Book Review: Tower by Ken Bruen and Reed Farrel Coleman

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Tower is a unique literary experiment in noir fiction, published in 2009. The story is about two lifetime friends from New York City. The first part of the story is Nick’s tale about his friend Todd, who has been living in Boston, and has come back to Nick’s life and New York City. Todd has changed while out of town and now seems to be a violent criminal who has crossed an invisible line that Nick doesn’t want to cross, but may have no choice.

The second part of the book is Todd’s version of the same story and his hope to save his friend Nick from a life of crime. It also goes back a bit and tells us why he went to Philadelphia and Boston before coming back into Nick’s life and New York.

This was a fun read, as we read one author’s version of events from his main character and think we know what is happening when everything is turned upside down and find we never really had the whole story when we get the other author’s version with his main character telling us a different version of what is going on. Can a lifelong friendship survive lost love, crime, lies, betrayal, and even murder? As the first part lays down a great foundation and is a good story on its own, the second part adds to the plot with new information we did not see coming.

I’ve been a fan of Ken Bruen for awhile now and that is the reason I read this book, but have never read Reed Farrel Coleman. Coleman maybe best known for taking over Robert B. Parker’s Spencer book series and is an author I will have to read more from in the future. I’m always leery of books with more then one author and I don’t really know why. I guess I like one continues train of thought from one prospective and sometimes think using two authors to tell a story muddies the waters. In this case it works, because they don’t seem to be writing the book together, but rather each author is telling his version of the story and we read them back to back so we can take both sides of the story to come to our own conclusions. This was an unique journey worth reading if you are a fan of either of these writers.

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Ken Bruen picks his 10 favorite noir novels of all time over at Publisher’s Weekly

Ken Bruen is one of my favorite authors, so when he picks his favorite books, I’m interested. I have read one of these and I’m currently reading another on the list. Looks like I have 8 more books to add to my “To Read” list. Check out the link below for the full list.

http://www.publishersweekly.com/pw/by-topic/industry-news/tip-sheet/article/67271-10-best-noir-novels.html

How many are you adding to your “To Read” list?

Review: Frank Sinatra in a Blender by Matthew McBride

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Frank Sinatra in a Blender may be the best title for a novel in a while.  Frank Sinatra is Matthew McBride’s first novel and was published by New Pulp Press.  NPP is a great source for some new inventive noir and pulp books and I look forward to reading more from this publisher in the future.

This book’s protagonist is Nick Valentine, an ex-cop that was really good at his job, but had substance abuse problems.  Nick is not drinking coffee anymore, because when he has a cup of coffee he wants a cigarette too and he’s quite smoking.  Well that’s a good start, unfortunately he has no desire to quite alcohol…or cocaine….or oxy or etc, etc.  Nick has a small Yorkie named Frank Sinatra, named for his fathers love of old blue eyes.  Nick’s father was a police officer as well, so Nick followed in his father’s footsteps.  Now that he is an ex-cop he has many contacts on the wrong side of the law.  He usually hangs out with them at a strip club and isn’t afraid to ride the fence and work both sides of the law for his personal gain.

We have Nick, down on his luck financially and is staying at his office with his dog.  He is called by the police to help with an apparent suicide that doesn’t look quite right.  Soon a credit union is robbed and one of the robbers is shot in the back and left for dead during the escape.  Nick puts 2 and 2 together and thinks both cases are connected.  He gets his underworld contacts to help him, while he is appearing to help the police on the case.  All this seems to be a plot to end up with some of the cash from the robbery.  This is where the story takes off and we have strippers, thugs from England, tweekers, fat thieves with a pension for them same strippers, an Amish cop, and of course our hero and his dog.  Who will get away with the money?  Who will get away alive?

This story is very dark, but has quite a bit of humor in it as well.  This is showcased in the blurbs on the book.  One is from Charlie Sheen on the cover telling us he loved it and the other is the forward from Ken Bruen, who feel in love with the book.  I think that sums up the book very well: “For fans of Charlie Sheen and/or Ken Bruen”

The movie rights for this book have been sold so we may see a movie version of this someday!  I think this would be a great film if done right.

I’ve read Matthew McBride’s other book as well, A Swollen Red Sun.  This book was even darker and I didn’t find any humor in it.  It is beautifully written with a more literary feel to it.  I read it a few months ago so I don’t want to give a review of that book with out a fresh look.

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I think both books are very good and feel McBride has a bright future.  I look forward to reading more from him.  I would also love to see more Nick Valentine and Frank Sinatra in the future as well.

Ken Bruen’s Inspector Brant series

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Ken Bruen is better known for his Jack Taylor books and I have not read any of them yet(again on my to read list).  I picked up the first three of this series up in a Black Friday Sale for my Nook.  The first three books are packaged together and called the White Trilogy.

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This is from the Mystery Press, who has a lot of great noir and hardboiled books in there collection.  I read the first 3 books in no time and right away got the next 4 books and read those even faster.  This collection has a total of 7 short books that follow Inspector Brant, but also follows his co-workers in just as much detail.    This 7 books in the series are:

A White Arrest

Taming the Alien

The McDead

Blitz

Vixen

Calibre

Ammunition

The fourth book, Blitz was also made into a movie.  The movie follows the book fairly well except for the ending, which I think made a better movie.

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The movie has Jason Statham as Brant and he does a great job, it is an entertaining movie worth checking out whether you read the books or not.

The book series has not been read much according to goodreads with Blitz having the most reads at a mere 427, but the series has strong reviews and high ratings.  Ken Bruen has quickly become one of my favorite noir authors and I look forward to reading The Guards soon!