- Hardcover: 608 pages
- Publisher: Subterranean; Deluxe Hardcover Edition edition (October 31, 2012)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1596064633
- ISBN-13: 978-1596064638
- Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 2 x 9.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 2.4 pounds
- Average Customer Review: 3 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,437,030 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Desperate Days: Selected Mysteries, Volume Two Hardcover – October 31, 2012
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From the Inside Flap
Being there Jack Vance has long been F&SF's grand master of regional science fiction, creating living, breathing locales on distant worlds or on our own fabulously transformed, often magical future Earth that are second to none.But at the same time he was giving us these vivid, award-winning fantasy and science fictional settings, even as he was exploring the far corners of this world as a keen and inveterate traveller, Jack was vigorously pursuing an exciting and promising parallel career as a writer of mystery and suspense novels under his given name of John Holbrook Vance.The three JHV mysteries featured here, The Fox Valley Murders, The Pleasant Grove Murders and The Dark Ocean were produced during the mid-60s, in the same fertile years that Jack sent Cugel the Clever off exploring the Dying Earth in The Eyes of the Overworld, left Sklar Hast to face danger among the kragen in The Blue World and gave Kirth Gersen a third Demon Prince to track down in The Palace of Love.Even as Jack was hard at work producing high adventure in such interstellar regional locales as Sogdian, Sarkovy and Blue World, he found time to don his other hat and concoct always interesting, often life-changing, sometimes desperate, adventures for Sheriff Joe Bain in Central California's San Rodrigo County, a Vance setting as intricate, vividly rendered and closely observed as any of his SF and fantasy creations. So, too, he gave personable, wilful naïf Betty Haverhill all manner of life and death thrills aboard the Italian freighter Garda on its way to Europe.A follow-up volume to the widely acclaimed Dangerous Ways: Selected Mysteries, Subterranean Press is proud to present Desperate Days: Selected Mysteries 2, a book not just for the true connoisseur of the master's distinctive blend of intrigue and derring-do, but for anyone who relishes a good, well-told detective yarn set in an unforgettable time and place.
Top customer reviews
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Both of the Joe Bain stories are beautiful little whodunits, well plotted and written and with only a little - but enough - distinctive Vance. Bain is the new sheriff of a mid-Californian inland county, filling in for his deceased, corrupt predecessor - and having to win an election and constantly battle with the forces of "progress". But more importantly, there is a murder or two to solve: and while Bain is never in physical danger himself, there are enough other factors swirling around (the election, the political opponents) to complicate Joe's life considerably.
As the introduction makes plain, there is a little piece of 1960's Americana - probably even Californiana - here. Since Bain grew up in the area, he also sees the setting through his boyhood eyes - with golden tints and just a hint of magic in the air. He's a working class everyman hero, and is real fun to spend time reading about.
On the other hand, The Dark Ocean is a thriller (rather than a mystery) full of unpleasant people doing nasty things. I cordially disliked our female protagonist: while certainly no "Bad Ronald" from vol.1 of these tales, she was...well, more than a bit selfish. I struggled with why I was unable to like her, while (say) Cugel the Clever, out of Vance's Dying Earth, was a far worse person doing worse things, and yet somehow remains a likeable creation. Perhaps it is the difference between behaviour in a cruel and tricksome future, against that in our recognisable own world. Maybe its sexism, but I think I'd be just as cool toward a male character acting in similar fashion.
There are a lot of particular Vancian moments in the Dark Ocean, but that cannot save the story for me. I don't really plan to re-read Dark Ocean ever again, while I think I will go back to Joe Bain in a year or so to see what it is like to read when you know who, in fact, did dun it.
For both Vance and mystery readers, this is a good read, if you can afford the price.