Charlie's Books

Charlie's Books
Buon Giorno, Amici!

Our motto ...

Leave the (political) party. Take the cannoli.

"It always seems impossible until it's done." Nelson Mandela

Right now 6 Stella crime novels are available on Kindle for just $.99 ... Eddie's World has been reprinted and is also available from Stark House Press (Gat Books).

Thursday, April 8, 2010

REVIEWS ... Nuke this ... Andre Reed/Kutzton University ... Shout! ... DOC says ...


Smart Writing … Tom Piccirilli’s Shadow Season was a fine two day page turner that featured very good writing and a blind protagonist (Finn) with a dark past. A blind ex-cop teaching English to an all girl private school is the story background when we start, but there’s much more to the story. Piccirilli does a great job of stringing us (the readers) along with hints of Finn’s background, including the how and why he’s blind (and sporting a metal plate in his head). His recent past includes a too close to call near tryst with one of his underage students which serves as a prelude (as we later learn) to something he’s waiting to do regarding an ex partner about to be released from Sing-Sing. What the blind might see (or envision) can be both daunting and hopeful and Finn experiences both throughout the novel. Local color is deftly handled and even when the plot starts to stretch a bit, Finn’s likeability keeps us glued to the pages – the all important what happens next is never in danger of being ignored. No spoilers here (ever) but what I found most enjoyable about this thriller was the ending. It’s a more than pleasant surprise for those who don’t require what some others might depend on.

The Venetian Blonde … recently deceased author A. S. (“Sid”) Fleischman’s noir tale of fraud most foul in Venice Beach, California … a tribute to the gumshoe genre, Fleischman’s lingo was way cool to read in this twisting and turning series of events surrounding a card shark who lost his touch (and somebody else’s stake of $150 G’s) back east and has people looking for him and their money. There’s a blonde, of course, although she’s not necessarily necessary, her image is pleasant. There’s also a grifter named Maggie, the wife of another grifter (a former friend of the card shark), there are beatings and bodies and then Séances for the rich and drunk. If you’re in the mood for some of that old lingo, The Venetian Blonde is a quick, fun read.

As it turns out, amici, my publisher (Stark House Press) reprints a few of Sid's books. From the publisher, Greg Sheperd: Stark House reprinted this one (The Venetian Blonde) with Look Behind You, Lady back in late '06. And this summer, right after JP, we're doing Danger in Paradise and Malay Woman by Sid as well. TK will be reviewing some of those babies for sure.

Expiration Date … one more fun read from the Polish Prince of noir comedy and all things nostalgic, Duane Swierczynski. An out-of-work journalist, Mickey Wade/Wadcheck (pronounced Vahd-chek), is dead; in fact he was killed right when the book begins (right before the fun starts). In a down and out way, Mickey is moved to the apartment his grandpa used to live in and finds some Tylenol pills in the medicine cabinet and since he’s got a headache, well ... he takes a few pills and finds himself back on the day he was born in his home town in the same apartment, etc. … it’s 1972 (and all things nostalgic for this reader are always fun). Remember sticking a dirty penny in your mouth and what that tastes like? So does the author and he has his protagonist remind us of it, amongst many other things from 1972 (I was 16). There are musical references to bands (Styx “before Mr. Roboto made it embarrassing to like them”), some nifty 72 products and what can I say, I’m a sucker for nostalgia. It’s a wild and crazy ride through Mr. Vahd-chek’s life that includes saving a young girl destined to become the victim of a pedophile killer (if not for that trip back in time), but there real crux of the story has to do with an abused kid who lives in that same 1972 apartment building who will eventually stab Mickey’s father to death. If I forgot to mention it, Mickey is invisible while visiting 1972; he can see others, but most others they can’t see him. No spoilers here. It’s a fast ride; maybe too fast since it was over before I was ready, but it’s a fun read and a fine break from the real-to-life news that bombards us day to day.

For DOC’s sake, let me add (regarding that day-to-day news) in a world where mining accidents caused from ignoring government regulations (because somebody was paid off?) remind us why unions exist. Excuse me, amici, but “the beast at the top is forever hungry” (DOC).

Expiration Date is a fun read that will take you back to 1972 and if you’re my age (or around it), you’ll have fun recognizing what used to be. While The Blonde remains my favorite Polish Prince novel (and a classic at casa Stella—my son was also hooked by that babe), Expiration Date is also a fun read and a good break from anyone’s day to day grind.

The nukes (bada-boom) ... maybe it’s me, but I’ve never understood why we even bother with nuclear weapons “treaties” and/or expect any other nations not to want nuclear weapons. It seems like simple math to me: If A has nukes, B wants them ... and if A and B have nukes, so will C, D & E, etc.

Likewise, if A has them, B probably isn’t going to fock with A, etc. ... and if B does fock with A, so it goes ... this wonderful stuff called life has to end sooner or later (joke/no joke). On the other hand, it’s not like if we all hold hands and chant it’ll all go away.

Nobody (including us) ever really honors these so called nuclear treaties so why bother with the sideshow unless it’s all one big distraction away from issues of more urgency (somebody say the economy, jobs, the focking banking regulation that has yet to show its face?). Oh, I could go on, but I fear overfeeding the DOC.

Do I want to give up our nukes? No focking way. Do I expect Russia to do so? Only when I’m on my 2nd bottle of Chivas and have run out of Becks (and nitric oxide). Do I expect Iran to ever pull back their quest for nuclear weapons? Not in this life (and nor do I blame them). They are surrounded by nukes and their sworn enemy has them (and their sworn enemy would be just as nuts to give up their nukes). Look, since Hiroshima and Nagasaki, for better or worse, nukes are here to stay and to think for a second nations will negotiate their best deterrent/best offense away is more than optimistic—it’s absurd.

So, not only do I don’t want a nuclear treaty, I don’t want to hear about them anymore. I guess Obama can lay claim to another “accomplishment” against his long list of non-accomplishments but so did Bill Clinton have such an “accomplishment” … until we later learned it wasn’t one. North Korea is still laughing over that one.

By the way, that picture up top isn’t what you think. It was my head after Scott Norwood missed wide-right against the Moonachie Giants in Super Bowl XXV ...

Kutztown University ... my cousin Jason’s very pretty and smart tomata, Allison, is a graduate of Kutztown University and seemed confused when I yelled, Andre Reed! at the dinner table when she mentioned her former college. Andre starred for my beloved New York State Buffalo Bills after Kutztown State.

Your video for the day is ...

How ‘bout those Buffalo Bills!


And the DOC says ...

Hey Chazman,

Pardon me for asking, but wasn’t the football season over like four months ago? And for your beloved Buffalo Bills it was over five months ago. Let’s face it, the only way the Bills are going to see the Super Bowl is if they buy some tickets. On the bright side, you’re not the biggest loser around. That poor lonely bastard who actually made a Buffalo Bill’s video just squeaked by you for the title.

“It’s a more than pleasant surprise for those who don’t require what some others might depend on.” (Knucksline)

Great line Chaz! Where did you find it… on a box of adult diapers? Or maybe that new yogurt that has “good” bacteria in it.

On to the news:

“mining accidents caused from ignoring government regulations (because somebody was paid off?) remind us why unions exist.” (Knucksline)

Okay, Chaz, so where was your precious freaking union here? There was a time for unions and Mine Safety in particular was the driving force for their creation. Unfortunately, the unions have forgotten their purpose and are more involved in guaranteeing that all members can retire with full pay at 35 and get health insurance for life for their families and their five closest friends.

By the way, Chaz, the government workers union retirement fund in NY and California are just about broke. I don’t want to hear any whining when you have to pay for their BAILOUT.


The Bamster really has to start concentrating on the things he is good at.
1) Throwing like a girl.
2) Telepromptering
3) Apologizing for America
4) Bowing and then making believe he just spotted a quarter on the floor.

5) Help me out Chaz, I seem to have run out of good things.

Then there are the things that he is not so good at… war comes to mind. You do not tell your enemies the things that you will not do to them. If some country attacks us with a biological weapon BUT does not have nukes we won’t use our nukes?

Cowboy up, Fredo!

If someone comes at you with a knife and you have a gun... you don't put the gun away. If some country attacks us with a biological weapon I want the Middle East turned into a sheet of glass by nightfall. I want to be able to read by the gentle glow coming off of Damascus.

On that cheery note, have a great weekend.

Your pal,

PS: The woman in the photo is a mayor in California. Even the Navy Brass is giving him a WTF look. The Bamster just can't help himself.