Book Review – RED BONES (2009) by Ann Cleeves

RED BONES (2009) ***½
by Ann Cleeves
First published by Macmillan, 2009
This edition published by Pan Books, 2015, 406pp (392pp)
ISBN: 978-1-4472-7446-9
includes 12-page preview of BLUE LIGHTNING.

Blurb: When an elderly woman is shot in what appears to be a tragic accident, Shetland detective Jimmy Perez is called to investigate the mystery. The sparse landscape and the emptiness of the sea have bred a fierce and secretive people. As Jimmy looks to the islanders for answers, he finds instead two feuding families whose envy, greed and bitterness have lasted generations. Then there’s another murder and, as the spring weather shrouds the island in claustrophobic mists, Jimmy must dig up old secrets to stop a new killer from striking again…

The third book in Ann Cleeves’ Shetland series featuring detective Jimmy Perez is a slow-burning mystery. Cleeves takes great care in growing her characters and making them feel real and this is key to the readers’ investment in the mystery. Whilst this approach can often slow the pace in a book with a relatively small cast of suspects, it does help create a sense of place. Cleeves also has the knack of cleverly ratcheting up the tension without the reader noticing it and you can feel yourself being drawn in as the book progresses. Perez is a detective who may lack charisma but has integrity and a sense of moral justice on his side. Much time is given to his sidekick, the raw and naive Sandy Wilson, whose character grows significantly through the book. The result is a good old-fashioned mystery with all the elements present.

New Shaft soundtrack released for download on 7 June and as 2CD on 14 June

As publicity begins to ramp up ahead of the release of Tim Story’s Shaft on June 14, details of the soundtrack album have been publicised. The album will be released via download on 7 June and as a double-CD on 14 June. The album is split between songs and the film’s score (by Chris Lennertz). A single “Too Much Shaft” by Quavo is available online now. It is a rap rework, incorporating elements of Isaac Hayes’ iconic “Theme from Shaft”, and not very listenable. The album also includes a new remix of Hayes’ theme by The Math Club.

Shaft Official Soundtrack

Track listing:

1. Love Over and Over Again – Switch
2. 93 ‘Til Infinity – Souls Of Mischief
3. Mary Jane – Rick James
4. They Want EFX – Das EFX
5. Dance With You – Kris P.
6. The Secret Garden (Sweet Seduction Suite) [feat. Barry White, Al B. Sure!, James Ingram and El DeBarge] – Quincy Jones
7. Caught Up – Caleborate
8. Get Up Offa That Thing – James Brown
9. Ain’t No Love in the Heart of the City – Bobby Bland
10. Theme from Shaft (Math Club Remix) – The Math Club
11. Too Much Shaft [with Saweetie] – Quavo

Chris Lennertz Score

12. Main Titles
13. Karim’s Funeral
14. Toxicology/Shaft HQ
15. 139th Street
16. My Pride and Joy
17. 2nd Trimester/Trust You
18. Old Fashioned Stakeout/Boogie
19. Digital Blackout/Happiest Bitch
20. Good Job
21. That Shaft Kid
22. Shaft Saves JJ
23. Grandad/Bored as Hell
24. The Shafts Are Coming
25. Old School
26. I Feel Fine Mother F…er
27. Moment Ruined

Film Review – SUDDEN IMPACT (1983)

Image result for sudden impact 1983SUDDEN IMPACT (USA, 1983) ***
      Distributor: Warner Bros. Pictures; Production Company: Warner Bros. Pictures / The Malpaso Company; Release Date: 8 December 1983 (USA), 27 January 1984 (UK); Filming Dates: 3 May 1983; Running Time: 117m; Colour: Technicolor; Sound Mix: Mono | Dolby Digital (5.1); Film Format: 35mm; Film Process: Panavision; Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1; BBFC Cert: 18.
      Director: Clint Eastwood; Writer: Joseph Stinson (based on a story by Earl E. Smith & Charles B. Pierce and characters created by Harry Julian Fink and Rita M. Fink); Executive Producer: Fritz Manes; Producer: Clint Eastwood; Associate Producer: Steve Perry; Director of Photography: Bruce Surtees; Music Composer: Lalo Schifrin; Film Editor: Joel Cox; Casting Director: Marion Dougherty; Production Designer: Edward C. Carfagno; Set Decorator: Ernie Bishop; Costumes: Glenn Wright; Make-up: Barbara Guedel; Sound: Bub Asman, Alan Robert Murray, Donald F. Johnson; Special Effects: Chuck Gaspar.
      Cast: Clint Eastwood (Harry Callahan), Sondra Locke (Jennifer Spencer), Pat Hingle (Chief Jannings), Bradford Dillman (Captain Briggs), Paul Drake (Mick), Audrie Neenan (Ray Parkins), Jack Thibeau (Kruger), Michael Currie (Lt. Donnelly), Albert Popwell (Horace King), Mark Keyloun (Officer Bennett), Kevyn Major Howard (Hawkins), Bette Ford (Leah), Nancy Parsons (Mrs. Kruger), Joe Bellan (Burly Detective), Wendell Wellman (Tyrone), Mara Corday (Loretta – Coffee Shop Waitress), Russ McCubbin (Eddie), Robert Sutton (Carl), Nancy Fish (Historical Society Woman), Carmen Argenziano (D’Ambrosia), Lisa Britt (Elizabeth), Bill Reddick (Police Commissioner), Lois De Banzie (Judge), Matthew Child (Alby), Mike Johnson (Assassin), Nick Dimitri (Assassin), Michael Maurer (George Wilburn), Pat DuVal (Bailiff), Christian Phillips (Hawkin’s Crony), Steven Kravitz (Hawkin’s Crony), Dennis Royston (Young Guy), Melvin Thompson (Young Guy), Jophery C. Brown (Young Guy), William Upton (Young Guy), Lloyd Nelson (Desk Sergeant), Christopher Pray (Detective Jacobs), James McEachin (Detective Barnes), Maria Lynch (Hostess), Ken Lee (Loomis), Morgan Upton (Bartender), John X. Heart (Uniform Policeman), David Gonzales (Gang Member), Albert Martinez (Gang Member), David Rivers (Gang Member), Robert Rivers (Gang Member), Harry Demopoulos (Dr. Barton), Lisa London (Young Hooker), Tom Spratley (Senior Man), Eileen Wiggins (Hysterical Female Customer), John Nowak (Bank Robber).
      Synopsis: A rape victim is taking revenge on her aggressors in a small town outside San Francisco. Inspector Harry Callahan (Eastwood), on suspension for angering his superiors (again), is assigned to the case.
      Comment: Fourth DIRTY HARRY film is heavy-handed, but entertaining nonetheless. The action has become more violent and cartoonish with the set pieces also increasingly formulaic, but Eastwood’s screen presence is more than enough to carry the movie. Eastwood directs efficiently and the only real weakness is a by-the-numbers script. Locke gives a good portrayal of the victim exacting revenge on her attackers.
      Notes: The screenplay was originally written for a non-Dirty Harry film with Sondra Locke. However, the script, by Earl E. Smith and Charles B. Pierce, was later re-written by Joseph Stinson into this Dirty Harry movie. Fourth in the series following DIRTY HARRY (1971), MAGNUM FORCE (1973) and THE ENFORCER (1976) and followed by THE DEAD POOL (1989).

Film Review – FIREFOX (1982)

Image result for firefox 1982FIREFOX (USA, 1982) **½
      Distributor: Warner Bros; Production Company: The Malpaso Company; Release Date: 14 June 1982 (USA), 15 July 1982 (UK); Filming Dates: 26 August – November 1981; Running Time: 136m; Colour: DeLuxe; Sound Mix: Dolby (35 mm prints) | 70 mm 6-Track (70 mm prints); Film Format: 35mm, 70mm (blow up); Film Process: Panavision; Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1; BBFC Cert: 15.
      Director: Clint Eastwood; Writer: Alex Lasker, Wendell Wellman (based on the novel by Craig Thomas); Executive Producer: Fritz Manes; Producer: Clint Eastwood; Associate Producer: Paul Hitchcock; Director of Photography: Bruce Surtees; Music Composer: Maurice Jarre; Music Supervisor: ; Film Editor: Ron Spang, Ferris Webster; Casting Director: Marion Dougherty, Mary Selway; Production Designer: ; Art Director: Elayne Barbara Ceder, John Graysmark, Beala Neel; Set Decorator: Ernie Bishop; Costumes: Glenn Wright; Make-up: Christina Smith; Sound: Bub Asman, Alan Robert Murray, Robert G. Henderson; Special Effects: Chuck Gaspar; Visual Effects: John Dykstra.
      Cast: Clint Eastwood (Mitchell Gant), Freddie Jones (Kenneth Aubrey), David Huffman (Captain Buckholz), Warren Clarke (Pavel Upenskoy), Ronald Lacey (Semelovsky), Kenneth Colley (Colonel Kontarsky), Klaus Löwitsch (General Vladimirov), Nigel Hawthorne (Pyotr Baranovich), Stefan Schnabel (First Secretary), Thomas Hill (General Brown), Clive Merrison (Major Lanyev), Kai Wulff (Lt. Colonel Voskov), Dimitra Arliss (Natalia), Austin Willis (Walters), Michael Currie (Captain Seerbacker), James Staley (Lt. Commander Fleischer), Ward Costello (General Rogers), Alan Tilvern (Air Marshal Kutuzov), Oliver Cotton (Dmitri Priabin), Bernard Behrens (William Saltonstall), Richard Derr (Admiral Curtin), Woody Eney (Major Dietz), Bernard Erhard (KGB Guard), Hugh Fraser (Police Inspector Tortyev), David Gant (KGB Official), John Grillo (Customs Officer), Czeslaw Grocholski (Old Man), Barrie Houghton (Boris Glazunov), Neil Hunt (Richard Cunningham), Vincent J. Isaac (Sub Radio Operator), Alexei Jawdokimov (Code Operator), Wolf Kahler (KGB Chairman Andropov), Eugene Lipinski (KGB Agent), Phillip Littell (Code Operator), Curt Lowens (Dr. Schuller), Lev Mailer (Guard at Shower), Fritz Manes (Captain), David Meyers (Grosch), Alfredo Michelson (Interrogator), Zeno Nahayevsky (Officer at Plane), George Orrison (Leon Sprague), Tony Papenfuss (GRU Officer), Olivier Pierre (Borkh), Grisha Plotkin (GRU Officer), George Pravda (General Borov), John Ratzenberger (Chief Peck), Alex Rodine (Captain of the Riga), Lance Rosen (Agent), Gene Scherer (Russian Captain), Warwick Sims (Shelley), Mike Spero (Russian Guard), Malcolm Storry (KGB Agent), Chris Winfield (RAF Operator), John Yates (Admiral Pearson), Alexander Zale (Riga Fire Control Chief), Igor Zatsepin (Flight Engineer), Konstantin Zlatev (Riga Technician).
      Synopsis: The Soviets have developed a revolutionary new jet fighter, so the British send an ex-Vietnam War pilot on a covert mission into the Soviet Union to steal it.
      Comment: Change of direction for Eastwood as he takes on a tale that mixes Alistair MacLean-style high adventure with the spy thriller. Whilst the basis of the plot is plausible it is often executed in a ham-fisted manner, not helped by some telegraphed performances – notably Jones as the caper leader. Eastwood looks uncomfortable with the genre and the script gives him little to work with. He directs efficiently and handles the action sequences well, though the flight chase scenes now look dated.
      Notes: After its initial release, Eastwood recut the film by 13m; this 124m version has aired on cable TV. The story is loosely based on an actual event in which a Soviet fighter pilot (Viktor Belenko) defected to Japan on September 6, 1976. Belenko was stationed in Chuguyekva, Primorsky Krai, RSFSR (Soviet Russia) where he flew a MiG-25 to Hakodate, Japan.

Film Review – BRONCO BILLY (1980)

Image result for bronco billy 1980BRONCO BILLY (USA, 1980) ***½
      Distributor: Warner Bros. (USA), Columbia-Warner Distributors (UK); Production Company: Warner Bros. / Second Street Films; Release Date: 11 June 1980 (USA), 17 July 1980 (UK); Filming Dates: October – November 1979; Running Time: 116m; Colour: DeLuxe; Sound Mix: Mono; Film Format: 35mm; Film Process: Spherical; Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1; BBFC Cert: PG.
      Director: Clint Eastwood; Writer: Dennis Hackin; Executive Producer: Robert Daley; Producer: Neal H. Dobrofsky, Dennis Hackin; Associate Producer: Fritz Manes; Director of Photography: David Worth; Music Supervisor: Snuff Garrett; Film Editor: Joel Cox, Ferris Webster; Art Director: Eugène Lourié; Set Decorator: Ernie Bishop; Costumes: Glenn Wright; Make-up: Thomas Tuttle; Sound: Bert Hallberg; Special Effects: Jeff Jarvis.
      Cast: Clint Eastwood (Bronco Billy), Sondra Locke (Antoinette Lily), Geoffrey Lewis (John Arlington), Scatman Crothers (Doc Lynch), Bill McKinney (Lefty LeBow), Sam Bottoms (Leonard James), Dan Vadis (Chief Big Eagle), Sierra Pecheur (Lorraine Running Water), Walter Barnes (Sheriff Dix), Woodrow Parfrey (Dr. Canterbury), Beverlee McKinsey (Irene Lily), Doug McGrath (Lt. Wiecker), Hank Worden (Station Mechanic), William Prince (Edgar Lipton), Pam Abbas (Mother Superior), Eyde Byrde (Maid Eloise), Douglas Copsey (Reporter at Bank), John Wesley Elliott Jr. (Sanatorium Attendant), Chuck Hicks (Cowboy at Bar), Bob Hoy (Cowboy at Bar), Jefferson Jewell (Boy at Bank), Dawneen Lee (Bank Teller), Don Mummert (Chauffeur), Lloyd Nelson (Sanatorium Policeman), George Orrison (Cowboy in Bar), Michael Reinbold (King), Tessa Richarde (Mitzi Fritts), Cha Cha Sandoval-McMahon (Doris Duke), Valerie Shanks (Sister Maria), Sharon Sherlock (License Clerk), James Simmerman (Bank Manager), Roger Dale Simmons (Reporter at Bank), Jenny Sternling (Reporter at Sanatorium), Chuck Waters (Bank Robber), Jerry Wills (Bank Robber).
      Synopsis: An idealistic, modern-day cowboy struggles to keep his Wild West show afloat in the face of hard luck and waning interest.
      Comment: Low-key but charming Eastwood comedy vehicle has much philosophical to say about corporate greed and the need for a simpler way of life using Western values as its basis. Its comedy is geared around the clash of counter-cultures and only occasionally lapses into more broader territory. A strong supporting cast is headed by Locke’s self-centred rich-heiress who falls in with Eastwood’s crew when suffering deception at the hands of Lewis’ gold-digging suitor. Eastwood directs with a sensitive eye for comic timing and delivers a charismatic lead performance.

Film Review – ANY WHICH WAY YOU CAN (1980)

Image result for any which way you canANY WHICH WAY YOU CAN (USA, 1980) **½
      Distributor: Warner Bros. Pictures (USA), Columbia-EMI-Warner (UK); Production Company: The Malpaso Company / Warner Bros. Pictures; Release Date: 17 December 1980 (USA), 18 December 1980 (UK); Filming Dates: 5 May – July 1980; Running Time: 116m; Colour: DeLuxe; Sound Mix: Stereo; Film Format: 35mm; Film Process: Spherical; Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1; BBFC Cert: 15.
      Director: Buddy Van Horn; Writer: Stanford Sherman (based on characters created by Jeremy Joe Kronsberg); Executive Producer: Robert Daley; Producer: Fritz Manes; Director of Photography: David Worth; Music Supervisor: Snuff Garrett; Film Editor: Ron Spang, Ferris Webster; Casting Director: Marion Dougherty (uncredited); Production Designer: William J. Creber; Set Decorator: Ernie Bishop; Costumes: Glenn Wright; Make-up: Joe McKinney; Sound: Bert Hallberg; Special Effects: Chuck Gaspar, Jeff Jarvis.
      Cast: Clint Eastwood (Philo Beddoe), Sondra Locke (Lynn Halsey-Taylor), Geoffrey Lewis (Orville), William Smith (Jack Wilson), Harry Guardino (James Beekman), Ruth Gordon (Ma), Michael Cavanaugh (Patrick Scarfe), Barry Corbin (Fat Zack), Roy Jenson (Moody), Bill McKinney (Dallas), William O’Connell (Elmo), John Quade (Cholla), Al Ruscio (Tony Paoli Sr.), Dan Vadis (Frank), Camila Ashland (Hattie), Beans Morocco (Baggage Man), Michael Brockman (Moustache Officer), Julie Brown (Candy), Glen Campbell (Glen Campbell), Richard Christie (Jackson Officer), Rebecca Clemons (Buxom Bess), Reid Cruickshanks (Bald Headed Trucker), Michael Currie (Wyoming Officer), Gary Lee Davis (Husky Officer), Dick Durock (Joe Casey), Michael Fairman (CHP Captain), James Gammon (Bartender), Weston Gavin (Beekman’s Butler), Lance Gordon (Biceps), Lynn Hallowell (Honey Bun), Peter Hobbs (Motel Clerk), Art LaFleur (Baggage Man #2), Ken Lerner (Tony Paoli Jr.), John McKinney (Officer), Robin Menken (Tall Woman), George Murdock (Sgt. Cooley), Jack Murdock (Little Melvin), Ann Nelson (Harriet), Sunshine Parker (Old Codger), Kent Perkins (Trucker), Anne Ramsey (Loretta Quince), Logan Ramsey (Luther Quince), Michael Reinbold (Officer with Glasses), Tessa Richarde (Sweet Sue), Jeremy Smith (Intern), Bill Sorrells (Bakersfield Officer), Jim Stafford (Long John), Michael Talbott (Officer Morgan), Mark L. Taylor (Desk Clerk), Jack Thibeau (Head Muscle), Charles Walker (Officer), Jerry Brutsche (Black Widow), Orwin C. Harvey (Black Widow), Larry Holt (Black Widow), John Nowak (Black Widow), Walter Robles (Black Widow), Mike Tillman (Black Widow).
      Synopsis: A bare-knuckle fighter decides to retire, but when the Mafia come along and arrange another fight, he is pushed into it. A motorcycle gang and an orangutan called Clyde all add to the ‘fun’.
      Comment: Sequel to 1978’s EVERY WHICH WAY BUT LOOSE is a more enjoyable movie. Amping up the comedy and removing some of the mean-spiritedness of the original, the result is an extremely lightweight but sometimes fun movie. Anyone looking for depth of character or development should look elsewhere. Those looking for broad laughs, slapstick and cartoon-like characters will likely find something to enjoy here. Eastwood seems more relaxed with the comedy and whilst Lewis and Locke are more marginalised, the role of Clyde is dialled up for comedic effect.
      Notes: Filmed in the California communities of Sun Valley, North Hollywood, and Bakersfield, and in Jackson, Wyoming.

Book Review – THE FALLS (2001) by Ian Rankin

THE FALLS (2001) ****
by Ian Rankin
First published by Orion 2001
This edition published by Orion, 2011, 498pp (475pp)
ISBN: 978-1-4072-4759-5
includes an introduction by Ian Rankin and Reading Group Notes.

The Falls (A Rebus Novel)Blurb: A student has gone missing in Edinburgh. She’s not just any student, though, but the daughter of well-to-do and influential bankers. There’s almost nothing to go on until DI John Rebus gets an unmistakable gut feeling that there’s more to this than just another runaway spaced out on unaccustomed freedom. Two leads emerge: a carved wooden doll in a toy coffin, found in the student’s home village, and an internet role-playing game. The ancient and the modern, brought together by uncomfortable circumstance…

The 12th book in Ian Rankin’s John Rebus series is an intriguing mystery that confirmed Rankin’s position in the premier league of crime writers. Four years and four books on from the breakthrough Black and Blue, this is confidently written and demonstrates Rankin’s total mastery of his characters. He even manages to give Rebus a love interest in this story who is also integral to the plot, which adds an additional dimension. The book also sees Gill Templar’s promotion to Detective Chief Superintendent, creating a different boss/Rebus dynamic, given their involvement together earlier in the series. Rankin also gives a greater role to DC Siobhan Clark and highlights her inner turmoil at balancing career aspirations with her leaning toward Rebus’ maverick methods. Rankin also brings DC Grant Hood and DS Ellen Wylie more into the mix with a subplot surrounding their competitiveness in advancing their careers. The characterisations are given depth and motivation, which is explored to the full. Slimy journalist Steve Holly, however, is maybe a tad stereotypical.  At 475 pages, the novel may seem a little over-extended, but it allows the characters to develop and the intricacies of the plot to unfold at a steady rate. The book is never boring as even in its slow passages the writing and introspection are very strong. Only in the finale do we see Rankin fall into more conventional territory.

The Rebus Series:

Knots and Crosses (1987) ***
Hide and Seek (1991)
Tooth and Nail (original title Wolfman) (1992) ***
Strip Jack (1992)
The Black Book (1993) ***
Mortal Causes (1994) ***
Let it Bleed (1996)
Black and Blue (1997) ****½
The Hanging Garden (1998) ****
Dead Souls (1999) ****
Set in Darkness (2000) ****
The Falls (2001) ****
Resurrection Men (2002)
A Question of Blood (2003) ****
Fleshmarket Close (2004) ****
The Naming of the Dead (2006)  ****½
Exit Music (2007) ****
Standing in Another Man’s Grave (2012) ***½
Saints of the Shadow Bible (2013) ***
Even Dogs in the Wild (2015) ****
Rather Be the Devil (2016) ***½
In a House of Lies (2018) ***½