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Rambling, One Sentence Pitch: A thriller by genre, a character piece at heart, Mehmet Murat Somer's The Kiss Murder is a week in the life of an unnamed drag queen who looks like Audrey Hepburn and kickboxes like Tony Ja.
A Second Rambling Sentence, This One Attempting To Act As Plot Summation: When one of the girls at 'Audrey's' nightclub goes missing, our hero/ine finds him/herself thrust into a mystery involving right wing politicians, bored housewives, catty co-workers and lustful cabbies.
More Rambling, Only Now It's Being Used To Try And Convince You To Buy This Book Instead Of The Millions Of Others Vying For Your Recession Era Dollars: There's murder, of course. And sex. These are the stock and trade of mysteries, after all. But where The Kiss Murder subverts the genre is in its exploration of the Cinderella-like lives of the club queens who must make it home before sunrise lest their facial hair grow too thick. Somer has created a diverse community of outlandish outcasts who, when not fighting against their repressive society, are cat-fighting mercilessly amongst themselves. So bitchy are these bitches that even the sudden disappearance of their cross-dressing co-worker fails to unite them. In fact, it makes things worse. Old rivalries re-arise, dead drama is resurrected, and what might have been a simple whodunit becomes a labyrinthine journey through the backstreets and bachelor pads of Istanbul.
In Closing: In Turkey, Somer's anonymous, Audrey Hepburn lookalike is already the star of her own series of books. Reading The Kiss Murder, it's easy to see why. Not only is she the classic, accidental action hero, but she's got enough emotional baggage and quirky acquaintances to fill a dozen novels. And then there's the cross-over appeal. Beneath 'Audrey's' fantastic facade of witty one liners and stylish ensembles, she's all of us, male and female.

Cast the First Stone
Chester Himes
From enotes.com: Cast the First Stone (1952) is another of Himes's semi-autobiographical novels. The main character, Jim Monroe, is a white man, but seems to represent Himes as is evidenced by their similarities: both attended college, suffered a serious back injury, and were sentenced to 25 years for armed robbery. The novel focuses on the growth that Monroe experiences while in prison, and is notable for its direct treatment of homosexual relationships in prison.

Escape from Colditz; The two classic escape stories: The Colditz story, and Men of Colditz
P. R Reid
From Iron Gumby: Escape from Colditz is a factual book which reads like a fictional work. P.R. Reid who wrote the book is the main character who is narrating, and participating in the story. The book tells how the Prisoners of war during World War Two lived in confinement and how they used their surroundings to make their escape using replicated German uniforms, and a glider constructed of bed frames and fabric hidden in the attic of a chapel. The prisoners are all bent on escape and the story is how these men plan to flee to Sweden.

Henri Charriere
From dooyoo.co.uk: In a nutshell, this book is a tale of Papillons many escape attempts to get away from the penal settlements in French Guiana (many of which were sucessful in the short term) and the amazing lengths he went to to avoid spending the rest of his life repenting a crime he was innocent of. In the end he only served 13 years of his sentence, but to survive 13 years in the environment he found himself in was an accomplishment it itself. He continually escaped, was re-captured, escaped again, was re-captured again and it goes on and on. His escape attempts were daring as he said he'd rather die trying to be a free man than carry on living in the living hell he was in. His final escape was made from Devil's Island, riding the biggest wave that hit the island chained to a sack full of coconut shells.

Are Prisons Obsolete?
Angela Davis
From Political Affairs Magazine: Just a little over 30 years ago the entire prison population stood at 200,000 in the US; that is a tenfold jump in just one generation. In California alone, 3 prisons were built between 1852 and 1952; from 1984 to the present, over 80 facilities were constructed that now house almost 160,000 people. While being jailed or imprisoned has become “an ordinary dimension of community life,” according to Davis, for men in working-class Black, Latino, Native American and some Asian American communities, it is also increasingly an issue women of these communities have come to face.
Davis points to the increased involvement of corporations in prison construction, security, health care delivery, food programs and commodity production using prison labor as the main source of the growth of the prison-industrial complex. As prisons became a new source of profits, it became clear to prison corporations that more facilities and prisoners were needed to increase income. It is evident that increased crime is not the cause of the prison boom. Davis writes “that many corporations with global markets now rely on prisons as an important source of profits helps us to understand the rapidity with which prisons began to proliferate precisely at a time when official studies indicated that the crime rate was falling.”

Arkham Asylum: Living Hell
by Dan Sloott and Ryan Sook
From Jorge: This book is good, creepy fun! Much like the old HBO show OZ, this is the story of all the inmates in a prison, but this time around it's the prison for all of Batman's villains. We follow an all new character, the Great White Shark (a white collar criminal), as he is thrown into the loony bin with the rest of Batman's bad guys. Will he make it out alive? How will this experience change him? Or is he possibly a new Bat-villian in the making? Those are the questions that keep you flipping page after page in this book.
The first half of the book is some of the best Batman/Gotham City stories I've read in a long time. What makes it even more impressive is that Batman is barely in it! And most of the characters (Humpty Dumpty, Death Rattle, Jane Doe, and Junkyard Dog) are new. But they FEEL like they've been Batman characters for YEARS. That's where this book really excels. I had to go online and make sure that there weren't Batman stories that I'd missed over the years. And that, right there, is something very special that the writer and artist pulled off effortlessly. I bought that these were longstanding Bat-villains. And they are SO good, that I hope future Batman writers incorporate them into future stories.
The second half of this book takes a drastic and sudden turn into, what I feel, is a wrong direction. The rug gets pulled out from under us and the prison drama we were reading suddenly turns into a horror film. It's the same drastic turn like the movie Dusk Till Dawn. And, in this case, it really doesn't work.
However, even in the later half of the book, there are STILL priceless Bat-villain moments-- like the Joker's escape, his subsequent palindrome crimes, and his eventual "run in" with Batman. With that in mind, I'd recommend buying this book. Because even though it takes a wrong turn and slightly stumbles, even then it's still better than most of the Batman books out there. And the first half of the book (especially the Humpty Dumpty issue) when everything's working, Arkham Asylum: Living Hell is some of the best Batman work I've ever read!

The Times put out a list this year of the 50 Greatest Crime Writers. Here it goes.

50. Sara Paretsky
49. Henning Mankell
48. Nicholas Blake
47. Colin Dexter
46. Josephine Tey
45. Donna Leon
44. Harlan Coben
43. Andrea Camilleri
42. Alexander McCall Smith
41. Edmund Crispin
40. Dick Francis
39. Scott Turow
38. Patricia Cornwell
37. Michael Dibdin
36. Reginald Hill
35. Walter Mosley
34. Carl Hiaasen
33. Minette Walters
32. Margery Allingham
31. George Pelecanos
30. Derek Raymond
29. Edgar Allan Poe
28. Val McDermid
27. Karin Fossum
26. Manuel Vazquez Montalban
25. Francis Iles
24. Wilkie Collins
23. John Harvey
22. Dorothy L. Sayers
21. Charles Willeford
20. James Ellroy
19. Ross Macdonald
18. Ruth Rendell
17. Cornell Woolrich
16. John Dickson Carr
15. Maj Sjowall & Per wahloo
14. Jim Thompson
13. Dashiell Hammett
12. P.D. James
11. Dennis Lehane
10. James Lee Burke
9. Ian Rankin
8. James M. Cain
7. Ed McBain
6. Arthur Conan Doyle
5. Elmore Leonard
4. Raymond Chandler
3. Agatha Christie
2. Georges Simenon
1. Patricia Highsmith

My interest in crime/mystery novels lies in anti-heroes (see The Talented Mr. Ripley by the lovely Patricia Highsmith and the Dexter novels by Jeff Lindsay) as well as the more cozy village variety as specifically written by Canadian Louise Penny. I've also got a definite soft spot for Raymond Chandler and want to read more vintage crime from his era, especially The Killer Inside Me by Jim Thompson. Gilda is my favourite femme fatale and I'm interested in female serial killers as well.

(and yes, I am the sort of girl who read Nancy Drew and Agatha Christie as a child)

unsuicide (that's my HusbandMan, in the other room watching The Maltese Falcon at the moment) and I wanted to start this community to talk crime books and movies with anyone willing to talk back. We've got more than enough mystery novels, lists of top crime writers and reference books on film noir kicking around our apartment to share.

Beth Short

Posted by unsuicide on 2008.08.17 at 19:50
I am reading the Black Dahlia Avenger.  Holy Fuck.  I think this guy has really found the killer.  Every action has a suitable counter reaction and nothing is a better example of this premise than Steve Hodel's book.  His father dies and his son barely knows anything about his life.  He finds a little photo album with a picture of Elizabeth Short in it.  It turns out that Steve has been an exceptional LA Homicide detective for 30 years and is in the perfect position to create a profile of his father and interpret the evidence to prove his father did it.  What are the chances that the son of the man who killed the Black Dahlia would be the cop who finally caught the killer.  I also found the book Exquisite Corpse at a used bookstore which is the perfect visual companion to this book.  

I have a love/hate relationship with True Crime books especially when they're good like this one.  I know that once I start reading, I won't be able to out the fucking thing down - headache or no headache.  Savage Grace is up next and mystery/crime novels have a similar effect on me.  It's such a hard life.  Sigh.