Friday, June 19, 2009

Kill City?

The following link was posted to rec.arts.mystery newsgroup by Ian.
It's a graphic map of the homicides committed in New York City between 2003 - 2009. They number 3,402; an average of 540 a year.

For someone like me who comes from a small place with a population of about 70,000 which has a homicide rate you could count on the fingers of one hand each year, this is just mind-boggling.

You can mouse-over the map and read the statistics of each homicide. The age and ethnicity of the victim and perpetrator, the motive and the weapon used.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Some times they just don't think it through do they?

This turned up on one of my newsgroups and it so tickled my sense of humour I just had to share.

From the New Scotsman.

"...However, one pensioner who also found fame on Britain's Got Talent as
a breakdancer has found the downside of celebrity after part of his
disability benefits were stopped when he was seen by government
officials on the show.

Fred Bowers, 73, from Leicestershire, was an instant hit when he
performed the act, honed on dance floors seven days a week, in front
of millions of viewers."

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

When truth truly is stranger than fiction

Australians with even a passing interest in crime and crime fiction will be familiar with the Melbourne gangland wars and the demise of the Moran family. Everyone thought that saga was over, but no. More developments this week.

Yet another member of the family has been gunned down. Desmond Moran, brother of Lewis Moran (murdered), uncle to brothers Jason and Mark Moran (both murdered). Desmond was widely regarded as a pretty minor player in the Melbourne underworld.

Now his sister-in-law, the larger-than-life Judy Moran has been arrested for being an accessory after the fact of his murder as well as Suzie Kane, sister-in-law of her murdered son Jason . Kane's boyfriend (both of whom were living with Judy) has been charged with the murder of Desmond.

If you wrote a soap opera about all this, no one would believe it. It would be dismissed as being too fanciful.

If you want to find out more about this fascinating saga visit for a potted family history
for comprehensive coverage.

Do you follow true crime stories like this and if so which ones have sparked your interest?

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Review; THE PREACHER - Camilla Lackberg

Puhblisher: Harper Collins
This edition published: 2008
ISBN: 978 0 00 725395 1

Twenty years ago two holiday makers disappeared from the tourist town of Fjällbacka. Now a young boy has discovered the bodies along with a third which seems to be fresh.

Detective Patrik Hedstrom is on vacation. His partner, Erica is expecting their first child in less than a month. Fjällbacka is experiencing a heatwave and Erica is restless and short-tempered so when Patrik receives a phone call cutting short his holiday he isn’t too upset.

Attention focuses on the Hult family. A family divided by the suicide of one member who was the prime suspect in the disappearance of the holiday makers. It is also a family divided by wealth: one branch inherited the estate and has prospered, the other lives in poverty. This is a family of misfits, religious fanatics and criminals. A rich vein of suspects in anyone’s book.

Patrik also has to deal with Erica and the unwanted visitors who keep turning up on their doorstep wanting to take advantage of their hospitality for a cheap holiday during the summer season.

These days translated books are things of quality; it’s seamless. If it wasn’t for the name of the translator in the book you’d never know it wasn’t originally written in English The other upside of translated books is that rarely do the publishers go to the extra cost of hiring a translator if the book is a dud.

THE PREACHER is a first rate detective novel. The mystery really sucks you in, there are clues and red herrings scattered everywhere. I changed my mind about the murderer a number of times while reading the book. I’d think I had it nailed and Lackberg would throw in another twist. I figured it out about the same time as the author revealed whodunit.


Author: Ken Bruen
Publisher: St Martin’s Minotaur
Published: 2008
isbn: 978 0 312 38440 1

WOW!! A wow book. What is a wow book? A wow book is a book that has you glued to the pages, resenting every interruption. A wow book sees your hubby putting his head around the bedroom door saying, “aren’t you getting up today?” A wow book finds you lying in the bathtub and realising with a jolt you’ve been in there so long reading this book that the water has nearly gone cold.

ONCE WERE COPS by Ken Bruen is a WOW book.

Michael O’Shea is a Guard (Irish police officer) in Northern Ireland. He is known simply as Shea, Shea is seen as a good cop, but he is hiding a secret. A very dark secret. Shea has a black heart and a taste for violence and death; especially young women with swan-like necks.

Northern Ireland and New York City have a police officer exchange programme. Shea feels like his dream has come true when he is selected to spend a year on the streets of New York City. The big apple. Or in Shea’s case The Rotten Apple. Shea finds himself teamed with Kebar, an officer whose name comes from the fact that he likes to mete out justice with short metal stick called a K-bar. Kebar is corrupt and unstable. The murder of his beloved sister puts him over the edge.

No one could ever in their wildest dreams describe Bruen’s writing as cozy. Bruen is contemporary noir. Midnight noir.. His writing is to the point and punchy in every sense of the word. Pick up a Ken Bruen novel and you’re hooked. I guarantee your bath-water will be ice-cold before you know it.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Review: FLESH AND BONE by Jefferson Bass

Publisher: Quercus
Published: 2007
ISBN: 978 1 84724 280 8

I'm always excited when I read a book that is first in a new series that I enjoy. A few weeks ago I reviewed Carved in Bone by Jefferson Bass, the first in the Body Farm series, which I thoroughly enjoyed. So it was with some anticipation I picked up FLESH AND BONE; the 2nd in the series.

Sadly, FLESH AND BONE didn't live up to my expectations. The plot revolves around the protagonist, Dr Bill Brockton being framed for the murder of a close friend. There is also a secondary thread of the murder of a man who had been dressed as a woman. Are they connected?

What worked so well in the first book seems be lacklustre in this one. There are so many cliches that I don't know where to begin. The first is the hero being framed for murder by someone with a grudge. It was patently obvious to me who it was almost from the word go. I could see only one suspect. Then there is the transgender "southern belle" nightclub singer with a heart of gold. Oh pu-leaze. And let's not forget the defence lawyer who is a shark; up until he defends the hero, whereupon he sees the light and stops taking on cases where he knows the accused is guilty. This is where the book almost hit my bedroom wall with great velocity; if it hadn't been a library book it might have. And what cliche wouldn't be complete without a gathering of the book's characters at the end to pay tribute to one of their fallen colleagues. Yes, folks that was thrown in there too.

Dr Bill Brockton is painted as a good man, who is uncomplicated and does a difficult job. Now that's all very fine when the book f0cuses on the job. You like the guy and the job is fascinating, but when that uncomplicated man is in a relationship that is the focus of the book, it falls down completely. Romances involving uncomplicated characters just aren't interesting.

After such a good debut, I'm prepared to give Bass another chance but it will be a while before I try another of his books.