Saturday, March 31, 2012

REMOTE CONTROL by Kotaro Isaka

Finished Fr 3/30/12

GoodReads post:

The whole novel is really an extrapolation on the idea that, "Lee Harvey Oswald was a patsy". And, this means that the real killer or killers allowed a 'chump' or a 'fall guy' to assume responsibility for the killing of the 35TH president of the United States, and therefore concealed their involvement. However, in the case of REMOTE CONTROL, the subject is not the Kennedy assassination, but rather the fictional killing of the prime minister of Japan in a not too distant future.

The novel is very successful at presenting a thrilling and compelling plot, but in the end, we really never find out who was behind the set-up or what was their true motivation. We see an 'average guy' who is caught up in a chain of events which make it appear that he is a killer, and he must prove his innocence by using his friends to help him elude the authorities. Because it is never revealed who is behind the set-up, we never find out how far back the con began, or whether or not his friends were enlisted in the plan without their knowledge.

When I finished the novel, I felt a bit let down, because I wanted to know the nature of the conspiracy. But, for an action-packed, thriller/adventure, the novel delivers everything and more. Also, since the music of the Beatles played such a crucial role in setting the tone for the book, and also linking the plot to the famous, real-life event, I think that the original title of the novel, GOLDEN SLUMBER, should have been retained. But, this is a minor point, and, needless to say, the novel would make a terrific film.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

THE PARIS WIFE by Paula McLain

Finished We 3/28/12

This was the March selection for my Contemporary Book Club.

Lackluster fictionalized account of Hadley Richardson's marriage to Ernest Hemingway. Since it was set in Paris of the 1920's, I was expecting much more, but the novel failed to deliver.

I got more out of several visits to Wikipedia checking out the backgrounds on the various artists and characters in the real story of The Left Bank during the Roaring Twenties.

Saturday, March 24, 2012


Finished Sa 3/24/12

GoodReads post:

First novel in a series which concerns a Boston detective, Magnus Jonson, who has relocated to Iceland and is on-loan to the Icelandic Police Force at Reykjavík. In this novel he has left Boston because corrupt cops and a drug czar have placed a hit on him to prevent him from testifying. In Iceland, Magnus becomes involved in a number of murders which involve the ancient Norse sagas of Iceland. These texts provided J. R. R. Tolkien with the inspiration for his LORD OF THE RINGS series.

The novel is a fast-paced mystery/thriller, and has great descriptions of the people and places of Iceland. Great location and a terrific story, and I'll look forward for more on the Magnus Jonson character. The author, Michael Ridpath, is actually known for his novels of the investment banking industry.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

WHITE SLEEPER by Dr. David Fett and Stephen Langford

Finished Tu 3/20/12

Post for GoodReads-

WHITE SLEEPER is a fast paced thriller that involves a partnership between a member of a White Supremacy group and an Al-Qaeda sleeper cell active in the USA. They collaborate on a bio-terrorist attack involving bubonic plague, botulism, and rabies, and a novice female FBI agent, and an alcoholic in remission working for the Center For Disease Control seem to be the only ones who can cancel the threat.

The novel is co-written by Dr. David Fett and Stephen Langford. Dr. Fett is an ophthalmologist, and provides the medical details for the disease aspects of the book, and Stephen Langford is a television writer and producer, and he provides the propulsive dramatic action which reads like a screenplay that's ready-made for film or TV.

The book is hard to put down, and very believable.

Odd Facts-
1)When the US Congress was considering making Idaho a state a lobbyist by the name of George Willing suggested the Indian name, 'Idaho'. However, the word 'Idaho' had no meaning, and was only a prank.
2)Since The World Trade Center is no more, The Empire State Building is now the tallest building in NYC.
3)Red Bull and Coffee is quite an 'upper'.

Ben Curan- Young man who's family is murdered by the FBI, and he vows to get revenge. Belongs the The Knights of the White Order.

Dr. Dave Richards- Dry drunk who works for The Center For Disease Control in Atlanta, GA. Dr. Root is his boss.

Dr. Evan Lussier- Richards and Root's boss. A complete incompetent.

Ben meets the sleeper cell in Greenwich Village NYC, and they live in his apartment building.

Paula Mushari- Rookie FBI agent who is assigned the case with Dr. Richards

Black Plague and Botulism are treatable, but Rabies is 100% fatal if not caught before the disease takes hold. Once the rabies virus reaches the central nervous system and symptoms begin to show, the infection is effectively untreatable and usually fatal within days. This is why if the virus was introduced via a flu shot, the victim would already be completely infected before any symptoms were noticed.

Monday, March 19, 2012


Finished Su 3/18/12

This was the March selection for my Classics Book Club. I read about a third of the book, skimmed most of the rest of it. Today, Monday, 3/19/12, I spent about an hour on 'Spark Notes' which is an excellent website that provided a basic outline for each and every chapter in the book. And, they also have study questions, and other information to help you understand the novel.

The novel was only OK, and I wish that I had gotten to see the movie. I ordered it from Netflix yesterday, and I should be getting it later in the week. The movie is a little different from the book, but much of it was the same.

And, I remember reading PRISONER OF BIRTH by Jeffery Archer, and it is basically the very same plot. I think that I might like that one just a shade more than Dumas's version, just that it is more contemporary tale.

RANCHERO by Rick Gavin

Finished Su 3/18/12
GoodReads post:

A crackling first novel which takes a colorful, irreverent, and satirical look at life on the Mississippi delta. Nick Reid is an ex-cop from Virginia who now works as a repo-man for a 'rent to own' outfit. One day his assignment is to get back a flat-screen TV or negotiate payments, and the deal turns sour, and the client beats him up, and steals his mint-condition, coral-colored 1969 Ranchero that Nick borrowed from his landlady. This sets off a chase through the rural areas of the delta among a collection of the most motley characters imaginable.

Author Rick Gavin has a great ear for dialogue, and his descriptions of events and places are side-splitting. This is the first in a series, and I can't wait to read the next installment.

K-Lo- The rent to own store in Indianola, Mississippi
Desmond- Nick's huge Black friend who rides a tiny Geo Metro
Percy Dwayne Dubois- (pronounced, 'Dew Boys') The guy that had the repossessed TV
Dale- muscle bound corrupt cop
Guy- Runt of a meth dealer who actually had possession of the Ranchero

Friday, March 16, 2012


Finished Th 3/15/12

I spent a couple of weeks on this novel in between reading the two books for my book clubs, THE COUNT OF MONTE CRISTO and THE PARIS WIFE. Had I devoted my full attention to LEAVING LAS VEGAS, I could have finished in a couple of evenings.

My comments to Good Reads:

LEAVING LAS VEGAS is really an examination of two desperately lonely people who just happen to be an addict and a hooker. I thought that the character of Sera, the prostitute, was one of the fully most realized presentations of a call girl that I have ever read. You really get a sense of what it means to be 'in the life'. Ben's character was harder to understand because I can't remember reading a book about a person who drank quite this much. Yet, he was completely believable even though his addiction goes way beyond nihilism. The book was enthralling from start to finish, and of course, you can't help but mention the Oscar nominated film starring Nicolas Cage and Elizabeth Shue which was a wonderful adaptation of O'Brien's novel.

Sunday, March 4, 2012


Finished Sa 3/3/12

My post on GoodReads-

And unbelievable first novel, yet I was only familiar with Egan's later works, and was anticipating the audacious intellectual flights of fancy of, LOOK AT ME, or the intricately and bizarrely plotted story-line of, A VISIT FROM THE GOON SQUAD. However, THE INVISIBLE CIRCUS is a very solid and readable examination of a family, and how the mood and tone of the radical sixties changed them forever. Although, the focus is on this particular family dynamic, the book also operates as a metaphor to demonstrate how some 'carefree hippies' of the 60's mutated into 'neo-marxist terrorists' of the early 70's, and, I think that Egan aptly shows how Faith O'Connor embraced, and became ensnared in this strange and intoxicating riptide of history, and how her adoring younger sister, Phoebe, finally comes to accept the fallout of her actions.

Set 1978 San Francisco and Europe
Phoebe O'Connor is 18 years old
Faith O'Connor- sister, suicide in 1970
Novel opens when Phoebe meets Kyle Marion who was a friend of Wolf and Faith. Kyle gives Phoebe a joint to take to Steven Lake when she goes to Europe. This is how Phoebe runs into Wolf. Wolf lives in this apartment in Munich.

Mom, Dad, Barry O'Connor
Father went to work with IBM instead of becoming an artist. We learn that he really was not that much of an artist, and he was only a 'follower' in the beat world.
He gave each of his children five thousand dollars when they graduated high school, and wanted them to use the money to see the world before they attended college. Barry took his money and invested it in '' ventures and is now a millionaire. Faith is Dad's absolute favorite, yet he dies of cancer just before Faith leaves for Europe. Mom has pretty much remained celibate, and keeps the house just as it was. She has the secret that Dad and Faith's relationship was wrong, and that the corporate world really did not keep him from becoming an artist. He just didn't have it.

'The Invisible Circus' was a real theater experience created by The Diggers, and came from one of the churches in the San Francisco area.

Corniglia, Italy is where Faith jumped into the sea. Wolf had maintained that he was not even there, but finally he admits to Phoebe that he was there, and describes exactly what happened. She demanded that he walk away from her when she dangerously stood on a wall overlooking the sea. He blames himself for walking away. The reason that she is suicidal is that she mistakenly killed a janitor when she was placing a bomb for a radical group. She seemed to be on the mend from this when Wolf and her traveled to Italy, but not really. Or maybe, she just finally accepted that she must sacrifice her life for the life that she took.