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Tishomingo Blues
Tishomingo Blues
by Elmore Leonard
Edition: Hardcover
360 used & new from $0.01

3.0 out of 5 stars Good - not great - Southern flavored crime fiction, April 22, 2014
This review is from: Tishomingo Blues (Hardcover)
Kind of low key for Elmore Leonard, not much in the way of his usual wacky, over-the-top characters (which is one of the things I love most about Mr. Leonard's work) so I give it 3.5 stars... if it were an unknown writer needing some attention I'd probably round up to 4 stars, but I think the author will survive my 3 star rating with no damage to his career.

Dennis Lenahan - a daredevil, high dive champion - takes a job at a small casino in Mississippi. A good gig that could turn into something more takes a twist when Dennis witnesses a killing from the top of his 80-foot dive platform... the killers are part of a Dixie Mafia and they know he saw them... another witness - Robert Taylor, a cool, mysterious man from Detroit - also knows who saw what and wants to use it to his advantage as much as possible. Dennis isn't quite sure what to make of any of it, 'What exactly is the Dixie Mafia?' 'What is Taylor up to and why does he want Dennis involved?' 'Should he go to the authorities?' 'Should he just shut up and dive?'. The enigmatic story comes to a head as all parties meet up on the battlefield of a Civil War reenactment... someone is going to die for real!

Liked it, didn't love it, probably because my expectations are pretty high when it comes to Elmore Leonard. I don't think anyone who likes good crime fiction will be completely disappointed but, if you're an Elmore Leonard fan don't go in with too high expectations.


The Mexican Tree Duck
The Mexican Tree Duck
by James Crumley
Edition: Paperback
Price: $17.99
46 used & new from $8.71

4.0 out of 5 stars Better Than Average Hard-boiled Fiction, April 15, 2014
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This review is from: The Mexican Tree Duck (Paperback)
Not as good as some of Crumley's other novels but still better than average.

C.W. "Sonny" Sughrue hasn't been active in the P.I. business for awhile, he has been quietly managing a small bar in his adopted hometown of Meriwether, Montana. That changes after he "executes" a jukebox (in a most spectacular fashion) and has to seek refuge with Solomon Rainbolt - a friend, fellow Vietnam veteran and (ugh) lawyer. One thing leads to another and soon he's off on a case that takes him cross country in the company of some of his former war buddies ("we were on our way to Aspen, a dying cop, an alcoholic mailman, and a licensed and bonded private dick working for a world-famous drug lawyer") in search of a rich man's missing wife and a witness who Sughrue has taken a shine to... in typical Crumley fashion, things are rarely as they seem, almost everyone is suspect, and the good guys and the bad guys are separated by a line as thin as the tripwire on a hidden booby trap.

One of the things I enjoy about James Crumley's detective books is that the characters actually age from book to book, they aren't suspended in time waiting to be called out for the next big case, they evolve (in Sughrue's case devolve might be a better term), always in a slightly different place than where the last book left them. This novel brings C.W. Sughrue's Vietnam past front and center, like a dark cloud of smoke, pain, lost innocence and overdue retribution that drifts constantly overhead; slowly descending downward as the story unfolds.

At times The Mexican Tree Duck reads more like Action/Adventure than Hard-Boiled Crime Fiction, even more so than Crumley's previous efforts, so it won't be to everyone's taste. It's not funny, in the laugh-out-loud, bust a gut sense of the word, but it DOES contain some great moments of dark humor, as well as dry witty observations on various aspects of society and the human condition. If you're not already familiar with James Crumley's work this probably isn't the one to start with... not that it's not good - it is - it's just that, though definitely written in his hard-edged, take-few-prisoners style, it's not really indicative of his previous work.

This book is not recommended for sensitive, or squeamish readers. It contains sex, strong language, rampant drug use and violent imagery - often all in the same paragraph.(less)


The Last Good Kiss
The Last Good Kiss
by James Crumley
Edition: Paperback
Price: $11.24
164 used & new from $0.01

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Crime/Mystery from James Crumley, March 30, 2014
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This review is from: The Last Good Kiss (Paperback)
I had never heard of Mr. Crumley before reading this book; His style is vivid, intense, manic, brooding and magnificent!

Montana private detective CW Shugrue is a Viet Nam vet who lives in, on, and around the fringes of society. A hard drinking, drug taking, good ol' boy with more guts than brains who has a knack for finding people, Shugrue is the perfect choice to track down author Abraham Trahearne on his lasted drunken bender. Once he finds the old reprobate (sitting in a bar with an alcoholic bulldog), Shugrue is persuaded - in exchange for eighty-seven dollars and a few free beers - to take on another case looking for a teenage runaway who hasn't been heard from in nearly ten years. The unrepentant author, the bulldog, and the detective set out together on the road trip to end all road trips... it twists... it turns... it ends... it begins again...

The real joy in this book isn't so much the mystery, it's the journey that takes place while trying to bring the whole thing together. The story - gritty and often dark - is steeped heavily in past transgressions and unflinching accountability. It examines, to some extent, the reasons - sometimes known to them but more often unknown - that compels people to do the things they do.

Author Crumley draws several comparisons to other writers; to Raymond Chandler for his lyrical, near poetic narrative, to Elmore Leonard for his ability to create oddball, eccentric characters that are too ridiculous to be real and too real to be entirely fictional, and (as another reviewer noted) to Hunter S. Thompson for the sheer madness of it all.

Full of violence, sexual situations, strong language, and drug use, this book is NOT recommended for sensitive readers but if you're a fan of hard-boiled detective fiction (and don't mind a little suspension of disbelief) you'll probably like it.


Second Chair (A Stan Turner Mystery) (Stan Turner Mysteries Series, Vol. 3)
Second Chair (A Stan Turner Mystery) (Stan Turner Mysteries Series, Vol. 3)
by William Manchee
Edition: Paperback
Price: $13.46
67 used & new from $0.01

3.0 out of 5 stars Just average, March 30, 2014
An average Mystery/Thriller. It wasn't bad, just nothing really special.

The book is written in the first person but the author occasionally slips up and switches momentarily to third person - I noticed it about a half dozen times - it wasn't for more than a sentence or two but in a couple of cases it caused momentary confusion and took me out of the story. The story seems to take place in the early 1980's... it isn't really established until later in the story when they are referencing the date the crime took place.

Written in a basic "just the facts" kind of way; There isn't a lot in the way of detailed descriptive passages (which is fine) but when there is (particularly in the sections where Sarah Winters takes over the narrative) it seems to get a little bogged down by too much information of little consequence - to be fair, this could very well be a case of the reader (me) being thrown off by the change in style to the point that it seemed a larger issue than it was in reality.

I also found the dialogue to be unrealistic, it seemed a bit simplistic in some sections and stilted and overly formal at other times. The latter style actually worked very well in the courtroom sections but was hit-and-miss elsewhere throughout the book.

The book is a little over 300-pages (325-pages, I think) and I had a pretty good idea who was responsible for the baby's death around page 100. It wasn't an "Ah-ha, mystery solved!" situation, just an inkling that it was more likely than not.

If you're just looking for something to occupy your time then you might like this book, if you want something thrilling or an edge of your seat type mystery then you'll probably be a little disappointed.

Contains a few instances of strong language and some adult situations.

***I won this book in a free promotional giveaway contest.


Life Is About Learning to Dance in the Rain Wall Sign Wooden Wall Art Sign *
Life Is About Learning to Dance in the Rain Wall Sign Wooden Wall Art Sign *
Offered by The Little Store Of Home Decor
Price: $9.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Rustic Looking Wall Hanging, March 3, 2014
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A nice little plaque, not real fancy but a lovely decorative wall hanging.... it's the kind of thing you could probably make yourself (with a little practice) if you had the materials, time, patience, and inclination but I have none of those things and was very happy to purchase it already made.


Disney Eeyore Plush Toy -- 11''
Disney Eeyore Plush Toy -- 11''
Offered by N.W. Games
Price: $19.79
22 used & new from $15.20

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Good Quality -- Very Soft -- Decent Size, March 3, 2014
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Bought this for a good friend -- an adult -- who is a HUGE fan of Eeyore yet had only a tiny stuffed version of the little donkey with the gloomy voice.... she absolutely LOVES it! It's very soft, well made, high quality and a decent size.

FULL DISCLOSURE: I'm not good at judging size from the measurements stated -- whether measured from tip of tail to top of the head, height when standing, or whatever I'm never any good at knowing EXACTLY what to expect -- this 11" version is not huge, just about the right size for a small to medium child to carry around as a buddy/comfort toy or to snuggle with at bed time. My friend raves about the softness (her's has taken up permanent residence on her bed and gets its share of snuggle time) and couldn't be happier with her's so that has greatly influenced my rating.


Las Vegas Tote - Black Stars, Las Vegas Tote Bags, Las Vegas Souvenirs
Las Vegas Tote - Black Stars, Las Vegas Tote Bags, Las Vegas Souvenirs
Offered by Great Places To You
Price: $10.95

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A sturdy carryall bag, June 24, 2013
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While I personally was slightly disappointed with the quality of the bag (more on that in a moment) I'm giving it 4 stars because it was a gift for someone else and the friend I gave it to absolutely LOVES it.

I got this bag as a gift for a friend who is always carrying around book bags to keep her stuff in... she uses them as a sort of all purpose carryall, backpack and purse combo. She loves this bag because it is "just the right size" not too big and not too little.

The bag itself is made well. My issue is with the graphics on it - Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas and the stars - which aren't part of the fabric but more like iron-on decal transfers. They look okay but they will likely begin to peel away in a short time. I gave it to my friend about a month ago and she's carried it almost every day since then... the decals are already starting to show slight wear.

Overall it's a nice bag, no real complaints, just some minor quibbles.


Marcy Hates Beer!
Marcy Hates Beer!
Price: $1.97

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars An interesting collection of four short stories, May 8, 2013
This review is from: Marcy Hates Beer! (Kindle Edition)
An interesting collection of four short stories: Marcy Hates Beer, The Flasher, Death by Cucumber and Midnight Blues.

The stories are somewhat enigmatic, not really mysteries in the classic sense but kind of suspenseful in their way. They are reminiscent of the type of stories you might read in the old Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine. More moments captured in time then an ongoing narrative plot.

In Marcy Hates Beer a John Doe shows up in a morgue and causes a young coroner to take a look at his life. In the Flasher a teacher recognizes a former student engaging in a very public spectacle. Death by Cucumber centers around an old divorced man who lives to garden. Midnight Blues is the story of an obese female singer who has been rescued from a nightclub fire.

As most of these stories are very short to give much more information would be to ruin it for potential readers. In my opinion the best story by far was the last one Midnight Blues.

I received a free copy of this kindle book from the author in exchange for an honest review.


American Rose: A Nation Laid Bare: The Life and Times of Gypsy Rose Lee
American Rose: A Nation Laid Bare: The Life and Times of Gypsy Rose Lee
by Karen Abbott
Edition: Hardcover
183 used & new from $0.01

4.0 out of 5 stars A good basic overview of the Gypsy Rose Lee story, April 30, 2013
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A good overview of the life and times of Gypsy Rose Lee, the culture that "created" her and the personal trials and demons that drove her to succeed. This is not a gossipy "tell-all" biography full of lurid information on celebrity affairs, there are a few brief mentions of such behavior as it relates to other aspects of Gypsy's life but it never devolves into tabloid-like sensationalism.

Ms. Abbott has an interesting way of structuring her books - she did something similar in her book Sin in the Second City: Madams, Ministers, Playboys, and the Battle for America's Soul - she begins somewhere in the middle of the timeline of the story she wants to tell (in this case about halfway through Gypsy Rose Lee's life when she was at her Burlesque peak but not yet the iconic figure she would become in her lifetime) then time jumps back to the beginning in the next chapter (Gypsy's birth and hard early years) while in the third chapter the author builds up the backstory of the culture that created the opportunity for the subject to flourish (focusing in this case on the early years of the Minsky brothers and the new style of burlesque they helped cultivate). This cycle that goes back and forth and back every third chapter takes a little getting used to at first but it works pretty well for the most part. The structure of the narrative falls apart a little in later chapters. When the separate timelines start to converge - as when Gypsy joins Minsky's roster of performers and the two narrative lines begin to overlap. It gets a little confusing. Some of the Minsky chapters are very dry reading and slow the momentum of the book.

The best and most fascinating part of the book, by far, is the extensive telling of the early life and career of Mother Rose Hovick's two daughters - Baby June and Rose Louise (who would become Gypsy Rose Lee) - as they traveled across the country (like gypsies) performing anywhere and everywhere in their efforts to fulfill the dreams and ambitions of Mother Rose. The author does a great job of describing the atmosphere of the vaudeville circuit and the performers who worked it during those years.

The actual transformation of little Rose Louise into Gypsy Rose Lee is glossed over somewhat - apparently, like many other performers of the era, Gypsy was a master of creating her own myth, so much so that much of what is and isn't true is hard to establish and there are conflicting stories of some events and no information at all of others. The book doesn't provide much in depth information on Gypsy Rose Lee's more famous years other than her lifelong conflicted relationships with her mother and sister. If a reader doesn't already have at least a vague knowledge of who Gypsy Rose Lee was they might be left wondering why she became so famous and celebrated in her lifetime.

I would recommend this book to anyone who wanted to know more about the vaudeville circuits, the child entertainers who performed on those stages, and the culture of burlesque that developed in the early 20th century.

The book is relatively free of any offensive language or explicit descriptions.


The Wrong Case
The Wrong Case
by James Crumley
Edition: Paperback
Price: $12.50
110 used & new from $0.01

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A hard-boiled redneck detective story, April 18, 2013
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This review is from: The Wrong Case (Paperback)
Milton Chester "Milo" Milodragovitch was once a very successful private investigator, he made his living as the kind of sleazy keyhole peeper who kicked in doors to snap photos for use as evidence in divorce cases, then they invented the no-fault divorce and the bottom dropped out. On the plus side he has a sizable inheritance from his wealthy father's estate coming on his 53rd birthday... on the downside that's more than a decade away and, between his hard partying ways and questionable life choices, it's anybody's guess as to whether he'll live that long. His mentor is a long disbarred attorney named Simon who has given up on society to become a first rate drunk... Milo is starting to think Simon might have the right idea!

The Wrong Case has Milo agreeing to take on a missing person case for the simple reason that he is attracted to the missing man's sister... the money isn't bad either, but it's mostly for the girl. The resulting investigation turns into a disaster when bodies begin piling up, an inexplicable junkie crime spree hits town, and Milo can't seem to get a handle on exactly what's going on or why. But, with a stubborn streak of tenacity that might get him killed, Milo is determined to solve the case and get the girl.

Milo is a redneck in the classic style, a hard drinking, hell-raising good ol' boy with more guts than brains. He's reckless and self indulgent with no tolerance of rules or regulations of any kind and, like most classic hard-boiled types, he drinks WAY too much. It being the Seventies he's also known to indulge in illegal drugs like speed and marijuana from time to time. He's a hard-case (as well as something of a head-case at times) but he's also a bit of a soft touch. Sure, he'll knock you on your butt, but then he'll probably help you up, apologize, and buy you a drink.

This novel won't be everyone's cup of Irish coffee, it's brooding, it's gritty, the mystery itself isn't all that great, the plot is a little hard to believe at times and none of the characters possess much in the way of redeeming qualities. These people are who they are and, while they may indulge in a little self pity from time to time, they aren't looking to change. Imagine something like Leaving Las Vegas as a detective story and you're getting close to the tone of this novel.

The style invites comparisons to Raymond Chandler mostly due to the genre and the fact that Crumley has a certain way of presenting a sentence that is almost lyrical or poetic at times while still never letting the reader lose the sense that what is being read contains some greater secret about the harsh truth of life.

The book contains adult language, sex, violence and racial slurs.


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