A Rage in Harlem by Chester Himes

A Rage in Harlem by Chester Himes

A Rage in Harlem is full of crime, violence, memorable characters, and a dark sense of humor. The descriptions are vivid and Himes brings to life a Harlem that is both realistic and unbelievable, in that way that places are so different from my own experiences. The main character is novel is about an undertaker's assistant, Jackson, a naive church-going man, not too bright, who is in love with a faithless, light-skinned young lady, who borrows (without permission) cash from his boss in order to take advantage of a get-rich-quick scheme. Of course, the scheme blows up in his face and his girlfriend Immabelle, takes off, worried the cops will catch them, at least that's the reason Jackson attributes to her disappearance. You have to give it to Imabelle, she is probably tougher and more cunning than the rest of them put together. The rest of the book follows Jackson's adventures trying to get back his money and his...
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The Talented Mr. Ripley by Patricia Highsmith

The Talented Mr. Ripley by Patricia Highsmith

I did see the movie version of The Talented Mr. Ripley starring Matt Damon back when, so I had some vague idea of what I was getting into with the novel, but I didn't honestly remember much. Tom Ripley is probably a sociopath. He conveniently leaves murder off his list. He is definitely an expert manipulator and liar, lacks a conscience, is obsessive, and has difficulty with personal relationships. He is sent to Italy by a wealthy man with the intent of convincing the man's son to return to America. Needless to say, that does not happen. He spends some time playing the rich American, sight-seeing, eating, hanging out with his new friend, Dickie Greenleaf, and Dickie's maybe girlfriend Marge, who Tom clearly doesn't like. He wants Dickie to himself and sees Marge as an obstacle to that. We see the world through Tom Ripley's eyes, which is fascinating and disturbing. Everything he does is logical, given his reasoning. He has...
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Double Indemnity by James M. Cain

Double Indemnity by James M. Cain

Up until a few years ago, I was an insurance agent, but not like Walter Huff. Huff is good at his job, hard-working, and knows the insurance business inside-out. Then he meets a married woman who he falls for immediately. Her name is Phyllis and she has a thought, not even a plan, just a thought of what she would like to do about her husband. We don't realize at the time, but Phyllis knows exactly what she's doing, exactly what she's suggesting, and really has no qualms and is perfectly capable of holding up under pressure. She is not a nice girl, no matter how she seems at first. It doesn't take Huff long to come up with full-blown plan. They'll kill the husband and they'll get away with the insurance money. He has been in the insurance game for a long time and he knows about every angle ever thought up by anyone to try and pull one over...
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A Judgement in Stone by Ruth Rendell

A Judgement in Stone by Ruth Rendell

A Judgement in Stone by Ruth Rendell shows up on several "best mysteries" lists, which is why I added it to my to-read list. I had read several of her Inspector Wexford series, but none of her stand-alone novels. And then it was my Classic Club Spin book for the month, which pushed it to the top of my stack. From the opening sentences, the book had my attention. "Eunice Parchman killed the Coverdale family because she could not read or write. There was no real motive and no premeditation; no money was gained and no security." We know from the first chapter, which is only two pages long, who was killed, when they were killed, and who the murderers were. The rest of the book relates what led up to the crime and the aftermath. Eunice Parchman is illiterate, a fact that she is desperate to keep secret. The Coverdales are a decent enough family, intelligent, a little snobby, but overall well-meaning....
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Artemis by Andy Weir

Artemis by Andy Weir

Artemis is at heart a caper story with a sci-fi backdrop. Jazz is a small time criminal who is offered the chance to make big money doing a job she is capable of, because she's brilliant, but is outside of her usual parameters. The job of course goes awry - as they so often do. But, it turns out the job just a part of the larger plan, a plan affecting all of Artemis. So, as she sees it, in order to save her city, she pull together the standard motley crew of misfits, including her dad (who I really liked), her ex-boyfriend's current boyfriend, a Ukrainian scientist, and others to pull off a near-impossible crime. Set on earth, this would be a fun enough crime novel. Jazz is a good character, smart as all get out, but under-motivated. She's sarcastic and lonely. I didn't always love her sense of humor, especially when she's speaking directly to the reader, it feels...
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The Horse’s Arse by Laura Gascoigne

The Horse’s Arse by Laura Gascoigne

I admit I love a little art thrown in with my crime. I couldn't pass up this story with its combo of art, fraud, kidnapping, and even murder. I actually enjoyed this one. It took a little while to sort everything out, but it was a fun read. I've got an excerpt to give you a taste. Read an excerpt from The Horse's Arse: The story so far: Daniel Colvin, a junior reporter on the art newspaper Marquette, has uncovered evidence of a dodgy deal between the international art dealer Bernard Orlovsky and the UK’s State Gallery, but just as his revelations are going to press he is knocked off his bike by a hit-and-run driver. Back home from hospital with a leg in plaster, he finds his flat has been raided. DC Yasmin Desai from the Met’s Art & Antiques Squad had warned him Orlovsky was dangerous, but he hadn’t listened… Daniel knew there was something wrong from the light, or the absence...
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