Sunday, 28 October 2012

The Con Man

The year turns and another 87th Precinct book breezes through. It's April in Isola. The cruellest month? Cruel enough anyway as the con is well and truly on. McBain relishes in his chosen theme. The con and the conmen themselves get a thorough going over by McBain's philosophically edged examination. The detectives of the 87th are trying to reel in a couple of tricksters who are working their way through the confidence trick handbook, fleecing the rich and poor for a fortune or a dime. Arthur Brown and newly promoted Bert Kling are hitting the streets trying to luck out for a lead on the pair. But it's Steve Carella who discovers a far more sinister and deadly conman at work. The river deals him a woman, dead for some time, a tattoo of a heart encircling the word MAC almost hidden on the flesh of her hand and a mysteriously emptied bank account. As ever the characters are great and becoming more familiar by the book. With the investigations waiting for that one killer lead, McBain revels in dangling them in front of the wrong eyes at the wrong time. Some of it gets dangled by our eyes too through print outs of missing persons reports, Criminal identity cards and, somewhat indecipherably, dental records. Carella is recently back from his honeymoon with new wife Teddy who is deaf-mute. This one works up to a particularly suspenseful finale with Teddy aiding in the investigation.

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

The Cold Dish

Walt Longmire is the Sheriff of Absaroka county in Wyoming beneath the shadow of the Big Horn Mountains. He's marking time until his retirement, mourning the loss of his wife while he drinks himself to sleep each night in front of a tv with a speciality for static in a half built cabin.
When the body of Cody Pritchard is found, seemingly shot by an antique rifle, Walt has to shake off his doldrums to discover the killer. Because Cody Pritchard was one of four boys who raped a young Cheyenne girl and then got off almost unpunished. With most of the population of the county in the suspect frame, including Walt's best friend and most of his colleagues this wasn't the retirement run he was looking for.
I'm definitely going to be checking out the rest of this series. Absaroka is, according to Walt, one of the places people plan all their life to retire to... and then pack up for Florida after feeling the bite of their winter. The cast is largely of a certain vintage with Walt himself being a big guy with a long history behind him. The sense that the characters have all lived a life with plenty of stories to be told is one of the constants throughout the narrative with the author (Craig Johnson) filling us in with Walt's wry wit and self deprecating voice as the plot pushes forward. The natural and sometimes treacherous beauty of the region mixed with both real and fictional local history, Cheyenne culture and spirituality makes for a very palatable tasty feast of a crime novel.
I knew nothing of the tv series when I first picked this up but I'll probably have to add Longmire to my to watch list.