This is a very dark comedy. A comedy of terrors. It started in a strange place and ended in an even stranger one. I will say that I did not guess how...moreThis is a very dark comedy. A comedy of terrors. It started in a strange place and ended in an even stranger one. I will say that I did not guess how this story would go. At all.
Gordon Pearce, the protagonist, had a compelling back story but I really couldn't get a sense of him in the present. It's a problem when your character's back story is more interesting that what he's doing in the actual book.
This was the debut effort by Stelljes, and I could tell. I don't know who edited this book before publication, but there were several grammar and spel...moreThis was the debut effort by Stelljes, and I could tell. I don't know who edited this book before publication, but there were several grammar and spelling errors I noticed on casual reading. And those errors are like roaches--if my unobservant self noticed a few, you just know that there were a million hiding in the walls of that book.
My main issue with the book is the fact that Stelljes violates the rule of "Show don't tell" with constant omniscient descriptions of what characters were thinking. Actually, Stellje did a lot of both, too much showing and too much telling. More show and tell in the few hours spent reading this book than a whole year of primary school. I also hated the introductory background given for each character as they appeared in the book, it really slogged the pace and felt like expository writing. I laughed out loud when I got to this line on page 157 "The reading was tedious." Yep. I hate chapter titles that are excerpted sentences from the chapter. Don't do that.
The plot itself was fairly cliche, and about as predictable as an atomic clock. I don't understand why the novel was constructed so that we knew right away that a Senator was innocent and a black ops group was behind it (okay, a killer with the code name Viper? Really? Is this G.I. Joe or like a book for adults?). It would have been better to leave that open, to have the reader believe what the police believed at first and allow, you know, some mystery into a detective novel. Also, I find it really hard to believe that homicide detectives wouldn't question the fact that a victim of a serial killer didn't fit the profile of other victims. And no one really seemed upset or even curious when a suspect was clearly assassinated while in police custody. Assassinated with a sniper rifle...
I enjoyed the the familiar setting of St. Paul and the restaurants, cafes, and bars with altered names. It was fun figuring out what is what. Mardi Gras on Grand must be Dixie's...and so on.
Anyway, I did finish the book, which says something. I'll give this guy another chance with the hope that his chops improve with practice. I have read serial novels by really good authors that were one off clunkers, so maybe...
This is my first exposure to the Lucas Davenport (set around the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul) series, and I think I picked a good one to s...moreThis is my first exposure to the Lucas Davenport (set around the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul) series, and I think I picked a good one to start with (although very much out of sequence).
The writing is taut with some well written dialogue. The book begins in the present with the discovery of the bodies of two girls who disappeared in the mid 80s. Lucas worked that case back then as he was transitioning from a patrolman to a plain clothes detective. I enjoyed how Sandford basically stuck a little novel of Lucas working that case as a young man into the larger one. It was also fun to read about 1980s detective work (lot's of figuring out where the nearest pay phone is to call someone). Also, that part of the novel takes place just a few short years before I moved to the Twin Cities, so there were some definite flashback moments. A young David Pirner from Soul Asylum makes a cameo appearance for gosh sakes...And I currently live near where a lot of the searching was going on, so it was interesting to read descriptions of familiar locales. But, even if it were set in the twin cities of Dallas/Ft. Worth, it would be a good read. In real life I don't like cops who bend the rules to get things done, but in fantasy, it's cool...and less boring.
Book 2 in the Flavia de Luce series (which is like the Nancy Drew books if Nancy Drew grew up in post WWII Britain and encountered real murderers and...moreBook 2 in the Flavia de Luce series (which is like the Nancy Drew books if Nancy Drew grew up in post WWII Britain and encountered real murderers and their victims,and if Nancy Drew was into the study of poisons and lived in a kooky old manor house and...wait, it's nothing like Nancy Drew).
Like in the first book, Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie, we have a mystery that seems almost incidental to the flow of the story. Mostly, we have an engaging, entertaining story about the life of a precocious, motherless 11 year old girl navigating her way around a strange family (of impoverished gentility)in a small village in England. And then around page 155 we have our dead guy...
Hard boiled noir? No. But the books are fun and funny and you'll grow to love Flavia.(less)
Admittedly, I'm kind of getting to this book late--I mean, Robert Langdon is handed a POLAROID snapshot of a murder victim in the first chapter, for g...moreAdmittedly, I'm kind of getting to this book late--I mean, Robert Langdon is handed a POLAROID snapshot of a murder victim in the first chapter, for gosh sakes.
But this Harvard "symbologist" (I don't know what that is but from the novel I guess it means somebody that walks around telling you the actual history of some symbols. Real eye-opening stuff that you might have learned in an undergrad women studies class your sophomore year) is one of the worst "thriller" protagonists ever. Boring everybody with long know-it-all lectures about arcane crap just before getting his ass whupped? Heck, not only can I do that, but I have done that (and I was less boring, probably).
The real problem with this book (outside of Langdon saying crap like "No one has ever studied the symbols of the Grail story"--say what?) is that there's really nothing to the plot . Just a lot of running around, symbol meaning spouting, and a "surprise" ending that's about as hard to see coming as a fire truck on a sunny day.
Standard Reacher novel--he smashes bones but does some "investigative" stuff too. I think this book is notable because in the preceding book, One Shot...moreStandard Reacher novel--he smashes bones but does some "investigative" stuff too. I think this book is notable because in the preceding book, One Shot, Reacher is still using a wristwatch. This is the novel where Reacher goes watchless with his single superpower (outside of meting out justice with a fist or a bullet). Exciting, no?
Okay, Reacher books ain't literature, but they ain't bad. It's just so fresh to read a book about a powerful loner adhering to his sense of honor and justice in the face of powerful evil... (less)
I like much of Dan Simmons work, but this particular novel is a clunker. The story takes place in the dystopian near future. America has become financ...moreI like much of Dan Simmons work, but this particular novel is a clunker. The story takes place in the dystopian near future. America has become financially bankrupt and administered by the Japanese government. All because of Obama.
Them damn Muslims have taken over much of the world and administer a kind of new caliphate in what used to be Europe. Also, 9-11 is celebrated as a national holiday in America and kids have become indoctrinated with mandatory Islamic education in schools. All because of Obama.
People from Mexico are marching up into what used to be the U.S. (and what used to be Mexico before that) and killing all the white people and taking back land. All because of Obama.
We know that it is all Obama's fault because there is an elderly academic in this novel whose main purpose is to tell us how Obama did it all. His diary entries and novel drafts are the clunkiest, most overbearing part of the book.
Whatever your politics (and I have a good sense of Simmons' after this screed disguised as a sci-fi mystery) the constant drumbeat (drums made out of dead horses) of ultra conservative talking points really distracted from the story. It's like being a regular reader of say Stephen King or Jim Butcher and you can tell precisely when in their careers they got a contract with Coca Cola because all of a sudden there's Coke product placement everywhere. I think Simmons got a contract with FreedomWorks or something. But if you hate Nips, uppity brown people, N-words, and ragheads this book is for you.(less)
This novel, set in turn of the century NY state (although most of the action occurs in the city), has a compelling protagonist and an interesting myst...moreThis novel, set in turn of the century NY state (although most of the action occurs in the city), has a compelling protagonist and an interesting mystery. Unfortunately, the bad guy was kind of obvious from the start. Still, considering that this was a debut mystery from Pintoff, the author has a promising career ahead...(less)
An collection of four novellas by today's hottest writers of the trendy new genre blend of hardboiled noir with urban fantasy. I call it 'para-noir.'...moreAn collection of four novellas by today's hottest writers of the trendy new genre blend of hardboiled noir with urban fantasy. I call it 'para-noir.' Jim Butcher has been making a bundle off his Harry Dresden character--Chicago's only wizard listed in the Yellow Pages--but he really seems to be phoning it in on this novella. The story was little threadbare and hamfisted. Simon R. Green's contribution was also a little lacking. His story read a little like a minor anecdote found in the context of a larger story in one of his full-length novels. Kat Richardson had the best novella of the four. Harper of her Greywalker series has an interesting story set in Southern Mexico. Thomas Sniegoski's novella involving the angel and private detective, Remy Chandler was also good. I had not read any of Sniegoski's books, but I think I will now.(less)
A crime thriller that is not too thrilling, really. The book begins with the prison shower room killing of an inmate by the antagonist, Lamar Pye. Lam...moreA crime thriller that is not too thrilling, really. The book begins with the prison shower room killing of an inmate by the antagonist, Lamar Pye. Lamar has to escape from prison because of the murder. According to Stephen Hunter, it's pretty easy to get out of a maximum security prison. Lamar, his retarded cousin, Odell (who Hunter has talking all 'retarded' throughout the novel--very irritating) and their wimpy cellmate Richard (Odell calls him "Wi--Chud") hop the joint. The prison scenes and the interaction between the three villains really seemed unrealistic. It was more like what a wealthy writer guy might think prisoners acted like. I'm no expert, surely, but the scenes ran hollow.
Yadda, yadda, yadda, Lamar and Odell almost kill State Trooper Bud Pewtie (they do kill his partner, Bill) which sets up the 'drama' and 'tension' of the rest of the novel. Bud's a hero, but not in his own life as a supposedly caring husband and father of two sons, because he has been having an affair with Bill's wife for months. This whole affair scenario dragged on way too long--it smelled of some kind of literary device Hunter was using to add some human failings to his protagonist. Obvioulsy this "crisis of honor" is having an effect on Bud--there's a scene where Bud, who is all stitched up from his near death encounter with Lamar, does not bleed when having sex with the recently widowed Holly, his mistress, but starts bleeding when he cheers for his son at a ballgame immediately after. Okay, I get it. Vulnerable with the family. Pain. Bleeding. Okay. Gee, Mr. Hunter, is it hard to type with those Virginia Baked fists? You won't believe how Bud catches up with Lamar. No really, you won't be able to suspend your disbelief. This is a really bad book that is a paradoxical mix of trite and cliched with "no way" unbelievability. Oh and one more thing, everyone keeps talking about how this book shows that the good guys aren't always totally good and the bad guys aren't all bad and I'm thinking, "How is this homicidal maniac not all bad?" Is it because he cared for his retarded sociopathic (and also homicidal)cousin so much? Or is it because Lamar loved Ruta Beth (another insane homicidal character) so much? No, much like the novel as a whole, Lamar Pye was all bad.(less)
Definitely the best of the Greywalker series so far. Richardson has fleshed out her main character (who gained her 'grewalking' abilities after being...moreDefinitely the best of the Greywalker series so far. Richardson has fleshed out her main character (who gained her 'grewalking' abilities after being beaten to death--and then revived--on a routine private detective job)and made her even more compelling. All three books are set in Seattle and much of the action of this book takes place in the undercity. Something is eating the homeless of Seattle and making zombies...(less)
The only book I have read in the "Repairman Jack" series, and, I think, the last. Repairman Jack is a below-the-radar fixit guy that "repairs" problems...moreThe only book I have read in the "Repairman Jack" series, and, I think, the last. Repairman Jack is a below-the-radar fixit guy that "repairs" problems for people. Although he's supposed to be cool and dangerous, he comes across as kind of an idiot man-child to me. He has all these ridiculous methods for keeping his identity secret yet he invites a strange woman up to his apartment early on in the book. He goes to the same bar every single time to interview clients and shops at the same store near his house. (Not exactly below the radar in my book.)Jack watches old movies late into the night in an apartment filled with odd pieces of furniture, old toys and antique kitsch. In the morning he wakes up and eats several bowls of some kind of cold cereal kids eat. Except for the cold blooded killer part he sounds like Tom Hanks' character in "Big." This book is chock full of all the conventional characters--you know, the quirky weapons dealer that can get the hero his flame thrower in the middle of the night, the friendly bar owner that allows Jack to use a private booth for business, the love interest that is repulsed by what Jack does for a living--but just can't keep herself from falling for him... So the only remotely unconventional thing about this book is that it is an odd pairing of mediocre examples of two different genres, the detective/thriller and horror. (Jack has to fight some nearly immortal Indian demons and a one armed disciple of Kali...) Not a good book and I wish I had those hours back...(less)
Described as "slacker noir" on the jacket. The protagonist Jill is a slacker chick working in a used bookstore when she falls into a crazy Maltese Fal...moreDescribed as "slacker noir" on the jacket. The protagonist Jill is a slacker chick working in a used bookstore when she falls into a crazy Maltese Falcon-esque escapade. I enjoyed the book, but got a little tired of hard bitten slacker Jill cracking wise all the time.(less)
Set in the late 1500s in the Northern Borderlands between England and Scotland, this novel (one of a series, I gather) has a lead character by the nam...moreSet in the late 1500s in the Northern Borderlands between England and Scotland, this novel (one of a series, I gather) has a lead character by the name of Sir Robin Carey. Carey is a Deputy Warden in this region who stumbles upon a mystery of faulty firearms and a missing cache of guns from the armory. As historical novels go it is fairly rollicking (set, as it is, in a time and place when life was very cheap) and the detective story is engaging enough for an afternoon read (it is not a difficult book--started the novel over my lunch break and finished it after work. Although, I did learn what a kirtle was.)(less)