Charlie Stella, Christy Mathewson, and me
My most recent pleasure reading was Charlie Stella's Rough Riders, and man, this guy keeps getting better and better. He sets this novel, his eighth, in and around Minot, North Dakota, where he went to college. A killer from his 2001 book Eddie’s World has entered the federal Witness Protection Program and wound up in North Dakota, working a sting for the feds and also a side project of his own: a murder for hire in return for a share of a heroin stash into which a crooked Air Force physician has stumbled by accident. But a New York detective wants the killer also and tails him across the country to get him.
The plot, needless to say, is complex but not obtrusively so. Nor is Stella condescending in the least toward the characters and the landscape so different from those of his previous books. And he handles the clash between local cops and the FBI, a feature of approximately every American police novel or television show of the last twenty years, with great understatement and, hence, believability.
The jokes are fewer than in Stella’s previous books but the conversational byplay is just as bracing. And that tells me that Stella knows how to write believable human interaction and not just jokes.
Here are my previous posts about Stella (click the link, then scroll down), whom I recently proclaimed my favorite American crime writer.
And here, for the first time before the crime reading public, is the first of those side projects I keep going on about: my piece in the Philadelphia Inquirer about a century-old baseball book by that remarkable character (and great player) Christy Mathewson that's as fresh as today’s headlines.
© Peter Rozovsky 2012