FORECAST FRIDAY: WHAT I’AM READING OVER THE CHRISTMAS WEEK!
I have picked a mixture of new and old and something different to read over the Christmas week.
The charming Emma Viskic has quickly established herself as a bright light on the mean streets of Australian crime fiction. Her first two novels about deaf Melbourne PI Caleb Zelic were gritty, enjoyable reads that excelled in their portrayal of character and their Melbourne surrounds.
I really enjoyed Resurrection Bay and And Fire Came Down, and I am looking forward to reading Darkness For Light (Echo, $29.99), which involves Caleb in a desperate attempt to save a kidnapped child’s life. It also has a great, evocative cover!
Chris Hauty’s Deep State (Simon & Schuster, $32.99) has been receiving some very good advanced reviews from overseas. Set in present day Washington, this fast moving thriller promises plenty of paranoia, as a twenty-five-year-old female, ex-soldier, West Wing intern tries to solve the murder of the White House Chief of Staff and stop the ‘deep state’ from taking over the country. A must for conspiracy theorists!
Deep State is released in Australia on 14 January 2020.
Andrew Nette and Iain McIntyre’s Girl Gangs, Biker Boys, and Real Cool Cats was a fascinating examination of pulp fiction and youth culture from 1950 to 1980. They have now followed it up with the equally good Sticking It To The Man (PM Press), which looks at revolution and counterculture in pulp and popular fiction in the same period.
This very readable book is full of fantastic book covers and interesting articles about how the counter-culture of the 1950s, 60s and 70s was reflected in pulp and popular fiction in America, the United Kingdom and Australia. From gay liberation to black power to vigilantism and feminism, this book covers a wealth of topics and a range of authors. Two of the best sections are on the representation of aboriginals in pulp and popular fiction and David James Foster’s chapter on the Fictional Vigilantes of the 1970s.
A great book that is a must read for anyone interested in popular culture and book covers! I am half way through it and there is not a boring section in it!
Finally, the late, great Ross Thomas is one of my all-time favourite American crime writers. Best known for books such as the award winning The Cold War Swap and Briarpatch, he also wrote five very good books under the pseudonym of Oliver Bleeck about a professional go-between, Philip St. Ives.
The urbane St. Ives acts as a sort of semi-legit middleman who negotiates, for a commission, the return of everything from stolen property to kidnap victims from the bad guys. His work occasionally involves international elements, as in Protocol For A Kidnapping (1971), where he is reluctantly hired by the U.S State Department to help ransom a kidnapped American Ambassador from a group of Yugoslavian radicals.
Thomas never wrote a bad book, and the St. Ives are particularly good fun. St. Ives is a marvelous creation, equal measure cynic and idealist, and the books always feature good twists and enough gunfire to keep them interesting. I have been re-reading Thomas’ novels over the past few years and they hold up very well against contemporary crime novels. Protocol For A Kidnapping is the last of the St. Ives I have to re-read and I look forward to grabbing a few quiet moments over the holidays to read it.