Saturday, December 05, 2009

Ticket to Ride -- Ed Gorman

Those of us who were around in 1965 will never forget those days. I always think of the Pete Seeger song "Wasn't that a Time?" And Ed Gorman captures it so well in Ticket to Ride that it's almost like taking a trip back there in a time machine. That alone is enough to make the book worth reading, but of course you always get a lot more in a book by Gorman.

This is part of the Sam McCain series, and if you haven't read it, you're missing one of the finest series of mystery novels around. Period. I can't understand why they're not selling ten times as many copies as the stuff I see on the bestseller list.

Okay, that's not true. I can, and I'll tell you why. (1) The books don't offer you a mile-a-minute chase through exotic settings around the world. They're set in the small city of Black River Falls, where people have lived together and known each other since their school days. (2) They don't have larger-than-live villains with names like The Homicidalist. All the people are ordinary folks, just like you and me and our neighbors, human beings with flaws and good points who sometimes make some really bad decisions. (3) There's no larger-than-life hero, either. McCain's no cryptologist with a Ph.D. in Arcania. He's just a guy with problems of his own. (4) What happens in the books won't shake the world from Peking to the Kremlin to Washington. It will shake the town of Black River Falls, though, and it will shake the people there. It will shake you if you read the book. What happens to the people in the book will matter to you. (5) The book's not 500 pages long. It's longer than a classic Gold Medal, I suppose, but it's lean and streamlined. And the writing is so good that you'll wish you could do as well.

Okay, I haven't even said anything specific about the book, and I don't think I will. You should just read it, and if you haven't read the other books in the series, read them, too. They're funny, they're heartbreaking, they're good mysteries. Find out what you've been missing. You'll thank me later.


Richard Robinson said...

Hey, who you calling "ordinary"? Ha.

I'll pick this one up, didn't know it was out. Once again, thanks for the tip, Bill.

aubrey said...

I LOVE this series. I didn't realize the next title had been issued. I will hunt it down forthwith.

Anonymous said...

And there's no dog named "Pearl"... .

Oh wait, I forgot - you like those.



PS - I just picked up Ed's early one, THE NIGHT REMEMBERS, which I had somehow overlooked.

George said...

Thanks for the heads up, Bill. I buy all of Ed Gorman's books as soon as I find out they're available.

Ed Gorman said...

Thank you, Bill. I really appreciate your words. I never thought of all those reasons you cited for books like mine and yours not being on the bestseller list--I really had never laid them out that way--but you're right. And in so doing you described--and I'm not being snide--many of the books I can't read. I was at a news stand yesterday and found three novels where the serial killer had names just like The Homicidalist. Wow all this goes back to Lawrence Sanders' The First Deadly Sin (which has never been bettered for me). He wrote a serious novel and I don't recall the killer having name (The Stabologist?). I gotta give the form one thing. It sure has endured. I like all kinds of novels including thrillers and yes, even serial killer books. But you gotta do somethiung different with them. John Lutz and Anne Frasier have shown that you can't take them in new and vital directions. Yours, The Disemboweler, PhD.

Ed Gorman said...

being brain dead I obviously meant that John Lutz and Anne Frasier have shown that you CAN takethe serial killer novel in new directions.

Bill Crider said...

For me, a lot of the "big" novels seem way too impersonal. One's like another. Books like yours are personal. If that makes any sense.

Cap'n Bob Napier said...

Excellent analysis of why Ed's books are so good. Sam McCain is a great character and I'm ordering this book ASAP.