Monday, June 26, 2017


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-

Rebecca Walker's page at wikipedia-

The book at amazon-

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-

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-

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

the author's page at wikipedia-

The book at wikipedia-

Jim Wallis at wikipedia-

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-

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."