3.5 stars This a book full of thrilling action scenes and colorful characters.I feel that a lot of research went into recreating historically the time...more3.5 stars This a book full of thrilling action scenes and colorful characters.I feel that a lot of research went into recreating historically the time and place, but it did not transport me there as I found it difficult to picture the setting, and the characters did not seem real to me. There were some interesting facts brought out. I had never heard of the witiki but had often read about the Wendigo which is the same evil spirit. I was surprised to find out that Wendigo psychosis was a real psychological syndrome. Eating human flesh was abhorrent to the Native tribes, and the syndrome is described as an intense craving for human flesh accompanied by a fever, and intense fear by the person possessed than he would succumb to the cravings. The early section describing the sickness in Kitane I found ridiculous until I learned that it was a real historical condition. Also it was interesting to learn that the Dutch women of the colony had freedom to conduct business, own property and travel unescorted to negotiate trade. Among the cast of colorful characters: Blandine von Couvering A beautiful young woman who is called a she-trader.She is a strong, independent business woman. She is a former orphan. The Orphanmaster, Aet Visser who was Blandine's mentor. This was an actual position where his job was to find positions as servants for the orphans whose parents died in the colonies, or to import homeless orphans from Europe to work in the New World. Drummond, a dashing, handsome British spy, sent to locate those who signed King Charles' death warrant and who were hiding in early America. The nephew of Governor Petrus Stuyvesant, who was in love with Blandine. Stuyvesant is described as harsh and had power of life or death over people accused of crimes. A wealthy aristocrat living in a mansion on a large estate who was addicted to opium. Kitane, a native who believes he is possssed by the witiki which turns people into cannibals. A frightening half German/Indian who is conflicted by his heritage. A huge Black man who protects Blandine. He was hanged but the rope broke and he was given his freedom, but attends Blandine everywhere. The story is set in Manhattan in 1663. The place is the Dutch colony of New Amsterdam just prior to its fall to the British and named New York. Orphan children are missing, and some of their cannibalized bones are turning up. Blandine and Drummond decide to join forces to solve who is taking the orphans, as those in authority don't seem to care.They become attracted to one another and seem to get sidetracked making love in a wilderness cabin for what seems like a long time. Once they return to the town they learn that Blandine is to be burned as a witch as demonic markings and totem items have been planted in her home. Drummond is to be hanged as a spy as the Governor has translated his diary which was found when his living quarters were searched. The reader learns who is taking the children long before Blandine and Drummond solve the mystery. The solution coincides with the Dutch colony falling to the British. Not to be confused with the novel The Orphan Master's Son set in modern North Korea.
Tana French's stories display quality writing within stories of complex police proceedings and psychological suspense. For me, it was her best book s...more Tana French's stories display quality writing within stories of complex police proceedings and psychological suspense. For me, it was her best book since her first, In the Woods. This is the 4th book in the Dublin Murder Squad series. Each book places a supporting member of the police squad as a leading character in the next. This time we have the arrogant Scorcher Kennedy, who prides himself in rigid control and adhering to police rules and ethics. A characteristic of these books is that the people, even the detectives, have deeply repressed,emotionally wounding events in their past. Scorcher with his new rookie partner, Richie, are assigned to a place once called Broken Harbor.When he was a child, Scorcher's family spent their summer vacations there until a tragedy occurred. This may have caused or contributed to his younger sister's psychosis, and made Scorcher into the rigid man he is, lacking spontaneity and friends.He has never cared for partners in the past, but after lecturing Richie how to dress (suit and tie) and how to behave by-the-book, he is beginning to like him and finds they work well together.Richie is much better at drawing suspects and victims out by making them comfortable during interrogation. What they find in Broken Harbor is a half-built ghost town. The houses were to be part of an upscale development. The economy went bad, and most of the homes were not completed. Many are left standing half built, with shoddy material and empty. At one of the homes a father and two young children were brutally murdered and the mother left in a coma. The home is immaculate, but there is the mystery of large holes punched in the walls and ceiling and why a large toothed trap has been set in the attic. Did the father, Patrick Spain, who was described as a stable, prosperous, loving family man kill his family and then himself? The police learn he recently became unemployed and spent much time on the computer trying to get help in solving a mystery he perceives in the house.He starts rational in the beginning, but as time goes by becomes more and more unhinged. And why has a mysterious man be camped out on the grounds watching the house? As time goes by, Kennedy begins losing the rigid control in which he prided himself. His insane sister keeps intruding on his solitary life, bringing back hurt and guilt from the past at Broken Harbor. When the case is solved all the characters are worse of than before. Poor Richie.I hope the author can find a way to bring him back in the next book. We are left with a quandary. Which is worse, temporarily withholding evidence or planting false evidence? As I said about In the Woods, if you like everything neatly tied up at the end with everyone getting what they deserve, you may be disappointed. Tana French has, with this book has become one of my very favorite mystery writers. (less)
3.5 stars. A highly original story, and my favorite book with a talking duck-billed platypus as the main character. Albert, the Platypus has escaped fr...more3.5 stars. A highly original story, and my favorite book with a talking duck-billed platypus as the main character. Albert, the Platypus has escaped from an Adelaide zoo and travels by train to Tennant Creek. From there he starts on a quest to find the rumored Old Australia, where animals live in peace and he can swim all day. Carrying only an empty soda bottle, Albert finds himself in the outback desert, a most inhospitable place for a platypus.He soon meets up with other animals,and becomes friends with an elderly wombat who likes to start fires. They spend the night drinking and gambling at an old mining town where the bar tender and bouncer are kangaroos. They do not like Albert because he is not a marsupial. Since Albert was drunk he remembers little about the night. Albert is now wanted dead or alive. Posters everywhere offer a reward as he is blamed for burning down the building and cheating at cards. At this point the story turns into an old-fashioned shoot-em-up Western adventure. There are drunken bandicoots, dingoes, a kangaroo militia, a visitor from America whom I believe is a raccoon,an opossum and a broken down former prize fighting Tasmanian devil. Some of my favorite books have had talking animals as the subjects (Watership Down, The Plague Dogs) or as narrators (Art of Racing in the Rain)where the animals still behaved like animals. By giving Albert and the others many human characteristics took away most of the charm of the story for me.The animals fought with guns, spears and every other type of weapon. The had clothing and sat around a fire brewing tea, which for me detracted from their animal characteristics and weakened the story. Albert carries a gun but was glad to see him resort to his poisonous spurs which platypuses have in order to fight.I think the book would make an enjoyable animated movie. There are themes of friendship, loyalty, bravery and prejudice against ones who are different, and the quest for a better life. (less)
4.5 stars. This resembles a tabloid story, which makes it an easy read and entertaining, if shocking. Anderson seems to have done his homework with mu...more4.5 stars. This resembles a tabloid story, which makes it an easy read and entertaining, if shocking. Anderson seems to have done his homework with much research and interviews.: Oh Mick, You have been a very naughty boy! It chronicles a life of sex, drugs and (not so much) rock and roll.It spans from childhood to the formation of the Rolling Stones to the present 50th anniversary of the founding of the band. We have heard of some of the 4000+ women and a few of the men Mick has been involved with over the years, and some of the names mentioned in the book are surprising. Also, surprising is the reason given why the Queen decided to have elective surgery on the day of Mick's knighthood ceremony. We see Mick as a neglectful father transformed to a devoted father and grandfather. He also maintained close ties with his parents. He has the dilemma of persuading his daughters and grand daughters not to get involved with older men like himself while still leading a life of promiscuity. He seems to have given up drugs for healthy diet to maintain his energy on stage, but in early days drugs were varied and numerous . Included is the rapid decline and death of Brian Jones, who actually founded the group. As in Keith's book, Bill Wyman is barely mentioned.The long love/hate friendship with Keith Richards is probably his most long lasting relationship. If only a fraction of the book is true, it is amazing, almost magical that many of his contemporary rock stars have been dead for 40 years from excess in their lifestyle, whereas Mick continues to entertain and thrill with his energetic on stage performances with his band. Moves like Jagger, indeed!(less)
4.5 stars This is the 3rd book in the detective Emmanuel Cooper series. Malla Nunn's books provide a great sense of time and place, and as you read the...more4.5 stars This is the 3rd book in the detective Emmanuel Cooper series. Malla Nunn's books provide a great sense of time and place, and as you read the unraveling of some very intriguing mysteries you also learn much of the racial and class differences enforced by law with the beginning of apartheid. Such prejudices were widely held before the legal system forbade any mixing of black and white people, and the white citizens got all the privileges and the black could not hope for anything more than servile positions or poorly paid labor work. I felt that the first book in the series gave a better understanding of the system as it emphasized the class differences between the Afrikaners (Dutch early settlers) and the English settlers.In this book we have a wealthy English farming family and a poorer Afrikaan family, but are not given reason for why they do not mix in this society and their dislike for one another.. Cooper is an interesting character. He is still haunted by his experiences as a soldier in WW2. His identity card classifies him as White , but he may have some mixed blood in his background. In the second book he was reclassified for a time as Colored (meaning anyone of mixed race, also East Indian, etc.) This was one category above Black. In the second book we saw how Cooper's new classification changed his status in society. Cooper works closely with a Zulu constable, who cannot by law drive a car and cannot enter many places open to Cooper, but his knowledge of bush tracking, and understanding and ability to communicate with the natives is invaluable. The two have become great friends which is considered wrong by many. Cooper and the Zulu detective, Shabalala, are sent to a remote area to investigate the murder of a beautiful black teenaged girl, daughter of a Zulu chief. They are given the case because the killing of a native is not considered a priority. When it appears that a white person may be involved, Cooper is withdrawn from the case due to political pressure. He stays behind to be Shabalala's driver, while he disobeys and continues to investigate the crime. A Jewish doctor has been called in to conduct the autopsy on the murdered girl. He cannot stay at a hotel because of his race, and stays with the local doctor who has refused to examine the dead native girl.Soon another dead body is discovered of a native man who had a crush on the dead girl. Both have been killed in the same way by unusual method. There is also a wild feral child, a son of the wealthy English family. Today he might be classified as autistic, but in considered crazy by some and to have magical powers by others. The dead girl worked for his family and was given special privileges which the other servants did not have. I love a book that transports you to another place and time. This has well developed interesting characters, and you also learn much about South Africa's troubled history in her books. Hoping to read more about Emmanuel Cooper in the future.(less)
A book about a group of conceited , elite, intellectual snobs attending a small New England university and studying Greek and Classics. I found the w...more
A book about a group of conceited , elite, intellectual snobs attending a small New England university and studying Greek and Classics. I found the writing somewhat pretentious as well as the characters. None of the students in this group were likable and as a character study I felt it failed to explain what made them such outsiders, not interested in others at the university. I can't categorize it as a psychological mystery, as I didn't think it worked as a psychological study except to point out their annoying habits and conversation, and we know very early on who was killed and by whom. There is continuous drinking, drug taking, mixed in with Greek, Latin, philosophy and two murders and possibly incest.. The book was very slow moving and long. Despite my problems with it I need to give it a high rating, because the style was mesmerizing and was unable to put it down.
This is the third book starring Vish Puri (nicknamed Chubby), India's Most Private Investigator. He no longer refers to himself as the greatest priva...more This is the third book starring Vish Puri (nicknamed Chubby), India's Most Private Investigator. He no longer refers to himself as the greatest private detective in India, which was always amusing.I love the fabulous characters, which include secret sleuthing by Puri's Mommy, and those doing detective work for him. The people who he meets in solving crimes are always interesting and colorful. Here we have a number of cases to be solved. The major crime was the poisoning of the father of a Pakistani cricket hero at a sports banquet, and subsequently another murder with the same poison.A path is followed to possible overseas bet fixing.There is also a blood diamond smuggling ring with international connections. Puri shows a lot of misgivings and some dread when he must go to Pakistan as part of his investigation, but once there decides the people he meet are not the enemies he feared.I did not find these two plots as entertaining as his previous books which mainly dealt with crimes unique to India. More informative and interesting was crime connections to the 1947 partition of India which created Pakistan as a separate country and the horrific death toll which followed. The mystery of why world famous long mustaches were being stolen while the owners slept and the reason was only given a minor role, and this mystery seemed more in keeping with the series. I especially like the dialogue where the speech patterns seem true to the way English is spoken in India. (less)
Having liked Flynn's previous books, I was anxious to read this one. She writes character driven stories of psychological suspense, and has been comp...more Having liked Flynn's previous books, I was anxious to read this one. She writes character driven stories of psychological suspense, and has been compared to one of my favorites, Tana French. I can't say that I enjoyed this story. I found it an unpleasant read. The two main characters were unlikable,vulgar language seemed unnecessary and thrown in for shock value, and I thought the ending very disappointing. One of the characters was brilliant but hateful, and the other behaved in an inappropriate manner and kept doing stupid things. So why did I give it 4 or even 4.5 stars? Because most of the crime/suspense stories I have recently read are forgettable and run together in my mind. Flynn is an original, and this burns in my memory and I was unable to put it down, despite my discomfort in reading it. The story involves a married couple, Ned and Amy. They were living the high life in NYC. They lose their jobs as magazine writers due to the internet. Amy still has a huge trust fund. Her parents became wealthy as they wrote a best selling series of children's books, Amazing Amy, where she was main character as the perfect child. They move back to a small town in Missouri where many are now unemployed. Ned's purpose in returning to his hometown is to oversee his hated father in a nursing home and his beloved mother is dying. Amy buys a bar for Ned and his twin sister. Later they find themselves almost broke as her parents want most of Amy's trust fund back. Amy disappears from their home on their 5th wedding anniversary. The house shows sign of a struggle, and there is evidence of a large amount of blood which has been cleaned up. The chapters alternate between Ned's narration after the disappearance and Amy's diaries which begin when she first met Ned until her disappearance. We see that the couple's romance has deteriorated to the point that they barely tolerate each other. Flynn is a master of character development and we feel we know the married couple well. Then BAM! Almost halfway through the book there is a huge plot twist,which is very unsettling. We question everything we thought we knew. To say anymore about the plot would spoil the book for anyone who wants to read it. (less)
Award winning, David Adams Richards is quickly becoming my favourite Canadian novelist.He is a great story teller with the gift of transporting the r...more Award winning, David Adams Richards is quickly becoming my favourite Canadian novelist.He is a great story teller with the gift of transporting the reader to the time and place where the books are set.He has the gift of drawing you into the lives of the hard and brave men and of the women they love. This book is set in the lumber camps of the Miramichi in New Brunswick, and the hard and dangerous lives of the men who work there. The time is just before and after WW2, when the work is done with saws, axes, horses and sledges and reads like a Greek tragedy.This way of life will quickly become obsolete with the mechanization of the lumber industry. I won't go into the summary of the book as this has been well done already. I will comment on the book's clever title. I thought meager fortune referred to the poverty in which many of the people in his books live, or that meager fortune indicated the misfortune/bad luck which is the fate of many of his characters. Part way through the book we learn that Meager Fortune is actually the name of a physically small man doing odd jobs in the camp. Early on the lumberjacks consider him simple minded, but he shows himself later to be heroic and kind in a place of great danger where there is little compassion for other workers. 4.5 stars(less)