Calibre by Ken Bruen read by Gerard Doyle

He’d read up on noir and called it Nora.

Jim Thompson’s The Killer Inside Me hard boils the story from the start: London as the small bad city with its own 87th precinct: Brant, who cuts a bit off the top of every drug bust, makes himself loved by women, plays laid back surfer dude cop but functions as the magus and manipulates everybody’s fate; Macdonald: the aged bully with the mean little soul and the overblown self-estimate; Porter Nash: the gay cop; W.P.C. Falls the bitch black psychopathic girlcop with the knuckle dusters in her purse; P.C. Lane: tall and lanky nerd cop who carries an umbrella and wears an “expression of friendliness, the very worst thing for a cop,”; Chief Inspector Roberts & more.
A silly accountant whose whore lives across the street decides to play Miss Manners with an edge, and finds he enjoys killing people who behave badly in public.

Slick with references that both emulate and parody the grittiest American fiction (Robert B. Parker, Karin Fossom, Ed McBain, Andrew Vachss, Elmore Leonard, Newton Thornberg, Mankell, Willeford, Joe Lansdale); this text is black with humor (“He’d read up on noir and called it Nora.”) and gorgeous with distemporal language (The drinks came and he hoped she wouldn’t say Bottoms Up. “Bottoms up” she said.”) Read it and smirk.

Started Early Took My Dog by Kate Atkinson read by Graeme Malcolm

Jackson slugs a bully and saves a small dog. Hence Jackson, ex military man, ex husband (twice), having been familiar with violence his whole life has now finally found a good use for it. Now on the other side of the law, but otherwise non-localizable: “when he stayed at a hotel, he knew who he was. A guest.”

Tracy is big, post-menopausal, plain, and so indistinct that qualifiers float over the surface of her identity, like flat swabs of paint on a blank canvas.

At school Tracy had always been wary of the domestic science crowd – methodical girls with neat handwriting and neither flaws nor eccentricities. For some reason they were usually good at netball as well, as if the gene that enabled them to jump for the hoop contained the information necessary for turning out a cheese-and-onion flan or creaming a Victoria sponge-sandwich mix.

After she pays $3000 for a small child being dragged around by a street-mother, Tracy buys the kid cotton clothes and uses thought to re-organize her life from the point of view of a small girl.

Two characters in an England out of time, make a decision that makes no sense, and thereby changes the sense of life and everything in it. Two characters that grip us by the throat, and leave us breathless, waiting for the real inside the fiction.

All Mortal Flesh by Julia Spencer-Fleming read by Suzanne Toren

At St. Alban’s Church there is a stained glass window picturing a Roman soldier with a halo dressed as a Priest. The Roman soldier was Alban. When the Priest who converted him was sentenced to death, Alban switched clothes with him and died in his place.

A soldier disguised as a priest describes in some sense the Rector herself, an ex-army helicopter pilot, who turns up at crime scenes, and helps the Chief of Police solves crimes in a small snowy parish about 2 hours drive from Albany.

The Neighbor by Lisa Gardner

Wonderful, well developed characters modeled on silly, overchewed, Oprah-certified victim-types. The victim of an alcoholic, depressive, schadenfreude-mother, the victim of a childhood kidnapping by a pedophile, the victim of an unforgiving corrections system, the victim of overwhelming emotions, overwhelming fears, overwhelming doubts, of poor parents, poor teachers, poor morals, poor taste. But magnetic and memorable, nonetheless. The woman who for no apparent reason leaves a pleasant husband and a pleasant child is a curiosity: for the police, for us. The mild mannered husband with quiet habits and no past is, likewise, unusual, and leaves us wondering.

Bruno, Chief of Police by Martin Walker read by Robert Ian MacKenzie

An intimate look at the arrangements, organization and order of small town French village life, through the eyes of the jovial, wise and well fed chief of police, for “…not  a single pig made it to market without some part of it being offered as part tribute part toll to Bruno…”.

He put the grill close to the coals, arranged the steaks, and then under his breath sang the Marsellaise, which he knew from long practice took him exactly 45 seconds. He turned the steaks, dribbled some of the marinade on top of the charred side, and sang it again. Then he turned the steaks for 10 seconds, pouring on more of the marinade, and then another ten seconds. Now he took them off the coals and put them on the plates he’d left to warm on the bricks he’d left to warm on the side of the grill.

The strolling investigator offers up an amiable mix of local types, of those who “evidently conformed to the English stereotype of bizarre affection for animals dressed in gleaming black boots, cream jodhpurs,” of the prissy European officers of hygiene who threatened the taste of the local cheese, of old men who had not spoken to each other since the war.

The reader sometimes sounds as if he’s sucking on bubbles, a kind of terrible English mumbling.

Babes in the Woods by Ruth Rendell narrated by Nigel Anthony

Whatever else Ruth Rendell does or does not do, she demonstrates what might, could, would or should be said while helping the police in their inquiry. The mystery lies not so much in who did it but in who lies about doing it: who said that he didn’t do it and how did he say that he didn’t do it. Who is speaking? Who is lying?

Who lies, indeed? Well, Inspector Wexler already knows that once the media has been told, he “will get calls and no doubt e-mails from all the [i]nuts[/i] . . . We know in advance that they’ll have been seen in Rio and Jakharta and going over Niagara Falls in a barrel. . .” Note the rare use of the future perfect: “they will have been seen…” .

Children, one thirteen and one fifteen, disappeared. With their sitter. In a time of religion and heavy rains. And what the future perfect tells us about who is speaking is that such children will, in fact, not have been seen… And so we have a mystery…don’t we?

The Lost Army of Cambysus by Paul Sussman read by Gordon Griffin

An English schoolboy’s happy meal: a murder, a bit of Herodotus, a little masochism, a little colonialism, a shovelful of archaeology, a box of cheroots, a little petit bourgeois pettiness, a pretty but not too pretty girl who works with animals, a plain, uxurious police inspector, and a healthy dollop of fetishism in the form of text, genealogically charged artifacts, and dead soldiers: “an army of old men rising wearily from the sands….”

Quite wonderful. A mouthful. Lux.

NIGHT FALL by Nelson Demille Narrated by Scott Brick

Like listening to a brand new Stones album (if you’re old enough to know what an album is…)

If a video of you coveting your neighbor’s wife captured the downing of TWA Flight 800 in 1996 would you rally to the Flag and turn it in?

Night Fall is full of new and fun federal abbreviations (MFIC), NYC slurs (next to the Vietnamese place called Fuck U), and Arab jokes (What’s the difference between an Arab and a woman with PMS?).

So quotable the only thing to do is quote:
“….We’re not supposed to talk about anything sensitive in a taxi especially if the driver’s name is Abdul which is this guy’s name on his hack licence, so to pass the time I asked Abdul:
“How long have you been in this country?”
He glanced back at me, then replied: “Oh, about ten years sir.”
“What do you think happened to TWA flight 800?”
Kate said: “JOHN.”
I ignored her and repeated the question…..

John and Kate are married: “I strapped on my 9 mm glock which … is a copy of my old police issued piece. Kate strapped on her glock… Her’s is bigger than mine but I’m a very secure guy so it doesn’t bother me much.”

Special Agent Kate Mayfield and John have a healthy relationship: “The Federal government and all its employees are very sensitive to the rights and feelings of all minorities, recent immigrants, Native Americans, puppydogs, forests and endangered species of slime-mold. I, on the other hand, lack this sensitivity and my level of progressive thinking is stuck somewhere around the time when police regulations were re-written to prohibit beating confessions out of suspects. In any case, special agent Mayfield and I … do communicate. And I had noticed in the last year that we were learning from each other. She was using the F word more and calling more people assholes while I was becoming more sensitive to the inner anguish of people who were fuckheads and assholes.”

Kate and John are honest with each other:

Kate: “You’re putting on a little weight.”
John: “It’s the horizontal stripes on my tie.”

Kate and John do not have children:
“…the mobile playing ITS A SMALL WORLD was winding down and the kid was getting worried. He started making these sounds like he was yelling at the mobile to get moving. Marie stood and rewound the thing, cooing to me or to Junior: ‘Little boy loves his happy faces’. Twenty years from now, this kid was going to become a serial killer who hums Its a small world while he murders his victims.”

John does Bond:

I stood put on my jacket and said to Harry: “Beep me if some one calls a meeting.”
“Where you going?”
“On a dangerous mission. I may not return.”
“If you do, would you get me a Polish sausage on a stick?”

And Nelson Demille does funny. And its as wonderful as listening to a brand new Stones album (if you’re old enough to know what an album is…) Bravo!

Posted Date: 01/04/2005 8:51 am  

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