Blog Posts by Uncle Will

Posted by Uncle Will on 07/15/11
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Richard Kilmer is a journalist who thinks he might be going crazy.  He has a good career, a loving girlfriend he wants to propose to, and his health.  But an innocent trip to upstate New York to meet Jennifer's parents becomes a living nightmare for Kilmer. 
 
His nightmare begins with a car crash that has Kilmer waking up to a perplexing state of events.  Jennifer cannot be found at the scene of the accident.  Furthermore,  it appears that Jennifer never existed.  All traces of her have vanished.  Friends have no recollection of her ever being with Kilmer.   Desperate, he publishes a story depicting his plight and becomes a national punch line. 
 
Kilmer finds nothing humorous in his situation.  As he backtracks on his recent past, he realizes that he remembers things that appear to have never taken place and has forgotten those that have.  Who can he trust if he cannot trust himself?
 
Readers have learned to trust that Rosenfelt will supply them with a story that is gripping and thought provoking.  Reading this book is like driving on Mulholland Drive in L.A.  There is an abundance of twists and turns to make the ride interesting and memorable. 
 
Posted by Uncle Will on 07/07/11
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Make no mistake, this book is not a true mystery by definition.  There really isn't a dead body.  New to the AHML collection, but first published in 1952, this book has been resurrected under the category of "hard-boiled noir."   It is short, not sweet, and packs a punch.  There is a plethora of low-life characters with Willa Ree as their poster boy.
 
Given a female name at birth, Ree is a immoral hobo who descends upon a virtueless oil town in Texas like a sweeping vulture.  It turns out that the town's mayor is looking for a man with Ree's talents to become police chief.  One of Ree's talents is that he is unscrupulous and mercenary.  While hired under the guise of defender of law and order, Ree establishes his goal of robbing the town blind and splitting before being caught and convicted.
 
What is fascinating about this book is that the tale is timeless.  Trains still run.  Towns are still corrupt.  Men prey upon the weak.  Woman are still used and spit out.  Politicians are corrupt.  Bullies prevail. 
 
Davis' novella is not dated.  There are no descriptions of old cars, clothing, or any other telltale signs of fiction created over 50 years ago.  It simply reads like "a hot kiss at the end of a wet fist."  
Posted by Uncle Will on 06/20/11
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This book's jacket says that author Nesbo is a Norwegian musician and composer.  This helps explain why this book reads like listening to a great piece of Classical music.  The plot is multi-layered, as if recorded on a sound stage using talented musicians interpreting the score.  
 
Nesbo is a grand conductor.  A multitude of characters is no deterrent.  Each uniquely adds to  the coloring of this story.  In some series, reading in chronological order is paramount.  Not with Nesbo.  Back-story be damned.  He has so much to say and say well, that each book stands on its own.   If anything, each book leaves the reader wanting more - the ultimate compliment for anyone that creates art. 
 
The hero is Harry Hole.  He's an Oslo Police Inspector with more baggage than a train porter with six arms.  He is a recovering alcoholic who falls on and off the wagon more times than a toddler trying to hold onto a Radio Flyer racing on a rock pile.   He is tragic and sympathetic.  He's a person that is in need of being smacked upside the head at times, just to get his attention.  He is unlucky with women to a fault.  The fault is that women close to him all seem to die.  
 
In this book, Harry is juggling several investigations; some assigned, some assumed.  It doesn't help his peace of mind that he is trying to prevent becoming the prime suspect in one of these investigations.  
 
Harry Hole is a trapeze artist who is presently plodding through life without a safety net.  Readers should plan on getting to the circus tent early and bring plenty of popcorn. 
 
The act at center stage is remarkable, if not death-defying. 
 
 
 
     
Posted by Uncle Will on 06/13/11
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Back in 1966, Argosy Magazine ran a picture of Adolph Hitler and a gold .32 automatic pistol on their cover.   The fascination with this pistol's history started back during WWII when it was found in a desk drawer in one of Hitler's homes.  This book documents the events leading up to the pistol's discovery and the soldier that smuggled it back to the States.
 
Teen Palm is an unlikely name for a hero.  Palm was a talented and promising singer and musician before the war in Europe beckoned for his services.  He was a devout Christian; and his faith was the foundation for this story. 
 
This story includes a historic perspective that is not widely known or written about.  It chronicles internal German guerrilla warfare that was taking place just prior to the downfall of Berlin.  It also tells of an assassination attempt on Hitler that failed.   History fans of that period will enjoy the telling of those lesser known facts.
 
Spoiler alert!  If the intention when reading this book is to get answers about the infamous pistol...this will not happen.  Questions remain to this day.  If the intention when reading this book is to gain some insight on how man's faith in his God and his country prevails, then there'll be little disappointment.
Posted by Uncle Will on 05/26/11
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Sweden's biggest selling mystery writer is back with the second in her series of English translated novels.
 
In the first book, The Ice Princess, Erica helps solve a murder mystery and has her account of the investigation published.  It goes on to become a best seller.  Erica is now pregnant and trying to cope with the hottest summer to date in Fjallbacka.  Her boyfriend, Det. Patrik Hedstrom, and father of their expected baby, is trying to find a missing girl while she is still alive.  One girl's body has already been found on what turns out to be the remains of two other girls' skeletons.  The murder victims appear to have been previously buried and their corpses dug up.   
Anna, (Erica's younger sister), and her two children, have left her abusive husband and started divorce proceedings.  Anna has never pressed any criminal charges against her former husband after all the times she was beaten.  This proves to be a big legal mistake.  Her ex is spinning a web of lies in court that do not reflect favorably on Anna as a caring mother.  Anna is trying to move on with her life, but again makes the wrong choice in male companionship -  to Erika's dismay.
 
Patrik's police team are all trying, in their own quirky ways, to cope with the pressure of finding the missing girl in time and solve the murder mystery that appears to be both serial and predated back to the '70's. 
 
Fjallbacka is a small town with limited resources.  A five-man police force, that is comprised of a professional golfer wannabe, a publicity-seeking Chief, a lazy brown-noser, and an inexperienced over-achiever is not the supporting cast that Patrik would have chosen.  The suspects are a generational family with religious and criminals pasts.  
 
As is her M.O., Lackberg supplies multiple characters and subplots to her mixture of suspense and storytelling.   Supposedly there are another five books, already published and best sellers in Sweden, that continue this series.  Avid fans should hunker-down for a long ride.  
 
 
 
Posted by Uncle Will on 05/17/11
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Some books are good on long trips.  Some are better at bedtime.  Others adorn coffee tables with little or nothing more to offer.  A fair share get labeled as good bathroom reads.  This book fits the latter category.
 
Comprised of about 250 "personal letters," this book is quite clever.  It is reminiscent of the books penned back in the late '70's by Frank Novello writing as Lazlo Toth (The Lazlo Letters, Citizen Lazlo!, and From Bush to Bush).  The author, Ted L. Nancy, is the pseudonym used by comedian Barry Marder. 
 
Marder was a writer on the award winning "Seinfeld" TV series.  This book's forward was written by Jerry Seinfeld, who for a while was rumored the "true identity" of the author for this series of books. 
 
Marder's correspondence is referred to as prank letters.  There are a variety of businesses, places, and people pranked.  At times it is hard to determine what's funnier - the initial letters themselves or the actual responses.    
 
 
 
Posted by Uncle Will on 04/28/11
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For those who found Stieg Larsson's Girl with the Dragon Tattoo series of books to be  fresh, invigorating diversions, prepare thyself - there is a new Swedish Sheriff in town!  Her name is Camilla Lackberg and this book is the first in her series of seven mysteries. 
 
Besides the common thread that both authors were born in Sweden, they share the same American translator, Steven T. Murray.  The major differences are that Lackberg is alive and writing and has been deemed Sweden's most successful writer of all time.  This series has surpassed her late counterpart's in gross sales. 
 
Not certain what is fed to young mystery writers in Sweden that enables them to create such troubled, yet interesting characters.   The storylines do dip towards the dark side. 
 
Erika Falck is a biographer who returns home to sort out the estate of her late parents.  Erika learns that her once best friend, Alexandra, has been found dead, frozen in her bathtub, in an unheated house.   Erika's curiosity about her friend's death leads her to the police investigator in charge of the case, Patrik Hedstrom, another old childhood friend.
 
Fortunately for Erika (and readers who enjoy a nice romantic twist) Patrik never got over his childhood crush on Erika.  Flames kindle as the investigation grows more complicated by the day.  The town drunkard, who was having an unlikely affair with Alexandra, is then also found dead.  
 
There is no shortage of characters in this book and all have significant back-stories.  For a book being 400 pages long, there are only six chapters.   Dialog is buried in paragraphs.  The story starts slow and is not very seductive, but gains speed after about 50 pages.  This was a similar criticism for Larsson's first novel, that didn't hook the reader until after 75 pages or so.   Sticking with this book is worth the time invested.  Because of the number of characters and sub-plots, it will be difficult to guess the ending.  Lackberg has laid the foundation for a long-running series. 
 
 
 
Posted by Uncle Will on 04/14/11
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Even though this book is cataloged as Fiction, it is definitely Sci-Fi/Fantasy.  Matheson is probably best known for his novels:  I am Legend, What Dreams May Come, Somewhere in Time, The Incredible Shrinking Man, Hell House, and The Night Stalker.  He also penned the short story Nightmare at 20,000 Feet which is one of the most famous episodes from the "Twilight Zone."
 
This story begins as a recollection by the 80+ year old author, Alex White (aka Alex Black).   During World War I, Alex meets his soon-to-be best friend in a trench in France.  Alex is fighting for America and Harold is there for his beloved Britain.    While dodging mortars and hand-grenades, the two form a special bond.  As the war progresses, so does the likelihood that their deaths are near.  
 
Harold's dying words to Alex are the rekindling of past stories about Harold's "gorgeous" village in England named Gatford.  Alex is bequeathed a wad of gold the size of a fist and vows to find the place after his medical discharge.
 
Gatford proves to be almost impossible to find.  When Alex finally discovers it, he agrees it is gorgeous and decides to settle down there.  Only 18 years old and very impressionable, Alex gets into a relationship with the local witch, Magda, who is old enough to be his mother.   Alex discover that the nearby forest is called Middle Earth; the home to a nation of fairies.  
 
Alex slowly begins to break the rules passed on to him by town-folk and eventually falls in love with the diminutive fairy, Ruthana.  What follows is a sweet story of love and loss in a mixed-marriage (human and fairy) peppered with a vow of vengeance by the vindictive half-brother of Ruthana.
 
The narrative of this book is borderline grating.  Alex is the type of person that cannot take a stand on anything and questions everything he says and believes.  Not a good quality in an author leastwise a narrator.  The frequency of the narrator's "second thoughts" is so reoccurring that it almost becomes annoying.   And yet this story has enough twists and turns to keep the pages turning. 
Posted by Uncle Will on 04/04/11
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What's better than stumbling upon a new mystery series author?
 
This is the 5th book in Randisi's Rat Pack series.   Baby boomers and boomettes recall that the Rat Pack was comprised of Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr., Joey Bishop and Peter Lawford.  The '60's were their heyday and their kingdom was Las Vegas.
 
Eddie G. is a pit boss in a mob-run Nevada casino.  He also is a fixer.  Eddie G. ("...just call me Eddie...") knows a lot of people.  This knowledge endears him to The Chairman of the Board, aka:  Sinatra.  In past Randisi novels we learn that Eddie was minutes late to Marilyn Monroe's date with destiny,  helped Dino when he was being blackmailed, assisted Sammy when the little man shot someone in Eddie's living room and  is currently attempting to protect Ava Gardner.  
 
All of the books have titles that play upon popular song titles:  "Everybody Kills Somebody Sometime";  "Luck be a Lady, Don't Die"; "Hey There, You With the Gun in Your Hand"; "You're Nobody Till Somebody Kills You."
 
The narrative is right out of film noir.  The sentences are clipped.  The characters' shoulders all have chips.  Sexism is the standard where women are "broads" and nothing gets discussed unless it is over a few fingers of booze and several smokes. 
 
Eddie G. is a lover, not much of a fighter, so he always teams up with a lovable enforcer named Jerry Epstein.  Jerry loves to cook and eat and has no qualms about breaking bones.  It's his business.
 
Mystery lovers should make it their business to check out this series.  It will deliver.  That's a fact, Jack.
 
 
 
 
 
Posted by Uncle Will on 03/23/11
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One night walking the streets of London, Richard Mayhew chances upon a lady in need of a good Samaritan.  Once Mayhew touches her he is drawn below the city to a world that not many know exits. 
 
This is the premise of Neverwhere.  Unbeknownst to most,  London has an underbelly;  a city-beneath-the-city.  People enter this world by falling thru the cracks.  In Neverwhere angels and demons exist.  Rats talk.  Evil is personified in the likeness of two men centuries old.  Royalty is in jeopardy. 
 
Door, the rescued young woman, is the daughter of the King of Neverwhere.  Her family has been slaughtered and she is on the run from two eternal assassins:  Mr. Croup and Mr. Vandemar.  She gets aid from a mercurial Marquis.  She holds auditions and hires the underworld's best body guard:  Hunter.  Door's quest is to find the Angel Islington, who was working on a secret project with her father that holds the key to why she lost her family and is now a target.  The Angel also might know a way for Mayhew to be able to return to his former life, above ground.
 
This book is like The Twilight Zone meets Mad Max in the Thunderdome.   It is very visual.  Richard Mayhew is an unimposing ordinary guy, when placed in a difficult situation, rises to levels within himself, that he doesn't know exists.  After reading, try watching the DVD version in our collection that was a BBC miniseries by the same title. 
Want recommendations on what to read next? Email advisory@ahml.info and we will be happy to assist you in finding a great book to read.
 
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6.012 Patron-Generated Content

04/27/2011
The Library offers various venues in which patrons can contribute content that is accessible to the public.  These include, but are not limited to, blogs, reviews, forums, and social tagging on the Library’s website and catalog.  Any instance in which a patron posts written or recorded content to any of the Library’s venues that are accessible to the public is considered “patron-generated content” and is subject to this policy.
 
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