Next Friday will be Bill Crider day on the blog. Please save reviews of work other than Bill's for another time. Remembrances are also welcome. Those without a blog, please send your piece to me and I will post it here.
I can hardly bear to post these reviews without his name on the list. Another friend died from a stroke this week. Bonnie has two major losses. And Kevin has lost his Sandi. Hardly a worse week in memory. And what goes on in Washington just compounds all semblance of a civil society.
UPRIGHT PIANO PLAYER, David Abbott
Henry Cage is an enigmatic protagonist to say the least. Despite what
seem outwardly like a successful life, he is left by his wife, spurned
by his son, a stranger to his grandson, forced out of his career, and
harassed by a man who knocks into him after a party. Yet none of these
things lead him to much self-reflection. He seems unable to give much
and is puzzled at the consequent results of his behavior.
This is a book that has been reviewed favorably yet not one of the women
in my book group enjoyed it or even thought it a very good novel. These
were the reasons they expressed:: they had no more understanding of
Henry Cage by the end of the book than at the beginning--oh, yes, he had
changed but it was not clear why. There were too many POVs that seemed
unnecessary. Sometimes it was hard to sort out whose head we were in.
Every character gets moments of reflection. So many in fact that this
may have been what kept us from understanding Henry. The book begins
with a horrific incident--an incident so horrible that we all dreaded
having to go through it again. The author seemed determined to drape
every character in tragedy, in fact.
Having said this, I have thought about this book quite a bit. I wish we
had been told more about his childhood, what made him such a inward man,
so unreflective and aloof. I know back stories are unpopular nowadays
but a character like Henry needs one if we are to have any hope of
peering inside his head. What made Henry the man he was?
Sergio Angelini, Ranking the 87th Precinct Books by Ed McBain
Yvette Banek, Three Mystery Series
Les Blatt, SOMEBODY AT THE DOOR, Raymond Postgate
Brian Busby, The Season's Best Books in Review: 1917
Martin Edwards, THE FILE ON LESTER, Andrew Garve
Curt Evans, LAVENDER HARVEST: IN COLD BLOOD, Armstrong Livingston
Richard Horton, THE AUCTION BLOCK, Rex Beach
Jerry House, TARZAN AND THE MAD MAN, Edgar Rice Burroughs
George Kelley, HARD READING: LEARNING FROM SCIENCE FICTION, Tom Shippey
Margot Kinberg, THE STUDENT BODY, Simon Hyatt
Rob Kitchin, DEATH OF A DOXY, Rex Stout
B.V. Lawson, THE MYNN'S MYSTERY, George Manville Fenn
Evan Lewis, RED GARDENIAS, Jonathan Latimer
Steve Lewis, THE GUILTY BYSTANDER, Mike Brett
Todd Mason, MIND FIELDS, Harlan Ellison and Jacek Yerka
Neer, A TIME TO DIE, Hilda Lawrence
J.F. Norris, THIRTY DAYS TO LIVE BY, Anthony Gilbert
Matt Paust, OUR GAME, John LeCarre
James Reasoner, THE EBONY JUJU, Gordon MacCreagh
TomCat, PATTERN OF MURDER, John Russell Fearn
TracyK, LANDED GENTLY, Alan Hunter
Westlake Review, GET REAL, Part 2
Friday, December 08, 2017
Thursday, December 07, 2017
Sorry. The guy is Hugh Dancy (Hannibal). It should turn up on the podcast for Selected Shorts. Or at least I hope so. They each read an Agatha Christie story except Megan who is the host. It was to raise money for Symphony Space.
Wednesday, December 06, 2017
I could not help but be impressed with the love Louise Penny received in Toronto at Bouchercon. Yvette Banek convinced me to try this one. She felt this was the one I was most likely to enjoy. And I did enjoy it somewhat, admired the writing, was impressed with how much research must have gone into learning about chants, monks, monasteries, the politics of a monastery. It was a book I admired more than liked though.
Briefly, Gamache and his protege, Beauvoir go to a remote monastery where a monk has been killed. The murderer must be one of their own because it is cloistered. The monastery has recently gained fame for their chants of ancient works. This has caused a chasm between two groups of monks: the ones who feel moving forward is necessary and ones (led by the abbot) who feel their first calling is religious. The monk who is killed represents the progressive group.
My main issues with THE BEAUTIFUL MYSTERY were: too much of it relied on the reader knowing the events that took place in previous books. Hardly a page went by when these events were not referenced and yet never explained enough for the first-time reader to make sense of.
Secondly, the mystery, although interesting in the abstract, was not all that interesting in the way it played out. Only a few of the monks were sharply drawn and too much time was spent on arcane discussions. It felt at time like information dumps.
I also disliked how Gamache's supervisor was flown in (literally) to add tension to the story because there was so little. I find it hard to believe a police supervisor from a major cityy would take the time to go to this remote place just to torment our protagonist.
I also found little reason for Beauvoir, the second in command, to revert to his addiction to drugs when he is preparing to marry. This whole storyline and especially the ending, didn't work for me at all.
As I write this, I like it even less. And yet, I had no trouble finishing a long book, which I often do. So the beautiful mystery is why I finished it and why it didn't work for me.
For more reviews, see Barrie Summy right here.
Friday, December 15 will be Bill Crider Day on Friday Forgotten Books. If you would like to participate, either with a book review of one of his books or a remembrance, or a review of a short story, you can post it on my blog or your own should you have one. If you message me, I will give you my email to send it to. If you can get it to me a day or two before then, that would be great. Even Facebook reviews will work.All reviews are welcome.
Tuesday, December 05, 2017
I know I saw this movie in the eighties at the theater but surprisingly little of the story stayed with me. Including the twists of which there are several. Jeff Bridges plays a newspaper editor accused of murdering his wife and maid. All of the assets including the business were hers. Motive.
Glenn Close, a former prosecutor, suffering PTSD from a bad case and now practicing corporate law, reluctantly takes him on. And, of course, a romantic relationship develops. The film suffers from mediocre at best direction and some inconsistent acting, but on the whole, I liked it well enough. It is hard to say more than this without spoilers. All in all, a B- movies for me.
Monday, December 04, 2017
We celebrated Kevin's 11th birthday yesterday. On Thursday night, the day of his birthday, he went with friends to see an illusionist. Seems to have been a great choice of events. Boy, does he have great parents. They make sure he gets to sample a wide range of cultural and popular events.
My favorite TV shows of 2017 all made me happy.
THE GOOD PLACE, MASTER OF NONE, BETTER THINGS, BETTER CALL SAUL, THE DEUCE, BIG LITTLE LIES, MINDHUNTER, ATLANTA, THE LEFTOVERS, THE FIVE.
What about you?