Read Recently — October 2008 — Various and Sundry

The Da-da-de-da-da Code by Robert Rankin

Johnny Hooker is completely mad, or at least somewhat schizophrenic. When we first meet him he’s protesting a farmer’s market in his upstairs loft–they woke him up with all their racket. Of course, there is no farmer’s market in Johnny’s loft. Johnny also has an imaginary friend named Mr. Giggles the Monkey Boy (who prefers to be called a ‘Non-corporeal companion’). Johnny has also won . . . something . . . if, in fact, he can solve the titular code. And figure out the mystery of Robert Johnson’s final recording, play the best music of his life, and protect the Secret Rulers of the world from the sinister Air Loom Gang, before winding up dead at the start of the book.

When last I wrote about Rankin, I said that he “writes like the bastard child of Terry Pratchett and Tim Powers”. If that sounds good, you’ll like this one. Recommended.

Appaloosa by Robert B. Parker

Lately I’ve been finding Parker’s mysteries, both the Spenser series and the Jesse Stones, are getting kinda . . . tired. Which is a sad thing to say, because I’ve been a fan for a long time. Man can still write a western, though. This one was recently made into a succesful movie with Jeremy Irons, Ed Harris, and Viggo Mortensen. Recommended.

Ghost Walk by Brian Keene

Sequel to Dark Hollow–not one of Keene’s books that I would have said needed a sequel. Suffers from one of the same problems: 19th century character in a 21st century story. This one is at least explained in-story: an Amish mystic, but it still hurts the book.

Still, a well-written and often chilling story, with Keene finally breaking down and explaining his mythos. Recommended.

Sirius the Dog Star edited by Martin H. Greenberg & Alexander Potter

Another short story anthology, this time about fantasy and dogs. I picked it up for Michelle West’s “Huntbrother”, but it also contains good stories by Tanya Huff, Fiona Patton, Rosemary Edghill, Doranna Durgin, and Jane Lindskold. Recommended.

The Last Colony by John Scalzi

Sequel to Old Man’s War and The Ghost Brigades. John Perry and Jane Sagan have left the Forces and settled down, raising a daughter that they sort of inherited in the last book, when they are asked to lead a new colony. For political reasons. This being politics, little is as it seems, and spoilers would abound if I were to talk much more about it.

Except for the forthcoming Zoe’s Tale, this pretty much puts an end to the “Old Man’s War Universe”. If you liked the others, well, this is more of the same. I liked the others, so this is recommended.

The Bishop at the Lake by Andrew M. Greeley

Bishop Blackie investigates the family up the street from his own family’s summer home, finding secrets, madness, and attempted murder. None of it’s as dramatic as that sentence makes it sound, but by now you ought to know what to expect from a Greeley novel. I liked it. Cautiously recommended.

The Demon and the City by Liz Williams

Sequel to Snake Agent. There is a murder involving supernatural forc es, but Inspector Chen is out of town with his wife, so the only person to investigate is Zhu Irzh, formerly of Hell’s vice division, now working temporarely with the Singapore Three police. If things go wrong, the world could be in danger again. Can Zhu Irzh handle the case? Can he keep it in his pants when a sexy suspect turns up? Will Inspector Chen have to cut his holiday short? Highly recommended, but read the other one first.

Cast In Fury by Michelle Sagara

This is pretty much the month of sequels, isn’t it? A tidal wave nearly overwhelms Elantra, but is turned aside by the Tha’alani, a telepathic race greatly feared by the local humans. And because of that fear, and ignorance of the causes of such waves, the public blames the Thalani for the wave. The Emperor orders his playwright to produce a play to defuse the situation, but because the Playwright is also human he isn’t able to produce something the Tha’alani can accept. Kaylin and Severn are ordered to act as liaisons.

Meanwhile, Sergeant Marcus, the Leontine who basically runs the Hawks’ office and who has shaped Kaylin’s career to this point, is arrested for murder. With all the other stresses on her, Kaylin must save her old friend as well.

Highly recommended if you’ve read the other books in the series.

The Last Hot Time by John M. Ford

I bought this assuming it was by the John M. Ford, though there is no biographical information anywhere in the book. I still assume it’s that Ford. Anyway, the story has boy moving to the big city and getting involved with gangsters, and magic. I have no idea what the ending was about.

Cautiously recommended.

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