Karavansara

East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai


2 Comments

Ghosts, Crimes and Philosophy: a review of Joyland

My friend Flavia says she re-reads Stephen King’s Joyland every year, usually in June, because she likes how it makes her feel. And I know a lot of people that did not like the book – and it’s because of both Flavia’s opinion and of those people’s opinion that I went and read it.
I said I’d write a review when I finished it.
Guess what… I finished it.

I’ll start by saying that Joyland plays a dangerous game, because it’s both a crime thriller and a ghost story, and if mixing genres is always dangerous, it is also true that ghost stories often deal with the revelation of some dark secret, the avenging of some old crime. So, it’s a classic mix, and it works fine. Many also point out that Joyland is a coming-of-age story, and this is throwing another genre (or is it a theme?) into the mixer.
As I said, a dangerous game, that King pulls so nicely it seems effortless.

Continue reading


2 Comments

Stevie’s second Hard Case: Joyland

Having spent most of the day writing, I decided to take a break at 4 pm and dug out another Hard Case ebook from the big supply I have now on my reader. My friend Flavia posted about starting to re-read once again Stephen King’s Joyland, and I thought, why not?
I always liked the cover of this one, time to see if the story is up to it.

Continue reading


Leave a comment

A mix-tape of the ’70s: Normandy Gold

I went through one of my usual bouts of insomnia, last night, compounded by my pollen allergy giving me the first troubles of the season, and so I did a bit of reading. The first book I picked from the Hard Case Crime Humble Bundle I mentioned yesterday is the graphic novel Normandy Gold, written by Alison Gaylin and Megan Abbott, with art by Steve Scott. The reason for my choice, I liked the cover. So sue me.

The plot (without spoilers): after a very hard start, runaway girl Normandy Girl (she was to be called Victory, then her dad died in the D-Day) has pulled herself together and is working as a sheriff in Oregon. When her half-sister dies in Washington DC, Normandy starts her own personal investigation, opening up a plot that mixes corruption, blackmail and espionage. But Normandy is out for vengeance anyway.

Continue reading


Leave a comment

A criminal birthday

This year my birthday came twenty-eight days earlier than expected, thanks to the generosity of my brother and an unexpected Humble Book Bundle. As I mentioned in the past, the Humble Bundle is a great way to keep reading quality books while being broke – usually with as little as 80 eurocents you can get a handful of books in a variety of subjects (both a blessing and a curse if you are an omnivorous reader or just plain curious about a lot of different things), and at the same time help a charity.

And today I was notified the start of the bright new Pulp Fiction Humble Bundle, in collaboration with Titan Books and Hard Case Crime, and even before I checked the contents I knew I was in for a purchase.

Continue reading


2 Comments

Quarry

1699714I was reflecting today that a lot of non-fantasy fiction authors I love, I met before in articles and essays than in stories.
Case in point: Max Allan Collins.
I first met this extremely prolific writer in a collection of essays called The Fine Art of Murder – which I bought massively discounted in 1994 in a bookstore that no longer exists, in Turin. The only library I was thrown out of – but that’s another story.

The Fine Art of Murder is an excellent book, by the way.
Just as excellent as much of what I read by Collins.
And I am a fan of his Quarry series. Continue reading


Leave a comment

Gore Vidal’s “Thieves Fall Out”

thieves fall outSo how was it in the end?
Gore Vidal’s Thieves Fall Out was a very fast read, and quite a fun one.
While throwing in all of the clichés of the genre, Vidal was able to build a story in such an oblique way that for much of the story the protagonist – small time crook Pete Wells – does not know what  he is doing, and why.
But he’s being paid, he’s sure he can face the dangers, and so he’s going along with the flow.

Wells is a flawed individual, a complicated mix of arrogance and weakness, and he will get more than a taste of true danger during his wild run through the Cairo underworld. Continue reading


2 Comments

Hard Case Crime in ebook

The good news is that I have discovered that finally a batch of Hard Case Crime novels are available in ebook format.
The bad news is that now I’ll spend a lot of money on Hard Case Crime ebooks. And I have already started, actually.

thieves fall outYesterday night, to give myself a prize for a job well done – and for discovering it was only Wednesday while I thought it was Friday already – I got me a copy of Gore Vidal’s Thieves Fall Out, a “lost” pulp novel the American writer originally published as Cameron Kay in 1953.

I had set my sights on the paperback a while back, but it was way too expensive for my tastes – especially considering I have a love/hate relationship with Vidal.

But then… the plot seems fun – a story of scoundrels abroad. And an Egyptian setting.
Also, the novel has been compared to the work of Eric Ambler – and that’s high praise as far as I’m concerned.
And the cover is absolutely fantastic – as per Hard Case tradition.
All this, for one buck? C’mon – how could I resist?
Now I have something for the weekend. I’ll let you know my impressions.

And as I said, it’s very likely that more titles will follow.
Don’t you hate it too, when that happens…?