Sunday, May 11, 2014

The Last Death of Jack Harbin by Terry Shames

The Last Death of Jack Harbin by Terry Shames

Small town football, Gulf War veterans, cults, bikers, gamblers, love triangles, and loveable old Samuel Craddock. Good stuff! This one is a letter grade better for my tastes. (Darker, people here actually curse, take drugs, have secrets, have sex, etc.) Terry’s writing is strong and sure-footed here, while still coloring inside the lines of a small town cozy. Much of the byplay on secondary details (art) is gone from this novel, and what we get in its place is a much more involved, interesting mystery novel. Looking forward to the third! Good stuff!

The Maid’s Version by Daniel Woodrell

The Maid’s Version by Daniel Woodrell

Woodrell, more famous for the excellent novel, Winter’s Bone, wrote a novella called The Maid’s Version. The story deals with an explosion in a garage next door to a Saturday night dance in rural Appalachia some fifty or sixty years ago. The mystery of what happened that fateful night is doled out in hints during a collection of vignettes told from the perspective of various survivors or relatives of the deceased. Generally, the focus is more on the color of the narrators and the texture of small town life than it is on the mystery itself, whose resolution is a tad overly complicated for my tastes.

Interesting, well written at points, good ear for dialog, but otherwise not nearly as impressive as the rural-noir Winter’s Bone.

May Update

Glorious spring weekend here in Vancouver. Today we slept in, went to see an impressive production of the Verdi opera Don Carlo, walked along the harbor, made deep-dish pizza, read and wrote a bit. The professor's birthday is mid next week, and I've declared a moratorium on travel for the month of May. The last few have been fascinating whirlwind of new job, new games, loads of travel, and more than a little writing, reading, and editing.

The Arc is just about ready to go live. I plan to release it on Amazon's Kindle platform, hopefully before month's end. It's a nasty little tale set in Houston Midtown just before a great hurricane smashes into the coast. The Arc is a horror novel in which several not-so-nice people meet something much worse. I did the original draft back in 2010 when we first moved to the third coast. Not for the squeamish. I'm quite excited, because a Houston artist whose work I admire, Give Up, has agreed to do an original piece for the cover of the book. His creepy poster art was papered on many of the abandoned buildings which inspired the novel. So if you like horror, stay tuned!

Otherwise, I've been working on book 2 of the Western, the sequel to Last Call at the Rusty Nail. It still needs a lot of work, so no promises on delivery date.

In the meantime, a couple of reviews!