Thursday, January 05, 2006

Books for a cold winter night

My friend Dolf loaned me Michael Connelly's The Lincoln Lawyer. I'm usually not one for legal thrillers, but this one more literate than most and Connelly's protangonist, Michael Haller, has a flawed character that immediately drew me into the story. You learn who done it early on in the story, but you also want to know how Haller will get himself out of the fix he's gotten himself into.
Highly recommended.

Dolf also loaned me a political thriller, The Camel Club by David Baldacci. Most thrillers use multiple points of view to tell their story. The drawback to this approach is that more often than not, the characters tend to be shallow and the story is almost totally plot driven. The Camel Club is no exception to this rule. I found it to be fine for our flight home from San Diego, but it ain't great art . . . but then it isn't supposed to be.
Wait for the paperback or get this one at the library.

An almost forgotten gem
In a Lonely Place by Dorothy Hughes
At Bouchercon this summer, someone extolled the virtues of Dorothy Hughes, a mystery author prominent in 40's after World War II. I picked up a copy of In a Lonely Place and loved it. Hughes' characters are finely drawn, complex and her voice is as strong as anyone I've read. About the book, Amazon says:

A 1947 classic that takes us inside the mind of a male serial killer. Author Dorothy B. Hughes explores the ana-tomy of American -misogyny and -accomplishes a mystery writing tour de force by depicting his eventual -capture-by two daring and powerful women-from his point of view. The characters of Dix Steele and Laurel Grey, the glamorous actress he falls for but can't hold on to, were so well drawn that they became the basis for extraordinary performances by Humphrey Bogart and Gloria Grahame in the 1950 film version of the book, which also reflects the suspense and hard-boiled edginess of Hughes's -writing.

Called "an author with a flair for terror" by The New Yorker, Hughes was named a Grand Master by the Mystery Writers of America in 1978.

I haven't seen the movie of In a Lonely Place yet, but I did happen to catch a movie version of another Hughes novel, Ride the Pink Horse starring Robert Montgomery. If the book is anything like the movie, it's another gem. I'm sorry to say I haven't been able to locate a DVD or VHS edition of the movie, but it does show up on Turner Classic Movies. The book version is on my stack to read. Pick up something by Dorothy Hughes. You won't be disappointed.
Highest recommendation.

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