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Charlie's Books
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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, August 28, 2014

Book Reviews: Before, During, After … Riders on the Storm … Rick Perry … Uzi madness … NFL 2014 with Super Bowl Champion Pick …


Before, During, After, by Richard Bausch … he’s simply one of the best writers of our time and he’s latest doesn’t disappoint. More than a dozen years after the attacks of 9-11, I guess it was safe to write about that day again. I skipped most of those that were published closer to the infamous date. Updike’s Terrorist was good, but I only read it because it was Updike. This one by Bausch I couldn’t wait for, mostly because I had already started rereading some of his works (I recently read Good Evening Mr. and Mrs. America and All the Ships at Sea a third time). Bausch could write about anything and I’d be anxious to read it, so I was extra anxious to see how this master would handle 9-11.

Natasha Barrett works for a U.S. Senator. She’s a painter at heart and a strong woman who has become unhappy with her life in Washington. Some part of her longs for France … and a relationship with a man she respected would be nice as well. When she meets a recently single via divorce Episcopal Priest (Michael Faulk) at a political affair, things change for both of them.

Faulk is a bit older than Natasha and his insecurity shows at every turn. He’s recently left the Church, although he still believes, much to his father’s dismay. He’s crazy in love with this wonderful woman … and Natasha has found her significant other in Faulk. He’s all the difference in her world and she has renewed his zest for life. Natasha’s parents were killed in a plane crash when she was young. She was raised by her grandmother, another strong woman, and Natasha has a special bond with her.

Shortly before they’re to get married, Natasha goes on a pre-planned vacation to the Island of Jamaica with a woman friend. In the meantime, Faulk will be attending the wedding of a very close and dear friend’s son, the ceremony to be held at Trinity Church, downtown Manhattan. Faulk also plans on having breakfast at the top of the Twin Towers on the day of the wedding, September 11, 2001.

There will be no spoilers here, but what happens before, during after the week of September 11 in this wonderful novel is so well crafted, there won’t be any chance the reader ignores the outcome. Broken into three sections (Before, During, After), the story unwinds in back and forth perspectives (Natasha/Faulk) with one very gritty scene I can still see, taste and smell; a scene not for the lighthearted, but so vivid it will stay with the reader for a long time to come.

There’s not a writer as smooth as Bausch. A wonderful read … Extremely, Highly, Forgetaboutit, Wonderfully Recommended … simply as good as it gets.

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Riders on the Storm, Ed Gorman … his latest in the Sam McCain series has already earned the author another Starred Review (Booklist). It’s 1971, after McCain was drafted into the Vietnamese war but missed out on the opportunity of a lifetime (sarcasm intended) when he was nearly killed in a car accident off the base. A few months later he’s recovered, but confronted with a situation in his home town of Black River Falls, Iowa. Some things have changed during the interim … including his secretary gaining the necessary skills and backbone it requires to be a strong woman. One of the returned vets, Will Cullen, was changed by the war, and when he suffers a terrible beating by a rah-rah, vet (Steve Donovan), all fingers point to Cullen after Donovan turns up dead.

No spoilers here, ever, but the fun of reading Ed Gorman (much like reading Bill Crider and Elmore Leonard) is getting there. The characters are wonderfully sculpted and the times (1970’s) are well portrayed, with both sides of political arguments posed and left for the reader to decide for themselves.

Gorman has been a master writer for several decades now, and with a ton of previously published novels under Pseudonyms and his name … this one may be his best of the Sam McCain series. Riders on the Storm is wonderful read start to finish. Very Highly Recommended.

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Rick Perry … Look, the guy is about as dumb as a pile of rocks, but this issue about his threatening a drunk D.A. is absurd. No doubt it’s politically motivated by Perry to get rid of this drunk, but Democrats flocking to her defense are equally politically motivated. Her video is more than enough to suggest she resign on her own. If she had any integrity, she’d do just that, but she doesn’t have integrity (outside of Bernie Sanders, what politician does?) Obviously, she’s a big fish in the Texas democratic machine, but all the Dems are doing now is making Perry more popular than he would’ve been without this issue.

On the other hand, maybe that’s the strategy, because if he wins the Republican Presidential nomination, the Democrats will have another cakewalk into the white house … with another Republican leading the way—Hillary Clinton.

Oy vey … vey iz mir …

Uzi Madness … blaming the trainer for the accident involving a 9-year old and an Uzi seems a bit out of whack to me. What is a 9-year old doing on the range in the first place? Okay, you need to have your 9-year old ready to shoot to kill, then what is she doing with an Uzi? Why not a bazooka? Did her New Jersey parents fear she’d need one at school some day?

This was a horrible tragedy that will no doubt leave scars on the kid for the rest of her life. It also ended the life of the trainer. For me the blame falls squarely on the parents (or whichever one thought this was a bright idea, to have their 9-year old daughter train with an Uzi). It’s not like this hasn’t happened before … there was a 2011 incident during which an 8-year old killed himself with an Uzi on a firing range.

The trainer: Shouldn’t have taken the job.
The parents; Dumb as fuckin’ rocks.
The kid: You have to feel for her.

Nostra-Stella and TK’s NFL Predictions … the rest of them.

Yous already got my AFC and NFC Beast and NFC Norse forecasts … so here’s the rest of it. Take my picks and go the other way … the quickest road to financial security in the open and free (to get burned) market.

San Fernando 49’ers … I still like them … still think they’re the best in the league, but unless they can keep their convicts out of the joint, they’ll flop again this season when it counts. I’m gonna go with my heart and the 2nd best defense in all of football. Prediction 11-5.

Seattle Sea Pigeons … listen to me: they’re a really good football team. Maybe even a great team, but you know what? I still don’t like Pete Carroll, so I’m betting against the best defense in all of football … mostly because I think it’s probably close to impossible to repeat. Prediction: 11-5.

Phoenix by way of St. Louis Cardinalettes … Great potential but as long as they have that stiff (Carson Palmer) throwing pitches, they’re not going anywhere. Interception city. Prediction: 7-9.

Los Angeles by way of St. Louis Ramettes … how snake-bit is this organization? Bradford goes down, Bradford goes down … one more season and he’s out for the count. I’m still hoping for Michael Sam to make it onto the final roster, but that’s about the only thing to be positive about now that they’ve lost their only chance to compete with the big boys. Prediction: 6-10.

Denver Broncettes … so this will be their easy year to get back to the dance, where they’ll get embarrassed again. No competition to speak of in the AFC. Just the Choketriots and they’re likely to choke, so it’ll be Denver setting all kinds of new records and breezing through the junior leagues. Prediction: 14-2.

San Diego Chargerless … Phillip Rivers is to QB’ing what Caron Palmer and Jay Cutler are to QB’ing … interceptions. I hope they enjoyed their little run last year. Prediction: 9-7.

Kansas City Chefs … I want them to do good again, but I don’t think they’re better than their schedule. Last year was a gift coming off a disastrous year. This year they return to earth, but I’ll be rooting for them and Smith. Prediction: 9-7.

The Oakland by way of Los Angeles Raiderettes … oy vey … Prediction: 5-11.

New Orleans Aints … love the city, hate the Ryan haircut, want to like the offense, but the throwing 40+ X’s a game is too much. They have the dome and that is a plus for a flag football offense, but then they have to come outside for the playoffs. Prediction: 9-7.

Carolina Rice Panthers … we like this team’s defense and we want to like their QB, but he lost a big weapon in Steve Smith and he won’t be easy to replace. Until we see what they can do without Cam Newton running for his life, we’re thinking they’ll have a tougher go this year. Prediction: 9-7.

Atlanta Falconless … they look good on HBO’s Hard Knocks, but that’s where it ends. Good offense that tends to throw too much as well (the curse of domes) … they’ll be lucky to finish with more than 3 wins, but we’re beneficent. Prediction: 5-11.

Tampa Bay the Buck Stops Here … oy vey X 2 … nothing to look forward to here. Prediction: 4-10.

The Indianapolis by way of the Baltimore Coltless … a cake walk, start to finish, although it’ll be their defense that lets them down when it counts again. Prediction: 11-5.

Texas Two Steppers … Clowney and Watt on the same line? Listen to me, they figure out how to score a few points and/or keep from scoring for the other team, and they’re back in the playoffs. Big improvement this season either way. Prediction: 9-7.

Tennessee Tuxedos … two words: Ryan Fitpatrick, says it all … Prediction: 4-12.

Jacksonville Jaguwires … two more words: Jacksonville Jaguwires … Prediction: 3-13.

Green Bay Packerless … the Pack is back … so long as Aaron Rodgers is healthy, yes they are … but defense is the name of the game, except in the NFC Norse … Prediction: 10-6 (and then one, maybe two, and done).

Detroit Lionettes … well, now that they got rid of their numskull coach (he’s now in Buffalo, because who else would take him?) … the Lionettes may prove a winner … their future is bright once again. Prediction: 9-7.

Chicago Bearless … listen to me. Cutler is another stiff going on every single year now … so he’ll throw a few big passes and compliment them with an equal number of pick-sixes … this is the year they take a big-ass bow … Prediction: 6-10.

Minnesota Vikingless … Oy vey, vey iz mir … so long as they keep playing in a dome, the curse remains (I gave them the Malocchia for building a dome) … have a nice draft pick AGAIN next season, fellas … Prediction: 5-11.

TK’s Super Bowl Prediction … drumroll …

NFC: San Fernando 49’ers …

AFC: Denver Broncettes …

Super Bowl Champion (and score): San Fernando 34, Denver 24.

Take it to the bank and cash it in.