4.30.2010

From the Rooftops. My review of DAREDEVIL: Noir TP written by Alexander Irvine and illustrated by Tomm Coker

Depression Era, New York City. Neighborhood, Hell's Kitchen. Two mob bosses fight for their stretch of the street and all bootlegging and hard living they can handle.

But some forces have lived in Hell's Kitchen a long time too, and have seen a whole lot of nastiness. Or have they?

Carlton Fisk and Jimmy O'Halloran meet over dinner to discuss their rivalry and just what they're going to do about it. Just two men discussing work over a meal. 

Writer Alex Irvine did a great job of bringing these characters to life, even Foggy Nelson seemed more street wise then he is often portrayed.

In the story, a beautiful femme fetale wanders into the law office of one Foggy Nelson, and bemuses his sidekick, blind assistant Matt Murdock. Eliza. Temptress.

In an attempt to protect his new love interest and find out more information, our blind friend becomes his other self, a vengeful street force, as mysterious and fearful as they come. And so it begins.

If ever there was a Marvel character who was a perfect fit for a noir-themed tale it was the blind justice of New York, Daredevil.

I can not speak highly enough about the artistic approach to this book. Not only are the dark sketchy panels drawn to noir perfection, but additional elements like the old school type face of Daredevil's thoughts worked beautifully.

Even the design of the smaller than average size trade paperback is superb. Grainyness is a word that's thrown a lot in the comics medium, but here it achieved the desired effect. The people responsible for the creation of this collected trade paperback did a wonderful job with design elements and extras. Not only is there a cover gallery in the back but there are also Tomm Coker's character sketches from early on. I'm all about the supplemental material.

A solid addition to the Marvel Noir line of books. Next I'm off to purchase the Wolverine Noir trade. Maybe next week.

Disclaimser: This is a comic that I purchased myself at the comic shop just like any normal Wednesday regular might. It was not a free sample and I no gun was held to my head to write this review. The book simply rocked.

4.21.2010

Book Review: Spies of the Balkans by Alan Furst

Walk the streets of Salonika alongside special police detective, Costa Zannis...in 1940s Greece.

War is in the air. You can feel it. The Germans have moved across northern Europe like a tidal wave. The Greeks are used to struggle. Their beautiful stretch of islands have been sought after for millenia. The Persians, the Turks, even their neighbors, the Italians. History has been a long struggle with occupation.

Costa has seen a lot during his time as a police officer in northern Greece. But he can feel that things are only going to get worse. This policeman decides to make a crucial decision to help some people escape Berlin. It won't be easy and he knows he is putting his life at risk, but he can't help it, feels its the right thing to do.

Reading Alan Furst is like enjoying a fine wine. At one point in your life maybe by mistake or by recommendation, who knows, you happen upon one of his books. Once you've had a taste, you can't figure out how you've gone so long without it. For it seems he was always there, just in front of you.

He is able to mix elements of spy intrigue, military history, local color, and sexual mischief, all into one. This is something I haven't found in any other historical novels, especially ones with a military history bend. 

And I know I am late to the Furst party, but I feel that I've found a writer who I yearn for each new project. 2008's The Spies of Warsaw allowed me to meet him when he read at the Barnes and Noble on 68th Street in NYC. It was a treat and he was such a nice person, we chatted briefly at the signing table.

Back to the new novel, the only thing I can think to say negatively, is that it was way too short of a book after having waited two years for it. I was hoping for tome, and at less than 300 pages I felt somewhat disappointed when it was over much too quickly. 



Regardless, I've been recommending his work ever since I first read him and I'm pleased, that at least for me, there is a backlist for me to draw upon when I need my Furst quenched.

4.14.2010

Delicious. My review of: BRAINS: A Zombie Memoir by Robin Becker

Ok, first, the good stuff. What I liked about Brains: A Zombie Memoirby Robin Becker. When I try to think of what Brains reminds me of the most, I'd have to say the Marvel Zombies series (started by the infamous Robert Kirkman). The idea that some of the mutants in that story retain levels of sentience after "turning" immediately came to mind when I started to read the story of this unfortunate professor who was unable to escape the zombie apocalypse.



What Becker does is lead you on the shambling path of said zombie as he gathers like-minded, sort of, zombie crew, creating a party intent on reaching a goal--aside from the all-consuming goal of eating brains of course. At every turn humans are consumed, the remaining military appear, guns blazing, and we are witness to the desperation of this particularly undead situation.

My pet peeves. I don't mind when an author spews forth pop culture jargon in an endless zombie-like stream. In fact, I like it. And Becker does a good job of that, cracking jokes, cramming in that needless Trivia Pursuit-like knowledge at every turn. This style of writing, in turn, was reminiscent of the twisted novel by none other then Penn Jilette, Sock.

What I didn't love so much, was the amount of social commentary. Slipping in bits of political opinion is one thing, but it felt at times like the author talking and not so much this character, and when this is noticeable, that means it's a bit too much for me. This is of course, my opinion, that it is a fine line between subtle social commentary or long-winded pontificating.

And yet, I really enjoyed reading this novel. Go figure. The author was able to weave a fun and desperate plot of this undead academic, trying to hold onto the shreds of memory and humanity, and attempt to reach the originator, the doctor who unleashed the plague in the first place, in a feeble hope that he can undo the mayhem.



At many times I felt bad for the still-human characters that I met along the way, knowing that they were either lunch or about to be turned. Only one of those two zombie fates awaited the poor human survivors. There was a dark dystopian streak running through this novel, like an inescapable zombie horde, there at every turn.


I think if you're looking for a fun zombie read, Brains is worth the time. You may find the author's writing style as witty as I did even with all the yucky bits thrown in.

Disclosure: Please note that I received an advance reader copy (ARC) from the publisher for review purposes. I was not forced to eat brains at any time during this reading although the urge occurred to me once or twice.

4.13.2010

The Desert Spear by Peter V. Brett out today. Grab one!

The second book by fantasy author, Peter V. Brett debuts today, The Desert Spear. This is the follow up to his debut novel, The Warded Man (The Painted Man in the UK).

Pete Brett is a good friend of mine--I've mentioned this countless times on this site before, because these days this is the transparency people have come to expect.

I've read this novel and can vouch for it's awesomeness and skulduggery. This is not a review--as I am too close to the material to fairly judge it.

But I can say, in my expert opinion, that it is awesome. And look at that cover, it is kick ass! So is the book.


Grab a copy, join the fight against the endless tide of demons in the night. You won't regret it.

4.08.2010

Penguin Sets December Pub Date for New Clancy

Penguin Sets December Pub Date for New Clancy: "Bestselling author Tom Clancy will deliver his first newbook in seven years w..."

It has been way too long since Clancy put out a novel (7 years to be exact). This will be huge for Penguin come December. I missed having a new Clancy novel the last few years while running Military Book Club -- I look forward to seeing this one.

Just a quick note. Back to work.