Monday, April 23, 2018

“Beirut” is a Movie to See

Starting in Beirut, Lebanon, in 1972, the film opens with Mason Skiles (played by Jon Hamm), an American diplomat, hosting a party at his beautiful home, when terrorists strike. Skiles’s wife is killed in the attack.

The story then jumps forward 10 years, finding Skiles in the U.S., a labor negotiator by day and a booze hound by night. While knocking back drinks at a local watering hole, Skiles is approached by a man he knew during his foreign service days. The man has a proposition, fly to Beirut and give a lecture at a university and earn a tidy sum for not much work. Of course there is more to this proposal. American officials in Lebanon want Skiles to negotiate for the return of an American who was snatched off the streets of Beirut. The kidnapped man was a friend back in the day, but returning to city of his nightmares tears at Skiles.

“Beirut” is a well-made spy thriller with good performances from Hamm, Rosamund Pike as the person assigned to handle him during the job, and the rest of the cast.

The smart, complex script is by Tony Gilroy, and the direction by Brad Anderson.

This film is not going to attract huge audiences of teens and 20-somethings and may not last long in theaters. So try to catch it on the big screen before it disappears.

Friday, April 20, 2018

FFB: Honey in His Mouth by Lester Dent

Prolific author Lester Dent is a writer I have not read nearly enough of, but working to correct that I picked up Honey in His Mouth, his fast paced, unpredictable, crime novel.

Giving away too much of the plot would steal from readers the pleasure of discovering this story for themselves. So, all I will say is this:

A shifty guy named Walter Harsh, who scratches out a barely legal living as a photographer, is approached by a shady man who has a money-making scheme. Harsh is a dead ringer for an important person.

Dent keeps the story moving, filling it with one unexpected turn after another. Walter Harsh hangs in there, twist after twist, focusing on the big money at stake, even though his life is at stake too. Greed keeps winning out. This is a noir novel with fear, criminality and sex on every page.

Lester Dent (1904-1959) who came up through the pulps and created Doc Savage, knew how to keep his main character and his reader hooked and squirming.

Publishers Weekly said Dent wrote the book in 1956, but it was not published until 2009 when Hard Case Crime issued it.