“Last Call” by James Grippando, “Shrink Yourself by Roger Gould, “The 47th Samurai” by Stephen Hunter, “Midnight Rambler” by James Swain

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Four books today. Three of the world’s great tough guys and one that will be tough for even the toughest tough guys to handle.

“Last Call” by James Grippando

“Last Call” by James Grippando (Harper Collins, $24.95, 326 pages, www.jamesgrippando.com).

Six of Grippando’s more than 14 books feature semi-tough guy Miami attorney Jack Swyteck and his jazz loving really tough friend Theo Knight.

Dude, this is a Grit-Lit FAV (oops sorry – slipped into my old writer guy trying to be cool dude vocabulary) and Grit-Lit is not alone; Grippando’s books have been translated into more than 20 languages. Only one of which I can read. DARN. If I could read another language, I could read ’em twice.

The series is set in Miami and deals with gangs, poverty and race. Not very much sex. Too Bad!

Also of course, no pictures.

Now here’s an important and unanswerable question; why is “X-rated adult” material full of pictures, but books for adults don’t have pictures. Kids get all the cool pictures. Personally I think adults are getting ripped off. We deserve pictures every bit as much as some second grader.

“Last Call” has no pictures, except for the cover which is all red, black and boring. So, here’s the patented Grit-Lit condensed plot description, which of course will not reveal any key details lest we give away the fun stuff.

Dangerous convict escapes and shows up at Theo’s. Leaving Theo implicated in a prison escape and other mayhem.  Swytek and Theo handle it. That’s it. The end. If we tell you anything else, we’ll be giving away the good parts.

“Midnight Rambler” by James Swain (Ballantine Books, $24.95, 350 pages, www.jimswaim.com)

“Midnight Rambler” by James Swain

Yet another excellent Florida tough guy. Why are so many of the tough guy books based in Florida?  My writer friends tell me the answer is simple: great weather, lots of bikinis, good golf, relatively affordable cost of living, lots of bikinis, hot enough most of the year to justify a bourbon or two at almost any hour of the day or night. Apparently Hemingway was ahead of his time.

Just off the top of my head, here’s a partial list of Florida tough guys: Travis McGee, Doc Ford, Thorn, Swytek, and now, Jack Carpenter.

“Midnight Rambler” is an excellent departure from Swain’s popular Tony Valentine series. Swain’s new hero, Jack Carpenter is an infamous cop. He busted a notorious serial killer and along the way managed to wind up without his badge or family.  Now marginally employed as an “abduction specialist” Carpenter finds lots kids and returns them to their families. Good read.

So here’s my question. All these tough guys hang around Florida. Eating and drinking. Everyone of ‘em seems to have a cold beer in his hand just about every other minute. And if they are living in Florida, you know every other meal has got to feature DEEP FAT FRIEND SOMETHING.

Isn’t Florida home of the DEEP FRIED TWINKY? OR WAS THAT THE DEEP FRIED SNICKERS?” Except for Spenser and Hawk in Boston, none of these guys ever hits the gym. And only Grit-Lit knows why they don’t have to.

Here it is, the Grit-Lit world exclusive: TOUGH GUYS HAVE NO FEELINGS.  NO FEELINGS Equals SKINNY. Cause what makes you fat is only indirectly calories. It’s FEELINGS that MAKE YOU FAT. Don’t think Grit-Lit is a credible source for nutritional advice? Well, that hurts Mr. Smarty Pants. Just that nasty comment caused us to gain two full pounds!

Don’t believe us? Well, we got the skinny from a Doctor. Yes a REAL MD. A famous doctor from the land down south. The Capitol skinny. A land where have so few feelings of their own some of them get paid millions to fake their feelings. Yes, that’s right, the Doc’s from Los Angeles.

This Doc says FEELINGS MAKE YOU FAT. So if you want to get SKINNY stop caring! Stop letting all those namby pamby emotions expand your waistline. And women, if you are looking for a man, a soul mate, who really cares, may we suggest the Big and Tall store or the Dessert aisle?

Don’t believe that fat equals caring? Read this.

“Shrink Yourself" by Roger Gould

“Shrink Yourself: break free from emotional eating forever!” by Roger Gould, M. D. (Wiley, $24.95, 273 pages, www.shrinkyourself.com)

Dr. Gould says that aside from a few genetic or chemically imbalanced freaks (my words not his) most folks overeat because they use food to manage their emotions. For men the comfort foods are the “B’s, P’s or D’s”, beer, burgers, beef, booze, pizza, donuts… For women the “let’s get back to an even emotional keel foods” are the “C’s”: chocolate, chocolate, more chocolate and then some carbs.

Don’t believe it? Here’s the test:

  1. Does your hunger come on really fast?
  2. Do you often feel an almost desperate need to eat right now?
  3. Did you taste what you ate or just shovel it in?
  4. Would any food do? Or did you crave a certain kind of food?
  5. Did you feel guilty after you ate? (DARN FEELINGS!)
  6. Did you eat when upset or feeling empty?
  7. Did you stuff in the food quickly?

If you answered yes to any of the above, some of your eating is emotionally driven. The more you answered yes to, the more of an issue you have. If you answered yes to all 7 and cried into your bag of Oreo’s while you were completing the quiz well, you know what you gotta do. Buy the book. Read it learn how to manage your feelings without drugs, food, alcohol or divorce. Might sound impossible but it seems a lot more likely than counting on “will power” or frozen TV dinners that come in the mail and cost twice what they should.

“The 47th Samurai” by Stephen Hunter

“The 47th Samurai” by Stephen Hunter (Simon & Schuster, $26, 368 pages, www.simonsays.com)

Bob Lee Swagger will never need Nutri Systems. This is one cold-blooded, action oriented tough guy. Even his all metal hip doesn’t keep him from taking on the bad guys.

One of the great things about Hunter’s “Swagger Series” is that he seldom does the expected. Usually the hero stays in his normal neighborhood – Boston, South Florida, Philly – gets a new case, vanquishes evil and gets the girl or girls. Hunter almost never does that. After a best seller featuring Bob Lee, one of his next books is all about Bob Lee’s father. And instead of being in the good ol’ US of A it’s in Cuba.

“47th Samurai” takes place mostly, in –SURPRIZE – Japan. The way Hunter weaves WW II, samurai’s and modern day America into a tough guy novel is pure art. So beautiful that it makes me feel all weepy inside. I think maybe I’m gonna cry.

Now, where did I put that pint of Double Rainbow Chocolate Peanut Butter ice cream?

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