Sayers' first Lord Peter Wimsey novel is a weak mystery at best. Lord Peter comes across as a tiresome bore for at least half of the book. He's an idlSayers' first Lord Peter Wimsey novel is a weak mystery at best. Lord Peter comes across as a tiresome bore for at least half of the book. He's an idle-rich popinjay, marked by superficial intellectual/aesthetic pursuits and annoying speech mannerisms. Halfway in, however, his character abruptly deepens. Readers learn that he continues to be plagued by shell shock (PTSD) from his wartime experiences. His stereotypical pose of aristocratic lightweight hides a very human fragility inside. Also Lord Peter comes to an important realization about his puzzle-solving pastime: his sleuthing will have irreversible consequences in the lives of others, and he must come to terms with that. Unfortunately the mystery itself wasn't gripping and the elaboration of the solution (drawn out at a snail's pace!) was unconvincing. Frankly, Poe's "Murders in the Rue Morgue" was more believable.
I do look forward to reading later books in the series. Whose Body? was a tyro effort, and I have every hope that the later books will be better. (Agatha Christie's first Miss Marple mystery was likewise subpar.) ...more
Not a particularly good book or mystery. The biggest surprise is how much better Agatha Christie became with her later books. Miss Marple is already dNot a particularly good book or mystery. The biggest surprise is how much better Agatha Christie became with her later books. Miss Marple is already delightful here, but not much else in the book is memorable. The characters are paper-thin and drawn with disdain. The use of first person narration (by the vicar) is most unfortunate. It forces the author to jump through ludicrous hoops to put her point of view character on the spot to record the events (and police interrogations) of the story. In short, if this were the only Miss Marple mystery, you'd never see her portrayed (and often masterfully) in movies or on TV. ...more
Arthur C. Clarke’s 2001: A Space Odyssey shows the dazzling strengths of its author and some of his weaknesses as well. The book begins with a brilliaArthur C. Clarke’s 2001: A Space Odyssey shows the dazzling strengths of its author and some of his weaknesses as well. The book begins with a brilliant sequence where human evolution gets tweaked by an alien artifact that fosters imagination and violence in our early primate ancestors. The story then leaps to the space age, when another such artifact is found on the moon. This sets in motion a voyage of discovery to find the origin of the artifacts, and possibly the makers themselves.
Clarke excels at portraying exciting advances in technology and space travel; at times he seems amazingly prescient. He seems equally adroit in his more far-flung descriptions of the galaxy (interstellar travel by wormhole, a flyby of a binary star system). The book is just as mind-blowing as the movie, but Clarke ensures that it always makes sense.
There are weaknesses, however. Clarke is actually more engaged with the science and technology than with the characters. The premise of the book is undeniably brilliant, but there is not much action in the plot. More character interaction occurs during the prologue between the proto-humanids than takes place through the bulk of the novel among the modern day humans. (Hmmm, I did say Clarke was amazingly prescient.) The book often comes across as a cosmic travelogue, but it is so fascinating that you can’t help but go along for the ride....more