Fabian Nicieza’s Suburban Dicks opens with the murder of a gas station attendant in West Windsor, New Jersey. As a pair of inept young cops are trying to secure the crime scene, a minivan pulls into the station. The pregnant driver’s toddler has to pee, and she does… all over the evidence. The driver of the minivan, Andrea Stern, a once-promising criminal profiler whose career was cut short by motherhood, picks up more details in her brief survey of the scene than the cops can gather in weeks.
Hammett’s books are dense with action and full of twists. Snooze for a second and you’ll have to go back and re-read the whole chapter. While many have commented about Hammett’s hardboiled style and seedy underworld characters, what really struck me in this one was how the author keeps the reader grasping throughout. You never know what’s going to happen next, nor do you know the significance of events as they’re happening.
Bad Boy was Jim Thompson’s first take at autobiography. Although he was only forty-seven when he wrote it, he had already lived a pretty full life. This volume covers his escapades through age twenty-three. Thompson spent his early youth in Oklahoma, where his father was a county sheriff and one of the most popular men in town. When his father ran for state office on platform that included a commitment to racial equality, he was run out of town.
Emily Calby is twenty now. The scarred but ever-hopeful survivor wants to put her brutal past behind her. Her instinct for justice has led her to enroll in law school on the sunny Florida coast. Things are finally looking up. “I spread my arms and tilt into the bright Florida sun, filling my lungs with the wet salty air. ‘What could possibly go wrong in a beautiful place like this?'”
In this superbly written overview of the Western philosophical tradition, William Barrett traces the roots of 20th century existentialism back through Hegel, Nietzsche, and Kierkegaard all the way to the Greek and Hebrew traditions that formed the foundations of Western European civilization. Writing in 1958, Barrett begins by describing Europe’s spiritual and intellectual crisis after two world wars. If twenty centuries of religious faith and scientific progress led only to slaughter and destruction, then what was the good of science or religion?
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 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.
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 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 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.
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