Blog Posts by Uncle Will

Posted by Uncle Will on 04/04/11
cover image
What's better than stumbling upon a new mystery series author?
 
This is the 5th book in Randisi's Rat Pack series.   Baby boomers and boomettes recall that the Rat Pack was comprised of Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr., Joey Bishop and Peter Lawford.  The '60's were their heyday and their kingdom was Las Vegas.
 
Eddie G. is a pit boss in a mob-run Nevada casino.  He also is a fixer.  Eddie G. ("...just call me Eddie...") knows a lot of people.  This knowledge endears him to The Chairman of the Board, aka:  Sinatra.  In past Randisi novels we learn that Eddie was minutes late to Marilyn Monroe's date with destiny,  helped Dino when he was being blackmailed, assisted Sammy when the little man shot someone in Eddie's living room and  is currently attempting to protect Ava Gardner.  
 
All of the books have titles that play upon popular song titles:  "Everybody Kills Somebody Sometime";  "Luck be a Lady, Don't Die"; "Hey There, You With the Gun in Your Hand"; "You're Nobody Till Somebody Kills You."
 
The narrative is right out of film noir.  The sentences are clipped.  The characters' shoulders all have chips.  Sexism is the standard where women are "broads" and nothing gets discussed unless it is over a few fingers of booze and several smokes. 
 
Eddie G. is a lover, not much of a fighter, so he always teams up with a lovable enforcer named Jerry Epstein.  Jerry loves to cook and eat and has no qualms about breaking bones.  It's his business.
 
Mystery lovers should make it their business to check out this series.  It will deliver.  That's a fact, Jack.
 
 
 
 
 
Posted by Uncle Will on 03/23/11
cover image
One night walking the streets of London, Richard Mayhew chances upon a lady in need of a good Samaritan.  Once Mayhew touches her he is drawn below the city to a world that not many know exits. 
 
This is the premise of Neverwhere.  Unbeknownst to most,  London has an underbelly;  a city-beneath-the-city.  People enter this world by falling thru the cracks.  In Neverwhere angels and demons exist.  Rats talk.  Evil is personified in the likeness of two men centuries old.  Royalty is in jeopardy. 
 
Door, the rescued young woman, is the daughter of the King of Neverwhere.  Her family has been slaughtered and she is on the run from two eternal assassins:  Mr. Croup and Mr. Vandemar.  She gets aid from a mercurial Marquis.  She holds auditions and hires the underworld's best body guard:  Hunter.  Door's quest is to find the Angel Islington, who was working on a secret project with her father that holds the key to why she lost her family and is now a target.  The Angel also might know a way for Mayhew to be able to return to his former life, above ground.
 
This book is like The Twilight Zone meets Mad Max in the Thunderdome.   It is very visual.  Richard Mayhew is an unimposing ordinary guy, when placed in a difficult situation, rises to levels within himself, that he doesn't know exists.  After reading, try watching the DVD version in our collection that was a BBC miniseries by the same title. 
Posted by Uncle Will on 03/16/11
cover image
"...In Washington it's Us, the Us who are with Us, the Us that are not sure about Us, and the many Us-es who don't care.  The other team, our mortal enemies, are also Us, it's just that they happen to be the Us that is against Us; they are the other Us, and they have other Us-es that are against Us..."
 
The book pits the good Us against the other Us while it slowly draws us in.   
 
Ray Cruz is a Marine sniper on assignment in Afghanistan.   When his mission is compromised and his spotter executed, Ray goes on the run.  He is honor- bound to complete his mission and find the killers of his partner. 
 
The greatest sniper of all time, Bob Lee Swagger, is commissioned to track down Cruz.  Little does he know that a team of mercenaries is using him as bait to draw out Cruz so that they can fulfill their contract and kill him.
 
At the center of the story is a sleazy Afghan political leader known as the "Beheader."  He was the original target of Cruz' who now is being protected by the White House so that peace can be reached in that war torn country. 
 
At the offset this book was rather technical, which made it a hard read through the first several chapters.  It was like riding a roller-coaster that slowly makes its way up a tremulous track and then the ride down seems endless.  For avid followers of Hunter's Sniper series, there will be no disappointments and a stupendous new revelation to the Swagger lore.  
Posted by Uncle Will on 03/09/11
cover image
"...You know how to whistle now don't you Steve?  You just put your lips together and blow..."  These words were spoken by Lauren Bacall in "To Have and Have Not" to Humphrey Bogart.  Bogie's response was a whistle of wow. 
 
This new biography of one of the legends of Hollywood is a comprehensive look at the rise of man who would not quit.  In the Arts, it is often said that one must pay their dues.  Bogie bank account was tapped over 30 times while he appeared in "B" movies just waiting for that one break.
 
His break came in the role of Roy Earle in Raoul Walsh's 1941 film "High Sierra."  Bogart never looked back.
 
What sets this biography apart from most of those written about a film celebrity is the dissection of a body of work and  the discussion as to why there hasn't been an actor of Bogart's acclaim since his death and why there might never be.    This book has all the right ingredients for a tasty bio.  Bon Appetit!
Posted by Uncle Will on 02/28/11
cover image
Milo worked in law enforcement for seven years before he was forced to retire.  With the skills sets that he had mastered there was only one logical choice for his next career move.  He partnered-up and became a thief. 
 
As most thieves will tell, getting pinched goes with the territory.  Milo is caught stealing an envelope from a victim who's killed during the commission of the crime.  Milo is able to hide the evidence before he is caught and put in the slammer.  Milo has gotten evolved in something that is way out of his league; because how many jailed suspects get a federally ordered, 24-hr. armed guard outside their holding cell?  Milo needs to get sprung.  He needs a good attorney.  But Milo's a dog.
 
Enter dog-lover and independently wealthy lawyer, Andy Carpenter.  As a favor to a friend of his on the police force, Andy reluctantly agrees to defend Milo and his jailed partner, Billy Zimmerman; another ex-lawman.  Someone is out to silence the two suspects. Andy slowly gets suckered-in by a highly intelligent German Shepherd and his war-hero master. 
 
What follows in this 8th book in the Andy Carpenter series.  It is a quick-paced, clever mystery.  Just the chapters about a lawyer arguing his defendant's bail hearing in open court to a judge is worth the read.    A terrorist bombing that happened in Iraq during the war is the focal point of this mystery.  Billy Zimmerman lost a leg because of it and soon might be framed for murder being sold as revenge.
 
All of Carpenter's sidekicks are back and the wisecracks are plentiful.  Rosenfelt, in a real-life, is a protector of Golden Retrievers.  His love of dogs is a recurring theme in many of his novels.  Animal and mystery book lovers will be thrilled reading his latest edition.
Posted by Uncle Will on 02/14/11
cover image
Imagine looking past cottonwood trees out at the Gulf of Mexico through flimsy gauze.  The air is salty, the waves are commanding, and the entire atmosphere is sweaty and thick with insects. 
 
This is the feeling you get reading Koryta's new novel that takes place on the coast of Florida in the mid 1930's.  Depression has taken its toll on the post-WW I veterans who are forced to seek labor in work camps throughout the country.  Arlen Wagner is one of those ex-Marines who is struggling to survive. 
 
Arlen's struggles are compounded because he has a special gift or curse.  He can look a person in the eyes and see their death.  While  train traveling with his naive co-worker, young Paul Brickhill, arlen sees death in all of his fellow passengers and quickly convinces Paul to exit the train with him. 
 
Their sudden exit leaves them alive to survive the horrific train crash down the rail, but stranded in a remote region with little resources.  They hitchhike with a shady stranger who takes them to the Cypress House and introduces them to the lovely and mysterious Rebecca Cady, owner of the hotel/bar. 
 
A hurricane is brewing and the two travelers must take shelter with Rebecca.  Their transporter, Walt Sorenson, is suddenly killed and both innocent men are arrested by the corrupt local Sheriff.  They are tortured in their holding cells by order of an evil, powerful politician, Wade Solomon.  
 
Solomon has far-reaching control over all the citizens in his territory and is the county's sole contender for Crime-Boss-of-the-Year.  The Cypress House is the center of Solomon's smuggling operation and he has Rebecca's world held ransom.    The new travelers are not welcomed and viewed an interruption to his smooth running operation.  It doesn't help matters that Paul falls madly in love with Rebecca and Arlen sees death in his ward's eyes every time Solomon is nearby. 
 
What follows is a slow-paced, Southern story that meticulously builds towards a powerful ending. 
Posted by Uncle Will on 02/07/11
cover image
This is the 5th installment of Patterson's Michael Barrett series.  The densely populated NY detective
takes a much needed Long Island vacation with his 10 adopted children and their nanny, Mary Catherine,
in tow.  The springtime romance of Michael and Mary Catherine has blossomed into a summer fling.  Just as
the 4th of July of all relationships is about to set off fireworks, a different set of fireworks explodein the city.

A copycat killer is reproducing some of NYC's most sinister past crimes.  Bombs are booming.  Bodies are
bouncing and it isn't even safe to sit and smooch in a parked car anymore, since Son of Sam Part II is playing at a parking lot near you!  

While Michael juggles his vacation and his assignment as chief investigator of the mounting multiple homicides, a couple of local Long Island bullies are beating-up some of the Barrett boys on the beach. 

If that isn't enough, FBI beauty, Emily Parker, is asked to team with Michael again.  The sparks were flying high the last time the two lawmen occupied the same zip code and Michael's new feelings for Mary Catherine are tested.  

Which lovely lady will Michael choose?  Will the Barrett boys survive the beatings?  Will the killer be captured
before completing his mission of death?  Will Michael survive his daily round-trip drives on the Long Island
Expressway before both he and his vehicle come to a crashing halt?  

Patterson once again has written the perfect murder mystery.  As the title suggests, every thing comes down to the last stimulating second.  Tick tock. Tick tock.

Posted by Uncle Will on 01/27/11
cover image
Dara is a three-time award winning documentary film maker.  She has only made three films in her life.  One won an Oscar.  She's very good at what she does.
 
Xavier is her 6' 8" Afro-American assistant.  He is spry for being in his seventies.  He too is very good at what he does;  which is mainly lust over and look after Dara.
 
This time around the two are in Africa making a film about modern day pirates on the open seas.  Somalia is the pirate capital of the world and they have an abundance of material to choose from to film.  When they show up there are over 12 ships being held hostage.  Although the pirates have requested more than 300 million dollars in ransom, the pirates have only netted about 30 million. 
 
The two film-makers quickly make friends with a couple of personable pirates , a British secret agent who is overseeing the high seas lunacy for Queen and his country, and a billionaire traveling the world in 2 million dollars yacht with a bottle of expensive champagne in one hand and his trophy blond in the other.
 
This is Elmore Leonard at his best.  Witty, gritty and always entertaining.  The dialog is at a sonic pace and the characters are diverse and intriguing.  Leonard uses a story-within-a-story technique that is quite creative while he plays around with the narrative. 
Posted by Uncle Will on 01/20/11
cover image
Carlos (Carl) Webster is the main character in Leonard's novels:  The Hot Kid and Up in Honey's Room.   This book is a collection of three stories with Webster as the protagonist.  
 
Webster, a Federal Marshall,  has the reputation as being a shoot-first-ask-questions-later-type peace officer.  He is married to a former dance hall gal.  The setting is post World War II.   In Showdown at Checotah we are introduced to Webster as a young teen.  He lives on a pecan farm with his father and is a serious young man with a dead-eye ability using firearms.  After killing a poacher, he tells the investigating officer that when he grows up, Carl wants to go into law enforcement.   Years later, that very investigator hires Carl. 
 
In the second story, Louly and Pretty Boy, readers are introduced to Carl's wife, Louly Ring.  She is a complicated and confusing character.   She begins as a young girl who dreams of being a gangster's moll, but later matures into a loving devoted wife.  Her maturation process is hard to empathized with since she we shown only a quick glimpse of his back story.    Hopefully, Leonard is at work creating a more complete connect-the-dots reckoning of  life story.
 
In the novelette, that is the same title as this compilation, Carl is dispatched to one of the many German POW camps in America to investigate the hanging of one of the prisoners.  Initially, the death is ruled a suicide, but soon after Carl starts snooping around, murder becomes more likely the method. 
 
One of Leonard's greatest strengths is his mastery of dialog.   His characters all seem to jump off the page and out of each book he writes.  This probably explains why so many of his novels have been adapted to film.        
Posted by Uncle Will on 01/17/11
cover image
This new book in our collection chronicles the U.S. Marines in the Western Pacific, 1944-1945.  The war in Europe was nearly over; just a race to see who could capture Hitler first.  The Japanese Empire still occupied a lot of territorial islands and the U.S. desperately needed to capture much more real estate that would be used for B-29 re-fueling bases.   All these battles were for the anticipated aerial bombings of  Japan.    The United States' biggest fear was that a drawn out war was imminent and many more lives would be lost if the anticipated ground invasion of Japan became a reality.

My father fought on Iwo Jima, a remote island in the Pacific West, from February 19 through March 16, 1945.  7000 Marines were killed and 20,000 were wounded, during the bloodiest battle of World War II. Unfortunately, most Americans today know more about the famously staged flag-raising incident that took place there, than the fact that on an island so small,  so seemingly insignificant,  so many men died fighting for world peace.
 
The Japanese had occupied Iwo Jima for so long that their entire occupying army was networked underground.  After the Marine invasion it was discovered that all the Naval pre-invasion bombing did not even make a minuscule dent in disrupting the island defenses.  The island consisted of black volcanic rock, finely ground, that made traversing difficult.  The Japan forces knew that this island was integral to the defense of their homeland.  They were extremely well-prepared.  Suicide attacks were the nightly norm.
 
The chapter on Iwo Jima is just one of several examples of the sacrifices made and battles won.
There have been many books written about the war in the Pacific and this is one of the better ones; dedicated
exclusively to the final year of WWII and all the U.S. island victories that were lined-up like dominos.  The
pictures are many and the writing is precise and easy to absorb.   It does not read like a high school history book.

Complete a simple form to share your taste and preferences and receive personalized reading suggestions.