January has gotten off to a pretty decent start in reading terms. For the early part of this year I'm paying more attention to my tbr and devoting time to books that have sat on the shelf for far too long. Here's my thoughts on my recent reads:
THE MAD SCULPTOR by Harold Schechter
(Non-fiction / True Crime)
Entertaining throughout with enough pulp sentiments to detach the reader from the horrific nature of the murders described within the bloodstained pages. Each character read as if crafted by fiction rather than fact such was the easy manner and heavy pulp overtones used to tell Bob Irwin's story and that of his unsuspecting victims. As a pulp enthusiast I lapped this up and will look to read more from this author.
TARGET FOR THEIR DARK DESIRE by Carter Brown
(Pulp / Al Wheeler series)
A strong opening stanza introduced all the key elements of a dime store pulp; an attractive victim, a dame in distress, a hero cop, and a list of shady suspects conveniently written in the victim's diary. The mystery; a soupy mix of everything pulp. Unfortunately this book was marred by a juvenile police chief whose characterization was unbelievable and his dialogue cringe worthy. Also the later stages of the mystery introduced one too many elements; had Carter Brown kept it simple and focused on the call girl death mystery, TARGET FOR THEIR DARK DESIRE would've been much better. Complaints aside, this is a decent Al Wheeler book and a must read for Carter Brown fans.
BOMBSHELL by Barbara Collins and Max Allan Collins
(Historical-Fiction mash-up / Semi-thriller)
Marilyn Monroe foils an assassination attempt on Russian Premier Nikita Khrushchev circa 1959. Blending fact with liberal fiction, the authors craft an okay read that pits the proverbial bombshell against bullets in an internal affair which threatens to start WW III. Whilst both Khrushchev and Monroe are well characterized and easily readable BOMBSHELL suffered from too many pages with too little progressive content. BOMBSHELL wasn't a book I wanted to keep reading unfortunately - drab despite an interesting concept. The authors also focused far too much on Monroe's intellectual prowess which did everything but enforce that element of her as a character in this book. I get where the authors were taking this but it just missed the mark for me.