Book Review: Cadaver Blues

CadaverBlues-e1352912637451When the alluring Mindy Eider walks in with a foreclosure notice addressed to her elderly Uncle Gunnar, Phouc Goldberg – debt man and cynic extraordinaire – initially sees her as little more than a source for this month’s rent payment.

Initially. But not for long.

Beguiled by Mindy’s charm and innocence, Phuoc finds himself playing detective. The game’s afoot, and it’s a dangerous game – and Phuoc realizes he won’t end it looking for debt relief, but for cadavers.

Cadaver Blues is the first book I’ve read by J.E. Fishman, and it was both better and worse than I had hoped. But before I go any further, let’s clear something up: Phuoc’s name is pronounced “fook”. He would want you to know that.

If you want to work with me, then spell my name right and learn to pronounce it. Easy to oblige if you’re called George Washington, I admit, and not so easy when it’s Phuoc Goldberg. (p. 17)

Without a doubt, the best thing about this book is the writing. Because the writing is flippin’ fantastic. Deft, fluent, crisp, and relentlessly entertaining, it fits the story and the characters as snugly as a glove. And speaking of characters, Fishman has quite the hero in Phuoc Goldberg – a guy who, for all his cynicism, still manages to be endearing. He has flaws (plenty of them), but at the end of the day, you can’t help but admire his gutsy willingness to go after the bad guys, regardless of the consequences.

Cadaver Blues is throughly modern, but I’ll be darned if it didn’t feel like a noir mystery. It has snappy dialogue by the bucket-loads, a bored, cynical, world-weary protagonist, a beautiful dame, and plenty of moments where “everything is not as it seems.” All this put me in mind of Dashiell Hammett. Which is utterly cool, if you ask me.

Too bad I can’t recommend it.

Language isn’t much of an issue in Cadaver Blues, but unnecessary sexual content is. Pervasive crass dialogue, tasteless anatomical references, and a casual sex scene carry this book across the line of acceptable entertainment into the realm of Just Plain Smut.

Fishman has the talent, but sometimes knowing what to leave out is just as important as knowing what to put in. Had he taken us for ride without dragging along the gratuitous sexual baggage, I would happily give the story thumbs up. As things stand, however, that won’t be happening. Maybe Fishman’s next book will show more discernment in this area.

(I received this book for free in exchange for a review.
I was not required to write a positive review.)

Flotsam & Jetsam (1/3)

Power, Not Philosophy – Can’t wait to read this book.

In Case You Missed It – From Doug Wilson: “It was in the course of this last year that I began doing a book-of-the-month review in the hope that you would link on one or more of the links, and find yourself in the realms of edification and uplift. In case you missed them first time around, here is a round-up.”

Fruit Ninja: Real Life Edition – Couldn’t resist. I laughed myself silly when I watched this the first time. Maybe you will, too.

CT Review: Zero Dark Thirty – David Roark says Zero Dark Thirty  “captures the conflicted, complex moral issues” of the operation to catch Osama Bin Laden. I’ve been looking forward to this film for a long time, and hope to catch it in theaters this month.

Augustine vs. Russell – A superb piece from Dr. Trueman. “Augustine would have asked how the atheist Bertrand Russell could justify his indignation over the use and proliferation of nuclear arms. In a universe that is simply matter and chance, what place, then, for indignation?   All metanarratives become myths whereby one group or individual seeks to impose its will over another.”

13 Things I Need to Get Better At in 2013 – Love this.

“The marvel of marvels is not that God, in His infinite love, has not elected all this guilty race to be saved, but that He has elected any.” – B.B. Warfield

Graphic Novels, Anyone?

yzchwgr3koqrpya6av0bt6b7o1_500The graphic novel is a medium I’ve only recently come to appreciate. Last year, I read and enjoyed Max Collins’ The Road to Perdition, Alan Moore’s League of Extraordinary Gentleman (Vol. 1), and the first book in Jeff Smith’s Bone series. This year, I’d like to read more, and I’m looking for recommendations.

That’s where you come in.

Whether you’re a fellow newbie or a bona fide connoisseur, I’d love to know what graphic novels you have enjoyed and would especially recommend.

I’ve heard great things about Year One and The Dark Knight Returns – and being the Batfanatic that I am, both are currently at the top of my “to be checked out” list. The Bone series is one I’d like to continue reading. Brian Azzarello’s 100 Bullets has an intriguing premise, and both Maus and 2000AD: Judge Dredd get consistently high marks from reviewers.

A penny for your thoughts?

The Science-God

“In the end, science does not provide the answers most of us require. Its story of our origins and of our end is, to say the least, unsatisfactory. To the question, ‘How did it all begin?’, science answers, ‘Probably by an accident.’ To the question, ‘How will it all end?’, science answers, ‘Probably by an accident.’ And to many people, the accidental life is not worth living. Moreover, the science-god has no answer to the question, ‘Why are we here?’ and, to the question, ‘What moral instructions do you give us?’, the science-god maintains silence.” – Neil Postman