Redeeming factors: competently, at times even engagingly written; reasonably complex plot (although the main "surprise" is a common enough twist in whRedeeming factors: competently, at times even engagingly written; reasonably complex plot (although the main "surprise" is a common enough twist in whodunnits that I was considering it from fairly early on); and a nice touch in that Morse doesn't get everything right, not even at the end. That may be enough to get many readers through the book, perhaps even with considerable pleasure. (Dexter also gets an extra quarter star for using Oxford spelling and commas, and for having the protagonist insist on such fine points of letters.)
But Dexter is locked into in the prejudices and preconceptions of an era that, one would have thought, had already passed by the mid-1970s. Indeed, he seems to revel in the biases of a time that should have been bygone when he was writing. In Dexter's world, men with a sexual preference for other men are immediately presumed to be pederasts. There are no exceptions. And Dexter seems to find it perfectly acceptable to describe the color of an article of clothing through a term of race long since derided as derogatory (never mind that the "N" word covers such a wide variety of skin hues that I have no idea what the skirt in question actually looked like). Finally, as in Dexter's other novels, women are uniformly passive (and, seemingly, none able to say "no" to a sexual proposition, ever). I realize that there are many acquiescent and "easy" women, but by the time of writing the sexual revolution had long since arrived and feminism was making headway, even in conservative Oxford. Even a single female role displaying a bit of character or self-determination would have made a welcome change. (OAPs who egregiously dominate their daughters don't count. And recall that, although some streams of feminist thought encouraged sexual freedom, this was not identical to what Dexter's characters would consider "wanton" behavior. Never mind that those characters would probably have not been able to tell the difference...)
Authors will, of course, reflect the time in which they write. Great authors, while reflecting their time are also able to, at least in one way or another, transcend it. Dexter seems stuck in a world that had long since moved on. Shame that. ...more
Of all Rowling's work to date, this has been, for me, the least satisfying. I was going to let it squeak by as four stars, but decided, in the end, noOf all Rowling's work to date, this has been, for me, the least satisfying. I was going to let it squeak by as four stars, but decided, in the end, not.
The motive here is much clearer and easier to grasp than in Cuckoo, but left me wondering "why the wait?" There would have been ample opportunity for the perp years (even a decade or two) earlier.
Still, the two protagonists remain nicely drawn and it is enjoyable to watch their characters be revealed, bit by bit. Cast of characters linked to the victim: OK-to-intriguing (although… who wears a cape? I've seen some ostentatious dressing in my day, but srsly??). Supporting cast: Anstis is becoming more and more of a Lestrade (except the latter eventually recognized the skill of man to whom he was a foil); not sure how Strike even ever met his half-brother, let alone how any kind of chumminess developed.
Still, I'm sure pretty much everyone who enjoyed "Galbraith's" first will enjoy this, too. Have fun.
My prediction: the next book will feature Robin's wedding being interrupted by work on a case. (Too good a plot device to not make use of. Remember: you read it hear first!-)...more
A collection of articles, mostly humorous, written weekly for the Mail on Sunday (this may be massively prejudiced on my part, but definitely a half sA collection of articles, mostly humorous, written weekly for the Mail on Sunday (this may be massively prejudiced on my part, but definitely a half star off for writing for that execrably bigoted rag--ironically, the Mail's editors are now campaigning to keep people like the young Bill Bryson from entering the UK).
It is perhaps in the nature of a weekly column that the individual items are a mixed bag, and not all equally successful. Fair enough for that, and there are some deft descriptions. For my money, Bryson's at his best when he spends a day in the library collecting factoids and putting them together to paint a picture of, say, the rise and fall of the American diner (often prefixed, in a flight of mixed emotions, with the appelation "greasy spoon"). And there are a fair few examples of this sort of essay in the book. His incompetency with technology… meh (and didn't anyone explain to Bill the real background of the infamous Y2K crisis? oh, well…)
Anyway, a largely interesting view of life in these United States at the end of the 20th Century. Best read in small doses (although there's always the temptation to read "just one more")....more
Worth reading to see how different Shelley's original vision is from the one in contemporary popular culture.
The original film (based on a stage adaptWorth reading to see how different Shelley's original vision is from the one in contemporary popular culture.
The original film (based on a stage adaptation of the book) does, I believe, try to touch on some of the same themes (the hubris of creating that beyond the creator's control, for instance). But by the time Universal got around to "Abbott and Costello meet Frankenstein," pretty much everything of substance had gone overboard, and the latter is probably closer to the popular consciousness.
Some beautiful writing (ironically, some of the most beautiful put into the mouth of the Monster). I found the first few chapters slow going. Shelley presumably aimed at a slow, unrelenting build up to the horror of the monster while presenting the character of all the ultimate victims. For the reader aware of what the "shocker" is going to be, this does demand some patience. Also, the "horror" is perhaps not so shocking to the modern reader, who has been somewhat inured to more ghastly forms by the B-film industry. There were at least some moments where Shelley provides the reader's imagination with fodder for horror.
All told, worth reading, if not one of the superlatives....more
Tartt is clearly a gifted writer and can tell a compelling tale with many a surprising (and by and large believable) plotPlease bear with me a moment.
Tartt is clearly a gifted writer and can tell a compelling tale with many a surprising (and by and large believable) plot twist.
The book was for me, nevertheless, a fair struggle to get through. Watching almost all the characters making continuous strings of brain-numbingly bad life choices, addling their own brains with drugs and booze, walking open-eyed into loveless marriage, and (metaphorically) looking neither left nor right before crossing a street and acting surprised that (continuing the metaphor) a truck is approaching at 150 km/h… I can read a fair amount of this soft of thing, but I have my limits. This tale stretched past my limits. Yes, my problem, but there you have it. It's my review.
Yes, the point of all of this is made clear in the dénouement, which ended with a, to my mind, overly self-indulgent, wandering peroration. Add to that the (mini-spoiler) (view spoiler)[not-quite believable, happy (hide spoiler)] ending (slightly more spoilerish) (view spoiler)[(what, there are still people at large who would gladly kill at least one protagonist in broad daylight, or otherwise exact revenge? and we're meant to believe "all was well"?) (hide spoiler)].
Long story short: "It was ok" is the best I can manage.
Maybe three-and-half stars. But that's my final offer.
I'm just not really getting on with noir. I've tried Kerr, I've tried Hammett (with more successMaybe three-and-half stars. But that's my final offer.
I'm just not really getting on with noir. I've tried Kerr, I've tried Hammett (with more success, admittedly, but not so much that I want to go back), I've tried James, I've tried Galbraith/Rowling.
There's some gritty poetry in Chandler's writing, which was the only thing that got me through. By the end I'd forgotten to care about whodunit. Sorry if you think that marks me as a philistine. No, not really....more
The writing was thoroughly enjoyable. The private detective with his life and business falling apart is a bit of a boiler-plate element (if you preferThe writing was thoroughly enjoyable. The private detective with his life and business falling apart is a bit of a boiler-plate element (if you prefer: archetype) in the genre, but what we learn of Cormoran Strike's back story was interesting enough to keep things going. His trusty office administrator/assistant was almost too good to be true, but only almost.
Where I did have a struggle with suspending disbelief was the final resolution of the case. In my own mind I'd narrowed down the possible killer to three of the characters, one of whom was the "right solution," but I kept on thinking "no, that's just insane." The killer is insane, but in a combination of certifiable and cunning that I find on the far side of credible. But that's often the case in the genre--perhaps part of the reason why, for all I've read my Doyle and Sayers and Christie and cetera, I'm not really a fan of this section of the bookstore.
On the woman-behind-the-pseudonym front: one or two people mentioned the attention to detail about clothes as being more typical for a woman author than a man (particularly an ex-military). Yeah, either a woman or a gay guy who's interested in clothes. OTOH, JKR has got male fantasies down pat (or is having the down-on-his-luck no-longer-in-shape detective spending a night shagging a supermodel part of the genre? maybe I need to read more of this stuff;-)
Minor spoilerish point coming, leave now if that bothers you:
The fact that this is the second book in succession I've read with a character who, while still a child, murders a sibling (or more) in cold-blood, gave the reading experience a certain eldritch-factor (the other yarn was Wasp Factory). I don't think that's colored my review, but the creepiness is there. Any suggestions for a nice, happy, positive book to take up next? ...more
Four starts not so much because I "liked" it, but rather because the book is well written and constructed. The protagonistNot for the faint of heart.
Four starts not so much because I "liked" it, but rather because the book is well written and constructed. The protagonist is, frankly, hard to like (notwithstanding a certain kind of charm, albeit of the variety of a truly devilish person who can turn the charm on). Numerous vile and depraved acts occur throughout the tale. Both father and mother of the protagonist tend to the despicable. The brother a depraved sadist, although ostensibly the result of a truly mind-shattering experience.
But if you have the stomach for all of this, this a story with surprises worth reflecting on.
For my part, I found I needed some more-than-usually extensive breaks every few chapters to let the acrid taste dissipate. A bit like eating one of Angus' vegetable curries. (Sorry, you'll need to read the book to understand that last remark.)...more
Read this with the kid years ago. Delightful pictures and a very cute story line (the actual punch line is an archetype most adults will have come acrRead this with the kid years ago. Delightful pictures and a very cute story line (the actual punch line is an archetype most adults will have come across, but it was new to the kid at the time)....more
Unusually, I'm tending to prefer the filmed version (and a TV series, at that!)
In this case, Dexter seems to be rather the product of his times (moreUnusually, I'm tending to prefer the filmed version (and a TV series, at that!)
In this case, Dexter seems to be rather the product of his times (more precisely: a product of the 1950s, the book is set in the mid-70s), making assumptions about gender and sexual relations and presenting clichés that seem almost painfully dated when reading 40 years after the writing. (Oddly, I find it easier to accept the racial prejudices evident in Mark Twain's writing from a century-and-a-half ago; perhaps it seems that Twain doesn't embrace those prejudices with the same enthusiasm as Dexter does those he uses). And it seems the television screenwriters, working over a decade later, are taking a bit more care with the gender assumptions. Finally, the actors are shedding a slightly different light on the main characters than presented in the novels.
Aside from that, I'm left feeling that this particular tale is left with a few loose ends that don't quite tie up. Still, not a bad read.
Read it when I was a sophomore, which was probably the target audience. Except maybe the target audience was college sophomore, and I was a high schooRead it when I was a sophomore, which was probably the target audience. Except maybe the target audience was college sophomore, and I was a high school soph.
Generally amusing, if you're at an age when you like that sort of thing. Tom Bombadillo becomes a hippy stoner acid head who, instead of feeding the Hobbits, feeds their heads. And it sort of goes from there....more
Not so much that I "liked" it. There is something here to revolt and offend anyone and everyone. But it is well written, cleverly constructed, and hasNot so much that I "liked" it. There is something here to revolt and offend anyone and everyone. But it is well written, cleverly constructed, and has a sense of humor (if an extremely perverse one).
Also, a considerable bit of vocabulary that I haven't had in my previous reading of French literature.