Another unusual Montalbano story, in that there really isn't a crime for most of the book. When there is, it is fairly simple to figure out whodunnit....moreAnother unusual Montalbano story, in that there really isn't a crime for most of the book. When there is, it is fairly simple to figure out whodunnit. Hint: (view spoiler)[ the bad guy is always someone Camilleri mentions in the book. He doesn't mention many new characters in this one (hide spoiler)].
In most of the stories, we get descriptions of horrible murders committed by organized crime, drug smugglers or other people with a financial interest in a death. In this one, there's a creepy treasure hunt, which turns deadly at the end.
I like mysteries where the murder is just business, which is the case in most of the Montalbano stories. In this one, it's a hobby, and I'm just not happy with that.
After a disappointing The Age of Doubt, this series is back on track. Fazio disappears, and Montalbano must find him. Along the way, he still has to t...moreAfter a disappointing The Age of Doubt, this series is back on track. Fazio disappears, and Montalbano must find him. Along the way, he still has to think about his relationship with Livia, getting older, and his appetite.
This story had an actual mystery to solve, about a character we care about. Like all the stories, once the immediate crisis is over, the story slows down to a Sicilian pace, only to speed up again as all the loose threads come together.
Like all these stories, the translations are lovingly done, and no attempt is made to make this book as an "American" style mystery. The idioms don't get overtly Americanized, either, so we get wonderful word paintings of life in Vigita.
As usual, though, the brutality of Mafia and the roughness of life also come through. I can't recommend these to those with a delicate sensibility to violence, but Camilleri balances the sweetness of life with the horror of murder in a bold way.(less)
I like these books. As a middle-aged man, I understand what Montalbano is going through as he sees himself getting older, possibly less desirable to w...moreI like these books. As a middle-aged man, I understand what Montalbano is going through as he sees himself getting older, possibly less desirable to women, and still putting up with a bureaucracy that gets in the way more than anything else.
The criminal aspect of this book is weak, and the story has more to do with Montalbano's attraction to a young harbor official. As I read it, my attention strayed from the the whodunit aspect to the rhythm of the language and the musings of an aging worker.
One of the problems for us older guys is that, while we know our bodies are getting older, our brains are still 25 years old. Young women are still attractive (but so are the older ones, now, too). Paperwork seems to creep up and take up a bigger part of life. And rituals, like a regular lunch place, become more important.
Like all these stories, there is not a neat, tidy ending. There are questionable police tactics, poor decisions, complete disregard of protocol. There are moral questions that go unanswered. But at the same time, there's a gentleness there, a heart behind the badge.
If you're a fan of these stories, read this one. If you haven't read any of them, start at the first one. (less)
This is a breezy riff on classic fairy tale stories, with a nudge-nudge, wink-wink to modern sensibilities. For instance, when you hold the philosophe...moreThis is a breezy riff on classic fairy tale stories, with a nudge-nudge, wink-wink to modern sensibilities. For instance, when you hold the philosophers stone, you begin spurting out little philosophical nuggets, which all the other characters immediately identify and classify ("You're talking epistemology").
There's a subtheme about historical Jewish persecution, and the role of virginity in magic.
If the story didn't move along so briskly, the humor would wear more thin, but this is a frothy little story for teen/adult readers who like their fairy tales with the fourth wall removed.
If Once Upon a Time had Mel Brooks as a producer, the flashback scenes would be like this book.
As it is, if you wanted to dramatize this book, it would be a romcom on Lifetime or Hallmark. It's a fairy tale, so you know how it will turn out, and you just want to see how they get there. (less)
This is a wonderfully written, but very predictable story in the "teens have to save the world" mode. Since it is loosely based on a fairy tales, you...moreThis is a wonderfully written, but very predictable story in the "teens have to save the world" mode. Since it is loosely based on a fairy tales, you sorta know what's going to happen, but Meyer is a completely engaging writer and I kept turning the pages, wondering how she is going to get the next bit of fairy tale in a sci-fi fantasy book.
If I were a tween or young teenaged girl, I'd probably be completely enamored of this book. As a middle-aged man, though, I am slightly embarrassed to admit to reading it. Still, I've read worse chic-lit stuff, and Meyer has done a great job mashing up the fairy tale/sci-fi genres.
There's one book left to go in this series, and I'll be interested to see if Meyer deviates from the standard fairy tale endings. I know she'll have some twist and turns along the way, and I hope she can deliver on the last book.(less)
I've read most of the Thursday Next books, and both Nursery Crimes books/
This one is paced differently, and doesn't have the wacky absurdity of the o...moreI've read most of the Thursday Next books, and both Nursery Crimes books/
This one is paced differently, and doesn't have the wacky absurdity of the other books. It is a cross between 1984 and, what, Terry Pratchett maybe? It's more a straight dystopian story, and one that I enjoyed for the first 300 pages or so. The pace was slower, the post-apocalyptic aspects interesting, and the writing excellent. While it wasn't a page-turner, I enjoyed the way the story unfolded and looked forward to reading it.
But the last part of the story just made me think that Fforde realized he had a deadline and closed out the story, with a teaser about two more forthcoming books. I can already tell what the plots are, because they'll be exactly like Lord of the Rings or Dune or any other trilogy, and things will be awful in the second book and halfway through the third before the good guys win/lose.
In the acknowledgments in the back of the book, Fforde says this book ended up being more difficult than he anticipated. He did not have a satisfactory ending, and, while the story makes sense at the end, it also feels like all the other books with a plucky young person trying to change the world against overwhelming odds. The main characters remained roughly sketched out and there was no real closure, just an opening to a next book.
I've just come to expect more from Fforde, and this story didn't deliver. Maybe that's why it's been 5 years with no second book. And that's probably ok. He's been working the Dragonslayer series, so maybe this book will be left as a reminder of what could have been. (less)
This was a gentler story than the previous ones. This takes place a week after the last book, as Harriet returns to b...moreI'd give it 4.5 stars, actually.
This was a gentler story than the previous ones. This takes place a week after the last book, as Harriet returns to be buried. The family is in turmoil, Dad is catatonic with grief, and all sorts of long-lost relatives and friends are showing up, including Winston Churchill.
The whole book takes place in the space of a couple of days, with a murder to solve and riddles about Harriet's past and Flavia's future.
As far as I know, this is the end of the Flavia de Luce stories, although there is plenty of room for her to come back in a few years in a completely different sort of books. The story ties up many loose ends, opens up a brand new one, and is an entirely satisfactory read. (less)