Saturday, February 20, 2010

Recent Reads

Horns by Joe Hill Joe Hill's novel Heart Shaped Box was my favorite book of 2007, and his short story collection 20th Century Ghosts was excellent as well. So I was eagerly awaiting this follow up novel, and like the old saying, be careful what you wish for... In this novel, Ig Parrish is distraught over the death of his girlfriend, who was raped and murdered. Ig was exonerated, but the killer was never found and many people in his small town believe that he got away with murder. After after a night of trying to wash away the pain with alcohol, Ig wakes up to find horns growing from his head. He is slowly turning into a demon... This should be the setup for a great, creepy story like HSB, and indeed the beginning and the end of the book are classic Hill, deftly mixing dark comedy with aspects of horror. But the middle of the story just drags, delving into Ig's relationship with his girlfriend and best friend in extreme detail, and in effect derailing the momentum that the first part of the novel had set. Its not a bad book by any means, I think that my expectations were unrealistically high coming in, since this is much more of a mainstream novel dealing with love and friendship than a darkly comic horror novel about a man turning into a demon.

Exit Wounds by John Westermann Orrin is a burned out cop just transferred to the most hated district of Long Island. He's pulled a lot of stunts in the past and the only way to redeem himself is to root out the corruption and petty crime that is an epidemic in his new assignment. This books was a recommendation of Andrew Vachss, one of my favorite storytellers, and it is easy to see why it would appeal to him. The street cops pull no punches in Westermann's dialogue laying it on the line and adding some blistering humor as well. The plot develops into one of personal redemption, to see if Orrin can save is career and even his marriage by turning the tables on crooks and cops alike. Fans of Joseph Wambaugh's recent series of "Hollywood" novels will feel right at home here. While the wastelands of Long Island aren't nearly as glamorous as the glitter of Hollywood, the grizzled cops her do make for a good story.

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