yellow Medicine, Billy is on the run after escaping a Department of Homeland Security agen, who goes by Agent Rome. After the debacle of the Lafitte case, Agent Rome got “promoted” out of his job, and ended up with an FBI job in New Orleans. He's been secretly tracking Billy without the FBIs knowledge.

Billy has taken up with a motorcycle club/cult led by an aging biker named Steel God. He’s an enforcer, and has almost certainly killed a few people in his time with the club. He’s also Steel God’s most trusted advisor. Unfortunately, Billy gets the call that his family is in trouble. It’s almost certainly a trap set by Agent Rome to smoke him out (which he realizes), but he goes anyway. Along the way, he meets a woman, kind of kidnaps her and lets her go, gets kidnapped himself, and eventually ends up in a police standoff.

I wouldn’t classify the ending as a cliffhanger, but more of an open ending, almost certainly leading to another novel (think Jack Reacher in Lee Child’s 61 hours. Yeah, it can be kind of frustrating.

Up next is a graphic novel, Kingsdom Come.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Gravity's Rainbow - Thomas Pynchon

This book is completely insane, but in a good way. I first attempted to read this book in 2008 (after reading V and The Crying of Lot 49). It was too dense. I got 80 pages into it, and gave up.

I recently retried it, and it took a good two weeks for me to get through it. It also took several trips to wikipedia, both to look up events of WWII, as well as the book itself just to make sure I was on the right track.

Nonetheless, this book is not for the faint of heart, and I felt like I was being taken for a pretty crazy ride. I estimate I understood most of the plot (70%), with most of the obscure 1940's pop culture references going right over my head.

Nonetheless, I am glad I stuck with it. If you're not a fan of the writing style in V, your are not going to like this book (as previously mentioned). That's about all I am going to say about that, because nobody who ever reads this blog will ever attempt to read this book.

I've moved on to Hogdoggin by Anthony Neil Smith.