Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Soul Circus by, George Pelecanos

Soul Circus is the third book in Pelecanos's Strange/Quinn series. Strange is hired by Granville Oliver's defense attorney to help keep Oliver from getting the death penalty. Strange takes the case for the money and to make up for something he did in his far past. And Terry Quinn is helping his girlfriend, and fellow private investigator, search for a missing girl. But these stories are basically the hook Pelecanos needs to write about the epidemic of gun violence in Washington, D.C..

I still haven't made my mind up about Pelecanos. I loved Right as Rain, but everything else I've read by him hasn't reached me in the same way. He definitely has the street patois down and knows the ins and outs of gangs, investigations, and straw purchases.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

The Force by, Don Winslow

All Denny Malone wanted to be was a good cop.

Don Winslow's The Force is the story of the fall of a dirty cop. Denny Malone runs the Manhattan North Division's Task Force as its undisputed king, but things aren't all rosy in his kingdom. Set against the backdrop of Ferguson, Freddie Gray, and a fictional shooting by an NYPD cop, extra scrutiny is being paid to all NYPD task forces by the community, the brass, the mayor's office, and Internal Affairs. Pretty soon, Malone is neck deep in a pile of crap.

As always, Winslow's prose is tight and punchy. Even though I sped through the first 100 pages, I felt it was a lot more establishing the world and the character of Denny Malone than anything actually happening. At that point, it kicked into high gear.

In the back third of the book, The Shield's Vic Mackey kept popping into my head. In many ways, Malone and Mackey are similar, but with distinctions. Malone is the stereotypical dirty cop. He first starts by being extra violent with some offenders, then takes freebies, then finally starts taking and being a courier for bribes. Mackey was a more nuanced dirty, where he let certain crimes go and protected certain gangs if they played by his rules (no selling in school zones, no kids involved, you snitch when I tell you to snitch). He does it to provide for himself and his team in their retirement. Malone does it because everyone does it (and to provide for his family). Both their downfalls are initiated by stepping over the line from dirty cop to outright criminal:  The Shield's Armenian Money Train and Malone ripping 50 kilos of high quality heroin from a scumbag. The other difference is in how they react when trapped. At one point Mackey realizes what he did was wrong and he takes actions to first protect his team, then his family, then himself. Malone never admits that he's as bad as the skells he puts away and, reluctantly at first, burns down everyone he knows in order to save his own hide.

For readers of this blog to hear me compare something to The Shield, know that's high praise from me. You'll also know how much I love Don Winslow. This is another great book by a guy at the top of his craft.

Monday, July 10, 2017

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Since We Fell by, Dennis Lehane

On a Tuesday in May, in her thirty-seventh year, Rachel shot her husband dead.

Now that's how you write an opening sentence. Dennis Lehane's latest novel is part literary character study, part thriller. It starts out detailing Rachel's life: the emotional damage inflicted on her by her mother, her very public nervous breakdown on live TV, and the slow rebuilding of her psyche by her husband. Then, while out to lunch with a friend, she notices her husband exiting a building across the street - when he's supposed to be on a plane to London. The story then goes through a lot of twists and turns to it's exciting conclusion.

Some people may thing the first part of the book is slow, but I guess that depends on what you're looking for. It's a great look into how Rachel got to that point and what makes her tick. In a standard thriller, it would probably be morseled out as the story goes on instead of being an infodump at the beginning. I didn't mind it, but then again, I think Dennis Lehane could write about paint drying in a riveting way.

This is the first book of Lehane's I've read outside of the Kenzie/Gennario series, and I enjoyed it. Probably not as much as that series, but I did like it.

Monday, July 3, 2017

Song of the Week: The Egg

This week's song of the week is another one from the musical 1776. This one is from Adams, Franklin, and Jefferson called "The Egg".

Monday, June 26, 2017

Song of the Week: She Said, She Said

Readers of this blog will know that I'm a huge Beatles fan, so it's no surprise that I'm loving the new SiriusXM Beatles channel. Along with Beatles songs and songs from the former Beatles' solo careers, they also play people who influenced the band and musicians doing covers of Beatles tunes. This week's song is one of those:  Gov't Mule playing "She Said, She Said". It's a pretty good interpretation of the song.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Sunday, June 11, 2017

2017 Stanley Cup Champions Pittsburgh Penguins


The Pittsburgh Penguins have just become the first team in nearly 20 years to win back-to-back Cups. It wasn't an easy road, having to face teams with two of the three best records in the regular season (the Penguins were #2) and tons of injuries to key players. The Penguins have now played 39 playoff games over the past two years; the most ever by any team in any sport over a two year period.

Congrats to the Western Conference champion Nashville Predators. Nobody expected them to make it this far, but it shows how a great defense and a hot goalie can take you far in the playoffs.