Black Buck by Mateo Askaripour

In post-Reconstruction United StatesBlack Buck or “Black Bull” was sometimes used as a racial slur.

Black Buck is also a critically acclaimed debut novel by Mateo Askaripour. (2020)

Askaripour was a successful tech-sales guy. By age-24, he was managing a team of 30 people and earning a six-figure salary.

Had problems turning into a full-time author. No agent. No book deal.

He tried and failed for several years.

Finally he wrote this book about a successful BLACK tech-sales guy.

Darren is content working at Starbucks in the lobby of a Midtown office building, hanging out with his girlfriend, Soraya, and eating his mother’s home-cooked meals.

All that changes when a chance encounter with Rhett Daniels, the silver-tongued CEO of Sumwun, NYC’s hottest tech startup, results in an exclusive invitation for Darren to join an elite sales team on the thirty-sixth floor. …


Today he’s a literary star, already writing the TV screenplay.

I quite enjoyed the first half of the novel, but QUIT at 50%. Got fed up with the story when things started to go wrong.

Click PLAY or watch an interview with the author on YouTube.


Recursion by Blake Crouch

I enjoyed the first book by Black Crouch I’d read – Dark Matter. (2016)

Recursion is my second. Another weird and wild science fiction novel.

This time it’s a world where an increasing number of people are suffering False Memory Syndrome.

Some vividly recall their lives differently. Different spouse. Different kids.

It drives some to madness and suicide.

Turns out a scientist named Helena Smith has discovered a way to go back in time to correct mistakes they made in the past.

However — as in the Butterfly Effect — the timeline of humanity changes. Sometimes drastically.

But people can still recall their former live(s).

As a plot device it’s interesting. But makes no real sense.

I enjoyed it and plan to read more Crouch.

books, movies, TV

Before the Frost by Henning Mankell

In 2002 Mankell published Before the Frost as the first in a 3-book series with Linda Wallander as the main character, rather than her father.

However Mankell abandoned the series after just one novel when the actress playing Linda in the Swedish films, Johanna Sällström, committed suicide in 2007.

Linda Wallander is bored. Just graduated from the police academy, she is waiting to start work at the Ystad police station and move into her own apartment. Meantime, she is living with her father and, like fathers and daughters everywhere, they are driving each other crazy. …

Linda’s boredom doesn’t last long. Soon she is embroiled in the case of her childhood friend Anna, who has inexplicably disappeared.  …

Like other Mankell books, this one involves a cult. A survivor of the  Jonestown massacre in Guyana 1978 returns to Sweden organizing his own death cult.


Firewall by Henning Mankell

Firewall is the 9th book in the Wallander series, chronologically.

It’s good.

A series of bizarre incidents sweep across Sweden: a man dies in front of an ATM, two young women slaughter an elderly taxi driver, a murder is committed aboard a Baltic Sea ferry, and a sub-station engineer makes a gruesome discovery while investigating the cause of a nationwide power cut. As Wallander investigates, he uncovers a sinister plan …

The major background theme around which the action takes place is the dilemma of the Western economic system versus poverty. …


Bloomsday Dead by Adrian McKinty

Bloomsday Dead is the 3rd book in McKinty‘s Michael Forsythe Trilogy.

Though he’s one of my favourite writers, the Michael Forsythe series is too violent for me. I was surprised I got through this one.

… living in Lima, reasonably well-hidden by the FBI’s Witness Protection Program, but Bridget Callaghan, whose fiancé he murdered twelve years ago, has an enduring wish to see him dead.

So when her two assassins pass him the phone to speak to her before they kill him, Michael thinks she just wants to relish the moment. In fact, out of desperation, she is giving him a chance to redeem himself.

All he has to do is return to Ireland and find her missing daughter.

Before midnight.


The Inspector and Mrs. Jeffries

I tried book #1 in the Mrs. Jeffries series by American author Cheryl Lanham under the pseudonym, Emily Brightwell.

And easy, fun read.

It was written 1993.

There are dozens of sequels.

The central character of this cozy historical mystery series is Mrs. Jeffries, who is a housekeeper by profession and along with her staff, secretly helps Inspector Witherspoon of the Scotland Yard to solve the murder mysteries taking place in and around Victoria, England.

In fact, Witherspoon is a nice guy. Well meaning. But basically slow witted. His housekeeper and staff do a lot of the investigating for him.

A cute premise.

I don’t need to continue, however.

books, movies

Dark Matter by Blake Crouch

You might want to wait for the film version currently underway at Sony.

William Blake Crouch has already had several books adapted for popular culture.

Some feel this novel was constructed with the movie version in mind. He sold the film rights for $1.25m.

Jason Dessen, an atomic physicist, finds himself in a multiverse — traveling between alternative worlds in his home town Chicago.

Like time travel, it’s not easy to put together a coherent plot where characters meet themselves in other dimensions.

Crouch does a pretty good job at keeping the story interesting.

related – Dark Matter review – quantum fiction that’s delightfully unserious

Click PLAY or meet the author on YouTube.

books, movies

Nomadland – the book

I haven’t seen the film yet.

The dead tree original is not particularly well written, in my opinion.

But I still recommend the book Nomadland: Surviving America in the Twenty-First Century because of the importance of the subject.

2017 nonfiction by American journalist Jessica Bruder about the phenomenon of older Americans (mostly White) who, following the Great (George W Bush) Recession from 2007 to 2009 and onward, adopting transient lifestyles travelling around the United States in search of seasonal work.

Bruder encounters an array of appealing characters. They are portrayed with respect and admiration. Some have become friends for whom she has a deep affection. …

The best part of Jessica Bruder’s story is when she goes to work with the houseless at a sugar beet plant. Then at an Amazon warehouse. Brutal.

Reducing your possessions to just those you can carry with you is Voluntary (or involuntary) Simplicity.

My kind of people.

In fact, campground host sounds to me like not a bad gig.

#FixerUpper #VanLife

books, TV

One Step Behind by Henning Mankell

One Step Behind is a 1997 crime novel by Swedish author Henning Mankell, the 7th in his acclaimed Inspector Wallander series.


An intriguing plot with Wallander facing serious personal health problems.

Two young women and one young man, inexplicably dressed as the nobility of Sweden did during the reign of Gustavus III, are found dead, each slain with a single bullet, their bodies half consumed by animals in the wilderness.

Wallander is horrified when he makes a connection between the crime and his close friend and colleague Svedberg, and after the latter is found savagely murdered …

related – Director Ingmar Bergman was the author’s father-in-law.

books, TV

Wallander (British) – seasons 3-4

I watched all 4 seasons of Wallander starring Kenneth Branagh as the eponymous police inspector.

12 episodes, each more like a film than TV show. Shot in Sweden over ten years.

All 12 are great. If anything, I like the final shows best as Kurt learns he has type 2 Diabetes. And fears he’s going to be facing dementia.

Can he stay at work?

Obviously, Branagh is an excellent actor. He’s been nominated for 5 Academy Awards and 5 Golden Globes.

But I’ve always been slightly turned off by egomania.

That said, for me Wallander is his best work I’ve seen. He won the 2017 International Emmy Best Performance by an Actor for the role.

Click PLAY or get some glimpses on YouTube.