Wednesday, November 28, 2012


Finished We 11/28/12

TINKERS by Paul Harding

Selection for Contemporary Book Club We 11/28/12

My post at Good Reads-

The novel is one long flashback at the deathbed of an old man as he remembers his life as a child in a dysfunctional family where his father was an itinerant peddler. 

The book is strikingly presented and is a real 'celebration of style'. The author conveys a strange sense of ecstasy or transcendence, and it's really a fine novel. This is not something that I would ordinarily read, but I'm really glad that I gave it a shot! 

Selection for The Contemporary Book Club, Springfield, Illinois-November 2012

Author was the drummer for COLD WATER FLAT, a 90's Grunge Band out of Boston. His brother was in BUFFALO TOM.

The novel begins on the deathbed of George Washington Crosby eight days before his death. The house is imploding (in his mind), and the book is a record of his flashback.

His father was a tinker and traveled by mule and buggy in Maine at the turn of the century. He was married to Kathleen, and a large family. He had epilepsy, and had a very dramatic seizure on Xmas day about 1915 where he bit George very badly. Kathleen took him to the doctor the next day, and they find that the doctor's house is in the process of being moved. Very startling scene!

George runs away by stealing the mule and wagon, and hides in his friend's shed under a door. This door was part of a house in which a man and his family were found burned alive. However, it was the man, but never was determined who this family was. His family were out of town visiting relatives. Strange!

Howard learns that his wife his considering committing him to a mental institution, so he flees, and begins a new family. He is happier.

The final scene in the book recounts Howard's attempt to reconnect with his first family. His new wife must travel to Philadelphia to visit her sick mother. Howard borrows a friends car, and drives to his old family on Christmas Day. He comes in, while the car is still running, greets his relatives, and leaves in about twenty minutes. Wow!

Thursday, November 22, 2012


Finished Th 11/22/12 Thanksgiving Day

My post on Good Reads-

This is actually a followup to Andersen's 1993 biography of Mick Jagger called, JAGGER UNAUTHORIZED. After reading Keith Richard's delightful autobiography, LIFE, this new book about 'the other Glimmer Twin' is a real letdown. It is as if he cobbled together a bunch of tabloid articles about Mick Jagger, stitched them together, and failed to add any insight whatsoever. And, most of the 'facts' aren't really corroborated, so they are merely opinions of what other people (and many with numerous axes to grind) believe to be true.

However, because Mick's life is so interesting, regardless of the truth or untruth of the writing, it makes for a compelling read. But, it's high time that Sir Michael Philip Jagger finds the time to set the record straight in his own words. If anything is true of Jagger's business acumen, he is probably waiting until 'the price is right'. Although, he would probably agree that he doesn't need the money, but money is an effective way of calibrating 'value', and he would only engage in this activity if he would receive maximum 'value' for his efforts. 

I would recommend that you wait until Jagger writes his autobiography (we all know that he will!), and meanwhile, you can keep up with his activities on Wikipedia or at his website. At least you won't be out any cash, and you won't get any less of an understanding of the man than you do in Andersen's new book.


Finished We 11/21/12

New York Times Book Review-

My post on Good Reads-

The book is wry and very perverse, and I don't think that it can appeal to everyone.  It's the kind of novel that either you 'love it' or 'hate it'.
Lionel Asbo is a career criminal who works on ' the hairiest end of debt collection' (in between lengthy stays in prison) , but he doesn't really have a conscience, but more of an extreme sense of 'the way things should be'. The book is a madcap chronicle of his escapades, and his relationship with his young orphaned nephew, Desmond Pepperdine. The plot thickens when Lionel wins the lottery, and all of his problems should end, yet he becomes a tabloid superstar, and the massive inflow of cash only escalates his anti-social behavior. Yet, old ways die hard, and he still yearns for the solidity of prison where 'at least you know where you are'.

The novel is a wild and crazy satire where life is not very long, and extremely brutal. It's not exactly a 'post moral world', since the characters haven't evolved to that point, and frolic in a kind of  a cracked and modern 'Dickensian Universe'. But, I guess that Desmond begins to see a glimmer of hope, and this is what makes the novel work. The reader watches as Desmond reacts to Lionel's sinister shenanigans and finds a new life with his wife, Dawn, and daughter, Cilla.

Saturday, November 17, 2012


Finished Sa 11/17/12

My post on Good Reads-

Probably most people who pick this up will be expecting 'Jarhead Revisited', and this is not the case. The book is a chronicle of the author's experiences 'after' he attained literary fame and fortune. However, many unresolved issues prevented him from enjoying his new life, and first and foremost was the fractured relationship with his father. This book is Anthony's attempt to rectify the situation, but it almost becomes a chronicle of the conflict between two extremely opinionated individuals who disagree on whether young Tony's face was placed 'near' the pile of dog poop, or 'in' the pile of dog poop. And, also there is a major difference of opinion over the terms of a borrowed automobile. Also, and maybe due to his family issues, Swofford seems to be drowning in a tidal wave of women with the accompanying incidents with alcohol and drugs. 

I thought that as a memoir, it was a bit over-the-top, but it certainly made for an exciting read. Conflict between fathers and adult sons is never easy, and this book certainly highlights this fact. At the end, I felt like shouting 'Hey, give it a rest', but I also realized that it's impossible for him to let it go. And, I guess that is the point.

Amazon link-

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

THE LAST MINUTE by Jeff Abbott

Finished Tu 11/13/12

Post on Good Reads-

The novel features a fast-paced plot, yet not much character development or attention to setting and location. It reminded me of something that the author James Patterson might punch out with the help of his 'writing team'. Another book to file under 'Lite Summer Reading' or 'Airport Novel'.

Link to Amazon-

Sam Capra- Ex-CIA; His boy has been kidnapped. His son, Daniel, is only a few months old, and he has never seen the kid. Capra's wife is a traitor who also worked at the CIA.

The plot is that Sam Capra teams up with another woman who has had her baby kidnapped, and they must collaborate to murder a man.

NINE SUNS (NOVEM SOLES)- This is a group created by the CIA composed of powerful criminals who would do things that were not sanctioned by any government agency. Murder, Mayhem, etc. 

Jack Ming is a Hong Kong hacker who has a notebook (red binder) which contains incriminating evidence about the CIA's involvement with the '9 Suns' criminal enterprise.  
Jack Ming is the man that Sam and Leonie are assigned to kill.

Leonie is a specialist in creating false identities, and her real name is Lindsay. 
Sam would be the 'hit man', and she would be able to locate Ming using her talents at being able to 'hide' people. 

Mila- She is Sam's boss and is an ex-school teacher from Moldova. Her sister was  tricked into becoming a sex slave, and Mila attacked the group, and although her sister was killed in the cross-fire, she realized that she was a 'natural born killer'.

THE LAST MINUTE is a bar that is run by Sam Capra, but it is really just a string of bars that he manages for 'the outfit' all over the world. These places are staffed and run as 'safe houses' for agents in need. 

The twist at the end of the novel is that there is really only one kidnapped child. Leonie's girl had died, and she was 'given' Sam's child by the cartel. 
But, he realizes what a wonderful person that she is (he slept with her). and he allows Leonie to act as the kid's mom as he manages the string of international bars.  Or, so it seems.     

Thursday, November 8, 2012

3 A.M. by Steven John

Finished We 11/7/12

My post on Good Read-

This is a compelling mystery novel that incorporates intriguing elements of Crime Noir and Dystopian Fiction. 

The tale begins in a city shrouded in fog, and the sun hasn't been seen in over fifteen years. Ennui and depression seems to prevent any inquiry into the quandary. Thomas Vale, a jaded and boozy detective, is trying to find out who has been stealing from an entrepreneur who compiles artifacts to remind people of that long ago time when the sun used to shine. 

Soon, the plot makes a complete "180", and you find that things are not at all what they seem to be.

Steven John's writing is strictly utilitarian, but the story is very inventive and the action is fast-paced and clicks right along. You won't be blown away by the character development or narrative structure, yet the dread and foreboding of being stuck in a life of unending fog is chillingly presented. 

The quintessential 'beach' or 'airport' read!

Tommy Vale- Main character, alcoholic, drifting through life, and has a background in the army. His job was to shoot people infected with 'plague'.
Fog emitted 257am daily from 'stacks'. This always woke Vale, and the meaning of the novel's title.
Rebecca Ayers-Approaches Vale to investigate the murder of a man. She tells him that 'her boyfriend' was falsely accused, but really it was her father was murdered, and her brother was set up.
       Samuel Ayers- He was murdered because he was going to go public about the government cover-up.
       Fallon Ayers- Samuel's son and brother of Rebecca.
Eddie Vessel- Vale hired by him to look for someone who is stealing from him. Vessel 'collects' items for people which remind them of the sun and outdoors.
Joe Watley is the thief, but also a key figure in the government's cover-up.

Thomas Heller- This young man is probably Vale's only friend. Vale gave him a deposit for an apartment, and Heller kept the money. Vale intimidates Heller, demands the money back, and occasionally loans him more money. Heller has a taped collection of classical music that Vale begins to enjoy. He can only take it in small dosages because it depresses him so much.
Dr. Salk- A pharmacist who gives Vale the downers that are necessary for him in order to sleep. The drugstore is also a place to buy alcohol and food, and it seems to be government subsidized.

ALBERGUE- The bar that Vale drinks and drowns his sorrow.
Lucid Jones- A blind black man working for the government who tails Vail.

Anthony Kirk- Designed the dam that did not get used. The cold fusion nuclear plant was set in place in stead. This blew up and caused the radiation leaks, and the reason the city was guaranteed. Fog was found to be a way of containing the radiation from spreading. 'Stacks' created in the town, now used to keep the people ignorant of their real situation.

          20,000 in the city as a kind of prison. 10 million died as a result of the nuclear accident. 15 mile wide
           band of open area around the city. Easily patrolled so that the government can see people escaping
           city. When Vale was in the army he was told that the people that he shot were infected with plague.
           However, they were radiation victims.
Anthony Kirk murdered Samuel Ayeres because Ayers was going to go public with the cover-up.
Heller commits suicide. He had been beaten by government agents because they thought that Vale had told him about the cover-up. He leaps off the balcony of his apartment while Vale was with him.

At the end of the novel, Vale blows up the dam with a natural gas tank from Ayers house. He escapes the explosion, and drives back to the city where he lies in the street as the fog dissipates. People are too scared to come out, and it is unclear whether or not he dies.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

BAD TRAFFIC by Simon Lewis

Finished Su 11/4/12

Inspector Jian is a tough, possibly corrupt Chinese detective,  and he receives an emergency call from his daughter who is a student in Leeds, England, that she is in trouble. Wei Wei is her name. She's dropped out of college, and working as a waitress. Hangs around with a hoodlum and his gang named Black Fort. This guy is smuggling people into the country. Ding Ming and his wife are one of these people. Ding Ming speaks Mandarin, the language of mainland China. Cantonese is spoken by most Asians in England, and they are from Hong Kong.

Inspector Jian kidnaps Ding Ming to use him as a translator to try to find his daughter.
Wei Wei has made a snuff film with Black Fort, and Jian sees it, and believes his daughter is dead.
Keith is one of the smugglers who works with Black Fort. Ding Ming believes that Keith is his friend and will give him a job so that he can pay back the 'snakeheads'. The people that brought him from China. He paid $20,000 for the privilege.

My post at Good Reads-

Inspector Jian is a corrupt, yet big-hearted Chinese detective who gets an abrupt emergency call from his daughter who hysterically demands that she needs him NOW! He drops everything, and heads to Leeds, England with limited resources, almost nothing to go on, and absolutely no knowledge of the English language.

That's the way this fast-paced adventure thriller begins, and it never lets up for a second. It's a great tale from start to finish, and I could barely put it down. The novel is a fast-paced topical heroic story, and provides some interesting insights about what an Asian foreigner's perceptions might be in a Northern England metropolitan city. 

This demands to be made into a film!!