Challenge: 50 Books discussion

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2010 > Ed does 50 but keeps on truckin'

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message 1: by Ed (last edited Jun 07, 2010 01:07AM) (new)

Ed (ejhahn) | 235 comments I had shingles so I didn't do much reading for a couple months. I believe I can catch up and it will be fun trying. Full reviews of all books listed here can be found on my Goodreads' Site: http://www.goodreads.com/review/list/...


message 2: by Ed (last edited Feb 14, 2010 12:38AM) (new)

Ed (ejhahn) | 235 comments Adding:

1. The Night Manager - John Le Carre'

Another tour de force from one of the masters of the spy genre. Le Carre' manages to invest this novel with the smallest details yet keep the reader enthralled with the sweep of the over-all story.

In this case the British night manager of a Swiss hotel, Jonathan Pine, is recruited for an undercover mission against "the most evil man in the world", an arms dealer named Dickey Roper. Explaining his motivations would be a spoiler but suffice to say they consist of both patriotism and revenge.

Pine carries out his part of the bargain very well but is unknowingly caught up in a political situation in Whitehall and Miami that puts him at tremendous risk. The story's unfolding is a joy to read.


message 3: by Ed (new)

Ed (ejhahn) | 235 comments Adding:

2. The First World War - John Keegan

I am not a big fan of military histories. They tend to be much too detailed for my taste.
This book meets none of the above criteria.

While this book is detailed, nevertheless the details are usually necessary to understand the nature of the battle being described. The details also help the reader understand, fully, the horrors this conflict visited upon the average soldier.

I think for the first time in my life, I have a picture of the entire War as well as its major battles and its geopolitical underpinnings.

Keegan is a renowned Author and after reading this book, I understand why.


message 4: by Ed (new)

Ed (ejhahn) | 235 comments Adding:

3. Code to Zero - Ken Follett

Taking place during the cold war, it describes an effort to frustrate the U.S. effort to place a satellite in space and so to compete with the Russians who had already launched Sputnik and sent Laika, a dog, into space.

The plot is clever and has a few twists that were unexpected but also a few that could be seen from afar. The ending is a little too neat for a novel. It was more suitable for a nail biter of a movie.

All in all, this was a nice piece of mind candy and fun to spend two or three days with.


message 5: by Ed (new)

Ed (ejhahn) | 235 comments Adding:

4. McNally's Risk - Lawrence Sanders

I never imagined myself reading a Lawrence Sanders novel but this one was O.K.

The protagonist, Archy McNally, a Palm Beach P.I., is an interesting character with the requisite number of skills and foibles. In this case he runs into an accomplished con-man and his excruciatingly beautiful daughter.

Sanders is breaking no new ground here and I suspect the entire McNally series is derivative of the many P.I. series that preceded it. Nevertheless, this story was a satisfying read, especially since I was expecting so little.


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Ed (ejhahn) | 235 comments Adding:

5. The Tin Roof Blowdown by James Lee Burke

I'm not at all sure I really got what Hurricane Katrina did to New Orleans until I read this book.

That said, this is the story of how series hero, Dave Robicheaux, is dragged into the chaos following the disaster and is swallowed up in the aftermath of investigating a number of killings. The plot is typical of the series in that it bounces from a first person narrative by Robicheaux to a description of what's happening to the other major characters. It's done in such a way, though, that the reader never loses track of what's going on.

Well done Mr. Burke, another winner!


message 7: by Ed (new)

Ed (ejhahn) | 235 comments Adding:

6. 24 Hours - Greg Iles

This is one exciting story.

Even though I knew the basics of the plot and had heard of the movie, I still got caught up in the suspense of it all. It is definitely a thriller!

The basic plot, a kidnapping with special circumstances, is brilliant. The characters are believable and, though, heroic in cases, not stereotypical. The main villain is also well drawn. The ending stretches credibility a little but left me satisfied.

I'm glad I gave it a shot. I was well rewarded.


message 8: by Ed (new)

Ed (ejhahn) | 235 comments Adding:

7. The Virgin in the Ice - Ellis Peters

The opportunity to read a murder mystery and a historical novel simultaneously is a joy. This is especially true of the Cadfael mysteries.

The plot is simple, Cadfael discovers a young girl frozen in a creek. He refuses to jump to obvious conclusions and the result is that the true killer is uncovered via a very clever ruse.

I'm glad I chose to keep this title around for the last few years until I was ready to pick it up and be transported to another reality.


message 9: by Ed (new)

Ed (ejhahn) | 235 comments Adding:

8. The Winter King - Bernard Cornwell

I finally finished this over-long tome. I think Cornwell over-reached himself, here, by trying to do too much.

The narrator of the story is Derfel Cadarn, a monk who was at one time a warrior pledged to Arthur.

The Arthur we read of is not the Arthur of legend but basically, a war-lord who becomes the protector of Mordred, the crippled infant king of Dummonia. Merlin, too, is not the magically wise maven of repute but a rather nasty, cynical druid with his own agenda. Actually, Cornwell does a better job than usual of character development.

He does not do as good a job, though, of moving the story along and delays most of the action until the last third of the book.

I was, more than once, tempted to abandon the book. I'm glad I didn't.


message 10: by Ed (new)

Ed (ejhahn) | 235 comments Adding:

9. Private Practices - Stephen White

This is my first Stephen White novel. I would have been more impressed if I hadn't already read most of Jonathan Kellerman's work.

The biggest differences are that there is more humor and action in White's offering and better plotting, character development and depth in Kellerman's books.

This story has Dr. Alan Gregory, the series protagonist, stumbling all over a series of seemingly unrelated murders that turn out to be connected.

All is wrapped up at the end in a satisfying manner.


message 11: by Ed (new)

Ed (ejhahn) | 235 comments Adding:

10. The Arraignment - Steve Martini

Started slow, then picked up the pace considerably.

Paul Madriani, a lawyer, gets involved with an acquaintance who asks him to take a case. Madriani eventually refuses, only to be nearby when his friend is gunned down outside the courthouse, along with the client.

The story takes off from there as Madriani tries to find out who did it and also insure that all the dead man's heirs receive the insurance money due them.

As I've implied, the plot is pretty good. The characters are well drawn in some cases but stereotypical in others. If you like legal thrillers, you'll like this book.


message 12: by Ed (new)

Ed (ejhahn) | 235 comments Adding:

11. Wings of Fire - Dale Brown

I questioned why I finished this book and came up with two reasons. One, I have a compulsion to do so. Two, I wanted to see if Brown could work out an ending that didn't strain all credulity.

Although, this book pretends to be military fiction, it is actually science fiction.

The plotting is spotty. Characterizations are cardboard-like.

There was a time in the distant past when I liked Dale Brown's output. Those times are gone. Like Tom Clancy, he has gone as far with this genre as he can go. The ending of the story, here, was beyond belief.


message 13: by Ed (last edited Mar 31, 2010 05:11PM) (new)

Ed (ejhahn) | 235 comments Adding:

12. Dead Sleep - Greg Iles

This story involves Jordan Glass, who, though a woman, is considered one of the pre-eminent war photographers. She becomes involved in the search for a serial killer when one of the victims is her twin sister.

The plotting is very complicated and keeps the reader guessing what is going to happen next which is a good thing in my opinion. The characters are all flawed in some way, even the children. I think that makes them more interesting.

The ending is a little bit over the top but acceptable. Iles needed to get Glass alone with the perpetrator and had to do a little literary sleight of hand to make it happen.

With that one caveat, I recommend the book highly.


message 14: by Ed (new)

Ed (ejhahn) | 235 comments Adding:

13. Roma - Steven Saylor

Covering 1044 years of history in 550 pages is quite a feat. Saylor does it by following two families down through the ages from when Rome was a stop on a salt trading route to the ascension of Octavius to be the first Emperor, Caesar Augustus.

Each chapter is a vignette that might even stand alone but is tied to the previous story and the succeeding story by family ties and the passing down of a gold amulet, in the shape of a winged phallus, from generation to generation.

I've read a number of Roman Historical Novels and aside from Colleen McCullough's 7 book series, this is as fine a job as any were able to do. His research must have been very thorough. I had the book club edition with an interview of the author in the back. I was impressed with his list of sources.

I had a difficult time putting the book down.


message 15: by Ed (last edited Apr 01, 2010 01:03PM) (new)

Ed (ejhahn) | 235 comments Adding:

14. For the Love of the Game - Michael Shaara

This is a lovely story. Written in a Hemingway-esque style, it covers the last two days in the baseball career of a future Hall of Fame pitcher.

The book takes us into the heart of baseball where time is an illusion and the past and the future somehow are joined.

Even though the story is ostensibly about baseball, it is also about friendship, commitment, growing up and honoring yourself by doing the best you can no matter the circumstances.

I would strongly suggest that you read the book before you rent or buy the movie.


message 16: by Ed (new)

Ed (ejhahn) | 235 comments Adding:

15. Redcoat - Bernard Cornwell

A somewhat typical Cornwell offering: well written, well researched, well plotted and full of exciting situations. As usual, the battle scenes are very realistic and descriptive.

Cornwell's weakness, if he has one, is in his characterizations. His heroes are indefatigable. His villains often have few redeeming qualities, especially the non-coms.

The main protagonist is Sam Gilpin, a Redcoat enlistee. The other major characters, Jonathan Becket, a rebel, Martha Crowl, his older widowed sister, and Caroline Fisher, his fiancee, are all a bit stereotyped but interesting, nevertheless.

The story revolves around the British occupation of Philadelphia, a Loyalist stronghold, in the winter of 1777, with plots and counter-plots surrounded by an active social scene promoted by Sir William Howe, the British commander.

I enjoyed this stand-alone book. Most of Cornwell's offerings are series. I highly recommend it as an introduction to Cornwell's writing style.


message 17: by Ed (new)

Ed (ejhahn) | 235 comments Adding:

16. Obsession - Jonathan Kellerman

Part of the Alex Delaware series, this volume is somewhere in the middle in terms of quality and readability.

With his trusty side-kick, Milo Sturgis, a gay LA PD detective, Alex takes on the search for the meaning of a deathbed confession by Patty Bigelow, an ER nurse who has died, unexpectedly, from aggressive pancreatic cancer.

As the story unfolds, Alex and Milo keep uncovering layers and layers of the past as it affects the present until they finally figure out who the real villain is and wrap the case up.

While there are some references to previous books, this volume can be read as a stand-alone introduction to the series.


message 18: by Carol (last edited Apr 15, 2010 09:51AM) (new)

Carol Neman | 469 comments Ed, Jonathan Kellerman is a new author for me to read. I just picked up the paperback 'Evidence' from the Lending Library we have upstairs at work, so I don't know where it comes in on the spectrum of K's work...in fact haven't opened the cover yet, but I already know a few things about Alex Delaware, thanks to you..that he's gay, he has a sidekick named Milo, and that he's LAPD, a detective too. (LAPD doesn't have such a good reputation here in LA, but maybe that won't be addressed in the novel)...I'm putting it on my TBR list. Who knows, perhaps he (Kellerman) will become a favorite series author of mine. Thanks for your review.


message 19: by Ed (new)

Ed (ejhahn) | 235 comments Carol,

Delaware is definitely not gay. He has a girl friend, Robin, who crafts guitars. Milo Sturgis, the LAPD detective is. Delaware is a consultant to the LAPD not a detective. He's a psychologist.

Here's my complete review at: http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/....

Ed


message 20: by Carol (new)

Carol Neman | 469 comments Oh, excuse me, it's Milo who is gay...I read that wrong, probably without my glasses, so he is probably the detective, also. Thanks for the correction, I would have been confused when I got into the book...lol


message 21: by Donna (last edited Apr 16, 2010 07:46AM) (new)

Donna | 1350 comments Also, Robin, who is remarkably similar to Kellerman's real life wife, writer Faye Kellerman, is his ex-girlfriend if you're going to start with "Obsession." Since we're getting technical and all. BTW these are GREAT BOOKS and the first was "When the Bough Breaks."


message 22: by Carol (new)

Carol Neman | 469 comments Thanks, Donna


message 23: by Ed (new)

Ed (ejhahn) | 235 comments Donna wrote: "Also, Robin, who is remarkably similar to Kellerman's real life wife, writer Faye Kellerman, is his ex-girlfriend if you're going to start with "Obsession." Since we're getting technical and all. B..."

Donna,

In Obsession they are back together again, in their old but re-built house with a new French Bulldog named Blanche. In fact Robin does some research in the case Delaware is working on. (Not meant to be too technical)


message 24: by Ed (new)

Ed (ejhahn) | 235 comments Donna,

Have you read any of the Stephen White books. If so, what do you think of them? I see them as clones of Kellerman with a little more humor.


message 25: by Donna (new)

Donna | 1350 comments How about if we settle on on-again/off-again girlfriend? And no I haven't, but I'm always looking for someone new to add to the TBR pile. Where would I start?


message 26: by Ed (new)

Ed (ejhahn) | 235 comments Adding:

17. Team of Rivals - Doris Kearns Goodwin

A superb rendering of an aspect of Abraham Lincoln that I had not spent much time considering before.

Kearns-Goodwin is not only unabashedly admiring of Lincoln's political intelligence but also of his magnanimity. I've often thought of how things might have been different for the U.S. if Lincoln had lived.

It is hard to read this book without finding new things to admire in Lincoln's character and actions.

Whether you admire Lincoln or despise him, this would be a valuable addition to your understanding of the man.


message 27: by Ed (new)

Ed (ejhahn) | 235 comments Adding:

18. Ramage's Diamond - Dudley Pope

A used bookstore owner recommended this author after discovering that I had read the complete Patrick O'Brian Aubrey/Maturin Series. Unfortunately this is a somewhat pale imitation of what O'Brian has done.

Pope spends far too much time describing, in tedious detail, what the sailors and officers do to sail the ship.

In this volume of the Ramage Series, young Lord Ramage is given his first captaincy, is dispatched to the Caribbean Sea and given the task of blockading the French Island of Martinique. He manages to whip the ship and its crew into shape and to accomplish an almost impossible victory.

The action scenes are well-described and the inter-play between the Captain and his officers and crew are well drawn. Unfortunately there is just too much filler.


message 28: by Ed (new)

Ed (ejhahn) | 235 comments Adding:

19. Identity Theory - Peter Temple

This is my first book by Australian author, Peter Temple. I was impressed.

The plotting, in particular, is complicated and suspenseful. Plenty of surprises and unexpected twists.

The characters are most interesting, particularly the women because their motivations are far less clear and therefore more enticing. The male characters are all flawed, some fatally so.

The story begins with a series of seemingly unrelated events happening to unrelated people which winds itself up into a huge conspiracy to cover up a massacre that happened 20 years ago in Angola.

The only argument I have with the story is that the ending is just a little too neat.


message 29: by Ed (new)

Ed (ejhahn) | 235 comments Adding:

20. The Spies of Warsaw - Alan Furst

Another fantastic effort for the premier writer of spy stories going.

This one takes place, as you might guess, in Warsaw just prior to WW II. The story starts slowly but gains momentum with each succeeding chapter until I found it very difficult to put the book down.

As always Furst's characterizations are excellent. The plot has enough suspense and twists to keep the reader guessing and anticipating. The prose is spare and elegant as usual.

The realization that I've only got one more Furst novel left to read saddens me.


message 30: by Ed (new)

Ed (ejhahn) | 235 comments Adding:

21: War and Our World - John Keegan

This short, 74 page volume, was originally presented as a series of lectures on the BBC.

Here Keegan tries, with some success, to discuss why war happens.

I was left pondering, not only the nature of war but also the nature of humankind. A worthwhile exercise, I believe.


message 31: by Ed (new)

Ed (ejhahn) | 235 comments Adding:

22: Firewall - Henning Mankell

Not the best Mankell I've read but certainly a good one.

The story starts with an accidental death and eventually involves four or five murders and an international cyber-space conspiracy. As with all of Mankell's work, as much time is spent being exposed to Kurt Wallander's internal world as is spent on his detective work.

The plot here is very drawn out and fascinating. The characters, both Wallander's colleagues who appear throughout the series and the one's introduced here are interesting.

I can recommend this book as a stand-alone example of the series but there are others that might serve better as an introduction to Kurt Wallander and his neuroses.


message 32: by Ed (new)

Ed (ejhahn) | 235 comments Adding:

23. The Renegades - T. Jefferson Parker

I did not enjoy this audio CD, nearly as much as I enjoyed the "Team of Rivals" production.

The story involves Charlie Hood, who is in a squad car with a fellow Sheriff's Deputy, Terry Laws, when he gets gunned down and somehow Hood is spared. The story balloons from there and goes on to involve murder, drugs, revenge, cars, Mexican drug lords, the Antelope Vally, north of LA, Internal Affairs, courtrooms, dogs, etc., etc., etc. It's almost too much!

I've got a couple paperbacks of Parker's and will read the next one the old fashioned way, sitting or lying down as opposed to driving down the road.


message 33: by Ed (new)

Ed (ejhahn) | 235 comments Adding:

24. Exile - Richard North Patterson

An exciting and suspenseful look at the Israeli/Palestinian conflict through the vehicle of a murder trial in the suicide bombing of the Israeli Prime Minister while visiting San Francisco.

I was impressed with Patterson's even-handed treatment of both sides of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, a difficult task. His characterizations of moderates, and radicals on both sides as well as in the U.S. were also extremely well done.

He also does a good job of fleshing out the major characters even though he stretches a little in describing some of their motivations. His plotting is good but challenges credulity, to some extent, at the end of the story.

I enjoyed the book and look forward to trying another of the author's efforts.


message 34: by Ed (new)

Ed (ejhahn) | 235 comments Adding:

25. I'm a Stranger here Myself - Bill Bryson

It's been a while since I've read any Bryson. I'm not sure how I missed this one; maybe because it's not a travel book per-se but rather a collection of weekly columns he wrote for a London weekly magazine supplement of the Mail on Sunday newspaper called Night and Day.

He had just returned to the U.S. after 20 years of living in England and these 70 humorous essays are random observations written in his inimitable style.


message 35: by Ed (new)

Ed (ejhahn) | 235 comments Adding:

26. Passage of Arms - Eric Ambler

This story, originally published in 1959, involves the sale of a supply of arms left behind by a Communist Guerilla group in "Malaya" and discovered by an Indian supervisor on a rubber plantation prior to Malaysia's independence. The plot involves three Chinese brothers in Malaya, The Philippines and Singapore respectively all of whom plan to take a cut of the profits. The brothers enlist an American tourist as the bonded recipient of the arms in Singapore. They are destined for a group of right wing rebels in Sumatra. Eventually, the American ends up in deep trouble in Sumatra. Revealing the conclusion of which would be a spoiler.

The writing is somewhat stilted. The characters are fairly well drawn, though. The plot gets more and more interesting as the story goes on and comes to a satisfying if not somewhat unrealistic conclusion.


message 36: by Ed (last edited Jun 04, 2010 02:23AM) (new)

Ed (ejhahn) | 235 comments Adding:

27. Churchill - John Keegan

This effort by John Keegan to deliver a short but comprehensive summary of Winston Churchill's life was a joy to read. I'm sure he used only secondary sources but he, somehow, managed to capture the essence of the man and why he was the way he was as well as letting us see his foibles too, all in 177 superbly written pages.

This volume is a fine example of Keegan's ability to cut through the mountains of detail to leave the reader with a very real sense of the man he was describing.


message 37: by Ed (new)

Ed (ejhahn) | 235 comments Adding:

28. Bangkok Haunts - John Burdett

This effort is even better than Bangkok 8. The characters are more interesting, the plot is more finely drawn and the over-all style of the book shows Burdett's growth as a writer.

In this story, Sonchai, is sent, anonymously, a pornographic snuff flick that features an ex-girl friend as the victim. Along with his assistant Lek, a Katoey or transvestite, he works to solve the crime and in the process angers his boss, becomes involved in three additional murders, and ends up in a Cambodian compound as a prisoner.

The plot has enough twists and turns to keep any reader hooked as I was. It is an extremely difficult book to put down.


message 38: by Ed (new)

Ed (ejhahn) | 235 comments Adding:

29. Wild Swans - Jung Chang

What an incredible memoir, covering three generations: the Grandmother, mother and the author herself. Beginning in 1924 and continuing to 1978, it included the Japanese invasion, the Communist victory in 1949 and the Cultural Revolution and its immediate aftermath.

I think the author does an excellent job of allowing the reader to get a glimpse of the big picture while never losing her personal perspective on events.

This is not an easy book to work your way through. At times it is unremittingly depressing but it also contains tales of generosity and goodness illustrating that even under the most trying circumstances people can behave in wonderful ways.

If you have any curiosity about Modern China, reading this book would be an excellent place to start.


message 39: by Ed (new)

Ed (ejhahn) | 235 comments Adding:

30. War Letters - Andrew Carroll, Ed.

This book does not lend itself to being read word for word. I did read most of it. It works best if the reader browses rather than reading cover to cover.

The Editor, Andrew Carroll, founded the Legacy Project with the goal of preserving the letters of service people for posterity. This volume covers the Civil War, WW I, WW II, Korea, The Cold War, Vietnam, the First Gulf War, Somalia and Bosnia.

I can't say I enjoyed this book but I am very glad I spent as much time with it as I did.


message 40: by Donna (new)

Donna | 1350 comments #30? Look at you! And you thought you wouldn't catch up. Obviously shingles can't keep a good reader down.


message 41: by Ed (new)

Ed (ejhahn) | 235 comments Donna wrote: "#30? Look at you! And you thought you wouldn't catch up. Obviously shingles can't keep a good reader down."

Fer Sure!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


message 42: by Ed (new)

Ed (ejhahn) | 235 comments Adding:

#31. Thunderhead - Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child

This is not the best effort from these two. Any one of the Pendergast series is better than this story.

The plot involves the search for the missing Anasazi City of Quivira, celebrated in legend as the lost city of Gold that Cortez wandered around in the desert looking for.

The biggest fault of the book, in my opinion, is the poor pacing of the story. At times it just drags and at other times moves rapidly along.


message 43: by Ed (new)

Ed (ejhahn) | 235 comments Adding:

#32. Therapy - Jonathan Kellerman

Not the best that Kellerman is capable of, the story revolves around unsavory practices by some psychologists, exacerbated by three murders that are somehow connected to each other and to a group of psychologists.

Nevertheless it was an enjoyable read for me. It started quickly, dragged in the middle with too much explaining, but picked up speed quickly in the last third. The ending was OK and tied up most of the loose ends.

Having read all but two or three of the Alex Delaware series, perhaps I expect too much.


message 44: by Donna (new)

Donna | 1350 comments Not every book in a series can be a winner, you just have to hope the trend doesn't continue. Maybe he's getting tired of Alex & Milo. There are plenty of series writers out there who need to kill off their protagonists a la TV's Rick Castle because it's obvious they're just going through the motions - Diane Mott Davidson I am talking to you. Goldy is officially TSTL. I'm hoping that because he's started to write books that don't involve Alex, that Kellerman is coming back to him with fresh eyes. The last three Alex Delaware books are on my TBR pile for the summer. I guess we shall see....


message 45: by Ed (new)

Ed (ejhahn) | 235 comments Adding:

#33. Blood of Victory - Alan Furst

Furst is an absolute master of the spy novel as literature. This offering does nothing to detract from that mastery.

This is basically the story of a Russian, poet, editor, emigre', lover, I.A. Serebin. Living in German occupied France in 1940, he decides to "do something" about the spread of Nazism throughout Europe.

The thing I like most about Furst's writing and what differentiates it from that other spy story master, LeCarre, is that I am transported into another time and other places in ways that very few authors can accomplish.

I'm down to the last two of Furst's books and that thought makes me sad.


message 46: by Ed (new)

Ed (ejhahn) | 235 comments Adding:

#34. The Meaning of Everything: The Story of the Oxford English Dictionary - Simon Winchester

It blows my mind that an author could take a subject as boring as this one appears to be and make it so darn interesting.

Simon Winchester has done just that with this book about the creation of the The Oxford English Dictionary , which took 88 years from inception to the publication of the First Edition.

I recommend this book to anyone who has any fascination with words and/or the English Language. It is also, in its way, a documentation of how the British eccentric can sometimes create something that is incredible or in this case: a gaggle of eccentrics.


message 47: by Ed (new)

Ed (ejhahn) | 235 comments Adding:

#35. Battle Flag - Bernard Cornwell

The third volume in the Starbuck Chronicles of the U.S. Civil War, it is the best one I've read.

Covering the events leading up to the Second Battle of Bull Run or Manassas if you use the Confederate name, it contains the usual Cornwellian touches of great battle descriptions, admirable heroes and unremittingly evil villains.

I am looking forward to Volume 4 of this series.


message 48: by Ed (new)

Ed (ejhahn) | 235 comments Adding:

#36. Two for Texas - James Lee Burke

Written almost 20 years ago, this is a fine example of Burke's writing style and shows off his talent and ability to not only write contemporary crime thrillers but also historically based western fiction.

This particular story follows the fortunes of Young Son Holland and the more experienced Hugh Allison as they escape from a Louisiana Prison work camp and make their way to join up with Sam Houston's army and fight in the battle of San Jacinto against General Santa Ana.

This is a delightful, though too short, story and well worth the 4 or 5 hours it will take you to digest it.


message 49: by Ed (new)

Ed (ejhahn) | 235 comments Adding:

#37. One Step Behind - Henning Mankell

One of the things I usually like about Mankell's stories is his treatment of his major protagonist, Kurt Wallander. Unfortunately, in this story, Wallander's weaknesses and mistakes are over the top. It felt like Mankell was trying to make him into an anti-hero or even worse a Keystone Cop.

The story itself is mostly a police procedural in which Wallander and his team are trying to track down a serial killer who always seems to be at least one step ahead of them. There are ample surprises and as is usual in Mankell's plots, the reader gets to identify the villain before Wallander does, which actually makes the story more interesting.

Mmankell's characterizations are his strong suit and, in this book, he has some very interesting people populating the story.

The book most likely deserves a better rating than I gave it (3 Stars) but, truth is, I hold Mankell to a higher standard.


message 50: by Ed (new)

Ed (ejhahn) | 235 comments Adding:

#38. The Greatest Generation - Tom Brokaw

This book, about people born or maturing during the Great Depression and then getting caught up in WW II, opened with a bang and ended with a whimper.

The first few sections, where he was writing about normal people humbly doing extraordinary things without fanfare or expectations, were extremely interesting and gave the reader an excellent picture of who these people were and how they lived.

The last few sections about famous people, politicians and others in the public eye were not that interesting.

The last section of the book in which Brokaw summarizes his feelings about the people of this generation is very well done and heartfelt.

While certainly worth reading this book was, in the end, somewhat disappointing. Maybe I expected too much.


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