As promised I’ve decided to put out a second review for October featuring my good man Stephen King, since after all this IS October. You know horror marathons on the telly, horror movies in the theatres, Halloween and (for this year) the inevitable ending of the 18-month circus known as the Election 2016. Aye, that last one has its own horrors of horrors. But enough with the bollocks and on to the review. Shall we?
In Mr. Mercedes, retired Detective Hodges had managed to put Brady Hartsfield into a mental instition on the account that he was somewhat brain-damaged. When we last encountered Brady, it was in the Finders Keepers which was mostly about some murderous tosser wanting to retrieve some old manuscripts. Here in Finders we were beginning to see that even though Mr. Hartsfield was seemingly brain-damaged, there was strange things happening in his room such as pipes turning on and photo frames falling over. Did I mention he was pretty much stuck in a wheelchair? And some point after having read Finders Keepers, many of us must probably suffered from a case of the “goosebumps”. Needless to say, it was foretelling what was to come in King’s next installation.End of Watch, the last in the Mr. Mercedes trilogy, opens with a retelling of the Mercedes Massacre from the perspectives of two EMT workers and evolves (for a moment) around the life of one of the survivors: Martine Stover. Then somewhere early in the book Ms. Stover dies. But then so has some of the staff that worked at the hospital that housed Brady Harsfield who noticed strange occurances like photo frames being moved or pipes turning on and off with no one around except a crippled Brady. Yes, it seems that our bay may have developed some preternatural abilities. So how pray tell, did this happen? Enter Dr. Felix Babineau, douchebag and tosser supreme, who took it on himself to test out unapproved and experimental drugs on the supposed sad case of that is Brady. Of course, there was some side effects. Yes, we all seen this movie before. Ambitious doctor decides to test crap out on disabled psychopath … um … yes, it is not going to end great, especially for the doctor. Using some old Gameboy type game consoles called Zappits that features some game involving fish (aye, seriously), Brady extends himself beyond the confines of the hospital in the most spinetingling manner that could evolve from the mind of King. Could’ve been worse it could have been a modified version of the Pokemon Go app. As the bodies begin to pile up, Bill Hodges along with the brilliant, wisecracking, Afro-American sidekick Jerome Robinson race to stop Brady and his dark plans of vengeance. The suspense grips you by the throat at each turn of the page, and hurtles you at a blinding, fiery speed towards the end. And yes, there will be blood.
A delightful end to the Mr. Mercedes trilogy, it is , as usual, premium King. As usual. And to expect less … um … seriously, mate?
Posts Tagged ‘crime’
I know, I know. It is that time of the year where we all get touchy and as the eggnog flows, most people want to curl up to something warm and fuzzy. The last thing you want to read about is about Swedish psychopaths. Alas, I missed that memo. Sorry chaps.
About a year ago (or so), I had reviewed Söderberg’s debut, The Andalucian Friend, and we were introduced to Sophie Brinkmann, the nurse, and her son, Albert. In Friend, one of Sophie’s patient was a drug kingpin named Hector Guzman who, seemingly, took a liking to her. Unfortunately, the moment Sophie started falling for his charms, that was the moment her world exploded as her path collided with a delightful (and frightening) array of characters that pretty much blurred the lines between good and evil. Actually, they practically erased the bloody line. Seemingly vicious gangsters that actually had somewhat of a moral compass and law enforcement officials that were morally void sociopaths that would render most demons speechless. All those roads (littered with corpses and drenched in blood) seem to lead to Sophie. Needless to say, not in a pleasant way. In the end of Friend, we find Hector Guzman in a coma and Sophie being offered a choice she can’t possibly refuse: take control of Hector’s affairs or face the possibility of being dirtnapped. Hmm, decisions … decisions.
Other Son opens, six months later, and we find Sophie managing the slowly crumbling Hector Guzman empire whilst being guided throught the proverbial shark-infested waters of the drug trade by Hector’s loyal and lethally efficient right-hand, Aron Geisller. Living her life constantly peering over her shoulder and bogged down by Aron’s security protocols, Sophie finds herself being pushed further and further to the edge of the abyss. To add to her troubles, Ralph Hanke (Hector’s rival) has become quite bold and vicious in his attacks as he sanctions the kidnapping of a Lothar Tiedmann, Hector’s illegitimate son. Sophie soon finds herself being tested by various cutthroat factions and being pushed into making decisions that raises Aron’s eyebrows … and that is not a good thing. Now I know what you’re thinking … it can’t get any crazier than this. And I have to say to you that you really don’t know Scandanavian crime novels. Enter Tommy Jansson (corrupt cop extraordinare), Antonia Miller (an actual decent cop with really good wits), Ove Negerson (a half-black, half-Swedish psychopath), and Miles Ingmarsson (a surveillance expert that seems to spends most of his time in strip clubs), Koen (a heroin addicted hitman) and the loveable bear of a Russian mafioso, Mikhail, returns. Aye, to say that the shit is about to hit the fan is, laughably, the biggest uderstatment of the century. There are more twists and turns than disorganized origami and intrigue is so thick that you can almost gag on it. The body count climbs (caution: try not to get attached to characters) and the blood spatters like something in Dexter’s wet dream. The race to the jaw-dropping (yet abrupt) conclusion will keep you riveted, fired up and jonesing for the next sequel by Söderberg.
It has been a very interesting summer, in terms of reading… that is, and I couldn’t help but notice the new Stephen King book sitting in the stacks, beckoning to me like a curvaceous Siren to a marrooned, randy sailor (wow, I seriously need to go out more). What can I say, perfect timing, yeah?
The new King book practically begins with a bang. A reclusive, iconic writer, John Rothstein, is the victim of a home invasion. But this is no ordinary home invasion. Led by Morris Bellamy, an obsessive fan, the object is, seemingly, the large amounts of money kept in the writer’s home safe, though to the Morris the real treasure is the pile of Moleskin notebooks filled with drafts of unpublished Jimmy Gold novels. After cold-bloodedly murdering Rothstein … and his accomplices, Morris hides his literary “booty” along with some piles of cash, only to be sent to jail (for life) on a totally unrelated crime. Something about a rape that he was to drunk to even remember. What a way for life to suck.
Several decades later, this “well-hidden” bounty is discovered by a young Pete Sanders who was simply wandering off the beaten path (literally) and his curiousity got the best of him. Pete Sanders family is enduring some tough times, since Pete’s father (apparently the bread winner) was injured in the Mr. Mercedes rampage (bloody hell, you say, a tie back to another King novel). Yes. And it gets better. So what does a young man do when he finds a significant amount of money? Instead of spending it on bling and other such bollocks, Pete does the “unthinkable” he anonymously mails portions of it on monthly (or was it weekly?) basis to (gasp!!!) his family in order to help them out of their financial crisis. Blimey, you say, a teenager that chooses to the most selfless thing with a large pile of money … King has sunk to a new terrifying low. Of course, good intentions aside, pillaged treasures soon finish and … some prisoners, despite the odds, get released back into society. And a certain convict is going to need his “hidden treasure” to fall back on. As the body count begins, a troubled Pete Sanders find himself embroiled with shady rare book dealers and eventually crosses path with Bill Hodges (yes, the retired detective from Mr. Mercedes). Also joining Hodges, is the boy wonder Jerome Robinson, an intelligent (now in college) black teenager who is a wisecracking, techie genius (also from Mr. Mercedes). Needless to say, it doesn’t take long for the suspense to rachet up at speeds that would redline your adrenaline guage, as the book races with break-neck speed towards a heart-pounding conclusion. Notable mention: Brady Hartsfield (aka Mr. Mercedes) also makes an appearance and even though he is physically incapacitated, there is something supernaturally brewing up in the mix. Alas, the saga of Mr. Mercedes is not quite over. And it is pure, premium King. Bloody fantastic.
No surprise here, but I’m a big fan of British gangster movies. Particularly, the ones made by Guy Ritchie and um … starring Jason Statham. So as I going through my rounds at the library I came across this one in the stacks. Something about a bloke holding a gun, on the cover, and pointing it at the reader … gets my attention. On top of that, when I saw it was written by J.J. Connolly, the author of Layer Cake, my interest was naturally heightened. Yes, I’ll admit it … I have never read Layer Cake but I did see the movie that starred Daniel Craig (you might know him … tall, blond and acts as that Bond fellow) and I did like it. But enough with the pleasantries, shall we?
Madness, apparently, continues from where Layer Cake left off where we find ourselves guided, throughout the book, by the narrative of Cake’s anonymous hero. Whom, I must add, seemingly speaks with Jason Statham’s voice (in my head). Yes, it has occurred to me that I “like” Mr. Statham way too much that it is enough to put my current sexual orientation in complete and utter peril. I have detoured and may have ventured into the “Too Much Information” zone. My apologies.
The book opens with our hero in Barbados waiting at the airport for several of his mates (from the underworld) from England. Though not an entirely social visit, this is a business trip where Sonny, a major “player”, is doing a bit of banking (or hiding) of – no surprise – ill gotten gains. Somewhere, along this get-together, our nameless hero is old that he is need back in England, where (by the way) he is wanted criminal and has been living in Barbados on the lam. Whilst in England, he is soon re-united with his mates from their abruptly interrupted Barbados vacation for what seems to be the untimely passing another fellow comrade-at-arms. There is an encounter with a psychotic Venezuelan gangster which leads to his untimely and extremely violent demise. And then the fun begins. There are Venezuelan and Brazilian hit squads; narcissistic and self-delusional South American psychotics; a fiery, sexual Latino femme fatale named Jenna Zambrano; the usual English underworld back stabbings and bumblings all marinated in Machiavellian schemes; and yes, a USB drive with information that everyone’s willing to paint the streets of London red for. Yes, London has some interesting visitors and they are not there to see the changing of the guards, Big Ben or to have some bloody tea and scones. The action is fast, vicious and sometimes, senseless (what’s new). The language is most definitely politically incorrect (thin-skins be warned) and marinated in dark English humour, wit and Cockney lingo (don’t worry you’ll start figuring out most of it before the book ends). And oh yes, from some strange reason Jason Statham’s voice seem to be narrating the entire bloody book (I think I mentioned that before). Bloody hell, I think this what they call a man crush. Maybe I shouldn’t say that out too loud. Sigh. Great book, though.
Running Title – Gomorrah: A Personal Journey Into The Violent International Empire Of Naples’ Organized Crime System
In this current world, there are two types of journalists. On one side there are those who choose to remain in some lily-white/ white picketed fence backdrop such as Colorado, Connecticut or Virginia as they basically rehash the leanings of whatever political or religious drivel that they subscribe to. Once in a while they’ll further rehash this bunk as some superform of “the truth” in a book, on sale at the local book stores, that sucker unsuspecting sods into parting with their hard earned cash. Poor bastards. To add to their delusion, they’ll sometime invoke quotations by greats such as Cronkite and Morrow … simply because it makes them sound journalist … like. Tossers !!!!
Then there are those that take themselves out of the comfort zone and risk life, limb, sanity and even hygiene to bring to life things that are vile, vicious and occasionally heartwarming. In Gomorrah, Roberto Saviano does the thinkable and goes beyond his call of duty, as a journalist, to do the unthinkable. On the outskirts of the ever romantic Naples, is place called Camorra, where any and everything is for sale and life is cheaper than cheap. Drugs, prostitution, gun running, smuggling, sweatshops, and land being sold to nations to dump toxic materials are all controlled by the Camorrista, the Camorra mafia. Posing as a Camorrista underling, Saviano goes into the underbelly of this criminal underworld and brings to life all the viciousness that saturate the underworld. And yes, he even named names (the unthinkable part). Not exactly your tea and crumpets book-discussion group book, it spews out barbaric violence that could seem like a Quentin Tarantino wet dream and levels of corruption that would make Machiavelli blush outright. The bad news is that this is non-fiction. Yes, non-fiction as in this shit has actually happened. Some scenes are graphic as is memorable such as a scene where a junkie overdosed after being given a “test batch” of heroin only to be revived by his junkie girlfriend who simply squatted and urinated on his face. Bloody hell, who needs a stab of adrenaline to the heart when female junkie piss would suffice quite nicely. And there are many more memorable gems such as this that grace the book. I kid you not. Really.
In 2009, the movie adaptation of this book (Gomorrah) made its debut and was shown at several select theaters. More than 180 minutes long, the gritty portrayals was enough to send many folks running from the theatre. I guess they were expecting some artsy-fartsy foreign love movie. Surprise. It was Grand Theft Auto in reality. The frightening thing about this was that as vicious and gritty as the movie was, it was the mere tip of the iceberg in the accounts of barbarism. Gomorrah smacks away the romantic imagery of gondolas guided by oarsmen singing operatic love lullabies and takes us to a whole different side of Italy. Note to self: Stick to the tourist areas if ever should I visit Italy. The sad part, about this is that Mr. Saviano’s brave effort to bring light to the dark deeds of a few has resulted in him living in an undisclosed area under police guard. All the more reason to read this compelling and fascinating book yet extremely violent book. My hat’s off to Mr. Saviano
Posted in biography, crime, non-fiction, tagged atf, biker gangs, book review, crime, drugs, gangs, guns, hells angels, jay dobyns, law enforcement, motorcycle clubs, no angel, undercover on February 6, 2012| Leave a Comment »
Meet Jay Dobyns. Real-life ATF agent. A walking, talking line that protects the law-abiding from the psychos. In every sense, Mr Dobyns is an unsung hero. In No Angel, Mr. Dobyns recounts the ordeals of life as an undercover agent infiltrating the Hell’s Angels Motorcycle gang. Reading the book feels like throttling down the highway at full speed on a 1200 cc chopper with no brakes … and on a highway that is also filled with blind turns. Infiltrating bike gangs are a lot more work than most folks can fathom. There are rules and certain codes of conduct that one must observe. Violation of certain “biker etiquette” will not get you slap on the wrist by a gloved hand but in some cases could result in a hole in the head … by a leather gloved hand. The type of holes that are somewhat terminal. And as the Dobyns and his “crew” try to build up a club and a reputation, they are constantly tested everyway and they often have to be on constant guard as if their life depended on it … which strangely in many cases it usually does. And sometimes people have to become innovative … like taking a piss in the bathroom and dropping a few bits of pee on your boots for “good luck” to impress some VIP in the biker gang. Needless to say, I do not envy these chaps. I’d prefer to take my chances in a Brazilian creek filled with ravenous piranhas … whilst bleeding profusely. Still it is a testimony to the work that these special breed of individuals do in order to protect the Joe Public from the outlaws out there. Something that we often take for granted. Quite often undercover law enforcement agents are constantly held under severe scrutiny by the public but few really do understand what many of these individuals have to deal with. No Angel shows life on the razor’s edge by through the eyes of an agent and the mental roller coaster both he and his family had to endure whilst undercover. Very suspenseful, filled with intrigue, and keeps you dry in the throat as you turn every page. It is the closest you can get to going undercover. If you know any one that works in law especially as an undercover agent, then be sure to pat them on the back or give them a firm handshake in acknowledgement for what they put on the line. Great read. Awesome bloke, Mr. Dobyns.
EX-KOP takes us back to the steaming tropical dysfunction of a planet called Lagarta to meet our anti-hero and dirty cop, Juno Mozambe. A lot has happened since KOP. Juno is no longer on the force, his chief is dead (let’s just say it wasn’t natural causes) and his wife is in critical condition after a seemingly bizarre suicide attempt. Juno is also at his lowest point where he is reduced to a lowly pathetic bagman and a sort of scandal photographer that basically takes photos of certain public folks doing not so desirable things. Sort of like a paparazzi, minus a grinning Harvey Levin and that douchebag surfer dude “journalist”, with the propensity for occasional bouts of extortion. As a young girl is about to be executed for murder that she may not have committed, Juno is called on the case by former partner Maggie Orzo who is still on the force and managed to find herself with a partner that makes Juno (her former partner) look like a choir boy. And that is several levels, south of hell, of BAD. In EX-KOP, Lagarta is as disgusting a fur coat in Florida June weather, the sex is kinkier (and some cases, seemingly downright scandalous and cringeworthy), the action is fast and ultra-vicious, and levels of human depravity struggles for even lower depths. Hammond’s delightful blend of detective noir and science fiction has stepped up the ante from KOP and hooks the reader in … by the minerals.