The nomadic Jack Reacher hitches a ride on a tour bus in South Dakota, only to have it skid off the road during an intensifying blizzard. The town fol...moreThe nomadic Jack Reacher hitches a ride on a tour bus in South Dakota, only to have it skid off the road during an intensifying blizzard. The town folk put up the stranded travelers in their homes, but the police can't provide immediate assistance because of a riot at the new local prison. When one of the cops learns of Reacher's background in law enforcement, they recruit him to provide protection for a key witness in an upcoming drug trial. In a departure for author Child, much of the 61 hours is spent in conversation between Reacher and the witness, an insightful retiree, rather than in back to back action sequences. This woman gently probes into Reacher's tough-as-nails facade, and the reader gains some understanding about his inner self. He also has numerous phone conversations with the woman who now holds his former position in the special forces. After couple of days, Reacher comes to the realization that the drug trial and the prison riots are interconnected, and the action intensifies to an explosive confrontation.
This is a solid plot with some original elements, and author Child departs from his typical non-stop action format by having Reacher engage in some introspective conversations with two insightful women. This does lead the reader - and Reacher himself - to greater understanding about how he came to live the life of a loner with a hard-as-nails exterior. Child skillfully draws you into the bleak, dark, frozen setting, and he's drawn up two very interesting characters in those two women. His third person narrator ramps up the suspense with periodic countdowns till zero hour. Regrettably, 61 hours is about 10 hours too many to postpone real action, and there's a period of slogging along before it becomes clear that the prison riots and the drug trial are inextricably wound together. From that point, a series of startling events culminates in a truly explosive ending. Rumor has it that the sequel is due to be released this fall. (less)
It is not too difficult to guess who the "changeling" is, but knowing in advance does not spoil the satisfaction of seeing what direction things take....moreIt is not too difficult to guess who the "changeling" is, but knowing in advance does not spoil the satisfaction of seeing what direction things take. Set in Victorian London and Cornwall.(less)
There are times in every nation’s history that serve as turning points, and the 1863 dedication of the Gettysburg Cemetery is one of America’s, largel...moreThere are times in every nation’s history that serve as turning points, and the 1863 dedication of the Gettysburg Cemetery is one of America’s, largely due to the influence of Abraham Lincoln’s 256 word speech. Garry Wills puts paid to the notion that Lincoln dashed something off on the train ride to Gettysburg, painstakingly tracing the cultural, literary, historic, and philosophical underpinnings to one of the world’s oratory masterpieces. Wills also analyzes the surviving five drafts of the speech that were written in the President’s own hand, concluding that the one given to Alexander Bliss is most likely the one from which Lincoln spoke. He also attempts to pinpoint the location of the dias within the cemetery, which was not, as the Park Service contended, at the site of the Soldiers’ Monument.
Readers searching for information about Lincoln’s activities on that fateful day will find little of interest in this slim volume, but for those interested in the best known address in American history, Lincoln at Gettysburg fills the bill.(less)
Joanna Brady's life is turned inside out when she finds her policeman husband fatally wounded in a ditch near their home. Initially, it looks a lot li...moreJoanna Brady's life is turned inside out when she finds her policeman husband fatally wounded in a ditch near their home. Initially, it looks a lot like murder, but when the cops investigate, it seems more like suicide. Joanna cannot accept this interpretation, and sets out to discover the truth. Anyone would be distraught under such circumstances, and the picture becomes muddier and muddier when she finds that only recently, her husband secretly garnered a sizable financial windfall. He was also conducting a secret investigation involving drugs and murder. Soon the entire town in buzzing about an honest cop gone bad.
Joanna is an engaging character, a woman who must draw on all her inner resources to face this tragedy. Unfortunately , none of the others is as finely drawn. Her nine year old daughter Jenny, for instance, and Joanna's shrewish mother, come across as little more than caricatures, and the Sheriff is little more than a chauvinistic good old boy. The story is at its most suspenseful in the scenes involving a hood and his mistress, who is little more than a prisoner, and her attempts to escape are truly chilling. The conclusion, however, comes across as abrupt and fortuitous, and Joanna makes a major decision in a snap, while still reeling emotionally from her losses. (less)
this guide in hand, feeling a bit Sherlockian in our quest. Even with the detailed directions provided by the authors, finding most of these hidden, n...morethis guide in hand, feeling a bit Sherlockian in our quest. Even with the detailed directions provided by the authors, finding most of these hidden, nearly forgotten sites was a challenge. But with persistence and patience, our efforts were rewarded. What fun! Couldn't have done it without this guide. But if you aren't particularly interested in the places, the era, and the difficult pursuit, better not bother. (less)
This series is built around an English cathedral community. Each book focuses on one of the major players. All of the players are present in all of th...moreThis series is built around an English cathedral community. Each book focuses on one of the major players. All of the players are present in all of the books, so the reader sees the same events from differing perspectives. Engrossing. IOM, this is Howatch's best work.(less)
In December, 1926, Agatha Christie, England's most popular novelist of the era, disappeared for eleven days. When she was finally located in a Harroga...moreIn December, 1926, Agatha Christie, England's most popular novelist of the era, disappeared for eleven days. When she was finally located in a Harrogate hotel, she could not remember who she was, and was unable to identify her husband. She did finally recover her memory, but was never able to recall what she did during that mysterious interval, or indeed, why she even left home. In a novel reminiscent of Josephine Tey's The Daughter of Time, American psychotherapist Carole Owens imagines changing that outcome by placing Christie in an intensive, day long therapy session with a fictional Oxford psychiatrist. This plot device serves admirably as a way for the reader to learn about Christie's childhood, writing career, and first marriage, while the psychiatrist helps his patient explore some of the possible psychological ramifications of the memories that she describes. It also serves as a vehicle for gaining insight into some of the ways in which therapy can work. In addition to providing a very credible explanation of what might have caused Christie's strange experience, the book also paints a picture of early twentieth century life, its attitudes and expectations, among the minor English gentry. It's difficult to write a story containing only two main characters, but Owens did so with authority, style and elegance, making both doctor and patient very real and likable. Though the book is heavy on dialogue, she builds in enough suspense to make her book a page turner. It's a sleeper that deserves much wider readership, and it's interesting to discover how some of the features of Agatha's life might have influenced her creativity as an author. (less)
The Godwulf Manuscript was the late Robert B. Parker's debut Spenser novel in what turned out to be a series of more than thirty. Written in 1974, thi...moreThe Godwulf Manuscript was the late Robert B. Parker's debut Spenser novel in what turned out to be a series of more than thirty. Written in 1974, this book is very much a product of its times, just as are its classic predecessors in the hard boiled detective genre. Spenser is a smart, hard drinking, quirky wise guy who, sometimes annoyingly, has a quip for every situation he encounters, and he's tough as the boots he wears. He's also a gourmet cook.
Parker knew the city of Boston and its surroundings as well as any guide book, and he set this first outing at a large unnamed university, widely believed to be Northeastern on Huntington Ave. Spencer is called in by the bigwigs to locate a stolen 14th century manuscript, but the case quickly escalates into murder. He is drawn into the seamy web of Back Bay streets, making an occasional foray into ritzier neighborhoods. Spenser earned his chops in the school of hard knocks, and in his world, the rich are pretentious, arrogant, and basically useless.
As a novel, Godwulf is dated, but that is part of its appeal. Readers are transported into the decade before the technological revolution, and are treated to a veritable time capsule where political incorrectness abounds. Students are radical and use slide rules and typewriters. Spenser has no cell phone or internet, and is not at all worried about contracting STDs. One thing that hasn't changed much, however, is the prevalence of drugs. The plot here is somewhat simplistic, a cinch to decipher, but this is a character-driven story, and the characters deliver.(less)
The Alchemist's Daughter tells of the early experiences of a sheltered young woman with a remarkable education. Emily is an expert in the science of a...moreThe Alchemist's Daughter tells of the early experiences of a sheltered young woman with a remarkable education. Emily is an expert in the science of alchemy, the study of the forces of nature, but knows next to nothing about living her life or human nature.(less)