Monthly Archives: November 2015
There’s something addicting about Matthew Hughes’ “The Damned Busters”, the first book in his ‘To Hell and Back‘ series featuring insurance actuary Chesney Arnstruther. After accidentally summoning a demon and causing the legions in Hell to go on strike, Chesney strikes a strange deal with the Devil and becomes novice superhero the Actionary. Well, at least for two hours every day with the help of the rum-guzzling demon Xaphan, a weasel-faced demon who’s watched one too many Cagney movies.
There’s something addicting about this book… even while there’s something not good about it.
I realize how that sounds, but I don’t know any other way to say it. I’ve been struggling with this feeling the entire book. The story is decent and clever, with a humorous style that channels Douglas Adams without truly capturing the absurdity that perfectly captured the essence life itself that Adams seemed to effortlessly put down upon the page throughout the Hitchhiker’s Guide series.
Perhaps just as Chesney is lost within the world of his comic book idol, Malc Turner aka The Driver, his adventures as the Actionary and the events of the book from the moment he summons a demon on, are intended to emulate that comic book atmosphere with characters that are almost bland in their cartoonish, stereotype roles.
When he smashed his finger with the hammer, did drawing blood cause him to summon a demon, or pass out and dream all of this? Chesney does seem like someone who might faint at the sight of blood.
Good thing “The Damned Busters” is just addictive enough and ends on a cliffhanger that I can’t help but be interested in the second of the trilogy, “Costume Not Included”.
Managing inventory at a bookstore was hard work, but when you’re managing inventory on your own bookshelf, sometimes you need a second opinion…
This is serious, so pay attention:
When I first discovered Loren Estleman’s amazing Amos Walker series of detective novels, I didn’t know whether I’d like them or not. I did what anyone should in that case: shop around and find a really cheap paperback edition, which I found through Motor City Books.
Also, the series is set in Detroit, so I thought I was being clever by buying as many of these through them.
Since I’d purchased the first in mass-market, I kept that up. Book fourteen, “A Smile on the Face of a the Tiger”, I had to buy in the larger trade paperback size, which hurt, but I got over.
Here’s the deal though, then came to “Sinister Heights”, the fifteenth book in this series, and I could only find it in hardcover. I held out hope that one would come up for sale, but it seems the book wasn’t put out in paperback at all. I could be wrong, but that’s how it looks, and it isn’t that far fetched.
An author I know mentioned once that the hardcover and paperback rights to his first book had been bought by two different publishers, the latter allowing it to go out of print. So perhaps something similar happened here, and publisher opted not to put a paperback edition out.
Estleman is up to twenty-four books now, the latest, “The Sundown Speech” was just released November 10th. I still have some catching up to do, but I’m getting close to the point where to keep current with Amos Walker I’ll have to buy the hardcover.
I have a handful of other books to read before I need to make a decision, so I have a little time. Take a look at the poll below and let me know what you think; should I go back to paperback and hold out as long as I can, or stick with hardcover?
After a break in my Amos Walker reading–a break far longer than anyone should be comfortable with–Sinister Heights was a great episode in the case files of the first private detective I know of capable of diagraming sentences while getting his head bounced off walls by union lackeys and illegitimate children alike to pick up with.
Walker is old school and has the cheap Scotch and quick, sarcastic comebacks to prove it; but the work that comes by a private detective as the Motor City crawls into the 21st century is dwindling. If it wasn’t for the sins and vicious legacies of men like Leland Stutch, who built the automotive industry, he might be out of work altogether.
This may be Loren Estleman’s fifteenth Amos Walker book, and while he may be bringing back old characters (and killing off new and old ones alike) his love of Detroit, Walker’s sarcasm, and the gritty, no-nonsense rendering of a flawed world and its struggling inhabitants, are as strong as ever.
If you’re a fan of hardboiled mysteries, smart-assed private detectives or stories set in the Rust Belt, go back and take a look at Motor City Blue, the first of Estleman’s Amos Walker series. I wasn’t so sure when I bought that first book from Motor City Books, but before I even finished it I had gone back to buy the next three in the series…