I’m trying to document all of the books I read on here to better hit my cannonball numbers. These are ones I’ve been meaning to upload into combined reviews but haven’t. Some are good, some are eh, but most of them just didn’t merit a lot of words from me at the time I finished them for various reasons.
Who Is Maud Dixon? ***
For a similar identity-based thriller I read last year, a reviewer derisively pegged it as The Talented Mr. Rip-off. I didn’t think that was completely fair; I liked the book more than they did but I could see where they were coming from. But this, THIS much more lauded book, is a rip-off of Patricia Highsmith, right down to a Mediterranean setting. This one is getting rave reviews and while Alexandra Andrews’ prose is perhaps better than her thriller peers, it’s as derivative as any other twisty thriller I’ve read the last decade. It’s an entertaining book, just overrated and for all the SPOILER WARNING sentiment around it, I found it somewhat predictable.
One shouldn’t judge a book by its cover. Nevertheless, the cover on the first edition of this baby is one of the sweetest I’ve ever seen. I want it blown out to the size of a movie poster.
The book? Eh. It’s satire in the postmodern vein, which is not my bag. Yet I keep trying with DeLillo like a dog chasing cars. Some day I’ll catch it and “get” everything he’s saying. But then what? Anyway, some great scenes, some great commentary, and a whole lot of wasted dialogue and postmodern angst. I love DeLillo’s ideas and wish he found ways to streamline them more coherently.
A Stained White Radiance ***
When I read the synopsis for this Dave Robicheaux book, I got excited. James Lee Burke has such a keen perspective of south Louisiana…and he was going to use it to examine both David Duke and Jimmy Swaggart in fictional form with his crusading detective saving the day. Unfortunately, this book is a mess and a familiar one. A dirty deed doing family that, of course, has a connection to Dave, including an old flame. The Italian mafia, which apparently has a bottomless supply of Final Bosses in New Orleans. The CIA is involved for…reasons. It’s an unwieldy plot and Burke can’t bring it together. The result is an entertaining yet unsatisfying mess. I wish Burke had another chance at this one to streamline the plot.
Louise Hathcock: Queen of the State Line Mob ***
I try not to judge self-published works too harshly. This book could have stood to be better edited. And yet, it’s an entertaining, intriguing fact-ion look at the life of Louise Hathcock, her struggles in a violent patriarchal world and how the State Line Mob worked. I always enjoy southern fried crime tales and this one was decent.
Lemons Never Lie ***
This month’s Hard Case Crime was the conclusion of the Grofield series and while I enjoyed it well enough, I wish I liked it more. The middle Grofield books, one a locked room mystery, the other a spy thriller, worked so well because they were self-contained stories. I like Donald Westlake’s style and versatility but when he tries to pack too much into a tight narrative, it doesn’t flow as well (same problems with book one). This one made me wish I was reading a Parker novel instead. Not bad but could have been better.