Philadelphia Noir

Editor/contributor Carlin Romano would have us believe that PHILADELPHIA NOIR — and basically all noir fiction based in the City of Brotherly Love — is a difficult concept to accept. It’s mostly to do with all the important history and culture associated with the city, he states in his introduction. That might be true for those who rarely read crime fiction, but the rest of us need no such convincing.

Then, Romano finally gets to the heart of what sets PHILADELPHIA NOIR apart from Akashic’s other noir anthologies: “Philadelphia noir is different from the mood, the sensibility, the dimensions, of noir encountered in more glamorous American cities. In Philadelphia, we do ordinary noir — the humble killings, robberies, collars, cold cases that confront people largely occupied with getting by.”

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Prospero in Hell

When you enter a story halfway through with no background, as I have done with L. Jagi Lamplighter’s , it would be completely unfair to offer a “yea” or “nay” assessment. This is the kind of series you need to read in toto, starting with PROSPERO LOST and ending with PROSPERO REGAINED (scheduled to come out in September).

The Prosperos are a large family of eccentric and immortal magicians who apparently have lost their beloved father in the depths of Hell. This middle novel concerns the family’s attempts to rescue the father, and at the same time, rebuild a familial bond that seems to have come apart.

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The Fifth Witness

By the time THE FIFTH WITNESS arrives in stores, Matthew McConaughey will be most readers’ image of Mickey Haller, thanks to his starring role in the movie adaptation of THE LINCOLN LAWYER, the novel that introduced the character. Michael Connelly, in the meantime, continues with this series character who, in notable ways, shares the same ambiguous but dogged devotion to his profession as his best-known character, police detective Harry Bosch.

THE FIFTH WITNESS is, for the most part, an extremely competent, well-written legal thriller. Ironically, that is both its strongest and weakest asset.

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iDrakula

Just went you think Bram Stoker’s DRACULA has been reimagined, rebooted and repurposed in every way possible, along comes Bekka Black’s IDRAKULA. File this one under #surprise

Black sticks to the story of Stoker’s classic novel, but updates it to the here and now. But that’s not all. Much like how Stoker utilized journal entries, letters and multiple points of view to tell his tale in a unique way, Black employs smartphone texts (“how did u know he wanted to bite u?”), e-mails and iPad browser screenshots.

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Melvin Monster, Volume 3: The John Stanley Library

On one hand, it’s sad that Drawn & Quarterly’s third volume of John Stanley’s MELVIN MONSTER comics of the 1960s is the final one. On the other, the title’s short life — all of nine issues — means it never got a chance to suck.

Collecting issues #7-#9 of ye olde Dell series, the hardcover finds little Melvin up to his old tricks. Basically, that amounts to him attempting to be as normal a kid as possible, despite his green skin, scary visage and backward-acting parents, the aptly named Mummy and Baddy.

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The Habitation of the Blessed

The legend of Prester John began in the 12th century with a letter that told of a Christian king who ruled over a land reportedly containing many of the staples of mythology and realms of fantasy. This hidden Christian kingdom was reported to exist somewhere in the midst of what was then strictly Muslim and pagan territory, and sparked fortune and treasure hunters’ imaginations — and fruitless searches — for the next 500 years.

What was so special about this kingdom besides the wondrous creatures that supposedly coexisted among the Christian residents of this fabled land? It was rumored to contain the secret of immortality, which is enough for almost anyone to search high and low across the world.

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BOOK WHORE >> 3.29.11

book whoreShe’s back each Tuesday, pimpin’ out notable new releases to place on your radar, so let the tempting plot descriptions begin!

MYSTERY by Jonathan Kellerman — The closing of their favorite romantic rendezvous, the Fauborg Hotel in Beverly Hills, is a sad occasion for longtime patrons Alex Delaware and Robin Castagna. Even more poignant is a striking young woman — alone and enigmatic among the Fauborg revelers — waiting in vain in elegant attire and dark glasses that do nothing to conceal her melancholy. Alex can’t help wondering what her story is, and whether she’s connected to the silent, black-suited bodyguard lingering outside the hotel. Two days later, Alex has even more to contemplate when the police seek his insights about a grisly homicide. To Alex’s shock, the brutalized victim is the same woman whose lonely hours sipping champagne may have been her last.

THE ROAD TO ROME by Ben Kane — In 48 B.C., having survived a disastrous campaign in Pythia as part of the Forgotten Legion and spent years fighting their way back to Rome, Romulus and Tarquinius have finally made it as far as Alexandria. On arrival, though, they find themselves in the midst of the Roman Civil War, are press-ganged into Caesar’s thinning legions and greatly outnumbered and fighting for their lives against the Egyptian army. Meanwhile in Rome, Romulus’ twin sister Fabiola, having caught only a glimpse of her long-missing twin before being forced to flee Egypt for Rome, lives in fear for her life, loved by Brutus, but wooed by Marcus Antonius, his deadly enemy.

THRESHOLD by Jeremy Robinson — After a terrorist attack on a reservation in Oregon leaves thousands dead, Jack Sigler, call sign King and his Chess Team — Queen, Rook, Bishop and Knight — must protect the only survivor, 13 year-old Fiona Lane. When a death in the family pulls King away, and the rest of the team is sent on a mission, Fort Bragg is attacked by a strange and overwhelming force. When the dust settles, Fiona is gone. But the attack is part of a larger offensive. Around the world the last speakers of ancient languages are being systematically exterminated. As they fight to find the mastermind behind the killings, and Fiona, the team is hunted by strange creatures that defy explanation sent by an enemy from their past.

CHILDREN OF SCARABAEUS by Sara Creasy — Edie Sha’nim believes she and her bodyguard lover, Finn, could find refuge from the tyranny of the Crib empire by fleeing to the Fringe worlds. But Edie’s extraordinary cypherteck ability to manipulate the ecology of evolving planets makes her far too valuable for the empire to lose. Recaptured and forced to cooperate — or else she will watch Finn die — Edie is shocked to discover the Crib’s new breed of cypherteck: children. She cannot stand by while the oppressors enslave the innocent, nor can she resist the lure of Scarabaeus, the first world she tried to save, when researchers discover what appears to be an evolving intelligence.

Buy them at Amazon.

Jock Itch: The Misadventures of a Retired Jersey Chaser

It’s a good thing Rosa Blasi no longer chases athletes, because I’m a happily married man and used to be on a soccer team. Okay, so it was first grade, but still, judging from her sexual memoir, JOCK ITCH: THE MISADVENTURES OF A RETIRED JERSEY CHASER, she’d get into a relationship with practically any pro sports player with a brain, and many of them without.

The STRONG MEDICINE actress details her entire bedroom history with men who’d end up cheating on her, as if they ever stopped their wandering ways. She finally learned her lesson, but only after marrying New York Giants fullback Jim Finn — or Tim Fish, as she refers to him here.

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Reckless

RECKLESS, Andrew Gross’s fourth solo novel, now available in paperback, solidifies his reputation as a thriller author of note. There’s plenty of frightening conspiracies and global intrigue to please most thriller fans. But Gross goes the extra mile to attract those readers not normally drawn to such stories.

Formerly a police investigator on a career fast-track, returning protagonist Ty Hauck now works for a private security firm with a high-profile client list. As a new week begins, he sees a TV news item about the home invasion of wealthy investment banker Marc Glassman that ended with the shooting deaths of Glassman and his wife, April.

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Your Weekend Flick Attack

What’s been going on at our sister site, Flick Attack, “hitting you with one random movie a day … whether you like it or not”? Here’s what you’ve missed:

• Allan Moyle’s rock epic TIMES SQUARE, “the kind of movie I love not despite its flaws, but because of them”
• the recent actioner FASTER, Dwayne Johnson! Kill! Kill!
• William Malone’s mortgage-the-house horror film PARASOMNIA: “my God, this thing is stupid”
• Eddie Deezen, Tom Bosley and Rich Hall in the Glad Bag-funded comedy MILLION DOLLAR MYSTERY
• EVILS OF THE NIGHT, whose “brief running time is padded with a couple of spliced-in softcore interludes featuring well-known era porn stars”
• five reasons ALL-STAR SUPERMAN is not super at all

How many more reasons do you need?

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