Book Reviews: Thirteen Hours by Deon Meyer, Dead Man’s Grip by Peter James, Sixkill by Robert B. Parker, and Kiss Her Goodbye by Mickey Spillane and Max Allan Collins

Thirteen Hours
Deon Meyer
Grove Press, September 2011
ISBN: 978-0-8021-4545-1
Mass Market Paperback

Post-Apartheid South Africa has undergone many traumatic changes.  But for homicide detective Benny Griessel, nothing much changes except for the murder victims, the politics, unsettled race relations and his own personal problems.  Benny is saddled with “mentoring” newly promoted black, or “colored,” detectives.  Of course, he is the only experienced white.

The plot involves two murders and a kidnapping, each a potential PR disaster for the SA government.  It is up to Benny and his untested troops to save a captive American girl who witnessed the murder of her fellow tourist.  Meanwhile, a well-known music executive is found shot in his home with his pistol lying at his feet, his alcoholic wife asleep in a chair.

Deon Meyer has written six novels and Thirteen Hours is probably the best (not taking anything away from its predecessors).  It is taut, moving and deeply memorable, and is highly recommended.

Reviewed by Ted Feit, August 2011.

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Dead Man’s Grip
Peter James
Macmillan, May 2011
ISBN: 978-0-230-74724-1
Trade Paperback
Released in the US by Minotaur Books, November 2011
ISBN 978-0-312-64283-9
Hardcover

This is the seventh in the Roy Grace series, detailed police procedurals that take place in the Brighton area of Great Britain.  The tightly written plots carry the reader from page to page wondering what comes next.  And the nearly overwhelming [in a good way, to be sure!] detail keeps the reader from guessing the next step.

This novel begins with the gruesome death of a young man, who defies his mother, the daughter of a mafia don in New York City, to study at a Brighton university and live with his English girlfriend.  One day, on the way to school, riding his bike on the wrong side of the road, he is narrowly missed by a car driven by Carly Chase [who swerves onto the sidewalk to avoid him], but is hit by a tailgating white van [which leaves the scene], then rolls under a truck’s wheels and is killed.

The plot stems from this incident, with the mother hiring a hit man to torture and murder the three drivers.  When two of them are found dead, it behooves Carly to attempt to protect herself and her young son.  And thereby hangs a tale, a rather detailed description of the killer’s movements, and the efforts of Detective Superintendent Roy Grace and the entire Sussex police force to capture him.

By all means get a copy and read it!  Highly recommended.

Reviewed by Ted Feit, August 2011.

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Sixkill
Robert B. Parker
G.P. Putnam’s Sons, May 2011
ISBN: 978-0-399-15726-4
Hardcover

To quote some of the immortal words of the Bard, “I come to praise” Robert B. Parker, and, of course, the work that he has left behind obviously will “long live after him.”  In this, the last, Spenser novel, he once again provides an outstanding example of his talent and creativity.

Spenser is enlisted by his sometime buddy, police captain Quirk, to investigate the death of a young woman, who died after apparently having sex with a repulsive movie star in his hotel room.  The obvious conclusion is that the man is responsible for her death, but Quirk is not so sure and asks Spenser to find out what happened.  And Spenser goes about the task in his usual manner, this time accompanied by a brand new character (Hawk is in Asia), a “wasted” Cree Indian who Spenser takes under his wing to rehabilitate and train.

Enough has been written about Parker, his unparalleled ability to write sharp and amusing dialog, create funny barbs and unusual stories.  So such comments are really unnecessary here.  All one can say is, Mr. Parker, we’ll miss you.

Highly recommended.

Reviewed by Ted Feit, August 2011.

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Kiss Her Goodbye
Mickey Spillane and Max Allan Collins
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, May 2011
ISBN: 978-0-15-101460-6
Hardcover

When Mickey Spillane died, he left behind a treasure trove of manuscripts, plot notes, rough outlines, character notes and drafts of final chapters.  He told his wife to give everything to Max Allan Collins who “would know what to do.”  And this Collins has done, three times so far [with a fourth due out in October].  In this novel, he combined two partial manuscripts and shaped and expanded them from an unfinished version that was a false start.

In this entry, the death of his mentor, officially termed a suicide, brings Hammer back to New York City from Key West, where he has been recuperating for a year after a shootout in which he killed a Mafia don’s son.  He returns to the Big Apple with a jaundiced eye, denigrating everything he sees and hears, determined to return to Florida quickly following the funeral.  Instead, of course, he becomes enmeshed in investigating the death, which he believes to be a murder, as well as four others, and committing the usual bloody mayhem of his own.

It is pure Spillane, and Collins as usual has performed a service to those who ate up the millions of copies of Mike Hammer novels sold in the 1960s and ‘70s by keeping the flame alive.  How much is Spillane, and how much is Collins, is really not important.  The book is vintage Spillane, and is a tribute to both authors.  Recommended.

Reviewed by Ted Feit, August 2011.

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