Fat Ollie takes center stage in this 87th Precinct McBain. Bert Kling is marrying Augusta, a model, who is kidnapped from their wedding suite by a looFat Ollie takes center stage in this 87th Precinct McBain. Bert Kling is marrying Augusta, a model, who is kidnapped from their wedding suite by a looney. The scene shifts back and forth between Augusta, who is not about to let things take their course without a fight, and the investigation. They are stymied with seemingly no leads, but Ollie, “ who was bigoted, slovenly, opinionated, crude, insensitive, gross, humorless, unimaginative…No, that wasn’t true. Ollie was imaginative,” joins the hunt and, with the help of the wedding photographer, develops the two leads that break the case open.
Short, almost a novella, the book is standard McBain fare, that is to say, a solid police procedural. ...more
I ran across Coleman when I read his continuation of Robert B. Parker’s Jesse Stone series. I liked that a lot so I thought I would take a look at ColI ran across Coleman when I read his continuation of Robert B. Parker’s Jesse Stone series. I liked that a lot so I thought I would take a look at Coleman’s Moe Prager series.
Moe Prager has been invalided out of the NYPD after having knee surgery. How it happened depended on how drunk he was during the retelling. The truth was he slipped on a piece of carbon paper in the squad room. Having fortuitously found a missing girl while on the beat, he is approached by Francis Maloney, a haughty anti-semite (“your people”) to help search for his son, Patrick, who has disappeared. Agreeing only because Francis says he can help (or hinder) Moe’s application for a liquor license, Moe soon wonders as to Maloney’s seriousness. after a more recent picture than the one Francis is plastering all over town surfaces. It shows Patrick with tattoos and rings in several orifices. It’s a picture Francis categorically refuses to acknowledge and proscribes Moe from using it in the search.
Most of the book takes place in 1978 but is connected to events in 1998 (somewhat awkwardly) and revolves around issues of homosexuality within families and familial relationships. The disappeared boy was known to have walked backwards in perfect squares while he thought no one was watching. He’s also known to have wanted to marry at any cost and became extremely upset when one of his girlfriends insisted on terminating her pregnancy from their intimacy.
Aside from some sections that read like a psychiatry textbook and that felt very dated, it’s a good story that handles changing mores quite deftly....more
The Indulgence is the largest cruise ship in the world with every imaginable attraction including a rainforest with its own indigenous people, a 3D suThe Indulgence is the largest cruise ship in the world with every imaginable attraction including a rainforest with its own indigenous people, a 3D surround movie theater, and a high wire line that transports you through the air above the ship. Funded by a prince of an Arab country, Henry is hired to make sure nothing happens to Meg Savoy, an American Air Force general who has many secrets with regard to drone operations that many other countries would enjoy getting their computers on.
As usual Henry is annoyingly lustful and occasionally forgetful, although his malapropisms and odd memory seem as much a part of his technique as old age. He’s also sly as a fox. He stumbles into several side plots and with his usual aplomb (but very hard spine) manages to outwit the bad guys. He has to worry this voyage about what seems to be some early Alzheimer’s as well.
These books are obviously not to be taken seriously, but much like a fine, creamy chocolate, become addictive and hard to put down. They are well written and often chuckle-out-loud funny. I’ve read three now and hope Doonan continues to write in the series. I should be so spry at 85.
These stories are captivating. I did a little research on the author who holds a Ph.D. in archaeology and was a lecturer on cruise ships for many yearThese stories are captivating. I did a little research on the author who holds a Ph.D. in archaeology and was a lecturer on cruise ships for many years in addition to working on digs, so the archaeological references certainly ring true. Our hero was an archaeologist, too, that is, until he lost the mummies.
This time, Henry Grave, investigator for the Cruise Line Association, is sent to Greece and on board the Vesper, where the man guarding a priceless Minoan vase has been murdered and the vase disappeared. Henry investigates in his usual Columbo-like form filled with House of Pancake business cards, but cunning cleverness.
A good mystery with Henry having only three days to solve the crime. Some nice travel comments, as well. I really like this series....more
I love ships, but I remember being horribly seasick way back when I was a child and we took transatlantic liners to Europe so naturally I have alwaysI love ships, but I remember being horribly seasick way back when I was a child and we took transatlantic liners to Europe so naturally I have always been reluctant to do what I’d really like to do and which my father did -- sail on a freighter sometime. I love the looks of the classic liner, even the modern cruise ship’s lines have appeal. But after watching YouTube videos of cruises and seeing the number of passengers they cram on board with golf courses and rock climbing and shopping and all that bullshit, I am thoroughly deterred. When (and if) I ever go to sea, I want to be at sea, not on some floating resort with people my age. Ugh.
That doesn’t mean I dislike reading about ships. That’s why I bought several books in the Henry Grave series. He’s an investigator for the Cruise Line Association. He’s also old (eighties) but he’s a cunning fellow, so when an FBI profiler, who was a lecturer on a cruise ship and famous for his capture of the Crossing Guard Killer, is found dead at the top of the rock climbing wall. Grave has a bizarre background and he’s funny talking about it: “We Googled you,” Hugh Arlen said, interrupting my train of thought. “That’s a computer term. I don’t know if you’re familiar with the internet.” “I once had a number calculating machine.” “We learned some interesting things about you. You were a POW.” “I was. It was the most intensive weight reduction program money can buy. I was quite thin by the end. Also, I lost four teeth, but that’s a story for another day. I had them replaced. You can see just back here.” I leaned forward and opened my mouth wide.
Needless to say he appears totally innocuous. But very clever. Having known a talented forger in the POW camps, he has an entire collection of fake ID cards. And who would question and old man’s veracity? Interviewing one couple he hands them a card. Wrong card. Turns out it says he’s from Penthouse.
I frowned. I looked at the card. I think it wasn’t the one I was looking for. “Just freelance. An article here and there.” “It says here you’re the senior editor.” Opal pointed to the title under my name. I found my glasses and had a closer look. So it did. “It’s a thankless job,” I told them. Opal backed off a little. “I had grand ideas when I took the job. We were going to move into whole new areas; more focus on the environment, alternative energies, orphans and koala bears, that sort of thing. I felt the magazine had gotten off track with all the nudity.” “But it’s a pornography magazine,” Doug insisted. “Nudity is its track.” I nodded. “Which is why they fired me as senior editor, but I still get to write hard-hitting articles. Last month I wrote about teenage runaways in Egypt. They leave their families and then go to the pyramids to try to make it there but they can’t find work so they just sniff glue at the pyramids. It’s very sad. You have no idea how young these kids are.”
"The consequences of crossing the Indus once to settle a government in Afghanistan will be a perennial march into that country."--The Duke of Wellingt"The consequences of crossing the Indus once to settle a government in Afghanistan will be a perennial march into that country."--The Duke of Wellington, 1838
"There is nothing more to be dreaded or guarded against in our endeavor to re-establish the Afghan monarchy than the overweening confidence with which Europeans are too often accustomed to regard the excellence of their own institutions and the anxiety that they display to introduce them in new and untried soils."--Claude Wade, January 1839.
Apparently we are doomed to ignore the lessons of the past....more
One of the really great things about the ease of self-publishing today is the plethora of personal memoirs of WW II and Vietnam veterans (not so manyOne of the really great things about the ease of self-publishing today is the plethora of personal memoirs of WW II and Vietnam veterans (not so many from the Korean War, oddly) that have appeared recently. Some of these approach the status of literature, others are more like the stories told by your grandfather to his children and grandchildren. Either way, they are extraordinarily valuable, providing insight into the experiences and feelings of young people (for most were barely out of their teens) facing truly difficult circumstances.
Weinstein’s brief book fits the second category and often the snippets feel a bit disorganized and rambling. But would you criticize your grandfather for that in the midst of an enthralling story? I didn’t think so. ...more
When authors with a successful series and a well-defined character take that character out of his/her normal environment, to a foreign country, say, wWhen authors with a successful series and a well-defined character take that character out of his/her normal environment, to a foreign country, say, where he performs spectacularly, you know the book is about to go off the rails. The only explanation I can come up with is that the author wanted a trip to whatever country where the new mystery takes place and wanted a tax write-off for the trip.
I like Michael Connelly and the Harry Bosch series. This one, while a fast-paced read, as are the others, left me very unsatisfied. Harry is not a very nice character, self-centered and hypercritical of others. For sure, he’s a good detective, but to ream out his partners for not telling him about everything, and then withhold crucial information from them doesn’t seem right or ethical, and it’s just stupid.
My eyes also begin to roll out of their sockets when the investigations become personal. My friends in law enforcement tell me that just never happens, and in this case, where Harry’s daughter is kidnapped in Hong Kong where she lives with his ex-wife, to prevent Harry’s investigation into a Triad extortion ring in LA, just totally strained my credibility. Coincidences abound. The gun found on a couple of bad guys in a hotel where they suspect his daughter might have been held, just happens to be inscribed with the initials of a “tunnel rat” in Vietnam, which Harry had been. I mean, really.
Harry flies to Hong Kong to find and release his daughter, whom, he assumes, has been kidnapped by the Triad because of his personal actions in the LA investigation. He is confident he can accomplish all this in a *weekend* before he has to return to LA. (Is there any doubt in the readers mind he’ll pull this off? Is there anyone who actually believes this might ever be possible?) He leaves a trail of bodies following an “investigation” that was less believable than the Wizard of Oz.
Connelly is a competent writer and a good story-teller. But this one just had me shaking my head in wonder....more
Fortney and Leeds are two harbor patrol cops in San Diego. Blaze is a hooker enlisted by Ambrose, the Keeper of the Cup, to engage in a scheme to thwaFortney and Leeds are two harbor patrol cops in San Diego. Blaze is a hooker enlisted by Ambrose, the Keeper of the Cup, to engage in a scheme to thwart the New Zealanders likely win of the America Cup. It’s a complicated plan involving making one crane operator sick so another can arrange for the boat with it’s slick design to fall as it’s being lifted into the water. Dawn is another hooker who happens to know Blaze and arranges to leave town before she can be murdered by her pimp. Then there are a couple of really smart cops, “Letch” (you can guess how he got his nickname) Boggs, and Annie Zorn formerly Bartlett and Sullivan, a homicide detective.
All of these characters come together.
Lots of humorous and cynical dialogue and scenes. I love the one where Fortney and Leeds see what is apparently a man walking on water (it *was* Easter Sunday so it might be allowed) only to discover it was a man walking on the top of his motor home at the boat ramp, screaming, “You fucking bitch. I told you to put it in gear.”
Leeds is a practical joker. “Two years earlier he’d gone to the trouble of capturing a ground squirrel and putting it in the bottom drawer of the sergeant’s desk. Recapturing it after it scared the crap out of the guy had nearly destroyed the entire office...These days Leeds was preoccupied with politics rather than practical jokes. A hobnailed Republican, he’d dedicated himself to purging the nation of President Clinton, whom he called the dude with the world’s worst taste in babes. Anything could bring on a political diatribe. When they cruised past the Youth Camp area on Fiesta Island and a boozy bunch of teenagers playing volleyball on the beach flipped them off, Leeds said, “I wanna retire to a place where everyone waves at cops with all their fingers.”
Humorous scenes abound with lots of biting social commentary and ridicule of the America’s Cup culture. Lots of fun. I had forgotten how much I enjoyed Wambaugh and will now work (hardly work) my way through more of his books. ...more
I have always wondered when reading a book that indulges in some sexual gymnastics or kink or whatever, just how much the author separates him or hersI have always wondered when reading a book that indulges in some sexual gymnastics or kink or whatever, just how much the author separates him or herself from the contents. Is the activity something they have experienced, always wanted to, frowned upon?
So when I saw this book mentioned on Julie Hilden’s bio on her column at http://verdict.justia.com/, a very interesting blog related to court decisions, my eyebrows shot up and I had to scrape them off the ceiling. Hilden graduated from Harvard and Yale Law School and also holds an MFA in creative writing so the writing is quite competent. She writes frequently on First Amendment issues, and I have enjoyed her columns.
I don’t know what to make of her book, however. It’s about a wife who marries Ilan with the understanding up front they will engage in threesomes. Following their marriage her obsession with him leads to all sorts of self-destructive behavior. This not the kind of book I usually read, nor like to read, and nothing in this book made it more appealing. I don’t enjoy reading about self destructive behavior; sex with guns and razor blades has no appeal at all and frankly, if I had my druthers, Ilan would be locked up. My wife is sensible enough that if I pulled a stunt like that she’d pull a Lorena Bobbitt. Billed as erotica; it’s not.
Hilden has also written a memoir (a Bad Daughter) which apparently details some of her less fortunate romantic choices. I wish this book had left me with a clearer picture of what a woman should not do, given the outcomes here. Her romantic adulation of Ilan struck me as bizarre. I’m no prude and would willingly indulge in all sorts of fantasies (well when I was younger perhaps, now I’m just happy to be able to tie my shoelaces and those velcro ones look appealing) but nothing that involved razor blades. On the other hand, I learned from a description of her memoir that Hilden carries the same gene that led her mother to develop early-onset Alzheimer’s.
But, maybe it’s just the rush to indulge in writing about S&M given the meteoric rise of Shades. I have no idea how to rate this book. Writing is good (4), content is totally unappealing (1). It would be a very interesting book to discuss with the author, however, so I guess a (3). ...more
Of all Robert Parker’s creations I like the Jesse Stone series the best. A couple of authors have attempted to continue the series, including MichaelOf all Robert Parker’s creations I like the Jesse Stone series the best. A couple of authors have attempted to continue the series, including Michael Brandman and now Reed Farrel Coleman, author of the Moe Prager series. I haven’t tried that series but will. I know some people disagree, but I think Coleman has better captured Jesse than Brandman. The interaction between Molly and Jesse is spot on.
We get a little more back story on what happened to Jesse in the minor leagues as he agrees to go to NY for a reunion with his old teammates at the invitation of Vic, the player who stole Kayla, Jesse’s girlfriend following his injury. Seems Vic needs Jesse’s help on a matter, but before he can reveal what it might be, Jesse has to return to Paradise where a girl has been murdered; one that involves Vic (perhaps a bit too coincidentally.) And the girl Vic had brought along as “entertainment” for Jesse turns out to be -- well, you’ll just have to read the book to find out.
The only thing I didn’t like much was the last couple of paragraphs. That kind of open-ended contrivance seems trite....more