Monday, February 14, 2011

"Collected Novellas, volume 1" by Josh Lanyon

I love Josh Lanyon, and I'm happy to say that this collection of short stories (novellas) is pretty darn good. There's an intro to each story, so the reader gets an idea of what the author was thinking about when he wrote the story. I love that, a little insight into a writer's mind....

"Cards on the Table" gives us the story of Tim North, a writer who is investigating an old unsolved murder mystery. His neighbor, Jack Brady, happens to be a cop, and he finds himself helping Tim when it appears that someone doesn't want this mystery solved.

"Dangerous Ground" gives us two law enforcement men out on a camping trip that turns into a fact-finding mission regarding a casino robbery. Taylor MacAllister and Will Brandt have been partners for years, and one of them would like that to be off-duty as well as on-duty. The danger reveals itself as they make their way back to civilization after finding the remains of a plane crash, the plane that was used to whisk away the thieves. Turns out not all of them died on impact...

"In Sunshine or In Shadow" is a very short story about Keiran Quinn and Rick Monaghan, homicide detectives and partners. Keiran makes a huge decision about his life and runs as far as he can to put space between him and Rick.

Finally, there's "Snowball in Hell", a period piece set during WWII. Homicide detective Matt Spain meets reporter Nathan Doyle during the investigation into the death of a very wealthy and famous young man. The sparks fly, but this isn't the world we're used to; their attraction is dangerous and could bring them both a lot of trouble, including the loss of their careers.

I liked all the entries here, although I thought "In Sunshine or In Shadow" wasn't fully realized, perhaps due to the length of the story. The one thing that I have noticed now that I've read quite a bit of Lanyon's work is that he definitely has a thing for cops! Makes me wonder about his significant other, if perhaps he's in law enforcement himself. And while I enjoyed these shorter works, I still believe Lanyon's novels are better. The good news is that "Snowball in Hell" is supposed to be the start to a new series. I really enjoyed the subtle relationship between Matt and Nathan, and I would definitely be interested in reading a series of novels about these two.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

"A Hard Day's Knight" by Simon R. Green

Welcome to the Nightside. For those foolish enough to seek it out, it's a literal tourist trap, populated by beings, human and otherwise, who have never seen the sun rise. A place where your dreams can come true - as long as your nightmares don't get you first. My name is John Taylor. I'm a PI with a special talent for finding lost things. Which was more than enough for me - until recently, when fate offered me a job that I couldn't refuse. So now I'm the new Voice of the Authorities, who run the Nightside. And I'm also the reluctant owner of a very special - and dangerous - weapon: Excalibur, the legendary sword (which isn't what you think it is, and never was). Excalibur chose me, and no-one knows why. To find out, I'll have to consult the last defenders of Camelot, a group of knights who dwell in a place that some find more frightening than the Nightside. London Proper. It's been years since I've been back - and there are good reasons for that...

Just like Taylor says, things aren't what they seem to be. For example, this 12th installment of his popular Nightside series. I thought the majority of the action was going to take place in "London Proper", which would have made it a very interesting read indeed; the infamous John Taylor would have had to play it cool so as not to draw attention to himself in the world of us mere mortals. He does go to London, but only for a very brief chapter or so, then it's right back into the Nightside.

Most of the usual gang is here, including John's girlfriend, Suzie Shooter, aka "Oh Christ It's Her, Run". Alex, barkeep and owner of Strangefellows, is also on the scene, as is Julien Advent and a few others. It's like visiting old friends, and of course, we meet new ones, namely the London Knights (who aren't really new as they've appeared before, but we learn a lot more about them this time). Then there's the man himself, King Arthur; that was truly a treat for me, being a huge fan of all things Arthurian back in the day. There are nasty elves, too, and of course, lots of fighting.

I thought this book was much like the others in Green's series: a good, solid read. The Nightside books are short and cover familiar ground each time, with John getting himself into trouble and relying on his friends to help him save the day. And while I like the relationship he has with Suzie, the end of this book gives one quite the shock, taking that pairing into territory I'm not entirely sure I'm ready to enter. Guess I'll just have to wait for the next book and see what happens. The Nightside is a fun place to visit, and I'm glad that Green writes about it. But I'm with Taylor - I don't think mere mortals such as I were meant to stay.