Fairly engaging and smartly written time travel murder mystery. The only way I could have devoured this faster is if I'd have read it over the courseFairly engaging and smartly written time travel murder mystery. The only way I could have devoured this faster is if I'd have read it over the course of a long plane ride. Featuring a plucky survivor with her heart set on revenge and her beleaguered and lovesick mentor trying to unravel the threads of a killing spree scattered over 60 years I found myself genuinely caught up in their chase for sense as things play out in distinctly nonlinear fashion. Loses one star for the overused and (frankly) depressing deployment of the tragic trans woman trope, wherein trans women can only exist in stories when we're portrayed as cautionary tales- heartbroken outcasts for the reader to pity, so unwanted and scorned by society at large that the writer makes you wonder if maybe they wouldn't be better off dead any way. No actual depth to them, just mawkish attempts at sentimentality. Representation like this I do not need. Still, overall a fun read that helped me regain my footing after growing distracted and bored of the past few books that have passed through my hands....more
It's no secret that the state of African politics is corrupt and dirty. Still reeling from decades of colonization by Western nations, riven by tribalIt's no secret that the state of African politics is corrupt and dirty. Still reeling from decades of colonization by Western nations, riven by tribal loyalties, brutally ruled by an ever-changing assortment of strongman rulers who can temporarily unite a people before collapsing into the ever-familiar patterns of megalomania and constructing their own cult of personality, the continent seems like the nearly perfect place to set a tale of intrigue and betrayal of the sort that John le Carre has been spinning for years. With the end of the Cold War in the early 1990s, le Carre lost his thematic touchstone and was forced to look beyond the Balkan settings of his famous spy novels. Some new settings have been found wanting, such as in his forgettable Tailor of Panama, while others have been positively inspired, such as in Absolute Friends, his look at the German revolutionaries of the late 60s and early 70s. Never, though, has he been able to weave a web of intrigue as well as he does when he's charting the recolonization of Africa by various corporate powers who manipulate desperate governments and corrupt militaries to win concessions to either pillage valuable resources for export to the all-consuming American maw, or to use these developing nations as test beds for new drugs and procedures that would never pass the scrutiny of any regulatory agency as he did in the masterful The Constant Gardener.
Not content to merely reveal the effects of those decisions made in secluded board rooms atop large skyscrapers and carried out in the backwater locales of the Congo, The Mission Song puts us in the room with these decision-makers as they weigh the worth of human lives against the possible profits to be squeezed from their blood-soaked land. Bruno Salvador, or Salvo to his friends, is the bastard son of an Irish priest and a Congolese woman who has used his extensive knowledge of various tribal languages to secure a much-valued post in the translation department of British Intelligence.
All goes swimmingly for Salvo until he is asked to serve as translator at a conference to be held at an undisclosed location for undisclosed African power brokers to hammer out the details of a new coup that will bring "peace" to his war torn homeland and enormous profits for the coup's faceless backers. Inadvertently overhearing (and recording) a torture session used to sway a recalcitrant plotter back into the conspiracy, Salvo realizes that this coup is just another aspect of business as usual for his masters. What follows is an exercise in futility as Salvo attempts to gain the ear of someone, anyone, in authority who can call off this coup before yet more blood is poured on the earth.
This is not the greatest le Carre that I've read, but neither is it the weakest. It has the feel of a dashed-off effort used to fulfill some contractual obligation more than as a labor of love- those stories that well up inside you and demand to be recounted. Still, it is a fast and entertaining read that provides all the suspense that le Carre is rightly renowned for. Perfect for reading in the park on a sunny day or at the beach as you keep half an eye on your wayward children....more
I should have known better than to segue from Mario Vargas Llosa into the cheap pablum of another Repairman Jack adventure. I should have realized thaI should have known better than to segue from Mario Vargas Llosa into the cheap pablum of another Repairman Jack adventure. I should have realized that it would be akin to drinking a shot of Eagle Rare, neat, with a Kool-Aid back. I should have known this and, to be fully honest, a part of me did admit to it on some deep down unconscious level. Yet that did not stop me at all. I had a new Jack book in my hands- not just any Jack but the second to last book in a series that has stretched so long Wilson could have given The Wheel Of Time pointers in how to draw out unnecessary story lines. I was nearing the cusp, the coup de grace, the finishing move with which Wilson would unleash his literary fury and leave his opponents/readers teetering, knocked out on their feet like so many Mortal Kombat matches.
I should have known better. For the past three or four books, Wilson has been saying that he's had a grand plan for Jack, his eminently entertaining antihero. This was all building for something and if readers had patience it would all be revealed in good time. Well, I've finished the penultimate Repairman Jack and I know where this has been going since Day One: a new series for F. Paul Wilson to dick around his readers with. Yep. There won't be any conclusion to the next Repairman Jack book, just as there wasn't for this one, or the previous five or six. Instead there will be new battles to fight in the apparently unceasing struggle between the Ally and the Otherness.
He's the stereotyped pusher on the corner, slinging sub-par product to desperate junkies who want their adrenaline fix. Instead we get this ridiculous story that adds up to 80% baby laxative, 10% fiddling while Rome burns, and 10% recap of everything we've already read. Wilson has a plan all right- keep pumping out tripe like this for as long as it takes until he is either imprisoned for crimes against the written word or he loses enough of a fan base that he experiences a moment of clarity and renounces his hack past. It's going to be a train wreck waiting for this moment though....more
You can stop now. You have officially sucked all the life out of all of your characters and made them all eminently dislikable.Dear Charlaine Harris,
You can stop now. You have officially sucked all the life out of all of your characters and made them all eminently dislikable. I know this is your cash cow but, please, let Alan Ball take over for you and you can go and do... whatever it is that you do to occupy your time. Bake moon pies? Write Robert Pattinson fanfic? Hunt for the long-mythologized swamp weasel of South Carolina? Anything would be an improvement over you letting your imagination continue to run amok in Bon Temps.
I probably wouldn't mind so much if ANYTHING HAPPENED in this 300 page travesty of a "book" but I guess you were too busy counting your True Blood royalties to bother too much with a little detail like that. Instead you wanted to write 20 page scenes about taking Sookie's telepathic cousin to the park or the funeral of an incredibly minor character who you have only ever mentioned in passing before. Why should we care? You allude to much, but in the end you say NOTHING and I'm left bitter that I waited anxiously for this book to finally be returned to the library so that I could read it.
I would have been better off watching this Snoop Dogg fan video again. In summation, you and I are through. Please stop taunting me with your stupid ass book covers and ridiculous sex scenes.
Let it never be said that I am immune to the international hype machine. Previously this pernicious influence has led me to a mixed bag of authors andLet it never be said that I am immune to the international hype machine. Previously this pernicious influence has led me to a mixed bag of authors and books from Tom Clancy, She's Come Undone, Harry Potter, and Three Cups of Tea to the Sookie Stackhouse books, Stephen King's Dark Tower series and The Life of Pi. Needless to say, I am leery in my approach to books that everyone and their sister is reading and try to put off reading them until the furor dies down and people are able to evaluate their quality outside of the bandwagon effect.
With the third book in the series having just been released Stateside, film adaptations of the first two books garnering numerous plaudits from critics and the inevitable American remake preparing to suck what life there was from the Swedish original, there seems little hope of waiting for the hubbub to subside anytime soon. Love her or hate her, Lisbeth Salander is going to be a part of the cultural lexicon for the foreseeable future.
As half of an investigating duo trying to unravel the forty year old mystery of the disappearance of Harriet Vanger, there are few tropes overlooked in making Salander the epitome of "badass antisocial hacker who lives by no rules but her own." Tattoos, piercings and a distrust of law enforcement do not a heroine make. If they did, Portland would be the most peaceful city in the world. Her cartoonish aspects aside, I do have to admit to a certain fondness for her (eep- does that make me as paternalistic and creepy as her security firm employer?) and I relished the scenes where she interacted with Mikael Blomkvist, the dour and discgraced financial reporter that composes the other half of this detecting duo.
With the plot functioning as a boilerplate murder mystery with few surprises, it is instead the interaction between Blomkvist and Salander and the entertaining peak into Swedish life that kept me enthralled page after page. Larsson thrills on the little details of day to day life; no chair is simply a chair when he can make it an Ikea chair, characters are never just reading a book but instead are reading an Astrid Lindgren book, no one ever uses a mere laptop when they can use the iBook G4 Titanium. While this constant labeling of objects drags a bit at the beginning, and gave me flashbacks to American Psycho, it also provided a higher degree of detail than you would expect from a run of the mill beach read.
This book isn't Great Lit as I've come to understand the term, but is still a cut above your Harlan Coben or James Patterson mystery-of-the-week. Yet, as best-seller shelves everywhere can attest, most people aren't looking for Great Lit. We're looking for a distraction, for a world that isn't this one to dive into for a short time. Those looking for something to occupy their minds while slowly simmering at a beach could do a lot worse than The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo and I fully intend to read the next two books in the series....more