Twisted, no other word quite fits…

There are some books what have convoluted plots.  There are some books that have complex characters.  There are even some books that have confusing settings.  Each of these may make a story seem rather twisted.

But it’s not that kind of twisted I was thinking of when I read Blake Crouch’s “Desert Places.”  I thought then that the characters were rather unique, and Crouch found his way into the darkest reaches of the human mind.  I was going to write something about it immediately after reading it, but I had to do a little bit of reviewing in my mind.  I had to turn things over a little bit, because there was just so much that happened in the book that I wasn’t sure what to think even.  But Twisted was the first thing to come to mind.

Before I started writing this review, I thought it might be best to read the sequel, yes, there is a sequel, and it stars some of the same characters, and yes, it’s also a deep look into some of the darkest places imaginable.  That book was called “Locked Doors” and it featured a “what to read” at the end of it for the next book in the series, which combines Andrew Thomas, Luther Kite, and Jack Daniels.  Jack Daniels is a character from another author, JA Konrath, who is also co-writing this third book in the series.  I wonder if it will be the last.

Now, the list of books that is presented at the end of Locked Doors is a chronological list of stores that includes works from both authors, but they do say that reading these is not necessary.  Lucky for me, I happened on one or two of the Jack Daniels books and a few others by JA Konrath (also known as Jack Kilborn and Joe Kimball, each with their own “area” of expertise)

I thoroughly enjoyed the Jack Daniels novel I read not long ago and spoke briefly about it here.  I’m addicted to Jack Kilborn and his stories, and they seem to fit well with Crouch’s.  So I considered briefly what, if any, of those other books I should add to my collection.  The one I did finally decide to read, before the review you’re reading here, is “Serial Killers”, or more precisely, “Serial Killers Uncut.”

Twisted, abso-freakin-lutely twisted!  These two have put together some really scary characters, who do some really scary things to complete strangers.  “Serial Killers” is a “What if” book, and discusses what happens on some of those dark highways late at night.  What happens when you’re hitchhiking, or picking up hitchhikers, and find yourself in the company of a serial killer?  Being taken by a killer, and having bad things happen to you, is a story point that has seen the light of day in other works, but the things these particular killers do, and the details brought to you by these twisted minds, is boggling to the mind.

Remember when I said I had to do a little bit of reviewing in my head before I wrote anything?  Well, even that has proved to be difficult, it’s a little difficult to comprehend why someone would want to do some of these things, and at the same time, it’s hard to imagine how someone even thinks up this stuff!

Crouch is definitely in a class apart, I don’t even think the early Stephen King books can compare to the thought processes that must be going on in his head, and King is one of my favorite authors, because of his scary side.

“Desert Places” and “Locked Doors” really goes two ways into the human mind.  One way into the depraved place that is rarely visited by most “normal” folks, and another into the extremes we will go through for ourselves and our loved ones, in order to protect us/them.  There are two main characters, and as it works out, they are fraternal twins, one is completely demented, and does very twisted things to strangers in a shed literally in the middle of nowhere, the other is a crime author, who writes about the same stuff.  It is posited that they both share the same mind, with a similar conscience, only one listens, an the other does not.

The evil twin makes it his work to bring his brother over to his side, and it’s a horrific ride all the way along.

I can only talk of these two books for now, I’ll be back with thoughts on Serial Uncut, and the end of the saga shortly, but for now know, for a thrilling, horrific good time, these are really, really god books.

Reading for Pleasure vs Reading for Work

I read a lot for pleasure, but I also do a lot of reading for work.  As a freelance computer programmer, I have to read about the latest updates to system software, and on occasion, I read up on some new technology or the latest framework that will make my life easier.

Recently I started reading about the Yii framework, mostly because I liked the way the framework came together and did a lot of the grunt work for you when putting together a website.  It also made customization fairly easy,but there are still some topics that require a little looking into.  There are not very many books available for Yii just yet, and even though the documentation is very thorough and the samples are very good, there still seemed to me to be a little something missing.  I did finally manage to find a good book on Yii (written by Larry Ullman) but I find the reading a little dry, and with three children at home during the summer,it’s been hard at times to concentrate on work.  But I do my best. 🙂

But when it comes to reading for pleasure, it seems that it’s easy to find something that I like.  Of course, it helps that I have some rather eclectic tastes in “literature.”  And yes, I use the term “literature” very loosely, some of the stuff I read really is what I consider “cotton-candy” reading, it’s got a lot of fluff and satisfies the need for escapism, but there’s not really all that much there.

On occasion I find a book that reaches me in a way that surprises even me.  Village Books, written by Craig McLay, was one of those books that did just that.  It was well written with believable characters, and made you want to be there with them through the ordeals of everyday life.  Village Books was a free download I took advantage of on a whim, I liked the title,and thought a book about a bookstore, how normal.  I guess I was looking for something a little more “stable” than the horror, suspense, thriller and sci-fi I had been reading lately.  Those who know me, know I like to read Stephen King, and consider him to be one of my favorite authors, him, along with Dean Koontz are probably my top two.  I also like historical fiction, like that written by James A. Michener, but in general, suspense and sci-fi are my go-to books.

Village Books is a book about the life of a Day manager at a local small bookstore, which is eagerly pursued by a big conglomerate.  The twists and turns of his days are not really all that dramatic,but they are what could happen to your friend that happens to be working at Indigo, or maybe Barnes and Nobel.  The fella is a nice guy,and one of those nice guys who doesn’t necessarily have everything work out for him, and you kind of want to root for him anyway.  No matter what the days do to him, you feel for the guy and want him to succeed.  I can’t really tell you if he did or not, but it was fun to follow him along on his daily routine and his social life.  Village Books is one of those books that you may stumble upon by accident, and then find yourself looking for more books by the same author.  I hope Craig McLay has written other books of the same quality, because he will definitely get more sales when I buy them!

I also read, in the two or so weeks since my last post, a book by J.A. Konrath called “Dirty Martini.”  As some of you may recall, I’ve read a few books by Konrath, also known as “Jack Kilborn” and have enjoyed them tremendously.  This one is a different sort than the others (Haunted House and Afraid) but somewhat similar to “The List” which is a Crime novel.  Dirty Martini is a “Jack Daniels” novel, that is, following in the footsteps of Jack Daniels as the pursuit of criminals progresses.  It is a very good book, it took turns that were unexpected, and drew you into the story relentlessly, making you turn the pages until the wee hours of the morning, because you *had* to know…

I really like Konrath/Kilborn, and will continue to find and read these until there are no more left.  Yes, it’s going to cost me a bit of money, but I can live with that. 🙂