Hugo Marston is the sort of understated hero you often find in Alan Furst’s work, with perhaps a bit more grit given his ranching background in Texas...moreHugo Marston is the sort of understated hero you often find in Alan Furst’s work, with perhaps a bit more grit given his ranching background in Texas and his work as head of security at the American Embassy in Paris. Hugo is an engaging character, urbane and polished, but also possessing a Texan’s independent streak and a dogged determination to solve the mystery of his friend Max’s disappearance. There are plenty of red herrings to lead you astray in this very fine and fast-paced debut. Pryor excels at creating memorable characters; even those who make the briefest of appearances are fully realized. I particularly like Tom, the semiretired CIA agent. With his fondness for the bottle and his foul mouth, he makes a great foil for Hugo.
Let’s see, have I missed anything? Oh, yes. There are Nazi hunters and Nazi collaborators, a sexy reporter who may or may not be playing Hugo, an aristocratic bibliophile, and gunplay. Not enough for you yet? Add some dazzling descriptions of Paris in winter and a peek into the history of the booksellers who inhabit the stalls along the Seine, and you’ve got an appealing and exciting new thriller to read. I’m already looking forward to Hugo’s next adventure and hoping there will be many more. (less)
Dee De Tarsio is one of the funniest women on the planet. I’d love to see her do stand-up, but until she opts for a career change I’ll just have to re...moreDee De Tarsio is one of the funniest women on the planet. I’d love to see her do stand-up, but until she opts for a career change I’ll just have to read her books. She excels at writing hapless heroines, wacky characters and situations that spiral delightfully out of control. Her latest, Haole Wood, is a standout novel featuring Jaswinder Park, who has had orgasms that last longer than some of her jobs. When her Korean-Hawaiian grandmother Halmoni is arrested, Jaswinder is dispatched to Maui by her family to extract the old woman from jail. Since granny is an “herbalist” (yeah, right), keeping her out of trouble is a challenge for Jaswinder and one that she fails when Halmoni is arrested again.
But this time, the charge is murder. A handsome developer who has tried to buy Halmoni’s property is found dead and Halmoni was the last to visit him. If only Jaswinder could provide an alibi for her grandmother, but our heroine needed to blow off steam and spent the evening (a) getting wasted, (b) meeting the developer at a local bar and licking salt off his palm, and (c) hooking up with a handsome young doctor.
Can Jaswinder save her Halmoni? Can Jaswinder save herself? You’ll just have to read this utterly charming book to find out. But beware, you’re liable to spit out your daiquiri when you do. I had to read it behind closed doors because I got tired of my husband asking “What’s so funny?”
Read this book if you need a laugh, and read it if you need a vacation. Dee brilliantly evokes the lush island atmosphere. You can practically smell the sunscreen. It’s been years since I’ve been to Maui but this book made me wonder why I haven’t been back. I do have one regret: I wish I’d saved this book for January. It would be the perfect antidote to the winter blues, but honestly, you’ll enjoy it whenever you read it. Treat yourself. (less)