Blog Posts by Uncle Will
This first-in-a-series-novel is a psychological thriller for the mature adult. Archie Sheridan for ten years led a team of investigators trying to capture a serial killer. Instead, the serial killer, Gretchen Lowell, capture him and proceeded to torture him slowly till she killed him and then brought him back to life to begin round two. Some might call this novel twisted, but I found it refreshingly different. I can't ever recall reading fiction about characters like these. Gretchen Lowell is a beautiful demented person. She has successfully ruined Archie's marriage and life. He is addicted to pain pills and has an ongoing symbiotic relationship with the she-devil that he has helped incarcerate. His relationship with her is so askew that he visits her every Sunday in prison trying to learn the identities of the over 200 people Lowell has tortured and killed. Cain's characters are so complex that I cannot even begin to describe all their pseudo-sexual conflicts. This was a 1-day read and I was lucky to get to read her follow-up book, Sweetheart, that is in our new book collection. Cain has a good career ahead of her.
The main character, Jack McClure, has dyslexia and works for the ATF. He can conquer a Rubik's Cube puzzle in under 4 minutes, but has a hard time reading road signs. He is mourning the recent, tragic loss of his 20 year old daughter, Emma, which has led to a dissolved marriage. His daughter's best friend and college roommate, Alli Carson, is the daughter of the President-Elect of the United States; who is soon to take office. The current POTUS (President of the United States) wants to end his 8-year term with a blast. He has targeted a religious organization that is not religious enough to his liking and commissions a deep undercover operative to carryout an attack on America, set for Inauguration Day. Like most mystery-thrillers that target our government, there are a lot of plot twists and several characters who the reader and hero cannot trust. To thicken the plot there are some 25-year old murder cases that somehow connect to the present day kidnapping of the soon-to-be First Daughter, Alli. In order to rescue the girl, save America and win back his wife, McClure must use his unique 3-dimensional way of thinking to to rue the day! I use to read everything that Van Lustbader wrote, but strayed away when he started co-authoring the Bourne novels with Robert Ludlam. This novel has brought me back into the fold.
To quote the old Cubs song: ". . .Let's go. Batter up. We're taking the afternoon off. . ." It truly was a beautiful day, but not for a ballgame. It was the perfect day to read a book. Rainy outside. Achy bones. Warm bed. Good, AHML New Book fiction. This story has a little of everything. A minor-league-baseball-player-superstar hiding out in Florida, playing for a lowly team, and buying time till a New York mob hit-man puts two behind his ear. A former New York Yankees' head scout, with 34 years experience and 4 World Series rings, who is bagging groceries for $10 an hour at the local Publix. His beautiful naive 33 year old daughter who is hopelessly in love and with a guy who likes his loving rough and hasn't even told her his real name. A young, intelligent black man who is wise beyond his years, who speaks his mind and is the oldest of 7, trying to support his single-mom and still dream of one day owning a pro ball team. A notorious mob contract killer who still carries the torch for his childhood sweetheart who died 11 years ago. This book wasn't a clear home run, but was a sound extra base hit.
Vampire novels are a big thing these days. I admit it. I enjoy reading horror stories and I am always looking for a good vampire book that has a different twist; a new angle. This new book, by first time author Barbeau, did not disappoint. Besides being a good who-dunnit, it draws upon the premise that several famous Hollywood actors were vampires: Orson Wells, Peter Lorre., Douglas Fairbanks, Jr., Rudolf Valentino, Mary Pickford, Jack The Ripper. . .the list is endless! The Hollywood queen vampire is Ovsanna Moore, who has truly had to reinvent herself over the last 500 years. A vampire hunter is killing off several of her studio's stars and business partners. The ancient vampires have given her less than a week to find the hunter and destroy him before they are forced to destroy her to save themselves. The hero is Beverly Hills Police detective, Peter King. He is a Warm. A human. He is in charge of the multiple murder case and through his investigation, is uncovering too much information regarding Ms. Moore's past. His boss has given him less than a week to bring in the killer. Time is not on either side. Survival reaches new levels. This campy novel reads fast and has a quick hook. It will be interesting to see if there is a sequel.
What a clever novel. The setting is India. The hero is a slum dog...an orphan on the streets of Mumbai...named Ram Mohammad Thomas and he has been chosen as a contestant on "Who Wants to be a Billionaire" TV show. There are 12 questions on the show and 12 chapters in the novel. Each chapter is a clue as to how an uneducated orphan can correctly answer challenging questions in the hopes of climbing the payoff pyramid. To say that Ram has had a hard-knock life is an understatement. By the time he reaches his mid-teens he has done and saw more than most experience in a lifetime. This novel was adapted for film and won several Academy Awards this year. The film is quite different than the novel. Both are exceptional and come highly recommended.
I haven't read a good western in a while.This Parker novel has a nice even pace to it.& There is a town called Appaloosa that is sorely in need of some marshalling. The town council hires a tandem of pros who specialize in bringing law and order to small towns. Virgil Cole is the renowned gunfighter/lawman and his partner is Everett Hitch. Together they are a formidable force even though they are polar opposites in education, breeding and philosophies. Their MO is simple. They get hired by a town and force the town council to agree to a bunch of new town rules that they post. Number one rule is "No guns allowed to be worn inside town limits." Bragg is the town villain and the reason the duo was contracted. Needless to say Bragg and rules do not go well together. Throw in a new pretty piano player fresh off the stage who gravitates to Alpha males and this is the basic plot. Outside of the town limits there is a herd of wild mustangs that are led by a very dominant Appaloosa. The similarities between Virgil Cole and this Appaloosa are the basis to this book. The film adaptation was made recently; directed by and starring& Ed Harris. Usually film adaptations are not anywhere near as good as the book, but this one was almost page-for-page.
With apologies to Auntie Anne, I did not really begin to listen to the complete works of Led Zeppelin until my kids coerced me in the '80's. Although this book has a great many illustrations, I found the anecdotes the best part. I wasn't really aware of just how famous this band was and the impact that it made on the lives of so many young musicians and artists. I grew up on Swing music and Sinatra, not heavy rock and roll. At the time I did know that Jimmy Page was arguably one of best ever lead guitarist and a creative genius and innovator. I remembered a picture from the '70's where he was playing electric guitar with a violin bow and thought "...Gee, that's K00L, who would've thought..." I also remember that this road-weary band was brutal to motels. There are several stories mentioned about their shenanigans on and off stage. I think what I enjoyed the most was that this book was a collaboration of many writers who all had interesting perspectives.
So I checked out this new book by James Patterson. It is the 2nd in his Michael Bennett series. I had a little free time so I started reading. Another day off blown. Several hours later I was finished (technically, I saved the last 10 pages for bedtime). Just couldn't help myself. Bennett is the character who just lost his wife, who together they had adopted 10 children; the oldest being 13. He is a hostage negotiator and homicide detective in New York City. His struggle is to provide a loving home for his kids and still keep the streets of NY safe. This time around Bennett is dealing with bad guys that take his family hostage. We know that in the end this hero will prevail. It is his journey that I enjoyed reading.
At the half-way point of this novel the word "vampire" is first mentioned. I've read my share of vampire novels and I really enjoyed this one because of how different it is. The setting is modern day Sweden. A strange elderly man and young girl arrive late at night in a taxi in the town of Blackeburg and move into an apartment. Their nocturnal transgressions are viewed by their new neighbor, Oskar, who lives in the adjourning apartment with his mother. Oskar is a middle-school student who is terrorized daily by the town's three bullies. He has dreams of serious payback.
Oskar befriends the new girl, Eli, who is like no one that he has ever met. Around the same time that the new couple hit town a serial killer begins mutilating his victims. There are several subplots which all blend nicely together.
This book is not blatantly gruesome like several in this genre. It is more subtle. Take for example this description of a newly turned vampire: ". . .Inside Virginia's heart a separate little brain is forming. This new brain has, during its initial stage of development, been dependent of the large brain. Now it is self-sufficient, and what Virginia during a terrible moment sensed is completely correct: it would live on even if her body died..."
How often does a reader get an attempt by the author to actually describe the transformation going on inside the body of his vampire character? Check out the picture of the author on the back sleeve and read what he did for a living before turning to writing. I think he should have used this picture on the book cover instead of the other one. This book has been made into a film that is coming soon to a theatre near you.
This book is over 10 years old, but like some fine wines, some films, especially the more seedy type, need time to "age" and acquire a reputation and cult following. This doesn't mean that the films get any better, but it can mean that one might find something redeemable or worthwhile when watching it. I was a student of film years back and have seen a great number of films; some good, some mostly not good. This book is a tribute to the latter: B-movies and their directors such as Roger Corman, who was known to circle automobiles and have them put on their headlights and use that as his lighting technique when filming outdoors after dusk! This was a fun book. It has a lot of pictures and the 1-paragraph film descriptions are clever and concise. It features a nice Director, Category and Cast Index. This is a pleasant alternative to sitting at a computer and navigating IMDB.