Thursday, December 28, 2017

MULHOLLAND FALLS- A novel by Robert Tine based on the screenplay by Pete Dexter

Finished We 12/27/17 This is a paperback that I'd never read. Bought on Sa 1/11/03 at the library paperback sale at the main branch.

Usually I don't waste my time on 'novelizations' that are based on a movie screenplays, but this wasn't bad. And it performed as intended- I will order the film from Netflix.

Set in Los Angeles- 1953, and features four detectives who consider themselves above the law. They are not corrupt personally, but will use 'any means necessary' to combat organized crime- constitutional rights be damned!

'Mulholland Falls' refers to Mulholland Drive. This is an east/west road that winds far above the canyons of Hollywood and LA. These cops throw off 'offenders' and they slide to the bottom and are seriously injured, but not killed. This is regarded as a kind of warning- Cease And Desist or Get Out Of Town!

The leader of this elite squad, Max Hoover is secretly involved with a beautiful starlet. This woman is also involved with an older man who runs an agency tied to the atomic energy program in Nevada. She is murdered and it's discovered that this agency has been doing experiments on civilians as to human resistance to radiation exposure. Certain government officials feel that she must be silenced because she is a security risk- The Law Be Damned.

Link to the movie's page at wikipedia-

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

DR. FUTURITY by Philip K. Dick

Finished Tu 12/26/17 After reading THE LATHE OF HEAVEN I saw this one on the shelves and thought that it might be similar, but the Ursula K. Le Guin novel was far superior.

This is probably one of my oldest paperbacks. It's an Ace edition from 1960 that contains two science fiction novels- one by PK Dick, and when you turn the book over, another complete novel by John Brunner- SLAVERS OF SPACE. If this book were in better shape, it would be very valuable.

This is a 'time travel' novel, and all of the inherent confusion is here in spades.

Dr. Jim Parsons, a medical doctor, is transported back to California during the 16th century. He's to link with one of the English explorers, Sir Francis Drake, on the California coast.

At first Parsons goes back and visits a society where death is welcomed for the good of society. It's very tribal and all of the people are inter-related.

A very muddled presentation, and not one of Dick's finest- mediocre at best. The plot summary at Wikipedia is better than the book, and makes much more sense. A waste of my time, but I plan to give the John Brunner novel a the future.

Plot at wikipedia-

"Dr. Jim Parsons is a doctor from 2012 who was born in 1980. Abruptly, he undergoes involuntary time travel to 2405 and finds that his profession is treated with disdain. In the future, the population is static, with no natural births; only a death can cause the formation of a new embryo. The result is a society ambivalent toward death, as controlled genetics ensures that each successive generation better benefits the human race as a whole. By killing off the weak and the malformed, poverty and disease are eliminated, and humanity has an optimal chance for survival. Moreover, a single race derived from a mix of races controls this future world, as white men had become extinct centuries earlier.

After Parsons cures a dying woman (not knowing that this is considered a heinous crime in this time period), Chancellor Al Stenog exiles him to Mars, but the spaceship is intercepted en route, and Parsons is returned to a deserted Earth far in the future. On finding a marker with instructions on how to operate the time travel controls on the spaceship, he is directed to a Native American-style tribal lodge, where he must perform surgery to hopefully restore the life of a cryogenically suspended time traveler, Corith, subsequent to the latter's death from an arrow wound 35 years earlier. Parsons extracts the missile but it later mysteriously rematerializes in Corith's body.

To resolve this situation, Parsons travels with Corith's relatives back to Corith's previous assignment in 1579 on the Pacific Coast of North America, where Corith was to kill Sir Francis Drake in order to change history and preserve the Native American way of life, avoiding their subjugation by European colonial powers. While observing the assassination attempt on Drake, Parsons realizes that Drake is actually Chancellor Stenog. It seems that Stenog, in an ironic twist of fate, has taken Drake's place long enough to ensure that Corith's mission fails. Parsons tries to warn Corith, but Corith discovers that Parsons is a disguised white man and attacks him. In the ensuing struggle, Parsons inadvertently stabs Corith in the heart with one of the arrow replicas that were intended to make it appear that Drake was killed by a Native American of that period.

In retribution, Parsons is left stranded by Corith's relatives in 1597, a year in which the European explorers had removed themselves for many years to come. But Parsons is quickly rescued by Loris, Corith's daughter, when she has a change of heart after learning that she is pregnant with Parsons' child.

While briefly back in 2405, Parsons realizes that the reason the arrow mysteriously reappeared in Corith's chest after he'd removed it was because he had apparently murdered him for a second time to cover his own tracks. If Corith were to recover, he would have revealed that it was Parsons who killed him, and an unwitting Parsons from slightly earlier would have been left helpless at the hands of Corith's relatives. As he stands over Corith, ready to kill him for a second time, he decides against it and flees. But a nagging curiosity obliges him to return yet again. He sees two unknown people kill Corith with the second arrow to the heart. Parsons discovers that the murderers are the children he will one day have with Loris, traveling back to 2405 from an even more distant future.

His children take Parsons forward in time to meet with Loris again, and he struggles with the decision to return to 2012. Eventually he goes back to the same day that he left and to the doting wife who saw him off earlier that morning. He sets about his old life with a new task at hand. The novel closes with him designing the stone marker that will eventually save his life on that desolate future Earth."

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

THE ICE STORM by Rick Moody

This is one of my hardbacks that I finished Fr 10/17/97, and I refinished very early the morning after Xmas; (3am-430am, in bed) Tu 12/26/17. I remember the movie, another smash by Ang Lee, and I want to watch it again.

New Canaan, Connecticut- Friday, the day after Thanksgiving- 1973

Ben and Elena Hood- Ben, stock broker/ alcoholic. Elena, is looking for a change and fed up with Ben's detached drunkenness. She's an advocate of 'self help'.

Wendy Hood- 14 yr old; sexually promiscuous (curious). Has sex with Mike Williams. Her father, Ben, has had sex with Janey, his lover, when he finds Mike and Wendy in the basement after a grope. Ben resents Mike; "The little shit". Wendy has also tried lesbian sex with a girlfriend.

Paul Hood- At a private academy and he is pursuing a very rich girl, Libbets Casey. Her family lives on Park Avenue in NYC. She only wants to be friends with him.

Jim and Janey Williams- Jim ends up with Elena after Ben passes out in the bathroom at the swingers party. When the keys are exchanged, Ben, drunk out of his mind, tries to leave with Janey, but she goes with the teenager who drew her key.

Mike Williams- During the height of the ice storm, Mike walks through the neighborhood and is electrocuted when he stopped to sit on a guardrail. A downed power line connects with his seat.

Sandy Williams- Sandy is also 14 yrs old and drinks vodka and has sex with Wendy the night of the ice storm. They are discovered by Jim and Elena shortly before everyone learns that Mike has been killed.

Plot summary from the book's page at wikipedia-

"The novel takes place over Thanksgiving weekend 1973, during a dangerous ice storm and centers on two neighboring families, the Hoods and the Williamses, and the difficulties they have dealing with the tumultuous political and social climate of the day, in affluent suburban Connecticut, during the height of the sexual revolution. The novel is narrated from four different perspectives, each of them a member of the two families, who are promoting their own opinion and views of the several complications that arise throughout the novel, including their encounters and daily life. The Hood family is overridden with lies: Ben is currently in an affair with his married neighbor Janey, his wife Elena is alienated, her daughter ventures on her own sexual liaisons with both females and males of her age, including her neighbors Mikey and Sandy.

The Hoods are Ben, Elena, Paul and Wendy and the Williamses are Jim, Janey, Mikey, and Sandy. The story focuses on the 24 hours when a major ice storm strikes the town of New Canaan, Connecticut, just as both families are melting down from the parents' alcoholism, escapism and adultery, and their children's drug use and sexual experimentation."

Friday, December 22, 2017

THE LATHE OF HEAVEN by Ursula K. Le Guin

Finished Fr 12/22/17

A Science Fiction Classic- This is one of my ancient paperbacks that I bought at the West Branch on Sa 2/7/04, and finished a few days later. In May of 2008 I carried in my work bag to read on 'the dispatcher's desk'.

From the blurb at Amazon-

"A classic science fiction novel by Ursula K. Le Guin, one of the greatest writers of the genre, set in a future world where one man’s dreams control the fate of humanity.

In a future world racked by violence and environmental catastrophes, George Orr wakes up one day to discover that his dreams have the ability to alter reality. He seeks help from Dr. William Haber, a psychiatrist who immediately grasps the power George wields. Soon George must preserve reality itself as Dr. Haber becomes adept at manipulating George’s dreams for his own purposes.

The Lathe of Heaven is an eerily prescient novel from award-winning author Ursula K. Le Guin that masterfully addresses the dangers of power and humanity’s self-destructiveness, questioning the nature of reality itself. It is a classic of the science fiction genre."

Her writing style and subject matter is very close to PK Dick. THE LEFT HAND OF DARKNESS is one of her novels that I want to read again.

From wikipedia-

"Oneirology- is the scientific study of dreams. Current research seeks correlations between dreaming and current knowledge about the functions of the brain, as well as understanding of how the brain works during dreaming as pertains to memory formation and mental disorders. The study of oneirology can be distinguished from dream interpretation in that the aim is to quantitatively study the process of dreams instead of analyzing the meaning behind them."

George Orr- tries to stop dreaming

Dr. William Haber- tries to control George's dreams to shape the present and future.

The Augmentor- the machine (similar to a lie detector/EKG machine for the brain) that Dr. Haber builds to shape and control George's dreaming.

Heather LeLache- she's George's girlfriend/ legal rep/ wife. Her mother was white and her father was a Black Panther.

The Aldabaranians- The Aliens that George facilitates to stop humans from fighting each other.

The plot from wikipedia-

"The book is set in Portland, Oregon, in the year 2002. Portland has three million inhabitants and continuous rain. It is deprived enough for the poorer inhabitants to have kwashiorkor, or protein deprivation. The culture is much the same as the 1970s in the United States, though impoverished. There is also a massive war in the Middle East, with Egypt and Israel allied against Iran. Global warming has wrought havoc upon the quality of life everywhere.

George Orr, a draftsman, has long been abusing drugs to prevent himself from having "effective" dreams, which change reality. After having one of these dreams, the new reality is the only reality for everyone else, but George retains memory of the previous reality. Under threat of being placed in an asylum, Orr is forced to undergo "voluntary" psychiatric care for his drug abuse.

George begins attending therapy sessions with an ambitious psychiatrist and sleep researcher named William Haber. Orr claims that he has the power to dream "effectively" and Haber, gradually coming to believe it, seeks to use George's power to change the world. His experiments with a biofeedback/EEG machine, nicknamed the Augmentor, enhance Orr's abilities and produce a series of increasingly intolerable alternative worlds, based on an assortment of utopian (and dystopian) premises:

When Haber directs George to dream a world without racism, the skin of everyone on the planet becomes a uniform light gray.
An attempt to solve the problem of overpopulation proves disastrous when George dreams a devastating plague which wipes out much of humanity and gives the current world a population of one billion rather than seven billion.
George attempts to dream into existence "peace on Earth" – resulting in an alien invasion of the Moon which unites all the nations of Earth against the threat.
Each effective dream gives Haber more wealth and status, until he is effectively ruler of the world. Orr's economic status also improves, but he is unhappy with Haber's meddling and just wants to let things be. Increasingly frightened by Haber's lust for power and delusions of Godhood, Orr seeks out a lawyer named Heather Lelache to represent him against Haber. Heather is present at one therapeutic session, and comes to understand George's situation. He falls in love with Heather, and even marries her in one reality; however, he is unsuccessful in getting out of therapy.

George tells Heather that the "real world" had been destroyed in a nuclear war in April 1998. George dreamed it back into existence as he lay dying in the ruins. He doubts the reality of what now exists, hence his fear of Haber's efforts to improve it.

Portland and Mount Hood play a central role in the setting of the novel
Heather has seen one change of reality and has a multiple memory – remembering that her pilot husband either died early in the Middle East War or else died just before the truce that ended the war in the face of the alien threat. She tries to help George but also tries to improve the world, saying that the aliens should no longer be on the Moon. George dreams this, but the result is that they have invaded the Earth instead. In the resultant fighting, Mount Hood is bombed and the dormant volcano starts to erupt again.

They go back to Haber, who has George dream another dream in which the aliens are actually peaceful. For a time there is stability, but Haber goes on changing things. His suggestion that George dream away racism results in everyone becoming gray; Heather, whose parents were of different races, never existed in this new reality. George manages to dream up a gray version of her, married to him and with a less prickly personality. Mount Hood continues to erupt and he fears the world is losing coherence.

Orr has a conversation with one of the aliens, suddenly comes to understand his situation, and thereby gains the courage to stand up to Haber. Haber, frustrated with Orr's resistance, uses what he has learned from studying George's brain during his sessions of hypnosis and controlled dreaming, and decides to take on effective dreaming himself. Haber's first effective dream represents a significant break with the realities created by Orr, and threatens to destroy reality altogether. Orr is able to shut off the Augmentor – even as coherent existence is dissolving into undifferentiated chaos – reaching the "off" switch through pure force of will. The world is saved, but random bits of the various recent realities are now jumbled together. Haber's mind is left broken. Heather, presumably her original self, exists, though with only a slight memory of George."

TRUE EVIL by Greg Iles

Finished Tu 12/19/17 This was a hardback novel that I picked up at last summer's library book sale- Sa 6/10/17.
I was blown away- an unforgettable thriller, and I Want More by this author!

Essentially, it's a tale of a crooked pathologist and a corrupt divorce lawyer. If you want to get rid of your spouse, these are the two guys you need to see. The scientist has developed a virus to cause cancer, and the lawyer screens clients to make sure that they have the ridiculous amount of cash and that they are dependable (no squealers!). The downside of the procedure is that it could take eighteen months for the death to occur, but the death will always be viewed as 'natural causes'. Seen through the 'big picture', it's actually a lot cheaper and 'cleaner' than a prolonged, messy divorce.

The plot-

Discredited, female FBI agent, Agent Alexandra Morse contacts Dr. Chris Shepard to inform him that his happy marriage is just a sham, and his wife is trying to kill him. Alex's sister, Grace, has recently died of cancer and before she died she told Alex that her husband, Bill, was responsible, and she must save Grace's son, Jamie.

Dr. Eldon Tarver- The scientist
Andrew Rusk- The lawyer

From the blurb at Amazon-

"Dr. Chris Shepard has never seen his new patient before. But the attractive young woman with the scarred face knows him all too well. An FBI agent working undercover, Alex Morse has come to Dr. Shepard's office in Natchez, Mississippi, to unmask a killer. A local divorce attorney has a cluster of clients whose spouses have all died under mysterious circumstances. Agent Morse's own brother-in-law was one of those clients, and now her beloved sister is dead. Then comes Morse's bombshell: Dr. Shepard's own beautiful wife consulted this lawyer one week ago, a visit Shepard knew nothing about. Will he help Alex Morse catch a killer? Or is he the next one to fall victim to a deadly trap of sex, lies, and murder?"

Sunday, December 17, 2017


I finished THE DEATH OF SWEET MISTER on Sa 12/16/17, and a couple of weeks ago I read an Ebook copy of Woodrell's THE MAID'S VERSION- but never wrote it up.

THE DEATH OF SWEET MISTER is a slim novel about a young, overweight 13 year old boy, Shug Aiken, his mother, and his cruel step-father- their lives on the fringe of criminality.

Shug- Real name is 'Morris'- probably after his real father who might have been some kind of gangster from Cleveland. His mother lived and worked there several years ago. Now they live in the middle of a cemetery employed as groundskeepers.

Glenda- Alcoholic floozy, but really loves her son. She wants to protect him from Red, her present lover. She has a 'quasi- un-naturally sexual' relationship with Shug. She doesn't know how to handle this (or her feelings). She should know better, but you can kind of understand how she's in way over her head.

Red- Red-headed criminal and bully. He and his good friend, Basil, locate patients that are homebound. They break into these people's homes and take their drugs- or anything of value. When Shug is old enough (13 years old), they use him to enter the houses. When Red takes him from Glenda, he's supposed to tell her that he's doing,... "Men's stuff".

Jimmy Vin Pearce- An older man who drives a flashy sea-green Thunderbird. He's a chef and tries to get Glenda to leave with him to cook in New Orleans. This falls through and at the end of the novel he was going to work on a cruise ship- Shug was to go live with his grandmother.

The crux of the novel is the murder of Red. Jimmy and Glenda did it, but the scene is never told. It happens in Shug's house and Shug cleans up the carnage- the body is not found. Shug saves one of Red's boots. In the end, probably because Glenda and Jimmy are scheming to leave him, he gives the boot to Basil, and Basil seeks revenge.

Basil is the only one who cares what happened to Red. He probably has killed Jimmy and coming to get Glenda in the end- and maybe Shug.

In the final scene, maybe Shug and Glenda have a sexual encounter. Basil is coming, maybe to murder both of them.

From the blurb at Amazon-

"Shug Akins is a lonely, overweight thirteen-year-old boy. His mother, Glenda, is the one person who loves him--she calls him Sweet Mister and attempts to boost his confidence and give him hope for his future. Shuggie's purported father, Red, is a brutal man with a short fuse who mocks and despises the boy. Into this small-town Ozarks mix comes Jimmy Vin Pearce, with his shiny green T-bird and his smart city clothes. When he and Glenda begin a torrid affair, a series of violent events is inevitably set in motion. The outcome will break your heart".

THE MAID'S VERSION is set in two different eras. But it's basically the 60's when a boy visits his grandmother and she tells him of events that occured in 1929.

I wasn't wild about the book, and I liked SWEET MISTER much more, but WINTER'S BONE is clearly his best work. 

From the blurb at Amazon-

"Alma DeGeer Dunahew, the mother of three young boys, works as the maid for a prominent citizen and his family in West Table, Missouri. Her husband is mostly absent, and, in 1929, her scandalous, beloved younger sister is one of the 42 killed in an explosion at the local dance hall. Who is to blame? Mobsters from St. Louis? The embittered local gypsies? The preacher who railed against the loose morals of the waltzing couples? Or could it have been a colossal accident"?

Friday, December 15, 2017


Finished Fr 12/15/17

The featured selection for the Contemporary Book Club. This is a hardback copy that I got through Amazon.

From the blurb at Amazon-

"BEN JONES, the protagonist of James Anderson s haunting debut novel, The Never-Open Desert Diner (Caravel Books, February, 2015), is on the verge of losing his small trucking company. A single, thirty-eight-year-old truck driver, Ben s route takes him back and forth across one of the most desolate and beautiful regions of the Utah desert. The orphan son of a Native American father and a Jewish social worker, Ben is drawn into a love affair with a mysterious woman, Claire, who plays a cello in the model home of an abandoned housing development in the desert. Her appearance, seemingly out of nowhere, reignites a decades-old tragedy at a roadside café referred to by the locals as The Never-Open Desert Diner. The owner of the diner, Walt Butterfield, is an embittered and solitary old man who refuses to yield to change after his wife s death. Ben s daily deliveries along the atmospheric and evocative desert highway bring him into contact with an eccentric cast of characters that includes: John, an itinerant preacher who drags a life-sized cross along the blazing roadside; the Lacey brothers, Fergus and Duncan, who live in boxcars mounted on cinderblocks; and Ginny, a pregnant and homeless punk teenager whose survival skills make her an unlikely heroine. Ben s job as a truck driver is more than a career; it is a life he loves. As he faces bankruptcy and the possible loss of everything that matters to him, he finds himself at the heart of a horrific crime that was committed forty years earlier and now threatens to destroy the lives of those left in its wake. Ben discovers the desert is relentless in its grip, and what the desert wants, it takes. An unforgettable story of love and loss, Ben learns the enduring truth that some violent crimes renew themselves across generations. The Never-Open Desert Diner is a unique blend of literary mystery and noir fiction that evokes a strong sense of place. It is a story that holds the reader and refuses to let go and will linger long after the last page".

p. 79-  John Wayne Quote; "Life is tough. It's even tougher when you're stupid".

Walt Butterfield and Bernice
Price, Utah

Howard Purvis...."Or something"... P. 62


Claire- cello woman; more than meets the eye- pretty crafted and calculating, with a temper.

Duncan and Fergus Lacey- Desert Rat Brother's, but really father and son bank robbers.


p.229- begins The Interrogation.

I loved the book and I wonder if this might be a movie. It could be really good, or completely miss the mark.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017


Refinished Tu 12/12/17

This is a discarded from the library hardback book that I got at the Lincoln library book sale on Sa 6/11/05 and first read and finished on Sa 7/30/05. My initial impression was, "...good book, THE POET was better". I think that I liked it better the second time, and although THE POET is probably the better novel, I truly enjoyed this second look at Jack McEvoy (he has a relatively small part in the book), and the new character, ex-FBI profiler, Terry McCaleb. I ordered THE SCARECROW a few weeks ago, and Jack McEvoy is featured in this novel.


1) A man is murdered. Trussed up and strangled; the body position is based on a character in a painting by Hieronymous Bosch. This man had gotten off for the murder of a prostitute. Harry Bosch always believed that this man stabbed the woman, but he pleaded that it was only self defense, and he was able to turn the knife on her. Harry had it in for this man. 

2) A prominent Hollywood director is on trial for murder. He is accused of strangling a sex partner, and he has a history of autoeroticism.

The director and his security man killed the first man and arranged the body like the character from Hieronymous Bosch so that it would appear that Harry did that murder. Then, Harry's testimony would be disregarded at the director's trial.

Terry McCaleb is recovering from heart surgery and lives on Catalina Island. He makes a living chartering his boat. He is married and has a very young daughter. He loves them more than he can imagine, except he can't forget his passion- profiling criminals. McCaleb gets involved on the cases and at first he believes that Harry has 'gone rogue', but later learns of the director's plot to frame Harry.

From the description at Amazon-

"LAPD Detective Harry Bosch crosses paths with FBI profiler Terry McCaleb in the most dangerous investigation of their lives.

Harry Bosch is up to his neck in a case that has transfixed all of celebrity-mad Los Angeles: a movie director is charged with murdering an actress during sex, and then staging her death to make it look like a suicide. Bosch is both the arresting officer and the star witness in a trial that has brought the Hollywood media pack out in full-throated frenzy.

Meanwhile, Terry McCaleb is enjoying an idyllic retirement on Catalina Island when a visit from an old colleague brings his former world rushing back. It's a murder, the unreadable kind of murder he specialized in solving back in his FBI days. The investigation has stalled, and the sheriff's office is asking McCaleb to take a quick look at the murder book to see if he turns up something they've missed.

McCaleb's first reading of the crime scene leads him to look for a methodical killer with a taste for rituals and revenge. As his quick look accelerates into a full-sprint investigation, the two crimes - his murdered loner and Bosch's movie director - begin to overlap strangely. With one unsettling revelation after another, they merge, becoming one impossible, terrifying case, involving almost inconceivable calculation. McCaleb believes he has unmasked the most frightening killer ever to cross his sights. But his investigation tangles with Bosch's lines, and the two men find themselves at odds in the most dangerous investigation of their lives."

I loved the book and would read anything by Michael Connelly. James Patterson doesn't even have the writing talent to sharpen pencils for Connelly.

Sunday, December 3, 2017

THE WOODEN SEA by Jonathan Carroll

Finished Th 11/30/17

I got this novel and FROM THE TEETH OF AN ANGEL from Amazon (the first time I had two items wrapped together) after reading AFTER SILENCE.

The first third of this novel really blew me away, but it got just too complicated to be believed. It's designed to be 'unbelievable', but there is a limit.

It's set in upstate New York and kicks off when the town's chief of police, Frannie McCabe is visited by a three legged pit bull, Old Vertue. The dog seems to be attracted to the chief, and when the dog drops dead, Frannie buries him, but the dog resurrects. And, this jump starts a series of extraordinary and audacious adventures that involve time travel, aliens, and otherworldly beings.

"Is it mischief or metaphysical"?

"How do you row a boat on a wooden sea"? This is kind of a zen koan that really is not answered. The best guess is that if the sea is wooden, you would just walk away. Or maybe the question is not 'sea', but 'C'.

From a review on Publishers Weekly and I fully agree-

"Immensely popular abroad, Carroll (The Marriage of Sticks) has yet to achieve commensurate stature on his native shore. His latest novel combines George Perec's pleasure in puzzles and Philip Dick's interest in metaphysics. Frannie McCabe is the 47-year-old police chief of Crane's View, N.Y., who one day adopts an old, three-legged stray dog. This is typical of his style, as his wife, Magda, recognizes: "The more goofy they are, the more you like them, huh, Fran?" The dog, Old Vertue, dies; the weirdness begins when McCabe tries to bury him. The burial is interrupted by a report about the perpetually battling Schiavo couple, who seem to have tidied up and abandoned their usually squalid house. McCabe's investigation of the domicile turns up a bizarrely patterned feather which, along with the dog's carcass, reappears in the trunk of Magda's car the next day, spooking McCabe. Even spookier, Pauline, McCabe's stepdaughter, now has a tattoo that exactly matches the feather. Then McCabe's world turns surreal: he is visited by his teenage self. The adolescent McCabe, who had been a notorious delinquent, leads his older self to Astropel, a black extraterrestrial. The aliens know Crane's View has some connection to the cosmic puzzle of the universe itself, but they need McCabe to figure out the specifics. Astropel shuttles Frannie back and forth in time, piling up such clues as a maniac Dutch millionaire from 2030 and a koan ("How do you row a boat on a wooden sea?") pronounced by a dead high school girl. Carroll's best set piece shows McCabe watching Crane's View physically fast forward from the '60s to the '90s.

"Although the story's resolution is weaker than its build up, this wonderfully offbeat novel will further augment Carroll's growing reputation as the pop writer's pop writer".

Saturday, November 25, 2017

CROSS JUSTICE by James Patterson

Finished Fr 11/24/17
This was a brand-spanking new paperback that Janny loaned to me, although I'd bet the farm that she didn't pay retail for it.

This is the most awful novel I've read in years. There is almost no writing skill and the characters bear little resemblance to real people. Alex Comfort is no more a black man than I am! The story is the only thing slightly positive thing about the book, but in the end, it was just too far fetched to be believed. And, although the twin stories are vaguely connected, The Palm Beach Serial Killer seems 'tacked on' and hastily linked to the main action in Starksville, North Carolina.

Alex Cross, his wife and two children travel to his hometown (he hasn't been back in decades) to help his cousin defend a relative who has been accused of a grisly rape and murder. This murder was a setup to conceal a major drug operation that used the railroad system to smuggle narcotics up and down the east coast (if you are over five years old you might have a bit of a problem accepting this). The entire police force and judicial system is bent, yet Cross overcomes.

A twisted transvestite in Palm Beach, Florida is killing old women because his mother was mean to him, and the local police are baffled. This 'man/woman killer' owns an art gallery and has painted portraits of his victims, and this clue and dubious connections between the victims lead police to the truth.

Alex Cross gets dragged into this investigation (totally randomly; he goes to Florida after he learns that his father didn't die in North Carolina, but fled to The Sunshine State) and later it's revealed that the lead detective on this case is actually Alex's long-lost father. Too crazy to relate.

Two or three lines from any Michael Connelly book are far superior to Patterson's entire genre.

The plot copied from Wikipedia-

"Alex Cross and his family, who live in Washington, D.C., travel to Starksville, North Carolina, so Alex and his wife Bree can help clear Alex's cousin Stefan Tate of a murder they suspect he did not commit. Stefan, a school teacher, is on trial for supposedly murdering Rashawn Turnbull, a boy in his class, and almost everyone in town is convinced he's guilty and wants him to hang. Alex has not been to Starksville since leaving as a child thirty-five years ago. The Cross family has not found the town to be welcoming to them, partly because they are there to help clear Stefan.

Alex travels to Belle Glade, Florida, to get information on his father, who was said to have committed suicide near there. He meets a veteran Palm Beach County, Florida, sergeant, who is convinced Alex can help him catch a brutal serial killer in Palm Beach County. It turns out that the sergeant is Alex's long-lost father Jason. Meanwhile, Alex looks into Marvin Bell, a local businessman who has had dubious influence on the Cross family during Alex's childhood and is said to have orchestrated Jason Cross's fake death.

After investigation, it turns out that Bell teamed up with Rashawn's maternal grandparents to ship a highly potent addictive drug across the South and were making large profits off of this drug. Rashawn's grandfather had killed Rashawn due to feeling shameful about the child's mixed heritage, then pinned it on Stefan since the latter had been investigating into the Starksville drug trade. It is also discovered that the entire judicial system of Starksville had been under FBI investigation for corruption. Following the incident, the FBI moves in and arrests all the judges in Starksville, with Stefan's case being dropped."

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

DROWNING RUTH by Christina Schwarz

Finished Tu 11/21/17 This was a trade paperback that Janny loaned me. It's a first novel and an Oprah selection.

Set in rural Wisconsin near Lake Naukawaukee between WWI and WWII

Two sisters- Amanda and Mathilda (Mattie); Amanda, trained as a nurse, awkward and domineering; Mattie outgoing, pretty and sweet.

Mattie marries Carl and they live on a small island in the lake. They have Ruth and then Carl leaves to fight in WWI. Moves back to family home off the island.

When he returns Ruth is four and he learns that Mattie has drowned. Doesn't really know the circumstances. A distant relation, Hilda, comes to the island to help raise Ruth. She leaves when Ruth becomes unmanageable.

Amanda has been hospitalized for depression (madness) and when she is released she comes to the island to help with Ruth.

In her teens, Ruth befriends Imogene. This girl is actually Amanda's daughter. Amanda was pregnant and went to live on the island with Ruth and Mattie when  Carl was in the war. Amanda gave the baby to a local woman saying that it was the child of a servant girl.

Ruth and Imogene's relationship is a mirror of Amanda's and Mattie's; Outgoing vs. Inward

I wasn't a big fan of the novel, but it's well written and the truncated structure wasn't too difficult. But, I found nearly all of the characters not too likeable. And, exactly how Mattie drowned was not that riveting (after all of the buildup- I thought that it would be a real game changer).

Copied from a review at Publishers Weekly-

"Ruth remembered drowning." The first sentence of this brilliantly understated psychological thriller leaps off the page and captures the reader's imagination. In Schwarz's debut novel, brutal Wisconsin weather and WWI drama color a tale of family rivalry, madness, secrets and obsessive love. By March 1919, Nurse Amanda Starkey has come undone. She convinces herself that her daily exposure to the wounded soldiers in the Milwaukee hospital where she works is the cause of her hallucinations, fainting spells and accidents. Amanda journeys home to the family farm in Nagawaukee, where her sister, Mathilda (Mattie), lives with her three-year-old daughter Ruth, awaiting the return of her war-injured husband, Carl Neumann. Mattie's ebullient welcome convinces Amanda she can mend there. But then Mattie drowns in the lake that surrounds the sisters' island house and, in a rush of confusion and anguish, Amanda assumes care of Ruth. After Carl comes home, Amanda and he manage to work together on the farm and parent Ruth, but their arrangement is strained: Amanda has a breakdown and recuperates at a sanatorium. As time passes, Ruth grows into an odd, guarded child who clings to perplexing memories of the night her mother drowned. Why does Amanda have that little circle of scars on her hand? What is Amanda's connection to Ruth's friend Imogene and why does she fear Imogene's marriage to Clement Owen's son? Schwarz deftly uses first-person narration to heighten the drama. Her prose is spare but bewitching, and she juggles the speakers and time periods with the surety of a seasoned novelist. Rather than attempting a trumped-up suspenseful finale, Schwarz ends her novel gently, underscoring the delicate power of her tale."

Monday, November 20, 2017


This was a hardback novel that I ordered from Amazon after reading Hansen's,  'Mariette In Ecstasy'. I also ordered 'Hitler's Niece' at the same time. 'Mariette' is by far the best of the bunch.

DESPERADOES is rich in detail, but it lacks a compelling narrative flow. I had more enjoyment watching a few Youtube videos about The Dalton Gang- especially the Coffeyville Robbery of 1892.

I read about half of the novel during September and October, and finally in mid November I spent about an hour on the book and skimmed to the end. With a dynamic and cohesive plotline, this would have been a terrific book,  but now it's only a collection of well-written incidents and insightful observations.

Link to Coffeyville website-

Youtube link to video shot at the bank; contemporary-

About the gang and robbery-

I was really taken with the character of Eugenia Moore. She road with the gang and according to Emmett she said something to the effect, "I don't understand the concepts of chastity and virginity. It's like boasting that you can't read". She is portrayed as someone who was as 'wild and crazy' as the men in the gang, however it seems that she might have only been a 'composite' and Emmett Dalton developed this character based on numerous women who were involved with the gang at various times throughout their history.

Many authorities treat Moore as a real individual, but this website/author  claims that she was only a composite of many women close to the gang. I would have liked to have read a whole book about this character!

Sunday, November 19, 2017

DOG EAT DOG by Edward Bunker

DOG EAT DOG   by Edward Bunker

From the library on Hoopla, and finished Su 11/19/17

A couple of weeks ago I heard an interview on Marc Maron's WTF with Willem Dafoe and they were talking about the film where Dafoe played Mad Dog McCain and Nicholas Cage played Troy Cameron. Dafoe mentioned that it was taken from a great novel by Edward Bunker. First, I checked Netflix and learned that the movie was available for streaming, and I watched it that morning. And then I checked the library and saw that the book was on Hoopla.

1) Troy Cameron- Born into wealth and privilege in Beverly Hills. Father was an abusive urologist and abused Troy's mother. Father attacked mother and Troy shot him three times in the back. Father lived, but Troy began his career in the juvenile court system.

2) Charles 'Diesel' Carson- While in the system gained 80 lbs of muscle and got the nickname 'Diesel' for his strength, although it might have been 'for playing football without a helmet'.

3) Gerald 'Mad Dog' McCain- Just a couple of days before Troy's release he was goaded into a fight by a black thug, and Mad Dog cut the guy with a shiv, nearly killing him.  Mad Dog knew that if Troy retaliated, he would lose any chance of freedom. Troy never forgets this, although McCain is completely unhinged and addicted to whatever he can lay his hands on. However, near the end of the novel, Troy and Diesel agree that McCain's gotta go.

The book is essentially about three friends who met and grew up in California's child criminal courts system. When they are released as adults and subject to the recent, 'three strikes and you're out' mandate, they decided that they will commit crimes against criminals because these individuals can't call in the police. They rip off a drug dealer and successfully take a large score, but they are involved with a kidnapping that goes awry. They accidentally kill the man who is supposed to pay the ransom when he is unexpectedly present on the evening of the crime. Troy and Diesel murder Mad Dog because he is far too unstable and they get taken down when they are targeted by store security in a harmless visit to a local grocery store. Diesel's handgun is accidentally displayed in the store, and Diesel is killed in a gun fight in the parking lot, and Troy is captured. While in the prison hospital Troy is given a handgun and a pipe wrench by a prisoner who is a friend and Troy manages to escape. He hijacks a car with an elderly black couple, the Reverend Charles and Charlene Wilson, and manages to travel down the California coast where the car is stopped by police. In the ensuing gun fight, Charles and Charlene are killed and Troy is wounded and captured. All is lost and Troy is back in the system, and this time- on death row.

Much of the novel is different from the film and I'm curious as to why they just didn't 'do the book' because it's so much better. In any event, I loved the book, and I'd wholeheartedly recommend both the novel and the film to anyone interested in hardboiled criminal fiction.

the author's page at wikipedia-

Thursday, November 16, 2017

THE POET by Michael Connelly

This is an old paperback that I first completed on Mo 2/24/03 over a long three day weekend. This time through, I finished it Tu 11/14/17. When I finished ROGUE LAWYER I was searching through the stacks for a copy of THE LINCOLN LAWYER. I thought that it was written by Grisham and surprised to learn that it was a Connelly novel. I couldn't find it, or any of the Mickey Haller series, but this one was worth a second look.

Reporter, John McEvoy is a twin and his brother is a police detective. The detective is murdered and the scene was arranged to appear like a suicide. John joins the investigation and determines that there is a serial killer of police detectives on the loose.  Cops commit suicide and there is a connection to children in their past. McEvoy uses the internet and finds the connection between these half dozen murders disguised as suicide and realizes that it's the work of a serial killer. They called the killer in this investigation, The Poet, because this murderer leaves sections of poetry by Edgar Allen Poe at the scene.

The FBI's Behavioral Science Unit (Rachel's outfit) determines that the killer seems to be motivated by a molestation that happened when he was a child. The Poet is aided by an online organization of paedophiles.

Many years ago a Florida detective was sexually abusing children. He discarded William Gladden because he got too old. Gladden went on a life-long killing spree against detectives because of this this man.  Gladden takes pictures of young children and sells them on the internet. This is the man that is thought to be The Poet for most of the novel.

Rachel Walling's father was also a detective and he was abusing her, and when John learned of this he was convinced that she was the killer.


John falls in love with the FBI investigator Rachel Walling. Near the end of the book John feels that she might be The Poet. However, it's not her, but another FBI agent, Backus. 

A fantastic book and I'd read anything and everything by Michael Connelly. And, he's a cut above John Grisham, but Grisham's work is still important part of the genre of legal thrillers.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

THE ATOMIC WEIGHT OF LOVE by Elizabeth J. Church

November selection for the Contemporary Book Club, 2017. Finished Fr 11/10/17; a hardback edition that I got on Amazon- We 8/30/17

Meridian's family might be related to Scottish Super-Hero, William Wallace. Mel Gibson's character in BRAVEHEART.

An interesting and captivating love story that spans the fifties to the seventies from the point of view of an educated woman trapped in a very limited marriage; somewhat a blueprint to the rise of feminism.

Meridian Wallace
Alden Whetstone
Clay- Vietnam vet, geologist

From Amazon-

"In her sweeping debut novel, Elizabeth J. Church takes us from the World War II years in Chicago to the vast sun-parched canyons of New Mexico in the 1970s as we follow the journey of a driven, spirited young woman, Meridian Wallace, whose scientific ambitions are subverted by the expectations of her era.

In 1941, at seventeen years old, Meridian begins her ornithology studies at the University of Chicago. She is soon drawn to Alden Whetstone, a brilliant, complicated physics professor who opens her eyes to the fundamentals and poetry of his field, the beauty of motion, space and time, the delicate balance of force and energy that allows a bird to fly.

Entranced and in love, Meridian defers her own career path and follows Alden west to Los Alamos, where he is engaged in a secret government project (later known to be the atomic bomb). In married life, though, she feels lost and left behind. She channels her academic ambitions into studying a particular family of crows, whose free life and companionship are the very things that seem beyond her reach. There in her canyons, years later at the dawn of the 1970s, with counterculture youth filling the streets and protests against the war rupturing college campuses across the country, Meridian meets Clay, a young geologist and veteran of the Vietnam War, and together they seek ways to mend what the world has broken.

Exquisitely capturing the claustrophobic eras of 1940s and 1950s America, The Atomic Weight of Love also examines the changing roles of women during the decades that followed. And in Meridian Wallace we find an unforgettable heroine whose metamorphosis shows how the women’s movement opened up the world for a whole generation."

From Amazon-

"An Amazon Best Book of May 2016: The Atomic Weight of Love sounded like a quiet book to me, but the process of transformation from caterpillar to butterfly is a quiet thing, too, and that’s what this story reminds me of. It’s a fascinating account of Meridian Wallace, a science-minded woman who falls in love with a brilliant man working on big things—in this case, the atomic bomb. She puts her dreams on hold in service to his, sure that it’s only temporary and in these years meets other women who have done the same. Suddenly, it seems as if she has just faded into the background of her own life. Then the catalyst--a young man, both hippie and Vietnam veteran, who introduces her to many things, freedoms born of the era, and there is indecision. Ultimately Meridian reclaims herself, takes her identities over all those years and patches them together into a new and meaningful life. Woven throughout are interesting facts about human-like bird behavior and historical anecdotes, so while Meridian’s story--a reflection of the changing role of women between the 1940’s and 1970’s--is the centerpiece, there are many other treasures along the way. --Seira Wilson"

I really loved this novel and although it's a romance, it is in no way a Harlequin Romance! And, I was pleased to see that the author did not cast Meridian's husband, Alden as a villain. He was as much trapped by society's expectations as she was.

Link to excellent review-

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

ROGUE LAWYER by John Grisham

This was a hardback that Janny loaned to me and I finished the book on Tuesday, 11/7/17. This was also the day that I got the finishing touches on my right sleeve tattoo at Black Moon.

The whole premise of this novel seems to have been lifted from Michael Connelly's, THE LINCOLN LAWYER. Both books concern a dishonest or unprincipled attorney who plies his trade on the fringes of the legal community. Both books are great reads, but Connelly is clearly a better writer. And, Grisham's novel feels as if he's stitched together several short stories or novellas, and there's a lot of loose ends at the conclusion. Maybe he's intentionally creating openings for a possible series on the character of Sebastian Rudd.

The plot of the novel from wikipedia-

"Sebastian Rudd is a street lawyer, but not your typical street lawyer. His office is a black customized bulletproof van, complete with Wi-Fi, a bar, a small fridge, and fine leather chairs. He has no firm, no partners, and only one employee: his heavily armed driver, named 'Partner', who used to be his client, and who also happens to be his bodyguard, law clerk, confidant, and golf caddie. Sebastian drinks small-batch bourbon and carries a gun. His beautiful ex-wife, Judith, is a lawyer too, and she left him for another woman while still they were married. He only gets to see his son, Starcher, for 36 hours per month and his ex-wife wants to stop all visits. He defends people other lawyers won't go near: a drug-addled, tattooed kid, Gardy Baker, rumored to be in a satanic cult who is accused of murdering two girls; a vicious crime lord, Link Scanlon, on death row who escaped before his eyes; a homeowner, Doug Renfro, arrested for shooting at a SWAT team that mistakenly invaded his house, and killed his wife and dogs; a Mixed martial arts fighter, Tadeo Zapate, who killed a referee after losing a fight. In between these adventures, he's contacted by a serial kidnapper and killer, Arch Swanger, who's involved in human trafficking, and knows the whereabouts of the assistant chief of police's missing daughter."

Basically, the novel is a collection of five subplots-

The relationship between Sebastian, Judith, and their son, Starcher. Although he loves the boy, he hates his name every time it's mentioned.

Gardy Baker- a goth kid railroaded by an entire town for the murder and rape of two young girls. The cops go for him and ignore the real killer, an ex-boyfriend of the girls' mother.

A retired home owner, Doug Renfro, whose house is targeted by a swat team. They think he and his wife are major drug traffickers, but it's really the young man next door. He's stealing the old couples wifi. The surprising fact of this story is that although Mr. Renfro is attacked in the middle of the night, without warning, the police are absolved of any wrong doing because they 'are merely doing their jobs'. The fact that they murder Mr. Renfro's wife in the process is just an unfortunate accident.
      However, I did wonder if one part of this subplot is true. When this fiasco goes to trial the jury foreman asks the judge why the police are not on trial instead of Mr. Renfro, then the trial seems to be dismissed. Would this really happen? If the law says that the police cannot be held responsible wouldn't the jury be forced to enforce that law?

Tadeo Zapate- a mixed martial arts fighter who loses a fight by a questionable decision, and lashes out and kills the ref. Tadeo is sponsored by Rudd and although Sebastian does all he can for this obviously guilty man, Zapate idiotically  feels that he can convince the jury that he was temporarily insane as he struck the ref twenty-two times with vicious punches to the head (and all of this was caught on video).

Arch Swanger- a sociopath who is possibly a serial killer and human trafficker. A police official's pregnant daughter is kidnapped by human traffickers and Swanger seems to know where she is being held and gives this information to Rudd. This might be the most interesting story, yet it doesn't seem to be fully resolved at the end of the book.

This book is an easy read and very entertaining, but that's about all you could say. I think Michael Connelly is the better writer and I have a novel by David Baldacci that I'm going to read and and see how he compares as a best selling author of legal thrillers.

Sunday, November 5, 2017

NOAH'S COMPASS by Anne Tyler

This is a hardback that Janny loaned to me. Tyler wrote this in 2009, so she was 68. While it doesn't rate as one of her best novels, it is certainly a fine novel. Written by an unknown, it would have been a literary sensation!

Finished on Sa 11/4/17 in one three hour marathon session on the living room couch after an early afternoon workout at Planet Fitness.

Plot summary from wikipedia-

"On the surface, Liam Pennywell leads an ordered, decent life. Once widowed and once divorced, with three grown-up daughters, he has just been dismissed from his teaching job and, for lack of funds, has moved to a smaller apartment on the outskirts of Baltimore. Toying with the idea of retiring altogether rather than going job hunting at his age, Pennywell is assaulted by a burglar on the very first night he stays at his new place. When he wakes up in hospital with a bandaged head, he cannot remember a thing about the attack.

The loss of memory disturbs him more than the crime itself. In a neurologist's waiting room he observes 38-year-old Eunice accompanying an ageing entrepreneur to his doctor's appointment and finds out that she is working for him as a "rememberer" or, as she herself puts it later, the old man's "external hard drive." Intrigued by this occupation, Pennywell contrives a chance encounter with her, and eventually they strike up a relationship with each other.

Complications in their love affair arise when his youngest daughter, 17-year-old Kitty, decides to move in with him, obviously because she expects to be enjoying more freedom than if she stayed with her mother; and when his middle daughter Louise makes a habit of dumping his four-year-old grandson Jonah at Pennywell's apartment for him to babysit. On top of that, Eunice turns out to be a married woman who, after Pennywell has found out, still does not want to let go of him.

In the end the police arrest the burglar—a juvenile delinquent whose mother has the cheek to ask Pennywell to serve as a character witness at her son's forthcoming trial. By then, Pennywell has made up with his eldest daughter Xanthe, who was bearing an old grudge against her father, has got rid of Eunice, and has got settled in at his new apartment. Also, he has started working as a zayde (Jewish word for 'grandfather') for Jewish preschool children."


Liam Pennywell is a fifth grade teacher who has recently been 'downsized' and has moved to a cheaper apartment in the Lutherville/Timonium area of suburban Baltimore. The first night in the new place he is viciously attacked, bitten on the hand, and knocked unconscious. He awakes in the hospital and can't remember anything about the incident.

The novel is about how he adjusts to the attack, and as a result of his quest to find out what happened, he gains new insight and acceptance of his whole life.

Kitty- Liam's youngest daughter by ex-wife Barbara. Kittys' boyfriend is Damian. Barbara still has feelings for Liam, although she has clearly moved on in her life. At the end of the novel Kitty leaves Barbara's home and lives with Liam for her final year of high school.

Bundy- Liam's Afro-American friend at St. Dyfrig where they both work, and Bundy is a PE teacher at the school. Although Liam has a degree in philosophy he has been a middle school teacher for all of his professional life. His major problem is that he has never lived up to anything close to his full potential- he always settles for less.

Xanthe- (pronounced- "Zan- thee") Liam's daughter and only child by Millie, his first wife. She is mad at Liam for most of the novel because she thinks that Damian, Kitty's boyfriend, is the one who attacked Liam.

Louise- Liam's oldest daugher by Barbara. She is married to Dougall, who is a blue collar worker, and they have a four year old son, Jonah. They are 'born again Christians'.

Mr. Ishmael Cope- an extremely rich developer, COPE DEVELOPMENT, who is having memory problems. He has hired a 'rememberer', Eunice Dunstead. This woman becomes the object of Liam's desire, and Eunice loves him even more.

Liam is 61 and Eunice is 38.

The major twist in the novel occurs when Liam learns that Eunice is married. Because his father left his mother when Liam was a boy, Liam has great respect for the institution of marriage. But, you could also say that because he is suffering from extremely low self-esteem, he uses his view of the sanctity of marriage as an excuse to not pursue Eunice, the love of his life. THIS IS PROBABLY THE MAJOR THEME OF THE NOVEL.

Norman- he is Eunice's husband. He works in the field biology at Johns Hopkins hospital.

Millie- Liam's first wife. This was an unhappy marriage and Millie was continually depressed and she finally takes her life- sleeping pills. Liam probably shares some responsibility for Millie's condition because he could not fully commit to the relationship. He most likely felt that he was unworthy of a loving relationship and as a result, was distant from his wife.

Julia- she is Liam's older sister. She is distant and aloof. She's a lawyer and pretty hard-nosed.

Lamont Edward Twill, 24-  He is the man who attacked Liam on his first day at his new apartment. This man's mother goes to Liam's apartment (The Twill's live in the same complex) and asks Liam to be a character witness at Edward's trial. She feels that Twill showed remorse because he didn't steal anything from Liam's apartment. Liam doesn't buy it and believes that the reason Edward fled was because Liam screamed and his neighbors heard his cry for help.

Bard and Esther Jo- These are Liam's father and stepmother. Esther Jo was the office sex-pot and Bard left Liam's mother for this woman. When Liam talks about this with his father late in the novel, Bard tells him that he was so afraid that he would die without attaining any real happiness. BARD BELIEVES THAT YOU MUST TAKE A RISK FOR HAPPINESS WHILE LIAM REMAINS PASSIVE, HIDING BEHIND HIS BELIEFS.

Last line of the book-

"He could almost convince himself that he'd never been wounded at all"

You could write an entire critique about the novel from that final line and also the title of the book.

An explanation of the title from wikipedia-

"The novel takes its title from a discussion Pennywell has with his grandson about whether Noah was steering his ark, or just bobbing up and down in the flood. "Noah didn't need to figure out directions, because the whole world was underwater and so it made no difference," he tells Jonah. “There wasn't anywhere to go. He was just trying to stay afloat."

I love everything by Anne Tyler and the more I think about this book, the more I love it.

Saturday, November 4, 2017


Refinished Sa 11/3/17  This was one of my ancient paperbacks that I originally finished "Sunday evening, 3/22/98". The tone of the novel is pretty much one long hysterical shriek...."The Russians are coming!...The Russians are coming"! It's a literal distillation of Reagan Republican feeling about 'The Evil Empire'. I wasn't all that surprised to learn that Martin know as 'Martin L. Gross' became a noted figure within the Tea Party Movement. At one point, he was also the editor of Book Digest. This is his first novel and later he concentrated on non-fiction, and many felt that he played a bit wild and loose with the truth to score his political points.

He claimed about his audience- "“I am their hero. I always know what people need and why, because I’m Mr. Joe Sixpack with a good brain.”

From The New York Times-

"Martin L. Gross, a writer whose books criticizing government spending and taxation became best sellers in the 1990s and were embraced more recently by supporters of the Tea Party, died on Aug. 21, 2013 in Ocala, Fla. He was 88."

The plotline was copied from Kirkus Review-

THE RED PRESIDENT is about a... "secret Marxist-Leninist who ascends to the Oval Office. Oval Red is the code word for the Soviet masterplan to subvert a Democratic presidential candidate and maneuver him into the White House. Targeted by the Kremlin is charismatic young US Senator Jed Hankins, whose public ultraliberal, idealistic policies are hammered into private pro-Sovietism by his aide, Bill Fenton, a KGB plant. Riding on a strong wave, Hankins wins the Democrats' nod for Vice President, then succeeds to the President-elect spot when on election night the original nominee dies of a heart attack just before being swept into office. Meanwhile, a wily ex-CIA operative, John Davidson, and an active agent, Sam Withers, catch on to the Soviets' plot. After inauguration, Hankins begins a blanket appeasement policy, including significant dismantling of the US armed forces, a move that shocks most of Congress and the US public. Realizing that Hankins' days in power are limited, and tiring of his growing reluctance to do their bidding, the Kremlin speeds things along by confronting Hankins with nuclear blackmail: capitulation, or annihilation. Hankins refuses and is shot dead by Fenton. With minutes to spare before Soviet missiles fly, agents Withers and Davidson, aided by a defecting KGB agent, persuade top officials of Hankins' treason; a new President is quickly sworn in who eyeballs the Soviets to a stalemate".

This was a long book, but the plot was weirdly captivating. In this era of Trumpism I think that the president and his team clearly see the Russians as heroes. Communism is certainly dead, but what took it's place in the Soviet Union is flat-out, hands-off, unregulated Capitalism. What sensible people would recognize as,'Gangsterism', yet this has a definite appeal to the Trump folks.

Monday, October 30, 2017

AFTER SILENCE Jonathan Carroll

This is one of my ancient trade paperbacks that I first read and finished Su 1/16/00. The flyleaf reads: "Read in one day. Off tomorrow. Feel like I'm coming down with cold/flu. Nice read. Bought yesterday- main branch, 50 cents".

However, I refinished the book on Su 10/29/17, and I really, really loved it! I guess the tip off should have been that the first time through, I read it in one day. This time it took two, but I finished in one three hour stretch on the living room couch yesterday.

"Jonathan Samuel Carroll (born January 26, 1949) is an American fiction writer primarily known for novels that may be labelled...

The Plot-

Max Fischer
Lily and Lincoln Aaron

The book is kind of a simple story that goes completely off the rails, not once- but twice.

Max is a successful cartoonist, single and OK with this, and one day at an art exhibition (some of his work is featured) he meets the woman, and her ten year old son, that fulfill all of his romantic dreams. The three of them are so perfectly matched that their worlds change from black and white to Technicolor the moment that they meet. Months later, Max learns a truth that brings it all down.

Lily is a monster. She had kidnapped Lincoln when he was just a small baby. And, this family never forgot and never gave up hope that someday their missing child would come back home.


The novel skips to the future. Lincoln is now seventeen and he's turned into a surly punk (FUCK DANCE, LET'S FUCK; tee shirt) and it seems that all the excellent parenting of Max and Lily has been worthless.

Lincoln learns that he's not Lily's son and returns to his birth family to wreak havoc. Max follows, but is too late to stop the violence.

Lincoln's real birth parents are not the people that Lily claimed in the first place. The family that Lincoln visits has a son that was kidnapped, but this boy was reunited with his parents. Lincoln burns down their house and beats up the boy anyway.

On the way from the fire and violence, Max meets Lincoln on the road and in a scene of road-rage madness, Lincoln shoots at Max. This same scene occurred many years before when Max first visited that family that he thought Lily had robbed of their child. 

This is a link to Goodreads that has a list of quotes from the author. He has many books, and I plan to read more. I don't think that AFTER SILENCE is even his best work.

Friday, October 27, 2017

COUNTERPARTS by Gonzalo Lira

Finished Fr 10/27/17 (very early on the day of the microwave/oven installation from Dick Van Dyke)

This is one of my old paperbacks that I found downstairs when I was going through the collection to get rid of 'the unwanted', and I decided to re-read this one. I first read it Fr 5/14/99. And according to the flyleaf, "Before Brandenburgs to sign the Sun City deposit box stuff". I don't exactly remember this incident, but I get the picture.

While I was reading the book I searched the internet to find out more about this author. He did write another book that continues with the character of Nicholas Denton, but he's left the fiction genre, and now primarily writes 'financial news'. In fact, I noticed some of his work at ZERO HEDGE which a one of those 'Russian Fake News' outlets (an unsecured website). He's a graduate of Dartmouth and his family is from Chile and he's related to some of the founding fathers of that country. His politics are the the radical right.


Margaret Chisholm- She's the slightly unhinged FBI agent. In the first scene of the novel she is called to a stadium to interrogate a suspect who has planted bombs around the venue. In order for him to reveal their location, she grabs a fire ax and chops off the man's fingers. Even she realized that she went to far, but not enough to stop.  She begins to grasp that the ultra-violence is becoming far too attractive.

SEPSIS-  An international hitman similar to Carlos the Jackal. He's more into 'metas-murder'; he leaves the victim alive, but so damages his life that he would be better off dead. Ex.- kills every member of the person's family, but lets the target live. "There are some fates worse than death".

Nicholas Denton- He plays the role of a career bureaucrat within the CIA, but really he has organized a clandestine group that is the true power within the agency. He's mild-mannered, yet secretly ruthless.

Sister Marianne- A Catholic nun who is an expert on Vatican architecture. She and Edmund Gettier, her mentor, are employed to strengthen Vatican buildings. However, forces within the CIA are going to destroy the Vatican to help draw the West into the middle East. Near the end of the novel it's revealed that Gettier is actually a villain who was also a terrorist and a lover of Sepsis.

Federico Lorca- When the action moves to the Vatican, this man is the police coordinator with the Italian authorities.

Keith Lehrer- This is Denton's putative boss at the CIA and the arch-villain of the story. He's running an illegal operation called Archangel that will reap millions of dollars for him and a couple of other high ranking officials in the agency. He asks  Denton to join, but Denton kills him and makes it appear to be a self-inflicted bullet to the brain.


After the incident at the stadium, Margaret's boss assigns her to a case that might allow her to mentally regroup. A small religious order in New Hampshire has been attacked and all of the nuns, except one, have been killed in a bomb attack. And, while in custody someone takes a shot at this nun, so it appears that she is the real target.

The nun is invited back to Rome to make the structure of the Vatican buildings more strong and secure. She's an expert on ancient architecture. The CIA teams with the FBI to secure this operation and mayhem ensues.

Not a great book, but not bad. More 'plane' or 'beach' type of a novel. Lira's next novel was called ACROBAT and features more on the adventures of Nicholas Denton. It's out of print and fairly expensive. I'd read it if the library got it, but they don't.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

OUTLANDER by Diana Gabaldon

Finished Tu 10/17/17  The October, 2017 selection for the Contemporary Book Club.

This novel is the first in a series of eight books; all of them are over eight hundred pages. I liked the book, but 800 pages is quite enough, and I have zero interest in reading even one more in the series. However, tomorrow I will receive the first disc of the television series. The woman in the group that suggested that we read this book liked the series, and several group members agreed. 

I was surprised to learn that the author was not even Scottish (she'd never even been to Scotland) and she lived in Scottsdale, AZ. At her website I learned that Gabaldon is a lover of reference books and she compiled a collection of over 1,500 books relevant to the novel.

Although the book does involve time travel, it doesn't feel like a science fiction novel. The beginning of the book is set in 1946, but nearly seven hundred pages are set in Scotland, 1743. This first book is a leadup to the Battle of Culloden which effectively destroyed the clan system of Scotland.

From the novel's page at wikipedia-

"Plot summary-

In 1946, after working apart during the Second World War, British Army nurse Claire Randall and her husband Frank, a history professor, go on a second honeymoon to Inverness, Scotland. Frank conducts research into his family history and Claire goes plant-gathering near standing stones on the hill of Craigh na Dun. She faints when investigating a buzzing noise near the stones; upon waking, she encounters Frank's ancestor, Captain Jack Randall. Before Captain Randall can take her into custody, he is knocked unconscious by a Scottish Gael who takes Claire to his clansmen. As the Gaels inexpertly attend their injured comrade Jamie, Claire uses her medical skill to set Jamie's dislocated shoulder. The men identify themselves as members of Clan MacKenzie, and Claire eventually concludes that she has traveled into the past. She represents herself as an English widow who is traveling to France to see her family. The Gaels do not believe her and take her to Castle Leoch, where Claire searches for a way to return to her own time.

The Gaels of 1743 see Claire as a "Gall" (foreigner), "Sassenach", or "Outlander", ignorant of Gaelic culture. Her medical skills earn their respect; but the clan chieftain, Colum MacKenzie, suspects her of being an English spy. Colum sends her with his brother, Dougal, to collect rents; on the way he also solicits donations for the Jacobites, overseen by Ned Gowan, a lawyer from Edinburgh who is working for the Clan.

When chance again brings her to his attention, Captain Randall tells Dougal to bring Claire to him for questioning. There is suspicion that she is perhaps an English spy. To keep Claire from Randall, Dougal has her wed Jamie, which makes her a Scottish citizen. Torn between her attachment to Jamie and the thought of Frank, Claire tries to return to Craigh na Dun. However, she is captured by Randall's men, requiring Jamie to rescue her. Upon returning to Castle Leoch, Claire continues acting as the official healer, and befriends Geillis Duncan, the wife of a local official, who shares a knowledge of medicine. Eventually Claire and Geillis are charged with witchcraft while Jamie is away, but Jamie returns in time to save Claire. While inprisoned with Geillis, Claire learns that Geillis is part of the plot to restore King James to the Scottish throne along with Dougal and that she is also pregnant with his child. Just before their escape, Claire realizes that Geillis is, like herself, from the future, when she sees a smallpox vaccine scar on her arm. Geillis also sees Claire's scar.

Claire tells Jamie her real story, and he takes her to Craigh na Dun. When he offers her the chance to stay or go, she decides to stay. Jamie takes her to his home of Lallybroch, where they meet Jamie's sister Jenny and her husband, Ian. Though Jamie is still a fugitive from the British, he reclaims his position as Laird of Lallybroch, until one of his tenants betrays him and he is taken to Wentworth Prison. Claire and the MacKenzie clansmen attempt to rescue him, but they fail, and Claire is captured by Randall, who threatens to have her raped. Jamie offers himself in Claire's place, and Randall frees Claire into the woods. Claire tells Randall that she is a witch and tells him the exact day of his death, which she knows from Frank's family history. Thereafter Claire is befriended by Sir Marcus MacRannoch, a former suitor of Jamie's mother. While MacRannoch's men distract Wentworth's guards, the clansmen drive a herd of cattle through the underground halls, trampling a man. They rescue Jamie, who has been assaulted physically and sexually by Randall, and take him to MacRannoch's stronghold, where Claire tends Jamie's wounds. As soon as Jamie is able, they and Jamie's godfather, Murtagh, escape to Saint Anne de Beaupre's monastery in France, where another of Jamie's uncles is abbot. As she and Jamie emerge from a sacred hot spring under the Abbey, Claire reveals that she is pregnant."

Monday, October 16, 2017

BOTTOM LINER BLUES by K. C. Constantine

Finished early Mo 10/16/17

This is an old paperback that I had never read. I almost threw it away, but glad that I didn't.

From the journal entry of Mo 10/16/17

"Read 330am- 430am BOTTOM LINER BLUES, K. C. Constantine and finished the book.  A very strange police novel, and I don't think I've read anything quite like it.  Although Mario Balzic, police chief of Rocksburg, Pennsylvania, is the protagonist of the novel, the book is far from a police procedural. It's really about the drastic change in economy of the area and how this grim and uncertain future affects the people who live there." 

Mario is obsessed with his experience at Iwo Jima in WWII. He can't remember any of the guys that he fought with- especially the men who died on that beach. 

His wife, Ruth, feels that their marriage has hit a dead end. She wants things to be different, but she can't get Mario to understand. 

Much of the novel takes place at Dom Muscotti's saloon. Unemployed and broke Russian writer, Nicholas Myushkin argues with bartender, Vinnie Valcanas, about the state of the world and other pseudo-philosophical subjects. Mario vacillates between 'voice of reason' and 'befuddled bystander'.  

Crime at the center of the tale-

Crazy lady with child firebombs a tractor trailer at a truck stop. She gets blown out of the rig while trying to keep her toddler from getting too close to the explosion. The woman is blasted out of the cab, lands on the young girl, and crashes her head into a lug nut on the wheel. The child dies. When the driver comes out of the truck stop, he has a heart attack.

The driver is probably the father of the child and the woman might be an ex-wife.

I'm going to skim through the book a second time, and then write some more. This book is not quite like anything in this particular genre. I'll consider buying some more by Constantine. 

Friday, October 6, 2017

TAXI DRIVER by Richard Elman; screenplay written by Paul Schrader

Refinished Th 10/5/17. This is one of my ancient paperbacks and recently was a 'bathroom read' for several weeks. According to the flyleaf I first completed the book in two afternoons- We 4/22/98. And, there's a note that I had to spend $40 to pay Alpha Electric 'to flip the breaker that shorted out from the battery charger'. I have no recollection of this incident, but it might have been a battery charger for my motorcycle? I checked, and Alpha is still around and it's a business out of Riverton. Why would I get an outfit out of town? Who knows....

This is a slim novel, yet remarkably well written. The dialog really crackles and the characters just jump off the page. I wonder how much of this is Schrader and how much is Elman.

I noticed the Richard Elman wrote a kind of memoir about a 1972 Rolling Stones tour that he took in 1972. It's still available at Amazon, but a bit too expensive.

Travis Bickle is a film icon, thanks to Robert De Niro, but this book provides a different dimension to the character.

The author's page at wikipedia-


Travis Bickle- Nightshift taxi driver, Vietnam vet, ISOLATION.

Iris- Young prostitude that Travis feels drawn to- almost like a sister. He wants her 'out of the life', yet she can't imagine that she has a choice.

Sport- Iris's pimp

Betsy- Travis's idolized love interest. She's almost an ethereal character (metaphor for 'feminine beauty'). Betsy works for the politian, Senator Charles Palantine.

Senator Charles Palantine- The rich successful white dude- the polar opposite of Travis and people like him.

The best way to approach this book would be to read it straight through in a couple of sittings- just let the dour, violent, and gloomy atmosphere sweep you away.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017


Refinished Mo 10/2/17  I originally read this in two days and finished on Xmas Eve, We 12/24/03. The note on the flyleaf says that I had a bad chest cold.


Batiste- Dave's helper/partner at the fishing shop

Alafair-  Dave and Bootsie's adopted daughter, Tripod is her pet.

Elrod T. Sykes- Drunken actor that's starring in the Civil War picture that's being shot in New Iberia.

Rosa (Rosie) Gomez- FBI (Fart- Barf- and Itch) agent and Dave's partner in the investigation.

Julie 'Baby Feet' Balboni- This man grew up in New Iberia and played baseball with Dave in high school. He's a prominent mob figure in New Orleans. A huge man, shaped like a tapered banana- small head and tiny feet.

Kelly Drummond- Actress/girlfriend of Sykes. This woman is shot and killed. The killer thought she was Dave- she was wearing one of his t shirts.

Dewitt Prejean- Old black  Zydeco guitarist. He fills in the details of the murder of a black man, Hogman Pucet, that Dave witnessed in 1957. This man was having an affair with a white man- Twinky Herbert Lemoyne.

'The Ghost of' John Bell Hood- A Confederate general who appears (with his soldiers) to Dave throughout the book. He offers offbeat and eery advice.

Cherry Le Blanc- A prostitute who is murdered and mutilated by Murphy Ducet.

Mike Goldman- The loud and obnoxious director of the movie. He knows that he's tied to the mob, but he thinks he can keep things under control- he can't.


Murphy Doucet and Twinky Herbert Lemoyne killed Hogman Pucet for having an affair with Mrs. Lemoyne. Doucet was a state cop and arrested Hogman, then brought him out to the swamp and shot him dead- no belt and no shoe laces. Dave was a sophomore in college and working for an oil company on summer break. He was across the bayou and witnessed the killing- the two killers couldn't care less. I guess they thought it was only a black man and no one would give a damn.

In the end of the book, Doucet kidnaps Alafair and takes her to a deserted fishing cabin. Dave and Rosie track them down and Rosie empties her 357 into him. But, Julie Balboni ends up in prison. He runs the show on the inside and has many male lovers. One of these men throws gasoline on him while Baby Feet is asleep. Covered in flames, he jumps to his death on the jail room floor. 

James Lee Burke is a brilliant writer and I'd read anything by him, although my favorites are the Dave Robicheaux series.


"What we do not do is let the other side make us be like them"

"Maybe we have so much collective guilt as a society that we fear to punish our individual members"

Saturday, September 30, 2017

PHANTOM LADY by Cornell Woolrich

Finished Fr 9/29/17

I read almost the entire last third of the book in one 2 1/2 hour sitting on the couch- just had to know what happened!

One of my ancient paperbacks and I first completed it on Su 5/22/94 and in pencil, scrawled across the flyleaf is, 'Absolutely Wonderful!'

The author is a the epitome of Noir and there is an excellent introduction to the book written by Francis M. Nevins Jr. He explains the genre and tells about the author's rather tortured life. Woolrich (he released this novel in 1942 under the pen name, William Irish) was a closeted homosexual and lived with his mother for a large portion of his life. He died in 1968 after he lost a leg due to complications of gangrene. 


Scott Henderson- the protaganist

Marcella Henderson- Scott's murdered wife; strangled with his tie

Carol Richards- Scott's girlfriend and the loyal, love of his life. She is instrumental in freeing him from jail.

Burgess- the cop that believes that Scott didn't do it.

John Lombard- Scott's 'true friend'. Scott calls him in South America and he returns to help Scott catch the killer, but he is the real murderer.

The Phantom Lady- her name is never revealed and she was beginning to lose her mind on the evening that Scott and her shared a meal and a night at the theater. She is committed to a mental asylum.

2 Additional Murders-

The woman who created the copy of the orange hat

The blind beggar that was burned accidentally by the Phantom Lady. She puts her cigarette into his begging cup and burned the man. This guy, however, could actually see and his act was a scam. Lombard trips him and then breaks his neck in the beggar's rooming house.

SUICIDE- Cliff, the jazz drummer at the theater. He was enthralled with the Phantom Lady on the evening of the show, and he takes Carol Richards to a marijuana party when she's trying to find out if he can identify the Phantom Lady. He slashes his wrist after a night of excess on the deadly hemp plant.

Carol tails the doorman who witnessed Scott and the Phantom Lady on the night of their encounter. Carol so unnerves the man that he runs into the street and is run over by a speeding.

Chapter 23 is the final chapter in the book- 'One Day After The Execution'. Burgess goes back and details exactly what happened and how it was done. I found this to be a little on the Agatha Christie side, but, in this case, it worked.

I'd read anything by Woolrich or his various pen names. 

Friday, September 29, 2017


"How We Got To Be So Hated"

Finished Fr 9/29/17

Although I had read through this a few weeks ago, I kept coming back to it.

The book is a collection of seven longish magazine articles and an introduction written and published by Vidal .

I thought the most interesting section was his writings and observations about Timothy McVeigh. McVeigh contacted Gore Vidal when he was in jail and said that he thought the author's take on Terrorism was accurate- "You've hit the nail on the head".

Gore (and many others) feel that McVeigh was not a singular 'bad apple' or 'lone assassin', but had contacts with several home-grown American militias, and might even have been involved with middle-eastern terrorists. And, Vidal clearly makes the case that the government did not do a transparent and meticulous investigation, and the government's examination seems tainted and might even be some kind of coverup.

McVeigh's doctor maintained that Timothy was not deranged or unhinged, but "serious". McVeigh's sessions with this doctor were allowed to go public, and I'd really like to read them. And, I'd like to read more unbiased information about Timothy McVeigh. He was obviously something more than a random 'evil doer'.

In one of the articles- THE NEW THEOCRATS- Vidal makes an excellent case for ending the tax abatement for religious organizations. It's a glaring fact that religious institutions now play a dominant role in America's political structure and they should no longer be allowed to shrink their tax obligation. And, most importantly, there is absolutely NOTHING in the First Amendment that says anything about letting religious institutions out of their financial duty to the government.

The only thing that I regretted about the book is that it's over twenty years old. In the era of Trumpism, all of the data in this books seems almost 'small potatoes'.

I want to read more by Vidal.

Monday, September 25, 2017

WILD THING by Ian Copeland

"On the Road, In the Studio, Off the Charts Memoirs of... '

Finished Mo 9/25/17 in one early morning push- 315am-4am.

This is one of my hardbacks that I've owned for years, yet never had read. Ian was an agent for all of the 80's New Wave acts that I loved (still do!) in the 80's, and the section dealing with his time in the service was some of the best that I've read on the subject of Vietnam.


He was born in April, 1949 near the city of Damascus in Syria.

His father, Miles Copeland, Jr., was an early 'senior' member of the CIA, and his mother, Lorraine, an archeologist.

In the early sixties he owned several motorcycles and was part of a criminal gang. Had he not left the country to go back to his family in England, he would have ended up in a middle-eastern prison for car theft. Biking around the middle east with his buddies on the eve of of The Six Day War in 1967 was a most interesting part of the book.

In the states after boot camp he was allowed to pick a nickname. He chose 'LeRoi'- 'The King' in French, but no one at Ft. Dix, New Jersey spoke French, so they called him 'Leroy (Coolbreeze)'.  

2 brothers and a sister- Miles III (IRS), Stewart (drummer for The Police, composer), Lorraine- Lennie, writer/producer

He was one of the first to realize that Punk would be a major factor in the record industry. After London, he took a job with an adjunct of Capricorn Records in Macon, Georgia.

Married a woman from Macon, GA and had two daughters

Wishbone Ash and The Average White Band were among his first picks

 A partial list of his very impressive roster-

Members of R.E.M were all personal friends; Drummer Bill Berry was his chauffeur in his Capricorn days.
Charlie Daniels Band, Lynyrd Skynyrd and the Allman Brothers Band,
the B-52's, The Cure, The Police, Simple Minds, The English Beat, and The Go-Go's,the Buzzcocks, Nine Inch Nails, Concrete Blonde, Iggy Pop, General Public, Charlie Peacock, Let's Active, R.E.M., Sting, Morrissey,Adam Ant, the Bangles, the Smiths, the Thompson Twins, the Fixx, UB40, Joan Jett and the Blackhearts, Oingo Boingo, the Dead Kennedys, and the Cure.

FBI- Frontier Booking International

In the late 1990's he ran Backstage Cafe bar and restaurant in Beverly Hills. This was not in the book, but I found out via Facebook.

He died of Melanoma in 2006

Sunday, September 24, 2017


Finished Su 9/24/17

The Contemporary Book Club Selection- August, 2017


Set in the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont. Montreal, CA is not too far Northwest of the area

Melba- Press's maid, 'charwoman', "pig ate her baby, and what's worse, they had to eat the pig", Bronco Guys- Vegas and Reno.

Carol- Artist/Activist. Dorothy Day's Workers Party CATHOLIC WORKER MOVEMENT, lower east side. 2 kids- Christie and Tim. Stained Glass.

Dorothy Day wikipedia-

Jeremy and Molly- Press's 2 middle school aged children. Claire is his wife.

Prescott worked for Merrill Lynch before his blindness.

Clarks and Swinnertons are Press's neighbors.

Karl Swinnerton- Volunteer Fire Chief, WWII vet, emphysema, scanner. Pays $5.00 to eat lunch with the Swinnertons.  Dorothy is Karl Swinnerton's wife. She's a columnist for the local paper.

Darryl and Avis Clark. They are evangelicals- 'Solid Rock Gospel'. Don't believe in evolution.

Odd Scene- Melba takes guys wallet as he suicides at Point Reyes, Ca. Her 22 yr. old son froze to death trying to locate his father/ mountain man. Pig ate her baby- they ate the pig.

Reupert is an auctioneer and cattle dealer. Rupert and Melba are/were lovers and partners. She helps buy his livestock/horses and he lets her live on his property in a trailer.

Al and Rog are Rupert's adult sons. Rog is also an auctioneer, and has a better delivery than Rupert. Al is 'The Hippie Horseman'- takes them on trips in his truck; also Press.
Rupert and the two brothers might have done a bank robbery 20 yrs. ago. Melba says they might have put the money on a train to get it across to Canada, but failed to locate the train car.

Benny Messer runs the local junkyard. Also a car mechanic. Watches the hippies with a telescope. Thinks that the women bare their breasts when picking vegetables

Chuck- The dealer? Mystery figure who takes Press on fish runs to Maine. Might be from Arkansas or San Diego. Chuck probably not his real name. He takes Press on a road trip south, wrecks the car, and leaves Press to be reunited with Melba.

Friday, September 22, 2017


Finished Th 9/21/17 I ordered this book on Amazon after hearing a lecture by James Lee Burke where he mentioned that this was one of his favorite novels. It arrived Sa 9/9/17.

This is a slim novel that provides a picturesque window into the life of an early 20th century priory in upstate New York. Seventeen year old Mariett Baptiste takes her vows, and soon begins to exhibit stigmata. Although godly in nearly all ways and an excellent postulant, the novel examines Mariette's and the cloistered order's reaction to her 'gift'. Reality or Vanity.

The novel takes place from 1906 through 1907.

OUR LADY OF SORROWS, Arcadia, New York. This is about half-way between Rochester and Syracuse; south of Lake Ontario.

Annette Baptiste (Reverend Mother Celine) is the Prioress of the order. She's 37 and Mariette's older sister. They were close as children, but now Celine is her 'boss', and perplexed.

Their father is the local doctor. He is nonplussed that two of his daughters have taken holy vows.

A possible reason why the stigmata cannot be 'proved' one way or another (p. 174)-

"God gives us just enough to seek Him, and never enough to fully find him. To do more would inhibit our freedom, and our freedom is very dear to God."


7 Deadly sins
7 Healing virtues
7 Spiritual works of mercy
7 Joys of Our Lady

I loved the book and on Friday, 9/22 I ordered two more by Hansen; HITLER'S NIECE- A Novel, and DESPERADOES.

Th 9/21/17 was also the day that my microwave/oven went out. I called Dick Van Dyke on Wednesday and they showed up at 2pm Thursday. $800 to start- No Expectations.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

MOCKINGBIRD by Walter Tevis

Finished Su 1/17/17

I read this as an ebook from the library, but I think that I own a paper copy of this fine novel somewhere in my collection. The interest in Tevis stems from watching the bonus features from THE MAN THAT FELL TO EARTH a couple of weeks ago. I did manage to find my copy of THE QUEEN'S GAMBIT in the collection and soon I'll be reading that novel. I've read that the author considers that one to be his best.

I think that MOCKINGBIRD is one of the finest Sci Fi novels ever written. The themes of the novel, the end of reading and critical thought and the over utilization of computers and automation are contemporary problems and the fact that the novel is set in the 26th century does nothing to blunt this exposition.

From the book's page at wikipedia-

"A central character is the dean of New York University, Robert Spofforth, an android who has lived for centuries yet yearns to die. The novel opens with his failed attempt at suicide. Spofforth brings a teacher, Paul Bentley, to New York. Bentley has taught himself to read after a Rosetta Stone–like discovery of a film with words matching those in a children's primer. Spofforth disliked Bentley and his reading knowledge. Bentley says he could teach others to read, but Spofforth instead gives him a job of decoding the written titles in ancient silent films. At a zoo, Bentley meets Mary Lou, explains the concept of reading to her, and the two embark on a path toward literacy. Spofforth responds by sending Bentley to prison for the crime of reading, and takes Mary Lou as an unwilling housemate. The novel then follows Bentley's journey of discovery after his escape from prison, culminating in his eventual reunion with Mary Lou and their assistance with Spofforth's suicide."

Bob Spofforth is the smartest creature in NYC, and ultimately it is he that is responsible for the end of the human race. The reason that he attempts to end mankind is that this would allow him to end his own life. It seems that he is 'programed to serve mankind' and as long as one human is alive, he must continue to serve.

Fave Scenes-

Toasters in a factory are continued to be made for centuries, but a simple part stops them from functioning properly, so just as they are made, they are discarded. 100% production produces nothing until Bentley solves the malfunction.

The religious commune 'worships' in the mall at Sears.

'Thought Buses' can read minds, yet only are programed to promote 'happy thoughts'.

I would read anything by Tevis and I'm avidly looking forward to THE QUEEN'S GAMBIT which is apparently a book about chess???

Sunday, September 17, 2017

DEAD MAN by Joe Gores

Finished Sa 9/16/17

This is one of my old paperbacks that I first completed on Tu 1/16/95. Joe Gores's writing style reminds me of Donald E. Westlake, engaging story, yet the level of craft is nowhere near 'the greats'- Raymond Chandler, Dashiell Hammett, Ross Macdonald, or John D. McDonald. I still liked the book, but the ending was a bit fantastic.

Eddie Dain- Tall, thin private investigator in San Francisco; married to beautiful Marie, five year old son, Albie (named for Albert Einstein). Dain plays chess, and is a computer expert (in 1993, I really don't know what that would entail), and thinks of his life and his career as a game. This 'distance from life' is his downfall- not connected to what really matters, and this is what he learns in the end.

Doug Sherman- San Franciscan book seller; friend of Dain's (also, his attempted killer)

Randy Solomon- San Franciscan police detective; friend of Dain's (Also, his attempted killer)

Evangeline Broussard- Cajun stripper; initiated the plan to steal the bearer bonds when her boyfriend, Maxton asked her to have sex with one of his friends at the office Xmas party. She becomes Dain's lover in the end.

Jimmy- the man in Maxton's law firm who was originally with Vangie. He is killed in the scramble to recover the bonds.

Keith Inverness- One of the three killers of Dain's family. Near the end of the novel he travels with the gang to cajun country to kill Dain and Vangie. He's only concerned with killing Dain- Inverness is 'haunted' by the murders , yet he just can't seem to kill Dain.

Travis and Nicky- two thugs that accompany Maxton to cajun country to get the bonds and kill Vangie and Dain.


Dain and his family live a quiet and happy life north of San Francisco. He takes small cases, but one he cannot leave alone. A man has asked to find out the reason for an explosion on a boat that killed his partner. It's found to be accidental, yet Dain discovers that it was actually a murder.

This leads killers to try to murder his whole family. Dain escapes death, but Marie and Albie are shotgunned to death.

Dain spends years in recovery and evolves into almost a comic book hero- Bulking up over fifty pounds and learns numerous martial arts.

He becomes obsessed with the killers and travels to Las Vegas to work for the mob at one of the casinos. He uses his computer skills to penetrate the operations.

Dain follows Vangie to the cajun country where the two are up against the professional hitmen. This is the best part of the book. Dain and Vangie are unarmed, yet take out four gun toting killers.

In the anticlimax Dain learns that his two best friends, Doug Sherman and Randy Solomon were actually involved in the killing of Dain's family. He kills them both, and lives happily ever after with Vangie.

And, there's Dain's cat named "Shensie" that means crazy in Swahili.

The author's page at wikipedia-

From Publishers Weekly at amazon-

"No matter how many transformations PI Eddie Dain undergoes, readers will remember him as first met--a sunny, bookish and chess-playing computer whiz in northern California, delighted with his vibrant young wife and three-year-old son. Eddie's hubris and naivete lead to a brutal shoot-out, leaving him alone and, after extensive physical rehabilitation, coldly intent on revenge. With his body trained to a muscular machine, he uses his computer skills to become Travis Holt, an accountant in Las Vegas where he learns how to deal with the underside of the law. That task accomplished, he returns to San Francisco as Dain, a PI willing to undertake shady assignments, notably one for a scummy investment lawyer in Chicago caught in a bearer-bond scam. Although Dain renews his acquaintance with a rare book dealer and a cop from earlier days, he remains empty inside, beset by nightmares of his family's final moments and motivated solely to avenge their deaths. Gores ( 32 Cadillacs ) handles these transitions deftly, portraying a PI who, carrying The Tibetan Book of the Dead with him at all times, is both larger than life and believable. How Dain and a young Cajun stripper end up deep in the bayous of Louisiana, pursued by those he'd been pursuing, and how, weaponless, they plan a showdown, provides a stunning climax, with a significant surprise still left to spring. With plenty of plot twists, violence and sex, Gores still makes this a somewhat lighthearted, race-through read--an updated, slightly self-reflective, comic detective story with a hero both hard-boiled and sensitive, who finally recovers his soul."