I like a book with short chapters. You can fit a chapter into a busy life here and there. Or maybe into an impatient life while the water boils. In soI like a book with short chapters. You can fit a chapter into a busy life here and there. Or maybe into an impatient life while the water boils. In some minds, Smilla is comparable to Salander. That would be a good thing as far as I am concerned. But there doesn’t seem to be a Smilla trilogy. But the author is still living at the moment. RIP, Stieg.
There cannot be too many books that have parts that take place in Greenland. That in itself made it worth looking into. I flew over Greenland once en route to Iceland. I was pleased to get down onto the Greenland ground at last.
I went for a lot of years hardly reading any fiction. I was into nonfiction with social awareness. Recently I have made a point to read some fiction and, like an addict trying something new, I have all of a sudden a pretty significant to-read list of fiction. Smilla reminds me of one of the reasons I avoided fiction: so much of it seems so implausible. I mean, from mortal combat to “How about a quick fuck?” in the same hour. I know about suspending disbelief but I am just trying to learn how to do that with a clear conscience. And, somebody tell me, can a thriller convert to science fiction right at the end?
Good thing I am reading Thirteen Ways of Looking at the Novel so I can read about how fiction is put together and why it works. I need some help. When my oldest son was a teenager, he once asked me after we watched Top Gun together “Why do you think that every movie has to have a moral?” He was frustrated that I wasn’t able to simply enjoy the movie without thinking about what the message might be. What is the moral of Smilla? Is it money is the root of all evil?
I think I might try out a few more books by Scandinavian authors. But one problem is keeping the characters straight when I cannot even pronounce the names. It’s hard for me to remember multiple characters anyway, but it becomes even harder without having a name to mentally attach the person to.
I found that I didn’t want to put this book down in some places and it was definitely successful as a thriller. But the end left my head swimming with confusion and disbelief. I give this between two and three stars. Too much complexity and too many loose ends that I could not keep track of.
But Smilla sure is an interesting character in the mold of Salander. ...more
Here is a selection of (only) positive commentUnique? Idiosyncratic? Eccentric? Odd? Mysterious? Unusual? Strange? Peculiar? Bizarre? Quirky? Fun?
Here is a selection of (only) positive comments from GR reviews:
“really just a good story with some decidedly whacked out elements” Candace Burton “takes the old fashioned private eye story and recreates it with elements of fantasy” Deb “a delightfully eccentric concoction that goes down easily” Blake Fraina “every sentence is well-written” Joe Hunt “The humor is silly and light, but the suspense is edgy and intense.” Catie
If you like Monty Python, you will like The Manual of Detection. Some people think it is Kafkaesque. Is Monty Python like Kafka? And is Unwin Alice and the archives Wonderland? We all live in a yellow submarine?
Forty percent of GR readers rated the book a four. Twice as many thought it was a five as a two. Three percent thought it was a one and three times as many thought it was a two. What percentage of readers thought it was a three? Write your answer on a piece of typing paper using lemon juice. See if you can read it using a CFL bulb. Try the same thing using an LED. Which gave the right answer? Show your work.
Now for something completely different: What is steampunk? Forgive me for asking, but I am a geezer and don’t know these things. Please don’t depend on someone else telling me. I am depending on you!
And now for something completely different. On Non sequiturs: It may be that P does not follow O except on the occasions you are going backwards. Do not assume that there is critical thinking going on here. Or that things are as they seem.
And now for something completely different:
A woman nearby shouted up at an apartment building, arguing with no one Unwin could see or hear – there was a disagreement, it seemed, about who was to blame for ruining the pot roast.
If this book was half its length, I would probably give it four stars. I think it is too long. Maybe it would be a good graphic novel with significant cuts. I think running the same kind of humor over and over is a bit much for one book. And then it gets so serious at the end.
Maybe I just should have spread out my reading. As it was I had the impression that remembering details of the story was an important aspect in appreciating the work. Since my ability to retain details is limited, I felt like I needed to read the book over just a few days. But at the end I was still unable to resurrect the details.
For that, I give it three stars with some apologies to the author. It doesn’t seem quite right to give fewer stars for being funny too long… but it just wore on me. Sorry, Jedediah Berry.
N.B. Rated PG. Charles Unwin must be in some way quite a magnetic fellow. At least he attracted several women in a relatively short period of time. Maybe this was actually him dreaming? ...more
Whatever you do, read the Millennium Trilogy in the proper order! It matters. But just in case you are ignoring the warning and scrambling the order,Whatever you do, read the Millennium Trilogy in the proper order! It matters. But just in case you are ignoring the warning and scrambling the order, be prepared. There is a summary of the key events of Played with Fire in the early pages of Hornet’s Nest. It is a major league spoiler for the unwitting reader who is going to be robbed of a lot of suspense.
Besides that, if you read the summary, you will realize what an implausible story this is. It is a pure figment of Larsson’s imagination but certainly fun to read. Much willing suspension of disbelief is required to maximize pleasure. But it is worth it!
One line sly humor:
She left without kissing him, and he had to pay the bill.
She heard the nurse go down the corridor to the left. It took her seventeen steps to reach the room, and the male visitor took fourteen steps to cover the same distance. That gave an average of fifteen and a half steps. She estimated the length of a step at twenty-four inches, which multiplied by fifteen and a half told her that Zalachenko was in a room about thirty feet down the corridor to the left. She estimated the width of her room was about fifteen feet, which should mean that Zalachenko’s room was two doors down from hers.
If you have an aversion to bodily fluids, you might want to skip these next several lines. You will find a sometimes fatiguing detail including enumerating a basic human act (no, I don’t mean sex) not commonly covered in print:
When he got up to the room he went straight to the bathroom. He had reached the age where he had to use the toilet rather often. It had been several years since he had slept through a whole night. … After he left, a nurse came in and helped Salander with a bedpan. Then she was allowed to go back to sleep. … Blomkvist headed for the bathroom. … And then Martensson went to the toilet. … She used the toilet in the master bedroom and then pulled on some black pants and borrowed one of Greger’s slippers for her injured foot.
Satisfying political intrigue. Delightful internet shenanigans. Unlikely characters. Victorious underdogs. Dastardly villains. Electronic wizardry. Plague, Bob the Dog, Trinity, Wasp: hackers all. Some of it reminds me of Spy v. Spy from Mad magazine in the 1960s with an element of humor in many of the shadows. And I have already mentioned the great helpings of implausibility.
The Millennium Trilogy has been a lot of fun to read. I am giving five stars to this final chapter, The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest, just as I gave five stars to the first two books. While I sometimes thought some of the tangents (the home alarm system discourse, for example) were too detailed and on occasion, in the midst of a tangent, I considered down rating this book to four stars, the superbly told story always won me back fairly quickly. In fact, now that I have finished the books, some of the tangents seem even endearing. And why would I want to shorten the book when reading it was so much fun?
And what is this story of Lisbeth Salander about? Mikael Blomkvist answers that toward the end of this third volume:
When it comes down to it, this story is not about spies and secret government agencies; it’s about violence against women, and the men who enable it.
Almost all of my five star books are from my nostalgic years past. Age has given them a certain shine. I have this idea that I will read some of themAlmost all of my five star books are from my nostalgic years past. Age has given them a certain shine. I have this idea that I will read some of them again one day but my to-read shelf is already overcrowded so I am not sure if I will ever get back to 1984 or Animal Farm or The Jungle. So my dilemma is whether to give The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo four or five stars.
I have been circling around this trio of ‘bestselling’ books for a while. I finally put it and its two Girl friends on the top of the pile to make myself read them after I got all three on GR bookswap. I had heard so many raves that my avoidance was to protect myself from being disappointed. I am delighted to have forced myself to pick it up. I have been very pleasantly rewarded with several days of exciting reading. Very pleasantly rewarded.
I made the mistake of seeing the movie before reading the book. Drat, and I did that with the second book as well. My memory is defective but does work pretty well with the help of associations; right after I read something I remember it from the movie. So nothing is really a surprise but at the same time, everything is a surprise right up until the moment I read it. But I don’t get the surprise adrenalin rush. Double darn.
If you read other reviews here on GR, and I think you should, you will learn the basic outline of the plot as well as the fact that the title of the book is not really an accurate translation of the Swedish title. As the likeable Lisbeth Salander says toward the end of the book, “One more man who hates women.” Applying the appellation “likeable” is not entirely tongue in cheek or sarcastic. She was one of the most enjoyable aspects of the book for me. This has been true for other readers as well. She is an advertisement for a person who requires acceptance and patience. “Analysis of consequences” will likely follow Lisbeth into the following books. The diagnoses of Asperger’s Syndrome and anorexic will live in my mind as I read more about her in the next two books.
It may be saying more about myself that even I am comfortable knowing, to say that I became emotionally captured by this book. Lisbeth Salander makes me smile. It is, after all, a love story!
Yesssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssss! FIVE STARS. ...more
My brain has not been quite right since a couple of (non football) head injuries in the past 15 years. You could call it my in-one-ear-and-out-the-othMy brain has not been quite right since a couple of (non football) head injuries in the past 15 years. You could call it my in-one-ear-and-out-the-other disability. People often comment that many, themselves included, have short term memory problems: Where are my car keys? What is her name? My rejoinder is that I get disability for mine! My memory does make it hard to keep multiple characters straight in novels. So imagine my surprise to find reading The Girl Trilogy such a delight. Maybe it is just that Lisbeth Salander has a brain problem too. She is about as complex and unlikely as a character can get. I find myself enthralled by her.
The driving theme in the trilogy is not corruption or murder or any of the other grotesque crimes that fill its thousands of pages. It is the violence that men inflict on women. … Salander is the symbol and embodiment of that violence, victim and survivor, vengeful angel. Source: http://www.politicsdaily.com/2010/07/...
Useful facts from an unexpected source: According to the CIA, Sweden has a population of 9,088,728. This may not include characters in novels. The capital, Stockholm, has a population of 1.3 million.
Salander stopped abruptly and emptied half the contents of a Mace canister in his face. His eyes burned like fire. The toe of her boot shot up with full force and was transformed into kinetic energy in his crotch with a pressure of about 1,700 pounds per square inch. Lundin dropped gasping to his knees and stayed there at a more comfortable height for Salander. She kicked him in the face, deliberately, as if she were taking a penalty in soccer. There was an ugly crunching sound before Lundin toppled over like a sack of potatoes.
Nice touch don’t you think?
Trivia question: How many cups of coffee are served in The Girl Who Played with Fire? Bonus question: How many are caffe latte?
Exotic details: Congenital analgesia is a real condition. You can buy a Jura Impressa X7 espresso machine at Mercantile Online for $6090.15 marked down from $12,101.56. It is 468 kilometers from Stockholm to Goteborg on the E4. You can get a Palm Tungsten T3 on eBay; state of the art in 2003 but less than $20 eight years later.
So much hi tech but some things are notably absent. “When [Kalle Fucking Blomkvist] got to the car there was no map in the glove compartment.” The military GPS was made available to civilians in 1983 but did not make it into the Millennium Series. But it is nice to know that in Swedish novels they regularly use public transit, buses and trains. Everyone had a mobile (phone) and there are computers everywhere.
Is there something good to be said of the Chinese Cultural Revolution of the 1960s? If there is, do not expect Diane Wei Liang to say it. She left ChiIs there something good to be said of the Chinese Cultural Revolution of the 1960s? If there is, do not expect Diane Wei Liang to say it. She left China with wounds from that era as well as the experience of Tiananmen Square, another more recent negative event in Chinese history.
The Eye of Jade is the first in what is so far a two book series about a Beijing woman private investigator. More are anticipated. The first quarter of this book focuses on character development of the protagonist and some of the supporting characters. The balance of the book is as much a story of a Chinese family as it is a mystery. As you might expect in the first book of a series, some people and situations are introduced that you might expect to reappear in future books. Murder, family secrets and a lost love all take their turn. And then there is the Cultural Revolution that still tears apart this family many years later.
I give the book an extra star because one aspect, the lost love that briefly reappears, resonates and speaks to me as one who has a long ago lost love. It’s that part of me that thinks some chick lit is quite OK. Whether this book is chick lit or a mystery, I will leave for others to debate. ...more
Readers should investigate the website of Diane Wei Liang at http://dianeweiliang.com/. It provides some interesting background about the author who sReaders should investigate the website of Diane Wei Liang at http://dianeweiliang.com/. It provides some interesting background about the author who spent some of her formative years with her parents in a forced labor camp in China and was in Tiananmen Square in 1989.
I read this book because I have an adopted daughter who was born in Aksu, China. This book takes you into modern China as it weaves it tale of mystery. As in many detective stories, all the loose ends are wrapped up in the last pages. At 224 pages in paperback, it is a short book easily read in a couple of days. I found it enjoyable and informative to read without taxing my summer brain overmuch. ...more
I am having an identity crisis. I ended up liking The Scarecrow quite a lot, enough to give it four stars but it did bother me since I started out thiI am having an identity crisis. I ended up liking The Scarecrow quite a lot, enough to give it four stars but it did bother me since I started out thinking that it was kind of sick in a fairly amateurish and trashy way depicting The Scarecrow spying on people in the office using hidden cameras including in the bathroom. Like reading soft porn for teenagers. But the bar is raised quickly (or I start to like the amateur perversions) and the book gets better and pulls me in. Pretty soon I have to stay up late to finish it because I can’t put it down.
Why am I selecting this to read when there are so many first rate novels that I have never read? And of course all the nonfiction that has served me well enough for many years of holding fiction at arm’s length. I am especially sensitive at the moment since I am also reading Thirteen Ways of Looking at the Novel that puts good fiction on a pedestal. John Connelly might just be the fourteenth way.
OK, so Connelly is the first crime writer I’ve tried out after several years of reading everything George Pelecanos has put out. So I am trying something different and you should expect a comparison here and there. I am tired of Pelecanos’ macho guy shtick. So why am I trying Connelly? Good question because he seems like he might be just like another macho guy protagonist writer. But let me give him a try along with a few women who write about gal protagonists.
Jack McEvoy is a new Connelly character who first appeared in 1996 in The Poet. This is his second McEvoy book but I am reading it first. But already I see that McEvoy is different; he drinks red wine. Now, that is a surprise since I am used to the Pelecanos guys knocking back shots. Maybe Jack really will be of another stripe. Let’s not get too excited though. He does switch to whiskey when he decides to do some serious drinking to mourn the loss of his job.
“Carver paced in the control room, watching over the front forty.” And pretty soon we will know that this book is fully into the electronic age. Here comes the jargon of sysops and computers and online newspapers. BTW, Pelecanos is not into electronics, partly because much of his action is in the era just before the proliferation of cell phones and computers. Pelecanos drug pushers use beepers. How 1980s.
The paper with its electronic edition being constantly updates is the L.A. Times where Jack is about to be RIFed as the book begins. By god, Jack lives in Hollywood! I guess we are not in DC anymore.
Kind of starts out like a tutorial on cop-shop newspaper reporting. Jack is training his replacement and we get to follow along. But then it’s the next chapter and we switch back to the control room with the Front Forty – network tower servers. The secretary is reading a Janet Evanovich novel. I wonder if Evanovich and Connolly know each other and whether she paid him to throw out her name in his book. Probably one hand washes the other kind of arrangement. One time I went to Nashville and after going to all the C&W tourist sites for a few days and seeing the same names over and over, I began to think everyone was really famous. I have a couple of Evanovich on my to-read shelf to check out one of these days. Maybe being a “#1 NY Times Bestselling Author” is a club for mystery writers. How many #1 best sellers can there be that I have never heard of? Ask me in a year.
Ah, as always happens, the plot thickens. You remember Lisbeth Salander, right? The girl with the dragon tattoo. Well, among other things, she was a computer hacker who is part of a small network of extraordinarily skilled hackers. She could get into your computer lickety split and was known to electronically transfer your money into her account. Well, it turns out that The Scarecrow is also a very skilled hacker who, we find out almost immediately, is not a very nice guy.
I guess I will have to read the first McEvoy book! I mean, I am experimenting with some new authors and I have to give them a chance. I just need to keep an eye on the ‘trash’ indicator. ...more
A murder mystery without a murder is a pretty dull book. At least Uncommon Clay for the first 65 pages was not too exciting. But my adrenalin perked uA murder mystery without a murder is a pretty dull book. At least Uncommon Clay for the first 65 pages was not too exciting. But my adrenalin perked up by page 80, ebbed away and then roared back at the very end. Amazing what a body and some action can do to chase off boredom!
This is the first Margaret Maron book I have read. Tired of macho males, I was looking for female protagonists in mysteries and came across Deborah Knott. The fact that books in this series have current social issue content was a major draw for me. Regrettably, the draw for this particular book was pottery, not really a social issue except by a pretty big stretch.
Judge Deborah Knott, a district court judge in "Colleton County," North Carolina. Deborah is in her late 30s, the youngest child and only daughter of an elderly ex-bootlegger who also has 11 sons. As a district court judge, she ranges all over the state … . . . Maron says, “The mystery novel is the peg upon which I hang my love and concerns for North Carolina as the state transitions from agriculture to high tech, from a largely rural countryside to one increasingly under assault by housing developments and chain stores" and her books have looked at problems of race, migrant labor, politics, and unstructured growth.“ . . . Margaret Maron is the author of twenty-six novels and two collections of short stories. Winner of several major American awards for mysteries (Edgar, Agatha, Anthony, Macavity), her works are on the reading lists of various courses in contemporary Southern literature and have been translated into 16 languages. She has served as president of Sisters in Crime, the American Crime Writers League, and Mystery Writers of America.
A native Tar Heel, she still lives on her family's century farm a few miles southeast of Raleigh, the setting for Bootlegger's Daughter, which is numbered among the 100 Favorite Mysteries of the Century as selected by the Independent Mystery Booksellers Association. In 2004, she received the Sir Walter Raleigh Award for best North Carolina novel of the year. In 2008, she was honored with the North Carolina Award for Literature. Source; http://margaretmaron.com/media.html#bio
This is the eighth book in the Judge Deborah Knott series. As of 2011 there are seventeen books in the series with more on the way. Do I want to look up additional books in the series after this midpoint introduction?
Judging from my experience with this single book, it seems that Judge Knott is single but, as she quotes one of her eleven brothers, “You can’t catch a fish if you ain’t got a line in the water.” She starts this book by ending a relationship and immediately putting her line back in the pond. Just a few steps removed from the cozy mystery, she is on the lookout, maybe even a bit on the prowl, but not hopping from bed to bed. She works as a substitute judge throughout North Carolina so covers a lot of different parts of the state. This book is set in the red clay Seagrove Pottery area of NC near Raleigh and pottery making is the milieu.
Cozy material? “Takes more than a squirt of jism up someone else’s wife to make a person my grandson,” he thought resentfully. Not quite, I’d say, based on my limited experience. But some frequent Cozy readers could certainly disagree. Check out http://www.cozy-mystery.com/Definitio... and make up your own mind.
Perry Mason? Maybe not but there was the confrontation at the end where the killer tells the entire who-done-it where our heroine (and the reader, of course) can hear it. Murder mystery solved. Did you guess who it was? I didn’t.
I did enjoy Uncommon Clay enough to give it three stars but not enough, given all the books I have to read, to check out another Margaret Maron title. Except maybe if she did one about tobacco - but I think she skips that killer. ...more
Presumed Innocent was published in 1987. This is another one of those twenty-five year old books that I seem to read frequently and some say is quitePresumed Innocent was published in 1987. This is another one of those twenty-five year old books that I seem to read frequently and some say is quite dated. I remember those days pretty well; I was in graduate school at SUNY at Stony Brook on Long Island. It was after computers but before cell phones. In my mind I can be living in the 1980s!
What happens when a top lawyer in the office of the prosecuting attorney is charged with murder? Presumed Innocent is about an experienced lawyer being prosecuted and helping to prepare his own defense. The first third of the book is the story of the events leading up to the trial. The remaining two-thirds is about the trial. The author is an attorney who knows about trials from his personal experience of participating in actual trials.
This is a long book: four hundred thirty one pages. Our defendant, Rusty Sabich, struggles through a long trial that is told to the reader in significant detail including the personalities of the judge, the prosecuting attorneys, the defense attorneys, and several of the witnesses. About three-quarters of the way through the book, my interest and involvement in the trial peaked but I knew that there was another one hundred pages to go. I am impatient for a conclusion and am annoyed that I have been brought to this moment too early by the author. My feelings may replicate the feelings of the defendant, an interesting aspect of the book. But I am not sure that this is a feeling in the reader that the author should desire since it seems quite possible that early climactic moments might cause the reader to lose interest and stop reading before the end. For me, the considerable number of unknowns keeps me reading even when I believe that the high will likely change into a low before rising up again for the actual conclusion.
But I find that I did not have enough confidence in the skill of author Scott Turow. He understands the lows that may follow significant highs. His protagonist says, “And my initial euphoria is long past, given way to a suppressed melancholy.” I am sorry, Mr. Turow, that I doubted you. For there are several concluding events necessitated by the many strands of the story. It all did leave me feeling satisfied and entertained, good feelings for the end of a mystery novel.
Since this is a book published twenty-five years ago,you want to say, sure, it’s missing the DNA evidence. And so it is. But Presumed Innocent has some staying power. It is still a good read that many years later. Eighty-three GR readers have reviewed this book so far in 2012. I am not sure what qualifies a book in the mystery genre to be called a classic but a 3.99 average in 29,278 (well, 279 now) ratings means people like it. I guess I am just your average reader since I give it 3.99 stars!
It is interesting to note that there is a follow up book Innocent published 22 years later (2010) with many of the same characters. That one is on my TBR shelf along with most of the other Turow books. ...more
Before reading: So the thing was, I was looking for a woman who writes about a woman detective. I had had plenty of men about men. Janet Evanovich popBefore reading: So the thing was, I was looking for a woman who writes about a woman detective. I had had plenty of men about men. Janet Evanovich popped up as meeting the criteria. Having a lead, it was my responsibility to undertake the due diligence. I think I might have blown it. It seems this series is classified by GR readers as Mystery first and foremost but Chick Lit running a distant but statistically significant second. So I have a couple of Evanovich books touted as #1 sellers in many categories that I got as BookSwap went out of business. (I wonder who are the #2 sellers?) The clever titling of the series – one…, two…, three…, four… etc. – gives me pause but it must have some benefit for marketing and that is the name of the best seller game, right? Now I will see if I found my woman.
I plan to review this book one chapter at a time. You can’t be sure if it will be dull or exciting. If I was skimming this book in a library aisle, based on the first few pages I would put it back on the shelf and look for something else. But since I own this book and am sitting at home on my couch, I must read on regretting that I rarely fail to finish a book that I start.
Chapter one: The highlight is the capture of a naked bail jumper by our heroine. What makes it a highlight is that he is not just naked but has also covered himself with Vaseline. You know, like catching a greased pig at the county fair.
Chapter two: The day glow dust jacket should have been a tip off. They don’t want this best seller to be missed on the grocery store shelf. I forgot to mention that in Chapter one there were “johnson” and “wanger” jokes. I was not amused. Maybe I am a little oversensitive about reading chick lit. Lots of sexual innuendo and not so innuendo.
Chapter THREE: Nice typeface for the chapter headings – the number of the chapter spelled out in upper case. Classy. Definitely the best part of the book so far. Oh, no, a fart joke. (“That wasn’t me.”) Is this going to be like a PG movie? And the first evidence of a dead person as the chapter ends. Wowza!
Chapter four: Show and tell. Must be character development.
”I hate this,” Morelli said. “Why can’t I have a girlfriend who has normal problems . . . like breaking a fingernail or missing a period or falling in love with a lesbian?” … Morelli was better at this cohabitation than I was. Morelli was invigorated by sex. An orgasm for Morelli was like taking a vitamin pill. The more orgasms he had, the sharper he got. I’m the opposite. For me, an orgasm is like a shot of Valium. A night with Morelli and the next morning I’m a big contented cow.
Chapter five: A person being questioned by our heroine is shot. First dead body. Oh, and there was “a lot of bitch slapping and name calling and hair pulling” by a couple of women. Is this part of what makes it chick lit? I think I am starting to be drawn into the reality show aspects. Got to get on to the next chapter.
Chapter six: What do you suppose McDonald’s pays to be in these books? And, since I’m asking, what are the chances that all these things could happen to our heroine in such a short time? I’m smiling about it in disbelief, but that might mean that I am enjoying it! Not supposed to take this seriously.
Chapter seven: I don’t watch soap opera type shows but I have the feeling that if I did, it would be like this book – a three ring circus. Chili’s. Cheesecake Factory. They’re lining up for a mention in this book.
Chapter eight: Book came out in 2003 so they’re still using pagers. Where are the iPhones?
Chapter nine: Las Vegas. I understand that writers often visit locales where books are set to add some local color. A laugh out loud line: “Maybe I should throw my bra, too.” Second one in the book and only halfway through. Way to go, Janet.
Chapter ten: I just checked. This book has over 29,000 GR ratings and an average rating of 4.1. I am not sure what to make of that. I would like to think that if reading reviews had been a bigger part of my due diligence investigation, I might not be in this awkward situation. But 4.1? Will I fall under the spell? Dead people left and right. Will I be able to take a brief respite from the events of the day?
Chapter eleven: I keep waiting to find out the origin of the title of this book. Ah, but of course, ask Google about “to the nines” and you will find out. Now, let’s see where that comes up.
Chapter twelve: Fisher Cat, Lisa and Bob.
Chapter thirteen: Odd pair: gun and condoms in the cookie jar.
Chapter fourteen: I have to finish this book but you don’t have to finish this review. It’s up to you but I am not going to tell you they lived happily ever after. I like a book that gives occasional summaries: “I didn’t know where to begin. There’d been death, birth, sex, and hair loss.” Is “cute” a chick lit word? Just asking.
Chapter fifteen: What’s with the anatomical language differential? A man has a “johnson” or a “wanger” but a woman has a “vagina.” I’d call that chick lit discrimination.
You’ve been very patient. I have been too. This is the last chapter. I went straight from the book to the News Hour on Public Television. To the Nines was a distraction from the world and national news for 24 hours.
The next time I need an escape from today’s war, I can read my last Janet Evanovich. It’s Ten Big Ones. I wonder what Google has to say about that? I don’t want anyone to say I didn’t give Janet a chance.
One last thought before I go on to the rating: This book needs a laugh track. There are some one liners that demand a laugh track.
It’s between three and two stars. I take GR ratings literally. Two stars means “It was OK.” And three stars is “liked it.” We clear on that? So, just to be clear, I am between liked and OK, that rock and a hard place people always talk about. So I’ll let you help decide. Pick a number, any number, between one and three. OK, it was OK. Two stars. That was easy. ...more
Sexual harassment and murder seem way out of place in a book that has been mostly frippery. But there is a body on page thirty-five. And another on paSexual harassment and murder seem way out of place in a book that has been mostly frippery. But there is a body on page thirty-five. And another on page ninety-five.
When I compare this to the other books I am reading, I wonder what I am doing reading The Chocolate Snowman Murders. I must be in desperate need of a break from literature. Am I in no man’s land? Am I the only guy to have ever read this book? Maybe this is my way of exercising my feminine side. Or maybe just resting my brain.
This is the best line in the book. In fact, it may be the only good line.
“’Lee, I’m going to ask you to do something that you’re not going to want to do. Something you’re going to think is immoral, and that I know is illegal.”
I looked at her warily. “You don’t want me to put preservatives in the chocolate, do you?”
“Good heavens, no! I’d never do that.”
Now, I want to explain my view of two stars: GRs says “It was OK.” That’s what I mean too. I have just learned about the cozy genre and this book is of that ilk. It may be that a cozy book can get no more than two stars from me. Apparently I have several more on my shelves that I will have to read when I get down off my high brow. Even more in this chocoholic series. And, to tell the truth, chocolate was the attraction. ...more
This is the first book in the long running V.I. Warshawski , private investigator, series. It was published in 1982, thirty years ago! Sara Paretsky iThis is the first book in the long running V.I. Warshawski , private investigator, series. It was published in 1982, thirty years ago! Sara Paretsky is up to the fifteenth book in the series in 2012.
Her office in the South Loop of Chicago is on the fourth floor of a building where the elevator is often out of order and with fuses that blow when you turn on the AC. Yes, a woman private investigator. She charges $125 per day plus expenses. A salesman is trying to sell her a very early version of an IBM computer. It’s the summer of 1979. Ms. Warshawski, as her name suggests, has Polish heritage. Her father was a policeman. She is now in her thirties, sees herself as pretty good looking and in very good physical condition. She tried marriage unsuccessfully once about eight years ago. She is a Cubs fan. She prefers white wine to beer. You can usually count on her to clean her plate. She hates to pay to park her car. Is an ice cream lover, especially topped with a little liqueur. So many things to know about a new character! She will be an interesting person to find out about book by book and Paretsky will undoubtedly keep pumping out the tidbits about her character.
Last year I asked a family friend to suggest a mystery book series with a strong woman protagonist. This was the series she recommended. Early in the book it is obvious the V.I. is strong, physically strong! She single handedly succeeds in disabling two gangsters who show up to take her to see the boss. And she ends up delivering a well placed kick to the crotch (no terribly crude language in this book!) of the boss as well. You might think she would wind up with this being her last act, but this is fiction so she is tossed out on the street somewhat worse for wear having been warned to butt out. She takes a taxi home.
I already have several more books from the series and am looking forward to seeing how life develops for V.I. in the ensuing years. Will she be a sixty something P.I. in the 2012 Breakdown ? That would be interesting. I do not have much experience reading series since the Hardy Boys some decades ago, so this character development over the years is a new experience for me. I don’t remember the Hardy Boys growing up and going off to college.
Indemnity Only is a good start to a series. You get to know V.I. Warshawski and look forward to running into her again in the future. The book introduces us to a smart, brave and independent woman, a woman who knows how to take care of herself. The book wears its age well easily earning four stars. ...more
One of the reasons I am fond of Sara Paretsky is her ability to locate her stories in the political and social events of the day. In the first chapterOne of the reasons I am fond of Sara Paretsky is her ability to locate her stories in the political and social events of the day. In the first chapter of Blacklist, set in 2002, she reflects on the World Trade Center, the Taliban, Afghanistan and anthrax. V.I. Warshawski leans to the left and I like her take on events from that point of view.
V.I. is also personally connected with world events by a boyfriend (whom she liberally – way to go V.I. – refers to as a lover) who is a journalist currently in the midst of the most recent American war, this one in Afghanistan. There is rarely a dull moment in the life of Ms. Warshawski. Generally, that is just the way she likes it; she has been known to manufacture excitement herself.
V.I. doesn’t waste much time getting into the action. By the end of chapter three she is in a pond with a dead man in a suit on a vacant estate in suburban Chicago in the middle of the night. This doesn’t sound like the normal work of a private investigator!
I specialize in financial and industrial crime. It used to be that I spent a lot of time on foot, going to government buildings to look at records, doing physical surveillance and so on. But in the days of the internet, you traipse from website to website.
So the famous dull moment apparently has eluded our adventurous protagonist once again just in time for book number eleven of the V.I. Warshawski series.
The book delves into the HUAC era of the 1950s when artists were blacklisted for actual or alleged communist connections. The names are changed to protect the guilty. A journalist is killed (we suspect) while he is researching a book about a black dancer from the New Deal era of the 1930s.
As happens occasionally with Warshawski, she finds herself in the company of wealthy people whose families are connected to questionable events in the present and past. Our intrepid PI periodically gathers in a substantial payday from her rich connections to support her in her leaner earning periods. She generally finds her life in danger at least once (and sometimes more) each book. She has used up her cat lives and then some. We have to understand and accept that this book is fiction and Ms. W- has to make it to the end of the series which is currently ongoing in its sixteenth iteration.
There are different viewpoints about what Ms. W- is doing. She thinks she is “trying to figure out what all these rich important people did fifty years ago that they don’t want anyone to know about today.” The rich people think she “may not be an instigator, but you’re certainly not a bystander: you generate turmoil.” I would give credence to both points of view and they make the book most interesting.
I spent the first thirty years of my life in Michigan and thought I was a good driver in snow. But V.I. beats me easily. In the book she drives north from Chicago into Wisconsin in a snow storm with a nonagenarian in the passenger seat telling her life story. In spite of the intensity of the story and the snow, V.I. not only makes it safely to their destination but solves the murder case that has left her physically battered and exhausted. She is still a Wonder Woman though she is now forty-something!
I expect the get to the end of the V.I. Warshawski series sooner rather than later. And it seems likely that Sara Paretsky will still be adding books to the series once I get to the “last” one. I look forward to being caught up, waiting for the next book to be published, following Ms. W- into her fifty-somethings. Blacklist adds to the string of four star Paretsky books. ...more