Thursday 5 July 2018

Cold Desert Sky by Rod Reynolds #BlogTour @Rod_WR @faberbooks #MyLifeInBooks

No one wanted to say it to me, that the girls were dead. But I knew.
Late 1946 and Charlie Yates and his wife Lizzie have returned to Los Angeles, trying to stay anonymous in the city of angels.
But when Yates, back in his old job at the Pacific Journal, becomes obsessed by the disappearance of two aspiring Hollywood starlets, Nancy Hill and Julie Desjardins, he finds it leads him right back to his worst fear: legendary Mob boss Benjamin 'Bugsy' Siegel, a man he once crossed, and whose shadow he can't shake.
As events move from LA to the burgeoning Palace of Sin in the desert, Las Vegas - where Siegel is preparing to open his new Hotel Casino, The Flamingo - Rod Reynolds once again shows his skill at evoking time and place. With Charlie caught between the FBI and the mob, can he possibly see who is playing who, and find out what really happened to the two girls?

Last Desert Sky by Rod Reynolds is published today (5 July 2018), by Faber and is the third in the Charlie Yates series.
As part of the Blog Tour, I'm delighted to welcome the author here to Random Things today, he's talking about the books that are special to him in My Life In Books

My Life In Books - Rod Reynolds

I've always been a big reader, and some of my earliest memories are the cliché-brought-to-life of hiding under my duvet trying to read one more chapter of whatever book I had on the go - probably a Famous Five or Secret Seven or similar.

I was so hooked on reading, in fact, that I almost set fire to my bedroom as a kid; I had a little desk lamp on the shelf next to my bed and I used to turn it around and press the bulb to the wall so my mum wouldn't see the light - not realising, of course, that it would burn right through the 1980s wallpaper. The big black scorch-mark was something of a giveaway, the next morning, of what I'd been up to...

The only period in my life when I wasn't reading as much was at university, but I realise now it's because I'd become terrible at choosing books I'd enjoy.
So when a friend gave me James Ellroy's The Cold Six Thousand shortly after I graduated, it was a revelation. This was like nothing I'd ever read before - so intense, so visceral, almost impenetrable and yet so rewarding - and it reignited my love for books. I devoured everything of his I could get my hands on, and was still hungry for more.

The trouble is that Ellroy is unique; so perhaps that's why David Peace became such an important author to me, when I discovered his Red Riding Quartet a while later. Here was a writer offering similar power, bleakness and cruelly beautiful prose, but showing it could be applied just as effectively to stories set in this country.

Discovering Ellroy also led me backwards in time, as I sought out the writers he cited as influences - particularly Hammett, Chandler, and Ross Macdonald. I became a fan of all three, but if I had to pick just one of their books that stayed with me, it would have to be Chandler's The Big Sleep, simply because of how it established so many of the 'rules' that came to characterise the genre.

From there I branched out again, looking for more contemporary writers, and that's when I stumbled across James Lee Burke's The Neon Rain. Burke has a very different style to those above, of course, but that was what made me appreciate his genius - he conveyed the same passion and intensity, but using description and setting to do so in a much more understated way.

The books I write are set in post-war USA, and one of the reasons I became interested in the period was Joseph Kanon's The Good German. Set in Berlin immediately after WW2, it's one of the most immersive and transporting books I've ever read - and with a satisfyingly complex, but credible, plot.

I studied for a Masters degree in creative writing and was introduced to a slew of new writers as part of my reading for the course. The one that stood out most of all was Kate Atkinson, and her novel Case Histories. The literary tone of the book made this the PI tale brought into the real world, and her hero Jackson Brodie embodies what an authentically flawed protagonist should look like.

One of the great privileges of being an author is that books regularly arrive on your doorstep from your own or other publishers, and that was how I came to read Sara Gran's Claire DeWitt & The Bohemian Highway. Gran takes incredible risks with her eponymous protagonist, and makes her all the more compelling for it. This was different to almost anything I'd ever read, and memorable for it; and with its hints at the supernatural sitting comfortably in a crime novel, a book that was maybe ahead of its time.

I'd been a fan of Don Winslow's for ages, so was eagerly waiting for The Cartel when it came out a couple of years ago - and it did not disappoint. It's surely the sign of a great writer that he can produce such an incredible follow-up to a book as iconic as The Power of the Dog. The Cartel is brutal, vivid, complex and epic, and all the more powerful a read because it is based on Winslow's meticulous research of the tragic history of The War on Drugs.

Rod Reynolds - July 2018 

Rod Reynolds was born in London and, after a successful career in advertising, working as a media buyer, he decided to get serious about writing. 

He recently completed City University's Crime Writing Masters course and his first novel, THE DARK INSIDE, was published by Faber in 2015. 
The sequel, BLACK NIGHT FALLING, followed in August 2016. 
Rod lives in London with his wife and two daughters. 
Contact him on Twitter: @Rod_WR

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