Sunday, September 13, 2009

Book Look

I've been doing lost of reading lately...

The Neon Rain by James Lee Burke

The Dave Robicheaux series by James Lee Burke is one of my favorites, but I came late to it and have never read the early novels. This is the first book of the series, and it starts to fill in the back story for me in this perennial favorite storyline. Robicheaux is a police lieutenant in New Orleans who is a recovering alcoholic and suffers from post-traumatic stress from his service in the Vietnam War. During his investigation of the death of a woman found dead in a swamp, he is pulled into a deadly conspiracy of criminals and crooked military men who are running money and guns to Central American militants. This book begins all of the elements that makes the Robicheaux series so fascinating: interesting mysteries, personal demons, and Burke's deep affinity for the nature of the Louisiana especially the swamps, bayous and wildlife. The story is raw and not as nuanced as the series would later become, but it is still well worth reading and getting in on a great crime series on the ground floor.

Idiot America: How Stupidity Became a Virtue in the Land of the Free by Charles P. Pierce

Opening up with a blast of vitriol against the Creation Museum, where biblical characters saddle up on dinosaurs and other nonsense, Pierce uses founding father James Madison's writings about the need for an educated citizenry to foreshadow the downfall critical thinking in America. Far from a dry academic treatise, Pierce is very funny and snarky in dissecting conservative political pundits and talk radio bloviators, global warming deniers and the fools and liars that are responsible for the phony evidence and lies that led to the Iraq war. Pierce saves his strongest criticism for the people that Madison depended on the most - the ordinary citizens who have a duty to question authority and not be led blindly like sheep by politicians who are more interested in selling an ideology than in leading the country in a reasonable fashion.

Sandman Slim by Richard Kadrey

Now for something completely different... Stark is a hitman in Hell, exiled there after being double crossed by underground magic practitioners on Earth. Working for one of Lucifer's generals, he he kills the demon and then finds a way back to the human world. Knowing that then same members of the underground magic circle that exiled him in Hell have murdered his girlfriend he sets out for revenge. I thought it was a blast. It is filled with the same snarky f--- you humor that powers Charlie Huston's great Joe Pitt series. Stark dodges magicians, neo-nazis, demons and angels on his quest for revenge.

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