I haven’t been posting much about books here lately. I’ve been very busy. Not only do I read, I also write and I also produce ebooks for other writers. Not that I’m reading less, but I have less time to natter on about it.
In no particular order, some books I’ve read lately that you might find fun and/or interesting to read, too.
The Moses MacGuire series by Josh Stallings.
When I first started reading about Moses I wasn’t sure I’d like him. He’s a burnt out strip club bouncer with a prison record and few socially redeeming qualities. He grew on me. Bad boys tend to do that. Stallings writes gritty, unapologetic thrillers with nasty bad guys, nasty crimes and a lot of surprising twists. As soon as I finished reading Beautiful, Naked & Dead, I immediately read Out There Bad. Pretty soon there’ll be a new Moses story, One More Body. I’m looking forward to it.
Moses McGuire a suicidal strip club bouncer is out to avenge the death of one of his girls. From his East L.A. home, through the legal brothels of Nevada and finally to a battle with the mob in the mountains above Palo Alto, it is a sex soaked, rage driven, road trip from hell.
“Out There Bad is the follow up novel to the critically claimed Beautiful, Naked & Dead. Armenian mobsters, Russian strippers, human traffickers, Mexican assassins, they all want Moses dead. Hell most days, even Moses wants Moses dead, but he’ll have to put his dark thoughts on hold. Somewhere between Moscow and LA a young girl has disappeared. The hunt for her will take Moses deep into the heart of Mexico. He will be taught once again that that which does not kill you, often leaves you scarred for life.”
On the paranormal side, two stories from two of my favorite authors: Ben Aaronovitch and J.F. Lewis. Aaronovitch writes the Peter Grant series about a London cop who ends up apprenticed to a wizard. Sort of Harry Potter meets Sherlock Holmes, but funnier. The latest is Whispers Underground where Peter has to solve a magical murder with a most mundane motive. Then we have J.F. Lewis who writes the wildly funny Void City novels featuring Eric the vampire and a screwball cast of creatures. A Corpse of Mistaken Identity is not a Void City novel, it’s a novella featuring a zaomancer (a very special resurrectionist). I really hope everybody runs out and buys this to encourage Lewis to write more about the zaomancers.
If someone dies an unnatural death, an untimely death, and you have to have them back, no matter what the cost… Marlo Morne can help, but there are rules, time is an important factor, and there are always clients who want those rules to be broken on their behalf.
For a change of pace from murder, magic and mayhem, I read a Regency romance, The Taming of Lady Kate, by G. G. Vandagriff, the second in her series: Three Rogues and Their Ladies. Written with wit and style and plenty of big sigh romance.
Back to murder and mayhem, but this time in sci-fi, Riding Fourth, by M. H. Mead. Let us call it carpooling run amok. This short story (available free right now!) is a teaser for a new novel, Taking the Highway, coming in December. Can’t hardly wait.
That’s not all I’ve read, but I have to get back to work. Ebooks don’t format themselves, you know.
“Between guilt and regret?” I laughed. “A big one. I’m guilty because I know a lot of what I’ve done is wrong, but to be sorry, I’d have to regret doing it, and the only thing I’m really sorry about”–her head darted in, thinking she had me, but I was too fast and caught her by the hair, slinging her around and letting go as she rocketed back toward my lane–“is that horrible first frame split.”
“You son of a–” The ball return cut her off again.
“Hey,” I yelled, “here’s an idea. If your head comes off, don’t start a fight in a goddam bowling alley.”
Do you dig bad boys? I’m not talking about posers with leather jackets and permanent sneers. Nor do I mean jerks and assholes. I’m talking genuine anti-heroes. They don’t defy convention, they reject it. You won’t see them sneering at polite society. Uh uh, real anti-heroes spit at it, or punch it in the face. They want to be left alone to do their own thing without a bunch of finger-wagging, tut tutting, rules, regulations or laws. Mess with them at your own risk, because anti-heroes fight back. They fight dirty. Do them wrong, earn a place on their shit list, and oh man, you will be so very sorry.
Anti-heroes appeal to me because they say the things good manners won’t allow me to say. They do things I’d never have the guts to do. If you pay attention, you see they’re doing wrong for the right reasons. Not for power or greed or self-aggrandizement. You’ll never see a true anti-hero running for political office (though some are thrust, unwillingly and often unwittingly, into leadership roles). They do what they do for justice or for love. Anti-heroes play for high stakes. The difference between heroes and anti-heroes is, heroes know they are on the right side. The do the right thing because it is the right thing, their nobility springs from good intentions. Anti-heroes don’t give a shit. Most would be either appalled or dumbfounded that anyone would be so stupid as to think they are nice guys.
Which brings me to Eric Courtney, baddest of the bad boys, (anti)hero of Lewis’s Void City novels. I first met him in Staked and remember thinking, “Oh my God, why am I liking this guy?” He kills people. When he gets pissed off (or even slightly annoyed) heads roll–literally. Eric is a vampire. He hates other vampires. He pretty much hates all supernatural creatures. He wants to be left alone. When you’re an uber-vamp and pretty much the most powerful being on several planes of existence, other folks get a little obsessed with taking you down. Yeah, never a good idea.
And oh yeah, Eric is a horndog. So he has women problems, too. They fall in love with him, then they want to kill him.
Except for Greta, Eric’s daughter. Lewis pulled off a two-fer with Greta, a female anti-hero. Greta is a monster with a kick. She can figure out how to kill anybody, or anything. Greta would be just another monster, someone you’d hope would meet a gruesome and well-deserved end… except. Greta loves her daddy.
“So you love him,” Scrytha shouted. “Unconditionally. So what! Love does not conquer all!”
But I didn’t need love to conquer all. I only needed love to conquer her.
Anti-heroes remind us that there is always something bigger than ourselves. Good manners, societal norms, convention, rules. In the great scheme of things, those are petty. The important stuff, the big things–love, loyalty, justice–sometimes it takes a real kick-ass, badass to point out that those are the only things that really matter.
Lest you think I’m getting too philosophical and lofty, Lewis is a funny, funny writer, too.
If you like vampires, action, blood, magically murderous Mustangs, guts, grue, gore, sex, belly laughs and amazement at how inventive and wildly imaginative story-telling can be, check out the Void City novels. Start at the beginning with Staked, then follow Eric’s bad-assery with Revamped, Crossed and finally Burned.
What about you, readers? Do you have a fondness for the real bad boys? Let me know who your favorite anti-heroes are.
Burned, by J. F. Lewis, available in paperback and ebook
Discovered: author is on my must-buy list
Purchased: January 31, 2012, $7.99 ebook