Sunday, August 15, 2004

20 Second Book Reviews™

Denise Mina - Deception (Little, Brown $23.95)
A psychiatrist is convicted of murdering a serial killer and sentenced to a long prison term, leaving her desperate husband behind to find out the truth about what really happened. Told in the form of his rambling diary, the story never seems to take off. Although Mina’s prose is compelling enough, her characters aren’t particularly interesting and the plot suffers from rigor mortis.

Kent Harrington - Dark Ride (St. Martin’s Press, OOP)
An excellent debut in the tradition of James M. Cain, filled with lust, violence and misery – the perfect recipe for noir. Dark Ride is the story of a man’s desperate descent into the dark pit of despair. Some of the twists are a little predictable, but the overall level of writing is very high.

Chuck Hogan - Prince of Thieves (Scribner, $25)
This story of a hard luck Boston bank robber starts off promising enough with a fascinating heist, but soon degenerates into a lackluster story of doomed love. Flat characters, overly verbose prose and a lack of suspense condemn this un-thrilling thriller to the bargain bin.

Victor Gischler - Gun Monkeys (Dell, $6.99)
A wonderful hard boiled mystery that unfortunately escaped my notice until now, Gischler’s debut is everything crime fiction should be. From the delicious characters to the dark humor, from the rampant violence to the machinegun plot, Gun Monkeys has all of the elements to succeed. One of the best first novels I’ve read in some time.