Tuesday, October 30, 2012

TRADING REALITY by Michael Ridpath

Finished Tu 10/30/12

My post on Good Reads-

I picked up this novel to be entertained, and to learn a bit about Virtual Reality or gain some new insights into the European Bond Market, but learned nothing new about either subject, and found the story to be only a bland and lackluster murder mystery.

Since the book was released in 1998, the global investment markets and the entire digital world has changed so dramatically that almost nothing factual from that era is relevant today. And, a 'whodunit' set in either of these worlds must consist of a top-notch plot-line, and it certainly didn't occur in TRADING REALITY.

Mark Fairfax is asked to head FairSystems Virtual Reality company after the murder of his brother, Richard.

Mark is bond trader for Harrison Brothers in London.

Karen is his girlfriend who killed Richard. Karen was Walter Sorenson's lover for many years, and killed Richard because he was going to reveal that Sorenson was trading stocks illegally.

Richard lives in small Scottish village of Kirkhaven. The company is located in Glenrothes,  Scotland

BOWL   Brave Old World League   Anti-Virtual Reality outfit headed by Doogie. He worked for Richard, but now is a kind of 'guerrilla' against VR.

Rachel works as a scientist for Richard and becomes Mark's lover.

Jenson Computers is an outfit that is trying to take over FairSystems in a hostile takeover.

Project Platform- the next and improved system that will make VR run quicker and better. This will save FairSystems

THE WANT-AD KILLER by Andy Stack (Ann Rule)

Finished  Th 10/25/12

A very early book by Ann Rule when she was still using the 'Andy Stack' nom de plume. A straightforward examination of a rapist and serial killer, yet delineates the emotional carnage inflicted on the families of the girls that he destroyed. 

All of Ann Rule's books are excellent topics for film adaptations, and this one would have made a dynamite movie.

Monday, October 22, 2012


Finished Mo 10/22/12

Because this is Heinlein's last book, it is worth a look, however, the writing doesn't hold together, and it seemed more of an opportunity for him to present his quasi-Libertarian ramblings within the format of a novel.
This is the final 'Lazarus Long' book, and Heinlein further elaborates his thoughts and feelings on time travel, parallel dimensions, free love, incest, and a grab-bag of other culturally or politically discouraged subjects. He refers to his doctrine as, 'World as Myth', but I didn't think that the plot-line supported his intellectual flights of fancy, and the weak story-line sank his oddball conjectures.
I have always felt that Libertarians are Republicans who wish that they could change the drug laws so that they could smoke pot, and Heinlein's Libertarianism seems to advocate an easing of sexual prohibitions to enable an acceptance of a kind of 'polymorphous perversity'.
Sections of the novel were interesting due to his unusual viewpoints, but the story was needlessly too hard to follow, not concise or focused, and comprised of too many characters.
Obviously, telling the tale did not seem to be his foremost concern.

Link to Amazon-


Finished Su 10/21/12

My review at Good Reads and Amazon-

HARBOR OF ILL WILL is a fine novel that blends elements of classic Gothic fiction with contemporary horror, and I found it to be a delight from start to finish.

A mystical globe that grants any wish to its owner, but exacts a dreadful toll is central to this tale, and wouldn't be out of place in a novel by Edgar Allen Poe or Nathaniel Hawthorn. But, this novel is set, for the most part, in the suburbs of contemporary Chicago.

The story-line is carefully plotted, spans several decades, and introduces a collection of picaresque rogues and righteous individuals who are all influenced by this magical sphere. The novel is meticulously well-written, yet fast paced, and I could hardly put it down.

Phil Locascio is not a well know author, but I will definitely take the trouble to seek out more of his work.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

LONG DRIVE HOME by Will Allison

Finished Mo 10/16/12   October selection for Contemporary Book Club

1. Stops short for a traffic light and is almost rear ended by a cop. He runs the light, and Glen gives him the finger.
2. Derek, driving a black Suburban witnesses the 'finger', and thinks it is for him. He stops Glen, 'Apologive, Bitch'. Has gun in his waistband.
3. Witnesses a Jaguar convertible swerve to miss a roadside stop, and heads into Glen's subdivision driving erratically.
4. Glen sees the Jaguar coming down his street and Glen turns into the Jaguar's lane, forcing the driver off the road, and hits a large tree head-on. Dead on the scene. Clarice owns the tree.

Glen Bauer- Married to Liz, and their daughter is Sara
Chairman Meow- The family cat who goes to live with Glen at his 'separation apartment'
They have lived in South Orange, New Jersey for three years. Derek lives, and Sara's school is in Montclair.
Ten miles from Newark,NJ

Juwan- Driver of the Jaguar convertible
Tawana- Juwan's mother
Raymond Burris- Tawana's brother and her lawyer in a possible civil suit
Linda Schwartz- Glen's lawyer; a co-worker of Liz

Derek Dye- Black driver of SUV who witnessed Glen give the finger to the cop. Derek thought that the insult was directed to him, and he demands an apology and flashes a gun in his waistband. Owner of Derek's Custom Auto Body. Breaks Glen's jaw when Glen stalks him.

Risso- Detective on the accident
Warren- Crossing guard at Sara's school. Glen volunteers as a guard and saves a boy

Sunday, October 14, 2012

THE WHITE PLAGUE by Frank Herbert

My Book Finished Sa 10/13/12

My post on Good Reads-

THE WHITE PLAGUE is a novel of meticulously calculated revenge. While in Ireland with his family, a man loses his wife and two children to a terrorist's bomb. He is a molecular biologist, and in his grief and ensuing madness, develops and unleashes a deadly pandemic which only targets women.

This is a very long novel, but the best section features John O'Neil, the biologist, and the terrorist who planted the bomb, playing an endless game of psychological 'cat and mouse' while on a trek across Ireland. This is a semi-successful attempt to offer more than the normal 'Scifi/End Of The World' scenario, and examines a fundamental aspect of terrorism. Although enemies, both men share a perceptional weakness in that they only reason in terms of 'black and white', and discern no subtleties whatsoever. 'Either you see it my way, or you will be killed'. And, when this theme is developed within the framework of a  global pandemic, it makes clear that modern global conflicts allow for absolutely no neutral positions. 

THE WHITE PLAGUE is primarily concerned with the two masterminds of the pandemic- the man who unleashes the plague, and the man who planted the bomb that began the deadly chain of events. I would have liked to learn more of how the 'regular people' dealt with the pandemic, but, of course, this would have changed the thrust of Herbert's novel, but might have made the novel a bit more enjoyable.

Monday, October 8, 2012


My Book- Finished Mo 10/8/12 Columbus Day.    The first in the series of Mathew Scudder (1976)  Read in two days.

My post at Good Reads-

This is the first novel in the Mathew Scudder series, and introduces the moody, depressed, and conflicted former NYC detective by means of a compelling murder mystery. Scudder's back-story is revealed in that he quit the police department because he accidentally shot a young girl, Estrillita Rivera, while in a gunfight during a robbery. Although, he was absolved of any wrong doing, he blamed himself, and this becomes the driving force of his character. He becomes an alcoholic, but generally follows cups of coffee with his shots of bourbon, and scrupulously tithes ten percent of his earnings to various churches. And, like John D. MacDonald's fictional sleuth, Travis McGee, Scudder is not fully licensed and only does 'favors' for his clients for which he is receives a fee.

This is a great read, and very much a character driven novel within the framework of a fascinating murder mystery. Also, all of the Mathew Scudder novels present a nostalgic look at the New York of the late 1970's.

Link to Wikipedia

Amazon Link

Richard Vanderpoel murders Wendy Hanniford, and then commits suicide in The Tombs. They were roommates; he was gay and she was a prostitute. Richard's father is a minister, and slashed Wendy to death. She was subconsciously searching for a 'missing' father. He was killed in Korea, and older men appealed to her. Richard was raised in a loveless home, and his mother committed suicide when he was a small child.
Scudder is approached by Wendy's father to find out why the murder occured, and what was his daughter really like. Matt cracks the case, and forces the minister to take his life (Richard's Seconal).

Scudder's relationship with clients. He is not licensed, and only does 'favors'.
Alcoholic, but controls the drinking by using coffee and bourbon.
Scudder explains the shouting that causes his alcoholism. Estrillita Rivera

Friday, October 5, 2012


Finished Th 10/4/12

The novel is set in a not too distant future, and Nicholas Greville is a United Nations Narcotics agent who is trying to track down the source of new drug called 'happy dreams'. There are worldwide shortages of all commodities  and the only surplus is the exploding population. The citizens hate the UN because they mistakenly believe that the agents are the cause of the shortages, but they are only rationing remaining resources  and staving off riots and calamity. No one can determine the source this new drug which has left large sections of the population apathetic and listless, yet the drug is marketed and distributed in a very strange manner. The first dose is always five dollars, and those thereafter are only two dollars, and UN agents have never been able to locate how it is made or the distribution network. The drug is usually injected on the thighs, and it takes about one hundred 'hits', and then the user leaves his old life. Later, it is uncovered that the drug changes brain chemistry, and allows the user to 'vanish', and  enter a new reality.  The last chapter of the novel reveals that the UN Pure Research department is actually behind the drug and the international distribution network. They are well aware that the  drug allows humans to enter a new dimension, and this drug will provide a portal for mankind to conquer new worlds with new and unlimited resources. At the end of the book, Nick Greville enters the new world.

My Post on Good Reads-

This is an interesting and thought provoking Science Fiction novel, yet not fully realized. The story-line is set in a not too distant future, and the central character is a United Nations agent working in the narcotics division. There is a new drug sweeping the planet called, 'happy dreams', and his agency cannot find the source or the distribution network for the operation. All natural resources on Earth are scarce, and the only surplus seems to be the exploding population rate, and this new drug is rendering a significant portion of the population listless and apathetic. The ending offers a startling explanation, and this would have been a terrific premise, but the novel isn't long enough, and the style is too lackluster. 

The mode and format of THE DREAMING EARTH is rather unimaginative and straightforward, and probably would have worked better if Brunner had chosen a more provocative presentation. The writing style of his wonderful novel, STAND ON ZANZIBAR is innovative, and matches that novel's challenging and stimulating themes.

However, since the book is just over one hundred and fifty pages, you haven't invested too much of your time to enjoy the rather incredible solution to a world's rapidly diminishing natural resources.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012


Finished Tu 10/1/12  My Book

The book is a long essay contrasting and analyzing a day relaxing in the wilds of the Virginia Adirondacks with the experience of absorbing one single day of 100 channels broadcasting on the local TV network. McKibben invited over one hundred of his friends and family to tape all of the programming on May 3, 1990, and he took a few weeks to watch it all, and he contrasts this experience with one day that he spent in the 'Great Outdoors'. 

It's clever and insightful, and I thought it most interesting how the two experiences treat 'Time'. Obviously, television is lightening fast and does an excellent job describing reality about what is happening in the present moment. 'Chaos' and 'Disaster' are the bread and butter of the television experience, while the worst disasters, such as global warming, the consequences of poverty, or the degradation of the environment, move slowly, and the TV cameras don't see them. So the dedicated TV viewer is oblivious to these grave and catastrophic issues.

The book is filled with facts and observations on our Consumer Society, and McKibben makes the case that television has become the most important element in World Culture. The book is well-written, it won't require a lot of your time, but it will make you think.