Current Reading: Steele, Deaver

Not much to say this week. I’m still bogged down, trying a little of this and that, making little to no progress on any of it. I did finish Aliens: Bug Hunt, an ebook story collection of Alien stories I got from the library. It was okay, but when at the beginning of every story you know there are going to be those nasty aliens vs. humans in kill-or-be-killed situations, it takes a lot of the interest out of things.

I have other short story anthologies and collections in progress, but nothing’s exciting me just now. I’m also about a third through Orbital Decay by Allen Steele, and as I said last week at the 40 page mark, not much is happening. It reads a lot like Arthur C. Clarke at his didactic best. That’s fine, but I want some action to go with the detailed science, especially as the thing is set at a space station in Earth orbit. Yet I keep picking it up and reading a few pages before setting it aside.Meanwhile I keep looking at the spines of books on the shelves, and nothing looks especially appealing.

Barbara finished Two Lost Boys by L. F. Robertson, and liked it a lot. It’s a first novel, a legal mystery. She says she’ll read the next with this character when it becomes available. Now she’s reading the latest novel by Jeffrey Deaver, The Burial Hour. She always enjoys Deaver’s Lincoln Rhyme novels, and is racing through this one.

So how about you?
What have you been reading?

Posted in current reading, Mystery, Science Fiction | 19 Comments

Casablanca – Bogey to Bergman: “We’ll always have Paris”

Well, no. Thanks to Chief Dufus, who thinks climate change is a hoax. He doesn’t care about the health of the planet we live on – the only one available – only that he and his business buddies can have bigger profits. So while the rest of the world is trying to make things better, Dufus & Pals will be making the world a dirtier, less healthy place.

Posted in Books & Reading | 12 Comments

Current Reading: Cats & Bugs & Lost Boys

A little of this, a little of that, that’s my story these days. I’m still reading the Jo Gar short stories, but decided to take a break from them and tried some pulp science fiction, and got tired of that, and tried a non-fiction ebook from the library, The Lion in the Living Room – How House Cats Tamed Us and Took Over the World bAbigail Tucker, which was just okay, or maybe it was just me. I’m also reading Aliens: Bug Hunt, a story collection of Alien stories, and from the TBR I got Orbital Decay by Allen Steele. I’m about 40 pages into it and so far not much is happening. It reads a lot like Arthur C. Clarke at his didactic best. That’s fine, but I want some action to go with the detailed science, especially as the thing is set at a space station in Earth orbit.

Barbara finished Good To the Last Kiss by Ronald Tierney, which she said was interesting and well written. She liked it and says she’ll seek out other books by Tierney. Now she’s started on Two Lost Boys by L. F. Robertson. It’s a first novel, a legal mystery.

So how about you?
What have you been reading?

Posted in current reading, Mystery, Non-fiction, Science Fiction | 16 Comments

Forgotten Book: Killer in the Rain by Raymond Chandler

this is the 259th in my series of forgotten or seldom read books

Killer in the Rain by Raymond Chandler, stories originally published 1934-1941,
this collection © 1964. Shown is my Ballantine Books 1977 mass market paperback

This short story collection contains 8 stories: “Killer in the Rain”, “The Man Who Liked Dogs”, “The Curtain”, “Try the Girl”, Mandarin’s Jade”, “Bay City Blues”, “The Lady in the Lake”, “No Crime in the Mountains”.

These stories by Chandler are both less and more than they seem. Every one of them was cannibalized by Chandler and became part of a novel. Sometimes it was a character or two who made the transition, more often it was whole pieces of plot, in some cases the entire story was used and became a novel by added plot and a few name changes.

In his informative introduction to this collection, Philip Durham traces the publication and cannibalization of these eight stories, part or all of which became The Big Sleep, Farewell My Lovely and The Lady in the Lake.

None of the stories in this collection appears in Chandler’s 1950 “official” short story collection The Simple Art of Murder. Once Chandler cannibalized a story he believed it should be buried, so the stories were left to fade away with the pulp magazines in which they were originally published, thus none of these stories was published by Chandler during his lifetime, though three were published in collections, which Chandler maintained were published by mistake and without his permission:“No Crime in the Mountains” appeared in Great American Detective Stories edited by Anthony Boucher (1945), “The Man Who Liked Dogs” appeared in Joseph Shaw’s The Hard Boiled Omnibus(1946) while “Bay City Blues” appeared in Verdict (1953).

This collection – bought new – was my introduction to Raymond Chandler. I was wowed by the writing, and I was hooked. I read this collection, The Simple Art of Murder and the collection Pickup On Noon Street before I ever got to one of Chandler’s novels. When I did start on the novels – with The Big Sleep if I recall correctly – I was so enthralled I didn’t notice there were pieces of the short stories I’d already read. If I had, I wouldn’t have cared. Or perhaps I noticed and just don’t remember now, after I’ve read all of Chandler so many times.

This collection should be easy enough to find through the usual used book channels, and while these stories are not in the two volume Library of America set of Chandler’s works, they are to be found in the 1,300 page Raymond Chandler: Collected Stories published by Everyman’s Library, which contains all of Chandler’s short fiction, mystery and other. Whatever the source, it’s worth seeking these out. You just can’t go wrong with Raymond Chandler.

Posted in Friday Forgotten Books, Mystery | 19 Comments

Current Reading: Brennan, North, Whitfield, Tierney

Sunshine and warm weather. Working in the garden: staking, removing two shrubs that didn’t survive the winter, weeding, trimming. Trips to the our regular nursery, trips to other nurseries, planning, planting, feeding, mulching… who has time for reading?

So I have the same couple of books holding bookmarks as last week, In the Labyrinth of Drakes by Marie Brennan and Edmund Hamilton’s Captain Future yarn, in Quest Beyond The Stars. I did read Sergeant Cluff Stands Firm, by Gil North, which was my Friday Forgotten Book last week. You can read that here, or just scroll down one post.

Mostly what I’ve been reading is more of Raoul Whitfield’s Jo Gar stories. Whitfield wrote just one Gar novel, The Rainbow Diamonds, which is made up of several short stories, each beginning right where the previous left off. I’d read the set before, but I’m enjoying it again as I’m mostly through them. After that, there will still be other Gar stories in the Altus Press collection I have, and as I’m enjoying it, I’ll probably just read the collection right through.

Barbara also has been in the garden, and working some jigsaw puzzles, soaking in the nice weather, so she’s enjoying Good To the Last Kiss by Ronald Tierney, but reading time has been limited.

So how about you?
What have you been reading?

Posted in current reading, Mystery, Science Fiction | 26 Comments

Forgotten Book: Sergeant Cluff Stands Firm by Gil North

this is the 258th in my series of forgotten or seldom read books

Sergeant Cluff Stands Firm by Gil North, Poisoned Pen Press 2016 – British Library Crime Classics – trade paper. Original publication, Chapman & Hall Ltd. 1960. 

This is the first in the eleven novel Sergeant Cluff series.

I bought the first two of the Poisoned Press republishing of the Cluff mystery novels, but read them out of order, starting with The Methods of Sergeant Cluff, which I enjoyed though it struck me as a bit unusual in places. Having now read the first book, or perhaps now that I’ve read both the first two, the setting, characters, especially Cluff himself, make sense.

The setting here is the small village of Gunnarshaw in Yorkshire. As Martin Edwards says in the Introduction,

 “It is almost a cliché to compare a strongly evoked setting for a crime novel to a character in the story, but it is undoubtedly true that the sturdy market town of Gunnarshaw, and the bleak, rain-swept moorland outside its boundaries combine to form the perfect complement to Cluff’s dogged personality.

Well-off Amy Wright, who married late in life to a much younger man, has been found dead in her locked bedroom , the gas fireplace nozzle turned on. The inquest finds suicide, the obvious explanation, but Cluff is not satisfied. He begins to dig into the woman’s life, and that of her young husband, whom he suspects, and pressure builds. Soon things begin to crumble, facts slip away, alibis are questioned and suddenly Cluff finds himself in serious jeopardy.

I very much enjoyed the psychological aspects of this, as well as the characters and setting. A very good first novel, and since I’ve already read the second one, I shall move on to the third, Sergeant Cluff Goes Fishing.

Posted in Books & Reading, Friday Forgotten Books, Mystery | 8 Comments

Current Reading: Brennan, Allan, Klingborg, Tierney

It’s the same story as last week, only less so. Reading here and there. I’m still gnawing away at In the Labyrinth of Drakes by Marie Brennan. I’m enjoying it, but not racing through it, it’s somewhat slow going, but then I’ve had a lot of interruptions. I’m usually a read-one-book-at-a-time guy, but I can’t seem to settle on anything lately.

I read through two back issues of Illustration magazine, and since it’s a thick magazine with detailed biographical information and insightful comments in each article, each issue uses up an evening or two of reading time.

I finished Jay Allan’s Shadow of Empire which is the first book in The Far Stars Trilogy, but won’t continue with the other books; while it’s good, the protagonist simply has too much angst which interferes with what should be an old fashioned space opera. Speaking of which, I’ve started Edmund Hamilton’s Captain Future yarn, in Quest Beyond The Stars in The Collected Captain Future Volume Three from Altus Press. Pure pulp.

Barbara finished reading Kill Devil Falls by Brian Klingborg. She liked the main character, U.S. Marshall Helen Morrissey, and the situation the author put her in was promising, but there were times when the odds against her were stacked a little too high to be credible, even with the willing suspension of disbelief. Still, the book was quite well-written, and she will read another book by the author when it appears.

Next she started reading Extreme Prey by John Sandford, until she realized, about the third of the way in, that she’d read it about a year ago! So now she’ll start Good To the Last Kiss by Ronald Tierney.

So how about you?
What have you been reading?

As usual, my responses to your comments will be delayed due to the usual reason.
Feel free to talk amongst yourselves.

Posted in Books & Reading, current reading, Fantasy, Science Fiction | 21 Comments

Forgotten Book: Flash Casey…Detective by George Harmon Coxe

this is the 256th in my series of forgotten or seldom read books

Flash Casey…Detective by George Harmon Coxe, Avon Book Company, 1946. Murder Mystery Monthly # 36. Mystery short story collection
[This copy was loaned to me by Dave Lewis]

Flash Casey…Detective contains four stories, “Women Are Trouble” (1935), “Too Many Wonen” (1936), “Casey–Detective” (1935) and “Once Around the Clock” (1941). The stories range from 30 to 50 pages each. All were originally published in Black Mask magazine.

I had previously read two stories featuring this character in Black Mask anthologies, one of them is included here; the other three of these stories were new to me, and boy, did I enjoy them!

Jack “Flashgun” (or just “Flash”) Casey is the number one camera for The Express, a Boston area newspaper in the Thirties.  In each story he gets tangled up with a crime because he’s taken a photograph that someone – besides his editor – wants because it could be incriminating. This means Casey gets beat up, kidnapped, waylaid, framed or worse. But Casey is tough, smart and clever, and he finds his way out of trouble to a satisfying ending.

Coxe started writing around 1922, initially working as a newspaperman and sending his stories to cheap pulp magazines. He wasn’t particular about the type of story or magazine, as long as it paid, but he was especially fond of crime fiction and soon made it his specialty.

His series characters in the mystery genre are Jack “Flashgun” Casey, Kent Murdock, Leon Morley, Sam Crombie, Max Hale and Jack Fenner. Casey and Murdock are both photographer-detectives. Coxe wrote a total of 63 novels, the last being published in 1975. He was named a Grand Master in 1964 by The Mystery Writers of America.

Now that I’ve read six Flash Casey short stories, I’m interested in trying one of the novels. Lucky for me I have one in hand, also a loan. For those wanting to try this or another Casey story or novel, Mysterious Press has reprinted many of Coxe’s works in recent years.

Posted in Books & Reading, Friday Forgotten Books, Mystery | 14 Comments


Despite efforts to limit incoming, in light of having too many things already, sometimes it can’t be helped. That may be a good thing. So here’s a varied lineup of recent arrivals.

The Singers of Time by Frederick Pohl and Jack Williamson [Bantam Books 1991 mass market paperback] – science fiction novel.  Collaboration of two fine SF authors. This is new to me, I saw mention and/or review of it recently, perhaps on the Black Gate blog. Sounds intriguing.

Speaker For The Dead by Orson Scott Card [Tor 1987 mass market paperback] – science fiction novel. Sequel to Ender’s Game. I’ve been meaning to read this for years, and a review on the Little Red Reviewer blog motivated me to get a copy.

Murder For Two by George Harmon Coxe [Dell 1943 mass market paperback (map back) – mystery novel. A Flash Casey Mystery. Loaned to me by a friend. I’ve included a scan of the map back.

Silent Are The Dead by George Harmon Coxe [Alfred A. Knopf 1942 hardcover] – mystery novel. Loaned to me by a friend. I’m looking forward to reading these two Flashgun Casey novels, after having read some short stories recently.

The Collected Captain Future Volume Three by Edmund Hamilton [Haffner Press 2013 hardcover] – pulp science fiction short story/novelette collection. After reading Allen Steele’s Avengers on the Moon, I really wanted to try some of the original Captain Future stories.

Illustration issue number Fifty six/ I’m a subscriber and get hours of pleasure from this fine magazine.

Posted in Books & Reading, Fiction, Mystery, New Arrivals | 12 Comments

Current Reading: Cox, Blount Jr., Allan, Brennan, Jewell, Klingborg

Sorry I’m late. I’ve been jumping between books, both physical and ebook, with mixed progress. A friend loaned me a collection of stories, Flash Casey…Detective which I finished and will be my Friday Forgotten post this week.

Next was One Fell Soup by Roy Blount Jr. because I wanted some humor. That’s what I got, some – but not a lot – of humor. I also started a science fiction ebook from the library, Jay Allan’s Shadow of Empire which is the first book in The Far Stars Trilogy. I’m not smitten and will probably let the borrow run out without finishing it.

Lastly, I’m currently reading In the Labyrinth of Drakes the fourth Memoir by Lady Trent, written by Marie Brennan. The 5th and last of the series, In the Sanctuary of Wings was published last month, and I’d fallen a book behind on this series detailing the experiences and exploits of Lady Trent, Draconoligist. A delightful character and series. I have the new book lined up to read directly after.

Barbara finished I Found You by Lisa Jewell, which she enjoyed. The plot seemed predictable well into the book then had a twist which made it much more interesting. She says she will try others by the author. She’s now reading Kill Devil Falls by Brian Klingborg. Here’s the blurb:

“When U.S. Marshal Helen Morrissey is tasked with collecting a fugitive bank robber from a remote town in the Sierra Nevadas, she braces for a rough trip. After all, with a name like Kill Devil Falls, her destination must be a real hellhole. Turns out it’s worse than she imagined. Much worse.”

So how about you?
What have you been reading?

Posted in Books & Reading | 29 Comments