And books

BLACK SHEEP is a middling Georgette Heyer novel in which a spinster struggling to save her young niece from a scheming fortune-hunter assumes the man’s scapegrace uncle might be willing to help; even though he isn’t, she finds his roguish ways more entertaining than she expected. Not first-rate, but better than Unknown Ajax (though similar in having the male lead turn out to be far more than he seems).
DAMNED IN PARADISE is the most recent of Max Allan Collins’ (better known to me as the creator of the Ms. Tree and Road to Perdition comics) series about Depression-era Chicago cop Nathan Heller and his involvement with various historical events. In this entry, his father’s old friend Clarence Darrow recruits Heller to do legwork in the infamous Massie case (a Hawaiian white woman executes one of the natives who supposedly raped her daughter). Very good on historical detail and nicely written, but not entirely satisfactory—the fact Collins is working within historical fact doesn’t make for a satisfying plot in this case.
I’ve been reading some research for my Monster Earth story—A HUNDRED FEET OVER HELL: Flying with the Men of the 220th Recon Airplane Company Over I Corps and the DMZ, Vietnam, 1968-1969 by Jim Hooper recounts the exploits of the “Catkiller” recon planes, mostly via first-hand accounts of ducking fire, playing poker, trying to spot the enemy in the DMZ between North and South Vietnam and enduring murderous tropical heat, C-rations and careerist officers. Interesting, though a lot more detail than I needed (which is not the author’s fault, of course)
WE WERE SOLDIERS ONCE … AND YOUNG: Ia Drang—The Battle That Changed the War in Vietnam by Gen. Harold Moore and Joseph Galloway recounts the first big battle following LBJ’s decision to start sending in ground troops to Vietnam instead of just “military adviser.” The authors do an absolutely gripping account as to how the North Vietnamese efforts to test American resolve turned the Ia Drang river basin into a nightmarish firefight where heroism, blind chance, terror and pain rule the day and American efforts to use helicopters as a kind of modern cavalry got their first workout. While the air-cavalry concept proved successful, the authors conclude that the higher-ups drew the wrong lesson from the bloody battle, that we could kill so many Vietnamese they couldn’t possibly keep fighting (the book is quite respectful of the other side, and includes a few comments from their generals, I note). Very well done.
Having read Mark Hodder’s first two Richard Burton/Algernon Swinburne steampunk adventures, I finally got around to the kickoff book,THE STRANGE AFFAIR OF SPRING-HEELED JACK in which the mysterious London bogeyman and reports of werewolves in the slums drive Burton and Swinburne to discover a diabolical eugenics plot by Charles Darwin, and the revelation their world is just an alt.timeline brought on by Jack’s bungling efforts to change history. This is fun, but the time-travel aspect is a bit weak—Jack’s persistent efforts to restore the original timeline go so wrong (and ditto Burton’s in the third book) I kept wanting an underlying reason why this world should be so immutable.
100 BULLETS: Once Upon a Crime by Brian Azzarello and Eduardo Risso has former gang-banger turned Minuteman Dizzy become the object of multiple schemes by people both friend and foe, while Augustus Medici and Agent Graves both continue their plotting. This worked much better than the last couple, having some real plot development and no space wasted on crime subplots. The same cannot be said of the follow-up Dirty, which really does nothing to advance the whole story but doesn’t have a coherent plot of its own, just multiple disconnected scenes (one problem I have with this since the Minutemen all came back together is that I have a hard time telling one from the other, which drains some of the impact). One volume to go …

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Filed under Comics, Reading

2 responses to “And books

  1. Pingback: Movies and Books | Fraser Sherman's Blog

  2. Pingback: Books | Fraser Sherman's Blog

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