Cold City

coldcityA new Repairman Jack novel has arrived with COLD CITY. “But wait,” you say, “didn’t author F. Paul Wilson say he was done with the series?” Well, yes and no.

COLD CITY is the first part of a trilogy of the character’s early days (but not a rehash of his teen years from the YA-oriented Young Repairman Jack series). This story picks up a year after events readers first found out about in THE TOMB, the 1984 novel that started it all. Newcomers, don’t fret, as Wilson has made this book a perfect jumping-on point.

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The Biographical Dictionary of Popular Music: From Adele to Ziggy, the Real A to Z of Rock and Pop

biographicalpopYou could learn a lot from Dylan Jones’ THE BIOGRAPHICAL DICTIONARY OF POPULAR MUSIC, from the trivial (that “Hound Dog” was written in 12 minutes flat) to the trashy (Quincy Jones’ mother eating her own feces). Note I said “could,” because learning isn’t really the intent here; education is completely secondary, even accidental.

With this near-900-page paperback brick, the British GQ editor-in-chief offers an irreverent, alphabetical reference guide to some of pop and rock’s biggest names, not-so-biggest names, flashes in the pan, one-hit wonders, never-weres and other oddities.

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Gutter Auteur: The Films of Andy Milligan

gutterauteurHad I not just read Jimmy McDonough’s acclaimed 2001 bad-moviemaker bio, THE GHASTLY ONE: THE SEX-GORE NETHERWORLD OF FILMMAKER ANDY MILLIGAN, I would have found Rob Craig’s new book on the same subject much more enlightening.

Don’t get me wrong: GUTTER AUTEUR is recommended to fans of grindhouse flicks; I just feel like much of the über-eccentric filmmaker’s story read as repetitive. (Craig cites McDonough’s book throughout as a source.)

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Amongst the Dead

amongstdeadLoving horror fiction is like following the Chicago Cubs: Longtime fans never stop obsessing over each game, and show up at the field with an excitement that even another lousy performance can’t strangle. Still, there’s an awful lot of grumbling involved every time you put on the cap.

AMONGST THE DEAD is maybe the ’97 Cubs: not the worst season ever, but no contender, either. The novel bobbles what ought to be easy outs. Although the crowd might rise to their feet every time the team comes to bat, a series of looping flyballs and dribbling grounders dash hopes. I’m loathe to bash a young writer, and even more keen to swallow the frustrations and cheer, just ’cause I love the game … but it’s disappointing.

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A Bomb Built in Hell

abombbuilthellBack in 1972, attorney Andrew Vachss wanted to break into the novel-length fiction market. On the advice of his then-agent, he took his observations and experiences as a journalist and political activist, wrapped them in the perennially popular hard-boiled style, and produced his first novel, A BOMB BUILT IN HELL.

Publishers admired the prose, but roundly rejected the novel as unrealistic and its anti-hero protagonist as unacceptable. Vachss reworked his technique, while retaining most of his themes, and wrote FLOOD, the first of his Burke series novels that would established him as one of the most distinctive, influential and successful contemporary crime novelists in the field.

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Legacy: Forgotten Son

legacy1“From the pages of THE DESTROYER,” proudly proclaims the cover of LEGACY: FORGOTTEN SON, and truer words could not be spoken. What is essentially a spin-off series of Remo Williams is more a companion to the original series by Warren Murphy and Richard Sapir, as LEGACY takes elements from THE DESTROYER books and takes off in a new, fresh direction.

Before Remo fans get mad, note that there are very clear and direct connections to those much-beloved adventures, as the main characters here pretty much all come from it. The focus of this new series is not Remo or Chiun, but Freya Williams, Remo’s teenage daughter, and her half-brother, Stone Smith, a former Navy Seal who also made appearances throughout the franchise.

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Merry Christmas from BOOKGASM!

To you and yours, may the holiday bring you a wealth of reading material … or at least gift cards to purchase said reading material. We’ll be back with more reviews on Wednesday.

The Singapore School of Villainy: Inspector Singh Investigates

singaporeschoolShamini Flint’s series featuring Singaporean detective Inspector Singh is an absolute joy to read. The first two chapters of the third installment, THE SINGAPORE SCHOOL OF VILLAINY: INSPECTOR SINGH INVESTIGATES, showcases exactly why.

In a few short pages, Flint clearly describes the hectic and exotic setting of the country and quickly outlines all the important characters in the case: not just Inspector Singh, but the redoubtable Mrs. Singh; a distant relative for whom Mrs. Singh is matchmaking; and a couple of key members of the Hutchinson & Rice law firm, where evil is about to be done.

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The Hydrogen Sonata

hydrogensonataIain M. Banks’ THE HYDROGEN SONATA is the 10th book (following eight previous novels and a short-story collection) in his science-fiction series about The Culture, a semi-utopian collective of planets, species and technologies as vast as the known universe. Like most of its predecessors, the novel is unquestioningly fascinating and impressive, and by degrees funny and frustrating.

Ten thousand years prior to the futuristic setting of SONATA, the ancient civilization known as the Gzilt helped establish the Culture. Deciding not to join at the last moment, the Gzilt instead announced their intention to Sublime — that is, elevate themselves into a noncorporal, yet infinitely rich and complex existence, joining millions of other civilizations who have made the journey.

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Crashed

crashedTimothy Hallinan’s CRASHED is set in Hollywood and introduces a burglar named Junior Bender. He’s is an interesting character: a burglar who rights wrongs when the time comes. The story begins with Bender being offered a job that should be relatively easy … until he gets inside and trips an alarm with dangerous results: namely, dogs and a hidden camera he did not expect.

As soon as he escapes, he discovers the robbery was all a set-up. A big-time operator has a job that only Bender can do, and he has to take the offer or else the footage of the robbery will be shown to the wrong people. That job is to discover who is trying to cause chaos on a film shoot. Let me correct myself: a porn film shoot.

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