Sunday, September 24, 2017

IN THE COUNTRY OF THE BLIND by Edward Hoagland

Finished Su 9/24/17

The Contemporary Book Club Selection- August, 2017

NOTES-

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, lower east side. 2 kids- Christie and Tim. Stained Glass.

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- Volunteer Fire Chief, WWII vet, emphysema, scanner. Pays to eat lunch with the Clarks. SOLID ROCK GOSPEL. Dorothy is Clark's wife.

Odd Scene- Melba takes guys wallet as he suicides at Point Reyes, Ca.

Rupert and Melba are 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.

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

MARIETTE IN ECSTASY by Ron Hansen

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."

P 51 THE SEVENS-

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.

STORYLINE-

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-

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joe_Gores

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."

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

BEFORE I GO TO SLEEP by S. J. Watson

Finished Tu 9/12/17

This book was recommended to me by Becky, a member of the contemporary book club. She said it is was prime example of 'an unreliable narrator', and she was certainly correct!

I got the the book in hardback for a few dollars from Amazon. Money well spent.

Fantastic opening scene-

A young woman wakes up in bed with an older married man. She thinks that she had gotten wasted and had gone home with a married man. When she notices her reflection in the bathroom mirror, she sees that she's twenty or more years older than she thought, and when she speaks with the man, he tells her that he is her husband. Later she learns from a psychologist that she can't trust her husband.

Due to an accident (not true) she retains memory only for one day. When she goes to sleep, her memories are wiped clean. She writes a diary to record what she needs to remember. Her doctor calls her each morning to remind her where to find the journal. She is not to tell her husband.

Christine Lucas
Ben Lucas, her husband
Adam, Chris's adult son. He was killed when he was stationed in Afghanistan (not true).
Dr. Nash, Chris's therapist. Ben is not aware that Chris is under his care.
Claire, Chris's friend
Mike, Chris's lover. This is the man that caused her memory loss. He attacked her when she wanted to break up and go back to her husband and son many years before.

The Twist-

Mike, posing as Ben, takes her out of the hospital. He tells her that he is Ben, her husband, and Claire no longer is in their lives and Adam has been killed while in the army. Chris begins to recover her memory when Mike brings her back to the hotel room of the first attack.

From Amazon.com Review-

"Every day Christine wakes up not knowing where she is. Her memories disappear every time she falls asleep. Her husband, Ben, is a stranger to her, and he's obligated to explain their life together on a daily basis--all the result of a mysterious accident that made Christine an amnesiac. With the encouragement of her doctor, Christine starts a journal to help jog her memory every day. One morning, she opens it and sees that she's written three unexpected and terrifying words: "Don't trust Ben." Suddenly everything her husband has told her falls under suspicion. What kind of accident caused her condition? Who can she trust? Why is Ben lying to her? And, for the reader: Can Christine’s story be trusted? At the heart of S. J. Watson's Before I Go To Sleep is the petrifying question: How can anyone function when they can't even trust themselves? Suspenseful from start to finish, the strength of Watson's writing allows Before I Go to Sleep to transcend the basic premise and present profound questions about memory and identity. One of the best debut literary thrillers in recent years, Before I Go to Sleep deserves to be one of the major blockbusters of the summer."

"S. J. Watson lives in London and worked in the National Health Service for a number of years. In 2009 Watson was accepted into the first Faber Academy Writing a Novel course, a rigorous and selective program that covers all aspects of the novel-writing process. Before I Go to Sleep is the result."

This morning I learned that the book is a movie and streamable on Netflix. I'm going to watch it this morning, We 9/13/17.

Although I really liked the novel, here's why I liked the movie more-

It works better that Adam is a child. I felt that the 'Afghanistan angle' didn't work.

The 'compressed time' in the film works much better. In the book Chris is 47, but in the movie she's only 40. Chris's level of isolation is more believable if it doesn't last as long.

It works better that Chris is not a published author as she is in the novel. If she was a more public figure, her level of isolation would be more difficult to maintain.

The 'reveal' in the hotel room is really powerful in the film- a terrific and brutal fight scene.

The Winnie The Pooh lines between Chris and Adam provide excellent closure and gives hope that Chris might make a fuller recovery. This isn't even in the book.

Rowan Joffe directs the film, but he did a terrific job as screenwriter. He really took the novel and made major improvements.

Minor criticism of the movie-

Why did they feel it necessary to change the spelling of Dr. Michael Nash's name? In the film it's spelled, 'Nasch'. Why go with the unusual spelling? How does this improve anything?




Tuesday, September 5, 2017

WINTER'S BONE by Daniel Woodrell

I ordered the dvd from Netflix and watched it on Sa 9/1/17. I had seen the film when it first came out several years ago, but knew it was worth another look. I wanted to read the book and I found that I could get it through Kindel at the library. I read the whole novel in two days and finished it on Su 8/3/17- Labor Day Weekend. The dialog and quirky expressions are truly one of a kind. I loved the crackling and provocative speech patterns. Many of the better lines were used in the film quoted directly from the novel.

From the book's description at Amazon-

"Ree Dolly's father, Jessup, has skipped bail on charges that he ran a crystal meth lab, and the Dollys will lose their house if he doesn't show up for his next court date. With two young brothers depending on her, 16-year-old Ree knows she has to bring her father back, dead or alive. Living in the harsh poverty of the Ozarks, Ree learns quickly that asking questions of the rough Dolly clan can be a fatal mistake. But, as an unsettling revelation lurks, Ree discovers unforeseen depths in herself and in a family network that protects its own at any cost."

In the film Ree has a brother and sister, yet in the book she has two brothers. The book makes it clear that everyone believes (knows?) that Jessup had been killed, but I felt that the film kind of left that open. I believed that it was possible for the viewer to believe (for most of the film) that he might have been on the run, or even in some kind of witness protection program.

On Sunday night I watched a documentary called STRAY DOG. In the movie version of Winter's Bone the character of Thump Milton is played by a real person, Ronnie Hall. The documentary was about his life. He's a Harley riding proponent of veteran's rights. The film was about his life and how he travels on his cycle with him friends and Mexican wife to various rallies and observances around the country.

Jennifer Lawrence was tremendous in the film, and so was John Hawkes who played Ree's uncle, Teardrop. Many of the characters were played by people who lived in the area. The film was shot in remote Missouri near Branson, MO.

The film and the novel had almost a biblical or medieval feel. The setup was almost like a knight on a quest as in a classical fairy tale.

I would read anything by Daniel Woodrell and I might even check out Amazon to see what's available in the dollar or less rack- plus postage.  

Thursday, August 31, 2017

THE BACHMAN BOOKS- 4 Early Novels by Stephen King

Finished THE LONG WALK, We 8/30/17. Also included in this anthology were RAGE, ROADWORK, and THE RUNNING MAN.

For the last several weeks the 'bathroom book' has been THE KINGDOM OF FEAR which is a collection of long essays about the work of Stephen King, and a couple of weeks ago I found THE BACHMAN BOOKS, an ancient paperback, on the shelves downstairs.

I read that King wrote this while he was a freshman at the University of Maine, and over eight years before CARRIE.

I liked the idea that the reader is thrust directly into the action without any background information. You are at 'The Walk' just before it begins, and you soon learn that the young men must maintain a four mile per hour pace or they will be shot. But, you don't know why or who made the rules.

On the other hand, at the end of the book you never really find out the 'how and why'.
Who was 'The Major', and how did he derive his power?

The book's link at wikipedia-

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Long_Walk

The brief descriptions of the walkers at the end of the wikipedia entry provide a good sketch of each young man, and that is pretty much all that the novel reveals about the characters.

King's descriptions of sexuality was a big tip-off that the writer of the novel was not very old or aware of 'the ways of the world'.

This is certainly not among King's best works and probably best appreciated only by his rabid fan base.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

THE MAN WHO FELL TO EARTH by Walter Tevis

Finished We 8/23/17 before the meeting of the Contemporary Book Club.

This was one of my ancient paperbacks- I'm going to discard the book.  My note on the flyleaf says that I bought the book at Book House, Rock Hill, Mo. on Fr 9/12/97 and I finished it that weekend. On that Sunday I drove my Pacific Coast motorcycle to Taylorville to see the film, 'Excess Baggage'. Last night I checked to see if I could get this movie, but it hasn't been released to Netflix.

From 'Fantasy and Science Fiction' about Tevis's life-

"Tevis was born February 28, 1928, in San Francisco. When he was ten, his family went off to live with the father's sister in Kentucky, leaving Walter, who had contracted rheumatic fever, behind in a hospital. He remained there, wholly alone, for a year before joining the family. He attended school, feeling always the outsider, in Kentucky, and, following service in World War II (two years as a carpenter's mate), went on to the University of Kentucky, where he earned his bachelor's and master's in English. He then embarked on a teaching career, first at various Kentucky high schools, later, from 1966 to 1978, at Ohio University.

Published to great acclaim in 1959, The Hustler became a film classic in 1961. The Man Who Fell to Earth, rejected by Harper's, was published as a paperback original by Gold Medal in 1963. In conversation with Daniel Keyes, Tevis claimed that this rejection led to his lengthy writing block; editor Pat LoBrutto, who worked with Tevis on Mockingbird and subsequent books, doesn't think Tevis made so much of it. At any rate, Tevis had become a confirmed drinker ("It's about my becoming an alcoholic. I sobered up to write it," he said of Man), and for the thirteen years he taught in Ohio, he wrote little or nothing.

Tevis also told Keyes that he'd always dreamed "of being a New York writer, of being in the center of the literary scene," and in 1978, three years after he quit drinking, Tevis moved to the city. Mockingbird came out in 1980, his story collection Far From Home the following year, both The Steps of the Sun and The Queen's Gambit in 1983. The Color of Money, a sequel to The Hustler written for quick money, also came out in these last years. Paul Newman bought the property, commissioning a screenplay from Tevis; for the 1986 film, however, both screenplay and novel were junked.

By his own admission, Tevis still had problems writing. He'd also begun confronting autobiographical materials more directly, in a kind of self-dredging that doesn't always imply salvage, and that can prove as wrenching to the reader as to writer. In stories of the period we often see Tevis peering out at us from within.

Whiskey had left him unable to answer the telephone or open the door, in Michigan. That had been two years ago. Whiskey had left him sitting behind closed suburban blinds at two in the afternoon, reading the J.C. Penny catalog and waiting for Gwen to come home from work. Well. He had been free of whiskey for a year and a half now. First the hospital, then A.A.; now New York and Janet.

He'd continue this transmutation of life in Mockingbird, his parable of coming out of alcoholism, and in The Steps of the Sun, whose early passages rehearse his own childhood of pain, illness, and alienation (and which is, overall, a parable of adolescence). The darkening cities and expended populations of the first, the impoverished, pre-ice age earth of the latter—these are the landscape of their author's own post-alcoholic mind: worlds to be retrieved, reconstructed, reinvented, reborn.

Though sales for Mockingbird were disappointing, in subsequent years the book has been much praised, taking its place alongside Man as a classic. Thus far Steps hasn't elicited as much attention as the others even though, as André- Francois Ruaud points out in a rare essay on Tevis for France's Bifrost magazine, it's among the most original and successful science fiction novels of the '80s. It is also Tevis' first wholly optimistic book. In its successor, The Queen's Gambit, he turned again from the fantastic to the realistic mode, offering in its stone-brilliant story of a driven, alcoholic female chess champion who achieves redemption (much as Mockingbird paired with Man) a positive retelling of The Hustler.

Walter Tevis died of cancer in 1984, the year after his last two, redemptive books were published, age 56. He had experienced, observed, brought to others and to himself great pain, terrible abjurations; his books gave it all up, took our hands to lead us through the backwash. And yet, like his protagonists, he had borne up under it all, survived, endured.

"It is very bad for people to find substitutes for living their lives," he said in what may have been his last interview, wondering if this might not be his abiding theme. Even if late in life, he said, he had found great joy in it: "I'm really pleased that the grass is green. I didn't used to be."

*     *     *
Through it all, out of it all, blows this dark, strangely comforting wind, this threnody of loss. It is, for many reasons, a small body of work, and one of rare unity.

Einstein remarked that in his life he'd had only one or two ideas. Many fine writers are like that, I believe, making a lifetime's agenda of drawing out the universe implicit in those ideas. So the strands that run and interweave in Tevis's work: alcoholism, the gamesman/artist (pool player, chess player) in whom ambition and wound pull like twin suns, the adolescent's eternal alienation, prisons of self and society, bleak futures, Christ figures, redemption.

Again and again Tevis mounted voyages to the alien, inhospitable planet of self, to bring back odd rocks, strange growths, colors not seen in our nature. Again and again he seized metaphors and wrung their necks, making them give up secrets others had not obtained, could not obtain. There he stood balanced, about to fall. He was, as Lethem writes, "a master manipulator of archetypes, an artist capable of delving into the zeitgeist while nevertheless remaining on his own pure search for himself." His work is unique, with that element of infinite rereadability Nabokov held the hallmark of great literature. Like his characters, though passed through perilous times, disregard and rejection, waking with the day-after, too-late taste of booze, stale smoke and failure upon them, Tevis's work will endure."

Thomas Newton is 'The Man Who Fell'. His home planet, Anthea, is completely devoid of resources, and he is sent to Earth to lay the groundwork for colonization of the planet. The Antheans are certain that Earth will destroy itself by nuclear war in just a few decades at most. The Antheans hope to emigrate a few key people to take over Earth's economic and political systems to avoid a holocaust. I guess the moral dilemma of the novel is should an alien force have the power to determine the fate of Earth, even if the outcome is positive.

The subtext of the novel demonstrates how an individual deals with alcoholism.

World Enterprises Corp- W.E. Corp

Thomas Jerome Newton

Nathan Bryce- Professor of chemical engineering that suspects that Newton is 'not of this earth'. He becomes a friend and confidant. Newton gives him a million dollars at the end of the novel.

Oliver Farnsworth- Newton's patent lawyer. Played by Buck Henry in the film.

Betty Jo Mosher- The alcoholic hillbilly from Kentucky who becomes Newton's maid/personal assistant. They're drinking partners and she turns him on to gin. She drinks it with three teaspoons of sugar.

Brinnarde- Newton's 'head of security'. This man is a government agent and leads to Newton's downfall.

Monday, August 21, 2017

THE THINGS WE KEEP (Love Never Forgets) by Sally Hipworth

Finished Su 8/20/17 The August 2017 selection for the Contemporary Book Club

(Today is the Great American Eclipse- Mo 21, 2017)

Two parallel stories basically set at Rosalind House, an assisted living facility.

Love story between Luke and Anna  Forster. She is only 38 and suffering for early onset Alzheimer's, and he has a condition where he will lose the facility to form words and communicate.

The story of Eve Bennett and her five year old daughter, Clementine. Her husband had been convicted or investment fraud and he committed suicide. Eve is a trained chef and takes a job as cook and cleaner at Rosalind and works there so that Clem can continue in her old elementary school.

Moral Dilemma- Should the lovers be left alone or should they be separated because neither one fully understands or appreciates their actions. Love Prevails.

NOTES-

Clar and Laurie- a southern couple of advanced age

Richard- husband of Eve and father of Clem

Eric- Corrupt manager of Rosalind. At the end of the novel he is replaced for 'cooking the books'.

Jack and Helen- Jack is Anna's twin brother and Helen is his wife. They have three boys and Anna was very close to Ethan. Jack is a lawyer and he has power of attorney over Anna. It was his decision that Anna should be committed.

Fondue Incident- Anna was making a melted cheese treat for Ethan. The pot began to burn, but Anna could not remember the way to the kitchen. Ethan was burned rather severely on the cheek. This made Anna realize that her time of independent living was over.

Aiden- The motorcycle riding ex-husband of Anna. She leaves this man as soon as she realizes that she has Alzheimer's. She felt that she was saving him from heartache, yet maybe not. This dilemma was not really developed, although this split led to the love affair between Anna and Luke.

Angus- The gardener at Rosalind and he becomes Eve's boyfriend. Disturbing to Clem- at first.

Sarah- Luke's sister. She is very much in favor of Anna and Luke's relationship. She believes that her husband is a good guy and had many women friends. He would never dream of taking advantage of a woman regardless of her mental capacity.

May- Turns one hundred; the oldest client at Rosalind

Bert- The old crank with the imaginary wife, Myrna. Bert befriends Clem and she learns to 'bring up' her dead father, but decides that she must 'let him go' and deal with people in the real world. Bert begins to understand this as well.

Gwen- A stocky old woman who has taken a shine to Bert. He rejects her because of his wife, but this relationship probably grows.

FACT-

Positive diagnosis of Alzheimer's can only be made at the autopsy.  Anna thinks that this is funny. What if they find out after she has died that she really didn't have the condition.

Depth perception is the first to go in the arch of Alzheimer's.

Enid is Clara's sister and she was originally with Laurie when they were teenagers. Clara feels that after all the decades of marriage, she has 'taken' Enid from Laurie. Clara is diagnosed with terminal breast cancer and wants to reunite the two. Laurie feels that Clara was and is the only love of his life.

The book was a kind of 'light read' and I liked the story. I wish there was more about Luke's mental situation. He is largely ignored.

From the author's page at wikipedia-

"Sally Hepworth is a writer based in Melbourne, Australia. She is the author of three books, most notably The Secrets of Midwives, a novel she published in 2015.[1] Hepworth and her works have been featured in media outlets that have included USA Today, The New York Times, and The Sydney Morning Herald."


"Hepworth worked in both event management and Human Resources prior to her career as a writer. While on maternity leave with her first child, Hepworth wrote Love Like the French, a novel about a British woman who goes to France after an accident leaves her husband in a coma. The character goes to France to see what the French could teach her about living. Hepworth was unable to finish the book immediately after her son Oscar was born, but the book was eventually published in Germany in 2014.

Hepworth released a second book, The Secrets of Midwives, that she wrote while pregnant with her second child. The book was released in 2015 and is a novel about three generations of midwives. Her research for the book came from her own questioning of midwives during check-ups and reading fiction and nonfiction books on the subject. KJ Dell'Antonia from The New York Times called it a "fast and fun read," with other reviews of the book coming by way of Publishers Weekly, The Sydney Morning Herald, and Kirkus Reviews.

Hepworth's third book, The Things We Keep, is scheduled for release in early 2016."


I saw a joke by Jerry Seinfeld about Alzheimer's on Youtube.
Comedian is hired to entertain at an Alzheimer's facility. He tells the same joke, over and over again, and brings down the house. At the end of the show, a man comes up to the comedian and asks, "How do you remember all that"?

Monday, August 14, 2017

DARKNESS TAKE MY HAND by Dennis Lehane

Finished Su 8/13/17 One of my old paperbacks that I bought at the West Branch on Sa 10/23/04 and finished it a few days later.

Several weeks ago I read Lehane's, A DRINK BEFORE THE WAR. In the book's' storyline, that novel happened before 'Darkness Take My Hand'.

What Happened In Darkness-

Patrick Kenzie and his partner, Angela Gennaro are targets and their old neighborhood in Boston becomes a 'killing zone'. A serial killer has been active for over twenty years without detection. A neighborhood watch group formed in 1977 took illegal action against a couple of killers who dressed as clowns. Patrick's evil father burned one of the men (roasted him alive!) while others in the group tortured the two men. This secret is at the heart of the novel.

Gerry Glynn was a local policeman (now owner of The Black Emerald- a 'cop bar') witnessed the killing by the group. He promised not to tell and beneath a sunny disposition Gerry becomes a monster- killing and dismembering for decades, and he has a few very evil helpers.

From the book's page at amazon-

"Patrick Kenzie and Angela Gennaro’s latest client is a prominent Boston psychiatrist, running scared from a vengeful Irish mob. The private investigators know about cold-blooded retribution. Born and bred on the mean streets of blue-collar Dorchester, they’ve seen the darkness that lives in the hearts of the unfortunate.

But an evil for which even they are unprepared is about to strike, as secrets that have long lain dormant erupt, setting off a chain of violent murders that will stain everything – including the truth.

With razor-sharp dialogue and penetrating prose, Darkness, Take My Hand is another superior crime novel from the author of Mystic River; Gone, Baby, Gone; and Shutter Island."

Kevin Hurlihy is a particularly vicious character and although he is not involved in the serial killings, he's a vile enforcer for the Boston Mob. He was once a childhood friend of Patrick and Angela.

And, of course, there's Bubba, Patrick's trenchcoat wearing, arms dealer. Forever loyal, yet as dangerous as a viper.

The title is from a letter that was sent to Patrick. One of the serial killers had gouged out the eyes of his victim. The eyes and this letter were left at Patrick's apartment. The killer admits that he has been to Hell and that 'Darkness has taken his hand'.

Anything by Dennis Lehane is well worth a look- the writing, characters, and plotting are always rewarding and enjoyable.

Friday, August 11, 2017

MAKE ROOM! MAKE ROOM! by Harry Harrison

Finished Mo 8/7/17- an Ebook from the library (Hoopla)

I was surprised to see that this book was still in print. I watched the movie, SOYLENT GREEN, last weekend and learned that it was taken from this novel. I couldn't believe that a paper copy was not available, but it was on Hoopla.

The film's Bonus Features included commentary by the director and he said that the 'cannibalism' was not in the book. I thought that this would be like making a movie of MOBY DICK without the whale.

The book (1966) and the film are radically different and they only share the setting and the two main characters, Andy and Sol.

The book is really an extrapolation of Malthusian Theory and a speech made by Dwight Eisenhower.

"A Malthusian growth model, sometimes called a simple exponential growth model, is essentially exponential growth based on a constant rate. The model is named after Thomas Robert Malthus, who wrote An Essay on the Principle of Population (1798), one of the earliest and most influential books on population."

From a presidential news conference by Dwight D. Eisenhower- December 2, 1959

"This thing has for very great denominations a religious meaning, definite religious tenet in their own doctrine. I have no quarrel with them; as a matter of fact this being largely the Catholic Church, they are one of the groups that I admire and respect. But this has nothing to do with governmental contact with other governments. We do not intend to interfere with the internal affairs of any other government, and if they want to do something about what is admittedly a very difficult question, almost an explosive question, that is their business. If they want to go to someone for help, they will go unquestionably to professional groups, not to governments. This Government has no, and will not as long as I am here have a positive political doctrine in its program that has to do with this problem of birth control. That's not our business."

In the book Sol blames the government for not doing anything about the extreme overpopulation. He attends a violent demonstration in Manhattan and breaks his hip. This leads to his death.

From the book's page at amazon-

"The world is crowded. Far too crowded. Its starving billions live on lentils, soya beans, and —if they’re lucky—the odd starving rat.

In a New York City groaning under the burden of 35 million inhabitants, detective Andy Rusch is engaged in a desperate and lonely hunt for a killer everyone has forgotten. For even in a world such as this, a policeman can find himself utterly alone….

Acclaimed on its original publication in 1966, Make Room! Make Room! was adapted into the 1973 movie Soylent Green."


The book is a straight forward 'A to B' presentation- no twists and no surprises. However, for some reason the Ebook is divided into two sections with thirteen chapters each. When I was in section #1, chapter 3, I mistakenly skipped to section #2, chapter 4. After many more chapters read out of order, I went back and reread. The timeline is actually late spring to winter, and since there's not really any extreme character deviations or unusual plot twists, it was pretty easy to follow.

Another idea from the film that's not in the book is 'furniture'. In the rich people's apartments women were assigned to the rooms and could be used as concubines or prostitutes. The women didn't mind- this was part of the job description. And, the movie hinges on the discovery that 'Soylent Green is people'. The film has to be one of the biggest departures from a written work to the silver screen, although I felt that both the novel and the movie were worth a look.

Edward G. Robinson's last film. He was almost completely deaf while shooting the film.

Charlton Heston and Chuck Connors, two prominent Republicans, together in the same film!

Saturday, August 5, 2017

THE WHISTLER by John Grisham

Finished Fr 8/4/17

I got this from the library on Kindle, and I was surprised that it was available- it's his latest novel.

The title refers to a 'whistle blower'. The plot involves a 'mole' within a corrupt Florida judge's office. (Much later in the book it's revealed that the 'insider' is the judge's court reporter- JoEllen) The judge is working for the 'coastal mafia'/ 'catfish mafia'. The bulk of their loot is skimmed from an Indian casino, but they also own all kinds of businesses- hotels, shopping centers, and other legitimate enterprises. The tribal leaders are in on the scam.

Because of the 'legal' casino, life on the reservation is very good. Each member of the tribe receives $5,000 a month as their cut of the casino's profits. Since state and federal laws don't really apply on the reservation I wonder why more businesses are not on Indian lands. Wouldn't a Walmart or a McDonald's get the same tax breaks and perks as a casino? If this were so, then Indian reservations would not be the rural ghettos that they seem to be. That's one big question that I'd have fro the author.

The novel takes a very straight 'A to B' approach. There are NO surprises or twists- straight from indictment to capture and confinement.

Two officers in the Florida Board On Judicial Conduct are called by a disbarred/ex felon lawyer, Ramsey Mix- Greg Meyers. Meyers is running from the mob and lives on a boat with his girlfriend, Carlitta- no permanent address.

He wants to expose the corruption and he will be compensated under Florida's Whistle Blowing law. I wish this had been more developed. Apparently, if you are a state worker in Florida you are automatically shielded from any retribution if you go public with possible wrongdoings. In the Trump Era the 'leakers' or 'whistleblowers' are anathema.

Lacy Stoltz and Hugo Hatch are the two agents who first go after the judge. The murder of Hugo is perhaps the only unexpected  event in the book. They are lured to a deserted area of the reservation to obtain information about the case. Hugo's air-bag and seat belt have been rendered inoperable and Lacy and Hugo vehicle is hit head on by a large pickup truck. Hugo goes through the windshield and is killed. Lacy is badly injured. The killers recover Lacy and Hugo's phones and laptops.

Judge Claudia Mc Dover and her lover, Phyllis Turban, have been taking money from the mob's skimming operation for years. They have condos and houses all over the world, they fly by private jet, and have millions in jewels and expensive art.

From the book's page at Amazon-

"We expect our judges to be honest and wise. Their integrity and impartiality are the bedrock of the entire judicial system. We trust them to ensure fair trials, to protect the rights of all litigants, to punish those who do wrong, and to oversee the orderly and efficient flow of justice.
     But what happens when a judge bends the law or takes a bribe? It’s rare, but it happens.
     Lacy Stoltz is an investigator for the Florida Board on Judicial Conduct. She is a lawyer, not a cop, and it is her job to respond to complaints dealing with judicial misconduct. After nine years with the Board, she knows that most problems are caused by incompetence, not corruption.
     But a corruption case eventually crosses her desk. A previously disbarred lawyer is back in business with a new identity. He now goes by the name Greg Myers, and he claims to know of a Florida judge who has stolen more money than all other crooked judges combined. And not just crooked judges in Florida. All judges, from all states, and throughout U.S. history.
     What’s the source of the ill-gotten gains? It seems the judge was secretly involved with the construction of a large casino on Native American land. The Coast Mafia financed the casino and is now helping itself to a sizable skim of each month’s cash. The judge is getting a cut and looking the other way. It’s a sweet deal: Everyone is making money.
     But now Greg wants to put a stop to it. His only client is a person who knows the truth and wants to blow the whistle and collect millions under Florida law. Greg files a complaint with the Board on Judicial Conduct, and the case is assigned to Lacy Stoltz, who immediately suspects that this one could be dangerous.
     Dangerous is one thing. Deadly is something else."

Although I liked the book, it came off as a little flat- especially so soon after reading a Harlan Coben novel. But, everybody likes a Grisham because they're all page turners even though this novel doesn't offer 100% satisfaction.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

PROMISE ME by Harlan Coben

Part of the Myron Bolitar series

Finished Tu 8/1/17 while waiting to see if I would be needed on jury duty. I was not.

The title refers to a conversation that Myron heard between two teenaged girls. They were talking about taking a ride from someone who had been drinking or on drugs. Myron has them promise that if they ever found themselves in that situation, they were to call him, no questions asked.

The novel is basically about two young girls who are missing. Were they kidnapped or did they simply run away? Since they are both eighteen, the law is less than interested, but Myron is close to one of the girl's mother.

The single biggest connection between the two cases is that both girls withdrew money from the same ITM in NYC the night of their disappearance.

The Big Twist (and this was so convoluted, I don't think anyone could possibly guess it)
-Dr. Edna Skylar Did It!  In the opening scene of the novel this doctor sees one of the missing girls on a busy NYC street. Dr. Skylar is an OBGYN who has kind of a hobby of facial recognition. She recognizes the girl from 'missing' posters, but the girl tells her that she's OK, and don't tell anyone that she has seen her.

-This girl is pregnant by Dr. Skylar's wayward son. This young man is a failed rock musician who teaches at the girl's school and had an affair with the missing girl. Skylar wants the baby- this is why she orchestrated this dizzy plan.

Twenty pages from the end, the reader is left with the feeling that the girl had actually killed the baby's father, and her parents were involved in a cover-up. But, Myron digs deeper and confronts the real perpetrator.  The other missing girl actually did run away. She fell in with a pimp and felt that she loved this man. Both girls were pregnant. In the end, both girls return home.

Recurring Characters from the series-

Win- Myron's friend from college. This man is a trained assassin, yet he is a certified member of the exclusive 'one percent'.

Esperanza- This woman works for Myron in his office. She is an ex-pro wrestler that went under the name, Pocahontas.

Big Cyndi- This is a 300 pound transvestite that wa Esperanza's partner in the ring. She works various jobs for Myron's office.

Myron Bolitar is a basketball star that never really made it. He was a smash hit in high school and college, but he was injured only a few games into his college career. He decided to open an agency that represented sports players. Now the office has grown, and he represents almost anyone who needs his service or anyone rich and famous.

The novel is meant to be slightly funny. It reminds me of Donald Westlake in his funny stuff. Example, DROWNED HOPES.

This is an easy read and I could have read it in just a couple of days, but other books intruded. I bought the book for a buck at this year's library book sale.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

THE LOST GET-BACK BOOGIE by James Lee Burke

Finished We 7/26/17, in fact I finished this Ebook at the library right before the Contemporary Book Club Meeting for THE CONVICTIONS OF JOHN DELAHUNT.

This is an early novel by Burke and I read that it was rejected one hundred and eleven times before it was finally published, and it later was nominated for a Pulitzer prize.

The book is set in 1962 in New Iberia, LA, Louisiana's Angola State Penitentiary, and Missoula, Montana.

Iry Paret is the main character and the title refers to a song that Iry is trying to write. He is an accomplished C&W musician on the guitar and dobro.

The dobro is a way of acoustically making a stringed instrument louder. A metal cone is attached to the body to amplify the sound.

From the book's page at Amazon-

"Iry Paret's done his time -- two years for manslaughter in Louisiana's Angola State Penitentiary.  A man in a bar attacked their lead singer, knocked him out, and then grabbed Iry. Iry had a knife and stabbed the man through the heart. Now the war vet and blues singer is headed to Montana, where he hopes to live clean working on a ranch owned by the father of his prison pal, Buddy Riordan. In prison, Iry tinkered with a song -- "The Lost Get-Back Boogie" -- that never came out quite right. Now, the Riordan family's problems hand him a new kind of trouble, with some tragic consequences. And Iry must get the tune right at last, or pay a fateful price."

When Iry is paroled he decides to leave Louisiana and relocated to Montana. When he was in prison he met Buddy Riordan who played piano in the prison jazz band.

Frank Riordan, Buddy's father, has turned the whole town against the family. Frank wants to shut down the local factories (pulp mills) for environmental reasons, and this will cause several hundred people their jobs.

Buddy is separated from Beth, yet Iry has an affair with her. After Buddy dies (he runs his pickup truck off the road, the truck catches fire, and the ammunition that he was carrying explodes. He was looking for the men that destroyed his father's aviary) he marries Beth and they buy some land and raise Buddy's two young boys in Montana.

The descriptions are beautiful and the characters are well drawn. I would read a grocery list written by James Lee Burke. However, due to the violence of the characters I thought the ending was just a bit too upbeat- it bordered on the 'happily ever after'. But, I certainly wish Iry all the best!

Monday, July 24, 2017

THE ROSIE EFFECT by Graeme Simsion

Finished Su 7/24/17

Janny loaned me this book in hardback because we both loved the first book so much. I think she picked this novel up at a garage sale.

I started this book a few weeks ago, but I got caught up in other novels. On Sunday I finished half of it in a three hour push- well worth the effort.

From Amazon-
" The highly anticipated sequel to the New York Times bestselling novel The Rosie Project, starring the same extraordinary couple now living in New York and unexpectedly expecting their first child. Get ready to fall in love all over again.

Don Tillman and Rosie Jarman are back. The Wife Project is complete, and Don and Rosie are happily married and living in New York. But they’re about to face a new challenge because—surprise!—Rosie is pregnant.

Don sets about learning the protocols of becoming a father, but his unusual research style gets him into trouble with the law. Fortunately his best friend Gene is on hand to offer advice: he’s left Claudia and moved in with Don and Rosie.

As Don tries to schedule time for pregnancy research, getting Gene and Claudia to reconcile, servicing the industrial refrigeration unit that occupies half his apartment (owned by George, a drummer in a famous seventies rock band, helping Dave the Baseball Fan save his business, and staying on the right side of Lydia the social worker, he almost misses the biggest problem of all: he might lose Rosie when she needs him the most. "


Bud- 'baby under development'

Hud- 'human under development'

Graeme C. Simsion FACS is an Australian author, screenwriter, playwright and data modeller.

I was surprised to learn that the author wrote the first novel, his first, when he was fifty. But, not surprised that his wife is a psychologist, professor, and also a writer of both fiction and non-fiction.


THE CONVICTIONS OF JOHN DELAHUNT by Andrew Hughes

Finished Sa 7/22/17  July 2017 selection the Contemporary Book Club

I bought this in hard-cover from Amazon.

An amazing book based on a true incident. The author uncovered the story while researching a non-fiction book that he was writing.

I had a lot of fun using Google Maps to check out the various places mentioned in the book.

Fitzwilliams Square

Mountjoy Square

Kilmainham Goal

Pembroke Road

Characters-

Tom Sibthorpe
Devereaux
John Delahunt
The Captain Craddock Trial
Angelo and Domenico
Arthur and Helen Stokes
Thomas Mcguire

From The True Crime Library- https://www.truecrimelibrary.com/crimearticle/john-delahunt/

John Delahunt

“I asked the little boy if he had any lumps in his throat and he raised up his head to let me feel more easily. While he was in that position I cut his throat and threw him from me. My desire was not to take away a life, but merely to blame someone else so that I could claim the reward.”

Thus did 20-year-old John Delahunt justify his brutal murder of nine-year-old Thomas Maguire in a lane off Pembroke Road, Dublin, on December 20th, 1841. He had planned the killing for two months, he said, and chose little Thomas as his victim, rather than an adult, “because he was small and weak.”

According to his story, the boy did not cry out. “When I had walked about three yards away from him I looked back and saw him on his feet again, going in the direction of a cottage in the field.” Seconds later the boy fell, dying in the lane.

Delahunt, who was known to be a spy in the pay of the British Government in Ireland, duly went to the police, reported that he had seen the murder, and described the killer – a woman. The description he gave exactly fitted the boy’s mother. Fortunately for her and unfortunately for Delahunt, she had a cast-iron alibi – she was in hospital.

The police knew Delahunt of old. In the previous July he gave perjured evidence against a man on trial for the murder of a little Italian boy, in the hope, he later said, that he would receive the reward offered for the boy’s killer. The man was acquitted. That wasn’t the first time, either, that Delahunt had given evidence for the Crown, which was so unreliable that it resulted in acquittals.

He was swiftly arrested for the murder of Thomas Maguire and just as swiftly disowned by his British paymasters in Dublin Castle. Tried and convicted by the Dublin city commission, he was hanged on Saturday, February 5th, 1842, outside Kilmainham Prison before a crowd estimated at 20,000."

The book at amazon-

https://www.amazon.com/Convictions-John-Delahunt-Novel/dp/1605987948

Sunday, July 23, 2017

THE SECOND LIFE OF NICK MASON by Steve Hunter

Finished Fr 7/21/17

I first learned of this novel listening to an interview with the author on NPR and I got it as an Ebook from the library. I didn't realized that I had the latest book in the Nick Mason series until I finished the book. Usually anything that's featured on NPR takes weeks to get- I waited months for HILLBILLY ELEGY.

Nick Mason is a career criminal from Chicago's southwest side- 'Canaryville' near Bridgeport, the home of Richard Daily and where the TV series SHAMELESS is filmed.

Nick is asked in on 'one big final score'. They are to remove pads and upholstering from a charter vessel and take them to Detroit. However, it's all a ruse and the stuff is full of cocaine. The whole thing was set up as a sting by SIS (Special Investigations Section). This is an elite Chicago police task force that's totally corrupt.

The novel begins when Nick is in prison in Terre Haute, IN, and he is called in for a visit by Darius Cole. This man is the overlord of criminal operations on the southside of Chicago.
Nick is doing 25 to life with no chance of parole until he's done 20 years, but Cole says that he can get him out, but he must 'give the next twenty years to Darius Cole'.

Nick becomes Cole's 'Samurai Warrior' on the outside. His handler is a man called Quinteros (keen-tay-ros) who gives Nick a phone and he must answer at once and do what is asked- no questions or excuses.

Nick commits several fantastic murders, meets beautiful women, drives classic black muscle cars, and lives in an exotic condominium in Park West across from Lincoln Park on Chicago's northside waterfront.

I loved the book, in fact, I just about devoured it! Fast paced with well defined characters and it's a genre book, but heads and shoulders above most of the competition.

The book at amazon-

 https://www.amazon.com/Second-Life-Nick-Mason-Novel/dp/0399574328

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

WEAPONS OF MASS DECEPTION by Shelden Rampton & John Stauber

"The Uses of Propaganda in Bush's War on Iraq"

This is one of my trade-sized paperbacks that I first finished on Thanksgiving Day, Th 11/27/03, and this was a 'bathroom read' from Mo 6/27/17 through Mo 7/17/17.

 "Information warriors and perception managers" - This was my favorite phrase in the book! It all comes back to this. There is no search for Truth, but only how it can be subjectively portrayed.

An observation on the comments page at amazon-

"The facts and observations in this book paint a chilling picture of a Whitehouse that functions almost exclusively as the propaganda wing of the exclusive Carlyle Group by manufacturing public opinion, manufacturing a state of endless war (thus creating a market for the Carlyle Group's principle product: arms) and making legal and acceptable activities that would otherwise be unthinkable.
This book helps cut through the rhetoric and makes it clear that we are no longer in a situation that can be defined as Republicans vs. Democrats, or Conservative vs. Liberal values. What is made clear is that the highest offices in our country have been hijacked by criminals, ideological extremists and terrorists. It's a shame that most Republicans will dismiss this as so much "liberal propaganda"; it's their party that's been hijacked and if they ever face the truth, I suspect they'll be mighty cheesed off."


Office of Strategic Influence was headed by General Simon P. Worden

https://www.google.com/search?q=General+Simon+P.+Worden+office+of+stategic+influence&rlz=1C1GGRV_enUS751US751&oq=General+Simon+P.+Worden+office+of+stategic+influence&aqs=chrome..69i57.8439j0j4&sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8#q=General+Simon+P.+Worden+office+of+strategic+influence

Center For Media and Democracy- this is a watchdog group of progressives out of Madison, Wisconsin.

Carlyle Group- financial services, leveraged buyouts, multinational private equity. George Bush Sr. was a leader of this group.

After reading this book it is impossible to fully believe in almost anything. There are so many 'influence peddling' groups that are designed to distort reality that I think the average citizen can never really be informed.

From the book's page on amazon-

"Weapons of Mass Deception reveals:
How the Iraq war was sold to the American public through professional P.R. strategies.
"The First Casualty": Lies that were told related to the Iraq war.
Euphemisms and jargon related to the Iraq war, e.g. "shock and awe," "Operation Iraqi Freedom," "axis of evil," "coalition of the willing," etc.
"War as Opportunity": How the war on terrorism and the war on Iraq have been used as marketing hooks to sell products and policies that have nothing to do with fighting terrorism.
"Brand America": The efforts of Charlotte Beers and other U.S. propaganda campaigns designed to win hearts overseas.
"The Mass Media as Propaganda Vehicle": How news coverage followed Washington's lead and language.
The book includes a glossary — "Propaganda: A User's Guide" — and resources to help Americans sort through the deceptions to see the strings behind Washington's campaign to sell the Iraq war to the public."

Monday, July 17, 2017

THE PARABLE OF THE SOWER by Octavia E. Butler

Finished Su 7/16/17

I got this novel from the library on Kindle. Last week I heard on NPR a piece on Butler and they said that she had died 'in a fall at her home in Forest Park, Washington. I was familiar with her writing, but I thought the manner of death rather odd. Similar to William Holden? I checked this out, and learned that what happened was a stroke and then a fall.

The library has most of her novels, yet few on Ebooks. This book is the first of the Earthseed Trilogy and was released in 1994.

The first third of the book takes place in a community of poor families near Los Angeles in 2023. The government is no longer in control and marauding bands of violent crazies prey upon the citizens.
Some take a drug called 'Ro' that makes them insane and prone to light fires (from 'Pyromania').

After a few years Lauren Olamina's enclave is invaded, and she and some followers begin a trek toward the Canadian border. The story is told by Lauren and each chapter begins with a quote or poem from Earthseed. This is a religion that she is developing.

Hyperempathy Syndrome

Keith Olamina is Lauren's brother and he is a hoodlum. He leaves the community to work with the criminals on the outside. They use him because he can read and write- they are illiterate. Keith gives some of the money that he earns to his mother, but soon he is brutally murdered- skinned alive.

Curtis Talcot is Lauren's boyfriend. He is lost on the night of the attack on the community.

Harry and Zahra are the two people that follow Lauren from her community.
Travis and Nativida are a couple that soon join Lauren.

Bankole is an older man that joins the group. Lauren is romantically involved with this black man. He has property in northern California that becomes their destination. His sister and her family have a working farm, but when the group arrives the farm has been invaded and there are no survivors.

Jill and Allie Gilchrist are two sisters that join the group.

From the book's page at amazon-

"By 2025, global warming, pollution, racial and ethnic tensions and other ills have precipitated a worldwide decline. In the Los Angeles area, small beleaguered communities of the still-employed hide behind makeshift walls from hordes of desperate homeless scavengers and violent pyromaniac addicts known as "paints" who, with water and work growing scarcer, have become increasingly aggressive. Lauren Olamina, a young black woman, flees when the paints overrun her community, heading north with thousands of other refugees seeking a better life. Lauren suffers from 'hyperempathy," a genetic condition that causes her to experience the pain of others as viscerally as her own--a heavy liability in this future world of cruelty and hunger. But she dreams of a better world, and with her philosophy/religion, Earthseed, she hopes to found an enclave which will weather the tough times and which may one day help carry humans to the stars. Butler tells her story with unusual warmth, sensitivity, honesty and grace; though science fiction readers will recognize this future Earth, Lauren Olamina and her vision make this novel stand out like a tree amid saplings."

I liked the book and will try to get the next book in the series. It kind of reminded me of THE STAND by Stephen King- another sprawling Road Book.

The book at wikipedia-

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parable_of_the_Sower_(novel)

Thursday, July 13, 2017

THE JEALOUS KIND by James Lee Burke

Finished We 7/12/17
This was an Ebook that I read via Axis 360. Not much of Burke's catalog is available electronically, but his latest book is.

The description and writing is great, yet the plot was a bit confusing.

Taken from the book's page at amazon-

"On its surface, life in Houston in the 1950s is as you’d expect: stoic fathers, restless teens, drive-in movies, and souped-up Cadillacs. But underneath lies a world shifting under high school junior Aaron Holland Broussard’s feet. There’s a class war between the “haves” and the “have-nots” as well as a real war, Korea, happening on the other side of the world. It is against this backdrop that Aaron comes of age, trying to understand how first loves, friendship, violence, and power can alter what “traditional America” means for the people trying to find their way in a changing world.

When Aaron spots the beautiful Valerie Epstein fighting with her boyfriend, Grady Harrelson, at a drive-in, he steps in. Aaron and Valerie begin dating, but Grady presents a looming problem—as does Grady’s father, who has troubling criminal connections. In the middle of it all is Aaron, who seemingly takes care of one threat, only to see multiple ones manifest in its stead.

In The Jealous Kind, “modern master” (Publishers Weekly) James Lee Burke creates a singular, bittersweet experience that mirrors a larger world on the precipice of great change. As Aaron undergoes his harrowing evolution from boy to man, we can’t help but recall the inspirational power of first love and how far we would go to protect the world we know."

This is part of the Holland Series, and I much prefer Dave Robicheaux Saga. It's only 'Holland in name only' because it isn't necessary to be familiar with the other novels in the series.

I really liked the character of Saber Bledsoe. This character is clearly an homage to Clete Purcel who has a very similar relationship to Dave Robicheaux.

Loren Nichols is also an interesting character. He starts as punk and evolves into a sympathetic person. Although Aaron plays guitar throughout the book, Loren becomes the professional musician.

Valerie Epstein is almost too good to be true. She's leftist leaning with a father that worked in the OSS during WWII. I wish the father's part was bigger.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

A DRINK BEFORE THE WAR by Dennis Lehane

This is one of my paperbacks that I bought at the west branch back in April of 2008. I read and finished it the first time in July, 2008.

This novel was released in 1994 and is the first in the Patrick Angie Gennaro Detective Series.

The book is set in Boston- mainly Dorchester. Pat is the son of a famous fireman. This man physically (he burned Patrick on the stomach with an iron to teach him that a kitchen fire could be deadly) abused Pat and he is a damaged individual because of this. Angie is married to Phil. All three of them were friends growing up, but now Phil physically abuses Angie and Pat is in love with her. These dynamics play a large role in all the books of the series.

Pat and Angie's office is located in a bell tower of a catholic church.

This novel concerns the theft of property from a politician by a cleaning woman. This woman is married to one of the biggest gang leaders of the city, and his son is the leader of the other biggest gang.
Socia- elder gang leader
Roland- his son
Jenna- Mother of Roland and wife of Socia. She is brutally shot down and murdered near the Boston Commons. Patrick shots the shooter and this is photographed and makes him famous.

Patrick discovers that the 'property' is actually photographs of a prominent and powerful politician having sex with a young boy. The boy is the gang leader and his father,  the other gang leader, is the pimp.  If this information would be made public, all three men would lose everything.

Patrick and Angie shot and kill Roland. The premise is that some people can change and some can't. Either they change or you kill them- no compromise can exist.

I have never read a book where the title is so clever and the scene in which it occurs is unforgettable. Devin, head of a police gang unit, invites Pat and Angie for a drink in a white bar in a black neighborhood. 'The War' is the inevitable gang-war between Socia and Roland's gangs.

Angie, Pat, and Devin, an officer in a police gang unit, meet in a bar. There is a customer standing on the bar in front of the TV watching a football game and  counting the number of black players on the Notre Dame football team. He refers to them as 'niggers'. When the tirate ends, Devin calls him over and sucker-punches him in the face and breaks his nose, and says, "A nigger friend of mine asked me to give you that. He knew you'd understand". Although Devin is a complete alcoholic, he is an excellent cop and does have a black partner.

Anything by Lehane is worth a look, and I found another book that's part of the series in my collection and I play to get to it soon.

Friday, July 7, 2017

CELESTIAL NAVIGATION by Anne Tyler

Finished We 7/5/17 One of my trade paperbacks and part of a trilogy also containing THE CLOCK WINDER and SEARCHING FOR CALEB.

I loved CELESTIAL NAVIGATION. It's a haunting, and slightly depressing tale of life in a Baltimore boarding house from the early 1960's to the mid 70's based around the Pauling family.

It begins when Jeremy Pauling's mother dies, and his two sisters, Amanda and Laura, visit to see how he is coping. Jeremy is agoraphobic, probably somewhere on the autistic scale, and artistically inclined. He had been living with his mother almost as husband and wife, and they spent there days drinking cocoa and watching TV, only leaving the house when absolutely necessary.

Rooms are rented out to pay living expenses. A few older people and one medical student attending Johns Hopkins live in this row house in a declining section of the city of Baltimore.

Mary Tell and her daughter, Darcey move in. Mary has left her husband, Guy, to be with John Harris. Guy hates marry and will not give her a divorce and John is still married, and later his wife moves back in with him, yet he continues the affair with Mary. Mary is just as 'stuck' as Jeremy.

Jeremy falls in love with Mary and pledges his undying love. Mary is flabergasted and had no thoughts of romance, or even friendship, with Jeremy. However, I think that she continues with her flawed thinking- 'A' man is better than 'No' Man. Although they do not marry, she has five more children with Jeremy.

Jeremy started making two dimensional sketches, but branches out to textured works, and then sculptures. He uses bits and pieces of things lying around in the house.

Mildred Vinton is a woman who has lived in the house since Jeremy's mother was alive. This woman is from a large family and stayed on and watched over her mother as she was dying. Mildred loves the idea of 'privacy'. She only wants to be left alone so that she can finish a book with absolutely no distractions. She has found her true 'home' at the Pauling's townhouse.

Mildred is adept at 'reading' the people in the house, especially the relationship between Jeremy and Mary.
Mary has taken the children with her to live in a summer cabin owned by Jeremy's gallery owner, Brian O'donnell.  Mary is finally free to mary Jeremy, but he is too distracted to fulfill her only true wish. Although, Mary is also 'free' to live her life outside of the undo influence of any other person, and she is thrilled with her independence. We don't really know the exact nature of their relationship at the end of the novel, but I think that both have more or less accepted the shortcomings of each other, and they continue to have some sort of nurturing relationship.

In an unbelievably heroic act (for Jeremy), he takes a bus across the city to visit his family at the cabin. To anyone else, it would be almost nothing, but Jeremy's life has been severely limited by his agoraphobia and this is a monumental achievement.

In the end, Mildred Vinton and Jeremy live in the house almost identically to the way that Jeremy lived with his mother at the beginning of the novel.

While researching the novel (I wanted to decide which of the trilogy to start) I learned that many of Tyler's books are set in the Baltimore area of Roland Park. This was the first 'planned community' or suburban development designed to follow the street car lines (1890). This section of Baltimore South-West of Towson is also where the first shopping center was built.

The book's page at wikipedia-

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Celestial_Navigation_(novel)

Monday, July 3, 2017

THE NEON RAIN by James Lee Burke (1st Dave Robicheaux series)

Finished Su 7/2/17

This is a trade paperback that I borrowed from the library at the Contemporary Books Club meeting last Wednesday evening.

Dave is single and working as a detective for the New Orleans Police. His partner is Clete Purcell and he lives on a houseboat. He's an alcoholic and working the twelve steps.

The novel opens as Dave visits a man about to executed. Dave helped this man with his alcoholism and the man has heard that there is a hit out on Dave. Later, while fishing in the Bayou he finds the body of a young black woman. She's an overdose victim, Dave thinks it murder, and the authorities do nothing. These two incidents kick off the action.

Crooked cops try to kidnap Dave and he gets the better of them. Annie, his future wife, drives by and they escape in her car. She is a social worker from Kansas, and it's later revealed that she has lost a baby while pregnant- seven months.She was saving her grandfather who was working the farm during a bad storm. A farm implement had fallen on him.

Three men invade and capture Dave and Annie while at Annie's apartment. They escape but Annie is assaulted by one of the men. Later, Clete kills that man for a ten thousand dollar pay off from the mob. He's now a crooked cop and at the end of the novel he leaves for Central America. He leaves a note saying that his wife can keep his toothbrush, and he didn't even bother to shut the doors of his car when he abandons it at the airport. Dave learns in a letter from Clete that he's working for the paramilitary (Contras) and says that they are all kids and anyone with a case of Clearasil could rule.

We meet Dave's half brother, Jimmie;  "Gentleman Jimmie". He owns a successful restaurant in New Orleans and he's a very popular 'give to get along kind of guy'. He entertains mobsters, but he is an ethical man.

Didi Gee (Dee Dee Giancano) is a three hundred pound gangster mafia leader who puts a hit on Jimmie. The government is going to shut down Gee's enterprise and they are going to subpoena Jimmie and Didi knows that Jimmie won't lie, so he's gotta go. The hit is staged so that Didi has an alibi because he has invited Dave to his restaurant for a meal- Dave is with the mobster at the time of the hit..
Later Dave attacks this man at his restaurant with a canvas bag filled with heavy metal objects.

The other villains are federal authorities who are working against the Sandinistas. A high ranking officer (retired general) is involved because of guilt over his son's involvement at My Lai- the area was known as 'Pinkville' by the American troops.

Dave is cleared of all charges as he was on unpaid leave for most of the novel, but he resigns from the NOPO and moves to New Iberia, where he grew up.


This is Burke's sixth novel, but the first of the Robicheaux series, and I can't wait to re-read the second in the series. They're all great!

From Library Journal at the book's page at amazon-

"New Orleans homicide cop Dave Robicheaux has a passion for fishing. While pursuing his hobby on a back country bayou, Robicheaux finds a body. His discovery pulls him into a network of small-time Mafiosi, Nicaraguan drug dealers, federal Treasury agents and retired two-star generals all involved in a plot to ship arms to the Nicaraguan contras. More interesting than the unraveling of this plot is Robicheaux himself Cajun, recovering alcoholic, practicing Catholic And his efforts to preserve his integrity in the face of provocation. Better still are Burke's evocative descriptions of New Orleans life both high and low. (The book is marred slightly by a resemblance to the Travis McGee series Robicheaux lives on a houseboat and has a penchant for color-laden metaphor. But Neon Rain is a well-crafted novel with a likable hero)"

- I don't know if I would agree with this observation. Travis is not as 'rough and tumble' as Dave. Dave's always on edge due to his alcoholism, and although Travis is no teetotaler, his drinking is not even in the same league as Dave's. Even when he is not drinking, Dave's evil, drunken angel is always just below the surface).

The morning after I finished the book, Mo 7/3/17, I checked the library website to see if HEAVEN'S PRISONERS, the second novel, was available in Ebook form. But, I found that it was available  to watch on Hoopla. I checked it out and watched it on the living room PC. I'm going to take advantage of this excellent library feature.

Saturday, July 1, 2017

BLACK CHERRY BLUES by James Lee Burke

Finished Fr 6/30/17 This is the third in the Dave Robicheaux series.
I borrowed this from the library as an Ebook- Axis 360

Most of the novel is set near Missoula, Montana.

Dixie Lee Pugh is a washed up Country/Blues musician that knew Dave when they were in college. He comes back into Dave's life struggling with his alcoholism and tells Dave that he heard two mean that he worked with admit to the murder of two men.

Dave reluctantly becomes involved. Dave confronts the two men at their motel and beats them very bloody with a length of chain. The stronger of the two men kills the other with a knife because he knows that Dave will take the heat for this murder.

This man and his partner work for a land leasing outfit that are buying land in Montana. They want to turn it into the new Lake Tahoe and they also want the natural minerals (gas, oil, whatever).

These two men kill two Indians in the AIM movement who didn't want the land leasers on their land.

While on bond, Dave and Alafair travel to Montana to try to find evidence that Dave didn't kill the land lease guy.

In Montana Dave runs into a low level mafia boss who runs the area. Mayhem ensues.

In the end of the novel Dave locates the bodies of the two men due to a dream. His new Indian girlfriend was murdered and she comes to him in the dream and tells him that the bodies are buried near a spring that would have allowed to bury the men even though the ground would have been frozen solid.

Dave, Alafair and Dixie Lee share a house in Montana. Dixie promises not to drink and he watches Alafair while Dave looks for answers.

Dave's old partner from the New Orleans Police Department, Clete Purcell, works for the mafia guys in Montana.

All of the Robicheaux series is Must Read stuff and this one is no exception. I've borrowed NEON RAIN, the first in the series from the library.

 From Publishers Weekly on the book's page at amazon-


"Burke pits a land-hungry oil company against a Blackfeet Indian reservation in a stunning novel that takes detective fiction into new imaginative realms. His Cajun sleuth, Dave Robicheaux, an ex-New Orleans cop featured in two previous novels, attends Alcoholics Anonymous meetings, has recurrent nightmares about his murdered wife, and cares for an adopted El Salvadoran refugee girl. When two American Indian activists disappear, Robicheaux's dogged investigation not only sets him on a collision course with Mafia thugs and oil interests, but also leads him into a romance with Darlene American Horse, his ex-partner's girlfriend. All the main characters in this darkly beautiful, lyric saga carry heavy emotional baggage, and Robicheaux's sleuthing is a simultaneous exorcism of demons of grief, loss, fear, rage, vengeance. Burke's fictional terrain--stretching from the Louisiana bayous to Montana's red cliffs and pine-dotted hills--is uniquely his own, yet also a microcosm of a multi-ethnic America. He writes from the heart and the gut."

Monday, June 26, 2017

THE BALLROOM by Anna Hope

Finished Su 6/25/17 The June, 2017 selection for the Contemporary Book Club

Ella Fay

John Mulligan

Dan Riley

Clem Church

Dr. Charles Fuller

Set in Northwestern England near Leeds. Yorkshire.

In broad strokes, this is a doomed love story between two inmates, Ella Fay and John Mulligan, in the Sharston Asylum in 1911.

Dr. Charles Fuller is the doctor who administers their treatment. He is deeply involved in the Eugenics Movement- deeply conflicted and probably a closeted gay.

At first he believes in Music Therapy, but gives up on this in favor of Eugenic principles.

Dan Riley is a strong, romantic character. An ex-sailor and he escapes when he decides that it's time for him to leave. Good friend to John Milligan.

Clem Church is a university student committed by her family. She loves to read, but Dr. Fuller decides that she is being harmed by 'expanding her mind'. She is able to read the letters between Ella and John. Ella is illiterate.

The novel begins with the end scene. Twenty years after John and Ella's release (John escapes, Ella is let go), their daughter reconnects with her father, John. He learns that Ella had died several years earlier but she never stopped hoping that she would reunite with the love of her life. And, John lets his daughter know that he always has been looking for his lost love, Ella.

The story is loosely based on the author's great great grandfather.

The actual asylum was called the West Riding Pauper Lunatic Asylum, then West Riding Mental Hospital, then High Royds Hospital. Finally closing in 2003. The location is West Riding, Yorkshire near the village of Menston.

A relatively easy read and I liked the story. I especially liked the real story of the Eugenics Movement that was popular at the time. Uncle Adolph took this idea and ran with it!


SUNSET LIMITED by James Lee Burke

Finished Su 6/25/17

This was an E-book that I got from the library, but I didn't finish it before they recalled it. I tried to re-check it out, but I guess someone was waiting for it. I put it on reserve, and in about a week I got finally it.

The title refers to the name of a train, The Sunset Limited, that took Dave Robicheaux's mother and her new boyfriend to Hollywood when Dave was a young boy. He was supposed to go, but his mother never sent for him and she came back in disgrace.

Summary of the storyline taken from a review at Publishers Weekly-


"unsolved murder 40 years ago of union organizer Jack Flynn. The story encompasses at least eight disparate but interlocking subplots: the crooked money behind a movie directed by Flynn's son Cisco; the hold that ex-con Swede Boxleiter has on Cisco's photojournalist sister, Megan; Willie ""Cool Breeze"" Broussard's theft of a mob warehouse; his wife Ida's suicide 20 years ago; the shooting of two white brothers who raped a black woman; alcoholic Lisa Terrebonne's haunted childhood; her wealthy, arrogant father's ties to Harpo Scruggs, a vicious murderer; the post-Civil War killing by freed slaves of a Terrebonne servant. Hired assassins, snitches, lawmen and FBI agents weave through the novel. Dave and his partner Detective Helen Soileau find the connections, but Dave knows that in the ongoing class war, the worst criminals wield too much influence to pay for their crimes."

This is the tenth book (out of twenty) in the Dave Robicheaux series.
I'm reading BLACK CHERRY BLUES, third in the series, now.

You can't beat the eloquent prose description and the delightful characters in these books.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

THE CROSSING Michael Connelly

Finished Tu 6/20/17

I just read THE BURNING ROOM which is the novel in the Bosch series before this one. I ordered it on Amazon and got it in just a few days in excellent hardback condition.

Harry Bosch has left the LA PD and has filed suit for unlawful firing using his half brother, Micky Haller. Haller has convinced Harry to help him in freeing an innocent black man accused of a vicious rape and murder. DNA was found in and on the woman, but he still maintains his innocence.

The title, THE CROSSING, refers to Harry's belief that he is 'crossing over to the other side', becoming one of the 'bad guys'. Before, he was upholding the 'law of the land', and now' he's just getting scumbags off. However, he justifies his quandary by realising that if the authorities have the wrong guy, then he'll find the right guy.

Two plotlines-

1) Ellis and Long, two corrupt vice detectives are running a sting operation. They have two hookers who have sex with wealthy clients. The detectives tape the encounter and then blackmail the victims.

2) A popular elected official and wife of a sheriff is brutally raped and murdered. The police have arrested a black excon, DG ('dragon'- police slang for drag queen; initials of Haller's client). He can't reveal his alibi because he his happily married, yet a closeted gay. He was seeing a transvestite on the night of the murder and this man was also killed.

The case turns on an expensive watch that was given to the murdered woman by her husband. The sheriff legally bought the watch as an Xmas gift for his wife and when the wife turned it in for repair she learned that it was not registered in her name. The watch was originally owned by a wealthy plastic surgeon from Beverly Hills. This man was being blackmailed by Ellis and Long and he reported the watch stolen and fenced the watch and gave the money to the two corrupt cops.

Ellis and Long kill the woman, the transvestite, the plastic surgeon, and attempt to kill Haller's investigator. This man is a Harley rider and was run off the road by the two cops in the opening scene of the novel.

The DNA from Haller's client was planted on the woman by the two cops. They got a condom with Haller's client's semen. They were using the transvestite as an informant.

Haller 'wins' the case when he discloses CTE (condom trace elements) were found in the DNA sample. This shows that the DNA could have been planted at the scene.

Harry maintains that working for his brother was just a 'one off', but I doubt it. He ends the novel saying that he will spend his retirement rebuilding a 1950 Harley motorcycle.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

BLACK WHITE AND JEWISH Autobiography of a Shifting Self by Rebecca Walker

Finished Fr 6/16/17 This trade paperback I found abandoned on the Nautilus floor at Club West. The book at been there for over a week so I liberated it; late Spring, 2017

The author is the daughter of Alice Walker, Pulitzer, THE COLOR PURPLE, and Melvyn Roseman Leventhal, a civil rights attorney. They married in 1967 and Rebecca was born in 1969, and she retained the last name of Leventhal until late in her teen years (this is covered in the book).

At her birth the Leventhal's were living in Jackson, MI where Alice Walker was a writer in residence and Mel was working in the Civil Rights Movement. The couple divorced in 1976 and Rebecca lived with her parents in a split custody arrangement- two years with each parent. That struck me as very odd, and I don't think I've ever heard of two years in one household and then two years in another.

Rebecca lived in-
Jackson, MI
Washington, DC
San Francisco, CA
Bronx, NY
In her late teens she traveled extensively with her mother and on her own. A visit to Bali is mentioned in the book.

Mel married Judy and Judy became Rebecca's step mother. This was a Jewish household and after the Bronx, they settled in Larchmont, NY which is an upper middle class suburb.

The book documents her feeling of 'not fitting in'. She was too Black for the Whites, and too White for the Blacks.

When she was born, it was illegal to have an interracial baby, but her parents thought that Rebecca would inherit the best of both worlds, however this apparently didn't happen. I guess Rebecca understands their optimism, but realizes that it was a bit misguided.

For marrying a black woman her father was disowned and for marrying a white man her mother was called a traitor.

The core thesis of the book-

"What do we become when we put down the scripts written by history and memory, when each person before us can be seen free of the cultural or personal narrative we've inherited or devised?" p.307

Alice Walker's page at wikipedia-

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alice_Walker

Rebecca Walker's page at wikipedia-

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rebecca_Walker

The book at amazon-

https://www.amazon.com/Black-White-Jewish-Autobiography-Shifting/dp/1573229075

Friday, June 16, 2017

THE BURNING ROOM A Harry Bosch Novel by Michael Connelly

Finished We 6/14/17

This is a trade paperback that I bought at this year's library book sale.
This might be Harry Bosch's last time with the LA police. The novel ends with his suspension and it might be more trouble than it's worth to continue. I ordered the next in the series from Amazon and it looks like Bosch will team up with his half brother, Micky Haller, a Los Angeles lawyer, and his new, young, Hispanic partner, Lucia Soto will assist them.

Harry has been assigned a rookie, Lucy Soto. She is a new detective and was recently involved in a gunfight where she held off the bad guys until a SWAT Team arrived. He's going to accept a Lump Sum Pension within the year (DROP- Deferred Retirement Option Plan)  and it's department policy that 'the oldest' get partnered with 'the youngest'. He is working in the Open/Unsolved Cases Unit.

Two Cases-
1) A Mariachi band member was shot and paralyzed ten years before and he has finally died. The coroner rules that his death was due to the bullet, so the DA will look for a murder conviction, but it's up to Harry and Lucy to find the culprit.

They learn that the man who died was not the intended victim. The trumpet player was the actual target because he was having an affair with a very rich and politically connected 'Concret King'.


2) Lucy was almost killed in a day care fire when she was five. Harry and Lucy learn that this fire was set as a diversionary tactic to draw police away from a bank robbery. 'Mother's Day'- When the bank must have the most money on hand because the welfare checks have been received by 'the mothers'.

The perps are the two gunmen that killed many law enforcement personnel in the real 1997 shooting. These men essentially were more well equipped than the police and outgunned law enforcement. Harry was actually involved in this incident. He guarded the gunmen's abandoned car. He notices the accelerant that was used in the daycare fire.

Link at wikipedia-
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/North_Hollywood_shootout

In the novel a woman was involved in setting up the robbery and coverup fire. This woman was so deeply affected that she disappears and becomes a nun. She donates her part of the robbery money to pay off the loan on an obscure order where she lives and takes the name of one of the children who died in the fire. Before she can be questioned by Harry and Lucy, she is killed by drug cartel members in Mexico where the nun was on a mission of mercy.

The reason that Harry has been suspended is that he picked the lock on a captain's office to get into files to obtain information. This man had security cameras set up to protect his collection of valuable pens.

Anything by Connelly is always worth a look and the fact that I ordered the next in the series shows how I feel about the books. Although, it seems to me that the earlier books about Bosch seemed to be a little more involved and better written. Has Connelly 'dumbed down' his writing style or is it just me?

The book at amazon-

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/North_Hollywood_shootout

Monday, June 12, 2017

THE IRRESISTIBLE REVOLUTION- living as an ordinary radical by Shane Claiborne

I bought this at the library book sale on Sa 6/10/17 and it was the first one that I read. I bought nine books; five hardbacks and four trades (this book was a trade). Two a piece for the hardbacks, and a buck for the rest. There were no actual paperbacks on sale this year.

Finished Su 6/11/17.
I am not much for religious books, but this one was terrific. It's Jesus's economic philosophy applied to the contemporary world. It's not necessary to accept any divine interpretation, but you can focus on what he said in the bible. This is NOT what is normally taught about Jesus or Christianity, and I'm sure that this would not be recommended over at Calvary Academy, but I will definitely recommend this to Janny.

Jesus only made twelve references to sexuality, but made thousands of observations about income disparity. Funny, how this is largely ignored by The Church.

The writer is involved with an organization called The Simple Way

http://www.thesimpleway.org/

the author's page at wikipedia-

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shane_Claiborne

The book at wikipedia-

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Irresistible_Revolution

Jim Wallis at wikipedia-

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jim_Wallis

THIEVES' PARADISE by Eric Jerome Dickey

This is one of my hardback novels that I got from QPB in February, 2004, and according to the flyleaf, I finished it on Fr 2/27/04 a day off.

I refinished Sa 6/10/17 after the library book sale

I really liked the book, and although it dealt with noirish characters, it is not a noir novel.

A Black Novel. This novel produced several novels based on some of the characters in this book.

The author's page at wikipedia-
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eric_Jerome_Dickey

It's kind of a love story between a 25 year old man, and a woman in her thirties. And, both of them have roots in the criminal world. Not really bad people, just trying to stay afloat. Dante (Cool Hand) Black and Pam.

Pam is an actress/ waitress. She's waiting for her big break, but running out of time. If you haven't made it by your twenties, you're about out of it. She feels that if she can come up with six thousand for a 'tummy tuck' she'll have her shot.

Dante has been laid off from a computer tech job and his criminal career is only temporary. He drives an old car that he calls Oscar.

Jackson is Dante's friend and this man is being destroyed in a bad child custody/ divorce. One of the novel's main themes is that a man should 'protect his sperm'. You cannot allow yourself to be trapped in a bad and expensive relationship over a sexual mistake.

Jackson is the 'weak character' and rats out the group to try to make the money for his child support for Robin.

Big Slim owns a poolroom where the cast hangout. This man was a blues guitarist and he was tortured (mangled hands) by the KKK and the love of his life was murdered. Ugly, always drunk, extreme body odor.

Nazario is a violent criminal who feels that Dante owes him a ring. Dante is chased by this man throughout the novel.



Scamz is kind of like The Devil or one who morally tempts.  He's very rich and has two young sisters as his girlfriends; Arizona and Sierra. One of them works at Wells Fargo bank and she can get account numbers.

Scamz is the man who runs the criminal organization and his name is  'Scamz'. His people act as real estate agents and rent and re-rent an apartment or luxury condo numerous times, then disappear. Also, sell phony credit cards in bulk.

I really enjoyed the book, and it's not too deep- an 'airport' or 'summer' read, but worth the effort.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

THE MOONSHINE WAR by Elmore Leonard

Finished We 6/7/17

This was one of my hardback books that was on the book cases in my bedroom. It is a large book and part of a trilogy called ELMORE LEONARD'S DOUBLE DUTCH TREAT. Also contains, GOLD COAST and CITY PRIMEVAL.

Set in 1931 in a rural area of Kentucky near Marlett, Kentucky.
Prohibition lasted from 1920 to 1933.

Son Martin lives with his man servant/partner, Aaron. His wife and daughter died in the Flu Pandemic of 1918 while Son was overseas in WWI.

Son and his father were known for their excellent moonshine whiskey. Son is rumored to have a couple of thousand gallons of whiskey that has aged for seven years and would be worth a lot of money.

Frank Long was in the service with Son. Long is an prohibition agent who learned of Son's hidden whiskey and he decides to take it. He'll do one wrong thing and live a happy life.

Long teams with Dr. Taulbee, an ex dentist who served time for bootlegging and sex offences. Miley is his girlfriend. She is a hooker. And, Dual a sadistic gunman.

The gang tries to negotiate with Martin, but he refuses, and the novel becomes the story of this standoff at Martin's home.

Nobody knows where the whiskey is hidden or if it is a fact. Son has a light above his father's grave. This is where Son has buried the whiskey. It is also wired with explosives.

In the final scene Son lures the gang above the gravesite to 'see' all the kegs of liquor and he blows them all up. And, losing his fortune.

The writing by Leonard is superb, and according to the flyleaf I've read the other two novels in the trilogy, but it was over ten years ago. I plan to reread them soon.

Monday, June 5, 2017

NEVER GO BACK by Lee Child

Finished Su 6/4/17  Borrowed from the library on Kindle. I think that I will always keep something 'lite' on the phone so that I can read while I'm working out. Next on the phone is a novel by James Lee Burke, and although Burke can write circles around Child, Child's plotlines never fail to be captivating and engaging. Jack Reacher is an iconic figure within this genre of literature.

This is the next in the series after A WANTED MAN

Reacher is charged with a murder that happened over twenty years ago and he is told that he fathered a daughter when he was stationed in Korea as a young soldier.

1) Reacher is charged with beating a Black drug dealer, and this man later died of his injuries. He left a deposition stating that Reacher did it. He didn't.

2) Reacher goes to LA and does meet a fourteen year old girl who may or may not be his kid. She has many characteristics that are unique to Reacher, but he never met the girl's mother, and this woman had never been to Korea.

He travels back to Virginia to meet a woman who he was attracted to. This woman is an officer and is doing his old job. She is under indictment and in jail for taking a $100,000 bribe.

They get together, go on the lamb, and clear themselves.

The evil plot is masterminded by an opium ring that caters to rich, old and powerful men in Washington, DC.

From the novel's page at wikipedia-


"Former military cop Jack Reacher makes it all the way from snowbound South Dakota to his destination in northeastern Virginia, near Washington, D.C.: the headquarters of his old unit, the 110th MP. The old stone building is the closest thing to a home he ever had.

Reacher is there to meet—in person—the new commanding officer, Major Susan Turner, so far just a warm, intriguing voice on the phone.

But it isn’t Turner behind the CO’s desk. And Reacher is hit with two pieces of shocking news, one with serious criminal consequences, and one too personal to even think about.

When threatened, you can run or fight.

Reacher fights, aiming to find Turner and clear his name, barely a step ahead of the army, and the FBI, and the D.C. Metro police, and four unidentified thugs.

Combining an intricate puzzle of a plot and an exciting chase for truth and justice, Lee Child puts Reacher through his paces—and makes him question who he is, what he’s done, and the very future of his untethered life on the open road."