"Decision Points," G.W. Bush

To know my deed, ’twere best not know myself.”-Shakespeare’s Macbeth

Details With those words, Macbeth tells us that to judge ones impact on history you need to be a little bit blind as to what that impact was. The former president took these words to heart in ‘Decision Points’. The Presidents memoir was released yesterday and though I haven’t read it in it’s entirety, I did manage to get through a few key chapters. I’ve  also read reviews and responses from both sides of the Atlantic from some of the other world leaders that are key characters in this account.

The first thing that comes to mind is clueless. There is an alarming off-handedness about the implications of what’s being said. About the unfolding financial crisis at the end of his presidency. About the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. About the use of “enhanced interrogation” better known as torture.

The book is surprising in the fact that apparently it is not ghost written but is an unexpectedly engrossing memoir. But, you quickly get the feeling that reality and his memory are two different animals. For instance, he states, “Their interrogations ( of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed) helped break up plots to attack American diplomatic facilities abroad, Heathrow airport, and Canary Wharf in London, and multiple targets in the United States,” British officials have said there is no evidence to support this claim. The Heathrow alert in fact happened a month before his (Mohammed’s) arrest. In fact, British Counter-Terrorism officials have said that the most useful information provided by Mohammed was mainly related to al-Qaida’s structure and was not extracted under torture.

Later on Bush writes that German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder told him in January 2002 that the US president had his full support when it came to his aggressive Iraq policy. Bush wrote that Schröder indicated he would even stand behind Bush should the US go to war against the country. Gerhard Schröder has said that George W. Bush is not telling the truth.

On the other hand, he does sound sincere when he talks about his decision to stop drinking, and when he talks about his religion. But then he blows it when he goes on to present his anti-abortion stance and how he adamantly had to “convince Pope John Paul II not to waver in his pro-life convictions.” Uh huh, gotcha…..

You are left with the feeling that Bush, like Macbeth, need not know himself to judge himself. He constantly seems shocked and disappointed at the many failures of his presidency; Not finding WMD’s in Iraq, the financial melt down, the failure to capture bin Laden, leaked identities of CIA operatives, but then he turns around and blames these failure on others. Indeed, he judges his biggest failure in his administrations response to Hurricane Katrina. And his biggest accomplishment as “After the nightmare of September 11, America went seven and a half years without another successful terrorist attack on our soil.” So, to summarize, in his own eyes and words, his failure was in not dealing correctly with an act of god, and his fait accompli was in what terrorists didn’t do…..

I guess reality really is subjective.

 

The Dirty Lowdown

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The Last Five Books I’ve Read

Guardian of Lies Guardian of Lies-Steve Martini . Very good, Paul Madriani the Southern California defense attorney, defends Katia Solaz, a Costa Rican beauty facing a murder charge committed by Liquida, the Mexecutioner. Busy action involving escaped Guantánamo prisoners, a Colombian rebel base, a Mexican drug cartel and a plot to bring the war home to the Great Satan via a nuclear device. Fun use of tech devices by the FBI.

Rain Gods  A Novel (9781439128305)  James Lee Burke  Books.htm

Rain Gods-James Lee Burke . Enjoyed this one. Similar setting as No Country For Old Men but Burkes’ use of language and characters is so original and he had me writing musical scores as if it were a film. Jimmy Dean, Johnny Paycheck, Marty Robbins, Waylon and Willie tunes kept creeping into my mind. A young Iraqi war veteran and his girlfriend, who sings Carter Family Spirituals in honky tonks that made John Wesley Harden nervous,  find themselves on the run after a series of brutal murders in South West. Fortunately, Sheriff Hack Holland is on the case and back in a world he’d tried to leave behind so long ago.

Tempted By Trouble Tempted By Trouble-Eric Jerome Dickey. Hopefully you have read my review, but Eric has done it again with a story filled with themes from today, The price of love, the cost of morality. What would you pay for your self respect?  At once Noir Caper story with dashes of Road Story, Thriller, Love Story, Crime Novel and a Moral Tail, but as Eric recently told me, “I don’t work about the box. All I care about is the writing.” Tempted is bound to top all the best seller lists as Eric once again sets the bar awful high for anybody writing modern fiction.

Tokyo Year Zero

Tokyo Year Zero-David Peace. I hadn’t heard of David Peace or this novel, but as I was exiting a grocery store my volunteer driver wanted to buy a lottery ticket and parked me near the entrance and wouldn’t you know it, they had a bargain bin with books. Maybe there is a god. This is a darkly disturbing novel based on a real-life serial-killer case in post-WWII Japan. The despair of the “defeated” and the hate for the “victor” and the horror of how that war ended are the back drop . Inspector Minami of the Tokyo police walks a lot of tight ropes in this tale from the British author who lives in Japan and is a winner of the James Tait Black Memorial Prize for Fiction. Minami is married and a father of two, is smart, tenacious and experienced; he’s also addicted to sedatives, keeps a mistress, is in the pocket of a local crime lord and not above sampling the wares of prostitutes he encounters while roaming the city at night.

Knots

Knots-Nuruddin Farah It’s easy to see why Nuruddin Farah’s name keeps getting mentioned as a likely recipient of a Nobel for Literature. This is a strange and compelling read that will haunt you. Somalia, is shown in all its war-ravaged sadness. Cambara is a young Somalian-born woman who has spent most of her life in Toronto. Through the carelessness of her husband and his mistress, Cambara’s son has drowned and she returns to her home to properly grieve. Once there, she attempts to wrest her family property from the warlords who seized it. Despite squalor, poverty, sexual depravity, petty meanness, and the constant threat of violence, Cambara and a small cadre of good people struggle against daunting odds and the story reminds us that home, even in a forgotten and forlorn place in the world, is still home. The story showcases the solidarity and civilizing influence women have, even in the direst circumstances imaginable. This is not a beach read. If you have any desire to explore the world and learn about hero’s that don’t drive fast cars and wear Jimmy Choos , it is a story not to be missed.

Review-Tempted By Trouble by Eric Jerome Dickey

 The bad thing about reading a new Eric Jerome Dickey novel is that you know you will have to wait a year for the next o51DwdieclaL._SL160_ne.

  How far will you go for love? What compromises will you  make to keep it? Dmytryk Knight has to answer these questions in Tempted By Trouble, The soon to be Best Seller from Eric Jerome Dickey and Dotton/Penguin Group. Dmytryk must live with those answers. Dmytryk is a respectable man, a man who has seemingly fulfilled the American dream. He is college educated and has earned a white collar job in Detroit’s Auto Industry. Dmytryk is a conservative man who wears Johnston & Murphy wing tip shoes, wears conservative dark tailored suits even for dinner at home with a ghost.

He carries his fathers pocket watch and wears his fathers classical black fedora. He measures his accomplishments against the lessons he learned from his hard working parents. Until the crippling recession of the first decade of the 21st century comes along and puts his values to a test a lot of us are currently taking ourselves. Dmytryk is down sized from his comfortable six figure job, but recovers and puts on a blue collar, working the production line in the same auto plant. It’s a step back, but Dymtryk is a noble man. "It’s a birth defect," he says of that nobility. He meets Cora Mature who works on the line too. They fall in love and marry and between them they can still maintain that American Dream. Until the economy spirals into even darker times. Out of work for two years, having lost two fancy new cars, their town house in a "nice" neighborhood, run out of unemployment and spent their savings, they are forced to move into the small house that Dmytryk grew up in. The new cars are gone, but they have Dmytryk’s fathers classic ‘ 69 Buick Wildcat which he meticulously maintains, dreaming of those shiny European status symbols. They work part time jobs. Many part time jobs, Dmytryk even delivers pizzas, a far cry from the boardrooms of GM. They maintain the dream as best as two decent people can in trying times until one day Cora gives into desperation-she’d grown up poor, and wasn’t going back without a fight. Behind Dmytryk’s back, she takes a job as an exotic dancer at a "gentlemen’s club" that had no gentlemen as patrons. She take’s the stage name of Trouble, then she becomes Trouble.

Cora is an erotic and exotic beauty. Brooklyn born and Detroit raised. She is the perfect mix of Dominican, Canadian, Jamaican, Chinese and "a few other dark exotic lands combined." A stunning beauty with an erotic face that "reminds Dmytryk of Maria de Medeiros Esteves Vitorino de Almeida." Child like and seductive all at once. Her metamorphous throughout the story is more physical, where Dmytryk’s is more a transformation of the soul. Cora transforms from a woman of conservative and expensive dress and tastes into a woman that looked like she stepped off the cover of a magazine that featured stories penned by Raymond Chandler or Dashiell Hammet, maybe pulp stories about a mysterious buxom woman who carried a gun, a woman who had sex for fun and shot people for the same reason. Trouble meets a very dangerous man, a man that goes by the name of Eddie Coyle. Eddie Coyle steals from the rich and gives to the disenfranchised. Eddie Coyle seduces Trouble one night, with money, expensive meals and night spots, and a $5,000 fur coat because she is cold. Delivers her 24 hours later back to her husband and lures her into his world of bank robbery and deceit with a chance to live the high life once again. Dmytryk will do almost anything to honor his vows to love and protect Cora and seeing that he has failed at that duty, he agrees to work for Eddie Coyle.

While casually killing and dumping the body of his previous getaway driver and his wife, Eddie lays it all out for Dmytrk. First rule in this ruthless world. No witnesses. Eddie rants, "Capitalism is all about big fish devouring little fish and never stopping to masticate their prey. It’s a good thing when you are winning. When you’re losing, you see it’s faults. The country is devolving. The Tea Party is out there expressing their outrage over health care. If this is the outrage that comes from health care, it’s going to be crazy when immigration is brought to the table. Bad economy and racism, the fear of a new labor pool coming from beyond these shores to do jobs in an already jobless country-it will be a Molotov cocktail. It will be the Detroit race riots in ’43 and the Detroit race riots in ’67 and the Watts riots and the ’67 Newark riots and the Oklahoma race riots in every state, city, and town in America." Dmytryk listens. Eddie had just murdered two people and was engaging in casual conversation about politics. Dmytryk goes from driving decisions in GM boardrooms to driving battered Chevy’s as a bank robbing teams getaway driver. Sixty to zero in no time.

From there, Dmytryk is almost all in. He doesn’t so much as sell his soul, as he sells his values and compromises his beliefs at the alter of love for his wife. He never gambled his honor or that birth defect, nobility, for if there was ever an honorable thief, Dmytryk Knight is him. He develops a brotherly affection for his "teammates", the inside guys, Sammy Sanchez and Rick Bielshowsky. He asks with concern after their wives and children. He is even taken into their confidence about a possible big job in the near future that could leave them all flush and able to retire. He even deals honestly with the psychopath Eddie Coyle and his thug brother, Bishop.

This team pull many robberies following the plans of Eddie Coyle and though the money is quick and the actual jobs take 2 minutes for $20,000 profit, Dmytryk finds that Cora spends it just like he had that regular six figure salary coming in. Their life is back to normal until the money starts to run low. Then Cora grows cold and distant, disappearing for days at a time with no explanation until he goes on another job for Eddie Coyle. After one such job he comes home and Cora is gone, no forwarding address.

He even comes to understand Sammy’s mistress, and Dmytryk’s secondary getaway driver Jackie Brown and her motivations even though she is an "alcoholic who sleeps with married men, has sex with the bedroom door open wide for everyone to see, kills people for fun and shoots innocent televisions to make a point." Even though she has a filthy, arrogant and dark demeanor, her dirtiness appeals to Dmytryk’s resentment after Cora’s disappearance.  Jackie is an ex soldier who lost her children in a custody battle while serving her country in a combat zone. Dmytryk see’s her resentment and feelings of being betrayed by the same system she was fighting to protect. The same system that betrayed him and cost him his dignity and his wife.

After a job in The City of Lost Angles goes terribly wrong, and Sammy is killed and Rick is left behind as  Dmytryk has to flee one dead, the other badly wounded. Dmytrk and Jackie have to cooperate to make their getaway and wind their way across the country, Dmytryk battered and bruised after having rammed the getaway car into an innocent woman who slowed down to read a text message from her fiance. Her fiance was breaking it off in that 21st century way; texting. She ends up a hostage confused and damning her luck as she is forced to deliver Dmytryk to a meeting with Jackie. Jackie reminds Dmytrk of the First Rule: No witnesses.

From there, Jackie and Eddie Coyle lures Dmytryk into one final job. The big job.Eddie informs him, "By the way, Rick didn’t make it. Dmytryk asks, "Does his wife know?" Eddie answers, "She knows and she knows to keep her mouth closed. If we have to visit her, it won’t be to bring flowers." Eddie also tells Dmytryk that the secirity gaurd at the bank died, meaning that Dmytryk would face a capital musder charge if anybody talks.The big job is all that matters to Eddie Coyle and Jackie Brown . The job that will allow her to kidnapp her own children and flee to South America. Maybe Dmytryk will come with her. He hasn’t Cora to go back to. She seduces Dymtryk, because he is a necessary piece of the plan, the meal ticket out of town. So, they make their way to Georgia where Eddie Coyle is waiting with the plan for their retirement. A plan that will leave Dmytryk living in a suburb of Detroit not far from downtown madness and near the corner of redemption.

Mr. Dickey has written a winner that is bound to top all the Best Seller lists. It is a dark work on canvass painted from many pallets. Noir, but not really Noir because in  Noir stories the characters are losers and are doomed. They may not die, but they probably should. And Tempted is filled with many characters that the reader wants to have win. You’ll want them to redeem themselves, with the possible exception of Eddie Coyle. It’s got a daub of Thriller written in there, but it is not strictly a thriller. It does have plenty of action that will keep you on the edge of your seat and licking your fingers to turn pages as fast as possible, but a good deal of the "thrill factor" is in what will the characters do next. How will they react under morally challenging pressure. It’s certainly a bit of a crime novel, but their are cops only peripherally involved and you need cops chasing bad guys for a "crime novel". It also is a bit of a "Road Story" but not purely so since the geographic destinations are secondary to the destinations of the heart and soul. What Mr. Dickey has done here is transcend genre. He has written a tale that is  all of those things mentioned above and a moral tale at the same time. A tale with contemporary themes, readily empathized with by a large portion of the planets populace at this point in history. A tale that could almost be told about any number of people real or fictitious in these times of political and economic upheaval that you, the reader, may be dealing with right now. Mr. Dickey has once again proven that he isn’t just the best African American novelist working today, but indeed among the absolute best American Authors. In the end-it’s a story of how we struggle and how we overcome, a great tale of survival and a love that….let’s call it a great love story…that’s what we do.

(I’d like to thank Eric Jerome Dickey and Ava Kavyani, Mr. Dickey’s Publicist at Dutton/Penguin for providing the early release copy of Tempted By Trouble-Available August 17th in bookstores everywhere. Preorder it now from Amazon by clicking the book covers above.)

The Dirty Lowdown

Robert Carraher

Tempted By Trouble-Eric Jerome Dickey’s Newest Novel Available August 17th

Tempted by Trouble

 

I am about half way through Tempted By Trouble and will be posting a review here and at Amazon, I anticipate Monday the 9th (I am taking extensive notes as I read), but I am so pleased with the book, I thought I’d put the link to Amazon up here so that you guys can preorder it. Tempted By Trouble Preorder now. Once again, Eric has escaped the tag "genre". The story has some nice noir elements, and I am loving it! Preorder now you guys and girls, I guarantee you will love this book.

 

The Dirty Lowdown

Whisper of the Seventh Thunder-Larry Brooks

Whsper of 7th Thunder

    I’ve said it time and time again. I don’t like apocalyptic thrillers, too sci-fi for me, too adolescent fantasy. I take it back. This book grabs you from page one and never lets go. It stands right along side Dan Browns The Da Vinci Code, and may just out do him.

    I have been hooked on Brooks since his first novel, Darkness Bound and was used to his well developed characters and his ability as a master story teller to weave a complex plot into a very believable tale. He’s done that here in spades. A love story, religious myth/fable throw in a conspiracy or two. International super power politics and some evil men with good intentions. Some good men with no intentions and you have a very good read. One of the best so far this year and maybe in a couple of years.

    Larry Brooks writes characters where you’ll find yourself hearing their voice, the inflection, the sarcasm, the pleading and other emotions you’d hear face to face with a person. You can see in your mind the facial expressions, the nervous tics, the body language, the way they shift their stance. None of these things are necessarily in the words, but they are between the lines somehow, and you start playing movies in you head as you read along. It doesn’t hurt that Brooks writes dialogue that is so complete, yet never forced. His dialogue has a rhythm and flow that invokes Elmore Leonard or James Ellroy, yet it stands apart , and doesn’t mimic them. Its his rhythm, but a nuance not many authors can maintain throughout a body of work.

   Okay, the story line without any spoilers. The prologue is not to be missed or skimmed over in order to get to the eat, it sets up the historicity of the entire book with the story of John the Divine, Google that for a little back ground, but read it nonetheless because Brooks does such a good job. Gabriel Stone loses his wife and unborn child in a plane crash that still has me suspicious. Stone was working on a novel with religious themes when he lost his wife. His wife was a true believer, and didn’t want him to write his book. In the aftermath of this tragic “accident” he floats along with his grief until one night, in rebellion perhaps, he dumps all his dead wife’s religious tomes in the lake and vows to finish his book.

   Across the globe, an Israeli computer geek builds an amazing computer devoted to cryptography and decoding or finding hidden codes in the book of Revelation. What he finds is shocking and implications straight from today’s headlines. As an aside, the technology is very real and written well, one of my pet peeves with writers who use technology in their works is that they rarely do it well or believably.

   As the book gets close to publication, two shadowy groups with shadowy intentions, emerge that do not want the book to reach the publics eye. Brooks introduces all the major players in a series of short, almost James Patterson style chapters. While all these global players are coming into focus, so does Stone in a very personal way as he measures himself against a world, and his own works that he doesn’t quiet comprehend.

   In typical Larry Brooks style, he employs a masters eye at bringing so many pieces, large and small, together. He crafted a story that you’ll be thinking about for a month or longer, once you have finished the book. I completed it two days ago, and I keep picking it back up to reread certain passages just to see if I missed something.

   Don’t miss this book and don’t wait for the movie. It’s good to see Larry back, after five years and he came back with a vengeance.

 

Robert Carraher
The Dirty Lowdown”

© 2010 Robert Carraher All rights reserved

Advanced Review THE END GAME

 

Advanced Review THE END GAME

theendgame

Its not often I get excited about a new author writing a crime/mystery novel. It must be the most explored genre for new authors. But Gerrie Ferris-Finger is in another category. “The End Game” is also. WINNER OF ST. MARTIN’S MINOTAUR/MALICE DOMESTIC BEST FIRST MYSTERY NOVEL, it tackles a scary topic. The disappearance of children. Her main character, Moriah Dru, runs an agency called Child Trace, Inc. She’s retired from the police force and often works with her ex-partner, Rick Lake , Lake is also her lover. Dru is hired to find two sisters who’ve gone missing after their foster parents’ house burns down and the foster parents were found dead in the wreckage. It soon becomes apparent that this is not a case of scarred little girls disappearing after an accident, and as Sherlock used to say, the game is afoot. Ferris’ writes her characters well, and her locale, the Atlanta area, and she introduces you to the suspects and the neighborhood in a way you won’t forget.

Ferris’ style isn’t warm and fuzzy, it’s fairly hard boiled and her prose are spare and hard edged. She also lets the dialogue drive the story and doesn’t do mush hand wringing or soap box preaching, although that must have been difficult to avoid with such a subject. But she does educate you throughout the chase as to the ways that children can be exploited.

So far I have only read advanced reviews and excerpts since the book won’t be out until April 27th, but you can do like I did and advance order it on Amazon. I’m not sure whether a Kindle version is planned as yet, but with the success this book is bound to have, it can’t be far behind. As I hope the next Dru, Lake novel is also. This pair are a team we need to see again….and again and again.

Gerrie Farris-Finger is a Missouri native and a Mizzou grad. She has spent most of her professional life as Journalist with the The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. She has previously published Romance Novels. Be sure to read the excerpt at her site, here: http://www.gerrieferrisfinger.com/id3.html  and there is a very good review on The Crime Writers Blog written by Robin Agnew of Aunt Agatha Mysteries, Detection & True Crime Books in Ann Arbor, MI. http://crimewritersblog.blogspot.com/2010/03/review-end-game.html

Robert Carraher

Spanking Watson

Spanking Watson: A Novel (Kinky Friedman Novels)

  This book has it all, Lesbians, nuns, the mob, Nazis and home improvement. The Kinkster is up to his old tricks with a plot that is absurd, comical and hipster cool. Kinky has a problem with his upstairs neighbor, who hosts a lesbian dance class, the girls are so enthusiastic that Kinky’ ceiling is coming down. He calls in a favor from a mob boss to get it fixed, but these guys don’t exactly work fast…one night, in frustration, Kinky gets blotto and writes a threatening note, totally in jest of course, but before he can destroy it one of his friends, and a member of the Village Irregulars comes across the note and pronounces the author (unknown to the Village Irregular) as a psycho killer. Kinky covers his tracks by saying the note was left on the upstairs neighbors door, and that being as how Kinky doesn’t have any gigs with his band, The Texas Jew Boys, and he is a veritable Sherlock Holmes as an amateur detective, he is handling the case. Well, seeing as how he has backed himself into a corner, he decides to have a little fun with it. He starts by convincing all the different Village Irregulars that only he or she is Watson to Kinkys Holms and sending them all on an assignment meant to disrupt the lesbian dance instructors life. And so the antics begin.

Just as a taste, chapter 15 starts out: “Jesus Christ was the first Texas Jewboy. Of course Texas had not been invented yet, but it surely existed in the vast, hot, dusty wanderings of the Israelites, not to mention the similarity of spiritual climate between looking for a manger in Bethlehem and finding a hotel room in Dallas, It’s also true that if you put cowboy hats and colorful; bandanas on Jesus’ loyal, zealous, somewhat eccentric disciples, they all tend to look and act like Gabby Hayes.”

If you are not familiar with Kinky Freidman, he is an American singer, songwriter,novelist, and humorist,and one time candidate for Texas Governor. He led the real life Texas Jewboys band who are a bit of a satirical send off to Bob Wills and The Texas Playboys, or so the rumor says. Other members of this esteemed musical outfit are Little Jewford, Big Nig, Panama Red, Wichita Culpepper, Sky Cap Adams, Rainbow Colours, and Snakebite Jacobs…..yeah, right. Perhaps their most famous song is “Get your Biscuits in the Oven and your Buns in the Bed” then again, "Asshole from El Paso" was pretty well received too. Needless to say, Kinky is all about social commentary (in a pigs eye). His books are filled with the same mix of satire, absurd comedy hipster chic grammar and a sprinkling of just the right amount of vulgarities to get you kicked of the golf course at most country clubs. Read him and enjoy. http://www.kinkyfriedman.com/

 

RC

© 2010 Robert Carraher All rights reserved

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