Eyes of the Innocent

New to paperback, EYES OF THE INNOCENT is Brad Parks’ second mystery novel featuring reporter Carter Ross. Readers who missed series debut FACES OF THE GONE need not worry, as Parks makes Ross seem like an old friend before the end of the first page of chapter one. That’s only one of many attractions to this thoroughly entertaining and engaging novel.

Ross, investigative reporter for The Newark Eagle-Examiner, starts his week off with an assignment to cover the city’s latest tragedy, a house fire that killed two young boys. Complicating matters, he is ordered by his editor to take along the paper’s newest intern, a gorgeous, but frightfully naive blonde everyone calls Sweet Thang.

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Dorchester Terrace

I really enjoyed Anne Perry’s TREASON AT LISSON GROVE, the 26th novel in the Charlotte and Thomas Pitt series that was published last year, but her 27th, DORCHESTER TERRACE, was peculiarly unsatisfying with a needlessly complicated double plot. Be that as it may, Perry is still an interesting writer, deftly intertwining her historical details with attractive characters and usually, a riveting storyline.

In this adventure, Thomas Pitt has now become head of Special Branch, a position he is not sure he deserves. And others in the government aren’t sure as well, as they go to great pains to belittle him.

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The Day the World Ends

As longtime BOOKGASM visitors know, it’s only in very rare instances that this site even dares to flirt with reviewing poetry. We think verse written by a Coen brother totally counts. Besides, it contains many oddball phrases like “tubby hobo.”

Ethan Coen, half of the Oscar-winning indie sib team that has brought us such modern film classics as RAISING ARIZONA to NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN, has issued his latest collection in THE DAY THE WORLD ENDS, a volume so slim, the spine barely has room to include the title in a readable point size.

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Longtime BBB&B readers might have noticed a severe drop-off in this column. I’m talking months without a peep from my vast archives. It’s time to explain why. Last summer — yes, last summer — I had a “great” idea to tackle a complete series of note, all 30 books. Then reality hit me like I was Gerry Cooney and the books were Mike Tyson. Of course, I’m talking about the GOR series.

I can already hear the groans and cries of “you poor, deluded man.” I even knew what I was getting into, in terms of page count. And all the Boris covers looked cool. But then I started to read them and … well, onto the column, which had the original title of “Grossman Vs. Gor.” But I think you can already figure out the outcome. Just call me Custer.

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House of the Hunted

Mark Mills’ fourth novel, HOUSE OF THE HUNTED, features British special agent Tom Nash and his coterie of highbrow friends and colleagues as they spend some idyllic time on vacation in mid-1930s France. Nash is no longer in the service, so it comes as a special surprise when an attempt is made on his life in the middle of the night.

He manages not only to kill his attacker, but learns a few clues about who was behind the assault. The attacker somehow knew the interior layout of Tom’s villa, leading to the only conclusion that one of his friends has betrayed him. Now, as the hunted, Tom must carefully choose whom to trust as he tries to ferret out who wants him dead and why.

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Didn’t expect to like this one.

The cover image is not very inviting (and I’m still unsure as to what it has to do with the story) and the plot sounds like a thousand other zombie stories.  Sure, there are a few writers doing interesting things within the genre (Jonathan Maberry, for one), but overall, I feel as if I’ve seen it all done before, and usually done better.

And so, with lowered expectations, I picked up Matthew Costello’s VACATION.

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Censoring Hollywood: Sex and Violence in Film and on the Cutting Room Floor

In CENSORING HOLLYWOOD, Ireland-based critic Aubrey Malone fashions a pretty linear narrative out of the history of the kind of editing filmmakers don’t like: that imposed by censors, whether in the form of today’s MPAA or yesteryear’s Legion of Decency, which tagged movies as our society’s “greatest menace.”

In essence, Malone covers much of the same ground as film historian Stephen Tropiano did a few years ago in the recommended OBSCENE, INDECENT, IMMORAL AND OFFENSIVE, but whereas that author approached the topic as brief, bite-sized essays, this one aims to draw a direct line from 1896’s THE KISS to 1997’s LOLITA.

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The Drop

Michael Connelly’s THE DROP begins with police detective Harry Bosch, the protagonist of this popular series, worrying about his dearth of new cases to investigate, as well as how long his career with the LAPD will last. He gets a case — two, in fact — before the opening chapter ends. Both, however, run him through some serious changes, leaving him worrying about his future in an entirely different manner.

DNA technology is responsible for the first case. Currently working with the LAPD’s Open-Unsolved Unit, Bosch gets the test results of blood found on the body of a rape-and-murder victim from 1989. The blood matches that of Clayton Pell, a convicted sex offender living at a rehabilitation facility in LA. Bosch does the math and discovers that Pell would have been 8 at the time.

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The Immorality Engine

THE IMMORALITY ENGINE (which my brain keeps trying to make into THE IMMORTALITY ENGINE) is the third in George Mann’s “Newbury & Hobbes Investigation” series. Not having read the first two in the lineup, I nevertheless looked forward to this one because the author is known for his steampunk stories, and me? I love all things “punk”: steam, cyber, diesel, cow … well, maybe not “splatterpunk,” but certainly all the rest.

Steampunk is a fun genre. Apparently, Hollywood is discovering this as well, as you can see its influence on the two Robert Downey Jr. SHERLOCK HOLMES movies, the last THREE MUSKETEERS adaptation and pretty much all of the PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN franchise. It’s a fun literary genre, too, if done well, and Mann is certainly adept at it.

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Dororo: The Omnibus Edition

For a side of manga master Osamu Tezuka that’s a little more fanciful and less fatalistic than much of his brick-sized works, try DORORO, now in an OMNIBUS EDITION that puts all three of Vertical Inc.’s repackaged paperbacks from 2008 into one massive, 848-page volume. The cover absolutely rules.

Originally run from 1967 to 1968, DORORO is a lighter work than Tezuka masterpieces like ODE TO KIRIHITO or even the medical madness of the recently concluded BLACK JACK, but no less pleasurable or important.

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