Sunday, November 18, 2012

PREDICAMENT - Ronald Hugh Morrieson

Young  15 year old Cedric lives in a small New Zealand town with his grandmother and mad father.  During the holidays he meets up with 19 year old Mervyn who is very sophisticated in the ways of the world and criminal activity.

Before long Cedric realises that Mervyn is no good but because he is already involved in a blackmail scheme with him he has to appear to go along.

We have a wonderful story ,great story telling, with murder and lots of humanity.

I've read three of Morriesons novels and they are all fantastic.  This is the best of them in that technically he has got so much better than the earlier efforts.

The story is written in a strong New Zealand vernacular and is set in the 1930's but no one from anywhere should be put off by this, it is great writing.

It is a crime that he has not ever been taught in New Zealand schools, he's been dead for 40 years and has received no recognition as one of the best New Zealand ever produced.


The cover blurb from Elmore Leonard states this is the best crime novel ever written.   Elmore is absolutely correct.

Eddie Coyle is a small time hood who is supplying firearms to other criminals but as he is in trouble for trucking illegal liquor he has to do a deal with the authorities and then things get out of control.

The story shows exactly what criminals are really like, no glamour just lying, thieving pieces of humanity who will do anything to save their own skins.

The dialogue is out standing , this is the best crime novel I've ever read.  Brilliant

SIDESWIPE - Charles Willeford

Hoke Moseley is a stressed out detective who leaves his job to run a hotel for his father in Florida.

At the same time a retiree called Stanley Sinkiewicz,   teams up with a class one sociopath Troy Louden who organise's a bank robbery.  Eventually they all meet up.

This is great, its funny with brilliant characters , big violence and Stanley is the nicest man ever to get tied up with a mass murderer.

This is the first of this series I've found, sadly Willeford died in 1988, so there'll be no more but great fun.  If you like Carl Hiassen you'll go looking for this.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

THE RICHARD BURTON DIARIES - Edited by Chris Williams

I like diaries to be full of gossip,observation of their time, honesty and most importantly a good dose of humour.

These diaries of Burton's fail to meet my criteria in that 95% of  the are solely about himself and his twice wife Elizabeth Taylor.

The entries are  sporadic in that often months and sometime several years pass between entries.

When the entries are prolific it is when he and Taylor are reasonably happy together, giving detailed miniature regarding meals taken, books read and dinner guests.

When these diaries should have been unputdownable - when his marriages were in trouble- there are no entries.

From what is written I got the impression that Burton was actually a loner who was most happy reading on his own or with Taylor.  He was seriously wealthy but had to keep working as he ran several households for family members and adopted children.

His alcoholism dominated his life -  it was a constant battle to control and the diary is full of contriteness when he has played up or many more entries counting off a couple of weeks without getting drunk, which he inevitably does and then another cycle starts of guilt and then ......

It didn't help his drinking that Taylor was just about as bad as he was, so heavy drinking was around him all the time.

The lack of honesty comes through regards his drinking and it is apparent in other entries, especially when it is known he was a serial philanderer, but there is no mention of other women.  Of course this may have a bit to do with the fact that Taylor had access to the diary and even made entries herself, so its not really a diary rather a journal.

There is very little in the way of gossip, a few mentions of actor friends getting drunk but nothing startling, they are generally very gentlemanly and well mannered, even when he criticises co- stars he is fairly nice.

A few of the entries offer laughs but they are few and far between over 660 odd pages.

As diaries these are 'small beer' when I was expecting strong spirits from a man who lead a life many on the outside envied. (2012)


Another very ordinary 'Poirot'.  The Belgian sleuth is  travelling in the middle east with a group which includes a horrible American matriarch. 

This horrible bit of goods gets the chop and because she's such a nasty piece of work she deserved it.

Its very hard to get involved in the story when there is absolutely no sympathy for the victim.

Anyway Poirot sets out to solve the murder and he does but with one of the real cheat endings of Christie's career .  The reader should at least have an outside chance of solving the murder but this one gives you no hope.   Not great. (1938)

Thursday, November 1, 2012

THE CLOCKS - Agatha Christie

A very ordinary 'Poirot".

It was one of the last and the Belgium only features in about 30 pages in the entire story which revolves around a body found in a blind women's house in suburban England - not even an exotic location for this one.

Even for Christie it was a stretch to tie it up at the end. There are much better ones about than this effort.