This is a magnificent book. Firstly, a disclaimer. The author sent me a free copy knowing of my interest in railroads, but I would not have reviewed i...moreThis is a magnificent book. Firstly, a disclaimer. The author sent me a free copy knowing of my interest in railroads, but I would not have reviewed it had I not liked it. I liked it so much, in fact, I am sending him a check for the book.
What Bassette has done is to collect a comprehensive set of photographs relating to the history of the Illinois Central. He worked for the IC for about 20 years and had access to their large library of archival photographs. He decided to focus on the period from 1850 to 1950, roughly the rise and fall of the steam locomotive. The book is divided into yearly chapters with a brief description of what was going on in the rest of the world during that year, particularly as it relates to the U.S. railroad industry. That's followed by pictures of a locomotive or an IC yard, each with a lengthy description. So, for example, in 1896 there are photographs of engines 376, 2003, 488,499, 495 (plowing through flooded tracks) as well as work being done on the "Lake Front Improvement Ordinance in which the IC agreed to build a retaining wall and backfill the park area between the retaining wall and Michigan Avenue."
Obviously, this book had a limited appeal for publishers, so the author, no doubt at great personal expense, published it himself using only the highest quality printing and on the best paper.
I cannot recommend this book highly enough for railroad aficionados. It belongs in every library with any interest in railroading and certainly those covered by the Illinois Central. It's truly a labor of love and will provide many hours for me to peruse at my leisure. Six stars.
Charlie is a misanthrope. When his mother, who owns the hotel where he works as the house dick, asks him what he would do with a million dollars, his...moreCharlie is a misanthrope. When his mother, who owns the hotel where he works as the house dick, asks him what he would do with a million dollars, his response is that he'd like to buy a boat, anchor it offshore, and fish and read. (Sounds good except for the fishing.) If people wanted to come visit they could wave and he'd row over in the dinghy to get them, or not. His girl friends drop him because he's "not bold."
Charlie vows to find out who injured Victor, his friend, by running him down and stealing his camera. He discovers during the course of his poking around that an old mobster has been hanging around the hotel. That leads him to suspect the guy is planning to heist an armored truck that carries a substantial amount of money on a regular basis from the track. The police chief, when informed, scoffs, since it's the best protected run around and besides, there are so few roads for the thieves to escape on. Well, of course, Charlie has it nailed, but the links are not what he expected.
Mildly entertaining. Not as good as some of the other Dobyns I've read. 2.5 stars. really.(less)
Harry Rane is in deep shit. His friend Bobby is in debt to the mob and Harry, former ex-state-cop, widower and old friend decides to help him get out...moreHarry Rane is in deep shit. His friend Bobby is in debt to the mob and Harry, former ex-state-cop, widower and old friend decides to help him get out of the obligation. Unfortunately things begin to go bad when Harry meets Catherine, Nick Fallon's wife, and former girl friend of Harry's. (It's a small NJ world, apparently.) The guy that Bobby had made the drug deal with turns up dead in the trunk of a car at the airport, and Fallon discovers Harry is making it with his wife. Whew.
Some bizarre reviews out there. One, on Amazon, said he liked the way Rane took several beatings, and another compared the book unfavorably to the Sopranos (a TV series) and a Bruce Springsteen song. I mean, WTF?
Compelling story even if Harry does occasionally act dumber than a post. (less)
This was one of those audiobooks, that I would listen to for a while then switch to something else, then come back, to then hop elsewhere again. I had...moreThis was one of those audiobooks, that I would listen to for a while then switch to something else, then come back, to then hop elsewhere again. I had trouble relating to the characters. Quinn didn't have the appeal and intensity of a Jack Reacher, nor the smarts and authority of Virgil Flowers. It also lacked any moments of humor that can add so much to the enjoyment of a book.
Quinn, home on leave, has to make several decisions: should he reenlist, only to be sent to some base as a ranger instructor? clean up his home town of Jericho? investigate the apparent suicide of his uncle the sheriff? sell the property he inherited? And what are we to make of the teen walking from Alabama to find the boyfriend who knocked her up?
Quinn is sort of a John Wayne-let's-clean-up-this-town character without the swagger.(less)
Gandt is a former Navy fighter jock, flying A-4s off a carrier and then for many years as a Pan Am pilot (he wrote an account of the rise and fall of...moreGandt is a former Navy fighter jock, flying A-4s off a carrier and then for many years as a Pan Am pilot (he wrote an account of the rise and fall of Pan Am, Skygods.)
His fighter jock novels follow the career of Brick Maxwell (I didn't realize there was a sequence when I started this book so I'm a bit out of order.) In addition to Maxwell we have DeLancey, the hotshot squadron commander (a hotshot in his own mind and vindictive SOB); Claire, former GF of Maxwell, now a reporter looking for insider information; Tyrwhitt, Claire's estranged husband who write a column supportive of Saddam but who's really a CIA plant, and assorted other pilots.
There are constant political machinations among the squadron, petty jealousies, harassment of the female pilots, manipulations in return by the some of the women, and pilots with hangovers, problems at home, and many other distractions. Makes you wonder if drones aren't such a bad idea. I'm not such if it was the author's intent, but goodness, WW III could be just a hangover away. I truly hope what DeLancey does is not representative of what Gandt experienced during his time flying carrier jets.(less)
This may be another one of those books enhanced by an outstanding narrator, or, perhaps I'm just enamored of the Australian accent. Be that as it may,...moreThis may be another one of those books enhanced by an outstanding narrator, or, perhaps I'm just enamored of the Australian accent. Be that as it may, it was a pleasurable listen while doing chores like dishes, etc.
Frank Calder, ex-soldier, and ex-cop, is hired by a rich bad guy to deliver money to kidnappers who have made off with his daughter. When Calder counsels bringing in the cops, the response is the story of a previous kidnapping of another daughter who was threatened with killing by the abductors, but who managed to free herself and escape. This time they don’t want to risk police involvement.
When the first ransom amount is delivered and they are ordered to dump the money off a balcony in a crowded sporting event, Calder realizes this is not about money, it's about inflicting pain on the Carson family. The family lives in a walled in fortress having isolated themselves from the rest of the world in the name of security. The kidnappers escalate the demands and Calder decides to get to the bottom. It's a sleazy journey.
Good story with some surprises. I had trouble identifying with Calder, however. (less)
It's 1721, the great South Sea Bubble has collapsed**, and a mapmaker, heavily in debt, is persuaded by his debtor that he must travel to Holland and...moreIt's 1721, the great South Sea Bubble has collapsed**, and a mapmaker, heavily in debt, is persuaded by his debtor that he must travel to Holland and deliver a package. Turns out it contains a green book listing all those government officials who had been bribed to help investors make money from the bubble.
The Goddard books I have read all have some sort of multi-continent chase in them and this one is a whopper. It takes place in England, Holland, Switzerland, Germany and Italy as several groups pursue the rogues who stole the "green" book, which itself had been purloined. Shades of Louise de la Valliere and deception abounds on all sides with poor Spandrel caught in the middle. The Captain was my favorite character.
My only gripe with the book is that I had no sense of place. Here was a marvelous opportunity to present the results of research into traveling conditions, housing, how people lived, etc., in the early eighteenth century. Instead the focus seems solely on the characters and the chase. This may also be one of those books in which the audiobook narrator enhances the reading. Very well read.
I realize it's not Graham Greene, but I really liked this clever novella about Katla, an assassin, who poses as a representative of LKE Enterprises, a...moreI realize it's not Graham Greene, but I really liked this clever novella about Katla, an assassin, who poses as a representative of LKE Enterprises, a company that for a large fee will rid you permanently of people you don't like or upon whom you wish retribution. Katla pulls a multi-faceted con in this novella, available for free for your Kindle.
Hired to kill a former employee who stole a microchip containing some very special and unique programming that will make weapons more difficult to track, Katla figures out a way to shift blame for the eventual killing while retrieving the microchip in such a way that .... You'll just have to read it to find out. Cunning. I intend to read all of Halm's books..
Marred only by a couple of editing errors, e.g. "there" instead of "their," but generally well edited.(less)
I ran across this author accidentally. I enjoyed his post on a Goodreads group, pulled up his profile and was intrigued by descriptions of his works....moreI ran across this author accidentally. I enjoyed his post on a Goodreads group, pulled up his profile and was intrigued by descriptions of his works. I'm always looking for fun reads involving "bad" guys and assassins fits that category nicely. Block's Keller series sets the standard, of course, and Halm ranks right up there. Katla, or LKE Enterprises as she calls herself, specializes in killing targets in a such way that they look accidental or natural. Coming up with credible scenarios necessarily challenges the authors and this locked-room novella (available for free for your Kindle from Amazon) is certainly as good as anything Carr might have come up with. I like the way Halm integrated some of the newer technologies into the plot. A good story and enjoyable way to spend time while waiting for something.
My only caveat is that, unlike Keller and Dot who go to great lengths to conceal their identity, Katla meets directly with prospective clients. That would seem to make her quite vulnerable if things blow up. Nevertheless, I intend to read all Halm's books. They have the added benefit of being set in Amsterdam, a great city. I did tire of the word anthracite in this story, however. I highly recommend Microchip Murder: A Katla KillFile (in that one the word bascule was perhaps overused. :) )
Halm's short novellas are published as part of a mini series called the Katla Killfiles. Get them.(less)
Really excellent summary of events to date with data and evidence. Makes the STGRB folks look like a bunch of bad writers who couldn't tell parody and...moreReally excellent summary of events to date with data and evidence. Makes the STGRB folks look like a bunch of bad writers who couldn't tell parody and irony from a hole in the ground.
My hat's off to those who wrote and compiled this.(less)
I really like the Virgil ("Fucking Flowers") Flowers series. I've read several of the Lucas Davenport books by Sandford and find the Flowers books to...moreI really like the Virgil ("Fucking Flowers") Flowers series. I've read several of the Lucas Davenport books by Sandford and find the Flowers books to have more humor and interest. They are also perfect for listening to while putting up snow fence. I have about 800 feet of snow fence to put up along my lane. For those who don't know what that involves, it means driving fence posts into the ground with a post driver weighing about 20 lbs, unloading rolls of wooden snow fence and then attaching the fence to the posts. It's always done when the weather is shitty (cold and windy and the field often muddy) and for someone my age probably inviting a heart attack. Takes me usually about 4-5 hours so I find a good book to listen to and take my time (I used to get done in about 3 hours.) The Flowers series, read by Eric Conger is perfect. Occasionally, I'll pause and laugh out loud.
The plots are rather routine. In this one a series of murders is being committed. All the dead had been in Vietnam at the same time, although not in the military. The bodies each have a lemon duct-taped in the mouths; several had been slowly tortured. Fine, the investigation is interesting and makes sense, but it's the character of Flowers (who knows his Aeneid) and his relationship to the other cops that I really like. It's obviously not a spoiler to say Virgil gets his man/woman.
The ending is a lot of fun. Sandford certainly has no love for Homeland Security (why does that name always seem to force my arm into an unnatural stiff arm salute? ) The subtext issues of this book must have John Stuart Mill rotating in his grave.(less)