REVIEW OF FOREVER AND A DAY BY ANTHONY HOROWITZ

Forever and a Day: A James Bond Novel Cover ImageIn Forever and a Day, Anthony Horowitz takes on the iconic spy James Bond for a second time. He goes further back to his first mission as 007. While new to having a license to kill, he proves to be lethal from the start.

When the previous 007 is murdered, Bond is recruited into the program. His predecessor noticed something odd about the drug smuggling in Marseilles — it had become almost non-existent. MI6 sends Bond out to find out what the agent learned about this dip in crime that got him killed. When asked what number he’d like to have with his double 0, he chooses seven to let them know they keep coming.

Marseilles proves to be a hive of dangerous scoundrels. After a brief altercation at the previous 00’s villa, Bond befriends Reade Griffith, an amiable CIA agent who shows him around the port city. He soon realizes the person he must find is Sixtine, a sultry freelance spy master with a tragic past, and a certain way she likes her martini. It all leads to a plot of international scale where few can be trusted.

Horowitz captures the flavor of the early Bond books. He replicates the cool tone and matter of fact attitude Bond carries, even in killing. He realizes that even though he may be new to the Double 0 circle, he would be a capable agent. Most of the missteps he makes are in his emotions.

The book also perfectly weaves Bond history into world history. We get Bond’s first meeting with M and a charming one with Moneypenny. Horowitz also plays with expectations of the the cannon, such as his choice of gun. He  uses the cold war backdrop of the fifties to perfect effect, having it play into the villain’s plan and the perfect twist of a last chapter.

Forever and a Day is a treat for Bond fans, particularly those who dug the Ian Fleming books. It is both dry and punchy as the spy’s favorite drink. This kind of mission may be new to the freshly minted 007, but it provides the kind of familiar entertainment his fans have loved for decades.

Advertisements

INTERVIEW WITH C.M. WENDELBOE

C.M. Wendelboe is a western writer, no matter what genre he writes. A veteran of decades of law enforcement in Wyoming and the Dakotas his books show an understanding of the land and its people while delivering a well crafted and highly entertaining tale. In his latest to feature Arn Anderson, a retired Denver cop turned hired consultant for one of the city’s news stations, we have Arn also doing detail as as stock detective tracking down sheep rustlers. When he stumbles upon a murder he realizes “The Midnight Shepard” may have witnessed it. We talked to Mr. Wendelboe about Hunting the Saturday Night Strangler, how his writing is tied to his former profession, and the western life.

Hunting the Saturday Night Strangler (Bitter Wind Mystery #2) Cover ImageMysteryPeople Scott: Part of the plot deals with the crime of sheep rustling. Is that more common than most people think?

C.M. Wendelboe: Sheep rustling is still a common problem here in the west, as is cattle rustling. With sheep thefts, it is as I describe it in Hunting the Saturday Night Strangler where a trained dog can herd enough sheep to fill a small trailer (usually 25-30 head) and the rustler gone from the pasture within ten minutes.

MPS: What did tying the two mysteries of the killer and the “Midnight Shepard” allow you to do?

CMW: It allowed me to establish a continuity and a sense of purpose to Arn. Since he retired from the Denver Metro Detective Division, he has done what many retired lawmen have done after they hang up their shield—nothing except sit around watching soaps and drinking beer. Suddenly, the consulting gigs that Ana Maria snagged for Arn give him direction once again. He can use what has been his defining trait as an investigator—the ability to look at things from, first a broad perspective, and narrowing his thinking down into a laser-like focus to solve the cases.

MPS: As in the first book, you occasionally have a chapter from the killer’s point of view. How difficult is that to do without tipping the reader off?

CMW: I have wanted to use the killer’s perspective for some years now. When I was a law officer, I interviewed numerous genuine psychopaths and sociopaths, and each time I came away with the same perspective—they were highly intelligent killers whose intellect eventually were their downfall. To a man (and one woman) I talked with, each thought they were too clever—either because they were inherently intelligent—or that they were too ruthless to drop their guard.

Those chapters were the most difficult in the book because I am unlike the killer, and because it would be so easy to slip up. Of course the last thing I wished to do—aside from the foreshadowing—was give the reader too much information where he or she could solve the identity of the murderer before I was ready to reveal it.

MPS: One thing I like about Arn is that he is an older protagonist. What are some advantages in writing a hero with a few years on him?        

CMW: Arn is a lot like I was in my law enforcement career: the older I became, the more time I took to process things. This wasn’t due to a slowing of the mind, but rather an awareness that I missed many clues, many insights as I rushed headlong to find the answers. As an older character, Arn has grown out of the “puppy lawman” phase and thinks things through logically. Even though it takes him more time to do so.

MPS: Like Craig Johnson, you mainly give a sense of place through its people. What did you want to get across about the citizens of Cheyenne?

CMW: This series has a western flavor to it. Apart from Frontier Days (“The Daddy of ‘em All” rodeo), people here still live the western lifestyle even though most rarely set a horse or participate in brandings. But there are enough things in the community to point to the western heritage and makeup of the town, from the daily wagon and carriage rides seen on the streets in the summer to the lesser rodeos held nearly year-round to the abundance of large cattle and sheep herds within minutes from city center. A person can still see doors opened for others and women escorted away from curbside and men tipping their hats when introduced to strangers. But strangers not for long as the western hospitality will shine through.

MPS: You also have a new western with Tucker Ashley. What can you tell us about that?

CMW: I developed Tucker Ashley in the true sense of what folks think of the buffalo hunter/part time army scout/gunfighter. But I also wanted to showcase his abilities as a man tracker. Folks often assume that every frontiersman was track-savvy with the abilities to follow a gnat across choppy water. This was not so back in the day. Tales are full of men who misread sign and wound up lost or hundreds of miles off their presumed destination. Competent trackers back then were sought out, as they are today.

MPS: You will be calling in to our Murder In The Afternoon Book Club on November 19th for your discussion of your first Bitter Wind Novel, Hunting The Five Point Killer. Is there anything we can’t ask?

CMW: Sky’s the limit. Look forward to it.

 

Interview With Timothy Hallinan

Today marks the release of Nighttownthe latest book from Timothy Hallinan. He was nice enough to answer our questions about the new book and his other work.

Nighttown (A Junior Bender Mystery #7) Cover ImageMysteryPeople Scott: This is a unique plot even by Junior Bender standard. How did it come about?  

Timothy Hallinan: It arrived in three pieces and (since I’m not a writer who plans a lot) they were put together on the fly. First, a reviewer for a publishing trade said about the last Junior book, Fields Where They Lay, that, as far as Christmas mysteries were concerned, “it was one of the very best since The Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle.” I hadn’t read that Sherlock Holmes story, but when I did I found myself liking the idea of the huge, stolen precious stone. Second, I’d been thinking a lot about the bum rap darkness usually gets – ever since the King James Bible (at least), it’s been equated with evil and misery. I mean, talk about stacking the deck: God’s first line is “Let there be light.”

Junior is a burglar, and he likes darkness; he sort of thinks of it as his personal ZIP code. I decided I wanted to put him someplace that was too dark even for him. Out of that came the second piece, Horton House, an empty, condemned mansion that practically vibrates with malice. Third, it came to me that the man who built the house had been a Spiritualist, a member of the quasi-religion that swept the world in the years of global mourning after tens of millions of people died in the twin calamities of World War One and the Spanish Flu, and I remembered that the world’s best-known advocate for Spiritualism was Arthur Conan Doyle. I thought it was interesting that Doyle–the creator of fiction’s most remorselessly logical detective–was the voice of Spiritualism and that his opposite number, speaking out against it, was the magician Harry Houdini. (I would have expected it to be the other way around.) Those three things, the stone, the old dark house, and the Spiritualism-Doyle connection, became the basis of the story, although the way they were woven together seems a lot more logical now that I’ve finished the book than it did when I was writing it.

MPS: You’ve looked at the different sides of Los Angeles in the series. what side of it did you want to explore in this book?

TH: Of all the world’s great cities, Los Angeles has the briefest past, and it’s relentlessly paved over most of the past it does have. Many of its most beautiful buildings have been bulldozed to make way for Walmarts and shopping malls. I’ve always found it interesting that it’s such a present-tense town, so I  thought it would be fun to set much of the action in a little bit of the past that’s due for demolition. I also wanted some of the story’s characters to be people whose personal pasts were being forgotten or erased: a once-powerful movie producer; an actress from a forgotten sitcom; a woman whose only inheritance was being withheld by someone who hated her. All crime novels, I think, look into the past to some degree, even if it’s only the recent past in which the crime was committed, but I wanted to play around with deeper past, especially since L.A. has so little of it.

MPS: One of the things I love about the Junior Bender series are his partners in crime. Is there one in particular that you enjoy writing for?

TH: The one for whom I feel the most affection is probably Louie the Lost, the getaway driver with no sense of direction who had to change careers after the word got out that he couldn’t tell the difference between north and up. I could write Louie all month long and spend most of the time laughing. There are also a couple of female hitters I like, including one who always unscrews her silencer when she finishes a job because it snags on the lining of her purse. And there’s a new character in Nighttown, an absolutely lethal woman named Itsy Winkle, who lives in a house full of stuffed cats and who just stole every scene she was in.

MPS: There is a great tip of the hat to The Adventures Of Sherlock Holmes. What do you admire about those stories?

TH: This is probably going to cost me lots and lots of readers, but at the time I decided to write Nighttown I had never read a word of Doyle, and now that I’m done writing it, I’ve read only one story, “The Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle.” I know Holmes and Watson mostly through film and television, and I have to say that the one I like best is probably Benedict Cumberbatch. I admire the story I read, but I can’t honestly claim that it beckons me back to read more. On the other hand, I love some of the Holmes-inspired detective twosomes, most notably Nero Wolfe and Archie Goodman.

MPS: As a writer, what makes Junior Bender a character worth coming back to?

TH: It’s largely the way Junior, who is at heart an average middle-class guy, interacts with the darkness of the world he’s chosen. There have been a couple of attempts to turn the books into a TV series, and what went wrong was that they focused on the jokes and downplayed the menace. One doesn’t work without the other. I think what makes these books funny (if they are) is that there’s actually quite a bit of life-or-death interaction going on in the foreground, and it’s not just slapstick: people can really get killed. Even less bang-bang scenes, like the one with Laney Profitt, the former TV star, and Jake Whelan, once the most powerful producer in Hollywood, now both lost (at least temporarily) to dope, work because that little tragedy is seen through Junior’s eyes as he tries in self defense to keep it, emotionally, at arm’s length. It’s not funny (I think) unless it’s serious, and often it’s most serious because it’s funny. Junior copes with the world he’s chosen, in part, by distancing himself from it, by seeing its funny side. That alone makes him interesting to write.

 

C.M. WENDELBO CALLS IN TO THE MURDER IN THE AFTERNOON BOOK CLUB TO DISCUSS HIS WILD WEST

Hunting the Five Point Killer (Bitter Wind Mystery #1) Cover ImageAfter Craig Johnson’s success with the Sheriff Walt Longmire series, the western mystery has had  a renaissance. Investigations in rustic areas west of the Mississippi are proving to have an audience. One of the best newcomers in the field is C.M. Wendelbo. Our Murder in The Afternoon Book Club will be discussing the first book in his Bitter Wind series, Hunting The Five Point Killer.

The book introduces us to Arn Anderson, who retired from the Denver Police under a cloud and now works as a consultant for one of the city’s news stations. When reporter Anna Maria Villareal  works on a story involving three Cheyenne police detectives, Arn is dragged back to his home town. The investigation turns up old ghosts, as well as an old flame as the killer closes in on Anna Maria and him.

Hunting The Five Point Killer is a well crafted story that delivers everything you want in the sub-genre. It has humor, characters that pop, and mines the Cheyenne setting for great effect.

It makes for a fun book to talk about and to make it more entertaining Mr. Wendelbo will be calling us to join in on the discussion.

We will be meeting on BookPeople’s Third Floor, Monday November 19th, at 1PM. The book is 10% off for those planning to attend.

3 Picks for November

Forever and a Day: A James Bond Novel Cover ImageForever And A Day by Anthony Horowitz

Taking some material from Ian Fleming, Horowitz goes back to James Bond’s first mission as 007. MI6 sends him to Marseilles where he encounters drug smugglers, power players, and an alluring spy master. to find out what the previous 007 discovered before he was murdered. This book captures the cool style of the Fleming Bonds and cold blooded attitude of the secret agent, especially with the twist at the end.

 

 

Nighttown (A Junior Bender Mystery #7) Cover ImageNighttown by Timothy Hallinan

Burglar Junior Bender is hired to steal an antique doll for more money than it is worth. When he stumbles across somebody else trying to steal it, Junior and his girlfriend are on the run with a shady hit woman as their only hope. Hallinan skillfully uses humor, his anti-hero’s point of view, and the city of Los Angeles for a fun caper novel with heart and a wonderful literary reveal.

 

 

Adrenaline Junkie: A Memoir Cover ImageAdrenaline Junkie: A Memoir by Les Edgerton

Author Les Edgerton lets you into his life that leads into some of his great crime fiction. Following him through the swinging sixties and hedonistic seventies and early eighties, he led one hell of a life as a thief, convict, and hair stylist. Les pulls no punches in the telling. It’s not all pretty, but it’s all pretty entertaining. This is like experiencing that guy at the bar who had collected a lot of life experience and knows how to talk about it in book form.

PICK OF THE MONTH- THE SHADOWS WE HIDE BY ALLEN ESKENS

Thanks to MysteryPeople contributor Meike for writing a review of the November Pick of the Month The Shadows We Hide.

The Shadows We Hide Cover ImageAP cub reporter Joe Talbert stumbles across a story that piques his curiosity—a man also named Joe Talbert has been murdered in the small town of Buckley, Minnesota. Believing that the murdered man might be the father he never knew, Joe heads to Buckley to learn what he can about his possible namesake. Having no memory of his father, he’s not sure what to expect; what he doesn’t expect is to learn that his father was a hateful man who threatened his daughter, swindled a neighbor, and squandered his late wife’s inheritance. Any number of people in Buckley had a reason to want “Toke” Talbert dead.

At the same time, Joe’s estranged mother attempts to reconnect—a recovering alcoholic who neglected both Joe and Jeremy, Joe’s autistic brother, she is trying to make amends with her son. But he wants nothing to do with the woman who preferred booze and men over her sons. Forced to confront painful memories from his childhood, Joe has to try to put the pieces of his past together—and comes close to losing his future.

Eskens’ fans will remember Joe from the Edgar-nominated author’s debut, The Life We Bury. A college student at the time, Joe helped put a serial killer behind bars. Now Joe has graduated and is living with his girlfriend Lila who helps him care for Jeremy. The Shadows We Hide is a character-driven novel, carefully plotted and slowly unfolding to a gripping and completely unexpected conclusion.