A caveat: I only skimmed the last half of this book, as I just couldn't bring myself to read all of it word-for-word. I was (obviously) disappointed iA caveat: I only skimmed the last half of this book, as I just couldn't bring myself to read all of it word-for-word. I was (obviously) disappointed in this title from a well-known author.
It started off okay, I thought. I was figuring it would end up being a three-star book, even though I couldn't really tell the two main characters apart nor could I tell the two main agents/officers apart from one another, despite being TOLD how different they were from one another. I began to get a little bothered at some of the cartoonish portrayals of evil people with apparently no redeeming social graces. Then I got to about 35% through the book, and the stereotypes began coming so thick and fast I just couldn't keep up.
I'm not sure if the author was just trying to play to typical TV-level crime-drama expectations, or what, but there it was: the if-we-give-this-information-to-the-FBI-they-will-surely-screw-it-up-and-not-let-us-work-our-own-case-because-they-don't-care-about-people-they-are-mindless-government-drones stereotype. Followed immediately by a conspiracy in which career law enforcement officers give up the integrity they've maintained for the last 30 years in order to engage in criminal behavior and sneak around behind other officers' backs because only they can see what all the other agents cannot see, based on skimpy or non-existent evidence. And nobody cares when they beat up prisoners in custody, threaten witnesses, and allow civilians to walk all over crime scenes.
There have to be some improbable things that happen in just about all books, or the story wouldn't be unusual enough to bear telling. But this one stretched the limits of my suspension of disbelief, my patience, my knowledge of the law enforcement community, and my knowledge of human beings in general. ...more
You might think this book is about the murder of Jacob, but you would be wrong. In fact, Jacob was the murderer - an undeniably abused kid who finallyYou might think this book is about the murder of Jacob, but you would be wrong. In fact, Jacob was the murderer - an undeniably abused kid who finally had enough. The author, Ms. Johnson, seems to have kind of insinuated herself into the investigation of his case. By her own admission, she had no experience with the legal system or abused children. Frankly, her apparent infatuation with Jacob seems somewhat creepy or self-serving. The hyperbole she employs doesn't do the book any favors, either. People she dislikes are described in deprecatory terms, alluding to their appearance. She spends a good deal of time asserting what the two murder victims were thinking and feeling, when there's absolutely no way for her to know. She ends up painting them as such despicable monsters that it hardly seems possible that people could have looked at them without flinching and scrambling away.
She criticizes everybody from the attorneys, judge, and jurors, through Jacob's friends and relatives, several of whom did the exact correct thing by reporting what he'd said to authorities and testifying truthfully. She seems to feel that they should somehow have been 'loyal' to Jacob by, what? lying? Only Jacob is exempt from criticism. This obvious and dramatic dichotomy doesn't make Jacob more sympathetic, it makes Ms. Johnson seem like she has an agenda.
The book was decently written and organized. It's obvious that Ms. Johnson sat through much of the trial and did a great deal of research, as well as speaking regularly to Jacob himself. I did indeed come out believing that Jacob was abused by multiple people and I believe he felt he had no choice but to do as he did. In light of the abuse, his case should be reevaluated. The 'murder' of Jacob is pure hyperbole, though, and does a disservice to others who have been victims. ...more
I'm afraid I'm not going to be able to finish this book. I'm about 1/3 of the way through and I'm bored out of my skull. At first, I thought it was goI'm afraid I'm not going to be able to finish this book. I'm about 1/3 of the way through and I'm bored out of my skull. At first, I thought it was going to be an in-depth expose of the defense attorney who went bad, but it soon switched over to being...an in-depth diary-level biography of the girlfriend of one of the suspects the defense attorney was representing. I kept hoping it would leave this woman behind, as I have no interest in her at all, but at a third of the way through the book, I don't think that's going to happen. I also have serious doubts about how 'true' it is - the day-to-day life events described in excruciating detail are not the kinds of things someone would either remember or relate in an interview, so I suspect they're made up out of whole cloth, as, it appears, is the dialogue, which seems mostly geared to present a stereotypical reinforcement of the character. Where are the details of the crime, followed, as usual in a true crime book, by the hunt for the perpetrators? Where are the law enforcement officers who worked on the crime? Where's the honest & soul-revealing interview with the defense attorney who was tempted by money? If it's coming later, I'm not going to wait. I'm sorely disappointed, as this author came highly recommended to me by people whose opinions I generally trust....more
Another great ride through Michigan with Alex McKnight. I guess what I like best about these books (this is the third I've read) is the great attentioAnother great ride through Michigan with Alex McKnight. I guess what I like best about these books (this is the third I've read) is the great attention to detail. You feel like you could go to where the story's taking place and take every turn and end up at the exact house or bar or building, and it would be there just exactly as described. You could probably go stay in McKnight's rental cabins. You become part of the little community over time; you know what everyone looks like and is apt to do in any situation. Now, on to the next one......more
I must be the only person on the face of the earth who wasn’t thrilled with this book. First, the good stuff: it is a deeply imagined world in which tI must be the only person on the face of the earth who wasn’t thrilled with this book. First, the good stuff: it is a deeply imagined world in which the author has obviously “lived” for quite some time. The writing is good. Those two things merit the rating. However. The book starts out with each chapter presenting a new point of view. While this is fine, I think, later in a book or in later books, starting out this way left me confused and unable to follow any plot that might have been developing. By the time I got back to the character I’d forgotten who she/he was and what she/he was doing. Also, it made the plot, such as there was, move along interminably slowly. And given the length of the book, not a whole lot seemed to happen. There are repeated graphic descriptions of child rape, child murder, child injury, brother-sister incest, and brother-sister sexual abuse. The children are all depicted as spoiled brats who get themselves into unrealistic and unlikely situations. There are a lot of stereotypical characters, and I found myself rolling my eyes at some of the descriptions. The author is apparently obsessed with clothing, as every few pages you are treated to a new description of what everybody is wearing. This was interesting at first, as it added to the building image of the world, but by the final quaarter of the book I was no longer interested in what color dress/cape/fur lining/sigil so-and-so was wearing this time. I did not find a single character in this book I could like or even relate to, possibly a function of skipping around so much. I won’t be continuing with the series....more
I read this as the first in a stack of western emigrant history books when I got hooked on the time period recently. I figured I'd start with the geolI read this as the first in a stack of western emigrant history books when I got hooked on the time period recently. I figured I'd start with the geology and then move to the people...I really came out with a much clearer understanding of why the emigrant routes went the ways they did, what the obstacles were, and why things tended to fall apart where they did. If you're a fan of John McPhee this should be right up your alley. On the other hand, it's not fast reading (at least not for me). Plan to take some time with it....more
I was afraid I might not like this book, having seen at least part of the TV series. But I did like it, quite a lot. Enough that I'll probably continuI was afraid I might not like this book, having seen at least part of the TV series. But I did like it, quite a lot. Enough that I'll probably continue on with the series - the written series, that is. The little quirky humorous asides that exist in the TV series also exist in the book, as well as the self-deprecatory introspection. I had a bit of a problem with the too-quick acceptance of the flesh-and-blood brother and a few other points of the story-line, but since it's the style of a piece as much as anything else that attracts me to it, these weren't enough to damage the book for me. ...more
I "read" this as an audio-book, out of curiosity for the format - I should have read it the traditional way, as I seem to retain more information thatI "read" this as an audio-book, out of curiosity for the format - I should have read it the traditional way, as I seem to retain more information that way. This was my first "Ripper" book, and I was impressed with the apparent depth of the investigations; I'd previously thought the crimes were generally passed off due to the social status of the victims. This book is divided into sections: the murders themselves, the victims and possible victims, the suspects, and a reader's bibliography. It draws no conclusions, and pretty much mocks any conclusions that have been drawn by others over the years. I enjoyed some of the tongue-in-cheek wit, but at other times it was a bit condescending (though that may be the fault of the narrator). I appreciated the bibliography, as it's given me a direction to go if I decide I want to read more in this, er, vein. I'd recommend this as a starter guide for those interested in the Ripper murders....more
**spoiler alert** Well, hmm. I didn't think I would be giving this book a 3. It started out real well and I was happy: Katniss was strong, independent**spoiler alert** Well, hmm. I didn't think I would be giving this book a 3. It started out real well and I was happy: Katniss was strong, independent, capable, and in control of her environment. I wished for some more background on how the continent got to the state it was in, but I could accept it. I had a little more trouble accepting that an entire country would be kept under control simply by taking 24 teenagers per year, 23 of whom were guaranteed to die. I kept thinking of the number of teens who have died in Iraq and Afghanistan. But once again, that wasn't a huge problem.
The preliminaries to the games dragged on quite a bit. There was a lot about clothes and food and the details of each day which I promptly forgot because it didn't matter. I didn't really "get" the Capitol and its citizens, either. Once the Games actually began, I got a lot more involved in the book again, although I was puzzled by some of Katniss' issues.
I remained pretty dialed in until about halfway through, when a giant deux ex machina decended into the story. I nearly threw my Nook across the room. Really? My guess is the author got too fond of her characters and realized she didn't want to kill them all. At that point I pretty much "knew" the rest of the book. And it was boring, days of snuggling in a cave. I skimmed a lot of it. The wolves at the end were ridiculous; there had never been any indication before that the Gamemakers could create magical mutated monsters or anything similar. And the very last part just left me puzzled. By the end of the book I thoroughly disliked Katniss and have no plans to continue the series....more
I read this twice in the last year. It has an interesting juxtaposition of biblical and philosophical argumentation with the author's experiences seekI read this twice in the last year. It has an interesting juxtaposition of biblical and philosophical argumentation with the author's experiences seeking information about his relatives who were lost in the holocaust in Poland. Thus, I learned a lot about Jewish culture and thought while I read, as well as being able to relate to the search. I particularly thought of this book in the summer of 2012, when my brother and I found the grave marker of a relative in a tiny, ancient cemetery in the Czech countryside, confirming for the first time the area in which our ancestors lived prior to WWII. The author's search reveals, bit by bit, the character and lives of his lost relatives; whenever it seems that he must be at the end, another bit of information keeps him searching a little bit longer, and yet another tiny piece is restored. This book serves as a kind of stand-in for those of us who will never be able to reconstruct the lives of our relatives as thoroughly. I've loaned it out now, but when I get it back, I'll read it again....more
This book is a good, easy-to-read overview of many of the bizarre fads that capture the public's attention for a short period of time - sometimes longThis book is a good, easy-to-read overview of many of the bizarre fads that capture the public's attention for a short period of time - sometimes longer - and how and why to be suspicious of them. It covers how to spot poor research methods and inadequate trials and pinpoints some of the industries most apt to exhibit fallacies of logic and evidence. Most of this was old-hat for me, but if I was someone who hadn't made a habit of disputing and debunking things for myself, if not for others, much of it would be an eye-opener. The section on Big Pharma was long and somewhat snide in tone, and I ended up skipping parts of it, but overall I'd recommend this to anyone who's curious about spotting charlatans and bad data. ...more
Hmm. This one was not so good. I really enjoyed the first one, and this one continued with the wit and irony - perhaps just a bit too much in places.Hmm. This one was not so good. I really enjoyed the first one, and this one continued with the wit and irony - perhaps just a bit too much in places. But unfortunately, there were some serious mistakes that jolted me right out of my suspension of disbelief, mistakes that could easily have been corrected had the author or editor spent a few minutes on the Internet checking things to make sure they were right. And I had a real problem with a number of plot points, too. Not sure I'm going to continue with the series at this point, but I might give the third book one last chance to make good....more