Posts tagged Boston

I reviewed this thriller for CFL, and enjoyed it immensely.  If you like fast-paced suspense, then this is a book you should pick up.
But don’t just take my word for it. Go read the review, then take my word for it.

I reviewed this thriller for CFL, and enjoyed it immensely.  If you like fast-paced suspense, then this is a book you should pick up.

But don’t just take my word for it. Go read the review, then take my word for it.

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I’m not sure if I buy Joe Mantegna as a Bostonian.  Still, this was a decent telefilm. Mantegna is arguably closer to Parker’s Spenser than Robert Urich was.

I’m not sure if I buy Joe Mantegna as a Bostonian.  Still, this was a decent telefilm. Mantegna is arguably closer to Parker’s Spenser than Robert Urich was.

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Robert B. Parker revitalized private eye fiction in the 1970s, and this new anthology pays tribute to the modern master of the genre.  And what do you know, I was lucky enough to get a chance to review it for Crime Fiction Lover.  The contributors in this book include new Spenser author Ace Atkins, Dennis Lehane, Lawrence Block, Ed Gorman and other crime fiction titans.
But don’t just take my word for it. Go read the review, then take my word for it.

Robert B. Parker revitalized private eye fiction in the 1970s, and this new anthology pays tribute to the modern master of the genre.  And what do you know, I was lucky enough to get a chance to review it for Crime Fiction Lover.  The contributors in this book include new Spenser author Ace Atkins, Dennis Lehane, Lawrence Block, Ed Gorman and other crime fiction titans.

But don’t just take my word for it. Go read the review, then take my word for it.

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Classics in September continues apace over at Crime Fiction Lover.  In my new feature piece, I discuss Deadly Image and the pulp fiction of George Harmon Coxe.  Coxe is hardly a literary high point of hardboiled crime fiction, but he is a solid and enjoyable author.  

Unfortunately, Coxe is out of print these days.  Fortunately, MysteriousPress.com and Open Road Media (full disclosure: the latter is sponsoring Classics in September at CFL) are reviving Coxe and other classic crime authors via newfangled e-books.

Even more fortunately, you have a chance to win a MysteriousPress.com e-book of your choice.  Yes, any George Harmon Coxe book.  Perhaps you prefer Rex Stout or  Mignor Eberhart?  Or maybe James Ellroy?  It doesn’t matter which—you can win any MysteriousPress.com title you wish.  Just high-tail it over to CFL’s contest page and leave a comment there.

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My latest review for Crime Fiction Lover is now up.  I was very happy to get a chance to review Lullaby for CFL.  Robert B. Parker’s Spenser is a character who has popped up from time to time  on this blog (including a memorable Valentine’s Day appearance).  I was eager to see how Ace Atkins would continue the series after Parker’s death.  
So head over to Crime Fiction Lover and check out my review of Ace Atkins’ Lullaby.  And don’t forget to peruse the many other wonderful resources CFL offers—reviews, interviews and more.

My latest review for Crime Fiction Lover is now up.  I was very happy to get a chance to review Lullaby for CFL.  Robert B. Parker’s Spenser is a character who has popped up from time to time  on this blog (including a memorable Valentine’s Day appearance).  I was eager to see how Ace Atkins would continue the series after Parker’s death.  

So head over to Crime Fiction Lover and check out my review of Ace Atkins’ Lullaby.  And don’t forget to peruse the many other wonderful resources CFL offers—reviews, interviews and more.

The great American pastime, they call it. I’m not sure it deserves to be. But that doesn’t stop them. Just a game, but it commands presidential attention. It captivates historians, filmmakers and pundits. Bart Giamatti was a lifelong scholar of Renaissance literature. Eventually became president of Yale. He left that job to be president of the National League.

Why would someone do that? Why do the Cubs fans suffer for decades? Why do the Royals or Pirates fans bother at all? Why do all of them let the Yankees continue to exist?

It’s because of Ted Williams, taking eight years in the prime of his career to fly for the Air Force. It’s because Stan Musial turned down a raise after a bad season, and said it would be an insult to his teammates if he accepted.

It’s about the son of immigrants who didn’t speak English until he was five. He went to Columbia University, then played more consecutive games than anyone before him. Or anyone after him for nearly six decades. He won six World Series and died at 37. But not before telling us that he was the luckiest man on earth.

And he was—except for all of us who thought he was brave and not very lucky. And it shames us because we know we’re just the opposite.

So is the game, sometimes. That’s why we keep watching. Why we kept watching when we knew all the home runs weren’t legitimate. That’s why we kept watching the juiceheads—the ones on the field, and the ones hawking memoirs.

It’s a game where racists slide with their spikes up. And where pathbreakers slide in safe at home, and integration takes root. It’s a game of they-don’t-make-‘em-like-they-used-to and a game of he’s-the-best-I’ve-ever-seen.

It’s a game where loyalties never die. And a game where I’ve had two home teams in my life. I was rooting for the second one while I was still living in the first city. It’s a game of infidelity.  A game of red, white and blue.  A game of navy pinstripes.  Then it’s a game of deco pastels.  A game for the Rust Belt.  A game for the Sun Belt.  Hell, it’s a game in Canada.

It’s a game where you can’t get away from centuries-old tradition. Unless you’re the wild card.  A game where players used to play their whole career for one team.  A game of loyalty.  Or a game where they were held hostage by the club owners.  Free agency changed that.  It’s a game where things change.

It’s an admirable game. A thinking man’s sport. Where the announcers are old raconteurs. And it’s a money-maker that is forever damn near becoming just another sport. And it’s hard to reverence a game being delivered by a generic pretty boy with an oddly deep voice.

But we still love the game.  It’s baseball. It’s not the great American pastime. It’s the great American story.  It’s our story. And it’s still being told. Play ball.

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The plot of The Patriot Game will likely not blow you away.  No matter.  It serves as an excuse to enjoy Higgins’ characters.  Higgins knows how lowlifes think, how they talk.  His characters and dialogue give pure pleasure.  The underdeveloped plot won’t stop you from enjoying this novel.

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Parker’s novels became formulaic as he grew older, and quality (predictably) declined.  But there’s a reason that he was regarded as the heir to Chandler earlier in his career.  His first novel is nothing short of a genre classic.  Parker was a master of irreverent tough-guy dialogue.  Spenser is not only a wise guy, not only a tough one.  Put them both together—and you’ve got Spenser.  
The Spenser novels are set in Boston, and Parker (Ph.D. from Northeastern, and teaching at Boston U when this novel was published) clearly loves the area.  If geographic realism is your thing, Parker’s intimate knowledge of Massachusetts (not just Boston, but the whole state) is an added bonus.

Parker’s novels became formulaic as he grew older, and quality (predictably) declined.  But there’s a reason that he was regarded as the heir to Chandler earlier in his career.  His first novel is nothing short of a genre classic.  Parker was a master of irreverent tough-guy dialogue.  Spenser is not only a wise guy, not only a tough one.  Put them both together—and you’ve got Spenser.  

The Spenser novels are set in Boston, and Parker (Ph.D. from Northeastern, and teaching at Boston U when this novel was published) clearly loves the area.  If geographic realism is your thing, Parker’s intimate knowledge of Massachusetts (not just Boston, but the whole state) is an added bonus.

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Dark Night

It was a dark kinda night.  All the street lights were as luminescent as ever.  The moon shone as bright as it always did when it was going to be full in a couple days.  But it was a dark night.  The kinda dark where the sun doesn’t just go down.  It was the kinda night where the dark shoves the sun out of the way, and the sun goes down kicking and screaming for all we know. 

It was never like this in Florida.  Sure, I saw my share of seedy characters.  But there it was different.  The sun went down and nobody knew the difference.  They kept on doing whatever they did all day.  Then the sun came up and everyone kept doing what they were doing all night.  Either way, people got caught up in the flow, in the atmosphere.  People didn’t know how to stop, how to say no.  And without brakes, they could go off the rails. 

But that was different.  That was Florida.  I shoved off from the Sunshine State years ago.  And Beantown had never played by Florida’s rules.  Never would.  So I was over my head in a murky darkness where I was the only soul alive.  I could feel the difference between Boston and Florida that night.  Hell, I could taste it.  The atmosphere was so thick it pressed on you from all sides.  It crept out of the corners of the room and held you down, like it had pushed the sun away several hours earlier. 

A man could get possessed on a night like this.  A man might as well get possessed on a night like this.  If the dark was anything it all, it was isolating.  No man in his right mind wanted to be possessed.  But a whole bunch of them who weren’t in their right mind at all would prefer the presence of anything else to being crushed by the darkness.

I knew I’d have a long day tomorrow.  Always did after the darkest nights.  Some of us have to bide our time through the long, dark nights so we can put things back together when the sun comes up.  Our ancestors huddled in caves and built fires.  I guess we’ve built better structures, but the idea is still the same.  I know a lot of guys who’d probably have succumbed to some dark mania if they didn’t have a family to huddle with.

I sat in the dark all by myself.  Wasn’t going to build a fire, either.  But I sure as hell wasn’t gonna let the dark claim me.  I held it at bay with the glow of the television screen and the burn of Old Grand-Dad.

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