Monday, October 01, 2007

Feed Your Head Fall 2007 Edition

My quarterly mystery review column for the magazine "Pomp and Circumstantial Evidence":

HOLLYWOOD STATION by Joseph Wambaugh
Joseph Wambaugh has written a number of cornerstone crime novels, among them THE CHOIRBOYS and THE ONION FIELD and others, but has largely been away from the scene for some time. HOLLYWOOD STATION is his return, and he picks up as if he had never left, with crudely funny, caustic, horrifying tales from the lives of the men and women of the LAPD. Wambaugh retains his knack for dialogue and his penchant for bleak humor in this expansive, edgy tale. Fans who remember Wambaugh’s work will definitely want to seek this out, while new readers who have come up since Wambaugh’s heyday will have a welcome surprise.

THE OVERLOOK by Michael Connelly
In my view, few series have been more rewarding in pure storytelling and character development than Michael Connelly’s mature thrillers centered around LA police detective Harry Bosch (although Walter Mosley’s Easy Rawlins series is quite close). After stints working as a private investigator and on the Cold Case squad, Bosch is back front and center leading a new investigation with political and emotional undertones. Connelly writes in a clipped style, but has created a resonant world for his long-running protagonist.

New Orleans-area policeman Dave Robicheaux returns to a post-Katrina world in James Lee Burke’s latest mystery in this long series. Though the procedural elements are fairly straightforward, Burke’s vivid writing on the hurricane’s aftermath makes THE TIN ROOF BLOWDOWN one of the stronger entries among the Robicheaux novels. Burke’s powerful prose detailing the tragedy stands as a fine piece of writing on its own merits, and will certainly please fans.

NIGHT WALKER by Donald Hamilton
I haven’t been able to praise the “Hard Case Crime” series enough, with its retro-pulp covers and lineup of lost noir classics. This one comes from Donald Hamilton, whose muscular Matt Helm novels were a far cry from the go-go Dean Martin films of the 60s. NIGHT WALKER is a tough little thriller where a soldier gets mistaken for a dead man, with two femme fatales along for the ride to get this hapless mug into more bad news. Hamilton’s writing is brusque and clear-eyed, with all of the noir trappings intact.

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