THE GAME OF THIRTY by WILLIAM KOTZWINKLE ::FRANK MULLER:

Imagine Frank Muller doing   CZ Sakall, the jowly, bespectacled, hysterical Hungarian who cannot stop wiping his spectacles, shaking his head and concocting scenarios of doom … “today… its going to happen today…” etc.

The stammering, anxious NYC diamond dealer calls Jimmy McShane, well heeled ex-cop and private dick, who bodyguards him,  makes sure disaster doesn’t happen today, and strolls home. Home: to the walk-up on Christopher Street, to the  old hag sitting on her heavy ovaries,   to the next ex-girlfriend re-aligning his Chakras in the flat redecorated by his  old ex-girlfriend,  to the Zelda-esque client who asks him to find her pedophilic father’s killer. Hi, ho. Absolutely funny, absolutely cool, absolutely wonderful.

The Takeover by Stephen Frey read by Paul Hecht

Another Wall Street soap opera about bourgeois boomie pretty boys in
big trouble. Yes, we’ve got a situation here, as the Denver cops would
say. Time to grab a big blonde with an MBA, rent a car, empty your bank
account, and run. Fall in love with her on the road. Get shot at. Confess
to her boobs. Discover that you’re morally defective. Repent. Turn in your
boss for insider trading. Start over.

The Hunting Wind by Steve Hamilton read by Nick Sullivan

Wry, infinitely bored, softhearted ex-cop holes up in the Upper Peninsula, runs his snow plow up and down the block, and hangs out in a Scottish pub, drinking Canadian beer. Then trouble comes knocking at his door….
“You spend your whole life up here sitting in your cabin all by yourself. You don’t even have a television, for godsake. You’re so desperate for human contact you gotta come in here and make my life miserable…If a new face comes through that door and asks you for help you’re gonna do it … no matter what…. In fact one of these days an alien spaceship is gonna land out there in the parking lot and a couple of little green men are gonna come in here and ask you to help them… You know, take you back to their planet so you can help them ward off some other aliens who are trying to invade them or something. And of course you’ll just get your ass kicked again but it doesn’t matter because you’ll go. In two minutes you’ll be out that door and in that spaceship…”

Absolute Rage by Robert Tanenbaum::Nick Sullivan

“Karp leaned back in his chair, swivelled to face the window, chewed on a pencil. Murrow, seeing this, left quietly, closing the door behind him. He knew these were the signs that Karp was entering Karpland . . .” as are we, God bless us, until Tanenbaum decides to make gefilte fish or Marlene (MarLEEYENE!) stops getting into trouble. Here is I LOVE LUCY, 2002, with a Jewish husband and twins. “Giancarlo burst in, grabbed two chocolate covered donuts, . . .snatched up a table knife and stabbed it into Karp’s breakfast cereal, while laughing maniacally. “Guess what I am, Dad.” “An idiot?” stated Karp. ‘No. A CEREAL KILLER!’ …the boy departed, hooting.” (paraphrased) Another typical morning at the Karp feudal ‘menage’ — before Lucy’s boyfriend’s mother and labor leader father get murdered, before Marlene decides to find out who did it, before Karp gets appointed to clean up West Virginia, before Giancarlo gets shot and Marlene calls in the VietCong to exterminate the bad guys. “Kill them. Kill them all.” Yep. Marlene always makes a mess. Can Karp clean this one up? Read and laugh and see.

SUZANNE’S DIARY FOR NICHOLAS by James Patterson::Becky Ann Baker

The tired old technique of a text within a text popped in the microwave with a 2K twist: a mothers diary to her one year old son. The kid dies. Instant tear jerker, instant Oprah Book of the Year, instant Right to Life siege technology. Use it to dummify your life-story, infantilise your reader and seduce your next girlfriend. Where can we find it better brighter and gut-wrenching? Andrew Greeley, Younger Than Springtime; a father’s account of falling in love with his wife, given to his son; Ian Rankin , The Black Book, a beautiful reckless dead man’s confession to an old crime in a diary rocked out of the past by an even older Edinburgh cop; Bernard Shlink, The Reader; lawyer reads last letter of his ex-girlfriend-ex-Nazi concentration camp guard, 20 years too late. Forget Suzanne.

ROUGH TREATMENT by JOHN HARVEY::JOHN WILKINSON

The voice is everything. Instead of the typical pomposity of a haughty OBE accent, spouting that mixture of bad faith, betrayal, and malice so characteristic of the displaced British upper class, we have a whisper, a tempered, middle brow tone telling a tale about a slightly fat slightly alcoholic Nottingham housewife who falls in love with the burglar who robs her house. The robbery is problematic. Gone is the stash of Coke her failed director-husband was holding for a slightly murderous slightly psychopathic drug thug. The housewife and the thief meet, fuck, and renegotiate the stolen goods. Inspector Charles Resnick, divorced, badly dressed, with bad table manners, figures it out — kind of — but still somehow does the wrong thing. BRILLIANT.

“Grabianski didn’t know…He felt about music what his partners felt about birds. Large ones and small ones. With music it was small ones and fast ones.”