Sunday, May 29, 2011

Book Report #22 of 26

Janet Evanovich

This was another fun romp through the world of Stephanie Plumb; bumbling rookie, bounty hunter wannabe.

This time she's trying to apprehend an ex-soldier who is selling restricted military weapons on the street.  Along the way she gets help from a cop friend, an experienced bounty hunter and her grandmother.

Like the first book you find yourself rooting for Stephanie, hoping she'll figure something out that can help her become a better bounty hunter.  She is forever getting her apartment broken into and at one point in the story she gets her Jeep stolen.  She then has to borrow a 1958 Buick she dubs Big Blue.  This car is as much a character in the story as anybody else.

It really is refershing to read about a person who's trying to figure it all out.  Especially since the genre is stacked with characters who are "the best" at what they do.

This book was a fun easy read.

I'm looking forward to reading the next one in the series - Three to get Deadly.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Book Report #21 of 26


This book is a real tip-of-the-hat to Elmore Leonard.  It's crime, for sure, but in that funny-how-things-happen sort of way.  These types of stories feel more real than most crime fiction because the plot can be sent off in an unexpected direction simply because a character turned left instead of right.  Which is how most crimes get solved in the world; someone makes a tiny mistake and the whole master plan comes crashing down.

This story revolves around Matthew Worth who's been busted to night patrol at a supermarket where we find him bagging groceries, just to help out.  He meets Gwen, a check out girl and one night she comes to him with a problem.  From the blurb on the back of the book the story is described like this; "Worth discovers just how far he's willing  to go to protect and to serve.  The next thing he knows, he's driving a stolen car with a corpse in the trunk, a pistol in the glove box, and no way to turn back."

This is definitely a ride and I liked it a lot.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Book Report #20 of 26


Again, this was a knock out book by Lehane.  The second in the Kenzie & Gennaro series.

What I liked best about it was the expansion of the relationship between the two detectives but also the filling out of the South Boston environment with new characters and some that were introduced in the first novel.

I won't go into the details but Lehane did his magic again by bringing seemingly unrelated events together to form a rich and scary story.  Unfortunately he went with the crazy-serial-killer route, one that I just don't enjoy, just because I don't like crazy people.  Smart people are much, much more interesting.  Organized crime is much more interesting.  Cops are much more interesting.  Oh, well.

The city of Boston came to life in the story, I especially liked the bit about just how long the Mass. Ave. Bridge is.  (Measured in Smoots, by the way.)

Look it up here.

The next book in the series is Sacred.

Mass Ave Bridge

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Book Report #19 of 26


First I saw the movie - loved the movie - then I read the book - loved the book too!

Repo men, the term, brings up images of cars repossessed in the middle of the night; of deadbeats who can't or won't pay their bills; and of the "men" themselves who are not much better than their clients.

Now spin this world into a dysfunctional future where the same thing happens but instead of cars it's artificial organs that are being repossessed.  Oh, yea, you read that right - organs.  Hearts, livers, kidneys, you name it, technology has progressed so far that any organ can now be manufactured instead of transplanted.  Think of just how wonderful that can be.  Now think of it outside of the Canadian and British models of healthcare and think of it in the terms of the for-profit world of American health care.

So, a person needs a new pancreas but has to buy it himself.  He certainly can't afford to just write a cheque for it; these things cost tens if not hundreds of thousands of dollars and, even in the future, that's a lot of money.  So he must finance the purchase from the Credit Union which is also responsible for repossessing the organ should the client default on the loan.

Gross!  Right?  But strangely compelling, right?  I mean, how can you do that?  You'd kill the person, right?  How could that be legal?  Who would take the job of repo man?  All of these reactions are natural and the author is counting on you to have them,  I was fascinated to find out what kind of world you'd have to live in for this career to exist. 

Of course there is way more going on than just the "job", that would be a boring book.  The main character, Remy is very good at what he does but circumstances along the way cause him to be on the other side of the job.

The book was well written and very different from the movie.  The author, Garcia, used a rotating structure in the book where Remy is narrating from his present telling short stories about his past in the military and of his five marriages and five divorces.  All these stories add a little bit of insight into Remy and how he got to where he is.  Garcia also keeps the details of how Remy went from repo man to target (or client, to use the term from the book) to the last moment and it all gels together in a very satisfying way.

I must admit that I didn't quite get the final twist at the end.  I was scratching my head a bit there, thinking, "Hmm.  I'm not sure I really buy that but I'll let it go because the rest of it was so good."  

One last thing - just look at the cover of this book!  It's actually the movie poster but it conveys the whole look and feel of the book in one image.  It's dark, (black and white, well blue and white) it's dangerous (just look at that cannon that Forest Whitaker is holding!) it's strange (what's with the weird tattoos?) it's a job (company coffee cup) and it's darkly funny (see the blood on the cup?).  The world Garcia created here was really cool and it was fun to visit for a while but I really would not want to buy a house there.

And one more last thing.  There is a very interesting essay at the back of the book explaining just how it all came into being.  What I liked best about it was the evolution of the title; it started as a thirteen page short story called The Telltale Pancreas which was then turned into a screenplay called The Repossession Mambo then into the movie Repo Men.

I like The Telltale Pancreas best.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Book Report #18 of 26


Boy am I glad to be me.  You see, I've never read any of Lehane's novels until now.  I've known about him for quite some time; mostly I know of his movies, or, more accurately, his novels that have been turned into movies.  Think; Mystic River, Shutter Island and Gone, Baby Gone.  The first two movies were adaptations of his two stand-alone novels but the third, Gone, Baby Gone is an adaptation of his fourth novel in the Kenzie and Gennaro series of detective novels.

As I've mentioned before, I love my dark, noir detective fiction.  Show me the underbelly of society and I'm yours.  I prefer the desperate to the depraved; people hard on their luck not sickos.  A crime of passion or opportunity is much more interesting, to me, than some nut-job who kills or tortures for fun.  Through what I've heard of the movies I've always known that Lehane was an author that I wanted to read and I'm in the lucky position to have never read nor watched anything that has come from his mind.  I am determined to read his books in order and to watch his movies only after I've finished reading the book it came from.  Again, I'm glad to be me.

This first book was fantastic.  It took a little while to get hold of the characters and, more interestingly, where they keep their office.  (The bell tower of a church.  Go figure.)  But by the second half of the book Patrick Kenzie and his partner Angie Gennaro came to life.  These are a couple of tough characters who live in the toughest parts of Boston.  They are hired by some powerful politicians to find a cleaning lady who, they say, stole some sensitive documents.  Simple enough, until they find her and discover what is contained in these documents.  Bodies start to pile up quickly and characters who seem to have nothing to do with each other are connected in surprising ways.

All of the twists and turns at first seem wild but then make absolute sense once Kenzie and Gennaro dig into the case.  The book is deeply three dimensional with Lehane's descriptions of South Boston and the relationship between Patrick and Angie.  By the end of the book I had the satisfying feeling of being grateful for having had the experience.

The next book in the series is titled - Darkness, Take My Hand.