Moonchasers and Other Stories
This isn’t a review of the whole book, just the short novel that’s the title story. I’ll read the rest of the stories throughout the autumn and into the Christmas holidays. We lost Ed Gorman this past weekend, or at least that’s when the news of his passing became public. As of this writing, I’ve not seen formal obituary with the exact date of death.
I’ve had a print copy of Moonchasers for years, but I’ve only read a few of the stories in it and none recently. So after hearing of Ed’s passing, I wanted to read some of his work. I chose Moonchasers because I had always wanted to read it. It was the perfect story for the mood I was in. Continue reading
The Rock Hole
Poisoned Pen Press
Reavis Z. Wortham
The Rock Hole is one of those books in which Literature goes slumming and dresses up in genre drag. Often the results, while they may be beloved by the critics, are only embarrassing. But then an author comes along and shows the rest of the world how it’s done. More on this in a bit.
Young Top Parker comes to live with his grandparents in rural Lamar County, Texas, in 1964. Top’s grandfather Ned is the constable and farmer. When he gets there, someone is mutilating animals. Ned fears it’s only a rehearsal for killing a person, and he’s got reason to believe that person will be a child. What he doesn’t realize is that the killer has Top in his sights. Continue reading
mass market paper $9.99
I’d seen Broken Promise in Wal-Mart and considered picking it up. But at the time, I wasn’t familiar with Mr. Barclay’s work, and I had a ton of stuff to read, and…you get the picture.
Then last week Richard Chizmar, publisher of Cemetery Dance, tweeted that he couldn’t put the book down. So I went and picked up a copy over lunch. Then I was a bit under the weather over the weekend. So I read it.
I get what Chizmar meant about not putting it down. Broken Promise has a lot going for it. I’ll be reading more of Mr. Barclay’s work.
After his wife died, David Harwood had left the town of Promise Falls and taken his son with him to Boston. But he spent all his evenings at work rather than with his son, so now he’s back. His first day on the job, the newspaper where he works closes.
So he’s got some time on his hands and agrees to take some of his mother’s soup over to his cousin Marla. He finds a bloodstain on the door and Marla with a baby boy. She says an angel brought the child. Marla had lost her own baby about 10 months prior, had tried to steal a baby from the hospital, and isn’t the most reliable of witnesses. It doesn’t help that she has a mental condition that makes it hard for her to remember and recognize faces. (This is a real condition, not something Barclay made up.) Something that works against her when the child’s mother is found brutally murdered. Continue reading
A Thousand Falling Crows
Larry D. Sweazy
Seventh Street Books
ebook $ $11.99
I love noir, especially Depression Era noir, and most especially when it’s set in my home state of Texas. So A Thousand Falling Crows was my pint of hooch. Many thanks to the good folks at Seventh Street Books for the review copy. Seventh Street has an outstanding line, and I need to get caught up on a number of their titles.
Sonny Burton is a Texas Ranger in the Panhandle who has been forced to retire after a shootout with Bonnie and Clyde in which he took a bullet in his right arm. Now the arm has been amputated, Sonny is no longer a Ranger, and he’s got to figure out what to do with the rest of his life.
He befriends the janitor, Aldo Hernandez, at the hospital. Aldo’s daughter has stolen her father’s recipe for bathtub gin and run off with a couple of minor league bootleggers, twin brothers. Aldo is afraid she’s going to end up in serious trouble with the law. He’s right. His daughter and the brothers are about to set out on a Bonnie and Clyde crime spree that is only going to escalate. Continue reading
Dead Broke in Jarett Creek
Seventh Street Books
Trade Paper, 250 pages, $15.95
ebook $11.99 Kindle Nook
Hard times have come to the small town of Jarrett Creek. The city coffers are empty, and there’s a dead body behind the American Legion building.
The body belongs the son of a prominent banker who works at his father’s bank. He was last seen alive in the parking lot after a meeting to discuss what to do about the town being broke.
Now there isn’t any money to pay the police. The now former chief hasn’t finished drying out, so he’s in no shape to continue with the job, even if there were money to pay him. The acting chief quits when he learns he won’t be getting paid.
Thus it falls to former police chief Samuel Craddock to fill in. He agrees to work for a dollar a year. His first order of business: find who killed Gary Dellmore. Was it a jealous wife? A jealous girlfriend? A business partner? Someone associated with a failed water park development, the same development that caused the city to go broke? Or someone else? Continue reading
The Last Death of Jack Harbin
Seventh Street Books
Trade paper, 255 pp., $15.95
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I missed Terry Shames’ debut novel, A Killing at Cotton Hill. It was on my radar, but before I got around to buying and reading it, a review copy of her second novel, The Last Death of Jack Harbin, showed up. I’d like to thank Lisa Michalski of Seventh Street Books for the review copy.
This is the second novel about Samuel Craddock, the retired police chief of Jarret Creek, a small town in southeast Texas. In this one, he has to solve the murder of Jack Harbin. Harbin was once one of the stars of the high school football team. He enlisted in the Army shortly before the Gulf War broke out, and when he returned he was missing his eyesight and one leg.
Shortly after his father has a fatal heart attack, Jack is found brutally stabbed in his bed. There are a number of suspects. His former best friend and teammate from high school, his estranged brother, some unknown person with a grudge. Since the current police chief has been taken away to dry out and his replacement is only slightly more competent than Barney Fife, Craddock is asked by the city council to look into the matter. Continue reading