Monday, April 7, 2014


I don't know. . .Thomas Perry can be quite good when it comes to the crime thriller, not always even, but good enough. He usually starts off with a bang, pads the middle, and when he's the best, creeps with you on all fours to the finish line. The Butcher's Boy certainly. Fidelity is pretty well twisted on tight, as is Pursuit, and the recent The Boyfriend isn't bad, except the boyfriend himself isn't all that memorable. Perry's had better women assassins.

Enough on Perry. It's Kem Nunn I'm here for. His books are three Perry's-in-one for dynamo, and unlike Perry, Nunn isn't writing a cookbook method mystery. He's writing powerful, well-built novels, often starring a surfing culture, or bikers, or outcasts of some model and misshape, or a Native American tribe; and for what Raymond Chandler did for his time in Los Angeles, I believe Nunn is doing it now in present California, all with a certain knowing click and hipness that Chandler owned in his era.

Nunn's first book, the best novel ever written about surfing, Tapping the Source, should be showcased here with The Dogs of Winter. Again, surfers, but this time not in southern California as with Tapping, but in the outback of northern California. It turns out a dangerous corner of the woods.

Chance is brand new. With characters clumsy and tattered and even boring in some ways which in the hands of Nunn he can handle with his eyes closed. You can almost feel him enjoying playing with this role as a writer making something grand out of nothing. Barely a surf in this book, but surf is there, because we're all the time in San Francisco. I couldn't put the book down, but I did, because I wanted the pleasure of fine writing over a few days.

As soon as I finished Chance...I ordered, used, Tijuana Straits. The only book of Nunn's I haven't read and could have when it first appeared, but like I say, I want his books to last. So I've been saving this one. While I wait for the book to show, I reread The Dogs. . .since it's been over ten years since I last read the novel, and I might be a wee bit smarter now having the second reading grabbing me by the arm. Taking me under.

[ BA ]