Shallow, trashy, tawdry, and titillating in a way that appeals to 14 year-old boys (well 14 year old boys in...moreI won this book in a First Read's giveaway
Shallow, trashy, tawdry, and titillating in a way that appeals to 14 year-old boys (well 14 year old boys in the late 80s, I suppose), if you know what Heavy Metal and pulp fiction are then you know exactly what you're going to get in this volume.
Women are objectified, the hero is virile yet chivalrously chaste (in that order), unless the woman in question is a prostitute and then she's clearly begging for it, and cliched dystopian conspiracies abound. As much as I didn't like the book, I can't really bring myself to hate it.
It's like the parable of the scorpion and the frog, Heavy Metal Pulp: Pleasure Model: Netherworld Book One knows what its nature is and I can't really blame it for doing a good job of being itself. Even if the itself in question is something I don't particularly like.
When all of Fabletown's fairest are endangered, it is up to Cinderella, secret agent extraordinaire, to save them.
Morgan Le Fay and Mrs. (The woman a...moreWhen all of Fabletown's fairest are endangered, it is up to Cinderella, secret agent extraordinaire, to save them.
Morgan Le Fay and Mrs. (The woman at the) Ford are murdered and, with Bigby out of commission thanks to the events of Fables Snow White, Mayor Cole asks Cinderella to investigate the case. Using Briar Rose's enchanted car, she chases after the murderer only to find victim after victim, always in pairs, as she fails to stop them from being killed. Meanwhile, in the lost business office, the Mirror has discovered that things are being hidden from its all-seeing gaze and that can only happen for one reason. Will Cinderella be able to save the remaining Fairest in All the Land in time or will she ultimately find the murderer waiting for her in the end?
Bill Willingham put this side collaboration together with a multitude of artists but, despite the occasional clash of styles, they generally work well within the framework of the Fables. style. While I can't say the mystery is the greatest, there are entertaining moments and some fun elements that enrich the overall story.
Definitely worth reading if you follow the series as a whole, but those who've not followed it may feel lost.
Kathy Reichs writes her best dialog to date, but provides a less satisfying mystery in this volume.
Temperance Brennan is finally getting a chance for...moreKathy Reichs writes her best dialog to date, but provides a less satisfying mystery in this volume.
Temperance Brennan is finally getting a chance for a weekend away with her new beau when disaster strikes in the form of a small plane crash and the discovery of a skull leads her into the world of smuggling where she uncovers that some people move more than drugs illegally.
I won't get into a discussion of who her beau is, as that is left up in the air in the last volume. I will, however, mention that him showing up as a romantic lead provides a refreshing counterpoint for Brennan. The interplay is strong and the two provide a needed levity to the serious or data heavy moments. Reichs still does her usual info dumps, but it's (mostly) easier to get through with her partner alongside.
On the other hand, things tie up very neatly (again)in this volume with only one minor distraction from the major plot. Things are too interconnected and that's where it makes you question the world in which Brennan lives. Reichs did a better job of that in Grave Secrets when not everything was connected even when characters thought it would be.
The other concern I have about this book is that Reichs has again turned it into her own personal soapbox. I won't get into the details, too spoilery, but much like Grave Secrets' discussion of stem cells, this book covers an area of controversy and shoehorns an even clumsier diatribe on the topic as Brennan reads a magazine article to her beau on the topic.
Still, this is probably the most enjoyable of her books that I've read, and I'm willing to read another.(less)
**spoiler alert** An unfortunately predictable but otherwise acceptable procedural novel.
Kathy Reichs' protagonist annoyingly shifts between real wor...more**spoiler alert** An unfortunately predictable but otherwise acceptable procedural novel.
Kathy Reichs' protagonist annoyingly shifts between real world-ish depiction and purely literary. For instance, the character is a recovering alcoholic, but the issue has no impact on the story aside from occasionally wanting something to drink (well, aside from the amusement factor of having an alcoholic named Temperance). Yet, there are a number of cases where the decisions the protagonist makes serve plot purposes in lieu of reasonable characterization.
Similarly, Reichs sets the story in Montreal, which should provide some flavor, but uses an expatriate protagonist who thinks like an American, yet isn't uncomfortable in locale. It creates a blander than expected final product.
The actual plot, stereotypical serial killer, is well covered, if grisly. Reichs, as noted above, follows the procedural model where suspects aren't really trotted out for consideration as much as arrests are made which eventually turn out to be false leads. It's more realistic than a traditional murder mystery, but also leaves the villain anonymous and lacking in character until the final reveal.(less)
An airplane crashes in the Carolina mountains and anthropologist Temperance Brennan is called in to help with identifying the victims. When she stumbl...moreAn airplane crashes in the Carolina mountains and anthropologist Temperance Brennan is called in to help with identifying the victims. When she stumbles upon a body part that doesn't belong to the crash, she encounters a conspiracy that puts her life at risk.
There's been an interesting evolution in Kathy Reichs' writing. She's gone from straight procedural, to more standard Christie-esque mystery, to more of a thriller in this one. It's an interesting experiment to see how she develops her writing. But there's a problem. (view spoiler)[In this book, she recycles the major elements of her first three, ritual killing, cults, and motorcycle gangs. While these elements have varying degrees of impact, it still feels like it's a melange of her previous work (hide spoiler)]
But if one is able to leave that aside, the book as a standalone does a reasonable job of entertaining the reader. Brennan is pretty consistently in character and her decision making serves the character more than the plot, something Reichs occasionally failed to do in her earlier books. A nice diversion and eventually I might get around to book five, but I feel no urgency to race to it.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
In a horrendous regression from her recent work in the series, Kathy Reichs reverts back to her procedural roots in a story that is obvious, unsurpris...moreIn a horrendous regression from her recent work in the series, Kathy Reichs reverts back to her procedural roots in a story that is obvious, unsurprising, and, frankly, just unentertaining.
Three sets of bones are found in the basement of a pizza parlour (it's Quebecois, with a u!) and they turn out to belong to missing girls. What these girls have fallen into isn't terribly surprising, nor is there really an opportunity to develop mystery, because it becomes pretty clear who the killer is as soon as the limited necessary information is introduced.
That's the real problem with this volume. It takes up 300 pages because Reichs denies Brennan reasonably determinable information or reasonable conclusions based upon already presented evidence solely to keep the book from ending too soon. Instead we get delayed by the stop-start relationship of Ryan, the addition of a friend in distress, and just "things take time" None of it is particuarly entertaining and I thought we had overcome the hitches with Ryan in the previous volume. I suppose I should be thankful that at least our add-on friend/family member was not actually caught up in the plot like so many previous ones.
If you are a completist, go ahead and read this. Otherwise, I think it's time to drop-out.(less)
Kathy Reichs stretches herself further, yet doesn't seem to have overcome the flaws in her earlier works. This time, Temperance Brennan is drawn into...moreKathy Reichs stretches herself further, yet doesn't seem to have overcome the flaws in her earlier works. This time, Temperance Brennan is drawn into the world of motorcycle gangs when she joins the anti-gang unit after a girl is killed during a hit.
While Reichs does improve her depiction of Montreal, she relies on a technique that didn't work last volume. A family member is brought onto the scene who doesn't behave the same as he did in his appearance last novel and, despite being an out of towner, is already involved in the major plot before Temperance involves him. It stretches credibility.
Furthermore, everything is connected. All the major involved characters are somehow directly related back to the plot. It's too convenient. Likewise, she (too) conveniently provides a link back to a killing her home state in North Carolina. Death follows in Temperance Brennan's wake and it's only been three books.
Reichs clearly did a great deal of research on the novel and it shows. Unfortunately, it shows itself by occasional deep information dumps. Sections on blood splatter & motorcycles are shoehorned into the story unconvincingly. It feels like Reichs felt she needed to show her work, or just pad her page count, to make it believable.
There are a few bright spots though. Her depiction of action has improved and Brennan does get some nice character moments. Still, I feel that there are better options out there if you need a mystery to read.(less)
Precious Ramotswe is a divorced woman in her late thirties who, thanks to an inheritance, is wealthy enough to be essentially self employed and takes...morePrecious Ramotswe is a divorced woman in her late thirties who, thanks to an inheritance, is wealthy enough to be essentially self employed and takes that opportunity to engage in investigations.
No wait, that's Isabel Dalhousie.
Precious Ramotswe is a divorced woman in her mid thirties who, thanks to an inheritance, is wealthy enough to be essentially self employed and takes that opportunity to engage in investigations.
In the end though, I find them to be about the same, non-traditional mysteries but likable enough, if mild and somewhat disposable. I wouldn't race out to read this one, but if you've got nothing better to read, you'll finish it quickly and can move on.(less)
It's hard to develop a conclusion about Thomas Pynchon's latest book in much the same way Pynchon doesn't really develop a resolution to Inherent Vice...moreIt's hard to develop a conclusion about Thomas Pynchon's latest book in much the same way Pynchon doesn't really develop a resolution to Inherent Vice.
A hippie-noir about a stoner detective, Doc Sportello, caught in the mostly typical dealings of Chinatown/L.A. Confidential, California. Vice treads a twisted path through any number of players, all of whom are caught up in the nascent machine of post free-love society.
Pynchon knows his protagonist, gives him enough honor to be noir yet enough drugs to be lost most of the time, but the character's incoherence disorients the reader as well and at times one is left to wonder just who is to whom and how.
There are admirably understated themes of paranoia and control, but the underlying sense of community and certain characters' lack thereof, are perhaps the most pervasive. While Sportello and his niche are left behind in the sixties, the rest of society has moved on into an unsettling and isolating place where everyone is together alone.
While the book continues to generally hew to its procedur...moreKathy Reichs improves on her first novel, Deja Dead with reduced gore and increased mystery.
While the book continues to generally hew to its procedural conventions, Death du Jour, does actually introduce a series of characters and potential suspects before the evidence and police come upon the answer. The increase in social interaction doesn't eliminate all of the gore. After all, you're reading a book about a forensic anthropologist, there's going to be some. But it tones it down and focuses more on Brennan's role analyzing the effects of trauma on bone and identifying victims. This makes that portion more palatable to those who are less concerned about the effects of knife wounds on flesh and more on how the angle of entry demonstrates the likely height of the killer.
It's not all roses though. While Reichs does bring more social interaction into it, there are a few too many convenient coincidences to hold the plot together. I won't get into detail for fear of spoilers, but let's just say that it feels like murder follows Temperance Brennan the same way it followed Jessica Fletcher. It's understandable why they relocated the TV version to DC to allow the characters more freedom of movement.
Still, I liked this one and will keep reading.(less)
Is it odd that I liked most everything about this aside from the mystery? I guess I should start from the beginning.
Stieg Larsson begins with a disgra...moreIs it odd that I liked most everything about this aside from the mystery? I guess I should start from the beginning.
Stieg Larsson begins with a disgraced reporter who is hired to investigate the death of an industrial family's heiress in the guise of writing a history of said family. As he researches, he encounters the titular character who is talented but damaged.
The two protagonists dig deeper into the victim's life story, they discover that all is not what it seems and to what lengths a family might go to hide its secrets.
The characterization is admittedly uneven, the commentary a bit meta at points, but the stark depiction of the Scandinavian existence brings you into Sweden in a way that Kathy Reichs has not managed to do with Montreal in her Temperance Brennan series. You feel the cold and isolation as characters ponder their fates.
Where Larsson really misteps is the mystery itself. First is introductory notes for each section which announce the theme of the work. It's clear that these will fit into the story but, sadly, not in a surprising manner. Once you begin amassing clues, the likely options quickly diminish and each additional clue further points in the same direction.
That said, the book just feels different, perhaps because of the author's native setting, perhaps because what emotions he allows his characters to have are genuine and visceral, and provides something that makes it worth reading.
I'm going to struggle with this review because I didn't give China Mieville enough credit. That's an odd way to start, but I believe it's a fair asses...more
I'm going to struggle with this review because I didn't give China Mieville enough credit. That's an odd way to start, but I believe it's a fair assessment. After reading, and being disappointed by, The City and The City last year, I thought Mieville was creative but occasionally sloppy.
The eponymous creature is a specimen in a tank in a museum where our protagonist works. When the creature is stolen, all hell breaks loose in London. Was it the Kraken worshiping cult? The magical ganglord? Or someone else? This establishes the foundation of a story that explores the nature of belief, moreso than traditional fantasy elements of magic.
Given the subject, and the mention of religion, it's tempting to think of this as being Lovecraftian. But it's not. It's thoroughly modern and enlightened, and while Mieville retains something of the incomprehensible nature in his tentacled not-quite deity, it's also clear that humanity is the true power in this story, and the most destructive force is humanity itself.
Returning to my opening salvo, Mieville's apparent sloppiness isn't quite misdirection, but because I did not give him the benefit of the doubt, I disregarded clues to the ultimate resolution which is both clever and entertaining. Definitely worth reading and strongly recommended.
Kathy Reichs provides a logical change of setting, gives us a convincing red herring plot, and manages to integrate contemporary (for 2003) subject ma...moreKathy Reichs provides a logical change of setting, gives us a convincing red herring plot, and manages to integrate contemporary (for 2003) subject matter into a book that finishes much better than it starts.
Moving from her comfort zones of North Carolina and Alberta, Reichs sets this story in Guatemala where Temperance Brennan is excavating victims of the country's civil war. While there, she is asked to consult on a case involving four missing girls which leads into a larger web of corruption.
Reichs still has her normal foibles: large infodump passages, Ryan is shoehorned in though it actually makes some sense this time, and the mystery is easily deciphered. But, after a slow muddle through the first portion, it ends very well and Reichs even manages to build anticipation for the next volume.(less)
Lydia Carlton is a master of a dying profession, fairy doctor. Edgar Ashenbert may be the descendant of an ancient fairy with a dark secret. When she...moreLydia Carlton is a master of a dying profession, fairy doctor. Edgar Ashenbert may be the descendant of an ancient fairy with a dark secret. When she gets caught up in an intrigue to find the lost symbol of his heritage, will she survive?
It's got potential, I guess. Light & fluffy like shojo tends to be but not wowing me so far. But it's undemanding enough that if someone recommends it to you it's not painful.(less)
This is the second of these "reader" style books I've come across and they're similarly lacking in entertainment for the participating adult. In both...moreThis is the second of these "reader" style books I've come across and they're similarly lacking in entertainment for the participating adult. In both cases there is no real antagonist and, perhaps it's just a coincidence, I get the feeling that someone was intentionally doing sanitized versions.
Still, pretty good for a child who likes Scooby-Doo and is beginning to read.(less)
An entertaining read that, at a shallowest level, could be called CSI: Canterbury. But if you delve deeper you find a tale that truly captures the spi...moreAn entertaining read that, at a shallowest level, could be called CSI: Canterbury. But if you delve deeper you find a tale that truly captures the spirit of the era in a way I hardly suspected when I began the novel.
Sure the protagonist begins off as a bit of a cliche'd career-woman-action-hero but she, as well as the other characters, are well developed and possess 12th century convictions, something hard to find in most historical tellings.
That said, the mystery of who does it is somewhat lacking, and there's a bit of murderer back story that's a bit too contrived. But the striking ending does much to make up for the book's flaws. Worth reading for mystery lovers and those who love the time period.(less)
This one was not nearly as entertaining for the adult reader as some others I've seen. A child could certainly enjoy reading this one, but the parent...moreThis one was not nearly as entertaining for the adult reader as some others I've seen. A child could certainly enjoy reading this one, but the parent reading it to the child won't have as much fun.(less)
While there's no villain in this book, it's still what Scooby-Doo does best, show the power of deductive reasoning and not on believing in weird magic...moreWhile there's no villain in this book, it's still what Scooby-Doo does best, show the power of deductive reasoning and not on believing in weird magic stuff.(less)
I did enjoy this book and the ultimate resolution is, perhaps, the way I wanted it to turn out. So why am I not rating it higher?
I don't know. While t...moreI did enjoy this book and the ultimate resolution is, perhaps, the way I wanted it to turn out. So why am I not rating it higher?
I don't know. While this book, as well as the first book The Sunday Philosophy Club, definitely has moments that I find greatly amusing, overall I just wasn't that thrilled by it. It is a good book, but I guess only for certain readers.(less)
A solidly amusing little novel with a somewhat questionable resolution. The character, despite dithering across multiple arguments throughout this fre...moreA solidly amusing little novel with a somewhat questionable resolution. The character, despite dithering across multiple arguments throughout this frequently digressive books, comes up with a moral certitude at resolution which strikes me as a bit off putting.
Still, it's an entertaining read for those that like light-mystery and tangential, non-linear, thinking.(less)