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July 11, 2008 / C.T. Henry

A Trip to the Bookstore

I love to browse the shelves of bookstores (particularly Borders and Murder One, here in London) to see what captures my eye.  I start at the “A”s and move all the way to the “Z”s.  While I was there, a fellow book lover exclaimed: “Bookstores are dangerous!”  My purchases below confirm that statement.

My recent purchases are a mixture of new and old books:

Hollywood Station – Joseph Wambaugh – 2006
Book Description:
For a cop, a night on the job means killing time and trying not to get killed. If you’re in Hollywood Division, it also means dealing with some of the most desperate criminals anywhere. Now the violent robbery of a Hollywood jewelry store quickly connects to a Russian nightclub and an undercover operation gone wrong, and the sergeant they call the Oracle and his squad of quirky cops have to make sense of it all. From an officer who dreams of stardom, to a single mother packing a breast pump, to partners who’d rather be surfing, they’ll take you on a raucous ride through a gritty city where no one is safe. Especially not the cops.

The Yiddish Policeman’s Union – Michael Chabon – 2007
Book Description:
For sixty years, Jewish refugees and their descendants have prospered in the Federal District of Sitka, a “temporary” safe haven created in the wake of the Holocaust and the shocking 1948 collapse of the fledgling state of Israel. The Jews of the Sitka District have created their own little world in the Alaskan panhandle, a vibrant and complex frontier city that moves to the music of Yiddish. But now the District is set to revert to Alaskan control, and their dream is coming to an end. Homicide detective Meyer Landsman of the District Police has enough problems without worrying about the upcoming Reversion. His life is a shambles, his marriage a wreck, his career a disaster. And in the cheap hotel where Landsman has washed up, someone has just committed a murder—right under his nose. When he begins to investigate the killing of his neighbor, a former chess prodigy, word comes down from on high that the case is to be dropped immediately, and Landsman finds himself contending with all the powerful forces of faith, obsession, evil, and salvation that are his heritage.

The Crime Writer – Gregg Hurwitz – 2007
Book Description:
Drew Danner , an L.A.-based crime novelist, awakens in a hospital bed with a scar on his head, blood under his nails, and a cop by his side. Accused of murdering his ex-fiancée, Drew has no memory of the crime but reconstructs the story the only way he knows how—as a novel. As he searches the dark corridors of his life and the city he loves, another young woman is similarly murdered and Drew must confront the very real possibility of his own guilt.

Small Crimes – Dave Zeltserman – 2008
Book Description:
Crooked cop Joe Denton gets out of prison early after disfiguring the local district attorney, which doesn’t help his popularity. Nobody wants Joe to hang around-not his ex-wife, his parents, or his former colleagues. Meanwhile, local mafia don Manny Vassey is dying of cancer and keen to cut a deal with God. He’s thinking of singing to the DA if this will set him up for a better after life. And he knows stuff that will send Joe down again for a very long time-along with half the local law enforcement.

Chinaman’s Chance – Ross Thomas – 1978
Book Description:
“It was while jogging along the beach just east of the Paradise Cove pier that Artie Wu tripped over a dead pelican, fell, and met the man with six greyhounds.”
from Chinaman’s Chance

Thus begins what may be the most popular of Ross Thomas’s unique stories. The combination of Wu, pretender to the Imperial throne of China, and Quincy Durant, who has his own colorful past, makes for a heady experience. After starting with the deceased pelican on a California beach, the plot mixes in the disappearance of a large sum of money that should have been buried in Vietnam, and the search for the missing member of a trio of singing sisters from the Ozarks. Only Thomas could have stirred this concoction with the style, humor, and suspense that captures the reader at the very beginning and doesn’t let go until the last word.

Cypress Grove – James Sallis – 2004
Book Description:
The small town where Turner has moved is one of America’s lost places, halfway between Memphis and forever. That makes it a perfect hideaway: a place where a man can bury the past and escape the pain of human contact, where you are left alone unless you want company, where conversation only happens when there’s something to say, where you can sit and watch an owl fly silently across the face of the moon. And where Turner hopes to forget that he has been a cop, a psychotherapist, and, always, an ex-con. There is no major crime to speak of until Sheriff Lonnie Bates arrives on Turner’s porch with a bottle of Wild Turkey and a problem: The body of a drifter has been found—brutally and ritualistically— murdered and Bates and his deputy need help from someone with big-city experience who appreciates the delicacy of investigating people in a small town. Thrust back into the middle of what he left behind, Turner slowly becomes reacquainted not only with the darkness he had fled, but with the unsuspected kindness of others.

Hit Man – Lawrence Block – 1998
Book Description:
Keller is your basic urban Lonely Guy.He makes a decent wage, lives in a nice apartment.Works the crossword puzzle. Watches a little TV. Until the phone rings and he packs a suitcase, gets on a plane, flies halfway across the country…and kills somebody. It’s a living. But is it a life? Keller’s not sure. He goes to a shrink, but it doesn’t work out the way he planned. He gets a dog, he gets a girlfriend. He gets along.

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