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Update January, 2020

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Update by Natrakorn Paewsoongnern
Book Review

Brannan the Movie

Brannan the Movie Stephen Cord

Lang Reid

Stephen Cord’s third book is on the shelves, with the action set in Pattaya. Action with a capital A with somewhat of a different twist at the end.

Joe Brannan is the book’s hero, a deep sea diver who is just surviving financially in the tourism business with his motor launch for hire.


The opening scene is a beach close to Pattaya where a movie is being shot and Joe Brannan finds working as a movie extra is financially more rewarding than taking amateur divers to the islands off Pattaya.

The movie is being shot by an American group with an international consortium putting up the finance. Brannan the Movie reads like a ‘made for TV’ script complete with well-endowed ladies, handsome narcissistic leading man and the compulsory trip to a beer bar with insatiable young Thai beauties, to justify setting the book in Pattaya and a brush with terrorists to keep the interest up in the dialogue. And yes, there is the compulsory katoey doing what they do best and the very ancient Bamboo Bar in which you will find several Joe Brannans.

It is not a ‘politically correct’ book, so I applaud author Cord for sticking to a believable plot and to hell with being PC. He does indulge the reader by naming some of the guns, but quite honestly this is superfluous information, but the gun lobby will approve of the choices, no doubt. Sex? Yes, it has more than enough, to become gratuitous at times. Underwater cavorting may be titillating for some, or just more of an aquanaughty for others (sorry about the pun).

With Joe Brannan being the owner of a motor cruiser, much of the action takes place afloat with the terrorists fully armed, complete with hand grenades. Double dealing is rife, and some of the quirks and turns will keep the reader guessing. The death toll mounts with every turned page, and it is a wonder that Captain Brannan did not did not get a commendation from POTUS Trump, and a Purple Heart for his leg wound.

I almost forgot the Killer shark XXXXX which becomes soporific on cue, to add some non-terrorist drama.

If you are after action it is for sale at local book shops and a fun read for an otherwise dull weekend.

However, it is not a deep and meaningful paper back, but in an interesting twist, author Stephen Cord finishes this book with an epilogue as if written by a third person, telling what happened to the movie at the box office!

17 stories inspired by great American paintings

“From Sea to Stormy Sea: 17 Stories Inspired by Great American Paintings,” Pegasus Books, edited by Lawrence Block.

Ann Levin

Writers take their inspiration from a variety of sources: an unforgettable face, overheard conversation or perhaps, a painting.

The well-known crime writer Lawrence Block has parlayed that last scenario into two volumes of short stories, the first inspired by works of Edward Hopper and the second, favorite paintings of his authors.


Now he has come out with a third, “From Sea to Stormy Sea,” an anthology of 17 stories that riff exclusively on American paintings, from Robert Henri’s portrait of Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney to Andy Warhol’s mural for the 1964 World’s Fair, “Thirteen Most Wanted Men,” and Mark Rothko’s shimmering “Number 14.”

Since the writers he’s chosen tend to specialize in crime and genre fiction, the stories are chock-full of loners, losers and cynics who get to say snappy lines like, “Sex. Religion. Dining out. Sooner or later, some human being is going to make you regret participating in any or all of the above.” (Spoken by the enterprising heroine of Jan Burke’s “Superficial Injuries.”)

One of the very best is “Baptism in Kansas” by detective writer Sara Paretsky, who uses the 1928 John Steuart Curry painting of the same name to conjure up a vivid portrait of the hardscrabble lives of white farmers in Kansas in the early 1900s, their religious revivals, as depicted in the artwork, and racist campaigns to get rid of the Native American population.

Other standouts include “The Man From Hard Rock Mountain,” a post-apocalyptic fantasy by Jerome Charyn based on the eerie Rockwell Kent engraving, “Twilight of Man,” and the deliciously noir “On Little Terry Road” by Tom Franklin and “Get Him” by Micah Nathan, inspired by paintings of the lesser known artists John Hull and Daniel Morper.

Not all the stories work, but enough do to make it worth it. Admirers of Winslow Homer’s stormy seascapes will likely enjoy “Adrift off the Diamond Shoals,” by Brendan DuBois, which pivots on a writer seeking revenge on a sleazy real estate developer who wants to knock down his family’s modest house on North Carolina’s Outer Banks to put up a “capitalist castle.”

Then there’s the nasty little confection “Garnets” by the crime writer Christa Faust, who has moonlighted as a professional dominatrix. It’s a chilling tale of a chance meeting between two women who give new meaning to the term “femme fatale.” Her inspiration is Helen Frankenthaler’s “Adirondacks,” whose swirls of red paint could make you think of a brilliant sunset — or a bloody corpse. (AP)


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Brannan the Movie

17 stories inspired by great American paintings