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High Priest of California by Charles Willeford

Charles Willeford’s High Priest of California is not a book for everyone, maybe hardly anyone. The writing is crisp and the plot moves along page by page, but Willeford’s anti-hero Russell Haxby is a scoundrel, a scoundrel is the most despicable way. Set in San Francisco in 1951, Willeford’s first novel tells the story of Haxby’s sexual pursuit of Alyce Vitale.

The woman was good-looking but her personality was blah. Still, with a figure like she had there should certainly be something there. I might look in the next day, but then that was tomorrow and it would depend upon how I felt.

Most anti-heroes do despicable things, but they have some redeeming qualities. Willeford’s Haxby does not. For instance a typical anti-hero may rob a bank, but usually they only shoot at when shot at first. Yes, even Han Solo shot first, but he wasn’t looking for trouble, he was cornered and he had no way out. Haxby has none of this. He’s a successful used-car salesman and while not lying to womenm he is busy ripping customers off.

If you can bear with this creep Haxby, the writing is great, though the overall story is much to be despised. It seems as though Willeford has several books in sexual conquest genre (yeah, I didn’t know this either), instead I’ll probably focus on his Hoke Mosley series.

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9 Dragons by Michael Connelly

Harry Bosch sat at his desk. He waited. Bosch needed to be moving, working a case, bringing a murderer to justice. The pursuit of a criminal was just as vital to Bosch’s well-being as food and water are to other people.

Now he saw the approaching lieutenant and he instinctively knew that his partner wasn’t going home early. Gandle was holding a piece of paper torn from a notepad and had an extra hop in his step. That told Bosch the wait was over. The call out was here. The fresh kill. Bosch started to rise.

This is what those of us who read the Bosch books what for; this is what we enjoy. The pursuit begins.

The case looks like a no-brainer as a Chinese liquor store owner is shot dead in his store that is located around 70th and Normandie near where the 1992 LA riots took place. But with any Bosch story, it is never as simple as it looks. As Bosch investigates, the case takes into the world of the triads and even to Hong Kong as his daughter mysteriously disappears.

This the twenty-first book of Connelly’s that I have read. Yeah, I am a bit of a fan boy. With 9 Dragons, Connelly continues to write fast-paced police procedurals that are exciting and well-plotted. Connelly’s LA universe was exactly what I needed after the debacle of Megan Abbott’s The End of Everything. I could easily read the rest of Connelly’s books one after another, but I will slow down and read a few other books before I move on to my twenty-second book of Connelly’s, The Reversal.