Sunday, July 15, 2018

The Darkest Time of Night

THE DARKEST TIME OF NIGHT: When the seven-year-old grandson of a US senator vanishes in the woods behind his home, the only witness is his older brother, who whispers, “The lights took him,” and then never speaks again. As the FBI and National Guard launch a massive search, the boys’ grandmother Lynn Roseworth fears only she knows the truth. But coming forward would ruin her family and her husband’s political career. In the late 1960s, before she became the quiet wife of a politician, Lynn was a secretary in the astronomy department at the University of Illinois. It was there where she began taking mysterious messages for one of the professors, messages from people desperate to find their missing loved ones who vanished into beams of light. This atmospheric suspense novel by Jeremy Finley is produced on audio by Blackstone HERE. Narrated by Suzanne Toren, who elevates the book with a moody and believable performance of all the well drawn characters (like an audio movie), the novel is part X Files, part UFO Hunters, but mostly an offbeat mystery similar in tone to Radiomen by Eleanor Lerman. 
A DARK NIGHT IN AURORA. James Holmes, who would be known as “The Batman Killer,” is unique among mass shooters in his willingness to be taken into custody alive. In the court case that followed, only Dr. William H. Reid, a distinguished forensic psychiatrist, would be allowed to record interviews with the defendant. Reid would read Holmes’ diary, investigate his phone calls and text messages, interview his family and acquaintances, speak to his victims, and review tens of thousands of pages of evidence and court testimony in an attempt to understand how a happy, seemingly normal child could become a killer. A Dark Night in Aurora uses the twenty-three hours of unredacted interview transcripts never seen by the public and Reid’s research to bring the reader inside the mind of a mass murderer. The result is chilling, gripping study of abnormal psychology and how a lovely boy named Jimmy became a mass murderer. A new Showtime series by Sacha Baron Cohen on guns is Who is America? A satirical look at school shooters by people who never heard of Col. Dave Grossman. Thoughts?

Other audiobooks to check out are REVENGE OF THE KREMLIN by Gerard deVilliers. PUTINOMICS by Chris Miller. THE OTHER WOMAN by Daniel Silva. And RED SPARROW by Jason Matthews, made into the Jennifer Lawrence movie.

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

SPYMASTER by Brad Thor

SPYMASTER by Brad Thor. From the publisher: “Across Europe, a secret organization has begun attacking diplomats. Back in the United States, a foreign ally demands the identity of a highly placed covert asset. In the balance hang the ingredients for all-out war. With his mentor out of the game, counterterrorism operative Scot Harvath must take on the role he has spent his career avoiding. But, as with everything else he does, he intends to rewrite the rules—all of them. In Spymaster, Scot Harvath is more cunning, more dangerous, and deadlier than ever before. If you have never read a Brad Thor novel, this is the place to start!” A couple of interesting notes: naming his character “Scot” instead of “Scott” is smart, since it identifies the character across all media as a fiction character. His book trailer says, “Hell is empty, and all the devils are here.” It’s all of 15 seconds, with a punch. Book Reporter said, “The Undisputed Master of Thrillers.” If we’re talking sales, that would be James Patterson. Quality? Lately, given Patterson's many co-authors? Patterson is also a master of “short, with a punch.” One of his characters is “The Mastermind.” Social media is all the rage, with so many thousands of new titles coming in fiction. You literally have to be everywhere as a writer, and both of them are. Attention spans have lowered, too. Just ask Jaron Lanier, the father of VR, whose new book is TEN ARGUMENTS FOR DELETING YOUR SOCIAL MEDIA ACCOUNTS RIGHT NOW, read by Oliver Wyman. Patterson’s best was his first, THE THOMAS BERRYMAN NUMBER, written by himself, and winner of the Edgar Award. (Some new readers of his #1 with critics gave it one star because it didn't live up to what they expected. It is read on audio by the superb narrator Will Patton, who also reads many James Lee Burke titles (Burke being the best mystery writer alive. Crazy good.) Interview with Thor HERE. Burke HERE. And for my own new ebook, released today, below is the book trailer of one minute twenty seconds. Titled FUGITIVE VISIONS AND DANGEROUS FLASH FICTION, it has a hybrid story/script about a twisted romance on a cruise ship, with a twist ending. “Dangerous Visions” was an anthology by the late great Harlan Ellison, written in his honor. Not just science fiction, but also edgy satire Jaron would appreciate. “Visions Fugitives” was a set of unique and spooky piano pieces by one of my favorite composers, Prokofiev. Both Harlan and Prokofiev were ahead of their time, and, like Ray Bradbury or Chopin, will live far after we are gone…if the world survives all the spymasters out there in the shadows

Saturday, July 7, 2018

Shirley Jackson by Ruth Franklin

SHIRLEY JACKSON: A RATHER HAUNTED LIFE is Ruth Franklin’s biography of the author made famous for the story “The Lottery,” a deceptively simple tale whose twist ending astonished both critics and readers alike. Tons of mail arrived in her small New England town post office box, some of it conspiracy laden, as if Michael Jackson had just been sighted moon walking on the moon! Was the Lottery real or fake? they asked. Fiction or non? Read by the aptly chosen and always engaging Bernadette Dunne (from a lottery of possibilities to narrate), the memoir of Jackson (1916–1965) covers her entire life, both personal and professional. There are interesting little known facts here, too, such as her husband’s jealousy, infidelity, and his domineering yet admiring attitude (which mirrored her mother’s) leading to her amphetamine and tranquilizer addiction. From the grave, Jackson speaks to women in the current era, chronicling the exploitation and self image struggles of one incredibly talented writer known for understatement and poetic insight into a cultural psyche now out in the open, as violence and evil are no longer in hiding. Haunting, indeed. We tend today to think horror is most horrifying when there are huge special effects applied. Monsters dispatched with guns blazing. Not so. Real horror is subtle, and multi-layered. One thing goes askew, one floater in the plot points to that iceberg beneath the dark waters just when you realize it’s too late to maneuver around it. Less is more, especially if there is much more there than you thought. A must hear AUDIOBOOK OF THE MONTH. One of the best biographies ever.

THE HAUNTING OF HILL HOUSE. From the publisher: “Past the rusted gates and untrimmed hedges, Hill House broods and waits. Four seekers have come to the ugly, abandoned old mansion: Dr. Montague, an occult scholar looking for solid evidence of the psychic phenomenon called haunting; Theodora, his lovely and lighthearted assistant; Eleanor, a lonely, homeless girl well acquainted with poltergeists; and Luke, the adventurous future heir of Hill House. At first, their stay seems destined to be merely a spooky encounter with inexplicable noises and self-closing doors, but Hill House is gathering its powers and will soon choose one of them to make its own. This classic horror novel has been hailed as a perfect work of unnerving terror.” Stephen King: “There are few, if any, descriptive passages in the English language that are finer than the opening to Hill House. It is the sort of quiet epiphany that every writer hopes for. Words that somehow transcend the sum of the parts.” Hill House was optioned by Netflix for a 10 episode series to air sometime in 2018.  

Thursday, June 28, 2018

Harlan Ellison and REPORTER

Harlan Ellison, the science fiction writer, has died at age 84. He wrote the most famous teleplay for Star Trek, "The City at the Edge of Forever." He is credited with rescuing Star Trek from cancellation after the first season, by championing the show. His story "Demon with a Glass Hand" inspired The Terminator. His story "I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream" is regarded as one of the finest scifi short stories ever written. He was both hated and loved by fans and critics who faced his powerful personality. Harlan Ellison wrote or edited more than 120 books and more than 1,700 stories, essays, and articles, as well as dozens of screenplays and teleplays. He won numerous awards, including the Edgar Award, Hugo Award, an Audie Award for Best Solo Narration, and his fifth Nebula Award, breaking genre records. Ellison was named a Grand Master by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America in 2006. He championed the work of A.E. van Vogt and Jack Vance as well. He is well known for commentary and reporting on TV, movies, and culture. He did it all. 

REPORTER by Seymour Hersh is fearless reporting that earned him fame and front-page bylines on virtually every major newspaper in the free world, plus honors galore, and no small amount of controversy. Now in this memoir, he describes what drove him and how he worked as an independent outsider, even at the nation’s most prestigious publications.

Sunday, June 24, 2018

Murder in Paradise by James Patterson

Three pulse-pounding stories from James Patterson in one audiobook: MURDER IN PARADISE“The Lawyer Lifeguard” with Doug Allyn. ‘Are you the lawyer who got blown up with his girlfriend?” Defense lawyer Brian Lord survived the car bomb that killed his fiancĂ©e. Out of work and out of his mind, he takes on a lifeguard job at the beach. But there’s one wave he’ll never see coming. “The Doctor’s Plot” with Connor Hyde. Abi Brenner is the new medical examiner in the Napa Valley, a dream job in a dream location. But her fairy tale will take a terrifying turn when she uncovers a series of murders—with one sinister thing in common. “The Shut-In” with Duane Swierczynski. A woman who has solar urticaria, an uncommon allergy to the sun, watches the outside world through a flying drone as she is confined to her studio apartment. But when her high-tech toy records a vicious murder, she is determined to track down the killer—a killer who knows she’s being watched. Kobo ebook. June 26. Interview.
Swinsuit Body: With a Hollywood movie about to start filming in the California seaside town of Cypress Bay, Tish Ballard, owner of Rest Easy Property Management, welcomes her first celebrity tenant. Delilah Ward isn’t your typical beautiful, spoiled actress; she’s America’s sweetheart. Even Tish is charmed by the young star, which makes her gruesome discovery of Delilah’s bloodied corpse all the more gut-wrenching. With so much at stake, Tish has no choice but to do whatever it takes to lure a crafty killer out of hiding.
Season Machete: Cool and glamorous, they appear to be a successful couple on a holiday. Yet Damian and Carrie Rose are psychopathic murderers for hire. On this picture-perfect vacation island, their target is Peter Macdonald, a dashing young American who forsakes a life of leisure to confront cold-blooded terror. But when they clash in a shocking endgame, a hideous truth will emerge—one that can destroy them all.
Lifeguard the short story appears in Pigeon Feathers and Other Stories, one of John Updike’s earliest books and is narrated by a divinity student at his summer job. From the heights of his wooden throne, the fastidious and aloof young narrator delivers a silent sermon addressed to the beachgoers—“the middle-aged, burdened with children and aluminum chairs.” Though full of himself and his mission, he appeals to us by virtue of his earnestness and promise, and the call for which he waits. Updike reads with a tender, ironic understanding of his haughty hero. Kindle Unlimited.
From Pulitzer Prize–winning writer Diana Marcum comes THE TENTH ISLAND, an exuberant memoir of personal loss and longing, and finding connection on the remote Azorean islands of the Atlantic Ocean. Reporter Diana Marcum is in crisis. A long-buried personal sadness is enfolding her—and her career is stalled—when she stumbles upon an unusual group of immigrants living in rural California. She follows them on their annual return to the remote Azores islands in the Atlantic Ocean, where bulls run down village streets, volcanoes are active, and the people celebrate festas to ease their saudade, a longing so deep that the Portuguese word for it can’t be fully translated. Years later, California is in a terrible drought, the wildfires seem to never end, and Diana finds herself still dreaming of those islands and the chuva—a rain so soft you don’t notice when it begins or ends. With her troublesome Labrador retriever, Murphy, in tow, Diana returns to the islands of her dreams only to discover that there are still things she longs for—and one of them may be a most unexpected love.   

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Something in the Water by Catherine Steadman

How far would you go be truly happy? Erin is a documentary filmmaker on the brink of a professional breakthrough; Mark a handsome investment banker with a bright future. They seem to have it all, until Mark loses his job and cracks start to appear in their perfect life. But they’re determined to make it work. They book their dream honeymoon and trust that things will work out – after all, they have each other. Could the life of your dreams turn out to be a nightmare? On the tropical island of Bora Bora Mark takes Erin scuba diving. Mark is with her – she knows he’ll keep her safe. Everything will be fine. Until they find something in the water. Have you ever wondered how long it takes to dig a grave? Erin and Mark decide to keep their discovery a secret — after all, if no one else knows, who would be hurt? Their decision will trigger a devastating chain of events… which will endanger everything they hold dear. SOMETHING IN THE WATER, an intriguing mystery by Catherine Steadman, well read by the author, a new voice in fiction. A Reese Witherspoon summer beach reading book pick. "Jackpot."