My first graphic novel but certainly not my last. Oh my! What a treat for the reader. You have a gathering of some of literature's finest: Mina Harker...moreMy first graphic novel but certainly not my last. Oh my! What a treat for the reader. You have a gathering of some of literature's finest: Mina Harker (now Murray) from Bram Stoker's Dracula, the Invisible Man, Dr. Jekyll AND his dark counterpart Mr. Hyde, Allan Quartermain from H. Rider Haggard's awesome novel King Solomon's Mines -- who all come together under the direction of a strange character named Campion Bond. It seems that a nefarious underworld gang has stolen a vital propellant which they plan to use to attack London from the air; the British government wants it back. But the job is dangerous, thus our friends come into the picture.
Don't expect any great literary value here, however, it is a GREAT read if you just want something fun and entertaining. Believe it or not, the characterizations are very well drawn and you won't want to stop reading until you've finished. Now, on to Volume 2!(less)
At book three in this series it's getting harder to come up with new things to say about Chandler's Marlowe novels. Yes, I could offer up some of Chan...moreAt book three in this series it's getting harder to come up with new things to say about Chandler's Marlowe novels. Yes, I could offer up some of Chandler's clever similes or metaphors which change with each book, but I'm not going to do that. These novels are, in a word, excellent. Whether you read them for the writing, the often-cumbersome plots or the unforgettable characters, especially that of Philip Marlowe, considering that they were written around 70 years ago, the high quality of these books has remained steady so far. If you want to know about plot,I'm not bringing it out here; you can see what the book's about elsewhere.
Aside from Chandler's witty metaphors, very cool prose and his take on the sprawl that is Los Angeles (which I am absolutely fascinated by, probably more than anything else in these books) what I am beginning to appreciate more about these novels is in the way Chandler explores people. Getting to the whodunit and most especially the why is really a vehicle for exploring individual psyches, especially Marlowe's. He becomes much more of a damsel-in-distress rescuer in this book, and continues his moral duty of keeping his client shielded from any possible fallout, even though it might mean that he soils his integrity in the bargain. He continues to hold onto his principled self -- his twenty-five dollars a day plus expenses is all he wants -- he can't be bought off, despite the expectations of clients and crooks alike. He works hard to get not only to the truth, but also to the heart of just what it is about people that makes them tick. But it's not just Marlowe -- pretty much anyone who takes any role in Marlowe's investigations gets even the tiniest bit of psychological air time from his or her creator. It's these individual stories when combined that showcase the people who exist in Marlowe's city; his interactions with these people who help to define who Marlowe is. And isn't.
The High Window didn't feel as clunky or convoluted plotwise as its predecessors -- I am having so much fun with these novels and this one did not disappoint. (less)
Absolutely recommended! Don't be put off by the structure of this book -- I think it's done very well... the first and last of the short stories provi...moreAbsolutely recommended! Don't be put off by the structure of this book -- I think it's done very well... the first and last of the short stories provide a cover for the stories in between the two; you don't have to work really hard to make connections among the stories. The story of the dew breaker is found in interconnecting threads among these stories, and gives you maybe just a little glimpse (because, frankly, unless you lived it, I don't think anyone could fully understand the turmoil and upheavals in Haiti's history) of what people had to go through under the reign of one of Haiti's worst dictators in its history, and the people caught up in having some little semblance of power under his regime.
On page 117, the author notes of one of the characters, "Aline had never imagined that people like Beatrice existed, men and women whose tremendous agonies filled every blank space in their lives." This is true not only of the victims of the Macoutes (the militia that formed under the new dictatorship of Duvalier after his father), but of those who, like the main character of this novel, were a part of the regime's killing/torture machine and later lived to face their own kind of torture having to relive what they did. So in a sense, you might argue that these people did have face their own brand of justice: alienation from other Haitians in their new homes after they fled, having to hide their identities from everyone, including family members, from fear that they might be found out.
Haiti and its history has long held a fascination for me, and this book adds a little to my understanding of this country which seems to have always been in a state of upheaval. I highly recommend this book, and I have three others by this author sitting on my shelves waiting to be read.(less)
A fine history of a case I knew absolutely nothing about, but now am off in search of more info. I recommend it very highly, but keep in mind that thi...moreA fine history of a case I knew absolutely nothing about, but now am off in search of more info. I recommend it very highly, but keep in mind that this is not a novel, but a history, and that as such, even though it moves quickly, there are times when the author doesn't go from point A to point B as in a novel but stops to present factors that led up to this period in time.
The case in question begins in 1925 in Detroit, when Dr. Ossian Sweet and his wife move into a house that is outside the boundaries of the "colored" area (I'm just using the terminology in the book here which was appropriate to the time period). Ossian, his wife Gladys, Ossian's brother Henry & some friends were over at the house all preparing to eat the first meal in their new house when a neighborhood mob moved in front of the house & began pelting the house with stones etc. They prepared themselves for the worst, but nothing more happened. On the second night, Ossian was ready. He had gathered the same people & a few more (at that time 11 total in the house), and when the mob gathered again and the rocks started flying and actually broke windows in the house, Henry & whoever was upstairs with him started firing into the crowd, killing one man & wounding another. The police took everyone in the house in custody, & eventually all 11 were charged with murder or conspiracy to commit murder. The state contended that there was no mob at all and that Ossian's brother & friends had fired into the crowd unprovoked, killing a man. Eventually the group was put into prison, awaiting trial, and were ultimately defended by Clarence Darrow.
That's the central case; what this book does is to examine the factors behind the allegations, and to examine the motivation of Ossian's neighbors as they worked themselves into mob frenzy. It also looks at racial attitudes on both sides of the coin prevalent at the time, politics both locally in Detroit and nationally, the use of this case by the NAACP, among other issues. In telling Ossian's story, the author also goes into Ossian's family history, as well as that of his wife Gladys from slavery onward, and the history of racial attitudes both North and South.
For example, Boyle goes into great detail about the southern migration of blacks to the north and their attempts to escape Jim Crow only to find themselves victims of the same types of prejudices. Specifically discussing Detroit, the author goes into great detail explaining that the police department was filled with KKK members; he explains the economics behind why, beyond the simple reason of prejudice, white people did not want blacks in their neighborhoods and what happened to those African-Americans who moved into those neighborhoods; he also goes into the politics involved in organizing a defense for the 11 accused & battles fought based on this case against segregation in all aspects of life.
It is really a captivating story, backed up by personal interviews & other primary sources as well as other references. I definitely think if you are interested in the topics of segregation, civil rights, racial attitudes or the workings of the NAACP, you will not want to miss this book. (less)
Blood Done Sign My Name is a superb story by a superb author. I would most definitely recommend it to anyone seeking to further their knowledge of civ...moreBlood Done Sign My Name is a superb story by a superb author. I would most definitely recommend it to anyone seeking to further their knowledge of civil rights history; sadly (and as the author points out) just because back in the 50s & 60s Congress passed civil rights bills doesn't mean that these were ever fully implemented or accepted. In Tyson's book, he tells of an incident that took place in North Carolina as late as 1992, and I'm sure that the long-standing prejudices continue to foster ugly incidents into the present. So if you are interested in this topic, pick up this book.
brief synopsis; my impressions
"Blood Done Sign My Name," as the author notes on page 319 of this book, "started out as a slave spiritual. After the fall of the Confederacy it emerged as a paradoxical blues lament..." then "evolved into a gospel song," then in the 1940s sung by a group called The Radio Four, "elevates the transcendent spirit of gospel, but," notes the author, "listen closely and you can hear Chuck Berry down the line." Like the evolution of that song, the author's "hopes for this country have taken a similar trajectory," and his "ascendant spirits, like the future of our country, depend upon an honest confrontation with our own history." (319)
This book is not just another retelling of the stories of the civil rights movement ... it starts in 1970, actually, when two boys (one of them the author) are playing basketball and the other boy says to the author "Daddy and Roger and 'em shot a nigger." (1) Both boys were ten, living in Oxford NC; it was this incident which was the spark that set off the fire of unrest & violence in this small town; the book describes how the acts from both sides of the color line affected him, his family and the other members of this small town. While he keeps this story as the focal point of the book, he goes on to tell of his own roots, and his personal experiences during the volatile 70s -- during the time of Watergate, the Vietnam War -- up through the present when he took a group of students on a tour of the South. His story is fascinating & compelling; I couldn't put it down.
To be truthful, at first I wondered where all of this story about his family was going & why put it alongside a story about a terrible injustice. But eventually, it all ties together; the story could not have been done as well as it was without it.
I totally enjoyed the book and I'm going to get the author's other book now. Please do yourself a favor & read this book! (less)
Technically, this one I'd probably rate like a 3.5 or so (when are we going to get this option?)
I've read four books in this series now, and this one...moreTechnically, this one I'd probably rate like a 3.5 or so (when are we going to get this option?)
I've read four books in this series now, and this one wasn't my favorite, although it is still quite good. In this, the 3rd installment of the Bryant and May mysteries (of the Peculiar Crimes Unit), the two detectives and the others of the PCU are faced with the fact that someone is out to get the Whitstable family and is killing them off by incredibly deadly means, starting off with the death of Peter Whitstable, who, dressed in Edwardian clothing, decides to deface a painting on loan to the National Gallery. As more members of the family are murdered, the detectives realize that someone has a vendetta against the entire family -- and even the family's attorney, who becomes a victim of snakebite after a visit to the restroom of the Ritz. But when Bryant and May question the family as to what they know, or as to who might be wanting to take them out one by one, nobody is talking. What they are doing is screaming that the police are doing nothing, and they are threatening to sue unless they get some protection. But even then, Bryant and May find it incredibly difficult dealing with this very peculiar family. When they finally work out what's happening, the solution is probably one of the strangest they've ever encountered.
Once again, the writing is good, the characters are drawn really well (the Whitstables are so well done that you'll hate them all). Fowler's look at London's history is downright amazing (a lot of knowledge there) and as always, Bryant and May are their quirky selves. The problem here is that the solution is very clunky, complicated and difficult to understand ... I had to go back and reread it not just once but a couple of times until it made sense. But the getting there was most of the fun. Definitely recommended to people considering whether or not to continue in the series, and recommended to mystery readers who want something different. Don't start here, though... do begin with the first book. (less)