Thursday, July 14, 2016

Thrillers not Dullers

I love thrillers almost as much as I love mysteries. If I had to choose one book, and I was offered a choice between Lawrence Sanders' best mystery and Fredrick Forsyth's best thriller I would probably get stuck in a cognitive loop from which I would never escape. So it's nice to fall into a nice thriller every now and then from an author whose previous work I so admired.



I have just started Fault Line by Barry Eisler (here). I read and loved the John Rain series of books. I thought they were fun to read, extremely well written and innovative for thrillers (see more here). The other books I've read by Eisler are not quite as good as those, but as a winner of  a Barry Award for Best Thriller and a Gumshoe Award for Best Thriller you have to give him some credit. So far, Fault Line is as good if not better than "Gods Eye View" (see here) but still far from as good as any of the John Rain series.

As for first lines (see all here), Fault Line doesn't disappoint:

The last thing Richard Hilzoy thought before the bullet entered his brain was, Things are really looking up.

Eisler, Barry - Fault Line

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Not Sure What I'm Supposed to Like

I'm in California this week. Specifically, right now, I'm in Longbeach just south of LA. I was up near Oakland earlier in the week and got to stay smack dab in the middle of the area I used for the setting for my third book (see here), just near Concord, CA. I think that area is pretty, the bay area. Down here, in LA and south of LA, I'm not too sure what I'm supposed to be impressed with.


I'm currently reading a book about how to write mysteries, a book on the craft of writing. A few years ago I had a pledge to read one book on the writing craft for every two fiction books (see here). I'm re-starting that project under slightly different terms. This latest book began with a chapter on setting. One of the elements of mysteries that this author of the first piece focused on was setting. He stated that a mystery writer must choose either LA or New York for the setting. (I'm not too sure how seriously I should take this book). Having been to New York last year and having read so many Lawrence Sanders novels that took place in New York, I can understand using that city as a setting. LA? I don't see the appeal.

I understand the noir aspect of LA but I think that time has come and gone. I can also understand the glitz and glamour of the city, but for the most part LA is just dirty, busy, and self involved.

I'm sure that there are places here that I've yet to suss out, and I'm also sure that many people will say, "You live in Houston! Houston is just a dirtier, hotter, more humid LA that is on a disgusting Gulf rather than on the Pacific." They'd be right. But I don't have my settings in Houston. It's boring as a setting.

Long and short, I don't understand the LA fascination. New York, sure. LA, still not buying it.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Yet Another One Where I Can't Wait for the Next One

Despite the dissonance involved in the title, I loved We're All Damaged by Matthew Norman. As I have finished it, and as I like to catalog last lines (see here) as well as first (see here), I offer the below.



This line occurs after the main character is trying again (don't want to give too much away) and is with the new girl. Having worked through problems like the main character has, I agree with the thought and the sentiment in the last line.

“It’s all so pretty,” she says. “But it’s kind of scary, too.” 

And she’s right. It’s absolutely terrifying.

Norman, Matthew - We're All Damaged


We're All Damaged is alot like About a Boy. Loved reading About a Boy. It was lively, engaging, a bit surreal, funny and best of all the somewhat boring ending that occurred in the book was souped up a bit for the movie. I can see the same thing happening with We're All Damaged. The climactic scene for the action in this novel, that involves a booted motorcycle, a dented pickup, boxer shorts and NWA rap, could use a bit of fine tuning. Other than that, the book was a wonderful sojourn for the lonely, love forlorn and those going through difficult relationships.

The only thing . . . it may only speak to guys, so be careful ladies. My review may not transfer across gender lines.

So why the odd title to this post? Well, I read Matthew Fitzimmon's first book, The Short Drop (see here) and I loved it. I even said I couldn't wait for his next book. The same hold true for Matthew Norman.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

NaNo Ideas 2016 Edition

So, I'm writing my fourth novel and for the most part I'm basing it on a short story I wrote several years ago about a "revenge fantasy." It was more than any other story, a release of frustration on my part about an aspect of my family (if you'd like a quick read . . . you can find it here).


I have a dilemma. There is a perfectly good motivation in the short story. It makes sense for what the reader knows about the characters. Can it be expanded and would it make as much sense in the novel format? I think so. The problem is that I have stumbled upon what I think may be an even better plot and character motivation and I'm wondering if I should scrap the old, keep with the old and safe the new for a potential novel number five, or try and blend the two together.

I remember reading Stephen King's On Writing (here) and although I hated it, I do remember a nugget or two of good advice from the book. I remember him writing about how he liked being able to always whip out a book in the doctor's office or on the bus and always trying to move forward in his reading and therefore in his writing. That he was always chewing away on his characters and plots and writing. And this I remember well, he wrote, if you aren't trying to always think about and make your writing better, why are you a writer? (or something to that effect).




Nevertheless, I was in one of those moments when I was chewing on my plot when this better idea about a murder came up. I think though the decision is a pretty easy one. This new one is more complex, more deliciously nuanced and it wouldn't do to try and blend them. I'll save the short story sniper plot for next time.