This the second Michael Connelly book that I’ve read and I’ve enjoyed both of them. Both were quick, easy reads. In this case, I bought the book at th...moreThis the second Michael Connelly book that I’ve read and I’ve enjoyed both of them. Both were quick, easy reads. In this case, I bought the book at the Albany airport on a Tuesday afternoon and finished up on Wednesday afternoon. It took about 24 hours, with time out for sleeping and work.
This book is more than a tad formulaic. A hard-bitten cop with a failing marriage. A corrupt police department. The murder of a prominent citizen. Another case, several years old, involving a powerful local family. A whiff of race riots and pedophilia thrown in for good measure. Connelly pretty much covered all the bases here. None of this is newly plowed ground. But the main character, Harry Bosch, is compelling, competent and tough.
I would be surprised if this book stays with me very long. The writing is good, but Connelly is no James Lee Burke. Connelly has a good sense of place, though, something I find important in most fiction, but especially so in mysteries. This story is set in LA and it really couldn’t have happened elsewhere.
One brief comment on the typography: I don’t know if it was just the copy I was reading, but words were not hyphenated when they were broken at the end of a line. This took some getting used to and remained a distraction throughout the book. What’s up with that?
One thing I want to applaud is the practice of airport bookstores of letting readers buy a book and return it. This copy of Angels Flight had previously been read. I don’t go to that airport often or I might have kept the receipt and turned it in the next time I was there. Still, for people who go to the same airport on a regular basis, it’s a great idea. (less)
I read this book with more than a touch of sadness, thinking it would be the last Spenser novel published. Another reviewer wrote that there are a cou...moreI read this book with more than a touch of sadness, thinking it would be the last Spenser novel published. Another reviewer wrote that there are a couple more coming,though. That's great news.
Reading Robert Parker’s books are like eating candy. They’re fun, they’re fast, they go down easy. There is no question of their being great literature, but they are enjoyable to read. I really enjoy the characters, the funny dialogue, and the fact that the setting is a character in itself. (less)
I try not to be too picky about this type of book – a quick, mindless read that isn’t going to stay with me much beyond the moment I finish the last p...moreI try not to be too picky about this type of book – a quick, mindless read that isn’t going to stay with me much beyond the moment I finish the last page. When such a book does stay with me, it’s for all the wrong reasons. Such is the case with Dirty Blonde.
The protagonist is a federal judge based in Philadelphia. She is presiding at a trial in which a plaintiff is suing the defendant, a television producer, for stealing what the plaintiff claims was his idea for a series. During a meeting the judge has with the lawyers for each side, the plaintiff’s attorney says the plaintiff needs a large settlement because “the guy has two kids and a mother he supports.” Later in the book, the judge meets with the plaintiff’s wife, who has just conceived the couple’s first child after a long struggle with infertility. Hello? Did anyone, like the author, read this book before it was published? The plaintiff is a decidedly minor character, but still, why did this one slide through?
Mistake like this should be caught in the editing process. But this isn’t a typo that a writer’s eyes will glide over easily. It’s hard to believe that the author of 18 novels would make this kind of blunder.
I’m also bothered by the fact that the defendant in said case comes from Reno, Nevada, and attended UNLV – and that he and the plaintiff met at the summer camp where the defendant was a counselor and the plaintiff a camper. That seems a tad strange, that a summer camp would be the meeting place for two people from opposite sides of the country. Not that it couldn’t happen, but it should have been explained.
And why, if the defendant is from Reno, didn’t he set that series in a place he knew? The series revolves around computer crime. Surely that is just as likely occur in Reno as in Philadelphia. This scenario, which underlies the crimes in the book, makes no sense to me. The result is that it threw off the whole book.
Not that there’s much there to throw off. The judge is not a particularly compelling figure and her nocturnal habits seem not to fit the character. Her ability to stop them cold turkey when she gets caught doesn’t seem to make sense. That type of behavior would usually be evidence of a deep psychological problem. Yet it disappears pretty quickly.
I spent most of this book reacting with a “Huh?” I realize this is fiction, that the incidents in a mystery are probably unlikely to happen in real life, but this one is just too implausible.
This was my first Lisa Scottoline book. I’m betting that it will be my last. (less)
Count me as an unabashed James Lee Burke fan. He is among the finest mystery writers out there. I always feel like I’m in Louisiana when I’m reading o...moreCount me as an unabashed James Lee Burke fan. He is among the finest mystery writers out there. I always feel like I’m in Louisiana when I’m reading one of his books – the heat and humidity, the cane breaks (I think that's how it's spelled) and bayous. He’s a wonderful writer who paints pictures with words.
White Doves at Morning is a departure, not from Louisiana (yes, I know he has set some of his mysteries in Montana, but I’ve never read them) but from genre. The setting is the Civil War and this time out, it’s not a mystery but historical fiction. What remains is Burke’s wonderful sense of place; his ability to create fascinating, flawed characters; his gift for entertaining dialogue.
The result is a complex work that provides no easy answers to our nation’s greatest conflict. After a while, it really is hard to tell the good guys from the bad. I’m a northerner; two of my great-great grandfathers fought in the Civil War. But when the Yankees get to New Iberia, the devastation they wreak hits the poorest and most vulnerable – the former slaves – as hard as it does their soon to be former masters.
As the war winds down, the freed slaves find themselves in essentially little better position than before the whole thing started. Their freedom seems to come in name only. Burke takes a long, cool, unflinching look at the realities of life in ante- and post-bellum Louisiana.
This book is quite clearly a labor of love. Two of the main characters are Burke’s own ancestors, Willie Burke and Robert Perry. Their friendship is one of the joys of the book. How true to life this is I’m not sure, but it makes for a wonderful read. (less)
I’ve read a lot about the Holocaust over the years, and I have to say upfront that this isn’t the best book about that terrible time. But it does weav...moreI’ve read a lot about the Holocaust over the years, and I have to say upfront that this isn’t the best book about that terrible time. But it does weave a story about an incident in the Holocaust that I had never before heard of: the Velodrome d’Hiver Roundup, which resulted in the murders of thousands of French children who just happened to be Jewish, with the full co-operation and involvement of the French government.
The book is very sad, obviously, but it’s also an easy read. I started it around 10 or so one night and finished about 2 a.m.
The book’s ending is more than a tad weak, but the story itself is compelling and the book is fairly well written. Anyone who is interested in the Holocaust is likely to be taken with this book. (less)
I raced through this book, reading all 300 and some pages in less than 24 hours. That is not a statement about my reading speed as much as it is a tes...moreI raced through this book, reading all 300 and some pages in less than 24 hours. That is not a statement about my reading speed as much as it is a testament to the act of love that author Rebecca Skloot performed in writing this book. It seems as though she were born to write this book. If Ms. Skloot does nothing else with her life, her accomplishments with this book will be more than enough.
Henrietta Lacks was born poor, lived poor, and died young. Her cervical cancer was treated at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore. Some cancerous and noncancerous cells were removed from her cervix during her treatment. Those HeLa cells, as they became known, have traveled to the moon, been instrumental in fighting diseases from polio to AIDS, and form the basis for continuing scientific research today, 60 years after Henrietta's death.
But they were removed from her body without her consent or knowledge, and it was more than 20 years after her death before her family knew anything about this. Generations of her descendants have lived and died in poverty, with accompanying lack of education -- and, ironically, health care. One of her sons, for example, had bypass surgery that left him $125,000 in debt. The surgeon who operated commented on the fact that Henrietta's cells had provided information that led to this type of surgery.
The story opens up questions that I had never considered before. Should patients be told when their cells are being used for research? Should they have control over what research their cells are used for? Should they be compensated?
I would say that it depends on the situation. Henrietta's cells were unique in their ability to be reproduced. Similarly, two other individuals mentioned in the book, Ted Slavins and John Moore, had cells with unique properties that allowed them to be used in medical research for specific conditions. Ted Slavins was able to copyright his cells so that he was compensated for their use in medical research -- but he also allowed his cells to be used by a researcher delving into Hepatitis B. John Moore wasn't so lucky. He sued to get compensation for the use of his cells in research, which were making his doctor a very rich man, but did not prevail in court.
It seems to me that when one person's cells or genetic material is so helpful in research, that person, or the person's family after the individual's death, should receive reasonable compensation. One could argue how much would be reasonable, but in the case of John Moore, his doctor was going to extraordinary lengths to harvest Mr. Moore's cells without telling him why. Mr. Moore initially thought it was for his own health. Only later did he find that the doctor was hauling in big bucks by using Mr. Moore's genetic material. Unethical? Oh, yeah.
As for Henrietta Lacks, Johns Hopkins has stated that the institution never sold her cells, so therefore didn't make any money of Mrs. Lacks. That may be technically true, but surely the use of her cells has contributed to Johns Hopkins' standing as a major research university, and prompted big-time donations from Big Pharma, among others. Yet all of her children and grandchildren lived in poverty. Johns Hopkins should compensate them by providing free medical care to every one of her descendants, which include great-great-grandchildren a this point. And every member of her family should also be provided with access to the great education that Johns Hopkins provides.
If the information in this book had been available earlier, the economic mess of the past few years could well have been avoided.
That's one lesson fro...moreIf the information in this book had been available earlier, the economic mess of the past few years could well have been avoided.
That's one lesson from this book. Another is that while rich people have been gorging on an ever larger share of the pie, they have been doing so not merely by cutting wages, shipping jobs overseas and making sure their taxes reach ever lower levels. They've also acheived their goals by making money off the poor through loan sharking in a variety of forms.
Gary Rivlin brings a cool eye to his subject. It could have done with somewhat tighter editing, but overall, it's quite good.
It's no secret that the subprime loan situation combined with the housing bubble to bring the US to its economic knees. He demonstrates quite clearly that there is no end to their greed. Unchecked by regulations thanks to 30 years of trickle-down economics, the unscrupulous financiers pushed more and more people out of their homes and into poverty.
What next? It's hard to imagine that the US can once again become a prosperous country when one in four children are growing up in poverty and when the American dream has become the American nightmare.
As for those who foisted this tragedy on the rest of us, one would hope that they can stop thinking only of themselves and whether to vacation in the Caribbean or Tahiti this year and instead focus on undoing the damage they've done. (less)
I had been planning to read The Great Gatsby for years and picked up a copy when I was browsing a soon-to-close local Borders. This book was next to i...moreI had been planning to read The Great Gatsby for years and picked up a copy when I was browsing a soon-to-close local Borders. This book was next to it, so I scooped up a copy of this as well. I'm probably the last person on the planet to fall in love with F. Scott Fitzgerald. What a writer! His sentences are so finely crafted and the stories are jewels to treasure. He so captures the era in which he wrote -- at least as far as I can tell. 0(less)
I bought a bunch of Spenser books at the Borders near me that is closing its doors in April (sob). Reading so many in a row makes it easy to follow th...moreI bought a bunch of Spenser books at the Borders near me that is closing its doors in April (sob). Reading so many in a row makes it easy to follow the continuing threads, but it also makes it easier to catch the inconsistencies. This one had internal inconsistencies -- the client had three kids at the beginning of the book, four at the end. That's either fast work or an editor asleep at the switch.
Of course, I love the Spenser books they're fun to read, not because they're great literature -- and I enjoy spotting the gaffes. I miss Robert B. Parker!!!!(less)
The main problem with this book is that it isn't The Chosen, Chaim Potok's tour de force. But it does rise to the level of literature, instead of mere...moreThe main problem with this book is that it isn't The Chosen, Chaim Potok's tour de force. But it does rise to the level of literature, instead of merely fiction.
It's a good read, though, with finely drawn, compelling characters and an interesting plot.(less)