Tuesday, August 27, 2013


GunsightsGunsights by Elmore Leonard
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

When two friends (and Arizona legends) Bren Early and Dana Moon find them on opposite sides of a land dispute, will them come to bloodshed over mining rights? And what of Sundeen, the bounty hunter that they should have killed years before...

Elmore Leonard passed away this week so I dropped what I was reading and gave this a read. While it's an early Leonard and not up to the standards of his later crime novels, all the Leonard hallmarks are still there: smooth dialogue, likeable characters, and lots of twists.

Dana Moon and Brendan Early are the ancestors of a lot of Leonard's later crime leads. They're capable, sharp-witted men, and know their way around a gunfight. When Moon finds himself on the wrong side of a mining company that Early has a stake in, things heat up.

As usual, some of the bad guys aren't all that bad and could easily be good guys under other circumstances, specifically Ruben Vega. Actually, Sundeen isn't a bad guy for a son of a bitch. If I had a hole in my cheek from a gunshot wound, I'd probably be tracking down Early and Moon myself.

Par for the course, there are lots of twists and turns. I liked that the newspaper men were fanning the flames a lot of the time. No one in the media every does that now...

The structure wasn't quite what I'm used to from Elmore Leonard but it worked well, incorporating a lot of flashbacks to establish how Early and Moon got to where they were.

To sum up, it wasn't my favorite Leonard but as with all of his books, it was still an entertaining read. If penis size was proportional to the ability to write entertaining dialogue and cool characters, Elmore Leonard could have whipped his member out and clubbed narwhals to death with it. 3.5 out of 5 stars.

Letters from a Murderer (Contains Spoilers)

Letters From a MurdererLetters From a Murderer by John Matthews
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

When a prostitute is murdered in New York and all signs point to Jack the Ripper, pathologist Thomas Colby sends his protege Finley Jameson across the pond to assist the police. Jameson teams with NYC cop Joseph Argenti to catch the Ripper but Jameson has some skeletons of his own and the police force is half in the pocket of gangster Michael Tierney. Can Jameson and Argenti catch the Ripper and end his reign of terror forever?

I got this from Netgalley. Thank you, Netgalley!

I almost didn't pick this up, feeling Jack the Ripper has been played out. However, I was watching Sherlock when this came up on Netgalley and decided to give it a chance. I'm glad I did.

Letters from a Murderer takes Jack the Ripper and plops him down in New York in 1891. Argenti, the immigrant cop, is an honest man in a dishonest place, fighting just to keep his head above water in a city of corruption. Finley Jamson is a privileged Englishman with quite a few quirks. Together, they make a pretty good team.

The supporting cast is equally good. You get Ellie, the prostitute who hasn't yet been broken by the business, Lawrence, Jameson's autistic savant manservant, and the Tierney mob. Michael Tierney reminds me of Al Swearengen from Deadwood quite a bit.

The Ripper is quite Ripperiffic and the violence is gruesome whenever he appears. I'm not sure how much Matthews drew from the actual case and how much he invented, though.

Big Fat Spoiler:  Jameson's quite a complex figure, what with his blackouts and opium habit. Seriously, does every Victorian detective have to be a drug addict? Anyway, it's a testament to Matthews' skill that even though this says a Jameson and Argenti mystery or something to that effect on the cover, he almost had me convinced that Jameson was killing people during his blackouts and/or opium hazes and unaware of it.

The way things unfolded was pretty believable. There were no huge leaps. Again, I'm not sure how much Matthews invented. Was NYC's sewer system a labyrinth of tunnels connected to the sea in 1891?

Letters From a Murderer was a gripping read and I'll be picking up the next Jameson and Argenti mystery. Four out of five stars.

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