Merry Christmas to all who celebrate!
Having been busy with Christmas prep, avoiding Delta and Omicron, and other various things, I haven’t had the time to write long, 250+ reviews for these books. I figured I’d just cram them all here since I know I won’t finish Robert Caro’s Master of the Senate before New Year’s Eve.
The Fortress of Solitude ***
This clears the 3-star threshold but just barely. I appreciate what Lethem is trying to do here and I usually enjoy his work. But this was a slog and that’s before the even more tedious second half. The characters feel real but it’s overwritten and the ending just crashes and burns.
The Girl with the Long Green Heart***
This early period Lawrence Block noir is predictable in spots but still competently written and with a nifty ending. Block’s ability to show the philosophy of crime instead of tell it is unparalleled.
Cold Shot to the Heart****
Clearly, I need to go through Wallace Stroby’s catalog. I had heard good things from male and female writers alike about Stroby’s Crissa Stone series. I’m dubious of men writing from the perspective of female characters but gave this a shot after seeing how well he did with Heaven’s A Lie. And yeah, it paid off. This is a crackling crime thriller that doesn’t waste a word. I liked the depth of Stone’s character and that she’s both strong and vulnerable without being a meme-depth Hashtag Badass Woman. Will definitely read more of this series.
Hail Mary: The Rise and Fall of the National Women’s Football League****
A well-researched look at a piece of sports history that’s sadly underreported. It was great to get a peak into the lives of the players and learn about how they played with the tide of change in the States, yet only cared about playing. Both writers do a fantastic job bringing the league to life
All Her Little Secrets ****
A quality, entertaining corporate mystery/thriller from an exciting new voice. Comparisons to The Firm are apt but Morris makes the story her own with a compelling protagonist whose character has real depth. I hope we get more work from her.
Painfully Rich: The Outrageous Fortune and Misfortunes of the Heirs of J. Paul Getty****
A readable look at the Getty fortune, how it was built and inherited. If you’re looking for a strong focus on the kidnapping of Paul, this may not be the book for you. It’s covered in detail but it’s not the center of the narrative. But if you want to know more about the broken man that was J. Paul Getty and what he did to the people in his life (and how they lived with the consequences), this is an easy enough read.
The Blonde on the Street Corner ****
A quick, nifty little noir examining working class/lower-middle class folks in 1930s Philly. Don’t expect anything propulsive like some of Goodis’ tales. This is more of a character study. Goodis is as talented as anyone at using sparse, minimalist noir tropes to examine people in greater detail.