Tuesday, July 27, 2004

20 Second Book Reviews™

Jason Starr - Twisted City (Vintage Crime, $12)
A simple turn of events -- a guy gets his wallet stolen in a bar -- leads David Miller on a hellride through the darker side of Manhattan that finds him dealing with a maniacal girlfriend, a crack-addicted hooker and the hooker’s dead boyfriend.  Jason Starr is the modern equivalent of Jim Thompson or Charles Willeford, a master of dark, twisted noir. This one isn’t as good as his last, but it’s still damn good.

Terrill Lee Lankford - Shooters (Tor, OOP)
Nick Gardner is a fashion photographer with a hidden past.  Living the high life in Malibu, he takes a model home one night and finds her dead in the morning.  The police, naturally, believe that he did it.  Short and sweet, Shooters is a fast and furious ride through a not-so glitzy L.A.  Lankford is a very talented, underrated writer.

Robert Ward The Cactus Garden (Pocket, OOP)
Acclaimed novelist Ward (Red Baker) tries his hand at an action-packed thriller, producing the same kind of gritty, darkly comic thrills that he did while writing for such television shows as Hill Street Blues and Miami Vice.  The story follows DEA agent Jack Walker on the trail of his biggest bust ever, a journey that takes him from L.A. to Mexico and back.  With juicy characters, snappy dialogue and a deliciously convoluted plot, The Cactus Garden is pure entertainment. 

Dylan Schaffer Misdemeanor Man (Bloomsbury, $23.95)
Gordon Seegerman is an apathetic public defender whose niche is defending people accused of, you guessed it, misdemeanors.  What he really cares about, though, is his role as the lead singer of a Barry Manilow tribute band.  He’s caught up in a case that requires all his abilities when a nebbish of an accountant gets arrested for wagging his willie in a department store.  Schaffer writes with a sly wit and a wonderful gift for characters.  This is one of the year’s best debuts!