Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Short Heads-Up Reviews



I recently finished reading a couple novels you might find interesting. One is Lee Child's latest Jack Reacher novel, Nothing to Lose. The other is John Camp's (under his pseudonym, John Sandford) latest Lucas Davenport, Phantom Prey.

Child's character, Jack Reacher, is a former MP officer who travels about with no more than the clothes he's wearing, a toothbrush, and a bank card. A typical Reacher novel has him blow into a town, get involved in some bad situation through no fault of his own, then addressing the problem by kicking carloads of ass. If you are a Travis McGee fan, you'll recognize Reacher, since he could easily be Trav's bastard grandson. (McGee quiz of the day -- two points, but only if you can do it from memory and not by looking for it on the web: Meyer is Travis's best buddy. Who is Miss Agnes?)

Nothing to Lose is typical Reacher, the -- I think -- 12th adventure -- and Reacher makes other Competent Men look like Keystone Cops. These books are a guilty pleasure for me -- this guy fights like Mel Gibson shoots in Lethal Weapon -- great fun to watch, totally unbelievable ...

Lucas Davenport is a former cop, now working for a state agency, the Minnesota BCA -- the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension -- as an investigator, in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area. He's rich, having started a computer game biz that he sold; married to a surgeon, whose name is "Weather;" a father; and has impeccable fashion sense. At one point, the Governor of the state tells him that socks and sleepwear should always be slightly gay, and he realizes this is true ...

Daveport is not nearly as invulnerable as Reacher -- he's been shot up a few times and he makes missteps, but he always gets the job done. There are eighteen "Prey" novels that center around Davenport, and a couple others that feature other cops with Davenport doing a minor role.

Camp has also written several novels featuring Kidd, a computer thief and artist, who gets mentioned in the Prey books now and again.

If you are looking for a good way to while away an evening, either of these writers are worth the trip, and if you like these books, there are enough others in the series to keep you going for a couple months.

9 comments:

Dan Moran said...

Please, make it somethign hard. Miss Agnes is the blue Rolls, converted from a pickup truck and painted a ghastly electric blue. In one book McGee dumps her into a canal while swerving to miss a naked girl running across the road.

I wish I was McGee.

Then the local law beats up Meyer, and McGee gets into a righteous state ...

Four points to the person who can tell me who Miss Agnes is named after, and why the color has something to do with it ...

~~~~~

I just read Phantom Prey myself, it's one of the very few series I buy in hardcover. Reliable as usual, but I'm getting a little tired of Lucas, and I suspect Sandford is too.

Steve Perry said...

Ooh, ooh, I know, I know! But I'll give somebody else a chance.

What color did the mechanic want to paint her after the wreck?

Yep, I've heard it bandied about in publishing circles that a science fiction or mystery series is usually good for about a dozen, and then it starts to peter out.

Even McGee was getting long in the tooth, though I'd have kept buying them if silly ole John D. hadn't up and died. (That's what Dan Rowan had to say about it when we exchanged a couple of letters back when -- I can't believe the silly bastard up and died. And Rowan didn't survive him by much. Their book of letters back and forth was interesting.)

I wonder if they'd let me write a series staring Trav's daughter?

Dan Moran said...

You've stumped me, I don't recall. I do remember Travis worrying that the kid working on her was going to bondo her up rather than hammering out the dents and using bondo only where dead necessary.

"I wonder if they'd let me write a series starring Trav's daughter?"

... very cool idea.

Steve Perry said...

Yellow ...

Sean said...

Been reading Prey novels since college... up there with Stout, Gibson, Stephenson, Butcher, Perry (yes you), Vacchs, Barnes, and Cook on the "AllTimeFavs/required reading list".

I love the Davenport novels, and I agree they seem to be getting a little forced (same with the Reacher books). But the Kidd stuff is REALLY good... fun characters, an artist, hacker, tough-guy-by-circumstance. Wish he would write some more of those.

Aaron said...

All right, Dan. Miss Agnes is named after one of McGee's teachers (can't remember which grade), and the color refers to the teacher's hair. :-)

Aaron Stultz

B. Smith said...

I love the Jack Reacher books. Like Steve said they are totally implausible but great fun.

It goes without saying that the Prey novels are a must read but I love the Kidd novels as well. It was sort of a shock to see him and LuEllen being so domestic. It did seem that the itch was still there. I hope Sandford gives us one more caper.

Did anyone read Dark of the Moon? It was a spinoff of the Prey series with Virgil Flowers as the main character.

Steve Perry said...

"That fuckin' Flowers ..."

Dan Moran said...

I hereby dispense: four points to Aaron, to be spent as he wishes.

That fuckin' Flowers novel was pretty good, a little better than the recent Davenport novels. Though not as good as the Kidd novels.