Blog Posts by Uncle Will

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by Ronald L. Davis

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11/13/08
If one is a fan of the American theater, one will enjoy reading this book about Mary Martin, who is arguably the First Lady of Broadway.  This talented trooper had a career that span more than 50.  Being a member of the boomer generation, I was drawn to this book by the picture on the cover depicting Mary as her most memorable character, Peter Pan.  Davis has an easy writing style and the book is a fast read.  Several questions about Mary's infamous personal life are addressed.
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by Michael Koryta

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11/04/08
This is young author Koryta's 4th novel. The book jacket says he was first published at age 21. I have not read any of his others, but I enjoyed this book. The plot begs the question: How does a child deal with a negative legacy passed down to him by his parent? Frank Temple III (" ...There are no juniors around here!...") was just 17 years old when his father, a man he idolized, committed suicide rather than face public trial and probable execution for being a U.S. Marshal that moonlighted as a contract assassin. Frank Temple II was a loving father and superb teacher. He taught his son how to be the best living, lethal weapon on the planet. Seven years after his father's suicide, Frank III still carries a vendetta for the Miami Man that he thinks forced his father to kill himself. When Frank III gets a tip that the Miami Man is headed up to a cottage on an isolated Wisconsin lake, he decides it's time to settle the score. Little does he realize that his life is about to collide with two beautiful women, two contract killers, a runaway prison guard, an ex-Vietnam Vet caretaker/former mentor, a friendly Chicago FBI agent, a suspicious Wisconsin FBI agent, and the rear end of a late model silver Lexus. Supposedly, Koryta ran into Dennis Lehane on an elevator early in Kortya's career and that chance meeting led to a nice dedication written in this book.
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10/10/08
This is book VI in the Men at War series. The story takes place in the time leading up to the Normandy Invasion.  The Allied troops are trying to keep secret where the real landing is taking place and there is a lot of bogus information being leaked to the German High Command in the attempt to create a smoke 'n' mirrors effect.  I especially enjoyed the sub-plot that has Cmdr. Ian Flemming, Maj. David Nivens and his batman, Pvt. Peter Ustinov trying to create a background history for a corpse that they are keeping on dry ice.  Their mission is to place this body in the sea and have it wash-up to shore and hopefully be discovered by the Gestapo.  The British Secret Service has taken great pains to make the Germans believe that the body is that of a secret-document-carrying-Allied-officer.  Griffin likes to use famous characters in his historic fiction and this subplot is by far his most humorous.  Another reoccurring sub-plot has Maj. Dick Canidy still searching for his lost-love, Ann Chambers, who is the missing victim of an air-raid in London.  Once again, the nice thing about Griffin's novels is that a first-time reader is not required to read all of the prior books in each of his series in order to find some enjoyment.
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by John Sandford

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10/07/08
Many avid Sandford readers have enjoyed his 20 previous Lucas Davenport "Prey" novel series. This book is the second in a spin-off series that stars Virgil Flowers. Virgil is a lover and a loner. He has long blond locks, wears cowboy boots and controversial T-shirts, and drives a pickup truck that usually is pulling a fishing boat. He is the author of outdoor adventure articles that get published regularly in an assortment of magazines. Virgil is a special investigator for the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA). Virgil's boss, Davenport, calls on him to solve the most difficult cases. This book is about unpunished Vietnam War crimes and a professional hit team that has come to America for long-awaited payback. Virgil Flowers is a unique character. He is intelligent, resourceful, and quite the ladies-man. He does a lot of his deep thinking while driving or fishin' on a lake or river. Even though I was able to figure out the ending about 70-pages in, I was not disappointed in the journey.
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by Charles Strouse

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10/02/08
As a song writer and lover of musicals, I found this Charles Strouse autobiography delightful.   He has written some good musicals and some great ones.  My favorite is Bye Bye Birdie.  I enjoyed reading about his creative process and the behind-the-scenes stories.  I was fascinated reading how certain casts were selected and the politics involved.  I often wondered how blond Janet Leigh beat out Chita Rivera for the role of Rosie Alvarez in the movie version of Birdie.  I had forgotten about all the controversy when Sammy Davis Jr. was cast in Golden Boy and was the first Black actor to kiss a Caucasian women on stage and the death threats that ensued.  Strouse has a great wit and his writing style was easy-going and conversational.  Strouse is in both the Theatre and Songwriters Hall of Fame.  He has led a charmed life. 
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by Richard Montanari

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09/11/08
Badlands is the seventh suspense novel in the series of books written about the Philadelphia Homicide Detective dual of Kevin Byrne and Jessica Balzano.  If one likes riddles and magic, this book will be a good read.  The story evolves around a troubled magician wannabe who is kidnapping runaways and using them to create his grand illusion:  The Seven Wonders of the World.  The premise is that "...organized games go back as far as language itself" and that "...the first IQ test was a puzzle:  The Riddle of the Sphinx." Reading this book I learned what tangrams were and got caught-up in trying to solve the diabolical puzzle created by the ominous, Mr. Ludo.   Once again Montanari draws his readers in by creating characters that are multidimensional and believable.  If one is a Montanari fan, this book will not disappoint: The Riddle of the Sphinx?  "What has four feet in the morning, two at noon, and three at night?"
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by Jack Ketchum

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09/04/08
Offspring is the sequel to Out of Season which was a story about a clan of cannibalistic children that terrorized the east coast.  The hero of both books is the old, overweight police chief, George Peters.  Eleven years have passed since Peters thought he had killed the last of the clan.  His wife has died of cancer and he has quietly retired to a sedentary life of alcohol consumption to try to erase the painful memories of his near-death battle with the kiddie klan, the passing of several of his deputies and several innocent victims, and his best friend and loving partner, Mary.  Unfortunately, the clan is alive and prospering by stealing babies and raising them as their own.  They have pretty much remained undetected through perseverance and dumb-luck over the years.  They are back to the battlefield town of Dead River, Maine and the madness is about to be repeated.  Stephen King has written high praise about Ketchum's work, so I thought I would give him a try.  I was not surprised to find out that some of his books were made into B horror movies.  His writing is very descriptive.  Not anywhere approaching great literature, but he does know how to spin a suspenseful yarn...that leans heavily towards the grotesque side of life. 
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by Jeffrey Deaver

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08/02/08
Warning!  After reading this book you might never use a charge/debit card again.  Identity theft is quite the topic these days.  Deaver's latest book in his Lincoln Rhyme series is about this subject, only on a grand scale.  When we think of identity theft, we tend to internalize.  What if this happens to me?  Deaver takes this to the next level.  Picture about 400,000,000 Americans; each having a 500-page dossier that contains all of their personal/professional/private information, and all this info is stored on a super-computer.  This privately owned and managed computer system is not subject to federal laws and/or guidelines.  To confuse things further, most federal and state government agencies including police forces, rely on the data this company supplies.  The founder and owner of the company's motto:  "Information is power".  Deaver's plot is diabolical.  A serial-killer has found a way to commit murder and have all the evidence point toward an innocent bystander of his preconceived choice.  The killer cannot only plant evidence but manipulate the investigations and investigators.  As usual, Deaver has many characters for his reader's to choose from that might be the killer.  I guessed wrong and was not pleased.  Author's note:  The non-fiction book that Deaver got a lot of ideas from is No Place to Hide by Robert O'Harrow, Jr., which is in our collection (303.4833/O'HARROW,R).
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by Richard Montanari

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07/17/08
Richard Montanari is my new favorite mystery author.  Merciless is his 6th novel.  His books are about two homicide detective partners from Philadelphia:  Kevin Byrne and Jessica Balzano.  I like the bond that is between both of these characters.  Very supportive and caring.  Both are descendants of cop families.  Byrne is divorced with a deaf-mute teenage daughter that he adores.  Jessica is part-time pro boxer who is married to a pretty-boy vice cop, who once strayed from his wedding vows, and is trying to save their marriage.  They have a precocious 5-year old daughter.   Montanari's books are always quick-paced and I usually read them at one or two sittings.   Merciless is set in Philadelphia; which can be rough city with a high crime rate.  At times there is a lot of irony in it being known as the City of Brotherly Love.  Merciless is about a serial killer with a Hans Christian Andersen fetish.  If you like mysteries with good character development and a lot of suspense, you enjoy this book.
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by W.E.B. Griffin

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07/03/08
Author W.E.B. Griffin is a knowledgeable historian and master of character development. He has written over 40 novels divided into 6 different series of books primarily dealing with World War II and all of the armed forces' branches. His books are always very comprehensive and show great detail toward the time period. Loyal fans of his have been waiting nearly 10 years for this installment. I was worried that I would have to reread his last previously written book in this series in order to remember the plot and characters; however, I should have remembered that all of Griffin's characters are so memorable, that I just fell right into this next chapter in their lives. Griffin's characters are generally fictitious, based on real people. His plots are always based on historic facts written as nonfiction prose. The Honor Bound series of books deal with U.S.A. Marine aviator, Capt. Frade, and hi selection by "Will Bill" Donovan into the OSS (prelude to the C.I.A.) Frade was born in Argentina and because of political connections in that country is posted there around 1942 to spy. His "Uncle Tio"is the legendary Col. Juan Peron (who later went on to become the leader of Argentina) who is a Nazi sympathizer. The major plot line in this book is the seldom talked about extortion scheme the Nazis developed late in the war that released Jewish prisoners held in concentration camps in exchange for gold. The riches collected were then transported to Argentina, in secret, by submarine; to be stashed for use by high-ranking Nazi officials after they lost the war.
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