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The Dying Game
Asa Avdic
The Big Book of Jack the Ripper (Vintage Crime/Black Lizard Original)
Otto Penzler
Progress: 85/848 pages

Reading progress update: I've read 163 out of 378 pages.

Pursuit - Robert L. Fish

okay, first off--the book proclaims itself to be "The Ultimate Thriller" on its front cover, but I don't think that that's at all justified so far; the plot hasn't offered enough. Von Schraeder, Nazi scumbag, having transformed himself into Ben Grossman, concentration-camp survivor, has been on one long journey to get to Switzerland and his fiendishly-acquired funds. his Jewish friends--who find him a bit "off" but can't quite deduce why--have been trying to get him to drop Switzerland (they of course don't know about his actual plans there) and join them in a tricky trip from Italy to Palestine.


so there has been a lot of travel--complete with detours and dangers--but it all seems a bit drawn out, with a lot pages dedicated to setting up a series of accidents and unforeseen complications that are actually pushing the disguised Nazi farther and farther away from Switzerland, and forcing him to end up in Palestine. (this of course will be quite ironical).


I really have enjoyed the book overall, but if it's gonna be stellar in my book universe, let's assume for a minute that this creep does end up in Palestine (I don't actually know for sure that's definite, but it looks fairly obvious, considering where the story is, at page 163)...the second part of the book will need to have some cool plot developments, to take things to the next level. the potential is there for something really clever and unpredictable, but I am certainly ready for the disguised von Schraeder to finally land somewhere; let's get to the next stage of his new life, please, Mr. Author. him working his own agenda in Palestine, just after World War 2, means there is no excuse for a dull second half.

Reading progress update: I've read 47 out of 378 pages.

Pursuit - Robert L. Fish

a heavy-handed writing style--but I'm enjoying it, in the early stages. Nazi monster and mass-murderer von Schraeder has concocted a daring plan to avoid the wrath of the Allies and punishment for war crimes: he will disappear, become someone else, a man named Benjamin Grossman...

Reading progress update: I've read 1 out of 378 pages.

Pursuit - Robert L. Fish

even though a book called The Last One sounds supremely entertaining, and mesmerizingly weird in its approach to the Post-Apocalyptic genre, I felt--after stating I was committed to a lot of Spy fiction and nonfiction this month--that I should ante up and at least start the month with two Spy books in a row. so, after changing my mind several times, Pursuit gets the go-ahead... and it sounds pretty weirdly entertaining too!

Reading progress update: I've read 40 out of 848 pages.

The Big Book of Jack the Ripper (Vintage Crime/Black Lizard Original) - Otto Penzler

the second entry in the big section of this book which collects Nonfiction on Jack the Ripper under the title 'The Real Story' is a series of articles reporting on the Ripper murders, and the Inquests, as they were written in The Times. this covered a lot I already knew. but also put into perspective how the whole sequence of murders was handled by at least one newspaper. intriguing were the few crimes covered that seemed to relate to the Ripper killings, but were then dismissed, or at least later doubted to be part of the Ripper nightmare. reports of vigilante efforts, culminating at mob rage directed at anyone in the spotlight on the streets thanks to someone pointing and screaming "He's Jack the Ripper!", was mainly new reading for me. lots of suspects--first attacked by mobs, then "saved" and pulled in by police--questioned and released. I am still anxious to get to the fictional content of this book...but the Nonfiction entries are fascinating so far. 

Reading progress update: I've read 197 out of 316 pages.

Get Wallace! (Wallace of the Secret Service) - Alexander Wilson

still amazing. saving the rest until tomorrow morning. will pick out another Espionage novel after that...or, I have to say, there may be a one-book break from the spy games, because this thing I picked up today, The Last One by Alexandra Oliva, sounds pretty darn tempting. I would even say the synopsis on the back cover suggests that there's the teeniest teeny-weeny chance that there will be a weird espionage angle. or I'm just rationalizing.

Reading progress update: I've read 166 out of 316 pages.

Get Wallace! (Wallace of the Secret Service) - Alexander Wilson

this book is fabulous! I'm caught a little by surprise, as the first one in the series--The Mystery of Tunnel 51--was fun, but did not force me to commit to any more follow-ups. but then I thought "I did like it; it's not like I had a bad reaction, it's just a question of whether they all sort of operate at the same level...or did the author, like most, get better as he went along...?". there are also those gorgeous covers, which made me want to try at least one more.


so, eventually, when I was at a bookstore that had this one, Book 4--as opposed to several other stores, including my main, local book source, which would have bits and pieces of the series, but never Book 4--I took it as a sign that it was meant to be, and got the one with my fave cover. I braced for "average", and instead I'm getting all-out fun and excitement! fast pace--and get this: the book is from 1934, and we get a car with some gadgets, plus one of the best female villains I've encountered in Spy fiction in a long while! 


now I am feeling forced to commit to more follow-ups!

"Two-Toe George was a philosopher. He was, as you might expect, short in the toe department, having cut off a chunk of his right foot with an ax while trying to smash a snail with it. He said he did that when he was high. Was certain right then that the snail was actually a spy machine made to look like a snail, that it had cameras and was watching him."

Honky Tonk Samurai, by Joe R. Lansdale ( copyright 2016; quote is from page 224 of the Mulholland Books/Little, Brown and Company trade paperback edition, February 2017).

Reading progress update: I've read 6 out of 316 pages.

Get Wallace! (Wallace of the Secret Service) - Alexander Wilson

I think I'm mainly going to read Spy books this December (fiction and nonfiction), though don't hold me to that. some books on the fringes of Spy fiction may also be allowed in...Wicked Leaks has a chance to make the cut (Conspiracy Theory elements to the plot); Quarry has a shot (assassins not prohibited); Pursuit may get read (sounds like a Spy novel, but if it's not, I won't know till it's too late and hopefully won't care). Count of Monte Christo is on the table! Foreign and Domestic sounds more like a "Special Forces Mission" thingy, but it may tempt me. plus, all full-blooded Spy books I own should get lots of love and attention. way out on the fringes, but still clinging to "maybe, Tigus?": The Fatal Touch, and Operation Alcestis (if anything is not a Spy novel, but should have been, it's anything with a title like Operation Alcestis!). 


first--a second go-round with Wallace of the Secret Service. this Spy adventure is from 1934.

Reading progress update: I've read 204 out of 341 pages.

Honky Tonk Samurai (Hap and Leonard) - Joe R. Lansdale

though there is still the mystery of what happened to Sandy to be sorted out, this book has turned out to be more of an Action romp than any kind of whodunit. it fits in with other decent-to-terrific books I've read this year that are highly adrenalized: Deep Down Dead; Nothing Short of DyingThe Devil's Anvil--that last one, by Matt Hilton, being the best one for me overall. because it did end up sneaking a fabulous Mystery into the works, besides al the chases, fights, sieges and shoot-outs. this Lansdale book certainly has the most endearing style (it had to grow on me), we do have a puzzle to be worked out, and the action has become riveting, so there is a fair chance this will rank with Devil's Anvil...and that I will read more Hap and Leonard books at some point.

Reading progress update: I've read 171 out of 341 pages.

Honky Tonk Samurai (Hap and Leonard) - Joe R. Lansdale

some kind of switch has apparently flipped in my head...now I absolutely love this book, no matter how crude or offensive it gets. ever fallen down into the bottom of an outhouse and wound up having the best time ever?

Reading progress update: I've read 80 out of 341 pages.

Honky Tonk Samurai (Hap and Leonard) - Joe R. Lansdale

the stinky, scatological humor is not really my thing, but on the other hand, Lilly Buckner's scenes are a blast; Hap and Leonard should take her with them wherever they go. she talks, I listen, and laugh.

Reading progress update: I've read 36 out of 341 pages.

Honky Tonk Samurai (Hap and Leonard) - Joe R. Lansdale

right away I can tell the humor is gonna be a bit hit or miss with me--but I think mostly 'hit'. narrator Hap does go for crude laughs and cheap laughs, and then there is some dialogue from others that, when it gets cute, makes me think of all those sitcoms I don't miss. but then again, it's a joke-by-joke situation; I have been chuckling to myself, and even laughing out loud. so that's good. I certainly know what I'm in for from now on, in terms of the style, and the repartee.


other than that, this book reminds me of The Last Good Kiss, by Crumley, which I read quite recently, but in a general sense, that is not a bad thing. and I have a feeling that similarities in the nature of the cases showcased in both books are gonna start to disappear as this book moves along, and I'm not in for a carbon copy. overall, this feels like it's gonna be a lot of fun.

Reading progress update: I've read 17 out of 848 pages.

The Big Book of Jack the Ripper (Vintage Crime/Black Lizard Original) - Otto Penzler

okay, with the Penzler Intro done, and now the first Nonfiction entry sampled, I have officially launched my commitment to this gargantuan tome. goody. well, not goody, exactly--and I may take a break from this vile subject matter later on this month--but the first article was wisely-placed; 'Victims in the Night', by David Abrahamsen, was a handy refresher on the basics of the Ripper case, with its quick rundown of the circumstances surrounding each victim, who she was, where she was found, etc. the text actually delves into why women were forced to resort to prostitution to eke out a day to day existence in certain horrid sections of London, so once the Ripper-victim roll-call starts up after that, it's hard not to feel so sad for each and every one of these poor souls. but I've been brought back up to speed--jolted back up to speed, actually. horrible murders.


anyway, I'll continue to work my way through all the writings that fill out the opening section, called 'The True Story', until I finally get to the fiction. I'm looking forward to the short stories most of all.



Reading progress update: I've read 2 out of 341 pages.

Honky Tonk Samurai (Hap and Leonard) - Joe R. Lansdale

I've left introductions rather late, but yes, I want to meet these two fellas, Hap & Leonard!

Reading progress update: I've read 140 out of 205 pages.

The Clock Strikes Twelve  - Patricia Wentworth

I wonder if the whodunit content will top what went on in Latter End. anyway, I'm tired, so I won't find out until tomorrow morning...macchiato, muffin, murderer!

Reading progress update: I've read 101 out of 205 pages.

The Clock Strikes Twelve  - Patricia Wentworth

just about perfect so far. odds are I'll read a bit more tonight. so good! and, good to know that I hadn't already read all the superior entries in this series, when I plowed through a whole bunch of them several years ago (assuming this one stays strong, and other frothy ones wait in the wings...).


lots of little surprises and family drama, amongst this collection of Paradine kin-plus-hangers-on--more than enough to make up for the fact that Miss Silver didn't hit the scene until around page 87 or whatever. hasn't mattered, but I'm glad she's in the thick of things now; she seems to be her old self, and I forgot how soothing her presence is, in the midst of chaos like this. happy! more than happy...it's that distinctive Wentworth brand of happy!