Aptly named, Endings & Beginnings closes out the well-reviewed and entertaining five book series from Raymond Benson. Each book corresponds to a dAptly named, Endings & Beginnings closes out the well-reviewed and entertaining five book series from Raymond Benson. Each book corresponds to a diary kept by Judy Cooper, the secretive Black Stiletto, which describe her origins and five years of adventures as a masked vigilante during the late 1950s, early 1960s. Each book raises additional questions about Judy Cooper and her life, which Benson satisfyingly addresses in the final installment.
This fifth book in the series continues Judy's experiences in Los Angeles. She is more mature than her days in New York, now working as a night club hostess and occasionally, as the Black Stiletto, for a investigator associated with the District Attorney's office. Her impulsiveness remains, as well as her sense of justice and attraction to bad boys.
Paired with Judy's timeline, is the story of her adult son set in the present day who oversees the care of his mother now suffering from Alzheimer's. The first book helps us appreciate the difficulties Alzheimer's places on families. Only in the fifth book do we finally learn the story of Martin's birth and Judy's reasons for putting her Black Stiletto outfit away for good.
Benson, an accomplished mystery writer noted for his James Bond novels, expertly conveys Judy's youthful, naive yet angry view point in the1950s as well as Martin's voice today as an anxiety filled parent. Martin explores his mother's diary, and learns her secrets, along with the reader.
"Beginnings" refers to Martin's birth, yet the book also continues the story of Martin's impulsive daughter Gina--who bears uncanny similarities to her grandmother. The identity of the Black Stiletto may yet remain a secret through several more novels.
Recommended as a fun, enjoyable read that neatly answers all questions raised in the earlier installments. ...more
A coming age novel, a murder mystery, an exploration of spirituality. Well written, involving and thought provoking. A superior read because the storyA coming age novel, a murder mystery, an exploration of spirituality. Well written, involving and thought provoking. A superior read because the story offers more than entertainment as it explores how hope and faith can help us transcend the worst of life's tragedies....more
Fast paced, yet fantastical fiction that ties Charles Darwin to the Nazis, and the Nazis to the Loch Ness Monster. Did a radical group with designs toFast paced, yet fantastical fiction that ties Charles Darwin to the Nazis, and the Nazis to the Loch Ness Monster. Did a radical group with designs to eliminate Israel really succeed in catching, and killing, the mythical creature? Dialogue needed to be tighter for this novel to be more than a summer paperback....more
The legend and lore of the Rolling Stones make for a good story. Yet the life of Brian Jones offers a deeper and compelling mystery forensically exploThe legend and lore of the Rolling Stones make for a good story. Yet the life of Brian Jones offers a deeper and compelling mystery forensically explored in Paul Trynka's latest biography.
Told chronologically, Brian Jones' The Making of the Rolling Stones unveils a truth quite a bit stranger than fiction. Before Brian left his privileged upbringing behind to eke out a living in London, he uncovered the musical secrets of jazz phrasing and syncopation, the electric blues and the slide guitar. He also left behind numerous female admirers and several unwed mothers. In London, Brian's rigid work ethic fueled his drive and reputation as the most capable guitarist in an emerging blues and rock scene that included several future Hall of Fame musicians.
It was Brian Jones who advertised for musicians interested in the music of Bo Diddly, Chuck Berry, Muddy Waters and Elmore James. Mick Jagger and Keith Richards had worked with Brian Jones before. As the experienced musician, Brian helped Mick learn to keep time and taught Keith what became his signature open G tuning.
The band soon introduced European audiences to American R&B music. The Stones presented the sound, not as something exotic or foreign, but the voice of a generation breaking away from the restrictions and repression of their childhood.
Paul Trynka pulls apart Brian's twenty seven years of life, a life that was the very definition of sex, drugs and rock and roll. He explains the achievements, the unraveling, the music, the rivalry, self-destruction and the deceit.
Trynka, a veteran reporter of music culture and author of several Rock icon biographies, delivers his best investigative effort to date. The deepest, darkest secret of Brian's life was not how it began, but how it ended. The question of who murdered Brian Jones is fully addressed and answered.
Prior accounts of the Rolling Stones have contributed to the Band's lore. Using new interviews and revelations, Trynka pulls at the threads of their legend to unravel the mystery and reveal the underlying truth. With this new biography, Trynka successfully and convincingly becomes the authority on the life of the most enigmatic personality from Rock's early days, the founding member of the enduring Rolling Stones.
I received my copy from the publisher as a Goodreads contest drawing....more
The second book of a trilogy, Preston & Child provide us a fast-paced plot in which Special Agent Aloysius Pendergast returns following his supposThe second book of a trilogy, Preston & Child provide us a fast-paced plot in which Special Agent Aloysius Pendergast returns following his supposed death at the end of "Brimstone." Still in hiding, Pendergast must enlist the help of his friends while still protecting them again a plot to kill everyone close to the Agent. Aloysius, a member of very wealthy New Orleans family, uses his Southern charm, ineffable politeness and unerring intellect, to help him anticipate and out maneuver danger at every turn.
Yet Aloysius meets his match, and perhaps master, with his criminally insane brother Diogenes, who is plotting revenge against Aloysius by killing everyone near and dear to the Special Agent--all the while boldly boasting to commit the perfect crime on a specific date just days away. Everything seems to be falling apart for Aloysius, or is it? Well, I guess we will find out in the next book in the series, "The Book of Death." ...more
The Black Stiletto must be one of the most unique characters introduced within the last few years, presented in such a unique manner. The book and theThe Black Stiletto must be one of the most unique characters introduced within the last few years, presented in such a unique manner. The book and the series deserves the high rating for the entertainment value alone.
In Secrets & Lies, the fourth installment of a planned five-book series, we find Judy Cooper making the transition from New York to Los Angeles, and blooming into a truly independent woman. I commend author Raymond Benson for his ability to give voice to Judy through her diaries as a young woman in the early 1960s as she matures and deals with the changing moralities of her generation. Once again involved with a shady love interest, Judy struggles to maintain her balance between some newly-found respectability and the excitement and attention she craves; between her public life and her dangerous, secret identity.
Part of why Benson succeeds with this series is his unique device of managing multiple, interrelated story-lines. Judy's past as told through her diary; her son, Martin, discovering his Mother's secrets while dealing with her Alzheimer's Disease and the consequences of her past life, as well as his own personal issues and demons. Then there is Martin's daughter who may well have some of the same abilities and inclinations as her grandmother.
Many of the questions raised in the earlier installments of this series begin to be addressed in Secrets & Lies. My only disappointment with this book is that, having completed the book, I now have to wait for the full story to be told in the fifth and final (?) installment due later this year....more
Sometimes we forget how much effort, work and sacrifice goes into the creation of the books we enjoy, be they fiction, the great American novel, or aSometimes we forget how much effort, work and sacrifice goes into the creation of the books we enjoy, be they fiction, the great American novel, or a self-help guide. Brain The Man Who Wrote the Book That Changed the World uses satire, some times tongue in cheek, sometimes just shy of absurd, to remind us what it really takes to give readers what we crave.
Dermot Davis offers us a well crafted, humorous story of a young idealist, Daniel Waterstone. Fresh from college, Daniel sets his sights on literary greatest until eviction, hunger and the abandonment of his car leads him to an act of desperation: writing a self-help book. Created in a stupor, Daniel believes he has written the greatest work of satire of the modern era, only to find himself not just a best-seller but the center of a corporation created to exploit his devoted followers.
Naive Daniel struggles with guilt over his new found fame and wealth, never once seeing the world through any perspective other than his own idealism. It takes a caring follower, Clare, threats against his life, and the appearance on a T.V. talk show to realize how self-centered he has been. And in doing so, Daniel finds that he can make a living, be true to his art, manage commercialism, have love, and raise a family.
My rating is based upon the readability and entertainment value of this book. I don't think that Dermot Davis will get rich or receive great fame from having written Brain. But he deserves our appreciation for what he does. And he deserved winning the 2013 USA Best Book Award (Humor).
I received my copy of this book as a random drawing winner through Goodreads. ...more
Loved the stylized prose used by Peter Heller to give us the thoughts, feelings and emotions of one man surviving in a post-apocalyptic world. Sparse,Loved the stylized prose used by Peter Heller to give us the thoughts, feelings and emotions of one man surviving in a post-apocalyptic world. Sparse, yet rich and quotable insights into the human spirit that apply to life today. The story may superficially revolve around survival, a theme admittedly that might turn some readers away. Yet the underlying struggle of the protagonist throughout the novel concerns how to make meaningful connections to the people around us--making Heller's story one that most anyone can relate.
Good writing leaves me feeling satisfied; The Dog Stars is the most satisfying book I've read in several years....more
So the "Progressives" assassinate the President, Vice President, the Secretary of Defense, take over New York City with electromagnetic "ray guns" andSo the "Progressives" assassinate the President, Vice President, the Secretary of Defense, take over New York City with electromagnetic "ray guns" and walking mech gun ships, killing anything in a uniform including apartmenthouse doormen. Why? Because the left lost the presidental election in 2000. Pleeze!
Right wing fantasy for those who think that people who don't have are getting too much....more
Whatever happened to Danny Torrance and his mother after surviving the events described in Stephen King's The Shining? What kind of man does Danny groWhatever happened to Danny Torrance and his mother after surviving the events described in Stephen King's The Shining? What kind of man does Danny grow up to become? There is a bit of good and evil in us all, and taming the demons is what this book is all about.
I'm a fan of King's because he is a master of character development and narrative, less so because of the the supernatural twists of his best known work. But a great story is a great story, and King knows how to tell them. Adding to this enjoyable read may be the insights King offers about himself and his own history of addiction....more