Tuesday, April 22, 2008

The Lonesome Gods By Louis L'Amour

Published in 1983, this epic novel about the early days of Los Angeles and the life in and around the Palm Springs Desert is pure L’Amour. His ideas and philosophy and his love of the old West is all there in the adventure and in the characters. Strong men and equally strong women fighting to help California grow into an important city. There are Indians and Spanish Dons and of course enemies to contend with. It is very refreshing to read L’Amour; it is also interesting that when his main characters speak, they use no contractions.

Hell's Bay By James W. Hall

A well done thriller featuring James Hall’s character Thorn and his good friend Charlie Sugarman; the action takes place in the Florida Keys. Thorn is a complex character with an uncertain past. He signs on as a fishing guide to a luxury charter houseboat owned by a former friend and lover to take a group of wealthy business people into some unexplored and isolated lakes hidden by mangroves. There are Tarpon, Snook, Alligators and Bull Sharks. He will find himself involved in a personal family matter, corruption and deception
The 84 year old head of a prominent and notorious Florida family that has vast holdings in real estate and mining is found drowned in the river of a mining town. It is murder but the locals are calling the death an accident and are covering up evidence. Adults and children in the town have been suffering and dying from what the locals consider industrial pollution.
The author takes these and other connected events and combines them with wonderful descriptions of the wildlife, the rivers and the Everglades in Southern Florida into a first class mystery. Some very interesting characters and he keeps you guessing as to who the really bad guy is. Read this in one sitting.

Seeker By Jack McDevitt

This imaginative writer of science fiction has written ten novels; "SeekEr" is his latest but you can be sure that I will find his earlier ones and read them. This guy is good!
Interstellar travel was just in it’s infancy at the end of the 27th century but a group of "rebels", very dissatisfied with the current government on Earth which was going through a very restrictive dictator, fascist theocratic stage, bought two ships The Seeker and the Bremerhaven and set out to a secret destination and established a colony they called Margolia. After a time, the colony disappeared from recorded history.
Nine thousand years later when descendants of Earth had colonized thousands of star systems, a dealer, adventurer and hunter of antiquities is shown a cup that proved to have come from the starship "Seeker". It’s value as a collector’s item is great but the dealer in antiques becomes intrigued with the idea of how the cup found it way to the person who showed it to him because the idea of the Margolian colony had become a myth.
And so, the adventure begins; Alex and Chase our protagonists begin a very detailed search which, finally, leads them to the persons (long dead) that, actually, found the wreak of the Seeker and after more investigation and visits to several different star systems they discover a way to find the coordinates of the derelict. A great puzzle, interesting characters, and a mystery with considerable danger. Reminds me of Asimov.

Friday, April 11, 2008

The Painter of Battles By Arturo Perez Reverte

An extraordinary story about a former war photographer, Faulques,who after achieving acclaim for his work, buys an old tower and paints a huge mural of all the classic war battles of time on the walls of his tower. A man comes to his tower and identifies himself as a former soldier whose photo Faulques took became famous. The man came to kill Faulques because the notoriety of the photo caused the people he fought in the war to locate and cruelly destroy his family and further, imprison and torture the former soldier.
What ensues is a long and remarkable dialogue between the two men; discussions about the painting, art history, imagination and memories of the painter and the soldier. We learn how they became what they are. A story about love and man’s capacity for both violence and empathy. This was a splendid and thoughtful read by a favorite and most versatile author who was, at one time, a war correspondent.

20th Century Ghosts By Joe Hill

An interesting and scary collection of horror stories by Joe Hill, one of Stephen King’s sons. These are creative tales that sometimes are very subtle and at other times they hit you hard with blood and gore. Read "Abraham’s Boys" (think Van Helsing).