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We're Ken Hebenstreit and Sharlan Douglas, blogging here about the books we love: Mysteries, suspense, crime fiction. If you want to comment on one of our postings, click on its headline.

Archive for November, 2010

Vermilion Drift by William Kent Kruger

The federal government wants to store spent nuclear fuel in the vacant iron mines of northern Minnesota.  A gruesome discovery in a remote portion of the mine quickly shifts the focus of Vermilion Drift to private eye and former sheriff Corcoran O’Connor, who straddles the worlds of town and the Indian reservation.

Cork battles his own memories and demons while slowly discovering that something approaching pure evil walked the fields and roads a generation ago, and may still.

I rarely think that a book should be longer, but Kruger uses a lot of exposition at the beginning of the book to set up the characters and circumstances.  It’s a little too economical.  Some  flashbacks would have added color in a manner consistent with of the Indian mysticism we see later in the book.

Reading list status and reviews

So, a month ago I stacked up a pile of books to read next. I had a lull in my musical activities and figured to get through the seven books in three or four weeks. Five weeks later, I still have one left. Here’s what I read and what I think of them:

Don Winslow – The Winter of Frankie Machine
This isn’t the Don Winslow who writes Victorian erotica. This Don Winslow started with a series featuring PI/agent Neal Carey and then branched out to stand alone novels. The Winter of Frankie Machine is about an ex-hit man getting caught in a mob turf war in San Diego. I really enjoyed it. As Shar noted in an earlier comment, Winslow has a knack of making every character memorable in just a few words. Rumor has it that this may show up as a movie with Robert DeNiro.

Robert Crais – The First Rule
I’ve always enjoyed the Elvis Cole novels, particularly when Joe Pike showed up, so I was happy when Crais started writing books with Joe as the main character. I thoroughly enjoyed The First Rule. A good, complicated plot and some Elvis Cole!

Peter Steiner – L’Assassin: A Thriller
I picked this one up at the library because it looked interesting. The setting is a small town in France where a former CIA agent has settled after being set up and disgraced years before. Interesting characters and plot and an old protagonist with more skills than expected.

John Burdett – The Godfather of Kathmandu
I flew through the first three books in this series and looked forward to a fourth trip to Bangkok. This one took me a long time to get into and, even then, never satisfied as the first three did. Perhaps Sonchai spent too much time looking for enlightenment and not enough time investigating.

Michael Connelly – Nine Dragons
Even on an off day, Connelly is terrific. I’m not sure this was an off day, but I would prefer that family not be so involved in the plot. It always makes things more out of control.

Charlie Huston – My Dead Body
Everything from Huston is brutal and relentless and I want more. My Dead Body is the fifth in the Joe Pitt vampire noir series. Our hero is in even more trouble than before and still manages to resolve a lot of issues. Will there be another book? Hard to tell.

Neil Gaiman – The Graveyard Book
This is the one I didn’t get to, but I will as soon as I finish Stieg Larsson’s The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest (gotta read that before I see the movie!) and Barry Eisler’s Inside Out.