Sunday, January 02, 2011


For the last couple of weeks I've been doing a lot of reading, mainly focusing on a couple of new authors.

Greg Iles:
Iles writes in the mystery/adventure mode, most stories are centered in his home state of Mississippi and many in the exotic (oldest city on the Mississippi river? in America?) of Natches. It is a measure of his writing skill that I now wish to visit Natches almost as much as I wish to visit Charlotte, and Savannah.

Iles has a 'core' cast of characters who he often includes in apparently "otherwise unrelated" stories. At the same time, he manages to make each book unique and always entertaining.

It's interesting to look at the back-cover pictures of the authors. In the case of Iles, based purely on his photographs, I wouldn't be surprised to have him walk up to me on the mean streets of Corvallis, Oregon and beg me for loose change; although I would be even more likely to see him camped on the concrete doorsteps of the local "Curves" building between the beltline feeder street and the newest Safeway store, with his mangy cur mutt and his cardboard sign declaring him a Vietnam Veteran willing to work for food .. in hopes of a handout from the lady of the house through the passenger-side window (rolled down only a couple of inches). He is THAT weird looking!

I think that the very best, most innovative writers are probably weird looking. Distinguished looking best-selling authors such as James Patterson and John Sandford tend to write according to a strict formula, and early in their career take on a coterie of 'co-authors'; "apprentices" who perhaps do all the work under nominal guidance from their best-seller "master". (Okay, that last part probably applies more to Patterson than to Sandford.)

Andrew Klaven:
I first "met" Andrew Klaven as a supporting member of the PJTV universe. There he "plays" a befuddled man striving mightily but with little success as an apologist for the Obama Administration. Last Christmas (2009) he read a 5-part Ghost Story, not all of which I was able to read before PJTV changed their membership policy, and I was (and still am) unwilling to spend as little as $5/month to subscribe to the "premium" and archived articles.

But when I was searching for Greg Iles books last month, I noticed that on the bookshelf section to the right of the "I-books", there was a section of "K-books" and Andrew Klaven's name caught my eye. I bought one of his books ("Shotgun Alley") and after I had read all of the Iles books that I bought last week, I then read the Klaven book.

This week when I went to the book store, I bought the two remaining unread Iles books ... and a half-dozen of the Klaven books.

It was only after I read Klaven's 1995 book "True Crime" .. which was made into a major motion picture starring Clint Eastwood ... that I realized that I had bought not only the original book, I had also bought the version which came after the release of the motion picture.

Well, I was in a Feeding Frenzy and I didn't realize my duplicated effort until I sorted them all out. Anyone want an almost-new, almost-unread of "True Crime"? I can get it for you wholesale.

Klaven as a writer is not much like Iles. In the first place, his cover-jacket photo is much more "normal". In fact, it's hard to reconcile his 1995 photo with his 2010 appearance on the Internet videos. He originally had some close-cropped hair, and a close-cropped beard. Today on PJTV, he is entirely smooth shaven on both pate and chin. The only clues are the shape of the nose, the chin, and the eyes. But his website makes it clear that not only is he both presenter and author, but he is still writing mystery/adventure stories.

I find that oddly comforting.

He is also unlike Iles in that he has a strict formula (in the books which I have so far read; I admit that I have not read enough to discern a departure from the formula) in his creations. The Klaven book I'm currently reading, "The Occult", seems to be different in the first hour of reading from his previous books ... but then, he has a mini-series which he seems to return to occasional, and I haven't read enough of his work to discern the common characteristics of his authorship. I'm hoping that his formula applies mainly to his mini-series; or if not that, then the organization by chapters reflects his publisher more than it does his personal style.

By this time next week, I may be sufficiently familiar with his work to provide a more definitive characterization. I'm holding the last Greg Iles book as "desert" after I wrap up the current collection of Klaven. Who knows? Maybe by the time I finish I may consider Klaven to be the desert, and Iles the entree'.

I initially started reading Iles because my so-called friend, the egregious Hobo Brasser (who regularly swaps books with me) included in his latest return "The Turning Angel" by Iles. As is usually the case .. he did the same thing to me by including one copy of Vince Flynn in 2009, and so far it has cost me over $50 $100 to find, buy and read all of Flynn's other "Mitch Rapp" novels. He did the same thing to me in 2007 with Lee Childs' "Reacher" novels.

I have most of the Iles novels, and perhaps half of the Klaven novels (published to date).

You can be sure that I will provide The Hobo Brasser with a couple of Iles books ... those with repeating characters and an obviously incomplete story .. and a similar selection of Klaven novels as well. It is my most fervent hope that I cause my so-called "friend" a similar economic hardship, if only to make a point.

Besides, that, I'll do it because I'm essentially a vindictive S.O.B.
And because I can.

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