Category Archives: Uncategorized

“ASIANCRUSH”— A New Chinese Film Streaming Service

BEGINNING JULY 20, ASIANCRUSH, THE LEADING STREAMING
SERVICE FOR ASIAN PROGRAMMING, WILL PREMIERE A
NEW CHINESE THEATRICAL RELEASE EACH WEEK STARTING
WITH DIRECTOR ANN HUI’S TOP-GROSSING
OUR TIME WILL COME

Upcoming Films from Leading Chinese Theatrical Distributors China Lion and Orchid Tree Include the Coming-of-Age Drama YOUTH from Director Feng Xiaogang, the High-Octane Thriller THE VIRAL FACTOR and RUN FOR LOVE, A Star-Studded Love Story Anthology

New York, NY (July 20, 2018) – As the Chinese film boom continues to be heard around the world, leading OTT channel Asian Crush seeks to be the home for top Chinese programming in North America. And with a steady stream of upcoming top-grossing films from leading Chinese theatrical distributors China Lion and Orchid Tree , they’re well on their way. Starting this Friday, July 20, AsianCrush will premiere a new Chinese film each week on the platform beginning with OUR TIME WILL COME, a war-time drama from acclaimed director Ann Hui, starring Zhou Xun, Eddie Peng and Wallace Huo. The announcement was made by Michael Hong, CEO of AsianCrush parent company, Digital Media Rights, a pioneer in digital distribution.

Set in the ’40s, OUR TIME WILL COME tells the story of the legendary Fang Gu (Zhou), one of the key figures during the Japanese occupation of Hong Kong, and portrays the fight and struggle for freedom and independence by youth resistance groups. Directed by Hui, one of the most critically acclaimed and award-winning of the Hong Kong New Wavefilmmakers, the film was nominated for 25+ international awards, including Best Film and Best Director at the 37th Hong Kong Film Awards. It will be available for all cinephiles and sinophiles on AsianCrush’s apps and website as well as iOS, Android, Roku, Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV, Chromecast and additional platforms.

Additional upcoming Chinese theatrical premieres on AsianCrush include:

THE VIRAL FACTOR (2012) | PREMIERING JULY 27 – In an operation to escort a bacteriologist from Jordan to Norway, IDC agent Jon (Taiwan pop idol Jay Chou and ex-fiancee Ice (Bai Bing) are betrayed and shot by fellow agent Sean (Andy Tien), who steals a deadly virus sample. When he learns that the bullet lodged in his head will leave him paralyzed in two weeks, the countdown begins in this high-octane globetrotting thriller from award-winning director Dante Lam (Stool Pigeon, Beast Stalker), who The Detroit News calls “John Woo via Michael Bay” (122 mins.) (China Lion)

The Viral Factor

THE KING OF THE STREETS (2013) | PREMIERING AUGUST 3– Yue Feng (Yue Song, Iron Protector) is a young streetfighter imprisoned for accidentally killing one of his foes. When he’s released, he discovers that his brotherhood has been destroyed and sets out on a quest for revenge. China’s first street-fighting movie, THE KING OF THE STREETS pits real-life martial artist Song against more than 10 of the world’s top contenders in MMA, Jiu-jitsu, Jeet Kune Do, Sanda, and Muay Thai boxing. (88 mins.) (China Lion)

The King of the Streets

RUN FOR LOVE (2016) | PREMIERING AUGUST 10 – With a star-studded cast of some of China’s finest actors, this anthology of five stories set in locales around the world reflects different perspectives on love, family, and home through the lens of the varying settings and genres: a romance in snowy Hokkaido starring Eddie Peng and Zhang Ziyi, a tense family drama in Instanbul, a Route 66 road trip across America, a poignant tale set in Norway’s darkest season, and a neo-noir thriller about sisters in Saipan starring Zhou Dongyu. (137 minutes) (Orchid Tree)

ANNIVERSARY (2015) | PREMIERING AUGUST 17– Over 10 years of marriage, Bo (Stephy Tang, The Empty Hands, Badges of Fury) and Keung (Lik-Sun Fong, Never Too Late, Death Ouija 2) have had their ups and downs. Between work stresses and questions about whether or not to start a family, their union is at a breaking point. And though Bo believes that love is forever, when past betrayals surface, decisions must be made in this emotional drama. (108 mins.) (Orchid Tree)

LUCKY FAT MAN (2017) | PREMIERING AUGUST 24 – Chow Chong Fat (Bob Lamb) and Wat Kam Heung (Ling Ling Mak, Never Too Late, L for Love, L for Lies Too) are about to celebrate their 10th wedding anniversary. Fat, an accountant and a handyman in his wife’s family business, is bullied non-stop by various family members. The only thing that lifts him from his rigid, boring life is the thought of a reunion with his dream lover, Ceci (Natalie Tong, Return of the Cuckoo). But when he wins 20 million dollars in the lottery, his life takes a turn for the exciting in this hilarious, slapstick comedy. (90 mins.) (Orchid Tree)

BREAKUP BUDDIES (2014) | PREMIERING AUGUST 31 – One of China’s highest grossing films of all time, this wild, offbeat comedy follows the hijinks of a hapless former singer reeling from a messy divorce. When he and his womanizing best friend hit the road from Beijing to Dali City – China’s unofficial capital of one night stands – anything can and does happen in this rom-com that grossed nearly $200MM worldwide (116 mins.) (China Lion)

Breakup Buddies

BANGKOK REVENGE (2011) | PREMIERING SEPTEMBER 7 – After witnessing the brutal murder of his parents, a young boy is raised by a martial arts master who grooms him to be a lethal killer. Some 20 years later, it’s time to take revenge on the assassins who destroyed his childhood. Jon Foo (“Rush Hour”) stars in this revenge thriller directed by Jean-Marc Minéo. (82 mins.) (China Lion)

Bangkok Revenge

YOUTH (2017) | PREMIERING SEPTEMBER 14 [1] — From director Feng Xiaogang (Aftershock, China’s entry for Best Foreign Language Film in 2010) comes this sweeping, period coming-of-age drama chronicling the lives of a group of idealistic adolescents in a military art troupe in the People’s Liberation Army during the Cultural Revolution. The award-winner, one of China’s top-grossing films of 2017 stars Huang Xuan (Extraordinary Mission) and newcomers Miao Miao and Zhong Chuxi. (146 mins.) (China Lion)

Youth

FIST & FAITH (2017) | PREMIERING SEPTEMBER 21 – Set during the 1930’s after the Japanese invasion of Manchuria, a teacher, (Jing Tian,
Pacific Rim Uprising, Kong: Skull Island) and a group of students establish a study club to preserve their language and culture as an act of protest against the foreign invaders in this clever genre parody that mashes up high-school gang movies, puppy-love films, anti-Japanese resistance dramas and manga elements. (72 mins.) (Orchid Tree)

MY WIFE IS A SUPERSTAR (2016) | PREMIERING SEPTEMBER 28 — Actress Zhu Qi (Liu Xinyou) dreams of being a major star but is stuck acting in bit parts. Her husband, photojournalist Lai Mao (Zhou Baihao) works for K-9 Weekly and has recently been demoted to an entertainment paparazzo. One day, Outstanding Productions head Zhang Baigao, aka Jeff (Lin Dexin), spots Zhu Qi in a period drama he’s making and thinks she would be ideal as the lead of mega-budget Lunar New Year movie 2047 (a lame parody of Wong Kar-wai’s 2046) and offers her the role on condition that she’s unmarried and causes no scandal. Things, of course, go hilariously awry in this fast-paced satire set against thre backdrop of Hong Kong’s movie business. (105 minutes) (Orchid Tree)

BREAKUP GURU (2014) | PREMIERING OCTOBER 5 — Deng Chao
(Duckweed, The Mermaid) plays Mei Yuangui, a professional “Breakup Guru”, who is hired by a client to end a relationship with Ye Xiaochun (Yang Mi, Reset, The Witness). But his penchant and skill at breaking up couples without complication and worry is put to the test when a battle of wits ensues with Xiaochun, risking his reputation and setting up the ultimate test of his services! (115 mins.) (China Lion)

Breakup Guru

SHOW ME YOUR LOVE (2016) | PREMIERING OCTOBER 12 – Daren (Raymond Wong) was raised by his aunt while his mother Yau Ngan (Nina Baw) was out town for work. Without a mother, he became independent and the two didn’t speak for 20 years. After meeting at the aunt’s funeral, he learns of his mother’s terminal illness and decides to stay with her for the last few months. And when he finds a note written when 10 entitled, “10 Best Wishes to Mommy,” he decides to deliver them to her, one by one, in this heartstring-tugging drama. (98 mins.) (Orchid Tree)

VAMPIRE CLEANUP DEPARTMENT (2017) | PREMIERING OCTOBER 19 — After finding himself at the center of a vampire attack, millennial Tim Cheung (Babyjohn Choi, Shock Wave, Our Time Will Come) discovers a heretofore unknown pedigree and has a new destiny thrust upon him by his family. Vampires have been lurking in Hong Kong’s shadows for centuries, and his parents were part of the secret, monster-busting Vampire Cleanup Department working out of an run-down garbage depot. Armed with an immunity to vampires, he begins training in the art of killing the undead, but is soon distracted by Summer (Lin Min-chen), a rare “human type” vampire. And as a supernatural romance begins to blossom , the VCD prepares to fight a powerful vampire king that’s on the verge of resurrecting when the once-in-a-century blood moon rises in this old-school genre comedy, the first feature by directors Yan Pak-wing (who wrote Full Strike) and Chiu Sin-hang. (94 mins.) (Orchid Tree)

MY ALIEN GIRLFRIEND (2017) | PREMIERING OCTOBER 26 — When Angela’s brother leaves their home planet to search for love across the universe, the alien pair end up on Earth. Upon arriving, she meets Tian Yi (Wang Tian Yi), a naïve, kind-hearted human, who serves as her protector and may, perhaps, be something more. While on Earth, Angels realizes that she must inhabit different human bodies to survive, as well as escape the clutches of mad scientist, Doctor Lo (John Chuii Jong Shinn), who’ll stop at nothing to capture her in this out-of-this-world rom-com sci-fi mash-up. (95 minutes) (Orchid Tree)

“As an ever-expanding force in the international filmmaking world, China continues to push the envelope to deliver movies that are the equivalent of anything coming out of Hollywood, ” says Hong. “As one of the leading North American platforms for blockbusters from China Lion – many of which are already among our most successful titles such as thrillers like Mr. Six and The Witness — we’re building a catalog that’ll thrill fans of Chinese cinema and movie lovers alike”

“Our close association with Asian Crush has allowed the world to discover great new talents coming out of China and we’re glad to see that continue with this selection of some of our major releases, ” says China Lion’s CEO & President, Jiang Yanming. “The stories told by Chinese filmmakers are evolving and growing and we couldn’t be more excited by this great outlet available to North American audiences.”

AsianCrush is available on the web, iOS, Android, Roku, Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV, Chromecast and additional platforms, and features thousands of streaming titles, with new titles programmed each week. The OTT channel is available to consumers on a freemium model, which they can choose to view for free or with a premium subscription. Registered users can watch videos for free with commercials while premium subscribers can access the entire selection of titles without commercials, in addition to early releases, director’s cuts and exclusive content. Premium subscription pricing starts at $4.99 a month.

“The First Prehistoric Serial Killer and Other Stories” by Teresa Solona— Short Stories

Solona, Teresa. “The First Prehistoric Serial Killer and Other Stories”, translated by Peter Bush, Bitter Lemon Press 2018.

Short Stories

Amos Lassen

I am not much of a short story reader and actually the only stories that I read are those collections that are sent to me for review. Perhaps that is why it has taken me so long to sit down and review this collection. The stories are divided into two groups— “Blood, Guts and Love” which consists of five stories including the title story and “Connections” that is made up of eight stories. The stories are quite dark and humorous and in them some of the strangest things happen. We meet two grandmothers who are killers and decomposing statues. “Connections” is made up of what the author calls Barcelona stories and they are connected by two criminal acts. Originally written in Catalan, the stories have been translated by Peter Bush and they reflect the lifestyle of the Iberian Peninsula.

I always face the question when reviewing an anthology as to write a few words about each story or review the entire book as a whole and because of the nature of the stories and the fact that saying too much can ruin the read for others, I decided to just look at the book as a whole. What we really get is a look at Barcelona with social commentary and in the “Connections” section we have a crime story with detective brothers working to solve it. Actually the stories are quite independent, there are common characters and situations and it is left to the reader to find the connections.

What seems to be universal to all of the stories is the ironic way that writer Teresa Solona satirizes Catalan life. There is a lot of wit here and we laugh with the writer; plus Borja and Eduard are characters that you are not likely to forget.

“To Heal the World?: How the Jewish Left Corrupts Judaism and Endangers Israel” by Jonathan Neumann— Leftist Judaism

Neumann, Jonathan. “To Heal the World?: How the Jewish Left Corrupts Judaism and Endangers Israel”, AllPoints Books, 2018.

Leftist Judaism

Amos Lassen

Jonathan Neumann provides a devastating critique of the presumed theological basis of the Jewish social justice movement; the concept of healing the world.

Tikkun olam is an obscure Hebrew phrase that literally means “healing the world.” According to Jonathan Neumann, it is the master concept that is at the core of Jewish left wing activism and its agenda of transformative change. Those who follow this claim that the Bible asks for more than piety and moral behavior—Jews must also endeavor to make the world a better place.

Tikkun Olam has permeated Jewish teaching, preaching, scholarship and political engagement and has led to overwhelming Jewish participation in the social justice movement due to the belief such actions are biblically mandated. However, the Bible says no such thing.

Neumann shows that tikkun olam is an invention of the Jewish left and has diluted years of Jewish practice and belief into a vague feel-good religion of social justice. Neumann uses religious and political history to show how the Bible was twisted by Jewish liberals to support a radical left-wing agenda.

We learn that the Jewish Renewal movement aligned itself with the New Left of the 1960s, and redirected the perspective of the Jewish community toward liberalism and social justice. This has no real biblical basis.

Today there is a strong and growing group of Jews who are critical of liberal ideology and of their fellow Jews who embrace it. Some say that this book “is a devastating exposé of one of the worst vices in American Jewish life — the penchant of many rabbis and communal leaders to pass their own progressive politics off as continuous with the classical Jewish sources. It also opens a window onto a conception of Judaism that is broader, less partisan, and spiritually richer than many Americans have ever known.”

For too long, the Jewish left has used Jewish sloganeering to serve their leftism, claiming that ‘tikkun olam’ dictates their politics. Neumann shows that the combination of Judaism and leftism is damaging to Jewishness itself, and that those who claim they are healing the world on God’s behalf. In actuality, Neumann says, the roots of Judeo-Christian civilization are being torn apart.

Neumann documents “the distortion and destruction wreaked by an assortment of misguided and agenda-driven left-wing icons and activists during the past half century.”

We have a new generation of Jews that values traditional Judaism in its wholeness, and wants to be specifically Jewish. They value religious freedom and see how tikkun olam has been imposed on Judaism by a corrupt and gradually dying left-wing American Jewish establishment.

Neumann gives a detailed analysis of how most American Jews, aided and abetted by the Reform and Conservative movements, have abandoned traditional Jewish thinking and practice) and replaced it with a relatively minor concept in the Jewish tradition known as Tikkun Olam or social justice. Unfortunately, many Jews have been taken into Tikkun Olam without having a clue as to what it’s all about, or even what their tradition is all about. The author does a brilliant job of showing how many Biblical texts have been re-interpreted to fit the theology of Tikkun Olam, and Judaism is being replaced by a leftist political movement.

“Titans of history” by Simon Sebag Montefiore— The Giants Who Made Our World

Montefiore, Simon Sebag. “Titans of History”, Vintage, 2018.

The Giants Who Made Our World

Amos Lassen

Having enjoyed Simon Sebag Montefiore’s “Jerusalem”, I was ready to sit down and have another wonderful reading experience with “Titans of History”. It is a collection of people, including “conquerors, poets, kings, empresses and whores to psychopaths, composers and explorers.” This is a history of the world through the people who made it what it is. The biographies are brief and unfortunately shallow with little analysis of who the titans are. Montefiore gives us history through biographies of some of the most fascinating characters of all time yet this is something missing here.

 Montefiore includes over 170 notable figures and he includes almost everyone from Charlemagne to Elvis thus being interesting to everyone. This is a history through people and it is meant for those who don’t want to be bogged down with statistics and just really want the main points of history. There are many fascinating facts about everyone you need to know.

These who Montefiore calls titans of history include “queens, empresses, and actresses, kings, sultans, and conquerors, as well as prophets, artists, courtesans, psychopaths, and explorers—lived lives of astonishing drama, courage and adventure, debauchery and slaughter, virtue and crime. The subjects range widely throughout time and geography from Buddha and Genghis Khan to Nero and Churchill; from Catherine the Great and Anne Frank to Toussaint l’Ouverture and Martin Luther King; from Mozart to Mao; from Jesus Christ and Shakespeare to Einstein and Elvis.” It is through the lives of the titans that we get the most momentous world events from ancient times to the Crusades, the Holocaust, and the Gulf Wars. 

These are the historical figures that everyone should know but I found details to be quite scarce and it also sees to me that Montefiore favors villains over good guys. We get psychopathic dictators, warlords and malevolent dwarves. He also finds room for “a few gods, one or two secular saints, American founding fathers, Lincoln and Churchill, and some artists and scientist. I do have bit of a problem with the fact that two African dictators like Idi Amin and Macias Nguema get a place as Titans but other far more influential African leaders are not mentioned.

 

 

“Right Behind you” by Lisa Gardner— A Thriller

Gardner, Lisa. “Right Behind You”, (An FBI Profiler Novel) Dutton, 2018.

A Thriller

Amos Lassen

Eight years ago, Sharlah May Nash’s older brother beat their drunken father to death with a baseball bat in order to save both of their lives. Now thirteen years old, Sharlah has finally moved on. She is about to be adopted by retired FBI profiler Pierce Quincy and his partner, Rainie Conner. Sharlah really loves that her new family members are all experts on monsters

Suddenly a call comes in about a double murder at a local gas station, followed by reports of an armed suspect shooting his way through Oregon. As Quincy and Rainie race to assist, they are forced to confront mounting evidence and that is that the shooter may very well be Sharlah’s older brother, Telly and it seems that his killing spree has only just begun.

As the clock winds down on a the manhunt for Telly, Quincy and Rainie need answer two critical questions: Why has Telly started killing again? And what does this mean for Sharlah? Once he saved her life. Now, she has two questions of her own: Is her brother a hero or a killer? And how much will it cost her new family before they learn the final, shattering truth? Because as Sharlah knows all too well, the biggest danger is the one standing right behind you.

This is a thriller in which we also learn about the emotional problems of children who had rough early childhoods. Special skills needed by foster and adoptive parents to deal with the emotional issues of these difficult children are also discussed here. As we read, we think we know what happened…and we are just wondering why it happened again after all these years.

The characters are well drawn and the story pulls the reader in immediately especially when we realize that not everything adds up. This novel is dark and not so much mystery or thriller but a drama. It surely will keep you reading and thinking.

“So Much Life Left Over” by Louis de Bernieres— Love and Loss

Louis de Bernieres. “So Much Life Left Over”, Pantheon, 2018.

Love and Loss

Amos Lassen

I love historical epics and every summer I try to read a couple. I find it great fun to become involved and soon allow myself to get lost among the characters. “So Much Life Left Over” is an epic about love and loss set in Great Britain between the two World Wars. We follow (or, as I do become part of) a group of childhood friends whose lives and fortunes intertwine as they endure a world at war. There are lots of emotions and action and I found this a difficult book to put down.

We meet an inseparable tribe of childhood friends of whom some were lost to the battles of the First World War, and those who were able to survived have had their lives totally changed. As the 1920s begin, they’ve scattered all over— Ceylon and India, France and Germany, and back to Britain. They are filled with the same question of “If you have been embroiled in a war in which you confidently expected to die, what are you supposed to do with so much life unexpectedly left over?” In brief, dramatic chapters we follow them through the decades as their paths re-cross or their ties fall apart, as they test friendships and love, face grief and guilt, and try to adjust to the modern world. I found it to be like getting a whole new group of friends with which to spend the summer and each of them came to matter to me.

Daniel, is a Royal Air Force flying ace that married Rosie, a wartime nurse. Their marriage is slowly revealed to be built on lies and Daniel finds solace—and, sometimes, family with other women, while Rosie protects herself with religion. Rosie’s sisters include a bohemian, a minister’s wife, and a spinster, each seeking purpose and happiness in her own unconventional way. Daniel has a military brother who is unable to find his place in a peaceful world. Then we have Rosie’s “peculiar” mother and her secretive father. When the peace between the wars begins to break, we watch as war once again changes the lives of these people.

We see how quickly lives can be torn apart and/or come together. I could not help but be reminded of the characters that we found in the novels of Charles Dickens and the social observations that went along with them. Here we have the impact of two wars upon people who find themselves at the doorstep of a modern world. We laugh and cry with them and they become part of us during the read. In fact, they became friends that I did not want to be taken away from and when I closed the covers of the book I immediately began to miss them. This is the first Louis de Bernieres book that I have read and I immediately felt that I had to go back and read his others. There is something about the conflicts of love and loyalty that is fascinating and I want to be even more fascinated.

“ROWAN & MARTIN’S LAUGH-IN: THE COMPLETE FIFTH SEASON”— The End of the Road

“ROWAN & MARTIN’S LAUGH-IN: THE COMPLETE FIFTH SEASON”

The End of the Road

Amos Lassen

Available for the Very First Time at Retail, the 6-Disc Set Features 24 Complete, Remastered Episodes Loaded with Classic Sketches  and Incredible Guest Stars.

Political correctness met its match with Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In, NBC-TV’s groundbreaking variety series that became a cultural touchstone and part of the fabric of ’60s-’70s era America. Every Monday night at 8pm from 1968-1973, straight man Dan Rowan and wisecracking co-host Dick Martin led a supremely talented comic ensemble through a gut-busting assault of one-liners, skits, bits and non sequiturs that left viewers in hysterics and disbelief. “ROWAN & MARTIN’S LAUGH-IN: THE COMPLETE FIFTH SEASON”, from the award-winning TV DVD archivists at Time Life, makes its retail debut on July 10 in an uproarious set featuring all 24 re-mastered episodes from the fifth season (September 13,1971-March 20, 1972).

  THE COMPLETE FIFTH SEASON includes such classic features as “Cocktail Party,” “Fickle Finger of Fate,” “Joke Wall,” “Gladys and Tyrone,” “General Bull Right,” “Big Al,” Lily Tomlin’s legendary “Ernestine” and “Edith Ann,” “Tasteful Lady,” and “Ruth Buzzi’s Hollywood Report”. Additionally, Mod, Mod World takes on sports, toys and games, families, politics, nutrition, leisure, year’s end, Manhattan, television, small towns, crazy people, and the theater, Robert Goulet, Charo, and Three Dog Night perform the Laugh-In news song and there’s a hilarious “Salute to Santa” and a very modern Christmas Carol.

In THE COMPLETE FIFTH SEASON, after years of shameless name dropping, Dick finally gets his wish when bombshell Raquel Welch kicks off the new season with her first and only appearance on the show. Former Hogan’s Heroes POWs Richard Dawson and Larry Hovis escaped CBS to join the cast. And, along with alumni Judy Carne, Arte Johnson, Henry Gibson, Jo Anne Worley and Teresa Graves, they help to celebrate Laugh-In‘s landmark 100th episode (September 1, 1971). THE COMPLETE FIFTH SEASON also brings out many of the 20th century’s greatest talents including Steve Allen, Johnny Carson, Johnny Cash, Carol Channing, Charo, Petula Clark, Bing Crosby, Tony Curtis, Henry Gibson, Gene Hackman, Rita Hayworth, Hugh Hefner, Bob Hope, Arte Johnson, Paul Lynde, Liza Minnelli, Agnes Moorehead, Joe Namath, Carroll O’Connor, Vincent Price, Carl Reiner, Debbie Reynolds, Sugar Ray Robinson, Bill Russell, Vin Scully, Doc Severinsen, Jacqueline Susann, Tiny Tim, John Wayne, Raquel Welch, Henny Youngman, and more!

“The Last Time I Lied” by Randy Sager— “Two Truths and a Lie”

Sager, Riley “The Last Time I Lied: A Novel”, Dutton, 2018

“Two Truths and a Lie”

Amos Lassen

In “The Last Time I Lied” by Riley Sanger, a young woman returns to her childhood summer camp to uncover the truth about a tragedy that happened there fifteen years earlier.

Vivian, Natalie, Allison, and first-time camper Emma Davis, the youngest of the group played games all the time in their cabin at Camp Nightingale. THowever, he games ended the night when Emma watched the others sneak out of the cabin into the darkness. The last anyone saw of them was Vivian closing the cabin door behind her and signaling Emma to be quiet.

Fifteen years later, Emma is a artist in the New York art scene. Her paintings are based on her past and she creates massive canvases filled with dark leaves and trees that cover ghostly shapes in white dresses. The paintings catch the attention of Francesca Harris-White, the wealthy owner of Camp Nightingale, she begs Emma to return to the newly reopened camp as a painting instructor. Emma sees this as an opportunity to find out what really happened to her friends all those years ago and agrees to do so. She finds familiar faces, the same cabins and the same dark lake. We learn that the camp is opening for the first time since the disappearances.

Emma is assigned to the same cabin she slept in as a teenager and she discovers the only security camera on the property pointed directly at its door. She remembers the cryptic clues that Vivian left behind about the camp’s twisted origins and ass she digs deeper, Emma soon finds herself sorting through lies from the past while at the same time facing mysterious threats in the present. She realizes that the closer she gets to the truth about Camp Nightingale and what really happened to those girls, the more expensive closure will be.

As you can understand from what I have written here, this is a thriller and because of that I am limited in what I can say about the plot. As I read, I was on the edge of my seat yet could not stop reading even though this kind of thriller is far from new. The tension never stops and the conclusion knocks you out.

 

 

 

 

 

“Last Looks: A Novel” by Howard Michael Gould— A Rogue Thriller

Gould, Howard Michael. “Last Looks: A Novel”, Dutton, 2018.

A Rogue Thriller

Amos Lassen

“Last Looks” is a thriller that is sharp, fast moving and lots of fun. Howard Michael Gould introduces us to Charlie Waldo, an ex-detective who is a bit strange and very smart and hives us a lampooning look at Hollywood. I do not real a lot of thrillers and in order to keep me interested, they must catch me on the first page and “Last Looks” did just that.

Waldo was once a superstar on the Los Angeles police force but now he has chosen to live in solitude deep in the woods and totally determined to never own more than one hundred items of possession. Not only has he walked out on his career, he also left his girlfriend, Lorena and has chosen to live in self-imposed exile as a form of penance for a terrible mistake of a move on an old murder case. We shall see that this cannot last for long.

Alastair Pinch is one of the most difficult actors in Hollywood. He has had better days and that includes having once been a member of the Royal Shakespeare Company. Today he plays a “wise” Southern judge on a tacky network show. This is quite a comedown. Alastair also happens to be ridiculously wealthy, belligerent, and usually drunk. He found his wife dead on the living room floor and is unable to he remember what happened.

Waldo’s old girlfriend Lorena, draws him toward the case, and Alastair’s greedy network convinces Waldo to take it on. However, it has been such a long time away from both civilization and detective work, Waldo remains unsure plus there are many people want him gone. Now he must deal with complicated ego and deceit to either clear Alastair’s name or confirm his guilt.

The dialogue here is very sharp, there is a lot of intrigue and a fast moving plot that makes it a bit difficult to believe that this is a first thriller for writer Gould whose blend of humor and suspense is amazing. Eco-maniac Charlie Waldo is an eccentric and compelling hero and the story keeps you turning pages. It is a great summer read.

“One Deadly Summer” by Sebastien Japrisot— Hatred, Revenge and Lust

Japrisot, Sebastien. “One Deadly Summer”, translated by Alan Sheridan, Gallic Books, 2018.

Hatred, Revenge and Lust

Amos Lassen

When she was just nine-years-old, Elle learned that she is the product of the gang raping of her mother; She later uses her sexual wiles to lure her husband, Fiorimond, into a deadly plot against the men whom she believes to be the rapists.

Set in the 1970s, this story of obsession and suspense pulls us in on the first page. We see the story via Elle and “Ping-Pong” and because of this we do not know immediately what that summer was all about. We start with the why of the plot instead of going right into the events. We read of how injury takes us to obsession and then to revenge. Early on we are aware of Elle’s promiscuity and we see that she uses sex to her advantage (she thinks). Sex has powerful consequences as we have seen throughout history— it can build an empire or cause one to fall. Elle understands its power and thusly uses it and she does so calculatingly whether it is coerced, casual or part of a marriage.

Japrisot gives us a portrait of working class life in a typical French village. It is as if we are actually living there, entering homes, working, tending to household duties and family matters, go to the disco on the weekend and so on. We get to know the villagers as things happen (not all of them are good) and we see that an unexpected event can take a person into a strange and different world, almost in a moment.

At first, all we know is that a mysterious young beauty causes quite a scene in a small French town one summer, driving the men wild and tricking one of them into marrying her. We learn that this is because of a long-ago crime in the same small town, and this young woman is now out for revenge. The reader knows that Elle is drawing the men to their doom. I must say that I had a problem with Elle—

she is an unlikeable heroine. She is selfish and cruel, so her influence over the other characters is unbelievable. I really did not care what happened to her. I really cannot say any more about the plot because to do so I would have to include spoilers. I can say that even without any feelings for Elle, this is a fascinating read that reminded me of the “sexy” French novels I would read on the sly when I was a college student. No one writes about sex like the French.