Friday, October 17, 2014

Angel of the Abyss

Angel of the AbyssAngel of the Abyss by Ed Kurtz
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

When a reel from a legendary lost film is discovered, Graham Woodard flies out to LA to help restore it. However, complications arise when the film goes missing and the owner gets herself murdered. But what does all that have to do with Woodard's ex-wife?

I got this from DarkFuse via Netgalley.

Angel of the Abyss is a short novel. "Modern Hollywood Noir" would be a handy label to slap on it. The timeline shifts from the past, when Gracie Baron was making The Angel of the Abyss, to the present, when Graham Woodard is hired to restore the legendary lost silent film.

First off, I have to admit that this book probably arrived at the wrong time for me. Consequently, it felt like I was reading it forever. There was nothing wrong with the book but it was definitely not a "drop everything" kind of read. It was more like a "I'll read this during the Cardinal game and maybe while I'm trying to fall asleep" kind of read.

Anyway, the shifting viewpoints keep the tension mounting. While I've never heard of Ed Kurtz prior to this, he knows how to use his noir conventions. He surprised me with quite a few of his twists and I should have seen the ending coming but he still got me. While the modern era plot thread was my favorite, I loved Ed's Hollywood noir dialogue during the Gracie chapters. There was a lot of action and both plot threads kept me interested when I made time to read.

Like I said earlier, I'm pretty sure this was a case of wrong book, wrong time for me. Since it's a DarkFuse release, I was expecting horror rather than noir. I still enjoyed it, though. Three out of five stars.

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Thursday, October 9, 2014


FacialFacial by Jeff Strand
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Once the hitman he hired to kill his wife's lover finishes the job, Greg kills the hitman in his office. Fortunately, his brother is suddenly in need of a fresh corpse after finding a dead lion in his basement. Then things get a little strange...

I got this from DarkFuse via Netgalley.

I'm a big fan of both Jeff Strand and DarkFuse so this one was a no-brainer when it showed up on Netgalley. It was neither my favorite Jeff Strand book nor my favorite DarkFuse publication but it was still entertaining.

So, what would you do if you went into your basement and found a lion carcass with a talking face beneath it? Yeah, we've all had that problem a few times but Jeff Strand is the first one to write about it. Strand is the Christoper Moore of horror. He can take things like serial-killing and make them hilarious. I kept chuckling when Greg and Carlton were discussing killing and such. Felicia was also pretty hilarious. There were a ton of funny one-liners in this little novella.

I'm a fan of bizarro fiction but this one was almost too weird for even me. The face was part of the floor and every time it ate another head, another face appeared on the floor. Interesting but I was expecting a lot more in the way of explanation when the tale wrapped. Still, it was a pretty entertaining read. Three out of five stars.

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Friday, October 3, 2014


BRISCO: The Life and Times of National Collegiate and World Heavyweight Wrestling Champion JACK BRISCOBRISCO: The Life and Times of National Collegiate and World Heavyweight Wrestling Champion JACK BRISCO by Jack Brisco
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Brisco is the biography of professional wrestler Jack Brisco.

I was interested in this book for a long time but wasn't in a hurry to read it. I've had a mixed experience with Crowbar Press's wrestling books in the past. I almost quit reading it since it was almost 20% of the way through before Jack transitioned from amateur wrestling in his college days to the professional ranks.

However, I'm glad I stuck with it because it wasn't too bad. It was better written than most of Crowbar's offerings. Another strong selling point for me was that at the time it was written, Jack Brisco had been out of the wrestling business for something like 30 years and didn't have to worry about burning any bridges since he was doing fine financially.

Brisco covers Freddie Joe Brisco's rise from dirt poor roots in Oklahoma to NCAA wrestling national champion, and to his breaking into professional wrestling. Too much time was spent in his college days for my taste but I persevered.

Once Jack goes pro, things take off. He talks about being brought into the Funk's territory of Amarillo just to make Terry Funk and Dory Funk Jr. look good. His time with Eddie Graham in the Florida territory is given the most coverage, both in ring and out. He also mentions who screwed him out of pay, noteably Fritz Von Erich, The Sheik, Jim Barnett and even the head of the Florida territory, Eddie Graham.

Brisco seemed like he was still trying to protect the business a bit, like a lot of old timers, but still covers a lot of the backstage stuff, like how he got $25,000 dollars plus $8k a day working for a week in Japan and dropping the title to Giant Baba, only to win it back before the tour was over. He also mentions taping all that money, in cash, to his body to sneak it through customs.

His stories cover a lot of the wrestlers from his hay-day, like the Funks, Rick Steamboat, Jay Youngblood, Wahoo McDaniel, who broke Jack's nose with a headbutt. Jack's days as part owner of the Florida and Georgia territories and eventually selling out to Vince McMahon are pretty much how his career ends. I love his retirement story and don't want to spoil it.

My usual gripes about wrestling books, Crowbar's in particular, apply to this one as well. There was too much pre-wrestling and not enough road stories, although I liked the one about Terry Funk wrecking two cars in one night and the one about Don Muraco not being able to find his car in the airport parking lot because it had two feet of snow on it.

Three out of five stars, although your mileage may vary.

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