Monday, May 11, 2015

P.I. Jack Flippo Is Up to His Neck in Trouble

Reviewed by James L. Thane
Four out of five stars

When Dallas P.I. Jack Flippo snips the pony tail off the head of his ex-wife's dopy new boyfriend, he earns himself a trip to jail. Once released on bail, he's hired to do a death investigation for an insurance company. Only a few months earlier the company had written a partner's insurance policy for the owners of a somewhat less-than-high class watering hole called the Melon Patch. Now one of the owners has drowned in an alleged boating accident and the survivor, a country singer wannabe named Rex Echols, has his hand out looking for the $500,000 death benefit from the policy.

The death occurred in the tiny town of Baggett where the sheriff, who's a pal of Rex Echols, is enamored of a waitress/stripper with the improbable name of April Showers who works at the Melon Patch. Jack arrives in town to discover that the coroner only took one photo of the body as it lay face down on the dock after being recovered. The sheriff has signed off on a declaration of accidental death, and the body has been cremated, courtesy of the surviving partner, who claims it was the least he could do for the victim and his grieving family.

Jack would like to talk to the victim's family, but Echols claims that they live somewhere way off in Arkansas and that they're too impoverished to have come to the memorial service in Texas. And, sadly, Echols seems to have lost the phone number of the poor boy's mamma.

The insurance company is ready to write the whole thing off and pay the claim because to them, the $500,000 is small potatoes. (You'd never hear Mr. Keyes saying that in Double Indemnity!!!) But Jack won't let go of the case, and the deeper he probes, the more trouble he's in.

This is another very entertaining entry in this relatively short series. It's a lot of fun hanging out with Jack Flippo, and Swanson creates a great cast of auxiliary characters. Most readers probably won't want to put Baggett, Texas on their list of prime vacation destinations, but they'll be happy enough to visit there in the company of this smart-ass and engaging P.I.

Upbeat Put Downs!

Creative Cursing: A Mix 'n' Match Profanity GeneratorCreative Cursing: A Mix 'n' Match Profanity Generator by Sarah Royal
Reviewed by Jason Koivu

WARNING!!!: Naughty Sinner Fudge Words in BIG type follow below...

This is impossible for me to rate. On the one hand, I'm not sure this is a necessary book. On the other hand, it's clearly awesome.

Creative Cursing opens up calendar-style. Inside are two sets of pages. On the set of pages to the left are a bunch of nouns, one per page. On the right side we have either a verb, occupation or again the occasional noun.

The nouns on the left are decidedly of the "four letter" variety. Most could stand on their own as quality curse words.

The words on the right side, however, could be taken quite innocently...except for that one "fucker."

When you pair the two words together you get glorious crudeness!


Some of my personal favorites were...

Ass Bandit
Scrotum Sniffer
'Gina Pooper

I did NOT like the following...

Clown...and anything that went with it.

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Kids Getting There Kicks

The Chocolate War (Chocolate War, #1)The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier
Reviewed by Jason Koivu
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I grew up in the next town over from where Robert Cormier lived. They were nothing towns. We went to the same college. It was a nothing college. But here was this writer with a famous book from my neighborhood! Sooner or later I had to read this.

The Chocolate War is about boys at an all-boys Catholic prep school forming cliques and getting their kicks by kicking the shit out of their fellow students mentally and physically. This could've been an English novel.

Cormier does an excellent job at capturing the hell and ridiculousness that is high school: the plot revolves around selling chocolates and yet, there will be blood. Honestly, Cormier did too good a job capturing the least favorite part of my life. Don't get me wrong, while I came in for my fair share of abuse in high school, I wasn't overtly targeted. And still, I loathed those days. The petty fights over the stupidest shit, the condescension of the overlords teachers, threats from all sides, being treated like a child because my fellow students were acting like children...shudder. I couldn't wait to leave. I'd be lying if I said my hatred of high school didn't taint my enjoyment of this book. I don't want to relive those memories!

The Chocolate War is not a bad book. My three-star rating might've been a four. It was see-sawing between the two. But I went with three, because the writing is mostly solid and great in spots. The plot is okay, but it lacks the grab-ya quality needed to sustain the tension and tease out the suspense through out. Teen angst only holds my interest for so long. When I sat back after finishing, I saw I'd read a competent book that had moved me a little, but one that I would soon move on from.

I can't see this being added to anyone's all-time favorites list, so why is it so popular? Well, this is one of those lucky books that was originally written for adults, but got picked up by a lot of kids, so it was moved from the regular fiction section to the young adults section....and then the "authorities" were alerted to the fact that naughty things happen in the book and so they banned it, thus ensuring its everlasting fame and that more kids would read it than probably would've otherwise. Good work, dumbass authority!

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