Monday, October 30, 2017

Song of the Week: Wrap It Up

One morning last week, I awoke with the hook for this week's song in my head. It took me a little while to place it and when I searched for the tune on YouTube, to my surprise one of the results was for a version by Sam & Dave. I never new anyone other than The Fabulous Thunderbirds played it. So this week, you get a two-fer:  both the Thunrderbirds and Sam & Dave versions.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Maigret by, Georges Simenon

Maigret has recently retired to the country from the Paris police. Soon his country life is interrupted by his nephew knocking at his door late at night.  The nephew followed Maigret into the police force, but has managed to make himself the main suspect in the murder of a bar owner. It's up to Maigret to return to Paris to clear his nephew's name.

Georges Simenon could reasonably lay claim to being the most prolific author of the 20th Century with over 500 novels and numerous short works to his credit. The Maigret series, published between 1931 and 1972, comprises 75 of these novels and 28 short stories and has been portrayed on screen by such varied actors as Michael Gambon, Richard Harris, and Rowan Atkinson. This eponymous book was my first introduction to the character.

The relationships between Maigret and others were layered and complex, probably things that were built up in the prior 18 books of the series. There were some wholly original scenes, such as when Maigret tails a suspect through the dark night, and some clever traps Maigret used to ensnare the villains. If these are staples of Simenon's work, then it's easy to see why this character is so enduring. That being said, the style of storytelling is not typically what I like to read. There are moments where the story is told by summary, not by scene, and at times the language was a bit flat (other times, it was very poetic). I'm not sure if this is Simenon's doing or the fact that the book was translated from French.

Overall, it was an enjoyable and very quick read. There may be more Maigret in my future.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Bad Boy Boogie, by Thomas Pluck

We meet Jay Desmarteaux when he is released from prison after serving 25 years of a life sentence for killing a school bully. His release has been paid for by an old friend who then tries to get him out of town. Jay refuses and gets himself a normal job, but everyone who knew him way back when keeps telling him he's not wanted and he should just leave.

The description of the book is a little misleading. Jay doesn't try to get his revenge by living well. He gets his revenge by killing everyone who screwed him over. He killed the bully in defense of his friends, but they all hung him out to dry at the trial, leaving him to take the rap alone. Almost immediately, he begins stalking and systematically eliminating these cowards.

The story is told in present day and flashbacks to Jay's childhood before and during the tormenting by the bully. Pluck sets a breakneck pace, but I began to jumble who was on Jay's side and who wasn't. It didn't help that in the present day some of the characters' motivations were a bit of a muddle. After a while, I started to notice repetition in word use. Everything in a 50 page stretch smelled like sulfur, and almost every character's face at one point experienced rictus.

Pluck created some interesting characters and is a propulsive writer, so I'd say this book is a 3.5 instead of a flat 3. It's a very pulpy and violent revenge thriller of the kind you don't see much anymore.

Monday, October 9, 2017

Song of the Week: First I Look at the Purse

Sometimes I find myself listening to Soul Town on SiriusXM. This week's song is one I hadn't heard of before until I listened to that station.

Here are The Contours with "First I Look at the Purse.".

Monday, October 2, 2017

Song of the Week: Hard Lesson Learned

This is one of the more country-fied songs from Lay It On Down, the new Kenny Wayne Shepherd album. It's a pretty good song and this performance is from the concert I went to in August. I'm glad somebody was able to capture a couple of the songs from that great show and share them.