Dennis Lehane NEVER ceases to amaze me with the gift he has. He evokes so much emotion from his readers...simply by the way he strings his words toget...moreDennis Lehane NEVER ceases to amaze me with the gift he has. He evokes so much emotion from his readers...simply by the way he strings his words together to make sentences and paragraphs. For example, right off the bat in the prologue the reader is painted this incredible picture:
"If time for me really is a series of bookmarks, then I feel as if someone has shaken the book and those yellowed slips of paper, torn matchbook covers and flattened coffee stirrers have fallen to the floor, and the dog-eared flaps have been pressed smooth."
Later in the novel, Rachel says, "...the dreams often stringing together and piggybacking off one another until they come to resemble a novel written by Picasso."
A novel written by Picasso? Who can't imagine that? And every person's image is going to be different, but they are all going to be "abstract."
Both of these quotes epitomize the utter chaos of the insane mind. And in a way, the whole book epitomizes that, but when you come to the conclusion, it isn't chaos at all; it's a well-formed, intricately layered plot. Every element works significantly and essentially with every other element.
And if having a phenomenal plot wasn't enough, the character development is outstanding. The range of emotion I felt for Dr. Crawley and Chuck was a range I've rarely experienced with reading. And Teddy will in all likelihood have to be added to my list of favorite characters. I cannot detail much more than that without giving spoilers aways, so I'll leave characterization at that.
Despite my raves about the plot and characters, there was one element that was even better...the perspective. Lehane gave this book the perfect voice. It wouldn't have been as suspenseful any other way.
In Shutter Island, I felt big bear arms wrap around me and pull me in; I could not put this book down. Every time I thought I started to grasp what was going on, a new twist evolved. And it wasn't a twist that made you think, "oh pahleeeaze! can he go any more overboard?" It was a twist that made you think, "Holy Cow! I didn't even see that coming, but it was there!" His twists are so convincing and so amazingly weaved into the fabric of the plot, that you start to be on guard. When the conclusion actually started to play out, I kept waiting for another twist. Isn't that what suspense is supposed to be about?
This is one of the most unique books I have run into in quite some time. I loved the integration with The Great Gatsby. Excellent twists in this novel...moreThis is one of the most unique books I have run into in quite some time. I loved the integration with The Great Gatsby. Excellent twists in this novel. (less)
"A picnic of words fell from Gail's mouth to be gathered around and savored slowly."
Winter's Bone is full of poetic language like this. I fell in lov...more"A picnic of words fell from Gail's mouth to be gathered around and savored slowly."
Winter's Bone is full of poetic language like this. I fell in love with Daniel Woodrell's use of the English language. It is incredible. In this novel, Ree, a teenage girl trying to hold her family together, must find out what happened to her father. If she doesn't the family will lose their house and be left to fend for themselves in the dire Ozark winter. I love the complexity of Ree's character and the setting, which differs greatly from any book I've read before.
Despite the ugliness of the situations in this book, the plot is masterful and beautiful. And you can't help but see the beauty of the human spirit, the strength of the family bond. Phenomenal novel.(less)
Milan Jacovich is a rather eccentric private investigator in Cleveland, Ohio, and he receives a strange call one night from Richard Amber, a big wig i...moreMilan Jacovich is a rather eccentric private investigator in Cleveland, Ohio, and he receives a strange call one night from Richard Amber, a big wig in the advertising business. Amber wants to hire Milan as a body guard for twelve hours. The pay is good; Milan has nothing better to do; so off he goes to meet Amber at his house in ritzy Pepper Pike. If the call wasn't strange enough, when Milan arrives, Amber is no where to be found.
The next morning, Milan receives yet another call. This time the call is from Amber's wife, Judith. She's also calling to hire Milan. Judith Amber wants Milan to find Richard Amber; he's missing. Richard Amber's disappearance may turn out to be more than your basic "missing person" case for Milan.
PEPPER PIKE is the first book in the popular Milan Jacovich series, originally published in 1988. Being from the Cleveland area, it's about time I got around to reading Cleveland's favorite P.I. If you've never been to the Cleveland area, believe me when I say that Les Roberts is not only true to the flavor and feel of this part of Ohio, but his love of the region radiates from the pages. I shivered actually feeling the wet and cold when Milan was trekking through some residential back yards.
In addition to the physical geography, Roberts does a stellar job illustrating class distinction and the sharp contrast that can exist in the Cleveland region. One needn't drive far to see the struggling working class and then the obscenely wealthy: from a bar where everyone is hanging their hopes on the night's lottery numbers to homes costing in the range of the mid six figures (remember it's the 80s). Even organized crime has a face in the urban sprawl of Cleveland.
The realism doesn't stop at the setting. Roberts is also a master crafter when it comes to his characters. Milan exhibits many of the traits of the traditional P.I. He's witty, a loner and has a knack for finding trouble even when he isn't looking for it. But he also has some traits unique to the P.I. character. As a female reader, the one I most admire is his respect for women, which is probably a reflection of his creator because the female characters in the novel are also worthy of respect. PEPPER PIKE is not full of beautiful women with empty heads, nor damsels in distress who are saved through sex. Roberts' emphasizes Milan's intelligence, thoughtfulness and vulnerability, not brute strength. Milan is also principled, encouraging the reader to develop a strong faith in Milan, cheering him on when the odds are against him.
PEPPER PIKE was an enjoyable read, and I'm glad I finally managed to remove it from the "to be read" pile and check it off the "read" list. I will also be adding the remainder of the series to my must read list. The biggest benefit of discovering a series late? Not having to wait for the next book to be published! Les Roberts published the fourteenth Milan Jacovich novel last year, so I'll have plenty of Milan to keep me reading for awhile.(less)
This is a collection of short stories about an English lawyer named Horace Rumpole. His "speciality" is defending criminals, and his colleagues often...moreThis is a collection of short stories about an English lawyer named Horace Rumpole. His "speciality" is defending criminals, and his colleagues often give him a hard time about his refusal to take any other types of cases. He refers to his wife as "She Who Must Be Obeyed" and seems to rather dislike his home life.
I had a hard time with the humor in this collection. Some of it was chuckle-worthy, but mostly I found myself groaning or rolling my eyes. The “She Who Must Be Obeyed” line was cute the first couple times it was used, but I was past tired of it by the final story.
Each of the short stories was rather predictable. You essentially knew what the outcome was going to be.
Rumpole struck me as a curmudgeon, full of self-pity. He’s also a rather flat character. He makes little change throughout the stories. He seems to resent others’ success even though he makes no attempt to change his own station. And his son Nick seemed to be following in his footsteps; even Nick's wife seemed to be a carbon-copy of his mother.
This is the first in the Rumpole series, but I won't be pursuing any of the other books.(less)
Journalist Philip Dryden is haunted by a car accident that left his wife in a coma. When another crime seems to link back to his own car accident, Dry...moreJournalist Philip Dryden is haunted by a car accident that left his wife in a coma. When another crime seems to link back to his own car accident, Dryden is out to "get the story."
I enjoyed the use of flashback in this novel. It helped bring details of the mystery out little by little, which in turn created suspense; the build up was better than the outcome, I thought. I don’t really think that both plots needed to occur simultaneously, though. The subplot dealing with Philip and Kathy’s car accident didn’t really need to be involved, and I think it kind of muddied the waters, so to speak. There ended up being quite a few characters in this book.
I had difficulty liking Philip Dryden. And his feelings toward his wife seemed to be inconsistent. He visits her daily, talks to her, tries to protect her when he knows someone is breaking in her room; yet, he doesn’t seem to believe she has any chance of recovery and then jumps in bed with Kathy Wilde. A lot of the time I didn’t feel he had any true emotions for either one of the women; he was just driven to get the story, and he’d use anyone and everyone to get there. Andrew Stubbs came across as indifferent to me as well. He was trying to save his job, but it seemed to me more like going through the motions than really WANTING to keep his job.
I did enjoy the character of Humph. He was unique. And I thought Billy Shepherd was a well-developed character. He came across as genuine to me. He really wanted to find out what happened to his brother.
Overall, the novel was okay, but I’m not interested in pursuing any of the others in this series. (less)
A cemetary vandalism leads townspeople to believe a pair of teens are burning churches. One of those burnings results in murder, and Judge Deborah Kno...moreA cemetary vandalism leads townspeople to believe a pair of teens are burning churches. One of those burnings results in murder, and Judge Deborah Knott is determined to find out the truth.
This novel seemed to start off rather slow. Looking back now, I see that it was very strong in character development, not as strong in plot development.
The character of Deborah was rather humorous. First of all she is “Judge Knott” in a book with strong religious references and racial issues – a la “Judge not lest ye be judged”? I also loved the pragmatist and the preacher. Made me think of movies and television where a little person sits on each shoulder of the character. I enjoyed the way Maron made religious threads weave through the entire novel. Not only does the novel involve burning churches, but each chapter starts out with a church sign. Personally, I get a kick out of reading church signs and the way they make use of the English language and its devices. Then of course there are quite a few Biblical illusions scattered throughout as well.
I also found her approach to the racial issues of the book interesting. There are many people out there trying to make a difference – both black and white, but those same people, well-meaning as they are, continue to keep the divide present.
There were some small details throughout that seemed to bug me. For example, toward the end, Deborah calls the sheriff to tell him to get a warrant to search a home. Yet, she gives no just cause for the warrant – she simply says “make sure you get [it].” No judge would do that because he/she would know a warrant couldn’t be issued just on say-so; cause is mandatory. (less)
The Crime Writer is a book within a book. The actual novel is being told in the first person by a writer who is writing the same story. The story of a...moreThe Crime Writer is a book within a book. The actual novel is being told in the first person by a writer who is writing the same story. The story of an author who wakes up to find himself in the hospital after a grand mal seizure caused by a brain tumor. During the time period he can't remember, he was found next to his ex-fiance who was stabbed to death. The author, Drew Danner, doesn't believe he killed his ex-fiance, but he can't be absolutely sure, so he goes in search of answers.
If this book doesn't end up making my Top 10 for 2008, this will be a heck of a year for reading. Gregg Hurwitz is an extremely talented writer. He kept me riveted the entire novel. I had to make myself put the book down at night or I would literally have been up all night reading, which I'm sure my employer would have frowned upon when I fell asleep at work!
I loved his humor. The exchanges between Danner and his "Little Brother" Junior are hysterical! I think I could have a special appreciation for them because Danner is supposed to be close in age to me, so I could just imagine myself in the same spot.
I also enjoyed the fact that Hurwitz didn't portray everyone as perfectly beautiful. I really dislike when the hero has to hook up with "the most beautiful woman he's ever seen" or the "most sexy woman he's every seen." Instead, Danner wants to be with Caroline because when he's with her, "it's the only time [he:] doesn't want to be somewhere else."
Hurwitz was especially creative with the inclusion of sections that were supposed to be Danner's edited manuscript. The comments from his editor, Preston, are very witty. I laughed out loud at many of them. It made me wonder if those are the kinds of comments Hurwitz actually gets from his editor.
I can't say enough good about this book. It was really a WOW outstanding book for me. (less)
Set in 1930s England, when Owen Montignac is cut out of his family's inheritance he must find another way to pay off his large gambling debts. What ex...moreSet in 1930s England, when Owen Montignac is cut out of his family's inheritance he must find another way to pay off his large gambling debts. What extent will he go to to accomplish this? And how far will his actions reach?
I was never able to establish much connection with the characters in this book. I found almost all of them repulsive, selfish and superficial. Their characterizations were often confusing. Owen was a pure psychotic; he killed multiple times with seemingly no affect, yet he felt some remorse for setting up Gareth? Gareth was supposively a highly intelligent young man but seemed to have absolutely no sense. And Stella, she wanted to marry a man she didn't love because she didn't want to experience love again (due to the pain), yet in the end she claims to have quickly gotten over Owen ten years earlier.
I also felt there were elements of the plot just left hanging. I can't see a sequel to this book, so I don't understand why those elements were even introduced if they were just going to be left up in the air. And the main point I was waiting for an explanation on, why Peter cut Owen out of the will, was never revealed. The parts of the plot that did have resolution were fairly predictable.
I really didn't find anything that made this book stand out.
Stephanie Plum has been downsized from her position as a lingerie buyer for a discount clothing store. In an effort to keep food in the fridge and a r...moreStephanie Plum has been downsized from her position as a lingerie buyer for a discount clothing store. In an effort to keep food in the fridge and a roof over her head she decides to try her hand at skip tracing for her cousin. Her first target turns out to be Joe Marelli, a veteran cop who she knew growing up. Her efforts to catch Joe lead her into a series of murders and suddenly Stephanie is in for more than she bargained for.
This was a quick read. It was light and funny, even bordering on silly. The plot was fairly predictable, but enjoyable.
Stephanie's grandmother was a hoot. I also enjoyed the character of Ranger. Evanovich has a very colorful cast of characters alongside Stephanie. (less)
Anna Pidgeon has taken a job in Mississippi on the Natchez Trace that promotes her to a managing Ranger. Given the fact that she's the first woman to...moreAnna Pidgeon has taken a job in Mississippi on the Natchez Trace that promotes her to a managing Ranger. Given the fact that she's the first woman to hold this position in Mississippi, she isn't greeted with the warmest of welcomes from the two Rangers who work for her, and they aren't the only ones. Anna's arrival is also greeted with the discovery of a dead teenage girl. This murder is especially sensitive given that she's found in a KKK-like hood with a noose around her neck.
I enjoyed this novel. I definitely love the character Barr has created in Anna. She's fiesty and determined but she isn't bullet-proof. She doesn't have a super sixth sense to "know everything", but she figures things out through investigation and common sense - and sometimes trial and error. I also appreciate that she isn't a 20-something stunning beauty.
I also really liked Barth. While Randy Thigpen is not a likable character, he isn't supposed to be. Barr does a great job making him unlikable. And I just love that name for him, Thigpen.
The complexity of the plot was especially fun in this book. The law enforcement agents were following the logical clues only to find out things aren't always what they seem. I appreciate that almost nothing in the plot is "unnecessary." Everything contributes to the conclusion. There were a couple parts where I started to zone out when she was getting a little prolific with the description, but otherwise, the plot was tight.
I had trouble with the scene where the alligator attacks her dog - dog lover that I am, but still appreciated its role in the book.