My books can be purchased as e-books for only $1.99. If interested, just click here: Books.
Match Play is a golf/suspense novel. Dust of Autumn is a bloody one set in upstate New York. Prairie View is set in South Dakota, with a final scene atop Rattlesnake Butte. Life in the Arbor is a children's book about Rollie Rabbit and his friends (on about a fourth grade level). The Black Widow involves an elaborate extortion scheme. Doggy-Dog World is my memoir. And ES3 is a description of my method for examining English sentence structure.
In case anyone is interested in any of my past posts, an archive list can be found at the bottom of this page.
My newest novel, Happy Valley, can be found here.

Thursday, May 29

Robert Crais & Young Frankenstein

I’ve written about Robert Crais and his Elvis Cole series in the past, and here he is again. I’m in the middle of a re-read, just as I’ve done with so many other action/thriller authors. Once I find an author I really like, I latch on like a dog on a bone, having to read him /her again to see what makes him/her tick. Crais, like so many others, begins simply, with short novels, only semi-serious about his cast of characters and the initial plots, almost like he’s searching around to find what works and what doesn’t work, with a style in need of improving. A lot like the early works by Ed McBain and Robert B. Parker, who both began writing and selling manuscripts in the days of pulp fiction in the Fifties and Sixties. But just as they kept stylistically improving, writing ever longer novels and more serious examinations of character and plot, so too has Robert Crais. The Elvis Cole series lengthens, deepens, grows ever darker and more serious as we learn more and more about Cole and his Hawklike sidekick Joe Pike. Joe Pike, Cole’s friend and partner in the agency, is as tough and taciturn as Spenser’s Hawk. Elvis Cole is the West Coast equivalent of the Boston Spenser, with an office decorated with odd, rather flippant adornments: the Felix the Cat clock on the wall, with eyes and tail moving back and forth with each second, the collection of Disney figurines he keeps on his desk, the collection of business cards he keeps in his desk, proclaiming himself to be the world’s greatest detective. The writing improves through each of the sixteen in the series. Here’s a tiny taste reflecting the weather-related insecurities of Californians: “People who lived on the hillsides would soon emerge from their homes to inspect the slopes, searching for cracks and bulges. The world grew unstable when rain fell in Los Angeles. Soil held firm only moments before could flow without warning like lava, sweeping away cars and houses like toys. The earth lost its certainty, and anchors failed.” (p. 28, The Forgotten Man) That’s not great writing, but it’s sure not bad.

The Arizona Broadway Theatre’s latest show is Mel Brook’s Young Frankenstein, and it was laughably obscene and another wonderful example of what ABT can do with a tiny stage and maximum seating for only about four hundred diners. I continue to be amazed at how professional ABT is, with elaborate sets, hand-made costumes, talented singers and dancers, and a seven-piece pit band that performs as well as any much larger orchestra. A long time ago I’d seen the film version starring Gene Wilder, Madeline Kahn, Marty Feldman, Cloris Leachman, Teri Garr, Peter Boyle, and Gene Hackman, a very funny flick, but I’d never seen the musical version. It was every bit as good as the movie, and ABT did it proud.
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