The Hunter

Richard Stark’s The Hunter is the first of 24 Parker novels. Parker is the bad guy going after the slightly worse guys and not afraid to take out whomever gets in his way.

After a robbery gone awry, Parker heads to New York City to seek his revenge. In noir style, Parker is a total badass who can kill someone with a punch and is so physically intimidating that people quiver before him. They all sense or know that he would rather not kill them, but if it comes down to it, he will. While the story is quite dated (what produced in the 60’s wouldn’t be), its nice to see that there was a non misogynist anti-hero that existed during that time. Parker has no problem beating up women if he must, but he treats them equal to the men that he beats. So, while the women aren’t treated well in the novel, they are treated equally which I didn’t think was typical of this time period.

In more recent thrillers that I’ve read, the characters have gross psychological conditions which explain their behavior or at least give some insight. Starks makes no excuses or explanations for Parker’s behavior. He is who he is without apology.

I liked reading this. A bigger than life man seeking his revenge. When the bodies start piling up and his revenge doesn’t feel fulfilled, he keeps upping the ante. He goes after those who betrayed him directly and then moves on to those who profited.

Well done Parker. I hope you enjoy your downtime before the next of the 23 Parker novels begins.

Read April 2013

Paris In Love

Eloisa James’s Paris In Love is a book about her experience while living abroad with her family in Paris. She has short narratives interspersed with her Facebook postings and Tweets that she sent while living abroad.

If you’re going to live for a year in Paris, good for you. I love Europe and the expatriate experience. Write about it and I’ll read it with a very forgiving eye.

If you choose to compile your Facebook postings and Tweets instead of actually writing a novel, I may read it, but will wonder how it got published.

Had I been following James during her year abroad, I would have been amused and jealous of the wonderful experiences that she writes. Many of her observations are insightful and/or beautiful and I would have enjoyed reading it on Facebook amongst all the pictures of kids and cats that normally comprise my homepage.

As a novel, it’s tiresome. If any of the tweets are worth caring about (which many are) the thread of the story ends before fulfilling the reader.

And if you’re writing for an American Audience, please don’t assume we speak French. Translate.

Read April 2013

Kill You Twice

Chelsea Cain’s Kill You Twice follows the female serial killer Gretchen Lowell and her bizarre relationship with Archie Sheridan, the detective heading the task force that previously captured her. Cain really plays with the serial killer archetype by making her a beautiful, glamorous woman who is always several steps ahead of the police.

This is the 5th novel in this series and I haven’t read them all so I won’t do a comparison. In “Kill You Twice” Cain does a fantastic job of creating a sense of unease in the reader. Having followed Sheridan around and witnessing how his distrust manifests itself, I found myself being suspicious of all characters in the novel. It is a world where the truth is missing and killers lurk around every corner. The pace dipped in the middle of the novel, but picked up nicely and then and I couldn’t do anything until I finished it.

Even with Gretchen locked up in the Oregon State Hospital, when a serial killer starts a spree in Portland, Susan Ward a local journalist meets with Gretchen who gives her information on her first kill. While trying to dig up the story, Susan and Sheridan uncover unknown connections in Gretchen’s mysterious past.

There are some gruesome scenes in this novel, but it is about a serial killer so its to be expected. It may be sexist, but the scenes were more shocking for me because they were committed by a woman. Cain likes to play with our expectations of who is good and how external appearances can affect perceptions. When Gretchen is drugged and restrained in the hospital, Sheridan has to fight his perceptions that she is less dangerous now that she looks so helpless. He doesn’t let his guard down and Cain never allows the reader to either.

I love that Cain captures the feel of Portland and includes local history or news stories as part of the backdrop which is a fun bonus to reading a Portland writer.

Read March 2013