Tag Archives: Mob

Mondays are murder

Anyone out there remember Artemis Fowl?  Artemis Fowl was the boy hero of Eoin Colfer’s wildly successful kids’ series in which the world of super-spies collides with the world of Faery.  Based on his body of work, Colfer was even chosen for the highly-coveted honour of penning the final “Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” book on behalf of the late Douglas Adams.  I had forgotten all about that.

Which was funny, because about 2/3 of the way through Plugged, I thought to myself : this is what noir would look and sound like if Douglas Adams had written it!

Daniel McEvoy is an Irish ex-pat, living it up on the seedy underside of small-town New Jersey.  He is a balding bouncer at a low-class strip joint, but it allows him to pursue the really important things in life – his on-again-off-again pseudo-relationship with one of the club’s dancers and his brand new hair plugs!

But then his girlfriend winds up dead in the parking lot of the club.  And his hair plug specialist is in the wind, leaving behind a wrecked office and a mob hitman that Daniel has no chance to avoid killing.  Daniel has ideas, though, about what is happening and what to do about it.  And he is not unwilling to fall back on his military background to make it happen.

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What ensues is all that you imagine might happen when the overblown egos of organized crime run smack-dab into the angry fist of an Irishman who finds himself wronged.  Daniel McEvoy is perhaps the only hair-plug recipient I have ever encountered in literature who remains sympathetic in the face of his vanity.  And watching his exploits is a delight!  So make a cuppa, sit back, and prepare for some generalized mayhem!

Want to read it and can’t bring yourself to pull away from your Kobo?  Don’t worry, we have the ebook!  Check it out at the digital catalogue.

Mondays are murder

Recently, someone brought to my attention that librarians, booksellers and people who otherwise write, review or promote books can get access to ebook copies of ARCs (those pesky advanced readers’ copies again!), so you can read and promote pre-publication titles on your e-reader.  No recycle bin when the book is done – just rearrange the electrons and off you go!

I am working my way through some non-fiction now, but I finished reading These Dark Things by Jan Merete Weiss.  These Dark Things is the first novel in a series set in Naples featuring Captain Natalia Monte.  Natalia is a most unlikely Italian cop – female, single, not even crooked.  Natalia’s Naples is a study in contradictions – the beauty, the culture, the food on one hand; the corruption, the collusion, the debilitating self-interest of the Camorra and the church and the government on the other.  And in the midst of this daily tight-rope walk between transcendence and rot, a young woman is murdered.

The discovery of the body in a cultural institution brings in the Carabinieri – the national police – represented by Natalia and her partner, another unlikely Italian cop, the Buddhist bicyclist Pino.  It is established that the victim is a German national, a graduate student at the university.  And this is the last straightforward thing in the investigation.

There is a slew of suspects.  The philandering professor.  The blind monk.  The drifting amorphous Camorra and any one of the individuals sheltered within it.  There is a myriad of motives.  Love, in all its manifestations.  Jealousy, in all of its guises. 

Weiss’s story ebbs and flows like water.  The natural currents of any given thread within the tale carry you as far as they can until you are caught in an eddy, spun and spit out along another track.  Reading Natalia’s first adventure is like following a twisting trail, realizing when you get to the end that it is also the beginning.  There are no loose ends because it is just one long thread, winding around on itself.  I cannot wait to make it back to Naples.

Mondays are murder

She’s done it all.  She has a dragon tattoo.  She has played with fire.  And finally, at the end, she has stirred up a great big hornet’s nest.  Who is she?  She is Lisbeth Salander, Stieg Larsson’s tattooed, pierced, diminutive genius – the most unlikely heroine to have captured the imagination of the entire world since Harry Potter rode his broom out of that dank cupboard under the stairs.

I don’t even know where to begin summarizing The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest for you.  Which is almost a shame, because I have been waiting for this book for months.  But I also feel that Larsson’s Millenium Trilogy (The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, The Girl Who Played With Fire and today’s featured title) is such a tour de force of contemporary story-telling that I don’t want to ruin any bit of it for others who are in the midst of reading it, or who haven’t started yet.  But still, I must at least attempt to describe this story to you.

Lisbeth Salander lies in a hospital bed – three gunshot wounds, one in the head.  Two doors down the hall lies her biological father – face split open with an axe.  Wandering in and out and around Sweden is Mikael Blomkvist – investigative journalist, unwanted friend and tireless advocate on Salander’s behalf.  And Salander will need the help.  She is a suspect in three murders and about to be charged with the attempted murder of her father.

What follows is 560 pages of pure adrenalin.  All of which can be summed up thus: when faced with a vast government conspiracy, it is best to fight back with a vast anarchic conspiracy.  And if you are going to fight back with a vast anarchic conspiracy, it is best to enlist as many variant participants as possible, so that there is never a moment of any given day that is not filled with intrgue, espionage, betrayal, lust and murder!  I was worried that this book would be a disappointment – it is long-awaited, it is long and it had been awhile since I read the first two.

I needn’t have worried.  If you haven’t done it yet, get on the roller coaster that is Stieg Larsson’s trilogy.  And if you have done it already, get back in line – the ride is totally worth the wait!

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Series update: Just finished Harem by Barbara Nadel – the fourth book I have read from the Inspector Ikmen series.  (Not the fourth book in the series – we are missing one or two, I think – but the fourth one VPL owns.)  Anyway, I think it was on par with the first book Belshazzar’s Daughter.  The next two were okay, but weaker.  This time out, Ikmen is pulled from a case investigating the assault and death of a young woman found in an ancient cistern wearing classic Ottoman garb to investigate the snatching of the American wife of a prominent Turkish actor who found fame in Hollywood.  This one brings it all together again – the struggle of Ikmen against the machinery of society, the complicated lives of Nadel’s recurring characters and the seedy, smoky underbelly of exotic Istanbul.  I have a couple other things to read first, but I am looking forward to venturing out again with Ikmen and company in Petrified.