An open discussion on what everyone is currently reading. Make recommendations to others, discuss what is new, hot, bestsellers, anything and everything related to books and the authors.

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Heartsick  by Chelsea Cain

Vowed to finish The Chicago Manual of Style. Groan!

But surely that's only useful to look things up? In the index? I've never read the MLA Manual. I keep books like that around to argue with copy-editors.  :)

Ingrid: I started this self-improvement writing effort some time ago and put this on my list to read, cover-to-cover, so I could argue with my editor with some authority. So far, it hasn't helped (LOL).

Well, I think you're punishing yourself. I rarely retain instructions very long. Hence I resort to the index. Proving a copy-editor wrong is its own reward. 

Like physical workouts, I try to limit my torture.

I agree with IJ. Reading those things becomes a matter of information overload and is not retained well. My years of reading science books and papers have lead me to understand that it is best to bite off chunks as interest needs.

I have a reference manual for soils I've now read all of. It is ten years old now and I have only ever read a little bit when needed.

Michael Dibdin, AND THEN YOU DIE. To my surprise I hadn't read this one yet.  It must be one of his last books. In many ways this thriller/mystery set in Italy with an Italian detective, Aurelio Zen, pleased enormously. Zen is recovering on the beach from a near fatal bomb attack by the Sicilian Mafia. Here, quite unaware that he is a target, he begins a flirtation with a pretty woman,  as a murder victim rests on the neighboring recliner. From this point on, things turn dangerous as hit men seek him out everywhere he goes. Zen always operates in a world where the criminals and the police are equally corrupt and he can trust no one. (There is a PBS mystery series based on Aurelio Zen).

Off Topic:  50 Shades of Gray was in the library, so I thought I'd find out what sent this book and its follow-ups into reader orbit. I managed some 40 pages, pretty much gagging, and I'm totally mystified. There are many thousands of raunchy romances in print, most better written than this, so why this? There is absolutely nothing that separates this book from the rest of women's pornography.

 

All that tells me is that I'm not going to have any bestsellers.  Ever!  The general populace likes easy-reader porn.

Currently reading the second book by local author Tony Cavanaugh - Dead Girl Sing - which I must admit is a joy in its sparsity and purpose. I have been wading through an awful lot of words recently that haven't said much. There's also a companion short which introduces the character Darian Richards - The Soft Touch.

Just finished The Naked Hunter by William Woolfolk.

Sam Howell is savagely beaten on the streets of New York and dies from his injuries in a hospital bed, never regaining consciousness. His older brother, Martin, in from Chicago, vows to discover who killed him and bring them to justice. Sam was a reporter for Free Age Magazine. The editor, Henry Garff tells Martin, that Sam was working on a story about Edgar Wilson, a local politician with a big ego and even bigger ambitions. Martin visits Wilson's headquarters, where he meets secretary Janie Byrne, "an extremely pretty girl, with wide-set eyes and a full mouth," painted on the cover of this Popular Library original by Owen Kampen.

As Martin's investigation progresses he finds his life threatened by an unknown enemy. He continues to suspect Wilson, but there's nothing concrete to make a credible case against him. He's both mesmerized and repelled by Janie as the mystery takes him deeper into his brother's secret life and all the key player's motivations are uncovered.

The late William Woolfolk knew how to tell a fast-paced, action-filled story, balanced with enough moments of character reflection to add depth without holding the narrative drive hostage. 

The novel was published in December 1954, while the Red Scare was front page news. Woolfolk touches on the perceived threat posed by Communists as background to add currency and realism to the story. And his protagonist leaves no doubt the movement was just an excuse for prejudice and the subjugation of freedom under the veil of patriotism. It's not a key element of the story, but it foreshadows Woolfolk's later work for The Defenders TV series, which the Medium of Broadcast Communications called, "perhaps the most socially conscious series the medium has ever seen." Woolfolk scripted ten episodes of the hit series from 1962 to 1965.

There are several steamy scenes in The Naked Hunter, in which the story's bachleorettes engage in sex as enthusiastically as their partner, Martin. At least one is bound to lose him by the end.

There are moments of hope in the story; and a relatively happy resolution. An uneven reward for the commonplace crime and corruption surrounding Sam, and his tragic life. Perhaps the darkest moment occurs when Martin uncovers Sam's incomplete, pseudo memoir.

The Naked Hunter holds only one memorable surprise. The end is satisfying, but hardly unforgettable. The plot is solid, but straightforward. Martin receives worse opposition and violence than Sam in his journey to uncover the truth. Yet Sam dies in a hospital bed, while Martin gets back on his feet in short order, ready for his next encounter. Overall, I'd rate it a solid four out of five stars. Well worth reading for crime fiction fans of classic PBOs.

In addition to his TV scripts and books, William Woolfolk worked extensively in the comics industry, writing scripts for the Spirit, Captain Marvel and Blackhawk, among others. He penned 19 books during his lifetime, selling over six million copies. He died in 2003 in a Syracuse, N.Y., hospital bed at the age of 86.

Lee Child, THE WANTED MAN.  Neither his best, nor his worst. It moves quite nicely, though the plot is the usual thriller style with usual unlikely bang at the end. Involves all the law enforcement agencies in the U.S. being less than perfect and Reacher having to save the day. 

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