Solid but flawed; the double plot line and flashback structure does not serve the narrative well, but it's an interesting case and William South is anSolid but flawed; the double plot line and flashback structure does not serve the narrative well, but it's an interesting case and William South is an interesting (if slight) character. But very well written and still engaging....more
A very fine debut, part police procedural, part medical procedural, and all London (with some backstory in Afghanistan). Quite good on the sociology oA very fine debut, part police procedural, part medical procedural, and all London (with some backstory in Afghanistan). Quite good on the sociology of the underclass and criminality. ...more
This book is amazing; I'll have more to say about it, but I just finished it, and I really liked it--if "liked" is the right word for a novel that's sThis book is amazing; I'll have more to say about it, but I just finished it, and I really liked it--if "liked" is the right word for a novel that's so unrelentingly dark....more
Read it again in June 2016 – even better than I'd remembered it.
Just terrific. I can't state this categorically, but Lee Child may be the best genre wRead it again in June 2016 – even better than I'd remembered it.
Just terrific. I can't state this categorically, but Lee Child may be the best genre writer working today. He is an absolutely brilliant plotter--the stories are almost ridiculous in outline form, but he makes them work, like a well-oiled but continually surprising machine. And he's a clever writer, too, with a droll sense of humor that leavens the otherwise grisly, violent storytelling. He's also smart and insightful.
For example, in the aftermath of a home invasion, which wasn’t really a home invasion. Reacher observes to himself:
"Three guys. No doubt the Maricopa County DA would call them invaders. As in, “a home invasion turned tragic tonight, in an exclusive gated community northeast of town. Film at eleven.” The copy would call them perpetrators. Their lawyers would call them clients. Politicians would call them scum. Criminologists would call them sociopaths. Sociologists would call them misunderstood.
"The 110th MP would call them dead men walking."
And this bit about Reacher and reading was compelling:
“He liked fiction better than fact, because fact often wasn’t. Like most people he knew a couple of things for sure, up close and eyeballed, and when he saw them in books they were wrong. So he liked make-up stories better, because everyone know where they were from the get-go. He was strict about genre. Either shit happened, or it didn’t.”
And how about this gem of an insight, on visiting a man's home in Palo Alto, California?:
"The guy’s house was a 1950s box remodeled in the 1970s to look like the 1930s. Reacher figured it had a triple layer of ironic authenticity all its own, and was therefore worth more than all the money he had made in his life.”
And of course Child created Jack Reacher. The man who has a past but not a future: "He had no place to go, and all the time in the world to get there." Reacher is the ultimate stranger in town, somewhat reluctant to get involved in things but when he does get involved, he's all in (he does have the almost superhuman competence of a superhero, but it seems more reasonable in Jack Reacher novel than it ever does in a comic book). He's a fixer, a doer, a solver, and then he moves on.
If you like thrillers, this one is just dandy. ...more
Very interesting and well written espionage thriller, the 10th book from Steinhauer. The foreground story takes place in a restaurant in Carmel, CalifVery interesting and well written espionage thriller, the 10th book from Steinhauer. The foreground story takes place in a restaurant in Carmel, California, a conversation/interrogation between two former lovers, one of whom is a former spy. Secrets are resurrected; wounds are opened. Good stuff....more
Inspector Irene Huss is back at work investigating two cases that arise on a wintry night in Göteborg, Sweden, in this excellent seventh novel: a high Inspector Irene Huss is back at work investigating two cases that arise on a wintry night in Göteborg, Sweden, in this excellent seventh novel: a high-speed chase of a stolen car that strikes and kills a retired police officer named Torleif and the subsequent discovery of a half-naked young girl’s ravaged body in an abandoned root cellar. Discovering the drug-crazed criminals behind the hit-and-run is straightforward, but the murder of the girl requires Huss and her colleagues to investigate a much larger issue: human trafficking and sex crimes (like many Nordic crime writers, Tursten is very interested in the sociology of criminality). The mystery takes the narrative from pimps in Sweden to the underworld in Tenerife (the Canary Island), where Inspector Juan Rejón wants some Swedish help with some local murders. In a bizarre meeting with one of the traffickers, Huss witnesses a shockingly violent encounter between rival gangs. But most of the action is more in line with a procedural: Huss and her fellow officers diligently and intelligently looking for clues that will lead them to the killer of the abused girl. Cleverly, the reference to the biege man of the title isn’t revealed until the very last page. ...more
excellent...super short flash fiction (which is not typically something I like to read), but these stories were impressively good and often moving.
A sexcellent...super short flash fiction (which is not typically something I like to read), but these stories were impressively good and often moving.
A side note: I am all for seeing authors get paid for their efforts, but $14.95 for fewer than 100 pages is a bit much. I'm not saying Carlson isn't worth it; he surely is; I'm saying that that price is virtually guaranteed to keep this book in relative anonymity. ...more
Contemporary Los Angeles is the setting for this excellent neo-noir mystery surrounding a beautiful young actress who is the mistress of critically acContemporary Los Angeles is the setting for this excellent neo-noir mystery surrounding a beautiful young actress who is the mistress of critically acclaimed movie director Authur Vonz. Vonz hires private investigator John Darvelle, who narrates the story with a wry sense of humor and a philosophical bent, to track Suzanne Neal down and give her a letter—she kept her personal details secret from him. Darvelle finds her, but before he can give her Vonz’s message, she is murdered. In the course of his investigation, Darvelle uncovers an extremely sophisticated prostitution operation, involving the “pipe girls” of the title: hookers for wealthy, prominent people who could never afford or tolerate indiscretion. The trail leads Darvelle to a high-powered actor, a former mobster, a deadly serious pimp, and a clever insight into the meaning of a tattoo. It also leads into the nuances of Los Angeles; Craven seems to know the city well and writes about it with conviction. The book is dryly funny, but its humor doesn’t dilute the suspense and narrative momentum; it is an extremely well-plotted book. And Darvelle, a quirky, thoughtful detective, is a great character; though serious about his work, he doesn’t take himself too seriously.
A quote which illustrates the thoughtfulness that makes this book transcend genre:
"As a detective you need to write things down. That's pretty obvious. But I write things down, thoughts that occur to me, ideas that pop into my head, that have nothing to do with cases. I didn't always do this. But now that I do, I could dnever go back. Because oftentimes a thought comes to you out of nowhere. Sometimes it's useful to your life, sometimes it's a moment of clarity about something you've been mulling over, sometimes it's just a notion that you don't want to let go of. And if you don't write it down, something incredible can happen. It can disappear. Not for a moment, but forever. Like it was never there in the first place."
And the book is funny:
"She was topless and wearing a sarong. This is how these people lived. Jesus. What had I done wrong not to be one of these people?....She started giving him a massage. I thought two things: One: How does this long-haired blond douchebag fit into my story? And two: How do I get one of those massages?"
And undeniably clever:
"The Hunt. The Hunt to solve The Problem. When you are on the hunt, when your mind is locked into a search for the answers....you are in a different and special place. When you are on the hunt, your mind and your body and your consciousness are engaged. And that is good. When you are on the hunt to solve the problem, that special place is in fact a higher place. My friend, you are connoted to a powerful and empowering force. And the things that trouble you, or fill you with anxiety, or stress you out, go away.....When you are not on the hunt, you are the one who is dying....When you are on the hunt, you are happy."...more
There are subcultures and then there are subcultures, and the subculture of this well written book is the borough of Queens and a cadre of undercoverThere are subcultures and then there are subcultures, and the subculture of this well written book is the borough of Queens and a cadre of undercover narcotics agents ("Uncles") trying to make their quota (of buys and arrests) and keep their jobs in the never-ending, impossible-to-win war on drugs. The heroine is Janice Itwaru, but this is less a genre novel than a kind of urban picaresque, a long look at a world no reader is likely to want to inhabit. Often very funny, finely observed, and telling--but lacks real narrative momentum and a satisfying answer to the perennial question, "What's at stake?"
The British writers do the "small" novel better than anyone: This is a modest endeavor but that's not damning with faint praise. It's terrific (and IThe British writers do the "small" novel better than anyone: This is a modest endeavor but that's not damning with faint praise. It's terrific (and I speak as a huge fan, having read all of the author's novels), a small comedy of manners set in 1958 in a London suburb and (more important) the site of the Brussels World Fair (the Expo 58 of the title).Thomas Foley is a mid-level functionary for Britain’s Central Office for Information, tapped to manage the Britannia, an authentic English pub that will be part of the British pavilion at the fair. The plot line mixes romance (a beautiful Belgian hostess, Anneke) with a decidedly comic intrigue involving two bumbling British spies, Wayne and Radford and Andrey Chersky, a Soviet agent pretending to be a journalist. While it can be read as a comedy of manners or a satire, Coe is working on some big themes here, including Britain trying to finds its place in the post-War European landscape, and Britons trying to find their place in the post-War British class system. Coe also uses period detail and historical fact quite seamlessly, and the result is a droll, clever novel that becomes quite movingly bittersweet.