Monday, February 28, 2011

PORT MORTUARY by Patricia Cornwell

finished Sa 2/26/11

Another Kay Scarpetta novel, and as intriguing as all the rest. I can't believe that this is the 18th novel in the series. In this installment, Kay is at The Dover Air Force Base for forensic training, and there is a murder (actually a few) tied to Scarpetta's Cambridge Forensic Center. If you like the series like I do, you'll like this one.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011


Finished Tu 2/22/11

This novel has nowhere near the visceral punch of Don Winslow's, SAVAGES. Neal Carey is asked by PI pal, Joe Graham, to go to Las Vegas and bring an aging vaudevillian comedian, Natty Silver, back to his condo in Palm Springs. Turns out that the crafty old geezer has witnessed a mob arson job, and is kind of on the run. Lightweight jollification and hijinks ensue, yet not nearly as effective as any of Donald E. Westlake's Dortmunder novels.

Monday, February 21, 2011

SAVAGES by Don Winslow

SAVAGES is a terse, pithy, and hard-hitting novel which will undoubtedly make a dynamite movie. Two very different individuals pool their talents and become kingpins in the lucrative hydroponic super-marijuana market in Southern California. This unlikely partnership consists of Chon, an ex-special forces soldier who is trained in the Art of The Kill, and Ben who is an intellectual who embraces the harmonious Zen aspects of life. And, the very rich, wild-child mall brat, Ophelia who just happens to be the lover of both of these two very different men. How these three individuals incur the wrath of a particularly vicious Mexican drug cartel is a terrific story, and this novel had me glued to the page from start to finish.

On Saturday May 18, 2013 I saw the film which was directed by Oliver Stone. I got a free coupon from Family Video. I picked up the book on Monday at the library, and read it in a couple of days, never realizing that I had read it before. Although the cover of the book seemed vaguely familiar. When I put the title in Good Reads as 'Currently Reading', my old review popped up. 'Will make a good movie'....indeed.


Finished Th 2/17/11

John Jude Parish is the scion of a wealthy,loving,and educated family who seems to be headed for a life full of only the best accouterments that the western world can offer. However, this college aged 'truth seeker' becomes attracted to the tenets of Islam, and makes a pilgrimage to Pakistan right before the tragic events of September 11, 2001. Abraham's central character, John Jude Parish is modeled after John Walker Lindh who actually did join the Taliban in 2001. However, John Jude is much more enamored by the nineteenth century explorer, philosopher, and adventurer, Richard Burton, than the violent interpretations of Osama Bin Laden. He views Islam as a viable world religion, and is enthusiastic to understand and to be moved by the beliefs and principles of this doctrine. This novel examines the teachings of Islam through the eyes of someone who is searching for a new meaning for life, and it allows the reader to understand how one might come to embrace this faith. I think that too often westerners think that to embrace Islam is to be, "hypnotized by The Evil Doers", and Pearl Abraham makes the case that this faith is as legitimate as any other.

THE REVERSAL by Michael Connelly

Finished Mo 2/14/11
In this exciting novel Connelly casts two of his most popular characters on the same case. Half brothers, Mickey Haller(defense lawyer and champion of the down-trodden)and Harry Bosch(hard-nosed LAPD detective)unite to prevent a particularly vicious kidnapper and child molester from being exonerated. Jason Jessup has been awarded a new trial after serving twenty-four years of his sentence when genetic material found at the scene has finally been analysed thanks to findings by the Genetic Justice Project. With Bosh in the 'field', and Haller 'in the court room' the reader gets the best of both worlds in crime fiction. I think the ending was a bit of a let down, but, overall, it's a real page turner.

Monday, February 14, 2011

PRISONER OF BIRTH by Jeffrey Archer

Finished Sa 2/12/11

In this highly entertaining novel by Jeffrey Archer he reworks the themes and plot of Alexandre Dumas's, The Count of Monte Cristo. Both stories concern a man who has been falsely accused, suffers a gross miscarriage of justice, and concocts an elaborate and complex method of exacting his revenge. Also, Archer's novel highlights the inequalities of the British class system. Danny Cartwright, a poor working-class man from London's East End, is accused of a murder which he did not commit by four members of the upper class. And, while in prison, Danny is able to learn the ways of the aristocracy by his tutor and cell-mate, Nick Montcrieff. In a sense, PRISONER OF BIRTH is a 'coming of age tale', and might be the most interesting aspect of the book. Nick learns that a true gentleman is formed by behavior which develops and strengthens character, and is not something which is granted at birth. However, the elaborate financial machinations in which Nick becomes a very wealthy man, and the manner in which Nick is exonerated in the final courtroom scene are just flat-out riveting. Also, it is interesting to note that Jeffrey Archer was a member of both The House of Commons, and The House of Lords, and served time for perjury and perverting the course of justice in the same prison where much of the novel is set. I enjoyed the novel, and I would recommend it to anyone who loves an exciting tale.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

AGE OF MIRACLES by John Brunner

Finished Mo 2/7/11

Another insightful, yet not very well written book from John Brunner. However, his ideas are so freshly brilliant and innovative, that the novel is hard to put down. Earth has been violently and dramatically contacted by a vastly superior alien civilization, yet alien emissaries have not bothered to communicate with mankind. Shortly before the invasion, all weapons grade nuclear bombs and devices have been exploded which reduces most civilization to the Stone Age, and national governments have been over-run by criminal enterprises. Then, after Earth is virtually defenseless, there appear at various locations around the globe, magical shimmering areas which could be alien cities, or possibly extraterritorial staging areas. Man's arsenal of weapons are unable to penetrate these locations, and any attempt to enter, drives the intruder insane. The remaining technically savy individuals who struggle with this unprecedented dilemma realize that mankind has entered a new and different phase. Earthlings must learn how to penetrate these alien enclaves, and learn to harness the new technology, and journey to new frontiers. Mankind must become as rats who learned how to board ancient ships, and travel to distant lands. The intellectuals who study this alien presence have discovered that it is possible to enter these areas without being driven insane, but "except you become as little children."

Monday, February 7, 2011

BEFORE THE FROST by Henning Mankell

Finished Sa 2/4/11

This is my first novel by Henning Mankell, and it is the tenth in the Kurt Wallander Crime Series. This book introduces Kurt's daughter, Linda, who has recently finished police training, and is ready to begin her career in law enforcement. The prologue to BEFORE THE FROST is set on the Jonestown compound in Guyana in 1978 right after the massacre. A crazed and demented member of The People's Temple escapes the killings, and travels to the US, and on to Sweden to form his own murderous Christian sect. Although Linda is not yet on the force, one of her close friends is missing, and might be linked to the bizarre incidents occurring in the community which might be the work of a cult. The novel spotlights the clash of wills between the father and daughter, and both have strong, analytical minds, yet excel in different areas. Linda seems more adept at creative reasoning, while her father is a master of motivation and organization. The detective work is well-written, and the plot is fantastic, yet very believable. I plan to read many more by this Swedish crime writer.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

THE BLACK BOOK by Ian Rankin

Finished 2/1/11

This novel is the fifth in the Inspector John Rebus collection, and is another fine addition to the series. The novel's premise concerns a hotel fire which occurred five years earlier, and the cause and reason have yet to be determined. And, most important, an unidentified corpse was found amid the rubble, and the murder remains unsolved. A local crime boss with connections to loan sharking, the protection rackets, and illegal gambling is the odds on favorite as the culprit, and Inspector Rebus explicates and develops the case in his inexorable fashion. The rather elaborate plot-line is well thought out and executed, and Rankin treats the reader to a striking and appealing peek at the mean and dirty streets of Edinburgh, Scotland.