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Re: Last Book Read...

I just finished the Kill Artist by Daniel Silva. The book is about Gabriel Allon, an art restorer/mosad agent who hunts down a terrorist.  Silva has several books with this character.  His hero is closer to something le Carre would write rather than Fleming.  A good book, although I did not care for the ending.

"A blunt instrument wielded by a Government department.  Hard, ruthless, sardonic, fatalistic.  He likes gambling, golf, fast motor cars.  All his movements are relaxed and economical". Ian Fleming

102

Re: Last Book Read...

Well, I finished my first foray into the works of Louis L'Amour...Comstock Lode As a younger boy, I often secretly derided him as a modern day pulp writer, but my esteem for him as risen greatly. L'Amour is a deft writer who can create an atmospheric novel with interesting characters. As much as a western is considered 'passe', his stories carry a great deal of verisimilude.

103

Re: Last Book Read...

I'm currently reading The Broker by John Grisham. It's funny, because as much as I love him (he's one of my favourite writers), there are times that I am reminded that he is not a particularly great writer (unlike Stephen King whom IMO is superb.) I love Grisham and I always look forward to reading his latest, but I am not under the illusion that he is a literature great. ajb007/wink

"He’s a man way out there in the blue, riding on a smile and a shoeshine. And when they start not smiling back—that’s an earthquake. and then you get yourself a couple of spots on your hat, and you’re finished. Nobody dast blame this man. A salesman is got to dream, boy. It comes with the territory." Death of a Salesman

104

Re: Last Book Read...

Just finished Eric Ambler's A Coffin for Demetrius (US title). I've never read Ambler before and enjoyed his crisp, and descriptive prose. The story was great, although admittedly I've never been a fan of what I refer to as 'secondhand narration' - meaning the story is basically someone telling a story to someone else. I prefer my characters to be more personally involved in the action, but for this particular plot it was simply not possible all the time. In all, an excellent read.

Last edited by darenhat (18th Apr 2007 16:10)

105

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I just wrapped up reading THE LAKE by Richard Laymon last night.

Laymon's signature hard-hitting storytelling with cheap thrills sort of missed the boat on this one; it was the first of his novels that I actually dragged around getting through.

The characters were transparent (especially the mom who was just so worldly & horny yet naive to her surroundings), the plot was more predictable than what I had first thought and the suspense in it was a little too effeminate for my tastes. It would make a great Lifetime Movie Original but hardly warrants a second reading...I think I'll just donate it or something...

Now I need a good ghost story to sink my teeth in and wash the bitter taste of this story away... ajb007/rolleyes

Mrs. Man Face: "You wouldn't hit a lady? Would you?"

Batman: "The Hammer Of Justice is UNISEX!"
-Batman: The Brave & The Bold -

106

Re: Last Book Read...

darenhat wrote:

Just finished Eric Ambler's A Coffin for Demetrius (US title). I've never read Ambler before and enjoyed his crisp, and descriptive prose. The story was great, although admittedly I've never been a fan of what I refer to as 'secondhand narration' - meaning the story is basically someone telling a story to someone else. I prefer my characters to be more personally involved in the action, but for this particular plot it was simply not possible all the time. In all, an excellent read.

Glad you enjoyed The Mask of Dimitrios darenhat. ajb007/smile Ambler is my favourite writer: for me Dimitrios is not his best pre-war work although that says more about the quality of the others than Dimitrios. Uncommon Danger (Background to Danger in the United States) is a politically sophisticated and gripping thriller with a welcome neutralist streak. Cause For Alarm, set in Mussolini's Italy, is similarly wonderful: the narrative is weaved with an investigation of Italian Fascism and the air of mystery and conflicting motives hangs over the novel too. With the exception of The Dark Frontier all of Ambler's pre-war novels are dark thrillers rich with character and contemporary politics. A subtle and intelligent surveyor of the scene at the time Ambler was an incredible writer who redefined the genre (arguably along with Maugham's somewhat lifeless Ashenden).

You might enjoy The Night-Comers, one of Ambler's very best post-war novels, in which the intrigue moves to south-east Asia. Different in tone is the famous The Light of Day: more humorous than sombre but a very witty read indeed. I think I posted my thoughts on that one somewhere in one of these topics.

Anyhoo, a brilliant writer. ajb007/smile

Last edited by Lazenby880 (18th Apr 2007 22:33)

107

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I am slowly making my way through The Leopard by Giuseppe di Lambetta (or something). It's about the fall of the old nobility in 1860s Italy and the unification under Garibaldi encroaching on the old order, which must adapt to survive alongside the newly powerful bougeouis. Burt Lancater played the Prince in the 1960ish film.

It's okay, not a page turner mind, you have to take it on its own terms.

"This is where we leave you Mr Bond."

Roger Moore 1927-2017

108

Re: Last Book Read...

I'm currently reading The Galton Case, by Ross MacDonald---one of the Lew Archer P.I. Novels.  This one was written in 1959, and it's pretty standard stuff, but in a crisp narrative style that Fleming would have recognized  ajb007/cool

Next up is a bit of Mickey Spillane and Dashiell Hammett.  After that, some Robert B. Parker and Raymond Chandler  ajb007/shifty

"Blood & Ashes"...AVAILABLE on Amazon.co.uk: Get 'Jaded': Blood & Ashes: The Debut Oscar Jade Thriller
"I am not an entrant in the Shakespeare Stakes." - Ian Fleming
"Screw 'em." - Daniel Craig, The Best James Bond EverTM

109

Re: Last Book Read...

Hardyboy wrote:

Don Quixote.  Yep--the Cervantes classic, this one rendered into English by Edith Grossman.

Damn you HB, you've made me start this one all over again after failing to finish it around 15 years ago. Still can't say I'm enjoying it yet (is it Cervantes' humour or my Cohen translation that's at fault?) but I'll try to see it through.

I find translation can make a huge difference; I have two versions of A Doll's House which you would scarcely believe to be the same book. I'm also around 100 pages into Proust's The Way by Swann's, one of the new Penguin translations, and I'm enjoying it hugely. I'd previously started the Montcrieff version and found it rather so what? Then someone recently made me a present of Alain De Botton's How Proust Can Change Your Life which, together with the new translations, has turned ambivalence to joy.

Changed my life? It's rather late for me, but I stand prepared.


*On a separate note, why do we have two of these 'Last Book' threads running concurrently? They seem the same to me, shouldn't they be merged?

110

Re: Last Book Read...

MrsDalloway wrote:

*On a separate note, why do we have two of these 'Last Book' threads running concurrently? They seem the same to me, shouldn't they be merged?

Good grief--I never even noticed that!  I guess all of us (Si and the mods) must have thought it was the same thread!  If the threads are to be merged, The Boss himself will have to do that. . .

Oh, Mrs. D, "Damn you?"  You wound me!  Surely "Blast" or "Curse" or even "Damn your eyes" would have softened the blow?

Vox clamantis in deserto

111

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Wound you? Surely not... I'm merely tilting at windmills.

112

Re: Last Book Read...

Academics flirting.... it's like I've wandered onto the set of Shadowlands  ajb007/rolleyes

Those books that change your life forever... I suppose if you were a millionaire you'd steer clear in case you end up in a bedsit, penniless...  ajb007/crap

"This is where we leave you Mr Bond."

Roger Moore 1927-2017

113

Re: Last Book Read...

Flirting? The very idea!

Napoleon Plural wrote:

Those books that change your life forever... I suppose if you were a millionaire you'd steer clear in case you end up in a bedsit, penniless...  ajb007/crap

Ah, but if you start out penniless... it worked for Gatsby. Actually, if I remember correctly it didn't didn't turn out too well for him either.

114

Re: Last Book Read...

I, The Jury by Mickey Spillane  ajb007/cool

The prototypical hard-boiled 1940s private detective novel, featuring the tough-as-nails Mike Hammer (not to be confused with the embarrassing Stacy Keach vehicle on TV in the '80's).

This is deliciously non-politically correct, an era when dames were dames, guys were men, and dames were glad of it  ajb007/shifty  Sex and violence.  Great stuff.

I once met Spillane at a Chicago Comicon in the early '90's; a very gracious fellow (with a firm handshake) who signed all autographs and happily talked at length about Hammer and his other work.  At the time, his house in the Carolinas had recently been wiped out by Hurricane Andrew (I think).  He even signed an autograph for my dad, who wouldn't be caught dead at a comic book convention:  "To Tom - A Long-Distance Hello!   Best Wishes, Mickey Spillane."

I heartily recommend the Mike Hammer novels (Spillane wrote 13 of them) to anyone who likes red meat.  ajb007/martini

Last edited by Loeffelholz (10th Jun 2007 17:47)

"Blood & Ashes"...AVAILABLE on Amazon.co.uk: Get 'Jaded': Blood & Ashes: The Debut Oscar Jade Thriller
"I am not an entrant in the Shakespeare Stakes." - Ian Fleming
"Screw 'em." - Daniel Craig, The Best James Bond EverTM

115

Re: Last Book Read...

Loeffelholz wrote:

I, The Jury by Mickey Spillane  ajb007/cool

The prototypical hard-boiled 1940s private detective novel, featuring the tough-as-nails Mike Hammer (not to be confused with the embarrassing Stacy Keach vehicle on TV in the '80's).

This is deliciously non-politically correct, an era when dames were dames, guys were men, and dames were glad of it  ajb007/shifty  Sex and violence.  Great stuff.

I once met Spillane at a Chicago Comicon in the early '90's; a very gracious fellow (with a firm handshake) who signed all autographs and happily talked at length about Hammer and his other work.  At the time, his house in the Carolinas had recently been wiped out by Hurricane Andrew (I think).  He even signed an autograph for my dad, who wouldn't be caught dead at a comic book convention:  "To Tom - A Long-Distance Hello!   Best Wishes, Mickey Spillane."

I heartily recommend the Mike Hammer novels (Spillane wrote 13 of them) to anyone who likes red meat.  ajb007/martini

I've got an old copy of Kiss Me, Deadly waiting to be read, and this appraisal suggests that I might enjoy it. What I admire about Spillane is that he was an unabashed writer of *thrillers*, and he was never interested in pretending to be anything different. Personally I thoroughly enjoy the thrillers of his era, both British and American, be they written by Ian Fleming, Donald Hamilton, Edward S. Aarons and other supposedly 'disposable' thriller writers. I also enjoy other thrillers, ostensibly more significant works, by the likes of Eric Ambler from that era, however I am a great fan of that era of thriller writing mroe generally.

I have heard, from others, that Spillane's jingoism, black-and-white morality and 'reds-under-every-bed' angle can be off-putting, however it may be the case that this adds to the charm. I know the contemporary critics loathed his writing, but I do rather like Spillane's attitude: "My work may be garbage but it's good garbage," and "I have no fans. You know what I got? Customers. And customers are your friends". Brilliant.

I have just finished re-reading Ambler's The Levanter, and plan to start re-reading Thunderball (or, in fact, Kiss Me, Deadly). Then I hope to go for another Matt Helm. ajb007/smile

Last edited by Lazenby880 (15th Jun 2007 09:14)

116

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I finished Toby Litt's White City Blue, at least I think that was the title. Litt was a columnist for the Evening Standard, this is about a 30something estate agent who is at a turning point in his life, he meets a woman he wants to settle down with, but it seems to mean ditching his old school friends, who she doesn't seem to like. But it seems these old friends might be ripe for shedding anyhow. Flashbacks to their childhood in the late 70s and early 80s.

The opening chapter, where he reveals all the tricks of the estate agent trade (showing you a couple of really horrible places, softening you up so a half-decent gaffe doesn't seem so bad in comparison) is well worth reading.

After that it settles a bit. Some good stuff, but there's a rabbit in the hat he won't produce, and you think it's a real big deal about their past, but it isn't really.

Now I'm reading Atonement by Ian McEwan. Good stuff, also a lot of foreboding like something is about to be revealed. Short chapters, but not a page turner. A more edifying read than Litt. I find I'm reading books in the bath now, it's more satisfying...  ajb007/smile

"This is where we leave you Mr Bond."

Roger Moore 1927-2017

117

Re: Last Book Read...

Home Theater For Dummies. Good book!

118

Re: Last Book Read...

Lazenby880 wrote:
Loeffelholz wrote:

I, The Jury by Mickey Spillane  ajb007/cool

The prototypical hard-boiled 1940s private detective novel, featuring the tough-as-nails Mike Hammer (not to be confused with the embarrassing Stacy Keach vehicle on TV in the '80's).

This is deliciously non-politically correct, an era when dames were dames, guys were men, and dames were glad of it  ajb007/shifty  Sex and violence.  Great stuff.

I once met Spillane at a Chicago Comicon in the early '90's; a very gracious fellow (with a firm handshake) who signed all autographs and happily talked at length about Hammer and his other work.  At the time, his house in the Carolinas had recently been wiped out by Hurricane Andrew (I think).  He even signed an autograph for my dad, who wouldn't be caught dead at a comic book convention:  "To Tom - A Long-Distance Hello!   Best Wishes, Mickey Spillane."

I heartily recommend the Mike Hammer novels (Spillane wrote 13 of them) to anyone who likes red meat.  ajb007/martini

I've got an old copy of Kiss Me, Deadly waiting to be read, and this appraisal suggests that I might enjoy it. What I admire about Spillane is that he was an unabashed writer of *thrillers*, and he was never interested in pretending to be anything different. Personally I thoroughly enjoy the thrillers of his era, both British and American, be they written by Ian Fleming, Donald Hamilton, Edward S. Aarons and other supposedly 'disposable' thriller writers. I also enjoy other thrillers, ostensibly more significant works, by the likes of Eric Ambler from that era, however I am a great fan of that era of thriller writing mroe generally.

I have heard, from others, that Spillane's jingoism, black-and-white morality and 'reds-under-every-bed' angle can be off-putting, however it may be the case that this adds to the charm. I know the contemporary critics loathed his writing, but I do rather like Spillane's attitude: "My work may be garbage but it's good garbage," and "I have no fans. You know what I got? Customers. And customers are your friends". Brilliant.

I have just finished re-reading Ambler's The Levanter, and plan to start re-reading Thunderball (or, in fact, Kiss Me, Deadly). Then I hope to go for another Matt Helm. ajb007/smile

Kiss Me, Deadly is in the next three-book Spillane collection I'll be picking up (right now I'm in the middle of My Gun Is Quick).  Fun stuff. 

He was, indeed, widely reviled by the critics and intellectuals of his time.  As Max Allan Collins writes, in the Introduction to the edition I own: 

"If you have never read a Mike Hammer novel before, how I envy you.  You are about to take the definitive wild ride of American mystery fiction, and will meet the most famous tough private eye of them all---Mike Hammer---not in a watered-down movie or TV show rendition, but via the gritty, mind-boggling real thing: the unmistakable, electrifying prose of Mickey Spillane...The new level of violence and sex found in Spillane's fiction influenced not only other mystery writers, but virtually every branch of popular story-telling.  His detective Mike Hammer provided the template for James Bond, Dirty Harry, Billy Jack, Rambo, John Shaft, and countless other fictional tough guys."

An astute observation that Spillane's mysteries were written to be thrillers...

It's a fair cop as far as the jingoism, black-and-white morality, et al., goes---and I'd have to agree that, as a result, they're probably not for everyone.  These books, like Fleming's, were very much of their era, and not at all apologetic in their approach.  You might say that Spillane wasn't big on the notion of 'tolerance'---in any form---but I view this sort of thing as a snapshot in time.  They probably wouldn't/couldn't/shouldn't be written that way today; something I'm keeping in mind as I prepare my own next project, which will be set in the early '40s... 

I'm also a big fan of Donald Hamilton, and would love to see Death of a Citizen get a proper treatment on film...

Last edited by Loeffelholz (15th Jun 2007 22:34)

"Blood & Ashes"...AVAILABLE on Amazon.co.uk: Get 'Jaded': Blood & Ashes: The Debut Oscar Jade Thriller
"I am not an entrant in the Shakespeare Stakes." - Ian Fleming
"Screw 'em." - Daniel Craig, The Best James Bond EverTM

119

Re: Last Book Read...

Forced my way through Map of Bones by James Rollins. The book is compared to The Da Vinci Code, but in this book things blow up a lot and the puzzles make absolutely no sense. If the plot wasn't cringe-worthy, his writing style definitely was. Would it be so hard to use at least one simile to make the writing interesting?

120

Re: Last Book Read...

actually, it's an audiobook of THE FIRST CASUALTY by Ben Elton (read by Jack Davenport whom you may know as Norrington from POTC)

it's a really interesting Who-done-it set during WWI. The characters are easy to fall in love with or hate. deff. a reccomendation. ajb007/smile

~Pen ajb007/martini

Hey! Observer! You trying to get yourself Killed?

mountainburdphotography.wordpress.com

121

Re: Last Book Read...

Atonement by Ian McEwan.

A film of it is coming out this autumn with Keira Knightley and James McAvoy.

It's set in 1935 in a Gloucestshire posh house where a family is congregating on the hottest, most oppressive day of the summer. It includes Robbie, the more or less adopted son in that his education has been paid for by the father of the family, though he's the son of the char or something. Also Cecilia, who's back from university and wanting to get away again. And Briony, the young daughter in her flights of fancy, trying to coerce the young twins visiting as evacuees from a divorce, and their supercilious older sister, into a play she'd written.

Quality writing. It flashed foward to Dunkirk 1940.

Quite upsetting generally, however, though I cannot divulge the plot developments. It stays with you. A bit of a tease though, you wait for events to come to a head, for developments or some kind of exposure.

"This is where we leave you Mr Bond."

Roger Moore 1927-2017

122

Re: Last Book Read...

This past weekend I finished reading Ian Fleming: The Man Behind James Bond by Andrew Lycett.  I really enjoyed it.  It was written well so that it was easy to read and held my interest the whole way through.  I have read quite a few biographies and sometimes an author can make even the most interesting life seem boring.  I am also reading a Churchill biography and some of the stuff about his early political career is hard to get through.

"A blunt instrument wielded by a Government department.  Hard, ruthless, sardonic, fatalistic.  He likes gambling, golf, fast motor cars.  All his movements are relaxed and economical". Ian Fleming

123

Re: Last Book Read...

Alex wrote:

Home Theater For Dummies. Good book!

Alex, how deeply does this book go into television calibration? I just bought myself a new LCD TV and I'm looking at different sources for getting an optimal picture. Thanks in advance.

124

Re: Last Book Read...

Loeffelholz wrote:
Lazenby880 wrote:
Loeffelholz wrote:

I, The Jury by Mickey Spillane  ajb007/cool

The prototypical hard-boiled 1940s private detective novel, featuring the tough-as-nails Mike Hammer (not to be confused with the embarrassing Stacy Keach vehicle on TV in the '80's).

This is deliciously non-politically correct, an era when dames were dames, guys were men, and dames were glad of it  ajb007/shifty  Sex and violence.  Great stuff.

I once met Spillane at a Chicago Comicon in the early '90's; a very gracious fellow (with a firm handshake) who signed all autographs and happily talked at length about Hammer and his other work.  At the time, his house in the Carolinas had recently been wiped out by Hurricane Andrew (I think).  He even signed an autograph for my dad, who wouldn't be caught dead at a comic book convention:  "To Tom - A Long-Distance Hello!   Best Wishes, Mickey Spillane."

I heartily recommend the Mike Hammer novels (Spillane wrote 13 of them) to anyone who likes red meat.  ajb007/martini

I've got an old copy of Kiss Me, Deadly waiting to be read, and this appraisal suggests that I might enjoy it. What I admire about Spillane is that he was an unabashed writer of *thrillers*, and he was never interested in pretending to be anything different. Personally I thoroughly enjoy the thrillers of his era, both British and American, be they written by Ian Fleming, Donald Hamilton, Edward S. Aarons and other supposedly 'disposable' thriller writers. I also enjoy other thrillers, ostensibly more significant works, by the likes of Eric Ambler from that era, however I am a great fan of that era of thriller writing mroe generally.

I have heard, from others, that Spillane's jingoism, black-and-white morality and 'reds-under-every-bed' angle can be off-putting, however it may be the case that this adds to the charm. I know the contemporary critics loathed his writing, but I do rather like Spillane's attitude: "My work may be garbage but it's good garbage," and "I have no fans. You know what I got? Customers. And customers are your friends". Brilliant.

I have just finished re-reading Ambler's The Levanter, and plan to start re-reading Thunderball (or, in fact, Kiss Me, Deadly). Then I hope to go for another Matt Helm. ajb007/smile

Kiss Me, Deadly is in the next three-book Spillane collection I'll be picking up (right now I'm in the middle of My Gun Is Quick).  Fun stuff. 

He was, indeed, widely reviled by the critics and intellectuals of his time.  As Max Allan Collins writes, in the Introduction to the edition I own: 

"If you have never read a Mike Hammer novel before, how I envy you.  You are about to take the definitive wild ride of American mystery fiction, and will meet the most famous tough private eye of them all---Mike Hammer---not in a watered-down movie or TV show rendition, but via the gritty, mind-boggling real thing: the unmistakable, electrifying prose of Mickey Spillane...The new level of violence and sex found in Spillane's fiction influenced not only other mystery writers, but virtually every branch of popular story-telling.  His detective Mike Hammer provided the template for James Bond, Dirty Harry, Billy Jack, Rambo, John Shaft, and countless other fictional tough guys."

An astute observation that Spillane's mysteries were written to be thrillers...

It's a fair cop as far as the jingoism, black-and-white morality, et al., goes---and I'd have to agree that, as a result, they're probably not for everyone.  These books, like Fleming's, were very much of their era, and not at all apologetic in their approach.  You might say that Spillane wasn't big on the notion of 'tolerance'---in any form---but I view this sort of thing as a snapshot in time.  They probably wouldn't/couldn't/shouldn't be written that way today; something I'm keeping in mind as I prepare my own next project, which will be set in the early '40s... 

I'm also a big fan of Donald Hamilton, and would love to see Death of a Citizen get a proper treatment on film...

Loeffs, I have read all the Spillane novels and I have to say I loved them.  Actually took a class in college called The Role of Gangsters and Detectives in Media, which is where I read my first Spillane novel.  It was required reading and I couldn't put it down.  My love of film noir also was developed in that class.  Who says you don't learn anything in college.  ajb007/lol

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Re: Last Book Read...

I've become a big fan as well, Barry---and I marvel at what the guy was able to get away with---not just in terms of political incorrectness, but also in terms of overcoming plot 'issues'...it pays to be the first  ajb007/cool

"Blood & Ashes"...AVAILABLE on Amazon.co.uk: Get 'Jaded': Blood & Ashes: The Debut Oscar Jade Thriller
"I am not an entrant in the Shakespeare Stakes." - Ian Fleming
"Screw 'em." - Daniel Craig, The Best James Bond EverTM