The Girl with a Clock For a Heart

Tags:  book-reviews fiction crime
The title alone made me want to read this one. It’s supposed to be a noir thriller, though it lacks the brooding spell and the sense of inevitable, darkening fate that distinguish the classic noirs. The book has a number of glaring flaws, but the story has enough twists to keep you reading. The Good There’s only one, and that’s the plot. It’s full of unexpected twists and it keeps thickening.

The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch

Tags:  book-reviews sci-fi
The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch opens in New York City in an unnamed year of the twenty-first century. Barney Mayerson, a pre-fash consultant for Perky Pat Layouts, drank too much the night before and slept with his new assistant, Rondinella “Roni” Fugate. Mayerson and Fugate are both precogs, blessed with a talent for seeing into the future. At P.P. Layouts, they evaluate common cultural objects for “minning” (miniaturizing), to be sent to the colonies on Mars, Venus, and a number of moons throughout the solar system.

Red Harvest by Dashiell Hammett

Tags:  book-reviews crime fiction
Dashiell Hammett’s Red Harvest is mayhem from beginning to end. The book opens with The Continental Op (an unnamed detective from the Continental Detective Agency) arriving in the corrupt Utah mining town of Personville (aka Poisonville) at the request of newspaper editor Donald Willsson. Willsson is gunned down before the Op has a chance to speak with him, and this sets the tone for the rest of the book, which is an orgy of unrestrained killing.

The Coddling of the American Mind

Tags:  book-reviews non-fiction
The Coddling of the American Mind examines the political left’s intolerance of challenging and uncomfortable ideas, especially as it appears among the young on college campuses throughout the US. The authors examine a number of incidents in which university students have staged violent protests, shamed and ostracized fellow students, disinvited speakers, and tried to force the firing of professors whose ideas challenge their worldview. Lukianoff and Haidt call this “safetyism,” and define it as the belief that students must be protected at all times from risk and discomfort.

The Plains of Cement by Patrick Hamilton

Tags:  book-reviews fiction
The Plains of Cement is the third and final book in Patrick Hamilton’s Twenty Thousand Streets Under the Sky collection, which follows three down-and-out characters through the streets of London in the fall and early winter of 1929. The Siege of Pleasure is the second book in Patrick Hamilton's Twenty Thousand Streets Under the Sky trilogy. Book one, The Midnight Bell, follows the waiter, Bob, as he falls in love with prostitute Jenny Maples.

The Siege of Pleasure by Patrick Hamilton

Tags:  book-reviews fiction
The Siege of Pleasure, the second book in Patrick Hamilton’s 1930’s London trilogy Twenty Thousand Streets Under the Sky, picks up just days after the end of book one. Jenny Maple is walking the streets around the London Pavilion looking for a trick while trying to avoid a plainclothes cop who has recently arrested one of her friends. The Siege of Pleasure is the second book in Patrick Hamilton's Twenty Thousand Streets Under the Sky trilogy.

The Midnight Bell by Patrick Hamilton

Tags:  book-reviews fiction
Bob, a waiter at a London saloon called The Midnight Bell, leads a relatively simple life. He works the lunch shift from 11 to 3 and the evening shift from 5 till 10. In between, he reads in his room, wanders the streets, goes to movies. The son of an American man and an Irish woman, he has no living family, no clear path ahead, and only the vaguest of dreams.

Discover Great Reads on

Tags:  fiction non-fiction
Ben Fox from recently asked me to write about five of my favorite books in any genre. You can check out my list of the best books from the golden age of American crime and noir and perhaps discover something new. Hundreds of authors have contributed similar lists to Shepherd, which has become a discovery engine for excellent works that may have flown under the radar. When I shared my list with a fellow author, he said with surprise that he had never heard of any of the titles on my list.

1414° by Paul Bradley Carr

Tags:  book-reviews fiction
Paul Bradley Carr’s 1414° is a satirical thriller that reads like Carl Hiaasen’s take on Silicon Valley, “An industry built on the promise of limitless memory, by people who can’t remember what happened last week.” The book opens with former tech titan Joe Christian counting out his final hours in a filthy flophouse in San Francisco’s Tenderloin district. Someone, he is sure, has deliberately ruined his life. Someone he calls “Fate” has orchestrated his long descent from wealth and power to this sad, sordid end.

Mutant Message Down Under

Tags:  book-reviews fiction
[Note: This book’s preface claims it’s based on a true story. It’s not. If you read this novel as an accurate account of Aboriginal culture, you’ll be misled. It should be categorized as New Age Fantasy. The end of this review contains a link to a story in which the author retracts her claims to the book’s authenticity. As fantasy, though, it’s a pretty good read.] Marlo Morgan, an American living in Australia, is invited by an Aboriginal group to what she thinks is an awards banquet.