This isn't a bad novel in terms of plot and character development. But it needs good editing. The writing is repetitive. The same words are used againThis isn't a bad novel in terms of plot and character development. But it needs good editing. The writing is repetitive. The same words are used again and again. Did I mention, the writing is repetitive. The same words are used again and again. Yes, really, it is that bad. So in spite of the book's good points, I don't recommend Ms. Estep's writing.
Oh, what's it about? Imagine a Gotham -like city where magical creatures (but not happy unicorns, instead think vampires and such) wander about with the humans. The place is entirely corrupt. Our hero, Gin, is an assassin (nicknamed the "spider") with a sad back story, who usually kills with knives. For a touch of romance, uncorrupted detective Donovan Caine joins forces with Gin to chase even badder bad guys than Gin.
This very highly regarded novel is just not my cup of tea. Well written, sure, but just too dark for me. Perhaps that's just the nature of ScandinaviaThis very highly regarded novel is just not my cup of tea. Well written, sure, but just too dark for me. Perhaps that's just the nature of Scandinavian writing.
The hero, barely, is a police detective, Carl Mørck. Mørck has problems: he just survived an attack that killed two of his police colleagues and paralyzed another. He is lazy, cranky, and all around difficult to deal with. His superiors can't just fire or demote him, given the recent attack, so they promote him to a one-man mission, "Department Q," to look at cold cases.
A better hero is Mørck's assistant, Assad, who takes the work seriously and thus pushes Mørck into action.
Meanwhile, we're taken back in time every chapter or so, to follow the sad story of Merete Lynggaard, victim of a childhood auto crash that killed her family and injured her brother. She ends up abducted in this parallel story, and Mørck ends up investigating her disappearance.
So what didn't I like about this well written, interesting novel? I don't have much patience for Mørck, as much as I'm amused by Assad. And, the tragedy that befalls Lynggaard is just too horrible to enjoy reading in any sense. ...more
The noir anthology concept is from Akashic Books which has done this series since 2004, each featuring a different neighborhood or city as its thematiThe noir anthology concept is from Akashic Books which has done this series since 2004, each featuring a different neighborhood or city as its thematic base. The noir notion is that there's a dark side to each story; the good guy doesn't win in the end, if you can even figure out if there is a good guy at all.
So what ties this book of short stories together is that they're all based in or around Dallas.
As for the stories: meh. Only one story in the collection interested me enough to want to research the author: Kathleen Kent's "Coincidences can kill you." ...more
This is an outstanding, albeit rather depressing look at the state of criminal narcotic trafficking in Mexico and the extraordinary degree of governmeThis is an outstanding, albeit rather depressing look at the state of criminal narcotic trafficking in Mexico and the extraordinary degree of government complicity and corruption that allows it to flourish.
To give a sense of the book, let me just quote from Publishers' Weekly:
"First published in Mexico as Los señores del narco in 2010, this dry translation brings Mexican investigative journalist Hernández's exposé about drug trafficking in Mexico to an English-speaking audience. Five years in the making, it's an in-depth, unforgiving look at the deep-rooted corruption that has allowed the cartels to flourish; they now influence and control vast swaths of the country. Numerous anecdotes and interviews flesh out a decades-long narrative, touching on everything from CIA and DEA involvement, to how the drug lords run their empires from prison, to the way these powerful men live and die.
It's a scathing, sobering report, as Hernández lays the blame not just on the drug cartels, but on all those who exercise everyday power from behind a false halo of legality to make their law of 'silver or lead' a reality. While appendices containing glossaries of acronyms and short bios do much to reduce reader confusion, there's still an immense and exhausting amount of information to absorb. Those willing to slog through the dense bits will find a thought-provoking portrait of the crime and corruption that dominates our southerly neighbor." [PublishersWeekly]
This is not an easy book to follow. At times I felt as though I should draw a mind map to show the relationships between both the criminals profiled and their government cronies. So it does take some dedication to work through.
A few key takeaways:
* Former Mexican President Felipe Calderón (who left office in December 2012) was clearly on the take and helped the drug gangs. * The heads of the major Mexican federal police agencies were also benefitting from their corrupt alliances with the drug gangs even as they went through the motions of taking action against them. * There is no question that the US government and particularly the DEA were aware of this; there is some potential that political concerns via the CIA and State Department hampered DEA activity against some of the more powerful political figures in Mexico's government. * Even today, Calderón lectures at Harvard, presumably not about how to be a corrupt leader.
Does any of this change under Mexico's current president, Enrique Peña Nieto? That remains to be seen.
In any case, a must-read. And one which leads to a number of questions, such as:
--Why would anyone travel to Mexico given not only the state of lawlessness but also the complicity of authorities, from local mayors and policemen all the way up to the highest levels of government? --Why has the US domestic effort to reduce drug use failed so badly, in spite of imprisoning over 500,000[Citation] Americans (as of 2011)? --And, what should we do about this?
This is a must-read book. Mr. Lewis is an impartial, non-partisan journalist, founder of the Center for Public Integrity, his idea of investigative reThis is a must-read book. Mr. Lewis is an impartial, non-partisan journalist, founder of the Center for Public Integrity, his idea of investigative reporting is to show people the truth even if it embarrasses government officials - or the corporations whose ad dollars pay for newspaper or TV station payrolls. His book gives detailed examples of both government lies and corporate coverups.
After you read this book, you'll bookmark the public integrity website for at least weekly updates, and you'll probably want to make a (tax deductible) contribution to them as well.
A couple of examples from the book might intrigue you. Daniel Ellsberg leaked the Pentagon Papers in 1971. It "...unequivocally revealed government deception and incompetence." leading to the Vietnam War. The short story, for those of you who've forgotten that war, is this. President Johnson told Americans in August of 1964 that US ships in the Golf of Tonkin had been attacked by North Vietnam. A sequence of attacks on US vessels led to Congress passing the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, which allowed the President to go to war without actually going through Congress to "declare war" on North Vietnam.
The Pentagon Papers showed that it was all lies. Prior to enemy hostilities, the US had been in violation of North Vietnam's "...land, air space, and territorial waters, including consciously planned, aggressive military provocations." The claimed attack on the US destroyer Maddox did not actually happen at all. 58,300 US military were killed in action during Vietnam. Over 150,000 were wounded in action. All because of President Johnson's (and his associates') lies.
The US Attorney General put pressure on newspapers to not publish the Pentagon Papers. Eventually the NY Times gave up in fear of government lawsuits and persecution, and stopped publishing excerpts -- which allowed the Washington Post to step up and keep the story going. This won the Post the 1973 Pulitzer Prize for Public Service.
At this point, President Nixon was working to discredit Mr. Ellsberg, using the same team that would eventually be disclosed as the "plumbers" behind Watergate, and ultimately lead him to resign from office (prior to being removed by impeachment).
Now lest we all think this is just a history lesson, please consider the Edward Snowden leaks of NSA materials. The leaks reveal all sorts of illegal actions on the part of US government agencies. (Just like the Pentagon Papers.) Yet the focus is on Mr. Snowden (who might enjoy being compared to Mr. Ellsberg). You know what they say about history repeating itself?
Just one more historical parallel. Recall how the Pentagon Papers showed that it was the then President's lies that got us into a war that needlessly took service-men's lives? Mr. Lewis also writes about how then President George Bush got the US into a war through at least 935 false statements about the national security threat posed by Iraq.
Among the big lies: there were no WMDs (weapons of mass destruction) in Iraq. There were no links to al Qaeda in Iraq.
"The carefully orchestrated campaign of untruths about Iraq's alleged threat to US national security from its WMDs or links to al Qaeda (also specious) galvanized public opinion and led the nation to war under decidedly false pretenses."
The bad news about Mr. Lewis' book is that it might make you feel depressed. The good news is, at least you'll understand the reasons why you simply can not trust newspaper, radio or television news, as Mr. Lewis goes into detail to explain the pressures put on publishers and station owners by both government and private industry....more