Review: Hard Magic by Larry Correia

Hard Magic by Larry Correia
Hard Magic by Larry Correia

Hard Magic
Larry Correia
Baen, 2011 (Audible Inc., 2011)

I have probably noted Larry Correia’s name in passing multiple times each instance a vague contemplation of a Monster Hunter novel but it wasn’t until I saw a description Hard Magic that I decided to take the plunge. After serving the United States in war Jake Sullivan ended up serving time in prison. Not one to sit idle Sullivan has used his prison experience to hone and experiment with his magical gift to control gravity in a specific area. Jake’s unique skills as a “Heavy” bring him to the attention of J. Edger’s G-men and nets him a deal: his freedom in exchange for his assistance bringing down other magically powered criminals. In a way similar to Shadow Ops: Control Point, many people in the world of Hard Magic are gifted with specific magical abilities. Increased strength and durability, intangibility, teleportation, telekinesis, healing, and various other gifts exist alongside ritual magic to create a vast and fascinating web of possibility that make Hard Magic a constantly surprising and surprisingly complex read.

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Review: Black Light by Patrick Melton et al.

Black Light by Patrick Melton et al.
Black Light by Patrick Melton et al.

Black Light
Mulholland Books, 2011
Patrick Melton, Marcus Dunstan, and Stephen Romano

Black Light by Patrick Melton, Marcus Dunstan, and Stephen Romano (hereafter the Writers) is a gritty and over-the-top tale of supernatural noir. The Writers are the same guys who brought us the Saw franchise but (if you’re like me) don’t let that influence your decision to give Black Light a shot. Black Light is the story of Buck Carlsbad a private investigator with the gift of being able to see the dead and absorb them for later disposal. His gift comes with the side effect of being able to see the titular black light; the dead world around us. Orphaned at a young age Buck is haunted by the fate of his parents who disappeared into a dangerous triangle of black light activity. A triangle that a entrepreneur plans on building a super-speed railway straight through.

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Review: LaBrava by Elmore Leonard

LaBrava by Elmore Leonard
LaBrava by Elmore Leonard

LaBrava
Elmore Leonard
Harper, 2009 (orig. Penguin 1985)

“A while ago somewhere
I don’t know when
I was watching a movie with a friend.
I fell in love with the actress.
She was playing a part that I could understand.”

-Neil Young, “A Man Needs a Maid”

It took a chapter or two, after we’re finally introduced to Jean Shaw and what she means to secret service agent come photographer Joe LaBrava, that Neil Young’s song “A Man Needs a Maid” came to mind.  I’m sure we all have that actress, or actor, who we’ve seen and who in our youth we maybe fell a little bit in love with.   There might have come a point when that actress and the parts she plays have become nigh inseparable in our hearts and minds.  Of course, given today’s fascination with celebrity and the constant vulture like circling of paparazzi the illusion that films provided is somewhat lost.  The mystery and magic of actors and actresses is shattered by the flash of the camera  and the thunder of gossip across television screens and computer monitors.  A belief that is at least somewhat thematically related to LaBrava which, while being a crime thriller, is as much about the reality of of modern times shattering the illusions of the past as it about crime.

As a historical side note Labrava, published in 1983, was written just 4 years after the area was officially added to the National Register of Historic Places (1979) and only 3 years after the Miami race riots and after some 25 years of population increases resulting from Castro’s takeover in Cuba in 1959 .  To say it was an area in both deep economic and demographic flux is perhaps putting it mildly but I think it is worth noting.  It is perhaps interesting to note as well that two years later, in 1985, Miami Vice would take home four Emmies and would remain an example and monument to eighties New Wave culture for years to come.  The bright colors of Miami Vice stand in stark contrasted to faded glories described in Labrava.

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Review: Jack Wakes Up by Seth Harwood

Jack Wakes Up by Seth Harwood
Jack Wakes Up by Seth Harwood

Jack Wakes Up
Seth Hardwood
Three Rivers Press, 2009

First Line: Jack Palms walks into a diner just south of Japantown, the one where he is supposed to me Ralph.

Continuing my little hard-boiled project this week makes for a bit of a departure as I step away from the detective field into the straight up crime thriller. (I’ll return to detective fiction with my subsequent reads since I’ve decided I want to attempt a novel for each decade since I have the 40s/50s well covered.) Like his contemporaries Scott Sigler and J. C. Hutchins (both contribute reviews on the book’s Amazon page) Seth Hardwood comes from the growing numbers of “podcast writers” that are, if not prevalent, at least a rising trend in the current fiction market (much like the Inklings often receive scholarly attention now I suspect that years down the road there will be some much deserved attention given to the collaborative and promotional power of the internet writing community). In Jack Wakes Up Harwood delivers a high octane crime thriller with a charismatic main character.

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