A fun read for children that captures the essence of the master sleuth. My little reader wants to read "the real thing" already! We will wait a few yeA fun read for children that captures the essence of the master sleuth. My little reader wants to read "the real thing" already! We will wait a few years for that. In the meantime, this book will satisfy as a wonderful exposure to classic literature for the elementary reader....more
I loved this series as a child, but I didn't know there was something better to come. That "something better" is hearing my little elementary reader wI loved this series as a child, but I didn't know there was something better to come. That "something better" is hearing my little elementary reader work his way through them.
Leroy "Encyclopedia" Brown is a wholesome boy in a wholesome town that has it's share of crime. Encyclopedia wants to help people, and his servant attitude coupled with a good dose of humility keeps him likable. The stories are wonderfully short, perfect for the new reader, especially if that new reader is a boy. The cases are also simple without being forced and appropriate to the new reader's thought processes.
Two things keep the book from utter perfection. First, Mr. Brown, Chief of Police, can come across as somewhat diminished by his brilliant son, which is especially highlighted by Mr. Brown's apparent NEED for Encyclopedia's assistance. Secondly, the stories can be somewhat dated. For example, one of the mysteries turns on a tent without a bottom. My reader has only experienced tents with a complete plastic floor, necessitating an explanation of the solution. There were a couple of other things mentioned in passing that needed clarification. This might hinder more timid young readers, or readers who are exploring Encyclopedia without the benefit of an adult to whom they can make inquiries. However, for me as the parent, these things simply give an opportunity for us to dialogue about how things have changed.
In the end, the entire experience, reading about a different (seemingly simpler, time) and remembering my own enjoyment of these books, served to make for some magical and nostalgic reading for mom and boy. We found this title at a used book sale. I'm excited to find others at sales or in the library. Highly recommended....more
I love Miss Marple. I love seeing her expert, honed, people observation skills at work. This book of short cases is a pleasure to read. Over the yearsI love Miss Marple. I love seeing her expert, honed, people observation skills at work. This book of short cases is a pleasure to read. Over the years, I have internalized some of her tricks - and even drawn on them in my life! But some of the solutions still surprise me!
As an extension, what does such a work say about the writer, Ms. Christie, herself? Fascinating....more
As a child, I read a ton of Agatha Christie. I enjoyed her "studies in human nature" approach, and found her storylines interesting, even if some of tAs a child, I read a ton of Agatha Christie. I enjoyed her "studies in human nature" approach, and found her storylines interesting, even if some of the characters were a bit cardboard.
But this novel thoroughly stunned me. This book is the unChristie Agatha Christie. From the very first sentence, the narrative voice is something entirely different from her usually style as our single point narration comes from a young man who is quite a drifter. Not usually a fan of the gothic, I was also turned off by those overtones, and there is no murder until halfway through the book. It is an entirely different approach.
Yet I was intrigued by it, compelled to find out where she was going. The second half of the book was stunning. It revealed a depth of understanding of the darkness of life that I didn't expect from Christie, and made me want to know more about her personally.
I have just finished re-reading it, and this time through has had the same impact on me. Highly recommended....more
"Between the silver ribbon of morning and the green glittering ribbon of sea, the boat touched Harwich and let loose a swarm of folk like flies, among"Between the silver ribbon of morning and the green glittering ribbon of sea, the boat touched Harwich and let loose a swarm of folk like flies, among whom the man we must follow was by no means conspicuous -- nor wished to be. There was nothing notable about him, except a slight contrast between the holiday gaiety of his clothes and the official gravity of his face. His clothes included a slight, pale grey jacket, a white waistcoat, and a silver straw hat with a grey-blue ribbon. His lean face was dark by contrast, and ended in a curt black beard that looked Spanish and suggested an Elizabethan ruff. He was smoking a cigarette with the seriousness of an idler. There was nothing about him to indicate the fact that the grey jacket covered a loaded revolver, that the white waistcoat covered a police card, or that the straw hat covered one of the most powerful intellects in Europe." pg.3
And so begins the first of fifteen lovely adventures with the innocuous appearing, but brilliantly observant Catholic priest, Father Brown. Chesterton's genius at creating a setting pulls the reader into each unique and delightful tale. The solutions turn on clever insights into human behavior and psychology.
Families of a Christian worldview will especially appreciate that the Catholic priest's faith is treated respectfully. Father Brown disregards superstition to discover the rational explanation. He doesn't underestimate the evil of the human heart, nor the propensity of even good men to be tempted to do horrible things. Each story is a unique experience that transports the reader to another time.
After meeting Father Brown through this edition, my only regret is that I have finished the book. Thankfully, while this work features only 15 stories, I have been told there are over 40 in total, leaving many more to enjoy! Sure to be a family favorite. 4 stars....more
This series remains a guilty pleasure, though book 2 lacked the brilliance of the first work.
1) After the first 100 pages, I didn't know if I could fThis series remains a guilty pleasure, though book 2 lacked the brilliance of the first work.
1) After the first 100 pages, I didn't know if I could finish the book. Apparently, an elemental part of being Swedish is tolerance for all lifestyles, a value with which I agree; however, endorsement of freedom for individuals to chose does not necessarily mean agreement with all their choices.
Larsson cannot seem to introduce a character without giving us their sexual curriculum vitae, and every deviance must be represented to show how tolerant he truly is. This means you have lead characters that are homosexual, bisexual, anything sexual, taking care of matters on their own, enjoying threesomes with or without their spouse, understanding of their spouses need for long or short term affairs, into role playing or simply promiscuous people who never mature to the point of making a commitment - as in the case of our rather booblike hero, Blomkvist. Characters that engage in these lifestyles are more heroic, more reliable, more dependable than characters who either don't engage or don't agree with these choices. In fact, a clear indicator that someone has villainous tendencies is association with a church or religious commitment. This was forgivable in the first book, where the antagonist was shown to be twisting Scripture to suit his cruel, destructive, illegal, oppressive impulses, but it starts to become formulaic with the emergence of a secondary antagonist in this work. Makes me wonder what the third book holds.
In the theme of the Swedishness of the book, and continuance from the previous, the absence of children also is more noticeable with repetition. Low birth numbers are the plague of Europe and Larsson's characters are no exception. Clearly Sweden (and Europe) as we know it is fading away. This got me thinking. How are people changed by not having or seeking to have children? How does committing to a spouse, raising a family, and rejoicing in future generations change a person? And how do strong multi-generational family structures shape a society? Certainly, we would all feel compassion toward people who do desire a family and are unable to have one, and I'm not saying people without families are second class. What I am saying is: What causes people like Larsson's characters to forgo family considerations and what (beyond unsustainable birth numbers) are the personal and societal impacts of the majority of people making such a decision? Certainly we would all agree that leading a family changes a person. I began recognizing that NOT leading a family also changes a person, as no one is able to be stagnant.
So... why read this book?
2) Once Larsson gets the pieces set, the book moves brilliantly. The unraveling of the puzzle, the rogue characters playing both sides, and Salander's amazing ability to physically master opponents of superior strength is captivating. Salander's secrets that drive this plot are compelling, and the author does a good job of turning things on their head, although slightly predictably if you factor in the above bias.
Why only three stars? 3) I was disappointed in the ending. Okay, we all know the heroine will have to endure some sort of incredible situation in which she fights herself out. That is part of the action genre. But, after the excellent, and fairly believable, portrayal of Salander's fighting ability in earlier scenes, the ending didn't ring true to me. The stupidity of her lack of preparation for the final show down is ridiculous considering a hallmark of her character has been her ability to plan ahead and manipulate things through her computer expertise and superior fighting instincts - both of which fail her in the final conflict. True, Blomkvist does prove himself somewhat less of a boob, but only barely so, and that doesn't make up for the lapses in our heroine.
Bottom line: While we learn a lot about Lisbeth Salander, we WANT to see her triumph, in her unique way, and Larsson's ending to "The Girl Who Played with Fire", denies us that satisfaction.
Since I won't buy these (too much objectionable content), I'm in a pickle trying to get a hold of Book 3.
This story is marvelously written. The characters have depth and act within themselves. The mystery is compelling and not merely a ruse for rich charaThis story is marvelously written. The characters have depth and act within themselves. The mystery is compelling and not merely a ruse for rich character development. There is thrill, suspense and adventure. The setting is beautifully presented from the descriptions of Swedish food, rural life, seasons, recreation and culture. You’ll feel a little bit more Swedish after you read it – or Scandinavian at least. An appropriate conclusion to your read would be a trip to IKEA complete with an indulgence in the Swedish meatball meal of the café while you start book 2 of the series, “The Girl who Played with Fire”.
Reading Lisbeth Salander at work is like listening to Gloria Gaynor sing "I Will Survive" with your stereo blasting. There is a sense of triumph in seeing how this damaged soul, whose victim past is hinted at but never explained, rises up to dominate those who might harm her. It's chorus can easily become a refrain for women everywhere, except perhaps the few that have never felt the knife of abuse. In a story that details the horrific victimization of women by men in society both through tidbit facts presented at sectional breaks and the narrative itself, Salander is Larsson's remedy to the ailment. Make no mistake, while he may try to cleverly mislead you by introducing Blomkvist first, this story is truly about the emergence of Salander as Lady Vanquish.
The team of Blomkvist and Salander reminded me of Jason Bourne and Marie St. Jacques in "The Bourne Identity." Though the coolness here is all Salander's (much like it was Bourne’s), they do work together to solve the mystery. Yet I found the Bourne partnership to be more satisfying for the simple reason that BOTH St. Jacques and Bourne save each other. Each contributed something to the task that the other could not. Things here are less balanced. In fact, by the end of the book, I thought Blomkvist rather a boob. He doesn't take the initiative in ANYTHING (his defense, sexual liaisons, contract with Vanger, etc.) with the one exception being his initial contact with Salander. While that scene was well done, he diminishes and Salander dominates not only the villains but the only character set up as a male hero. That is, until the supposed-to-be-hero ends this adventure of his life and continues on his way, casting off our heroine and shattering any emotional solace he may have offered her. Boob.
And here in lies the problem with the woman triumph storyline. Why can we not have either a strong, worthy, equally indispensable male partner or a woman on her own (who is not a lesbian)? Why does it still have to be about the woman’s ability to be sexually attractive? Why does a statement about the strength of women so often require the equally problematic emasculation (as here), denigration, or rejection (via lesbianism) of men? To make it even worse, it seems that Larsson has put quite a bit of himself into Blomkvist the tramp, passing the magnifying glass examining relationships between men and women right over our hero. Is this what women want? A slightly intelligent man who sleeps with anyone, is completely incapable of long-term commitment, nominally involved in the life of his child and confines his scarce initiative to work related endeavors? I hope not. Is this what men want? Scary, indeed.
While the writing is phenomenal, murky presentations of men and women, and extremely sexualized content render this inappropriate reading for young people, and I wouldn’t purchase a copy to keep in the house. Additional caution should be taken by adults who don’t want to be exposed to graphic material. WARNING: Sexual sadism, incest, abuse of children, abuse of women, ‘friends with benefits’, lesbian and homosexual relations, anal penetrations (by a foreign objects), forced oral sex, and sex between consenting adults (both fornication and adultery) all make appearances, though not all are explicitly detailed. While I understand what the author is getting at, it cost a star (at least) in my review. I’d really like 3.5 stars, but the work as a whole is strong, so I’m going with 4. If you read it despite the warning, I think you’ll find it (as I did) a guilty pleasure – but only if the graphic presentations of evil don’t prevent you from ever leaving your house again!
I cannot decide whether to go on with this series or not. Book 5 definately regained it's footing for me. The cases were interesting and the personalI cannot decide whether to go on with this series or not. Book 5 definately regained it's footing for me. The cases were interesting and the personal storylines less cumbersome. I am finding the better books to be a good balance to my Africa non-fiction reading, an opportunity to keep my mind in Africa with a lighter read. This book gets the series back on track for me and I'm considering getting book 6 on the next library trip!...more
I don't know why, but these books are getting less satisfactory as I go. The cases of the detective agency are pretty good and it is interesting to seI don't know why, but these books are getting less satisfactory as I go. The cases of the detective agency are pretty good and it is interesting to see how they are resolved. I also enjoy the character of Mma Makutsi.
However, the authors constant repetition of background is becoming annoying. I guess the purpose is to ensure that each book is a stand along work, but it gets monotonous. I have one more already checked out from the library, which i will probably read as i need reading material this week. But, if that one isn't an improvement, I probably will not continue with the series....more
I was a little disappointed in the storyline around Mr. J.L.B. Matekoni in this book, but i liked the emergence of Mma Makutsi. An enjoyable read thatI was a little disappointed in the storyline around Mr. J.L.B. Matekoni in this book, but i liked the emergence of Mma Makutsi. An enjoyable read that was a nice counterpoint to the heavier "King Leopold's Ghost."...more
This second installment of the No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency was an improvement over the first, IMHO. Plot threads, which center around Precious RamoThis second installment of the No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency was an improvement over the first, IMHO. Plot threads, which center around Precious Ramotswe's personal life as well as her professional investigations, were stronger. The character development remains compelling, particularly in the illustration of Ramotswe's secretary/ assistant detective, and the children who are introduced. Recommended. I'm looking forward to Book 3, "Morality for Beautiful Girls"...more
This is a well written mystery that unfolds page by page. It is enticing reading. I found it best to arrange my observations numerically.
1) It is possThis is a well written mystery that unfolds page by page. It is enticing reading. I found it best to arrange my observations numerically.
1) It is possible to live in an oppressive society and not come to terms with it. This is willful to differing degrees, depending on the information to which people were exposed. The whites living in apartheid, who benefited from the system, didn't want to acknowledge the horrors of the oppression upon which their position in society was built. Most simply didn't concern themselves with the affairs of the black population. And when exposed to injustice, they chose to look the other way. In this way, the system became self-reinforcing. If something went well for a black person or community, whites took credit that the government was providing them with benefits. If something went wrong for a black person or community, whites took it as justification for the apartheid system (they need it, deserve it, must have done something wrong, etc.).
I think the same may be true in oppressive regimes that promote the illusion of openness. China is a good example. As long as you don't take any interest in religion, you might not know you do not have religious freedom. And, if you follow the normal course of life and join the party (maybe it's "not a big deal" to you) you are further insulated from the oppression of people who chose to oppose the system.
2) But, Brink has not give us a sterilized world. The same concept is at work on the black side of the fence. I appreciated the tension Du Toit experiences from BOTH sides, white who oppose his questioning of the 'system' and feel threatened by blacks, but also blacks who see all whites as enemies and cannot accept him. I have copied a quote about this identification tension into my quotes, as being white myself it is challenging to understand the hostility from the other side when you know you are also against the same injustice and for the same ideals. This quote really made me think about the cultural ramifications of relationships between the oppressed and the oppressors - even when individuals of the oppressing class are trying to intervene to make a change. When I get a chance to type it out, I will add this passage to my quotes.
3) Our decisions shape our life, one step at a time. The author does a masterful job of showing how Ben du Toit's life slowly shifts center from his family to his advocacy and investigation on behalf of the black community. The preliminary passages also show how his life/ relationships were vulnerable to this exploitation long before the crises came along. While the author makes Du Toit's actions understandable to us, I certainly don't agree with all his choices. Nonetheless, i liked the way the reader experiences the tightening of the net by the government around Du Toit, and how options/ relationships/ privacy etc. are eliminated. I also appreciated the sense of disconnect, the wondering, is this really the truth? They are all after him? or has he been so traumatized by the government's censure of him that he is seeing monsters in his closet?
3) The author successfully draws the reader into the fundamental choice: If you saw injustice would you stand up, even if it might cost you. And if you are willing to stand up and pay the price, is there a limit to your commitment? I can imagine the power of this novel would be utterly convicting to someone involved with apartheid, and a fearful thing for the government that censored the book. I also found myself uncomfortable with the question of how far would I be willing to go to stand up for the oppressed. Given, du Toit's relationships seem to lack the depth of my family connections, but one cannot merely excuse the question with a "my situation is different" evasion.
4) I had to return to this review a couple weeks after I first wrote it to add this point. I continue to ponder the idea that we are essentially alone in our journey through life. Brink develops this idea throughout the novel by showing how individual characters only reveal portions of their life and experience to each other. When individuals are together, their experience is shared and intertwined, yet each interprets this interaction through their own lens. When characters are apart they are cut off from a true shared experience. Brink also develops how life experience prior to meeting a character impacts their perceptions and actions. This is a powerful concept that I find myself returning to often. I also want to type in a quote from the book about this topic.
In the end, while i enjoyed this read, was glad I read it, and recognize it will stick with me a long time, I could only give it four stars. The adultery itself wasn't the problem for me, it is accurate that these things happen. However, some of the passages are very sensual, very graphic. And some of the language unacceptable (...taking the Lord's name in vain, and swearing, specifically the F-bomb). These passages are sprinkled throughout and not overwhelming. I understand the writer's intention to maintain the novel's gritty feel via this language, but it detracted from the overall experience and would inhibit me when considering either recommending or re-reading it. This is a mature reading experience and I would not recommend this book for young people. Nonetheless, it is a valuable read and I would recommend it to adults, particularly those interested in the mystery genre, as well as the topics of ethics, fighting injustice, government or South Africa.
I really enjoyed this little tale. I like Nick Charles and his wife Nora. i thought the interplay between them was lively and fun. Watching Nora drawnI really enjoyed this little tale. I like Nick Charles and his wife Nora. i thought the interplay between them was lively and fun. Watching Nora drawn into Nick's world of sleuthing (which he gave up when he married her) was interesting. And Nick's escort into a case he didn't want to have anything to do with was a different twist on the detective story.
The case itself was well drawn, though I did suspect the ending, it was one of two possibilities I was developing when it was revealed, so it kept me guessing enough to be engaging. Nora's response at the end was hilarious... life is often more messy than we would like it to be.
While Maltese Falcon gets all the rave, I have to say I enjoyed "The Thin Man" more. Recommended....more
Okay, I was reading another review and post list and these books were mentioned. I know i'm taking a trip down memory lane of Jr. High reading with "SOkay, I was reading another review and post list and these books were mentioned. I know i'm taking a trip down memory lane of Jr. High reading with "Sweet Valley High", "Nancy Drew" and now these. These were great! I devoured them. In the end, Mom wouldn't buy the bizillion set (probably not a bad idea), but I checked them all out from the library. I remember reading it through the first time, then again with different choices and finally from cover to cover to catch it all. Brilliant!...more
Essentially I would describe this novel as Miss Marple meets Mitford, Botswana. While most books about Africa focus on it's problems, this work takesEssentially I would describe this novel as Miss Marple meets Mitford, Botswana. While most books about Africa focus on it's problems, this work takes a look at Africa through the eyes of ordinary people, such as private detective Precious Ramotswe and her clients.
While the characters were interesting, I found the plot a little stagnant at points, the descriptions of life/ surroundings/ etc. a little laborious.
Nonetheless, this lighthearted look at Africa via Botswana is a wonderful counterpoint to the more serious, non-fiction, works I have been reading about Africa. Since I checked out additional titles from this series, I read on to "Tears of the Giraffe", which I thought was an improvement.
It is difficult to discuss this book without reference to the iconoclastic blockbuster movies. So, let's just get it out there right away - I loved thIt is difficult to discuss this book without reference to the iconoclastic blockbuster movies. So, let's just get it out there right away - I loved the movies, and I loved the book. However, standards for what makes a good book and a good movie are different. I found the book to contain both more complex plotting and character development.
The plot twists and turns and even though I knew the basic outcome, I was enthralled with what would happen next! As a side note, I was struck that this book was published in 1980. The plot and characters are SO GOOD, the lack of technology isn't hampering, but it was noticeable. It was also another distinguishing point from the movies, which use a great deal of technology. The Carlos plot line (eliminated from the movies) was compelling, and it's a shame it's not in the Hollywood version, which leads me to...
Bourne. Bourne's character is far more complex, and less culpable in the books. He ISN'T an assassin, but his cover is to pose as one. He knows the skills and uses them to rescue others, as well as maintain his cover, but most of his reputation is a strategic bluff. It seemed like there is less collateral damage in the books.
Marie's character is far different from the movies and much more compelling in the books. She is a true partner to Bourne, who walks away from her life (as a professional economist with the Canadian government) to help him after he saves her, not just a drifting, comforting lover (as in the movie).
There were compelling themes in the work that I liked. While the movies can come across as slightly anti-government, the books are more about the difficulties and challenges of coordinated intelligence services:
* HQ v. the Field: I have worked for several international offices, both as a headquarters employee and as a branch employee. Many of the struggles between HQ and field are shared (though obviously with less drastic consequences as i've never worked intelligence) and i found the dilemma's of structure to be realistic.
* Sharing information: How much time is spent on this question in organizations across the globe? Of course, in this arena, the questions are amplified by life and death decisions. One of the biggest is: Is it more safe for a covert operation to have fewer 'in the know' (a risk of easy elimination of those few, causing operation failure as well as input from a limited number of people) or more people in the know (more back ups, more input)? Ultimately, the answer is that there are no easy answers!
* Human Factor: The book also does a good job examining the human factor. Bourne himself obviously has human flaws - otherwise, he wouldn't have amnesia. The messy reality of having to work with flawed people, some of whom you like, some of whom you don't, unpredictable failures/ circumstances, the resume's of 'credibility'/ experience and the conflict over direction among various perspectives (to which the beholder assesses different values) are challenges for all organizations and contributed to the plot line.
I enjoyed this book and would be interested in reading more in the series. It didn't change my life or anything, but it's an entertaining escape into a dramatic world....more
A fun, enjoyable read. Peters develops her characters well, and there is much about Father Cadfael (and the supporting cast) that is intriguing. Not aA fun, enjoyable read. Peters develops her characters well, and there is much about Father Cadfael (and the supporting cast) that is intriguing. Not amazing, but good, solid writing.
There is a religious tone to this work that is fittingly medieval. The interesting thing was how Peters handled it. She doesn't discredit or demean spiritual experience, but she demonstrates that it can be manipulated (for good or evil), and that people of religious profession are a mixed bag just like other populations of humanity. Often, a writer will go to one extreme or the other (all is real ala gothic/ mystic or none at all ala an atheist perspective on religion). Peter's threads the needle in a manner that gives the work a mature and suspenseful feel, as it lacks a formulaic feel. I was impressed, though I found myself wondering if my Protestantism was insulating me from offense and if I wouldn't have had more problems with it if I were Catholic.
I may read more Brother Cadfael when I am in a middle ages mystery sorta mood... This is one of those times when I wish 3.5 stars was available. ...more
Voted #2 of 100 best mysteries of all time by Mystery Writers of America (www.mysterywriters.org) and see also World Magazine January 12/19, 2008, pg.Voted #2 of 100 best mysteries of all time by Mystery Writers of America (www.mysterywriters.org) and see also World Magazine January 12/19, 2008, pg. 27).
Sam Spade is an interesting guy. The Maltese Falcon is an interesting story. The most intriguing aspect of the the mystery to me was the context of gender. In the first scene, we encounter a woman trying to get some help from Spade's agency. She become a main character of the work, and we see how she uses a feminine approach to her difficulties (love, sometimes sex, affection, manipulation, etc.). Spade, on the other hand, is operating as a man. His approach to the problems encountered is masculine (i respect you, you respect me, competence, honor, logic, etc.).
The best part of the novel, even better than the explanation of the case, was Spade's speech at the end where he explains why he does what he does and how he does it. We are also presented with the female perspective in this context. Neither one can quite grasp the other - which I thought an accurate portrayal of the communication between men and women.
In the end, I wondered, would this novel be anything like this, set today? What do these illustrated innate differences say about the way men and women handle challenges in combat? Business? Politics/ Governement? etc. This was more intriguing to me than the actual plot, which I found wearing at times, probably because I just don't click on the whole "hard boiled detective" thing. Spade was okay. I could take him. I could leave him. If i had a case, I'd want him to work on it, but i don't think I'd want to be friends... maybe that is a very female way of looking at it!...more
Voted #3 of 100 best mysteries of all time by Mystery Writers of America (www.mysterywriters.org) and see also World Magazine January 12/19, 2008, pg.Voted #3 of 100 best mysteries of all time by Mystery Writers of America (www.mysterywriters.org) and see also World Magazine January 12/19, 2008, pg. 27).
I wanted to like it, i really did. It's a classic. And Poe is so respectful of the reader, no dumbing down, an elevated vocabulary, stories that start off grabbing your interest from the first sentence, and each story so unique you are scrambling to figure out what is going on...
The problem is, i just had to admit, I simply don't particularly enjoy the horror/ gothic/ ghost story subject matter. I could read Tell-Tale Heart in one sitting and enjoy it, but quickly go on to something else, and a whole book of it just sat there until it was time to return to the library while I threw myself into things more interesting. It felt like work to me, not enjoyment to read it. sorry. just not my taste...
but for those of you into this kind of thing, it is an excellent rendering of the genre!...more
Voted #4 of 100 best mysteries of all time by Mystery Writers of America (www.mysterywriters.org) and see also World Magazine January 12/19, 2008, pg.Voted #4 of 100 best mysteries of all time by Mystery Writers of America (www.mysterywriters.org) and see also World Magazine January 12/19, 2008, pg. 27).
I have read books that are fiction, and claim to be true. But this is the first time I read a true story that was presented as fiction. As the author is a fiction writer, I'm guessing she wrote it this way for two reasons: 1) to avoid the tedious academic scrutiny and documentation and, 2) To give the ideas presented wider exposure than the academic community. I was pleasantly surprised. An easy read, this book is so well written, the complicated events among numerous characters are retainable even the first time through. Concise (my copy is only 180 pages), intriguing, and fast paced, I could have easily read this in one sitting.
A ton of English history is covered in this work, but don't let that put you off. History was never so palatable as when clothed in a mystery for the characters and readers to decipher; the truth of the facts presented only add to the mystique! ...more
Voted #6 of 100 best mysteries of all time by Mystery Writers of America (www.mysterywriters.org) and see also World Magazine January 12/19, 2008, pg.Voted #6 of 100 best mysteries of all time by Mystery Writers of America (www.mysterywriters.org) and see also World Magazine January 12/19, 2008, pg. 27).
An excellent read. This book is much drier and less sensational than the James Bond genre, and i have to say I like that. Generally, I'm not into the spy novel scene; I found the dose of reality engaging.
The plot is complicated, but easily understood. The reader is given the feel of what it is like to be an agent who only has some of the pieces/ understanding to what is happening. Glimpses of the difficult process of trying to determine which intelligence is accurate and which is not as the scenario develops. Intriguing. Characters have depth. There is a sense it which the reader wants to determine "which side" each one is playing for, and their personalities come into play when trying to determine who they are working for and how they might respond to the situation at hand. Based on the recommendation (above), all of this was expected to me.
What I didn't expect takes place in the last 50 pages of the book. Le Carre, via dialogue of two characters, treats us to a debate on the cost verses benefit of espionage, using concepts from the book scenario. As the author is an insider to the espionage business, this interchange is well informed and challenging. The ending plays into the arguments presented. It took my mind awhile to chug through these philosophical concepts and figure out what I thought about them.
This is a good book for our time as our country struggles with the cost verses benefit to intelligence/ espionage and debates decisions based on intelligence. Though the theater of conflict has changed (from the cold war setting in the book to the new war against terror) the questions, philosophies and risks remain the same.
One last comment. The plot and discussion of espionage are presented purely from a humanistic standpoint (in fact God, the Bible, Christianity, etc are mentioned and generally rejected by the characters). I found myself struggling with the dissonance of attempting to apply Biblical perspective to the very grey, flawed, so far from ideal world of government, politics and intelligence. I would enjoy discussing this book, these philosophical arguments, and the role of a Biblical standard with others....more