Irresponsible Reader

Irresponsible Reader

I read widely and voraciously, with little discipline (although I have my bouts). And then I write about it -- sometimes a little, sometimes more (not sure how often I get to "a lot", so let's go with "more" instead). I'm a Mystery junkie and have been since I can remember, I love Urban Fantasy, I can't pass up good Science Fiction or Fantasy, I've been known to dabble in Chick Lit ('tho, honestly, I'm more comfortable in "Lad Lit"), even a decent Western will do the trick.

Saturday Miscellany - 7/21/18

I didn't spend much time on social media this week -- or anything really (see Wednesday's Programming Note or this longer post on my other blog for details), but I was still able to find a decent list of odds 'n ends over the week about books and reading that caught my eye. You've probably seen some/most/all of them, but just in case:

 

  • The Sinners by Ace Atkins -- the 8th Quinn Colson/Tibbehah County novel is sure to be a good one. Sadly, my copy is hundreds of miles away from me, I'll get to it when I can.
  • Kill The Farm Boy by by Delilah S. Dawson and Kevin Hearne -- Part fantasy satire, part celebration of fantasy tropes, all fun and strong fantasy. I blogged about it a few weeks back.
  • Constance Verity Saves the World by A. Lee Martinez -- I've never read a Martinez sequel before, I don't know what to expect. But...it's going to be good.
  • The Annotated Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler; edited by Owen Hill, Pamela Jackson and Anthony Rizzuto -- This is also hundreds of miles from me, but one of my kids opened the box and described it to me. Sounds like so much fun.
  • Rescued by David Rosenfelt -- Andy Carpenter defends a man he wants to be very far from Here's what I had to say about it.
  • The Wild Dead by Carrie Vaughn --the sequel to Bannerless a Vaughn book that has somehow not moved from by TBR Tower, this dystopian mystery novel looks just as good as its predecessor.
  • Degrading Orbits by Bradley Horner -- another sequel is out before I've had the opportunity to read the first in the series. Whoops.

Lastly, I'd like to say hi and extend a warm welcome to figlia dei fiori, Deb / Being Aunt Debbie, Dog Training Guidance, Cristian Mihai, pitchstory,and Jordan Peters for following the blog this week.

Source: http://irresponsiblereader.com/2018/07/21/saturday-miscellany-7-21-18
Review
5 Stars
America's Funniest Human Tries to Learn a Few New Tricks from an Old Dog
Lessons From Lucy: The Simple Joys of an Old, Happy Dog - Dave Barry

Before I say anything else, Barry has set up an Instagram page (well, probably not him, actually -- he states in the book he doesn't understand Instagram) for his dog, Lucy. You should absolutely check it out and then come back to read what I have to say about the book. Dog Pictures > my blog. Pretty near always.

 

With that out of the way . . . Dave Barry has been a dog person for most of his life, one of the many reasons I like him. I distinctly, and fondly, remember columns and/or references to Earnest and Zippy (the emergency backup dog) years ago. Those two make a brief appearance in this book, but they aren't the focus. The focus (if you can't tell from the title) is his dog, Lucy. At the time of writing, Barry and Lucy are the same age -- 70 (or 7 times 10 in her case), which means that both of them have many fewer days ahead of them than behind -- which sounds awfully morbid for Dave Barry to talk about, but he does so frequently and purposefully.

 

As they're at similar stages in life, Barry notices a huge difference between the two -- Lucy is far happier and seemingly better adjusted than he is. So he sets out to try to learn a few lessons about life from her, which he passes on to his readers. Things like Pay Attention to the People You Love; Don't Let Your Happiness Depend on Things; and Don't Stop Having Fun. None of these, Barry knows, are original or ground-breaking -- they're pretty much common sense. Yet, they're the kind of common sense things that he (like many/most humans) doesn't actually do a great job at.

 

The result is a mixture of a Self-Help book and a Humor book -- humor about himself, his life, as well as dogs. Sometimes the swing between the two genres can be jarring, but that's pretty rare. For the most part, he moves easily between the two, taking the readers along with him on this ride. I can't tell you how many times I went from grinning, chuckling or laughing out loud to getting misty-eyed within a couple of pages. It seems that Barry has learned a little bit about writing over the decades.

 

I've loved Barry's humor longer than either of us would probably care to admit. One of his strengths is finding a way to take an old joke, or at least a joke everyone's made before -- like, say, I dunno, dogs sniffing each other's hind-quarters -- and make it feel fresh and new. More importantly, funny. He's also able to make jumps from premise to punchline that no one expects. There is, for example, a Hugh Hefner joke where one doesn't even come close to belonging -- and it works perfectly. Even knowing that, you won't see it coming until you're snickering at it.

 

As for the heart-felt material? It works pretty well, too. I don't think anyone will walk away from this book thinking "Wow! That was insightful. I never would have thought of it on my own!" Nor do I think Barry was trying for it. But, readers will appreciate the reminders to live like Lucy (or their own dog), and the way Barry phrases things might add some freshness to the concept. Which is all anyone can really ask.

 

I really don't know if this is Barry's best -- but it's up there. The ratio of Attempted Joke to Funny Joke is pretty high, I'm not sure if I can think of a higher one in his ouvre. Lessons From Lucy is, without a doubt, his most mature, thoughtful and touching work (that's a pretty low bar, I realize -- a bar he's worked hard to keep low, too). Couple that with me being a sucker for a Dog Book -- even if it is a semi-Self Help book -- and I can't help but give it 5 Stars. This is a winner, no matter what.



Disclaimer: I received this eARC from Simon & Schuster via NetGalley in exchange for this post -- which is my honest opinion and pleasure to give -- thanks to both for this.

Source: http://irresponsiblereader.com/2018/07/20/lessons-from-lucy-by-dave-barry-americas-funniest-human-tries-to-learn-a-few-new-tricks-from-an-old-dog
Review
3.5 Stars
Colgan Captures the 10th Doctor's First Adventure Perfectly in this adaptation.
Doctor Who: The Christmas Invasion - Jenny Colgan

Back in High School, I remember attending an author event -- some SF author that I'd never heard of (you probably haven't either), but what did I care? He was an actual SF/Fantasy/Horror writer visiting Idaho (it happens a little more now, but back then I hadn't thought it was possible). He discussed getting to write a novelization of a major Horror film thinking, "How hard can it be? Take the script, throw in some adjectives and verbs -- maybe a few adverbs and you're done!" He then went on to talk about all the things he learned about how hard it was taking a script of whatever quality and turning it into something that works in an entirely different medium. That's really stuck with me for some reason, and I've always respected anyone who can pull it off well (and even those who get close to doing it well).

 

Before I babble on too much, Colgan is one who can pull it off pretty well.I discovered Doctor Who a couple of years before I saw that unnamed SF author, but didn't get to watch much of it, mostly because I lived in about the only place in the States where PBS didn't air old ones. I saw a few Sylvester McCoy episodes (mostly due to the magic of VHS and a friend who lived somewhere with a better PBS affiliate). Other than that, it was the small paperback novelizations of episodes. I owned a few, the same friend owned a few more -- so I read those. A lot. Then comes Russel T. Davies, Christopher Eccleston, Billie Piper, etc. and all was better. But I still remembered those novels as being Doctor Who to me.

 

So when they announced that they were re-launching that series this year, I got excited. I own them all, but I've only found time to read one -- I started with Jenny T. Colgan, because I know how Paul Cornell writes, and I assume I'll love his -- ditto for Davies and Moffat. Besides, The Christmas Invasion is one of my favorite episodes ever.

I won't bother with describing the plot much -- you know it, or you should. On the heels of regenerating into the 10th Doctor, Rose brings a mostly unconscious stranger into her mother's apartment to recuperate. At the same time, an alien invasion starts -- the British government -- under the direction of Harriet Jones, MP -- and the Torchwood project tries to respond, but really is pining all their hopes on the resident of the TARDIS.

 

Colgan does a great job bringing the episode to life -- I could see the thing playing out in my mind. But she doesn't just do that -- she adds a nice little touch of her own here and there. Expands on some things and whatnot. In general, she just brings out what was there and expands on it. Adds a few spices to an already good dish to enhance the flavors. Colgan absolutely nails Rose's inner turmoil about who this stranger in her old friend's body is.

 

I particularly enjoyed reading the scene where the Doctor emerges from the TARDIS, finally awake and ready to resume being Earth's protector -- between Rose's reaction, the already great dialogue, and Colgan's capturing the essence of Tennant's (and everyone else's) performances in her prose. Seriously, I've read that scene three times. I never do that.

 

I'm not particularly crazy about the little addition she made to Harriet Jones' downfall, but I get it. I'm not scandalized by it or anything, I just didn't think it was necessary. Other than that, I appreciate everything Colgan did to put her stamp on this story.

 

If the rest of these books are as good, I'm going to be very glad to read them, and hope that there are more to come soon.

Review
3.5 Stars
Chortling Towards Bethlehem? or We Are Amusing Ourselves to Death
Planet Funny: How Comedy Took Over Our Culture  - Ken Jennings

This is going to be much shorter -- and much more vague --than it should have been, because I was in a rush to get out the door on the day I took this back to the library and therefore forgot to take my notes out of the book. Which is a crying shame because I can't cite some of my favorite lines (on the other hand, I don't have to pick from my favorites). I'm actually pretty annoyed with myself because of this -- I spent time on those notes.

 

I'm going to try to save a little time here and just copy the Publisher's synopsis:

 

From the brilliantly witty and exuberant New York Times bestselling author Ken Jennings, a history of humor—from fart jokes on clay Sumerian tablets all the way up to the latest Twitter gags and Facebook memes—that tells the story of how comedy came to rule the modern world.

 

For millennia of human history, the future belonged to the strong. To the parent who could kill the most animals with sticks and to the child who could survive the winter or the epidemic. When the Industrial Revolution came, masters of business efficiency prospered instead, and after that we placed our hope in scientific visionaries. Today, in a clear sign of evolution totally sliding off the rails, our most coveted trait is not strength or productivity or even innovation, but being funny. Yes, funniness.

 

Consider: presidential candidates now have to prepare funny "zingers" for debates. Newspaper headlines and church marquees, once fairly staid affairs, must now be “clever,” stuffed with puns and winks. Airline safety tutorials—those terrifying laminated cards about the possibilities of fire, explosion, depressurization, and drowning—have been replaced by joke-filled videos with multimillion-dollar budgets and dance routines.

In Planet Funny, Ken Jennings explores this brave new comedic world and what it means—or doesn’t—to be funny in it now. Tracing the evolution of humor from the caveman days to the bawdy middle-class antics of Chaucer to Monty Python’s game-changing silliness to the fast-paced meta-humor of The Simpsons, Jennings explains how we built our humor-saturated modern age, where lots of us get our news from comedy shows and a comic figure can even be elected President of the United States purely on showmanship. Entertaining, astounding, and completely head-scratching, Planet Funny is a full taxonomy of what spawned and defines the modern sense of humor.


In short, Jennings is writing about the way that humor -- the entertainment culture in general, really, but largely through humor -- has taken over the cultural discourse in this country, so much so that you can't make a serious point about anything anymore without injecting a smile or a laugh. This could be subtitled, Neil Postman was right. Jennings looks at this phenomenon through a historical lens (mostly over the last century) and a contemporary lens -- analyzing and commenting on both.

 

The initial chapters on defining humor, the history of humor and academic humor studies are probably the best part of the book -- not just because of their scope and subject matter, but because how Jennings is able to be amusing and insightful while informing. (although the amusing part is problematic given the thesis of the book). I enjoyed learning about the use of humor in the 20th Century -- who doesn't associate the two? I don't remember a time when the best advertisements/commercials weren't the funniest (other than things like the crying Native American anti-litter AdCouncil stuff). But there was actually a time when that was looked down on? Who knew?

 

I also particularly liked the history of Mystery Science Theater 3000 and then pivoting that into a look on the way even entertainment changed in the last few decades because of the funny-ification of all things. Jennings gives a pretty decent defense of Alanis' "Ironic" (while enjoying a few shots at it, too) -- and the ensuing discussion of Irony the cultural waves embracing and shying away from Irony, Enjoying things Ironically, and a need for sincerity was excellent.

 

Politics, obviously, has fallen prey to this comedy-take over as well. From Nixon shocking everyone by showing up on Laugh-In to Clinton (pre-presidential candidate) on The Tonight Show to then-candidate on The Arsenio Hall show to every political player doing Late Night shows. Obama appearing on Maron's podcast and Between Two Ferns (crediting that appearance with saving ObamaCare?) and onto the entire Trump campaign. At this point, the book got derailed -- I think -- by getting too political. If Jennings had kept it to Trump's embracing/exploiting the comedy takeover, I probably would have enjoyed it -- but he spent too much on Trump's politics (while having ignored Nixon's, Clinton's, Obama's), enough to turn off even Never-Trump types.

I'm pretty sure that the book was almost complete about the time that Louis CK's career was felled by allegations of sexual misconduct -- which is a shame, because Jennings had to go back and water-down a lot of insightful comments from Louis CK by saying something about the allegations while quoting the comedian. At the same time, it's good that the book wasn't completed and/or released without the chance to distance the man from the points used -- otherwise I think Jennings would've had to spend too much time defending the use of those quotations.

 

I think Jennings lost his way in the last chapter and a half or so -- and I lost a lot of my appreciation for the book as a whole at that point. On the whole, it's insightful writing, peppered with a good amount of analysis, research, interviews, and laughs -- outside of his weekly trivia newsletters, I haven't read Jennings and he really impressed me here. In short, it's a fun book, a thought-provoking book, and one that should get more attention and discussion than it is. I may quibble a bit with some of the details, but I think on the whole Jennings is on to something here -- and I fear that it's something that not enough people are going to take seriously until it's too late.

 

2018 Library Love Challenge

Source: http://irresponsiblereader.com/2018/07/16/planet-funny-by-ken-jennings-chortling-towards-bethlehem-or-we-are-amusing-ourselves-to-death
Saturday Miscellany - 7/14/18

Just a few odds 'n ends over this past week about books and reading that caught my eye. You've probably seen some/most/all of them, but just in case:

Source: http://irresponsiblereader.com/2018/07/14/saturday-miscellany-7-14-18
Review
3.5 Stars
A Solid Sequel featuring a Procedural and a Puzzle
The Death Pictures - Simon Hall

So here we are a few months after the events of <b><a href="https://wp.me/p3z9AH-3nh" rel="noopener" target="_blank">The TV Detective</a></b>, and while Dan Groves, TV reporter, and DCI Adam Breen aren't working together any more, their friendship has grown and both of the careers are improving from their collaboration. So when there's a serial rapist on the loose -- one who made a point of leaving a calling card at the crime scenes to get public attention -- both of their bosses are interested in them renewing their partnership (even if no one ever gets to hear about his calling card).

 

Around the same time, there's a famous artist dying of cancer who is using his impending death as a launching pad for a contest of sorts -- it raises money for charity, and raises his public profile a bit, too (not that it needed much). Dan has been tapped by his producer and the artist's wife to help with the final part of the contest, and to do his final interview -- most to be aired upon his death. This is so far from the rape case that it seems odd to spend time on it -- until the artist dies under mysterious circumstances. A murder inquiry into a celebrity's death obviously gets the police's and public's attention -- although it's really seen as more of a distraction from protecting women who are prospective targets of the rapist by Adam and his team. For the most part at this point, Adam and Dan tackle the murder investigation and his team handle the rapes, and Dan pretty much only covers the case as a reporter (with an inside track, of course), but not as an investigator.

 

Arrests are made pretty early on in both cases -- it's in the aftermath of the murder investigation and the contest that the latter part of the novel focuses on. The puzzle's solution is clever, but the reader can see it coming (we do have a little more information than all the characters), but that only adds to the sense of drama leading up to the Reveal. I thoroughly enjoyed watching Dan through this story -- both his official work as a reporter or with the police and his unofficial personal obsession with the puzzle.

 

As for the rape story? I don't mean to sound cold, but there was something very cookie-cutter about the motivation and perpetrator. Horrible, yes; disturbing, yes, but nothing that hasn't been on <strong>Law &amp; Order: SVU</strong> an estimated 3,709 times -- I'm not saying badly written or boring, just something I've seen before. But when Adam gets him in the interview room and he starts laying out his defense? That was utterly chilling. As I write this, I imagine the accused's approach is not completely novel in Crime Fiction, but man . . . the way that Hall depicts this guy? Chilling.

 

Dan's frequent work on the contest is reminiscent of his search for the Ted Hughes Memorial in <b>The TV Detective</b>, but is obviously tied more closely to the plot of this novel. I don't recall another series doing something like this in book after book -- I hope Hall continues it.

 

There's something that happened to Dan in the past that was alluded to in the previous book and is talked around a good deal here. We're not going to get more details on that in Book 3 (I bet), but I expect to see it wreak havoc on Dan's life and various relationships soon. Similarly, there's something that happens in this book to Adam -- that will possibly do worse pretty soon. Both of these guys are ticking psychological bombs.

 

I have one gripe: the formatting. There are occasional -- maybe even rare -- white space breaks between sections of the story, but by and large they are conspicuously absent. Which is problematic when the perspective changes from character to character -- what's worse is when the perspective change introduces an entirely new character and you don't know how this new name connects with anything. It honestly only caused a real problem for me once, but was frequently annoying.

 

I should stress when your complaint about a book has to do with Kindle layout (who knows what the paperback looks like), there's a lot that's working pretty well.

 

<B>The Death Pictures</B> is a solidly entertaining mystery novel that recaptures a lot of the high points of its predecessor, but isn't just a repeat of it. This series has legs, that's obvious, and I look forward to returning to it to see what happens next.

Source: http://irresponsiblereader.com/2018/07/12/the-death-pictures-by-simon-hall-a-solid-sequel-featuring-a-procedural-and-a-puzzle
Review
5 Stars
Great characters, strong writing, and a clever solution to the mystery make this one of 2018's best.
Needle Song - Russell Day

He'd changed again in some way. Like he had the night in The Jericho putting out The Jive. But this was different again. The Jive was showmanship. The good Doctor Slidesmith in full sail. This was more intense. I'd see him like thus on occasion in the shop, absorbed in the ink and the song of the needle. I wouldn't say lost in what he was doing. Lost implies lack of control.

 

For the first time that evening, it struck me he needed an audience, not to watch him but for him to watch. Like a dial on a machine, not part of the process, just a way of monitoring it.

 

Back when I posted about the short story featuring Doc Slidesmith, Not Talking Italics, I said that if Needle Song was anything like it, "I'm going to have to go down to the superlative store this weekend to stock up before I write anything about it." I'm fully stocked (now) and ready to go.

 

I was disappointed -- somewhat -- and relieved to see that the all-dialogue, no narration, no other description approach of Italics was nowhere to be seen. I could've read 380 pages of that (see my love for Roddy Doyle), but I know it's not that approachable and will turn off some readers.

 

Now, I don't know if anyone but Karen E. Olson has envisioned a tattoo shop as a hotbed of crime fighting -- or the staff of such to be the source people would turn to for help with legal difficulties. But it works -- all because of the owner of the shop, former psychologist, current Voodoo practitioner and Tarot reader, Doc Slidesmith. On the surface, you see a rough-looking -- striking, I think, bordering on handsome -- but your basic leather-glad biker type, covered in ink -- and will underestimate him. Only those who've been in conversations with him, those who've given him a chance will see the charm, the intelligence, and the indefinable characteristic that makes people come to him for help in times of trouble. In many hands, Doc's...peculiar resume, shall we say, would end up this cartoonish mish-mash of quirks. But Day is able to make it work -- there's a reason that Doc ended up where he is, we don't need to know it, but it makes him the man (and armchair detective) that we want to read about.

 

Andy Miller -- known to many as "Yakky" (he's not a chatty type, his tattoos are all placed so that he can hide them all with this clothing, like a member of the Yakkuza), is the tattoo apprentice to Doc Slidesmith. He lives with his father -- a thoroughly unpleasant and manipulative man, that Yakky feels obligated to care for. While clearly appreciative for Doc's tutelage, and more in awe of his mentor than he'd care to admit, he's also more than a little skeptical of Doc's interests, beliefs and practices that aren't related to his tattooing. He's our narrator. He's not your typical narrator -- he's too frequently angry at, dismissive of and unbelieving in the protagonist for that. Which is just one of the breaths of fresh air brought by this book. Yakky is singularly unimpressed by Doc's playing detective -- but in the end, is probably as invested (maybe more) in the outcome.

 

Jan is brought by Chris Rudjer (a long-time client and friend of Doc's) for a Tarot reading, which brings her some measure of comfort/reassurance. So that when, months later, her husband kills himself, she comes looking for another reading -- which turns into seeking help in general. Not just for her, but for Chris, with whom she'd been carrying on a not-very-secret affair for months. While it seemed obvious that her husband had taken his own life when she found his body, there were some irregularities at the scene. When the police add in the affair Jan was having with someone with a record for violent crime, they get suspicious. Slidesmith does what he can to help Chris prepare for the inevitable police involvement, and enlists Yakky to help, too.

 

Yakky takes Jan home to stay in his spare room. She can't stay at home -- the memories are too fresh, there are problems with her husband's family, and (she doesn't realize it yet) there are people following her and Doc and Yakky are worried. The dynamic between Jan and Yakky, and between Jan and Yakky's father, end up providing vital clues to her character and psychology. This will end up proving vital to their case.

 

As Doc and Yakky begin digging around in Jan's life, it's immediately obvious that very little is as it seems. Now, if you're used to reading Crime Fiction featuring serial killers or organized crime, you'll think a lot of what they uncover is pretty small potatoes. But it actually seems worse -- it's more immediate, more personal -- serial killers have their various pathologies, mobster's are after profits and power -- these people are just about hate, cruelty and control. Maybe it's just me, but it seems worse in comparison.

 

There's a depth to all of these characters that I could spend a lot of time thinking/writing/reading about -- for example, our narrator, Yakky. I have at least a dozen questions that I feel I need answers to about him. At the same time, I think at least eleven of those answers could ruin the character for me. Ditto for Doc, Gina (another artist in the shop), or Chris. It's a pretty neat trick -- one few authors have been able to pull off, creating a character that you can tell has a compelling backstory, but that you don't really want to know it (see Parker's Hawk or Crais' Pike -- or the other mercenary Crais has had to create now that we know too much about Pike). I know who these people are now, and look forward to seeing what happens with them -- and that's good enough. It's hard to tell, always, just why Doc's working on this -- is it for fun, is it out of a sense of obligation to Chris, does he feel bad for Jan, is it some of all three? Yakky will frequently talk about The Jive -- the showmanship that Doc brings to Tarot readings, conversations, and dealing with difficult witnesses -- it reminds me frequently of B. A. Baracus' complaining about Hannibal's "being on The Jazz."

 

The plot is as intricate as you want -- there are twists, turns, ups, downs -- both with the investigation and in the lives of those touched by it. This doesn't have the flair of Not Talking Italics, but the voice is as strong, and everything else about the writing is better. It's a cliché to say that Day paints a picture with his words, so I won't say that. But he does etch indelible patterns with the tattoo-gun of his words -- which isn't a painless process for all involved, but the end result is worth whatever discomfort endured. Day doesn't write like a rookie -- this could easily be the third or fourth novel of an established author instead of someone's talented debut.

 

I'm torn on what I think about the details of the ending, wavering between "good" and "good enough, but could have been better." It's not as strong as the 94% (or so) before it, but it's probably close enough that I shouldn't be quibbling over details. I'm not talking about the way that Doc elicits the answers he needs to fully explain what happened to Jan's husband (both for her closure and Chris' safety), nor the way that everything fits together just perfectly. I just think the execution could be slightly stronger.

 

Whether you think of this as an amateur sleuth novel, a look into the depravity of the suburbanite, or an elaborate Miss Marple tribute/pastiche, the one thing you have to see is that this is a wonderful novel. I'm underselling it here, I know, this is one of those books that you best understand why everyone is so positive about it by reading it. You've got to expose yourself to Doc, Yakky and Day's prose to really get it. One of the best books I've read this year. My only complaint with this book? After reading so much about the "song of the needle," the shop, the work being done there -- I'm feeling the pressure to get another tattoo myself, and soon.

Source: http://irresponsiblereader.com/2018/07/10/needle-song-by-russell-day-great-characters-strong-writing-and-a-clever-solution-to-the-mystery-make-this-one-of-2018s-best
Review
4 Stars
Rebus and Clarke find themselves in (well, next to) the middle of Global Politics.
The Naming of the Dead - Ian Rankin

“Know what I think? I think all of this is because there’s a bit of the anarchist in you. You're on their side, and it annoys you that you've somehow ended up working for The Man."

 

Rebus snorted a laugh. “Where did you get that from?"

 

She laughed with him. “I’m right though, aren’t I? You’ve always seen yourself as being on the outside--" She broke off as their coffees arrived, dug her spoon into her cappuccino and scooped foam into her mouth.

 

"I do my best work on the margins," Rebus said thoughtfully.


Rebus is on the verge of retirement -- really, he's about to be forced out, he's at the stage of his career where many detectives would be just coming into the office and doing nothing -- if not outright retiring already. And, truth be told, that's precisely what everyone in the force seems to want (except for a few allies/friends), particularly the top brass. None of which Rebus has an interest in. He's going to have to be pulled out, kicking and screaming -- probably with someone barring the door after he's out.

 

So when the G8 comes to Edinburgh in 2005, the police have their hands full with security, protests, riot preparations, and whatnot. They're importing help from all over Scotland and even England. Everyone has plenty of assignments to deal with, everyone but John Rebus, that is. So when a clue comes up that might turn into something interesting on months-old murder case, he's ready and raring to go. That evidence seems to point at multiple victims, too -- so Siobhan Clarke is put in charge of that investigation, just please keep it quiet until all the important people have gone home (and yes, everyone is fully aware of the insult of putting the DS in charge of the DI on this one). Thankfully, there's a suspicious-looking suicide that's related to the G8 for Rebus to focus on.

 

At least one of the victims in Clarke's case has an obvious connection to Big Ger Cafferty, too. Because why not make this all interesting? Big Ger's the target of a local politician who happens to be making a lot of waves thanks to being in all the right places during the G8 protests, sticking up for his constituents and the cause of civility in the face of civil unrest. Rebus and Cafferty do their usual thing -- Cafferty wants information so he can get his form of justice taken out of the murderer, Rebus needs information from Cafferty so he can prevent that. But at the end of the day here, Siobhan spends more time with Cafferty, despite everything Rebus tries to do.

 

Which is the crux of this novel, really. Rebus is at his career's end, he knows it. The closest thing he has to a legacy is DS Clarke -- and he wants it to be a good legacy. He wants to keep her from Cafferty's clutches, from the dirt that's dogged him for years due to guilt-by-association -- as well as his actual influence. At the same time, he wants her to maintain that "work on the margins" attitude, while staying in good graces with TPTB. He wants Clarke to be everything he is, just without all the bad that comes from it. (I think she wants that, too, actually). Bringing me back to the point that this novel features Rebus fighting all involved for Siobhan's soul.

 

In an interesting parallel, Siobhan's actual parents are in town to take part in the G8 protests. There's a young woman hanging out with them, almost like a temporary daughter (which really gets under her skin). She's determined to spend some time with them, to show herself that she can have some sort of personal life -- a family -- and still be a good cop. To not be Rebus. At the same time, she so wants her parents to see her as a capable detective, not just someone in the midst of a defiant reaction to her parent's lifestyle and beliefs.

 

Eric Bains shows up in a light I don't think anyone expected, and I'm hoping that things turn around for him soon. I like the guy. He's not Brian Holmes, but he's a nice character to have around. There's a reporter, Marie Henderson, involved in all of this, too (that's her opining in the opening quotation) -- I really liked her, and hope we see her again.

Rebus seems to actually enjoy her company and intelligence -- at the same time, as the co-writer of Cafferty's biography, she represents everything that Rebus fears for Clarke.

 

I've not spent a lot of time talking about the cases -- which are interesting enough, and watching Rebus not be careful around Very Important People from all over the world is fun. But on the whole, the cases felt familiar. Like we've been down these roads before -- not exactly, and both held plenty of surprises, but they seemed like familiar Rebus/Clarke investigations. I might have been tempted to give his a 3-Star rating and move on.

 

BUT, Rankin won't let me -- because putting all of this right smack in the middle of the G8 conference -- and the hullabaloo surrounding it (protests, concerts, marches) -- the Bush bicycling incident, the London bombings, and the announcement of the Olympics coming to London -- added so much to the novel. It grounded it in reality, it presented so many obstacles to the investigations (as well as distractions from the investigations) -- as well as unexpected sources of help (police officers from other jurisdictions that had just the right kind of information). Plus all the "keep Siobhan from becoming Rebus" elements of the novel just captivated me.

 

Another winner. What else is there to say?


2018 Library Love Challenge

Source: http://irresponsiblereader.com/2018/07/09/the-naming-of-the-dead-by-ian-rankin-rebus-and-clarke-find-themselves-in-well-next-to-the-middle-of-global-politics
Saturday Miscellany - 7/7/18

Maybe it was the holiday, maybe it was . . . who knows? I just didn't see that much for this post this week. But there are a couple of odds 'n ends about books and reading that did catch my eye. You've probably seen some/most/all of them, but just in case:

 

  • Marked by Benedict Jacka -- Man, you thought Alex Verus had it rough when he was suspected constantly by TPTB and only trusted to help when they had no choice? Well, now that he's one of TPTB (a minor P, but still) things are so much worse. Really digging this one, hope to post about it early next week.
  • Heroine’s Journey by Sarah Kuhn -- the third volume in this very strange, very charming, and frequently quirky Superhero series looks to continue the strange, charming and quirky ways.

Lastly, I'd like to say hi and extend a warm welcome to atozmom, https://crossfitmomm.com/ and jendionne10 for following the blog this week.

Source: http://irresponsiblereader.com/2018/07/07/saturday-miscellany-7-7-18
Review
3.5 Stars
Samuel Answers a Question a G-g-g-g-host
The Question of the Dead Mistress - Jeff Cohen, E. J. Copperman
"Is my husband having an affair with a dead woman?"


That doesn't seem to be the kind of question that Samuel and Ms. Washburn would tackle as Questions Answered. They typically take on things that require esoteric research, problem solving, and occasionally something that takes some investigation that looks a lot like the kind of thing a P.I. would do. Paranormal investigation is not in their wheelhouse. Samuel is almost reflexively dismissive of the idea -- but his associate, Ms. Washburn makes him listen to the prospective client's story. And then he tries to reflexively dismiss the question, but she won't let him. While Samuel is convinced there's nothing supernatural afoot -- in fact, the notion is impossible -- Ms. Washburn had an experience she can't explain as a teenager, and refuses to rule it out.

 

So Samuel let's her try to come up with an answer to the question and goes back to whatever he was doing before. Before she can get very far into her research, the husband is murdered. Suddenly, the question doesn't matter as much as the replacement question, "Who killed my husband?" Given Ms. Washburn's involvement, Samuel gets interested in things again -- and the two get involved in a very twisty and complicated mystery. As far as twisty-turny-keep you guessing-mysteries go, this is the best that the duo has encountered and will easily satisfy the most puzzle-obsessed of readers.

 

What makes this even better -- is that given the supernatural/supernatural-adjacent nature of the instigating question, the two are approaching things in very different ways and decide to operate largely separately. Samuel interviews people with assistance of other to drive him places or via the Internet, while Ms. Washburn goes on her own, trying to use Samuel's methods. This change in modus operandi is refreshing for the characters and the readers, and will lead both Samuel and Ms. Washburn to re-evaluate the way they do business in the future.

 

The danger level in this one is great -- and there are direct threats made against Ms. Washburn and Samuel's mother and father. Which just makes Samuel more determined to come up with definitive answers quickly. The possible supernatural elements stay with the story throughout and it's only near the end that all the characters come to the same conclusions about it. This novel features a great puzzle and the solution is very satisfactory -- and one I didn't see coming (but in retrospect makes complete sense).

 

So much for the mystery -- there's also plenty going on in Samuel's personal life. On the whole I thought they dealt with it well, but...

 

I appreciated Samuel pointing out that Asperger's is no longer a diagnosis, but he still claims it s a shorthand way to describe the way he acts/thinks to others. Which is just a great -- and realistic -- way to handle the change in status for the label. Let me follow that observation with this one -- what frustrated me about this one -- and I will admit I was very frustrated at times -- is how little Samuel's mother seemed to understand him. Ms. Washburn, too, but she hasn't known Samuel as long -- or as well as his mother. Dealing with the father who abandoned his family decades ago suddenly reappearing and trying to merge back into his life, would be difficult, complicated and messy. For someone like Samuel? Well, I'm guessing it'd be just as difficult and complicated -- but he'd tell you exactly what's going on with him. And Samuel does so -- repeatedly. His father doesn't believe him; Ms. Washburn seems to try to believe him, but doesn't; neither does his mother. His mother has been with him every day of his life, devoting more of her life and energy to her son than most parents do -- how does she not know him well enough to not double-guess his emotions? If Samuel says he feels "X," then that's probably exactly what he feels -- unless you force him to look at things another way. Over and over again, his mother shows less awareness of Samuel's reactions to things than almost anyone. It just didn't ring true. Samuel's Asperger’s isn't new to her (or Samuel) -- she shouldn't act like this.

 

I should add -- the authors know a whole lot more about all of this than I do, and their depictions of this are probably spot-on, I guess they just didn't convince me about those depictions like they usually do. Also, in the overall-scheme of things, this was a relatively minor quibble and didn't detract a lot from the pleasure I had in the book -- it just took a lot of space to describe.

 

The trick to Samuel is to give him a little personal growth, a little greater awareness, a little understanding of himself and the emotional needs of others. Yet, only a little bit. I do think this is depicted faster (possibly unrealistically so) in the books -- because outside of Nero Wolfe, Sherlock Holmes, or other Golden Age/Golden Age-like characters who don't grow and evolve by design, we expect some sort of noticeable personal growth in our series characters (particularly the central characters) from book to book. Samuel shouldn't give us much in that way -- his evolution/growth/whatever you want to call it is going to happen on a glacial pace. And over the last three books (I really need to double back and read the first two in the series), he's taken significant steps forward -- so much so it's like Ms. Washburn has slipped into forgetting that he's not neurotypical a few times here. That makes sense, because their relationship (in every sense) is pretty new. Thankfully, she catches herself and deliberately attempts to accept that -- and generally does - and recognizes when he's trying. Because we readers get a direct pipeline to Samuel's thoughts, we might have an easier time with it than she does, but she does a decent job (and his mother usually does, too). It's a heckuva trick to pull off narratively, and Copperman/Cohen nails it, time and time again.

 

Another clever mystery, well-told with one of Crime Fiction's most original and convincingly written characters (not a detective, just someone who can easily be mistaken for one) -- this series is a consistently pleasant and rewarding read. The Question of the Dead Mistress is a great jumping-on point, and a welcome-return read for those who've spent time with the crew from Questions Answered before.

 

Disclaimer: I received this eARC from Midnight Ink via NetGalley in exchange for this post -- thanks to both for this. My opinions are my own, however.

Source: http://irresponsiblereader.com/2018/07/05/the-question-of-the-dead-mistress-by-e-j-copperman-jeff-cohen-samuel-answers-a-question-a-g-g-g-g-host
Review
3.5 Stars
Dead in the Water - Simon Bower

This appeared at my main blog page as part of a Blog Tour Stop -- that included a sure-win Giveaway, check it out!

---

I'll be upfront with you -- at the core here, there's one decent person in this book (at least among the core eight characters), and we don't spend that much time them. The best you can say about some of the others is that one is an almost-competent professional, a couple of others are a short course of self-improvement away from being decent people -- and the rest are just horrible people. I'm not talking serial killers, stalkers, or dog abusers -- not vile, evil people; just the kind of people we all would like to pretend don't really exist. The book blurb describes some of them as "A human rights’ lawyer, an IT geek, a businessman, a waitress, a phone guy and a physiotherapist." You could also describe them (I've shuffled the order to protect the identities of the guilty) as "A creep, a gold-digger, a busy-body, a drunken philanderer, an unscrupulous businessman who ignores international law, and a more successful gold-digger."

 

These six people find themselves on a vacation together, all carrying their own histories and circumstances and concerns -- on the whole, enjoying themselves -- until some sort of calamity occurs bringing them into contact with France's least-capable police officer, desperate to make his mark on law enforcement. Meanwhile, that one decent person is off living their life, unaware that they're on the verge of being plunged into all the drama ensuing off the coast of France and in the mountains near Switzerland.

 

As I'm reading this, I get the impression I'm being awfully judgemental when it comes to these characters -- and maybe I am. But that's only in retrospect (and occasionally while reading, but that was a passing thing). While reading it, they were just "Charlie," "Ana," "Scott," "Mia," etc. Sure, you'd cringe while Scott makes another poor choice, or something, but you're not sitting there looking down your nose at them the whole novel.

 

Beyond the experience of enjoying a story well told there are different things that will attract a reader to a novel. For me, usually, it's character; frequently it's voice or style. But sometimes -- like, <b>Dead in the Water</b> it'll be something else -- the way the novel is put together. This story is told in a very careful, complex way -- weaving multiple Point of View characters (frequently narrating the same events) and time-jumps together to tell this story. I'd accuse Bower of cheating once (and I'd be right, too) having a character show up i the middle of a sequence without any warning/indication that the character was even on the right continent. Still, it made utter sense that X would be with Y in the middle of Y's plan, so it still worked -- and the suddenness of Y's appearance in the middle of the action was a well-timed and well-executed surprise, that guaranteed the success of story telling.

 

This doesn't mean that there's not a strong voice (or several, in this case), or that the characters were wanting -- they weren't. We have 8 well-drawn characters here, but man, you can tell this was a well-planned and (I'm guessing here) carefully finessed and re-written book to get these dominoes set up just "so." There is a good deal of setting up -- you spend the first 27% or so of the novel waiting for the crime part of this Crime Fiction to get going. Until that point, this could be a General Fiction kind of read. But then the dominoes start to fall, and initially you think that you've got a nice little puzzle before you (made more difficult by <i>every</i>one lying about something), but then a few more fall and you realize that the novel you're about halfway through is not at all what you thought it was.

 

The core of the crime part of this novel comes from a few characters trying to cut corners here and there -- and then more than corners -- to get ahead. Not because they feel life owes it to them, but the opportunities present themselves and these people are too weak/too opportunistic to let them slip by. There are no criminal masterminds at work here (or investigative geniuses on the other side, I should stress), just everyday folk -- people you likely work, live and shop with -- that decide to take the easy way.

 

This almost-Everyman nature of the criminals/would-be criminals in this nature leads me to my last point. I do think this novel could've been more effective -- but not much more. The entire time, it's never more than a couple of inches away from being a wonderful dark comedy. If Bower had just leaned into the humor just a little bit further, every twist and turn would've worked a little better and the novel as a whole would have been better for it. It almost succeeds as one now, it wouldn't take much. But that's not the direction Bower went, so we're left with a pretty good straight crime novel.

 

This is a wonderfully constructed novel full of characters that are all-too believable in circumstances it'd be easy to see yourself in (assuming you had a pretty wealthy uncle and/or college friend who invited you along) in some fantastic locations throughout the world. This is a fun read that will keep you thinking through all the different things that could be happening next. Give this one a shot folks, I think you'll be entertained.

Source: http://irresponsiblereader.com/2018/07/03/dead-in-the-water-by-simon-bower-a-vacation-goes-very-awry-giving-some-characters-their-just-desserts
Review
4 Stars
Season 1 Wraps Up in a Strong and Sufficient Manner -- but will leave the audience wanting more
All the Nations of the Sky - Underwood,  Michael R.

I'm going to try to keep my thoughts to this episode, but I won't promise that I'll succeed.

 

Somewhere between episodes 10 and 11 Michiko made a pretty big decision. Okay, she made a huge decision -- and we only get to see the result, not the thought process -- this is annoying, but I can live with it, if I have to (and, by the by, we know she found something in the paperwork that her predecessor left of interest to the current goings-on, but we're not told what, this also is annoying). Part of the story-telling style that <b>Born to the Blade</b> is employing leaves us open to this kind of thing, so it's to be expected -- I'm just not crazy about it. Still, while I'm excited for what this means for Michiko, her nation, and the narrative opportunities for Season 2, I do regret what it means for some of the character interaction I've been enjoying all along. That's all I'll say about that now.

 

Also, I couldn't help but feel that some of the progress made between Kris and Adechike last week has been walked back a bit -- some of which I understand, most of which I want explained before I can get on board wholly. But I don't see that happening. Still, I liked (both as a fan and as someone who's trying to look at the series through an armchair-critical eye) what both Adechike and Kris did throughout this episode.

 

We got a long-awaited duel in this episode (like last episode), it didn't end the way my fan-boy impulses wanted it to, but did end the way it needed to. It's the kind of thing I think I expected the series to be built on -- and if a certain little war hadn't happened, probably would have.

 

Every jot and tittle about Ojo in this episode was perfect, and I wouldn't change a thing. I can't say any more, but this was spot-on.

 

I'm not sure what else to say at this point without venturing into spoiler territory, so I guess I'll wrap it up.

 

Now, it's easy -- very easy -- to forget about one nation of the seven -- Tsukisen, and their warder, Hii no Taro. Yes, it's explained a few times -- but anytime Tsukisen is mentioned, it only seems to underline how often they aren't. This can be improved -- Underwood had a great opportunity here to fix that, and he passed. Which is okay, he's not the only one who had the opportunity, and I can only assume that this means that there's a plan behind it. I do hope that's rectified quickly in Season 2. And this point probably belongs more to the season-long wrap up post I'm trying to do, but I wanted to get it down before I forgot.

 

This has been dubbed as "Season 1" since the beginning, so we knew everything wasn't going to wrap up nicely. In fact, there's <i>a lot</i> that's left hanging. But we got enough resolution to leave readers satisfied with where things left off. I do hope that Serial Box gives this team another shot to tell their story because I'm very curious about a few things and characters. But for now, we're left with an optimistic, but not a rose-colored glasses, ending -- true to the vision of the initial episodes, but with a darker undercurrent than one might have guessed from the first couple of installments. I'm not wholly sold on everything that happened this season, but I've come to accept and appreciate 96% of it -- and I will probably come around on the rest eventually.

 

A good story, a good cap to the season and a good launching point for a potential Season 2. I'm just going to stop before I say "good" again -- pick up season 1 now, if you haven't yet.

Source: http://irresponsiblereader.com/2018/07/02/born-to-the-blade-1-11-all-the-nations-of-the-sky-by-michael-underwood-season-1-wraps-up-in-a-strong-and-sufficient-manner-but-will-leave-the-audience-wanting-more
June 2018 Report

I read a decent chunk of things -- and rated most of them pretty well. I don't think I had anything under a 3 -- which is the first in a few months (this year, maybe?). The only regret I have is that while the spirit was willing, the flesh was weak and tired, and the writing about what I read just didn't get done. I'd also planned a few posts that weren't just reflections on a particular reading experience that didn't get finished enough to see the light of day. Maybe July will be more productive. Regardless, I'm calling June a winner.

 

So, here's what happened here in June.

Books/Novels/Novellas Read/Listened to:

The Incredible Ordinary Hero or The Brave Bystander: Burns Rubicon Rescued
3 Stars 4 Stars 3.5 Stars
Any Other Name (Audiobook) Refugees Brief Cases
4 Stars 3 Stars 5 Stars
Cry Fox Jesus and His Enemies Kill the Farm Boy
3.5 Stars 3 Stars 4 Stars
White Night (Audiobook) Go Home, Afton Assassination
5 Stars 3.5 Stars 4 Stars
This Thing of Darkness Superheroes Can’t Save You Dry Bones (Audiobook)
4 Stars 3 Stars 4 Stars
The Highwayman (Audiobook) The Last Cleric The Wrong Side Of Goodbye
3.5 Stars 4 Stars 4 Stars
The Eyre Affair (Audiobook) Shattered Blades Volume 1: The Glory of Christ
3 Stars 4 Stars 5 Stars
Marching to Zion The Naming of the Dead The Question of the Dead Mistress
3 Stars 4 Stars 3.5 Stars
All the Nations of the Sky Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (Audiobook) Dead in the Water

 

Still Reading:

Planet Funny Besieged (Audiobook)      

 

Reviews Posted:

 

Book Challenge Progress:

Angel's Guilty Pleasures

Any Other Name (Audiobook) by Craig Johnson, George Guidall

Dry Bones (Audiobook) by Craig Johnson, George Guidall The Highwayman (Audiobook) by Craig Johnson, George Guidall

The Eyre Affair (Audiobook) by Jasper Fforde, Susan Duerden

The Naming of the Dead by Ian Rankin

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (Audiobook) by J. K. Rowling, Jim Dale

The Incredible Ordinary Hero or The Brave Bystander: Burn s by Aida Rascanu, Beatrice Magrini (Illustrator)

Jesus and His Enemies by Paul F. Yeulett

Superheroes Can’t Save You: Epic Examples of Historic Heresies by Todd Miles

Dead in the Water by Simon Bower

The Incredible Ordinary Hero or The Brave Bystander: Burns by Aida Rascanu, Beatrice Magrini (Illustrator)

Another month with nothing for this one...not feeling good about it.

 

How was your month?

Source: http://irresponsiblereader.com/2018/07/02/june-2018-report
Saturday Miscellany - 6/30/18

Ugh. Three posts behind for the week (stupid body requiring sleep); my scheduling was defeated by apparently hitting "draft" instead of "schedule" twice in the last week (took me 7 days to notice one of them); just got a shipment notification for a book I preordered so many months ago I forgot to expect it Tuesday -- which means I have to reorganize my entire week; basically, life as a book blogger is hard, yo.

 

Anyway, enough about my travails and woes. Here are the odds 'n ends over the week about books and reading that caught my eye. You've probably seen some/most/all of them, but just in case:

  • My Plain Jane by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, Jodi Meadows -- you know me, I'm a sucker for takes on Jane Eyre -- even when they come in a YA Romance with a supernatural accent.

Lastly, I'd like to say hi and extend a warm welcome to cagedunn and Aspen Kendrick for following the blog this week.

Source: http://irresponsiblereader.com/2018/06/30/saturday-miscellany-6-30-18
Review
4 Stars
Bosch takes on a new role, and gives the same solidly entertaining result.
The Wrong Side of Goodbye - Michael Connelly

Not shockingly at all, retirement doesn't sit well for Harry Bosch. As we saw in The Crossing, neither does working for defense attorneys. So what's a guy like Harry Bosch -- with that strong sense of mission driving him for decades -- to do with himself when the LAPD forces him to retire?

 

Naturally, he's going to get a PI license and do what he can with. But there's going to be a dearth of clients that want him to investigate the kind of crimes he's driven to investigate. Thankfully, the San Fernando Police Department is suffering a horrible budget crises and can utilize him as a reserve police officer looking at cold cases (this is an actual thing that happens, and was suggested by a member of the SFPD to Connelly as something for Bosch). This is work for free, true, but anyone who thinks that Bosch is driven by money in any real sense hasn't talked to him for five minutes.

 

Bosch is hired by an elderly billionaire (at least), to hunt down a potential heir to his empire -- his family "forced" him to abandon a lower-class woman after he impregnated her in the 50's, and now looking at his mortality rushing to meet him, he wants to pass things on to his heir. He doesn't have much to give Harry to start from -- a name, an employer, and a time frame. That's it. He needs Harry to keep this to himself -- and has him sign a very tight non-disclosure agreement -- because he doesn't trust anyone in the company he's the head of. He's right not to trust anyone, as Harry quickly learns, but that's a whole 'nother story.

 

This case grabs Harry's attention, particularly when he becomes convinced that he's tracked down the heir -- who served in Vietnam at the same time Harry did. In fact, Harry's reasonably sure that they were briefly on the same ship at the same time. In addition to this being very interesting, watching Harry backtrack this man's family -- this focus on Vietnam gets Harry to reflect some on his time there, and even discuss a bit with Maddie. I think this is the most that Harry has talked about Vietnam since The Black Echo (feel free to correct me in the comments), and I appreciate reminding us where the character comes from.

 

As interesting as that is -- both through the procedure Harry enacts, what's revealed about the case and himself, plus the surprising amount of peril that beings to follow him -- the other case that Harry's looking into is more up his alley.

 

In the course of his duties as a reserve officer, he's been looking through cases that haven't been closed -- the one he's focused on now isn't a murder (as you'd expect), but is a serial rapist. Between the way the cases were reported, the staffing problems SFPD has, some jurisdictional issues, and (most importantly) language barriers, it wasn't until Harry started reading all the case files he could get his hands on that patterns started to emerge and a coherent picture of one criminal's work became clear. The SFPD detective that Harry's working with, Bella Lourdes, seems like a solid detective -- probably not as obsessive as Harry, but a dedicated detective. She's able to handle the interview side of things better than Harry, actually (see the language barrier, among other things). As things heat up with the other case, Harry can't get away and Lourdes ends up carrying the water on vital aspects of this by herself. It's one of the healthier partnerships Harry's had, really. But don't worry -- at the end of the day, this is a Harry Bosch novel. Not a Harry and Bella. Harry'll put all the pieces together -- but not early enough to keep things from getting pretty harrowing for all involved.

 

MIckey Haller shows up briefly early on, and I thought "oh, that was a nice cameo." But at some point, he becomes a strong supporting character -- as important to the private client storyline as Lourdes was to the serial rapist. I appreciated the smooth way that Connelly merged Haller into this novel. But that's not all -- Harry spent a moment thinking about Jerry Edgar (is that the influence of the Amazon series, or just Harry getting retrospective?) and there was a completely unnecessary -- but nice -- little appearance by Det. Lucia Soto. Unnecessary to the plot, but it shows something about Harry, I think, that wouldn't have described him a few books ago.

 

The mysteries themselves are a shade on the easy side for this series -- but the fun in this comes from watching Bosch chip away, step by step, through the process. Sure, he cuts a corner or five, makes several lucky guesses -- but we're not looking for verisimilitude here, right?

 

That said, there were several moments in the latter third or so that I assumed I had everything worked out -- and I was right as much as I was wrong. Connelly didn't cheat, but he zagged a lot when I was sure he was going to zig. At this stage of the game, for Connelly to be able to fool me that often, that says plenty about his skill.*

A good ride for old fans -- a decent (not excellent, but acceptable) place for a new reader to jump on -- The Wrong Side of Goodbye capably demonstrates why Michael Connelly in general, and Harry Bosch in particular, has been at the top of the American Crime Fiction scene -- and likely will stay there for quite some time.

 

*Sure, it could say something about me, and what kind of reader I am, but let's give credit ot Connelly's craft and not my gullibility, shall we?

Source: http://irresponsiblereader.com/2018/06/28/the-wrong-side-of-goodbye-by-michael-connelly-bosch-takes-on-a-new-role-and-gives-the-same-solidly-entertaining-result
No . . . just . . . No (or Initial Thoughts on Netflix's announced adaptation of Atkin's Wonderland)

According to Variety and Deadline stories today, another actor has been tapped to take on the role of Robert B. Parker's Spenser: Mark Whalberg. He'll be starring in Peter Berg's movie for Netflix, an adaptation of Wonderland -- the second novel Ace Atkins wrote about the Boston sleuth -- as the potential first in a series.

 

I'm not Whalberg's biggest fan, but given the right material, he's good and he can pull of the physicality needed (and then some, but, whatever). And I have more trust in Peter Berg than most directors (Battleship notwithstanding). And the source material is great.

 

BUT. . .

From Deadline's story:

The movie will differ from the novel, in that it begins with Spenser emerging from a prison stretch, stripped of his private investigator license. Here, he gets pulled back into the underbelly of the Boston crime world when he uncovers the truth about a sensational murder and the twisted conspiracy behind it.

Stripped of his PI license after a prison stretch???? I know that adaptations have to make changes to the character, that's the whole point of adapting. But this is striking at the core of the character. Spenser a felon? That's a deal breaker. That makes almost all the changes in The Dresden Files series seem acceptable. It's like making Edward a werewolf and Jacob a vampire. Or using an animated tiger in Life of Pi à la Bedknobs and Broomsticks. I'm having trouble here, okay? You can get the gist of what I'm saying.

 

So, I'm happy for the Parker Estate, Ace Atkins and anyone else who made some money off this. I'm happier yet for anyone who discovers Parker/Atkins/Spenser because of this.

 

But...nope. Just flat-out no. Count me out.*

 

 

 

*(which everyone knows is a giant lie, I'm totally going to watch this because I'm weak, I'm a sucker, and a Spenser-addict)

Source: http://irresponsiblereader.com/2018/06/26/no-just-no-or-initial-thoughts-on-netflixs-announced-adaptation-of-atkins-wonderland