Monday, February 15, 2010

Loss (Gus Dury) by Tony Black

There's a lot of good stuff coming out of Scotland these days. We were treated to the second McNee novel by Russel McLean just some time ago and this news Gus Dury novel can be compared to that one. That is, both novels give us the ultimate hardboiled detective novel while situating it in Scotland and giving it a new edge.
I loved the first two Gus Dury novels that often reminded me of Ken Bruen's Jack Taylor series. That's not very strange because Tony Black is a fan of Mr. Bruen's work. I sometimes regretted it a bit that the life of Gus was so important and interesting that it sometimes felt like the hardboiled detective stuf came second to the more literate aspects. This third outing for ex-journalist Gus Dury however delivers on both the literate as well as the mystery parts. When his brother is killed Gus starts an unrelenting search for his killer, aided by his tough buddies.
The timing of this isn't very lucky however, since he'd just sworn off booze and violence to his ex-wife Debs, who he's living with again. We follow Gus in his path into darkness again as his life falls apart around him and takes on a tough gangster boss and his goons.
I felt Gus' pain, was disgusted and thrilled at the same time by the violent encounters and very surprised by the ending. So, yeah, this one delivered everything I need in my hardboiled diet. The best in this excellent series so far.

No Mercy (Mercy Gunderson) by Lori Armstrong

Lori Armstrong, author of the fantastic Julie Collins novels is back! I was a little worried when the news came out she was going to write a new series under the Touchtone banner, afraid nothing would be able to top Julie's adventures. I was wrong!
Mercy Gunderson is every bit the tough chick Julie was... and more! Again Lori brings us a harddrinking, cussing, tough woman with a heart. Back from Iraq, sniper Mercy tries to ajdust to life on a ranch. The murder of a nephew forces her to take up arms again once again, though. A damaged character with a dark and haunting past Mercy is not always 100% easy to like. Her hardboiled style of dealing with things can make her seem like an uncaring character but slowly we find out more and more she has a hard of gold.
The fire in her heart is what drives this novel. Sometimes I was craving for a bit more detail to the mystery or action aspects of the story but the personal drama in Mercy's life is written in an engaging style and the characters she meet are welldrawn enough to make you interested in them.
You might find Mercy to be described as a femal Jack Reacher but that's misleading. Yes, she was in the Army and yes, she kicks ass but the interpersonal relationships are as important a part of this book as the action-oriented part, making this a series that absolutely stands on its own feet.