Jimm Juree #1: “Killed At The Whim of A Hat” by Colin Cotterill. Jimm Juree is an out of work reporter who has just moved with her family to the village of Maprao, on the coast of southern Thailand. There is a lot happening in this 374-page murder mystery, including skeletons discovered in a VW van buried on a farmer’s property, plus the murder of an abbot at the temple. Jimm’s mother’s dog has been poisoned, and renters have stolen everything out the room they were staying in. Wanting her name back in press, Jimm investigates the mysteries, while trying to stop her mother, Mair, from killing the person that killed her dog. In the first half of the book we not only learn about the two big mysteries, but we get to meet Jimm’s family and the town folks, as well as the local police. Although we don’t see a lot of action, this is more literary than noir, the writing is entertaining, and the characters are fun. Each chapter begins with a quote from President George W. Bush, taken from one of his speeches. Jimm’s dissertation at university was to select a famous speaker, and she was stuck with America’s ex-president (I loved the quotes). The murder of the abbot will take many turns, before the surprising case comes to a close. However, the mystery of the submerged VW van with two skeletons doesn’t truly end till the final pages and it, too, has a few surprises. A fun story, and highly recommended.
Friday, August 12, 2016
Tuesday, August 9, 2016
PAPERBACK PARADE #94, August 2016. $15.00 (U.S.A.), from Gary Lovisi, Gryphon Books, P.O. Box280209, Brooklyn, New York, 11228-0209. This 100-page issue contains articles by Gary Lovisi, Bill Crider, Richard A. Lupoff, Richard Greene, Tom Johnson, Richard L. Kellogg, Graham Andrews, and Philip Harbottle. With articles on King Kong, Milton K. Osaki, Matchless Paperbacks, Earl Norman Spy Series, Philip Wylie, PEC Sleaze Spy Series, Isaac Asimov, and much more. It is also filled with paperback covers in color. The is the issue that contains Tom Johnson’s 11 page coverage of the Earl Norman’s Burns Bannion paperback series.
Monday, August 8, 2016
Sueno & Bascom #1: “Jade Lady Burning” by Martin Limon. Army CID agents, Sgt. George Sueno and Sgt. Ernie Bascom work out of 8th Army Headquarters in Seoul, South Korea. When a young prostitute is found murdered, her body sexually brutalized, and the room set fire, the Korean National Police want an American GI blamed, though they seem to know who the killer really is. The American system wants to point to a young soldier, also. But CID agent Sgt. Sueno doesn’t like the smell, and thinks an American soldier is being set up to take the fall. Before the case is over, the investigation goes to the top command, and girls are killed, and Sueno and Bascom find themselves at the wrong end of the stick.
In the end, Sueno and Bascom are split up, with Sueno shipped to the DMZ, and we’re told they never work together again. This should have been a stand-alone novel. Yet the book must have caught on, and the publisher asked for more, for they’re back in the next book, and the next, and next and next. I did thoroughly enjoy the story, though it was slow and could have used more action.
Sgt. Sueno narrates the story and Bascom appears to merely be a sounding board. Or maybe he’s there just as a drinking partner. The best part about this book is its setting, South Korea. It’s a different world than anywhere else. It’s where crime starts from the top and works its way down, and when it’s too high, there is no way to police it. I was with the MPs in Korea, and knew many CID agents in Korea and elsewhere. Sueno and Bascom didn’t sound like any I had ever ran into. The CID I knew were always a tad above the rest of us GIs, and would not act in the manner these characters did. But this is fiction, and the characters are part fact and part false. They start sounding more like hard drinking private detectives after a while, not straight shooters trained by military intelligence. But I definitely plan on reading more stories featuring Sueno & Bascom.