This is, without a doubt, one of King's best novels in the past decade and maybe if his career. It is very well written, and is a long, slow burn of tThis is, without a doubt, one of King's best novels in the past decade and maybe if his career. It is very well written, and is a long, slow burn of true, real-world terror. Very much worth the read!...more
This was a pretty fun read, I thought. I love enigmatic mysteries surrounding allegedly fictional histories that turn out to maybe be true, but there'This was a pretty fun read, I thought. I love enigmatic mysteries surrounding allegedly fictional histories that turn out to maybe be true, but there's no real way of knowing, and there are various interested parties who are all somewhat appealing but all somewhat threatening. It's satisfying to watch the mystery unravel, and Grossman does a pretty good job of weaving a fascinating tale. ...more
1. It's twice as long as it needs to be. 700+ pages is an absurd length for a standard suspense/detective nWith this novel I've got beef. Let's begin!
1. It's twice as long as it needs to be. 700+ pages is an absurd length for a standard suspense/detective novel. And there's nothing special about this novel from a narrative standpoint to warrant this kind of length. There's an initial mystery; some intriguing facts; the plot thickens; TWIST!; plot comes together; bad guy revealed; final encounter; resolution. I've read dozens upon dozens of books with this format, and I would be hard pressed to find any that cracked 400 pages.
2. So it's really long. What does DeMille do with all of that extra space? Well, faithful reader, I'm glad you asked. The answer is, he listens to himself talk. There is so much time spent on just how "witty" and "likeable" and street smart John Corey (our hero) is that you can't help but get the sense that DeMille wishes he were him.
I put "witty" and "likeable" in quotes because, after 300 pages of being inside John's head, he is anything but these things. First off, here's a guy who never met a bad or sexist or dirty or obvious joke he didn't like, and he dropped them every single chance he got.
What else about John Corey? Here is a list of adjectives you could apply to him easily (some of which he applied to himself directly): sexist, chauvinist, elitist, crude, rude, arrogant, offensive, antagonistic, alcoholic, cocksure, egotistic, and obnoxious.
The problem with this is that DeMille presents most of these attributes as endearing, suggesting that Corey's just a regular guy you'd like to have a beer with. The problem is, he's an ass. He's a jerk to everyone. He gives attitude in every single interaction he has in the book, but he hates it when someone gives it back. He looks down his nose at the well off because they like wine and fine food when he just wants a beer and a burger. He's irresistible to no less than two women, and even though he's his usual self around them, they just can't help but love him. He hates old people. He hates smart people. He hates rich people. He hates other security people. And those he does like, you don't really know why.
Also, he's the greatest thing that's ever happened to police work. He knows all the right lines to work. He finds all the leads. He asks all the right questions and makes all the right assumptions. Now, granted, this is nothing new in stories like this. It's not much fun when your hero detective is clueless. But good novels allow a give and take. The hero gets the majority of the clues, but his colleagues and partners make significant contributions. In this novel? Corey's main partner is simply there. Any contributions she makes are ancillary and really don't add anything. Its the Superman problem. A flawless hero is boring.
3. The plot doesn't make much sense. If you just let the story wash over your without asking any questions, then sure, you won't notice anything. If you pause even briefly to poke at the mystery plot on which the novel is built, it's not long before water starts gushing through.
4. I could go on, but I won't...
5. Well, actually, one last thing, because it's a big one.
***HERE THERE BE SPOILERS***
At the end of the novel, Corey chases down the bad guy, intent on killing him. The bad guy's killed a lot of people and raped and killed Corey's girlfriend of 3 days. (The whole rape thing, while awful, seems out of place when it's presented. It's like DeMille wanted to really drive home how evil the bad guy is and need to tack something else horrific to his rap sheet because killing no less than 6 people wasn't enough.) Corey wants his revenge, and after outwitting the bad guy in an impossible situation, Corey takes a knife, breaks the bad guy's nose and mouth, scalps him (Corey didn't like that he had hair plugs.), and then guts him. Yes, that's right, he guts him. He takes the knife and slices open his abdomen; then grabs the bad guy's intestines, pulls them out, and throws them in the bad guy's face. Then he walks away leaving him to die.
First off, this is pretty brutal. Second, if the bad guy dies, it's 1st degree murder.
Anyway, the cops arrive, Corey tells them where the bad guy is and that he left him for dead. Surprise! The bad guy's still alive and is arrested and sent to prison to await trial. And now you'd expect Corey to be put in prison as well, right? Right? Wait, what? He gets pats on the back and is rewarded as a hero cop?!?
In what world would this fly? Corey didn't just try to kill him. He tortured and mutilated him. It's not as though he shot him with his service pistol in the line of duty. He sadistically tortured him with the intent to leave him dead. But the novel presents this as an OK thing! It's a mind-boggling ending!
Anyway, that's where the book ends. The world goes back to normal, and there are apparently more John Corey novels to come, because he's so great. I should point out that Night Fall is one of those books, and THAT was maybe one of the most offensive books I've ever read in my life. (Also, surprisingly, a book that suffers from the same issues as this one. You'd think I'd learn my lesson.)...more
Doctor No represents the first step Fleming really takes in crafting a novel that represents the image we have of a "Bond Film." That is, it's set inDoctor No represents the first step Fleming really takes in crafting a novel that represents the image we have of a "Bond Film." That is, it's set in a fantastic place; there's a maniacal super villain with some deformity who is bent on some form of destruction or world domination; Bond is put in unreal life or death situations; and there's a stunning girl.
Doctor No's plan is questionable at best, and there's a moment in the Bond torture scene that had me rolling my eyes uncontrollably.
All the same, it's a fun read, and offered some insight into how the novels informed the creation of the films....more
Let’s talk about James Bond for a second. He’s great, right? Right. I think we can all agree on that. Now let’s talk about James Bond from the movies.Let’s talk about James Bond for a second. He’s great, right? Right. I think we can all agree on that. Now let’s talk about James Bond from the movies. He’s suave, confident, cocksure, lethal, sensual, witty, and iconic. Everything a man wishes he were. Now let’s talk about the James Bond from the novels. He is confident (some of the time), almost never cocksure, lethal but only when necessary, sensual on occasion and not always successfully, not really all that witty, he has a refined palette but only because he’s decided he might as well enjoy the best the world has to offer since he’s certain he’s going to die sometime in the next few years, he broods a lot, he’s not always certain of his actions, he doesn’t always pick up on the clues he should, and he gets hurt…a lot.
These are two completely different characters, but they’re the same. James Bond from the novels is James Bond from the movies with a dark, gritty overlay. And it makes the character really remarkable.
Now, let’s talk about Moonraker the movie. Actually, let’s not. Suffice to say that it was a farcical plot that employed the worst habits of the Bond movies, all rolled up into a single package. It had some of the same characters from the novel, but it had none of the plot or intrigue.
Now, let’s talk about Moonraker the Ian Fleming novel. There’s still the trademark element of the over-the-top Bond villain plot, but it’s muted. Additionally, the deviousness is not immediately apparent. It’s hinted at, but not revealed until the end. And it’s actually really clever (for a Bond plot). It makes sense for the time period (published in 1955), it played off the still very present global anxiety of potential atomic attack. So, it’s fantastic and amazing, but it’s relevant and therefore impactful.
This was more of a pleasure than it had any right to be, and it made me really glad I decided to work my way through the Bond novels. ...more
What an amazing find! This was recommended on a blog I read, and I never would have found it otherwise, since it's a privately published collection. TWhat an amazing find! This was recommended on a blog I read, and I never would have found it otherwise, since it's a privately published collection. This was such a pleasure to read, and I can't say enough about it. Over the course of 5 books, this world and its characters are fleshed out, defined, and given life. It's engaging, an extremely fast read, and it forces the reader to really question the ethics of some very large decisions. Highly recommended!...more
Well, I’m glad I stuck with this book through the first 100 pages or so. I usually set my limit at 100 pages. If a book shows little or no promise, orWell, I’m glad I stuck with this book through the first 100 pages or so. I usually set my limit at 100 pages. If a book shows little or no promise, or if it simply drags to an extreme degree, or if it’s just a jumbled mess, it has 100 pages to turn the ship around. This is a rule I set for myself a few years ago after realizing that I had slogged my way through too many worthless books while books I actually wanted to read gathered dust on my shelf.
I mention all of this because roughly 100 pages into The Odessa File very little had happened. It was pretty dry. But I knew something (or at was pretty sure I did): Frederick Forsythe can tell a pretty good story. So I stuck with it, and was almost immediately rewarded for my stick-to-it-iveness.
The beginning of the novel takes its time building up a foundation. It defines characters, recounts events, presents shady villains, and introduces our hero. But in doing this, it takes a long time to get our hero involved enough in the story to reach his goal. And while establishing this narrative foundation is at times tedious, it ultimately pays off in a fun and detailed manhunt that goes on for the rest of the novel.
Forsythe, again, presents a great and compelling thriller, and the pages turn pretty quickly once things get going. This was a fun read. ...more
I came around to The Day of the Jackal knowing it had a serious provenance. I don’t tend to seek out thrillers (although I certainly enjoy them), butI came around to The Day of the Jackal knowing it had a serious provenance. I don’t tend to seek out thrillers (although I certainly enjoy them), but I’m well aware that there are classics that are worth reading, and that this was one of them.
This is a brilliant novel. Really exciting. And I think there are a few key factors that play into this. The first is that it takes place in a plausible version of the real world. Surrounding a plot by an assassin to take the life of Charles de Gaulle, the novel establishes itself in a solid historical setting by recounting actual assassination attempts by the French terrorist group, OAS, of the same. You can’t really call this novel historical fiction since it involves a primarily fictional group of individuals, but it takes place in a firmly historical world.
The second factor is that both the details surrounding the planned assassination attempt and the investigation in pursuit of the assassin (the titular Jackal) are all perfectly well outlined and are brilliantly executed. Every step makes sense. There are no moments where logic must be thrown out the window or the reader must employ their suspension of disbelief. It makes sense. And the really unique thing, particularly where the investigation and manhunt are concerned, is that much of the plot involves fairly routine police work—checking records, passport photos, and plane records, investigating hotel clerks, setting up road blocks, etc. And it’s not boring. Even a little bit, which is quite a feat! Which brings us to…
The third factor: the narrative. The novel’s narrator depicts events as though they were coming from a case file. The sentences are clipped. Descriptions are succinct. And dialogue is matter-of-fact. If it were strictly like this, it would be tremendously boring, but there’s enough detail and interjection mixed in to make it immensely entertaining. It’s a very fine line for an author to walk, but Forsythe proves very talented at this.
The end result is a novel that is gripping, exciting, and engaging. You really should look into it! ...more
The mystery in The Sign of Four was fairly outlandish, but entertaining enough. There was, after all, aCONNIVING CONVICTS AND NE'ER-DO-WELL NATIVES!!!
The mystery in The Sign of Four was fairly outlandish, but entertaining enough. There was, after all, a stolen treasure of jewels that valued in the hundreds of thousands! However, it was the getting there that the fun part.
Holmes is made far more human here, evincing moments of enui, depression, and concern for his friend, Dr. Watson. He also climbs around the outside of a building in the middle of the night, so there's that. We also learn of Holmes' predilection for the "delights" of recreational drug use: he's quite fond of cocaine (only a 7% solution, mind you) and morphine to stimulate him in periods of inactivity.
And of course, Watson meets (and offers his hand to) our damsel in distress, Mary Morstan. Nothing like a good murder mystery to stoke the heart fires......more
I really enjoyed this book. I think I'd read it years ago, but the sands of time have worn all those memories away. When I thinkMURDEROUS MORMONS!!!
I really enjoyed this book. I think I'd read it years ago, but the sands of time have worn all those memories away. When I think about the novel itself, I'm not certain that I enjoyed the story so much as I enjoyed the characters and the development of one of the most storied relationships in literature.
As for the plot, I suspect that if I spent a few minutes thinking about Holmes' observational deductions from the clues he had, I could throw out some alternate suggestions, but that's somewhat beside the point in this series. After all, Sir Doyle wasn't so much trying to write tightly plotted mysteries as he was attempting to point out what he saw as blatant ineptness in the law enforcement agencies of his day.
All in all, though, this was a terrific and very easy to read introduction to a fantastic series!...more