THE HOLDOUT

If you’ve never read The Murder of Roger Ackroyd by Agatha Christie, hold off before reading The Holdout, by Graham Moore. Ten years ago, Maya was the lone not guilty vote who eventually swayed the other jurors to acquit an accused child-murderer. Now, someone has targeted the members of the jury and seems dead-set on […]

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Destry Rides Again by Max Brand

Max Brand’s 1930 novel embodies one of the aspects of pulp novels that has always drawn me to them: humans struggling with or against morality in an amoral universe. The harsh, dangerous, and unforgiving landscape of the American frontier crushes the weak or merely naive, exposing bourgeois morality as a dish only those well insulated […]

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Trigger Mortis

TRIGGER MORTIS by Anthony Horowitz takes place in 1956 and immediately follows the events in Ian Fleming’s novel, Goldfinger. Horowitz does a remarkable job conjuring Fleming’s voice without dipping into pastiche. At the outset, we’re brought into the world of Grand Prix racing. Horowitz has poured a lot of research into the task, and the result kicks off […]

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The Charlie Hardie Trilogy

Step into a boilerplate Hollywood noir, then hold on, because you’re about to take a jump off a very steep cliff. If you’ve never read Duane Swierczynski, there are many places to start. All of them good. However, the Charlie Hardie trilogy is a masterwork in world-building as well as Swierczynski’s trademark humor and savagery.

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The Grifters

When I was fifteen, I picked up a copy of Jim Thompson’s Recoil, quite by accident, and his voice immediately caught me in its thrall. Like much of Thompson’s work, The Grifters is psychodrama thinly disguised as a pulpy, fast-paced crime thriller. It’s the story of a son and mother who, despite her best efforts, […]

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Dracula

Bram Stoker’s Dracula is a parable of a sociopath. The eponymous antagonist feeds off the life-force of everyone with whom he is intimate, bringing nothing but tragedy, sorrow, and violence to everyone unfortunate enough to fall within his orbit. Despite Mr. Francis Coppolla’s romantic notions about the vampire, there is no final act of self-sacrifice for love […]

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