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52Books: Sleepless by Charlie Huston

Read this book. Get a copy of Charlie Huston’s Sleepless and just read it.

I don’t have a long history with Charlie Huston. Before six month ago, I didn’t even know he was a writer. Had I still been an avid $200 a month comic junkie, I’m sure I would have come across the name well before now. But those days are gone.

How I discovered him isn’t important. I just know what I like. I like Charlie Huston. The man’s name even has a swagger that elicits thoughts of his preferred genre, Crime. Almost as if he’s a man in the know.

Read this book.

Sleepless is set in the now, a world so much like our own, I fear Huston might have a thumb on our future. Alter the timelines and choices made ever so slightly, I can believe the present as depicted in Sleepless, as lived by rookie LAPD officer Parker Haas.

In Parker’s world, one in ten are dying from prion based disease called Sleepless (SLP). Similar to Fatal Familial Insomnia (FFI), SLP prevents the infected from restorative REM sleep and the disease is 100% fatal. No cure exists, but there is a limited and government regulated drug called Dreamer that alleviates the symptoms reducing the suffering as SLP progresses to it’s final conclusion.

Parker, aside from being a rookie cop, is also a young husband and father, who’s wife suffers with SLP and suspects his daughter might as well. It is Parker’s job to work undercover as a drug dealer and ferret out a potential Dreamer black market. Because Parker is dedicated to the ideals of his job, when he finds a tangible link to what appears to be a gang slaying and is told to back down, proceeds with diligence regardless of the consequences.

Read the book.

Sleepless is told from multiple POV using Parker’s perspective told in first (a journal) and third person, as well as that of an aging hitman, Jasper, who becomes intertwined with Parker’s story.

This stand out novel by Charlie Huston is an engaging police procedural within a terrifying plausible science-fiction wrapper.

If you haven’t already made plans, go get the book and read it.

I’ve fallen behind my book a week target, so sometime this month I’ll double up a week with my 52 Reviews.

Currently reading Horns by Joe Hill. After that will either be Jonathan Maberry’s Dragon Factory or another Charlie Huston, The Mystic Arts of Erasing All Signs of Death.

Learn more about Charlie Huston at his website: http://www.pulpnoir.com

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52Books: 7th Son: Descent by J.C. Hutchins

I bought 7th Son: Descent by J.C. Hutchins in early November and since then we’ve been playing a little shell game. Much like Good Omens, which I bought in ’91 or ’92, I managed to set it down and misplace it, only to find it again and start the cycle over.

Thankfully this little game of cat and mouse with Descent won’t be played out for nearly a couple decades. I managed to anchor on and keep the book at my side until I finished this last week. (I really should find Good Omens again)

Like Good Omens part of the precarious cycle is born out of a familiarity with Descent. Not because I’ve read the first 50 pages nearly a hundred times, but because I’ve heard it all before, at least the beginning of the 7th Son saga.

7th Son: Descent began life, at least to the public eye, as a podcast serialized and performed by the author, J.C. Hutchins. And I’ve heard the first words oh so many times over and over.

“The President of the United States is dead. He was murdered in the morning sunlight by a four year old boy.”

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52Books: Severance Package by Duane Swierczynski

It’s bad enough to work a 9 to 5, Monday through Friday, but to be called in to a special meeting of key personnel on a Saturday really sucks. It can’t get much worse, but for Jamie DeBroux, a PR copy man, husband and new father, it’s going to be the worst day of his life.

Set in Philadelphia, Duane Swierczynski’s Severance Package hits you over the head in the first chapter by killing Paul Lewis, a non-essential character to events of the book, though essential to the underlying character of Molly Lewis. Then you are shuffled through the cast of characters who work for Murphy Knox & Associates, a front company for the hybrid intelligence agency CI-6. It’s a bit confusing as we are raced through the roster, but quickly comes together once the meeting convenes.

Murphy Knox & Associates is being liquidated and unfortunately in the world of CI-6 that means the employees, agents and civilians, are to be terminated.

Literally.

Jamie DeBroux can’t believe it when David Murphy, their boss, announces that they must all die and there is no escape from the building. But when co-worker Stuart drinks the deadly mimosa at David’s suggestion, Jamie clearly understands this is no joke.

Swierczynski then proceeds to take our PR protagonist through an ultra violent ride with the help of his “office wife” Molly Lewis as his fellow co-workers are taken out one-by-one. With violence cranked up to 11, Jamie DeBroux’s only desire is to survive, escape the building and get back home with his wife and child.

Severance Package is hi-octane fiction that burns hot and fast. I could easily see it adapted into a movie by Guy Ritchie or the likes.

I enjoyed Duane Swierczynski‘s book well enough that I picked up The Blonde and pre-ordered Expiration Date.

Next up is J.C. Hutchins7th Son: Decent.

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52Books: The First Rule by Robert Crais

Three years ago, 2007, I read Robert CraisThe Watchman, featuring Elvis Cole sidekick Joe Pike. Up to then, my experience with the character Elvis Cole or writer Crais had been relatively recent and limited to a handful of books. Just enough background to know that Joe Pike was Cole’s partner. A silent partner who did the job that was necessary and had no qualms about taking it to the limit.

I like Elvis Cole, a quick lipped sharp as a tack detective, but until The Watchman I had little feeling for Joe Pike, the enforcer, the muscle. That book would change that, jumping Pike to being one of my favorite fictional tough guys.

When I found out a few months ago that a new Joe Pike novel was coming out – I couldn’t wait to get The First Rule.

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52Books: The Pack: Winter Kill by Mike Oliveri

It’s very rare that I read a book in one day. As much as I like to read, I just can’t block out that much time in a day to read. 50 pages is a good day for me. There are always exceptions.

My Amazon order arrived at my office just before lunch. It contained Mike Oliveri’s The Pack: Winter Kill and I stuck it in my pocket on the way out the door. Eating alone that day, I sidled down at my favorite cafe, Capital Roasters, with a hot Cuban, unsweet Ice Tea and the book.

Munching away at the delectable pulled pork and ham sandwich, I bit into the first chapter of The Pack: Winter Kill. By the time I had finished my sandwich and started in on chips, I had devoured 40 pages. I finished it up that evening in 15 and 30 minute bites. Consumed and Satisfied.

The Pack: Winter Kill is a page turner with fast action, succinct dialogue and short chapters. Mike Oliveri races you through the book and you clamber to turn the pages fast enough.

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52Books: Mystic River by Dennis Lehane

I had toyed with reading Mystic River before, since watching the adaptation by Clint Eastwood staring Sean Penn, Kevin Bacon and Tim Robbins. It was a wonderful movie, well acted, the characters full and vivid on the screen. A compelling story and I’ve enjoyed it many times over. And that’s the crux of why until now, I haven’t read Mystic River. I’d already seen and enjoyed the movie. I wasn’t even sure what kind of writer Lehane was.

Then I read Shutter Island and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I may never write a “review” about Shutter Island, but it left an indelible mark. I had to try more. I’m glad I did.

Set in East Buckingham along the shore of the Mystic River, Lehane tells the story of three unlikely childhood friends: Jimmy, Sean and Dave who are torn apart as children and then again reunited as adults by tragedy.

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Monster by A. Lee Martinez (review)

monster-almartinez

This isn’t my first jump into the mind of A. Lee Martinez and most certainly won’t be the last. He’s a wonderful mix between Robert Asprin, Terry Pratchett and Christopher Moore. The latter being reflected more in his latest book, MONSTER.

Monster has been peddling through life. His job is going no where, his girlfriend is a loveless but sex hungry succubus, and his assistant is a constantly correcting paper gnome from another dimension. Oh, and Monster is also cursed. Every time he wakes up he’s a different color which imparts some physical power whether useful or not.

Monster works the late shift as a cryptobiological control agent who contracts with local Animal Control to take care of situations that are a little stranger than a cat in the tree, or a snake in the drain. Despite most humans not recognizing creatures and things that go bump in the night, or wanting to believe in them, they do exist and it’s Monster’s job to capture and contain them before the human world is too inconvenienced.

Sure capturing monsters for a living might sound one big adventure after another, however, things have been slowing down and it really isn’t much different than rescuing a stranded cat or a stuck snake. It’s just the JOB. That is until Monster meets Judy who seems to have a bizarre knack for attracting cryptoparanormals.

Judy is somewhat in the same situation as Monster. Things aren’t going her way. She’s stuck in a dead end job as a late night clerk at a grocery, she doesn’t seem to have any motivation, doesn’t have a boyfriend so to speak, and has a judgmental older sister. She’s also a light cog. Judy is able to cognitively recognize monsters and magic when she sees them, but unable to retain the memory of the events or creatures. Unlucky for her most humans aren’t able to perceive these things and live their lives in blissful ignorance.

The meeting of Monster and Judy is the pretext that takes the reader down the road to an end of the world adventure as old as time itself. They just have to capture a few monsters along the way, and try not to kill each other.

Like with many of Martinez’s books, there isn’t much dwelling of the past, the story is about the here and now and the reader is carried through by the actions and interactions of the characters. Having read all of Martinez’s books this is one of his bests, it brings us back to the buddy book GIL’S ALL FRIGHT DINER which is still my favorite. I’d recommend this as a great summer read. It’s fun and doesn’t take itself too serious.

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Beat the Reaper (review)

3173125It was by chance that I found Josh Bazell’s debut novel, Beat the Reaper. My local stores have a poor track record of picking up first time novelists’ books, so unfortunately a lot of my book buying is online. Fortunately while purchasing another novel Beat the Reaper was recommended. So I took a look at the description and the plot grabbed me.

Dr. Peter Brown is an intern at NYC’s worst hospital, Manhattan Catholic. He’s also a man hiding from his past under the protection of the Witness Security Program (WitSec). That past, a former mob hitman turned informant, catches up to him one evening while making rounds as he runs into a familiar face, a mobster dying from an aggressive stomach cancer. From there we are taken on a roller coaster ride of violence, love, loss and redemption through the eyes of Peter Brown aka Pietro Brnwa aka “The Bearclaw”.

Josh Bazell is a unique voice, mashing up a blood soaked crime thriller with a detailed medical procedural, that pushes you from cover to cover causing both awe and revulsion. I could not put the book down despite some questionable scenes that were both probable or improbable. My favorite bits were the footnotes through out the book that filled in the reader on medical knowledge. I will never forget ‘degloving’.

Beat the Reaper is a great novel debut from Bazell and I can only imagine how he will follow it up. This books is not for everyone with it’s violence and profanity, but with flavors of Chuck Palahniuk, Charlie Huston with a touch of Mickey Spillane it might have an appeal to those readers.

Related Links:
Visit JoshBazell.com
Buy the Book (hard bound)
Buy the Book (Kindle)