If you’re an overweight slob with a job you hate then maybe you just need to be inhabited by an ancient alien entity who can teach you some disciplineIf you’re an overweight slob with a job you hate then maybe you just need to be inhabited by an ancient alien entity who can teach you some discipline and help you get your life in order. But before you sign up be aware that you’ll be picking a side in a centuries old war among the aliens to decide the fate of humanity, and you’ll have a very good chance of getting killed in the process. So maybe you want to take another look at that new diet after all?
This was entertaining but felt relatively light weight. The idea of a wise old entity stuffed into the meat sack of a whiny slacker was played for some good laughs, and I liked the idea of a covert war being waged between two alien factions. I would have enjoyed it more focus on the history of Tao and the other aliens on Earth, and a little less on Roen as a rehabilitation project. ...more
This book has been compared to the likes of Thomas Pynchon, David Foster Wallace, Don DeLillo, Philip K. Dick, Neal Stephenson and Chuck Palahniuk. IThis book has been compared to the likes of Thomas Pynchon, David Foster Wallace, Don DeLillo, Philip K. Dick, Neal Stephenson and Chuck Palahniuk. I don’t think that’s doing it any favors because while it isn’t bad, it never got close to those guys at their best for me.
This is essentially one of the fusions in which the author mixes Serious Lit-A-Chur with the DNA of a genre novel which in this case is a conspiracy-cyber thriller with a little sci-fi for flavor. Leila is a Persian-American working for a non-profit NGO in Myanmar when she accidently stumbles on something that triggers the wrath of an operative of a worldwide shadow government. Mark and Leo were friends in college, but their lives have taken them on very different paths. Mark is a bullshit artist who lucked his way into fame and fortune by becoming a self-help guru who advises an uber-wealthy Mr. Burns type of asshole. Leo is an underachieving slacker whose substance abuse kicks his paranoia into overdrive. Circumstances make all three of them aware of a sinister plot involving on-line data collection that is getting taken to a new terrifying level. And of course there is an underground group trying to stop it.
The thing here is that anyone hoping for a conspiracy novel probably isn’t going to be satisfied. Yeah, there are some cool moments, and the evil plan is impressive in its scale as well as its feasibility, but there are no big action scenes of note. Instead the focus is on the thoughts and feelings of the three leads as they examine what they find lacking in their own lives even as they have to deal with the moral choices the situation forces on them.
I was far more intrigued by the personal stories and history of Leila, Mark and Leo than I ever was by the conspiracy storyline which, while ambitious, is still at its heart a secret-group-of-powerful-rich-assholes-try-to-take-over-the-world story. In fact, I probably would have liked this book a whole lot more if Shafer had just skipped the conspiracy and done a whole book about the three main characters somehow meeting up and interacting.
I know that the conspiracy was symbolic, representing the way that some will willingly give up secrets and freedom for a comfortable life, but it kept reading as if were to be taken as seriously like this was a Tom Clancy novel. The clichés of the conspiracy thriller are here, but they don’t feel deconstructed or satiric. That made my brain keep thinking that there would be a car chase or a shootout at the usual places even though I knew that wasn’t the kind of book Shafer wrote.
So the whole thing ended up in a weird one-foot-in/one-foot-out state for me in which I felt like the book was too character driven to be an entertaining genre thriller, but the conspiracy thriller aspects distracted me from the much better character angles as well as some of the broader points he was trying to make.
“No matter where he was headed, Don always drove like he was behind the wheel of the getaway car."
- Abby Adams Westlake
Apparently the late Donald West“No matter where he was headed, Don always drove like he was behind the wheel of the getaway car."
- Abby Adams Westlake
Apparently the late Donald Westlake wrote as fast as he drove. After his big break came in the late ‘50s by getting paid $600 to write a porno, he went on to author over 90 novels under various pseudonyms. He earned three Edgar Awards, an Academy Award nomination for screenplay, and the title of Grand Master from the Mystery Writer’s Association.
He’s probably best known for creating two thieves who couldn't be more different. One was a hard-boiled ruthless anti-hero and all-around son-of-a-bitch named Parker that Westlake published under the pen name of Richard Stark. The other was the luckless John Dortmunder, a sad sack that you couldn’t help but feel sorry for even as you laughed at his comic misadventures. That’s the essence of Westlake to me, that he could have two characters who have exactly the same criminal job yet their personalities and books couldn’t be more different, and I always want to read more stories about both of them.
This book collects a lot of non-fiction odds and ends from Westlake’s papers including letters, an excerpt from an unpublished autobiography, and introductions to various other works. There’s a fun essay he wrote in which he imagines a meeting between himself and his various pen names, and his wife also has a humorous piece on how Westlake’s personality would change when he was writing under one of his aliases. Westlake also had a lot to say on the mystery genre, and there’s one incredible act of bridge burning in a published essay on how he had quit writing sci-fi because the industry was essentially dead from an economic perspective for writers like him.
Taken as a whole, all of these provide a lot of interesting insight into Westlake’s thoughts on writing as both an art and a business as well as how he viewed his own career. And because this is Westlake, it’s got chuckle worthy comments on practically every page even though he remarks at several points that he never considered himself particularly funny and seems highly amused that he was best known under his own name as a comic mystery writer. Lawrence Block makes it a point in his touching introduction to explain that he didn’t think Westlake told jokes, but that he was a witty man who tried very hard to make his writing amusing.
The thing that really stands out is that Westlake hustled. He didn’t sit around waiting for a muse to inspire or him or rewriting a single line over and over. He had bills to pay so he produced constantly. Authors like him who churn out words to make a living often have a pragmatic and workmanlike approach to their writing. That’s a recipe for people with less talent and more cynicism to become hacks. For a writer like Westlake that discipline and craftsmanship made him one of the greats.
Continuing my Doctor Who comic read courtesy of Humble Bundle…
This one picks up shortly after the last volume Fugitive as the Doctor is trying to breaContinuing my Doctor Who comic read courtesy of Humble Bundle…
This one picks up shortly after the last volume Fugitive as the Doctor is trying to break in a couple of new companions but before they even get the wardrobe issues sorted out the TARDIS collides and merges with another spaceship. This rolls into a second adventure in which the Doctor and his new pals return to Earth where he meets up with his old friend Martha and tries to stop an alien invasion.
I’m rating them both three stars, but I enjoyed the first collection more than this one. That’s mainly because the last one brought some of the David Tennant zest to the Doctor, but in this one he kinda comes across as an overbearing jerk who spends the entire book lecturing everyone about their shortcomings while ignoring his own. That’s an element of the Doctor’s shtick sometimes, but it needs some of the mad-scientist/wild-adventurer/smart-ass to balance it out. Frankly, I was rooting for Martha to bust him in the mouth a couple of times.
There’s an interesting subplot with an old enemy of the Doctor trying to turn one of his new companions against him by making it look like the Doctor is the bad guy here. There’s just enough truth in the lies to play on the idea that the modern series has gone to several times about how the Doctor is seen as one of the great villains of history by some of the races he’s interacted with.
Also, there’s a pretty significant mention and explanation of The Moment, the weapon that the Doctor used to end the Time War, but I thought that wasn’t named until several years after this was published in The Day of the Doctor 50th anniversary special? Was this where the concept was introduced? Whovians, help me out here!
It’s a decent Doctor Who adventure, but not as fun as the previous collection in this comic series. There are some loose ends that will hopefully turn into intriguing plots in the subsequent volumes....more
If the FX network is looking for another book series about rural crime to develop into a TV show to replace Justified after its upcoming final season,If the FX network is looking for another book series about rural crime to develop into a TV show to replace Justified after its upcoming final season, it could do a helluva lot worse than buying the rights to Ace Atkins’ Quinn Colson series.
As Tibbehah County tries to recover from a devastating round of tornadoes, Sheriff Colson and his chief deputy are being investigated for their actions in the previous book. Corrupt county commissioner and redneck kingpin Johnny Stagg is behind this investigation as part of his effort to control Quinn and use him for his own purposes. This connects to the leader of a biker gang Stagg fears who is about to be released from prison. The gang has returned in force to pave the way for his return, and all of it ties back to a crime that occurred in 1977.
Atkins scores again with another great tale that sees Quinn unearthing some ugly secrets tied to his family history. I especially enjoyed how Johnny Stagg has gradually been built up into the Boss Hogg of this series. As a sleazy local politician who likes to claim the moral high ground even as he runs a strip club and is trying to build a drug pipeline, Stagg has become one of the most interesting characters. He’s a sidewinder, never coming at Quinn directly, and he’s a master of small town manipulation. The series has subtly become an on-going cold war between Stagg and Quinn, and the more we find about the history of Tibbehah County, the more we realize that Stagg has been a cancer rotting it out for some time.
Quinn remains the steady moral center of the series with his code of a former Army Ranger mixing with the rural good manners of a Southern gentleman. It’s a nice touch that Colson remains more soldier than lawmen, often leaving the nuances of police work to his chief deputy, Lillie. His growing frustration with the locals who are often too stupid or too blind to recognize what Stagg also seems to be fitting for a guy who finds himself back in the small town he swore never to return to.
Like the last book, this one leaves a fair number of plot threads dangling, but it’s clear that Atkins is doing this deliberately as part of telling a larger story about the secret history of his fictional patch of Mississippi.
The thing I love best about Kurt Vonnegut is that he was both the ultimate cynic and the ultimate humanist. What better character for him to create toThe thing I love best about Kurt Vonnegut is that he was both the ultimate cynic and the ultimate humanist. What better character for him to create to embody those views than a Nazi with good intentions?
Howard W. Campbell Jr. was an American citizen who grew up in Germany and became a prominent Nazi thanks to his virulent anti-Semitic propaganda. However, Howard had actually been recruited before the war began to be an American spy who provided vital intelligence to the Allies via codes hidden in his frequent radio broadcasts. Years after the war has ended, Howard recounts the story as he is being held in Israel awaiting trial for war crimes. As he explains what happened before, during and after the war Howard repeatedly touches on the unasked question that haunts his life: Does pretending to be evil in the service of a good cause still make you evil?
I had always felt alone in thinking that his was actually Vonnegut’s best book so I was happy to be validated by the comments of several other Goodreaders sharing the same thought.
Vonnegut’s gift was looking at the world with clear gaze and acknowledging that people were pretty much shit, but still having enough compassion and empathy to look for moments of dignity. He did it with that that unique bittersweet sense of humor that allowed him to write about the horrors of something like the Holocaust and give it a tone of a very wise man shaking his head with a bitter chuckle at a dark, sick joke....more
I lost my taste for comic tie-ins to movies and TV shows somewhere along the life journey that has left me the cheerful and upbeat person you know herI lost my taste for comic tie-ins to movies and TV shows somewhere along the life journey that has left me the cheerful and upbeat person you know here on Goodreads. However, I’ve been seriously craving some Doctor Who while waiting for Peter Capaldi to make his debut so when my wife came across a great deal on Humble Bundle for a large pack of digital Doctor Who comics from IDW it seemed worth a look. Plus, part of the proceeds go to charity. And I just like saying ‘Humble Bundle’. Try it. You’ll see. It’s fun, right?
Anyhow, this collection features the 10th Doctor (David Tennant) in the time period when he was traveling without a companion shortly before the end of his tenure. In the first of two stories, the Doctor is in Hollywood during in the 1920s where he meets famous actor Archie Maplin (Get it?) and as usual there are aliens up to shenanigans. In the second, the Doctor is captured and put on trial by the Shadow Proclamation for breaking numerous laws about interfering with timelines that were established by the Time Lords. Not surprisingly, there are also alien shenanigans in that one too.
Overall, the comics do a nice job of feeling like they could be episodes of Doctor Who, and you can almost hear Tennant doing some of the dialogue in the frantic speed-freak way he did so well when called for. I enjoyed the smaller scale Hollywood story more than the big interstellar space one for it’s clever integration of silent movie style gags and segments. Plus, there was a different artist for each, and I preferred the style in that one.
Nothing fantastic or mind blowing, but it was a couple of solid and entertaining stories that made me a little nostalgic for the 10th Doctor even though the 11th remains my favorite. This first collection makes me think that I’m going to get more than my money’s worth out of the rest of the Humble Bundle. (It’s even fun to type!)
As you‘d expect from something with a title like this, I found a lot of it funny, but I think my biggest laugh came when I looked at the summary hereAs you‘d expect from something with a title like this, I found a lot of it funny, but I think my biggest laugh came when I looked at the summary here on Goodreads and saw this:
This 5000 word erotic story is for mature audiences only. It contains adult material and explicit scenes of sex. All characters engaged in sexual acts are over 18.
As if some skeevy producer was there checking driver’s licenses on the monsters before shooting an actual porno. "Hey, I think Gomera is only 16. Make sure that ID isn’t fake.”
I am not a connoisseur of the monster porn. For that you’d have to go to someone who is a scholar of the genre like karen. In fact, I only downloaded and read this to work off a shame debt I owed to Amanda for the infamous Sea Cock incident.
So safe to say that I wasn’t expecting much for my 99 cents, but it actually had a clarity of purpose that I admired. You say you want to read about a giant woman fucking monsters? Meet Nancy who got turned into a 50 foot tall behemoth via unexplained and unimportant circumstances. Her enormous size has awakened a voracious sexual appetite that masturbating in a lab in front of pervy scientists won’t satisfy so she’s off to a monster island to get her some action off those gargantuan beasts like Godzilla that she’s seen on the Discovery Channel.
It was also much funnier than I was expecting. I was prepared for it to be sophomoric with plenty of graphic sex, and while it certainly delivers on the graphic sex aspect, it’s also got a sly sense of subversive humor to it. When Nancy snaps and uses one of her captors as an impromptu dildo it’s like a scene from an episode of South Park.
So I had some good chuckles with it, but I’m just not the kind of guy who gets his jollies reading about some enormous woman repeatedly masturbating and doing it with monsters. I’ve got more important things to do like checking out the X-Men: Days of Future Past trailer again to gawp at Jennifer Lawrence in that blue body paint….. What? You clicked on a review for a book called Debbie Does Monsterland so you’re not exactly in a position to judge, are you?...more
I would like to have been in the room when Guy Gavriel Kay pitched this story to his publishers:
“It’s a historical fantasy novel based on the ByzantiI would like to have been in the room when Guy Gavriel Kay pitched this story to his publishers:
“It’s a historical fantasy novel based on the Byzantine Empire and the works of W.B. Yeats. The main character is an artist caught up in political schemes during a tumultuous time.”
“Uh….The Byzantine Empire and poems? And the hero isn’t any kind of an archer or a sorcerer? Some kind of bad ass like we usually see in these books?”
“No, he’s just a mosaicist. That’s a guy who glues bits of colored glass or tiles to walls or ceiling to create images.”
“Uh….that’s great, Guy. Why don’t you go write that up and maybe we’ll take a look at it right after we get through this pile of manuscripts featuring groups of swordsman, thieves, elves and magicians on heroic quests as they battle orcs and goblins.”
Set in the same world as The Lions of Al Rassan but several centuries earlier, Caius Crispus a/k/a Crispin is a talented mosaicist with a fiery temper who is still mourning the family he lost to plague. An Imperial Courier arrives bearing a summons from the emperor for his partner Martinian to come to the capital, Sarantium. Martinian claims that he’s too old to travel and insists that Crispin take his place instead. Crispin is reluctantly pushed into making the hazardous road journey, and soon finds himself being used as a pawn by powerful people.
Wait a second. If he travels by land rather than sea than why is the book called Sailing to Sarantium? Kay explains it like this:
"To say of a man that he was sailing to Sarantium was to say that his life was on the cusp of change: poised for emergent greatness, brilliance, fortune--or else at the very precipice of a final and absolute fall as he met something too vast for his capacity."
Ah, so that explains it…
This is the first book of Kay’s two-part Sarantine Mosaic, and as with the other one I recently read by him, The Lions of Al Rassan, he does a masterful job of building an intricate world full of political and religious conflicts as well as enough day-in-the-life details to make it all feel authentic and realistic. Having his lead character be a smart artist with a tendency of speaking his mind and putting him into the middle of a palace intrigue plot when he’s in over his head made for some interesting scenes that are different that the usual kind of hack-n-slash stuff you’d expect to be driving a story like this. There is just enough action and violence to make it feel dangerous and not just a bunch of people standing around talking, and Crispin’s journey as a way to get over his grief is a nice personal hook.
A couple of points kept this from getting to four stars. One of the things that set The Lions of Al Rassan apart from other fantasies was its lack of any kind of magic or supernatural elements other than one supporting character having some very limited telepathy and precognition. Here there is a full-blown alchemist who has created something that he gives to Crispin as a gift, and then there’s an encounter with a pagan entity. I was far more interested in Crispin navigating the political and religious mine fields of dealing with the Emperor’s court than any of these elements. (Obviously this was a personal preference, and I’m sure some readers will feel the exact opposite.)
Also, there are several strong female characters in positions of power here, and that’s to the book’s credit. However, after the third or four time that Crispin finds himself in the presence of one of these women and finds himself flabbergasted by their intellect and beauty, the conversations took on a rinse-and-repeat flavor. Essentially they have so much in common that they start feeling like the same character and that’s too bad because the first couple of interactions really worked well.
All in all I liked this but didn’t love it. I’d read it before but remembered little of the plot, and I can’t remember how it ends in the next book either so it obviously didn’t blow my mind. I’ll probably move on to Lord of Emperors again at some point, but I’m not in any great hurry....more
Whenever I review one of Raymond Chandler’s Philip Marlowe novels I feel like I should be doing it with a half-bottle of rye on the desk next to the cWhenever I review one of Raymond Chandler’s Philip Marlowe novels I feel like I should be doing it with a half-bottle of rye on the desk next to the cigarette burning in an ashtray with my fedora pushed back on my head. But I quit smoking years ago, and I don’t bounce back from hangovers quite the way I used to so I try not to chug whiskey from the bottle these days unless it‘s a dire emergency. Maybe I can still get the hat….
Marlowe gets hired by a ball-busting old bag who thinks that that the daughter-in-law she despises ran off with a valuable rare gold coin from her late husband’s collection. As usual Marlowe soon finds himself wrapped up in a mess including several murders as he is forced to preserve the confidentiality of a client he doesn’t like against cops pressing him for answers.
This was a Chandler I hadn’t read before, and I had a surprisingly hard time getting into it for some reason. After a while the lines like “From 30 feet away she looked like a lot of class. From 10 feet she looked something made up to be seen from 30 feet away.’ got me into the groove, and while I wouldn’t call it the best Marlowe I’ve read, I ended up enjoying it quite a bit.
The thing that nudge it from a solid 3 stars to 4 was the ending. (view spoiler)[I loved that after Marlowe figured out the whole mess that he essentially just threw up his hands and decided to let it play out with only a few nudges from him while he focused on trying to help the one true victim. (hide spoiler)]
It won’t be replacing The Big Sleep on my All-Time Greatest Detective Novel list, but it’s still Chandler in fine form.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
Just your typical story about a couple from opposing species of an interstellar war falling in love and having a baby, then fleeing the governments anJust your typical story about a couple from opposing species of an interstellar war falling in love and having a baby, then fleeing the governments and hired mercenaries of both sides in a wooden rocketship with their ghost babysitter...
Three volumes in and so far each one has been 5 stars. I'm pretty sure that has never happened to me before. ...more
It’s pretty telling that for a long time I was snatching up new Walking Dead collections as soon as they came out, but I read Vol. 17 over a year agoIt’s pretty telling that for a long time I was snatching up new Walking Dead collections as soon as they came out, but I read Vol. 17 over a year ago and didn’t get around to picking this one up until now.
I used to think that the on-going nature of the comics which enabled it to be an endless fall into the depths of despair was one of the selling points for this series. The idea that things could always get worse and then did made it unique. I thought the format really let them explore just how hopeless a zombie apocalypse could be.
However, after watching the show which seems to be loop of frustration occasionally redeemed by a great episode or ‘Holy shit!’ moment, and the last volume which featured an incredibly brutal and graphic death of a major character, Walking Dead finally popped the fuse controlling my taste for exploring just how bad things can get. At this point the on-going nature has started to work against it for me since I saw no end to the carnage and someday it would be just the last two living people on earth fighting over a can of beans right before being eaten by zombies.
So this storyline featuring Negan and his group of Saviors seemed like we’d just be repeating the whole Governor/prison thing, and I wasn’t that interested. However, this collection does a fair job of trying to establish Negan a bit beyond just another crazy war lord of the zombie apocalypse, and the way that Rick is working on a plan that involves other survivor communities seems like it could offer a bit of hope that the characters of Walking Dead are at long last trying to claw their way out of their daily nightmare instead of just surviving it. ...more
I’ve read a lot of books featuring drunk detectives in my time and it’s not like I haven’t occasionally occupied a bar stool myself, but I needed a liI’ve read a lot of books featuring drunk detectives in my time and it’s not like I haven’t occasionally occupied a bar stool myself, but I needed a liver transplant by the time I finished this one.
Private investigator detective Nick Valentine is asked to consult at the crime scene of an apparent suicide by his old boss, the police chief of St. Louis. Nick sets the tone for the rest of the book when he arrives with a glass of gin and snorts some oxy before going inside to talk to the cops. However, he’s still lucid enough to determine the suicide has been staged before returning to the office he lives in with his small dog, Frank Sinatra.
When the robbery of a credit union by a couple of lowlifes goes sideways, it leaves a bag of money up for grabs for every hustler in town. The police chief again asks Nick to help because of his extensive contacts in the criminal underworld in town. Nick responds by going to a strip club to see somebody and consumes the following in about 15 minutes:
2 Coronas 2 shots Crown Royal 1 Scotch 1 shot Yukon Jack 1 shot Wild Turkey 1 line of cocaine
Then he drives home to really start drinking.
Nick barely finds time to interact with other characters, generally managing just a few minutes of conversation before gulping down enough booze to kill a rhinoceros. There’s a colorful cast around him with a straight arrow police detective who grew up Amish, a couple of thugs who bet on which of them can cut the limb off someone most cleanly with an axe, a professional thief who would literally take the watch off a corpse at a funeral and an unattractive coke addict who can’t nail a stripper no matter how much money he throws at them.
Since most of what we see of Nick early on revolves around him trying to get his next drink, we don’t get a handle of him until late in the book. Is he really making a deal with a couple of people to find the money and keep it for themselves, or is he playing some kind of Sam Spade like angle in which he’s kinda sorta pretending to be crooked to solve the crime for the chief? Does Nick even know himself?
This is fun crime story that delights in its own violence and over the top behavior of its protagonist and the characters around him. It’s not for the faint hearted, but if you like your detectives drunk and your criminals stupid, this is one you should try out. ...more
(I received a free copy of this from NetGalley for this review.)
The alcohol intake by the main character in Matthew McBride’s last novel Frank Sinatra(I received a free copy of this from NetGalley for this review.)
The alcohol intake by the main character in Matthew McBride’s last novel Frank Sinatra in a Blender made me feel like I needed a liver transplant. The tweakers of A Swollen Red Sun have me thinking I should go to rehab.
In rural Missouri Deputy Sherriff Dale Banks is trying to find lowlife Jerry Dean Skaggs, but instead discovers over $50,000. Banks takes the money which contributes to an on-going string of increasingly violent crime being perpetrated by a ring of tweakers involved in dealing crystal meth including a self-proclaimed reverend living up in the hills who likes to eat horses and keep a second wife locked up in the basement with a ball gag in her mouth. (There are reasons I try not cross the border into the Show-Me State if I can help it.)
Where this one works best is in it’s depictions of the crazy bastards making and dealing the meth like Jerry Dean. All of these lowlifes inhabit a pitiful world of shitty mobile homes and broken down pick-up trucks, but that sweet crystal gives them delusions of better lives just right around the corner. Only when those dreams collapse someone usually ends up shotgunned or with an axe buried in their skull.
McBride contrasts the tweakers against the normal folks like Banks who only took the money on impulse to help send his teens to college and provide for his special-needs daughter, and there’s Olen, the old farmer who is just trying to live out his last years while mourning for lost loved ones.
As a violent story that illustrates the damage that meth can do on one small community, this works pretty well, and it’s completely different in tone and execution than Frank Sinatra in a Blender which was a more deliberately outrageous kind of crime novel.
The one area where it falls down is in the very plain way that McBride lays out each characters thoughts. Every emotion and motivation is plainly expressed, there’s almost no subtext to any of them. For example, we’re plainly told that Banks is a good man despite taking the money and that he loves his family. It probably would have worked better if we were shown this rather than told, but it’s possible that McBride was trying portray the plain-spoken nature of country folk although it’s been my experience that there are often vast oceans of unspoken history and truths between people in small towns.
Still, it’s well-done story that fans of redneck crime fiction will probably enjoy....more
This book inspired one of the greatest head-scratchers in the history of film adaptations when Hollywood decided that Burglar would feature Whoopi GolThis book inspired one of the greatest head-scratchers in the history of film adaptations when Hollywood decided that Burglar would feature Whoopi Goldberg playing a white male and Bobcat Goldthwait would be perfect as a lesbian dog groomer.
I got to meet Lawrence Block while he was on a book tour for Hope to Die, and I asked him if he knew what prompted the movie producers to have Whoopi play Bernie. Even though it was obvious that he’d answered this about a million times before Block patiently explained that he had no input on the film version, and that the story he heard was that initially Bruce Willis was supposed to be Bernie and Whoopi was cast as Carol. However, Willis bowed out, and some genius got the brilliant idea to have her play Bernie which then led to gender swapping Carol into Bobcat Goldthwait. And thus cinema history was made….
Professional burglar Bernie Rhodenbarr just wanted to get his teeth cleaned, but his dentist Carl Sheldrake has a proposal for him. Sheldrake’s ex-wife Crystal reamed him in their divorce settlement, and he’d like to get some payback by having Bernie steal her large collection of valuable jewelry. Bernie could use the cash so he agrees to what seems like an easy payday.
However, after he’s broken into her apartment and collected the jewels, Crystal returns unexpectedly with a gentleman friend, and Bernie has to hide in a closet while the two make with the bow-chick-a-bow-wow. Before he can escape, Crystal winds up murdered and adding insult to injury the killer stole the briefcase full of loot that Bernie had collected.
Bernie is determined to recover the jewels he stole fair and square so he plays amateur sleuth with the help of Sheldrake’s pretty dental hygienist. However, he soon finds himself the primary suspect when the cops learn that he was in the apartment.
This is the second book featuring Bernie, and Block delivers a witty and off-beat mystery with the morally challenged burglar. Like most of Block’s stuff there’s a lot of fun conversations that veer off into unexpected directions, and there’s an interesting solution to who killed Crystal and why. My only gripe was that despite what the presence of Bobcat in the movie would lead you to believe, this early in the series Bernie hasn’t met his best friend Carol yet so I missed their goofy interactions....more