Well, considering that I was going to wait until after the book club meeting to write my review of last month's selection and I still have to get to iWell, considering that I was going to wait until after the book club meeting to write my review of last month's selection and I still have to get to it, I am going to go ahead and write this review nowwhile everything is fresh in my mind. So, STOP reading NOW if you are in my book club and wait for our discussion in a couple of weeks!!!
If there were half stars on Goodreads rating system, I would probably have rated this one a two and a half. I REALLY wanted to REALLY like this book because I am such a true crime/serial killer freak, but I just didn't. And, I am having trouble putting my finger on the exact source of the problem...maybe it was several problems...maybe the book club discussion will help me ferret out the reasons why. But, here are a couple of thoughts:
(1.) Part I of the book was horribly written. It was dry and lifeless. The names and dates had me confused because there was alot of flip-flopping around in time. I am sure that my unfamiliarity with Italian names and how the Italian criminal justice system works contributed somewhat to my inability to really "get" into this part of the story. My mom, who is following our book club selections, also had the same opinion and told me that she is convinced that Part I was written entirely by Spezi in Italian and then translated and translated badly. When she said that, it made complete and total sense...it did have that stilted, translated feeling.
(2.) I felt that the dust jacket information was misleading in that Part II was more about the books that Preston and Spezi were writing and their legal troubles rather than exposing who the "real" Monster of Florence was. It was obvious to me that Spezi already had an opinion as to the identity and imparted that knowledge to Preston. The book spent not more than 10 pages on this endeavor. I do have to admit that Spezi's theory that Antonio Vinci is the Monster is a good one. My only problem with it is this...why did the killings stop? Psychosexual serial killers rarely stop on their own accord and ritualized ones like the Monster don't change their signature and modus operandi...they are incapable of it. So abrupt endings to serial killings are often tied to the killer being in jail, moving away, or being killed/having died. Vinci is none of these, so?!?!? This was not addressed in the book.
Now, having said all of this, I was fascinated with all of the trouble that Preston and Spezi got into in Italy. Scary stuff! And, it reminded me of two things...never to get in trouble in a foreign country (because weird things happen in THIS country...remember the Duke Lacrosse scandal?...never mind other countries) and never consent to be interrogated by the police without having counsel present, no matter how innocent you are! I was completely shocked at how the prosecutors listened to wackos like the Carlizzi woman who ran a conspiracy theory website and didn't even appear to listen to logic and instead just continued to dig their heels in and insist that they were right no matter what (I found the discussion about dietrologia fascinating). It sounds alot like dealing with toddlers, but even toddlers can eventually be reasoned with to a certain extent or at least distracted enough that you can turn them in the right direction ;-) Although, of course, that kind of prosecutorial/police stubbornness happens here too (e.g., refer again to said Duke lacrosse scandal or the story told in Grisham's An Innocent Man).
My favorite excert from the book: "the [Monster of Florence:] case was the purest distillation of evil I had ever encountered, on many levels. It was, first of all, the evil of the depraved killings of a highly disturbed human being. But the case was about other kinds of evil as well. Some of the top investigators, prosecutors, and judges in the case, charged with the sacred responsibility of finding the truth, appeared to be more interested in using the case to leverage their power to greater personal glory. Having committed themselves to a defective theory, they refused to reconsider their beliefs when faces with overwhelming contradictory evidence. They cared more about saving face than saving lives, more about pushing their careers than putting the Monster behind bars. Around the Monster's incomprehensible evil had accreted layer upon layer of additional falsehood, vanity, ambition, arrogance, incompetencec, and fecklessness. The Monster's acts were like a metastasized cancer cell, tumbling through the blood to lodge in some soft, dark corner, dividing, multiplying, building its own network of blood vessels and capillaries to feed itself, swelling, expanding, and finally killing."
Considering the Public Minister of Perugia in this book is the same that successfully convicted Amanda Knox in the Meredith Kirchner case this winter (personally, I was sure that an acquittal was forthcoming), Knox and her family have alot to worry about and I am saddened that Kirchner's family will never see justice for their daughter's real killer....more
This is another installment in the Alex Cross series...sort of. The idea is that this is a book that Alex Cross writes. There is a Prologue in which hThis is another installment in the Alex Cross series...sort of. The idea is that this is a book that Alex Cross writes. There is a Prologue in which he says that he is writing this book for his children so that they know how the Cross family history in the fight for civil rights. The weird thing is, though, that much of Cross's "book" focuses more on a white civil rights attorney, Benjamin Corbett, who is sent to Mississippi to investigate on behalf of the President whether reports of frequent lynchings of black citizens are true. Now, Corbett's sources when he arrives are members of the Cross family: Abraham and his granddaughter Moody (who is Nana Mama's grandmother...I think). See? That was the weird thing about this book - there was little explanation into how this fit into the Cross family history. The reader is kinda left hanging at the end of the book because the trial is over, Ben goes back to DC, his marriage is saved, and the book ends. We have no idea what happens in Eudora, except that Moody obviously survives and is a real pistol. But that is only because of a vague mention in the Prologue. This book would have made a whole bunch more sense to me if Ben were the Cross family member. The tagline of the book is "The Cross Family had more than one hero," and it is he who seems to be the biggest hero of the book and obviously the main focus of the book. I also think that this book suffers from what I see so many of the books by prolific authors suffering from...publisheritis. Basically, I think that the publishers must sit and nag these guys so much while they are writing to hurry up and finish that they start promising and then write an ok-I-need-to-finish-this-book-fast ending that leaves the reader dissatisfied and wanting more. ...more
Again, this is another installment in the Alex Cross series, and I think that I am finally caught up! And, of all that I have read recently, this is bAgain, this is another installment in the Alex Cross series, and I think that I am finally caught up! And, of all that I have read recently, this is by far my favorite. I believe that James Patterson did a much better job of thinking this one through and explaining it for the rest of us. But, this is definitely one of those books that my father-in-law would make the comment that he was surprised that anyone was left alive. I know that I was!
The publisher uses an interesting tagline for the book: "a beloved Cross Family member has been murdered." I found that this was sorta weird since the family member murdered was Cross's niece with whom he had no relationship. It might have been enlightening to understand how Caroline fell into the life that she did.
At any rate, I thought that the story was good, the plot compelling, and things were in general well done. I am concerned, however, that Patteson is getting his readers ready for the passing on of Nana Mama......more
I liked this episode in the Alex Cross series alot. It was certainly a fast read! I really enjoyed the change in scenery (i.e., from DC to Africa) asI liked this episode in the Alex Cross series alot. It was certainly a fast read! I really enjoyed the change in scenery (i.e., from DC to Africa) as well as in formula (i.e., from unknown psychotic and smart serial killer to political hit man). The only thing that I wasn't so sure of was the ending. I am not so sure that I "got" it. Specifically, I am not so sure I really understood the reason behind the killings and what they accomplished. I think that Patterson could have cleaned that up a bit more in the Epilogue. But, all in all, I did enjoy myself and believed that Patterson did do a very good job in describing all of the horrors that have been happening in Africa. I am not so sure how realistic some of Alex Cross's experience were, but reading this book made me very happy that Jon did not end up having to go to Nigeria for work this Fall after all......more
This audiobook is probably the first one that I have listened to where the reader is the author. What a treat that was! It is clear that Harlan CobenThis audiobook is probably the first one that I have listened to where the reader is the author. What a treat that was! It is clear that Harlan Coben loves his characters, and I found myself wondering if he was as irreverant and funny as Myron Bolitar and his cohorts are. I laughed outloud at several points. The only thing that bugged me was that I think that he made sound Winn sound more like an effeminate stoner than a high-browed blue blood (obviously, the latter is what I think he was going for). This was an enjoyable listen...the funny thing is that I tried to read another Myron Bolitar mystery and couldn't get into it. Maybe I should try again now that I am more familiar with Coben's writing style and characters....more
I did not like this third book in the Izzy McNeil trilogy as much as the first one. This took me FOREVER to finish (I've been working on it since theI did not like this third book in the Izzy McNeil trilogy as much as the first one. This took me FOREVER to finish (I've been working on it since the day after Christmas), but, in all fairness to me, I am visiting family and have had a sick husband and twins in the intervening time and been unable to stay up much past 8 p.m.! I am not so sure that that has much to do with the story or writing being any less good, but rather my inability to read more than a couple of pages at a time.
One thing that I will say about Caldwell is that she does a VERY good job bring readers who might not have read books earlier in the trilogy up to speed such that the books do not have to be read in order. I found Izzy to be much less whiny in this book than in Book 1. I did still believe that there was still alot of repetitious putzing around that was not related to the story. I thought that this story was a much more unbelievable than Book 1, and I detested the ending. Like with Book 1, I felt left hanging without clear or logical resolution (i.e., what happens to Spence/Victoria or Maggie/Bernard?). Though, maybe McNeil wrote the ending this way to leave the door open to continue the series.
For some odd reason, the Durham County Library does not have a copy of the second book in the trilogy, and I definitely did not like this series enough to search for a copy to purchase. This may be it for me and Izzy! Good fluff and a brainless read, but I am not going to go out of my way to recommend this book to anyone......more
I have to admit that Sara Paretsky had fallen a bit out of my favor for a while. I almost gave up on Blacklist. But, I have to admit that she and V.I.I have to admit that Sara Paretsky had fallen a bit out of my favor for a while. I almost gave up on Blacklist. But, I have to admit that she and V.I. are BACK with this one. I thought that the story was a good one and Paretsky did a good job with the characters (especially Petra as well as some voices from the past like Tony and Gabriella). I have always liked it how Paretsky lets you "discover" the mystery at the same time as V.I. does. No weird last-minute twist and turns that you wouldn't be able to figure out in a zillion years here! The sad thing is that although this mystery took place in the past, there are still echoes of similar things happening now (remember Abner Louima?). I am curious if the bass player will be a new love interest in the next book now that Morrell is out of the picture. We'll see ;-)... ...more
Interestingly enough, many of the reviews that I have read on Goodreads indicated that this second installment of the Millennium trilogy was not as goInterestingly enough, many of the reviews that I have read on Goodreads indicated that this second installment of the Millennium trilogy was not as good as a read as the first one. I cannot disagree more. First of all, the story grabs you from almost the beginning and doesn't let go. There is a great deal more action in this one and less character study and introspection. Maybe because you have met this characters before...yes, Lisbeth and Blomkvist are back!
We rejoin the lives about two years after the Wennerstrom affair. Lisbeth has taken her money and is traveling abroad after having plastic surgery (to say what she had done would be a spoiler, but you can probably guess if you think hard about what Larsson's favorite topic seems to be!). And, it is probably in this first part of the book that I think that Larsson's editors did sort of a weird thing that you would never in a zillion years see in the "typical" mystery novel...they left in an isolated story in which Lisbeth saves an heiress from being murdered by her husband during a hurricane. I kept half-expecting this husband to come back and become a major part plotline, but he never does. I simply believe that this story is in there to continue to give the reader insight into the person that Lisbeth is, one who has absolute morals when it comes to what is right and wrong especially with respect to violence toward women and one who will do whatever it takes even if it is at great personal risk to herself to champion the underdog.
The main plotline, however, has to do with Millennium. With the publication of Blomkvist's book and the issue focused on Wennerstrom, Millennium is the hot new journal in which to publish. They are approached by an freelance journalist who is working on an article and book about human trafficking in Sweden in which he plans to expose several policement, journalists, judges, etc. Blomkvist agrees to take on the work, but, having learned his lesson, insists that every fact is rechecked, verified, and documented. It is during this process that the journalist and his fiancee are brutally murdered execution style as is Advokat Bjurman (yes, of the "I am a sadist pig, a pervert, and a rapist" fame). The main suspect...Lisbeth.
The rest of the story is way too complicated to go into in a review and would spoil too much of the story for those who want to read it, but suffice it to say that the murders are solved, you finally find out about Lisbeth's childhood and "All that Evil" was about, and Blomkvist returns the favor by believing in Lisbeth and trying to save her life. The ending is a bit abrupt in that Larsson just ends the book with this last scene, but, in a way, it is an excellent cliffhanger that makes you want to read the next book even more.
Yes, there is sex again in this book, but not as much as in the first book or else maybe I didn't find it to be as distracting/annoying this time around.
My favorite exerpts from the book that I couldn't help but let out a snicker: "There were not so many physical threats that could not be countered with a decent hammer, Salander thought." "Men could be as big as a house and made of granite, but they all had balls in the same place."
I am not so sure how I am going to wait until May of this year for the final installment to be released! I wish that you could put pre-holds on books at the library. And, then, I am already having sadness that the trilogy is over. Someone on Goodreads told me that Larsson had intended this to be a 10-book series and that there is half of a manuscript for the fourth book and detailed outlines for the fifth and sixth. Although I would hate to loose these fun, interesting, and different characters, plots, and writing style, but things might be ruined in Larsson's estate/publishers do something with his work posthumously. ...more
When my friend Cathy was shocked that I loved mysteries and hadn't read this book yet, I added it to my request list at the library. I was number 93 oWhen my friend Cathy was shocked that I loved mysteries and hadn't read this book yet, I added it to my request list at the library. I was number 93 on the list and didn't expect to see if for a couple of months. After that, I kept hearing about this one...my mom listened to the audiobook, a neighborhood friend left work early to pick up his hold so that he could start reading, there was a blurb about it in The Week, etc. There was clearly alot of buzz about it. I was surprised when I received a call from the library pretty soon after placing the hold that my copy was ready...people must have devoured it!
But, upon starting to read it, I couldn't quite see what all of the hype was about. It took well over 150 pages for much more than a retelling of a substantial amount of background information to occur. Now, having finished, I am glad that I stuck with it and am anxious to start the second book in the trilogy (see, Cathy, your credibility held up wonderfully!!!).
This is a most unusual detective/mystery story. Not necessary in terms of the mystery itself, which is rather formulaic (missing girl, presumed dead, cold case, obsessed uncle wants closure before he dies, rest of family is not happy about it and are all suspects, etc.), but in how it is told. Larsson seems to tease the story along carefully, focusing on beautiful descriptions of Sweden, and in depth analysis of his characters' as well as their thoughts and logic. This is definitely NOT your typical end-of-your-seat-thriller-ride like James Patterson writes! You have to have the patience of the investigator himself/herself to read this one, and it *almost* seems like you are reading a journal account of happenings, which is somewhat reinforced by the fact that Larsson entitles his chapters with date ranges. I love it when authors have you discover the mystery at the same time as his/her protagonists. And, I thought it was especially clever in the first climax how he flip-flopped between Mikael Blomkvist and Lisbeth Salander both coming to the same conclusion as to mystery.
Yup, you read that right...first climax. There are two entertwined stories in this one. One is the mystery that Blomkvist finds himself investigating "in exile" after being convicted of libel. The second is clearing his name and proving to the world that the businessman (Hans-Erik Wennerstrom) whom he tried to expose in the investigative piece that got him into trouble in the first place was really a crook. Some reviews I read believed that resolving this second story was extraneous, but I thought that it provided closure to the book by coming back round to the story as well as touching upon the theme of revenge...possibly by whatever means possible (even illegal ones).
Probably the *only* thing that I can find fault with the book is the amount of sex as well as the casualness in which Blomkvist (a divorced father of a teenaged girl) enters into relationships. Sex for him seems to be more about an act and less about an emotional connection. Maybe Larsson does this to further emphasize that Blomkvist is a somewhat flawed personality. Maybe it is because male authors tend to focus more on sex in their books than women authors (whom it seems I typically read) do...also see an article about the subject this January in the New York Times Book Review. Maybe it is because, as my mom said, Europeans are much less hung up on such things as we "Puritanical" Americans are. I don't know. But, I did find it sort of distracting and not really salient to the story except for possibly in the case of the relationship between Blomkvist and Salander.