Mr. Mercedes

mrmercedesThe best way to describe Stephen King’s latest novel is by first acknowledging what its not. It’s not a supernatural horror story. There are no monsters, evil entities, and only the slightest and quickly dismissed mention of ghosts. Nor does it contain any science fiction trappings, like the time-travel theme that drove his 2012 novel 11/22/63. Much of advance buzz would have us believe that his latest is King’s first real contribution to noir crime fiction. That’s a little closer to the mark, but not quite accurate.
 
In truth, MR. MERCEDES is a masterly told, character-driven suspense thriller that allows King to have some fun with the traditional elements of hard-boiled mysteries.

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Whiskey Tango Foxtrot

whiskeytangoGlobetrotting, do-gooding activist Leila Majnoun is “director, in-country” for a “bush-league NGO” trying to develop a public health campaign in Myanmar, “which sounded like a name cats would give their country.” David Shafer, in quick witty flashes, opens this debut novel with a rich, jaundiced portrait of both the good intentions and the corrupt, flawed global realities affecting development work. At its best — and WHISKEY TANGO FOXTROT is often very good indeed — Shafer delivers a generous, comic, politically-incisive absurdist thriller.

Myanmar is an often dangerous place, where an omnipresent “menace” limns every social engagement, “like walking by a man holding a stick, the man silent, the stick raised above his head.” But the diffuse danger of the place is given more urgency when Leila in her country-wide travels happens to see a strange vehicle and some out-of-place contractors.

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The Old Gray Wolf

oldgraywolfTHE OLD GRAY WOLF is the seventeenth, and last, of the Charlie Moon mysteries written by James D. Doss. Doss, who died in 2012 just after completing this work, has created an eminently collectible series that mixes goofy humor with the spectacular setting of the American Southwest.

Charlie Moon is a former police officer with the Southern Ute Police Department, and he is now a sometime deputy for Scott Parris, chief of the Granite Creek Police. These two gentlemen come across one LeRoy Hooten as he steals a purse from a woman in a grocery store parking lot. Springing into action, they manage to hit the thief twice in the head and he falls to the ground, stunned. But unbeknownst to our two lawmen, Mr. Hooten had already had a previous run-in with a bar bouncer and was suffering from a concussion and internal bleeding in the brain. He dies later that night in custody.

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North Beach Girl / Scandal on the Sand

northbeachgirlJohn Trinian was not his real name or was the name he would adopt and live by Zekial Marko. Marko is probably more know for his writing for various TV series including the Rockford Files, Once A Thief and Kolchak. But we are here to talk about two of the few book he did write, NORTH BEACH GIRL and SCANDAL ON THE SAND. Stark House Press has collected two of his better know works with a plethora of extras.

NORTH BEACH GIRL (1960) is very much like its subject matter. That of the beatnik culture and in question at the center a woman named Erin. A model who has had enough of that job actually all jobs are the bane of her existence.

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Hellboy in Hell: The Descent

hellboyhellWhen writer-artist Mike Mignola put his best known comic book character to death a little more than a year ago it set off a wave of anxiety from fans who feared they’d never see Hellboy again. Mignola responded that he was taking the opportunity to reveal several untold stories from Hellboy’s youth (like THE MIDNIGHT CIRCUS, published earlier this year) and his early years as an agent with the Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense (BPRD).

But Mignola had something else in mind as well. Since Hellboy was never really human, we shouldn’t have expected him to die like one.

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Sorrow Bound

sorrowboundSORROW BOUND is the third entry in David Mark’s series featuring the curiously self-conscious Celtic giant of a Detective Sergeant Aector McAvoy and his sexy, flirtatious and deliberately outrageous boss, Detective Superintendent Trish Pharaoh. Set in the wilds of Hull in the East Riding of Yorkshire, these two try to make headway against the increasing crime and brutality, while not having the stench and slime of the underworld rub off on them.

The town gets remarkably ugly when one Philippa Longman is found brutally murdered on the street. A weight was placed on her chest repeatedly until her ribcage exploded inward. But the initial thought that she was killed as revenge against her speaking out against the drug trade doesn’t really hold water. True, the drug trade is bad in Hull. Seriously bad.

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Tequila Sunset

tequilasunsetTEQUILA SUNSET, Sam Hawken’s follow up to the Dead Women of Juarez, tackles another subject of note. That of drug cartels who run drugs and guns back and forth to Mexico. While Juarez just focused on homicides of women. This book take a broader aspect to the story. We follow three people all in different aspects of the story. We have an El Paso detective named Cristina Salas who is working her job while also dealing with raising her autistic son on her own.

Then there is recently released Flip Morales who got caught up in the gang Barrio Azteca due to his time in prison. Now he finds himself the center of unwanted attention of said gang now that he is out. And these are men who don’t like to hear the word no. The the third deals with the other side of the border with Matias Segura a Mexican Federal Agent. Who has made it his life to take down the cartels no matter the cost.

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Inside Man

insidemanThriller author Jeffrey Abbott’s latest, his fourth featuring Sam Capra, is a moody, often complicated story that places the former CIA agent in a situation where he questions nearly everything, both personal and professional, he once believed in. INSIDE MAN succeeds in capturing our attention and maintaining it through the end – even when things get too complicated for their own good.
 
To most people, Sam Capra owns and operates a few bars across the country, the latest being a small dive in the Coconut Grove section of Miami. What most people don’t know is that Capra works for the Round Table, a secretive U.S. intelligence organization that recruited Capra when he resigned from the CIA.

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Soap: The Unauthorized Inside Story of the Sitcom That Broke All the Rules

soapYou won’t find this skill listed on my résumé, but three decades after catching the entire TV series via syndicated reruns, I still can recite the opening narration to SOAP. I was such a geek for it — and, let it be said, a geek in general — that I wanted a T-shirt with the show’s logo. God, no wonder I was bullied.

But enough “woe is me.” SOAP: THE UNAUTHORIZED INSIDE STORY OF THE SITCOM THAT BROKE ALL THE RULES is the book that I’ve wanted to have since consuming all four seasons of the ABC soap-opera parody. It comes to us from Bear Manor Media, which also published author A.S. Berman’s criminally under-read THE NEW HORROR HANDBOOK.

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The String Diaries

stringdiariesStephen Lloyd Jones’ debut, THE STRING DIARIES, has a cold open in remote Welsh countryside, Hannah at the steering wheel and racing away from something, her husband Nate bleeding out in the passenger seat, young daughter Leah asleep in the back. They come to a cottage, and Hannah–with amplified, paranoid dread–investigates to see if it’s safe, if they’ve truly escaped. Jones then (sly devil) shifts timeframe to some 35 years earlier, an awkward Oxford academic circling around some woman who’s had the audacity to take his favorite table in the library.

A further storyline compounds our confusion, a young man of noble birth engaged in some sort of coming-of-age ritual amongst an elite tier in late-19th-century Hungary; the youth is some sort of outcast, strangely dispossessed from expectations for his class.

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