Thursday, August 29, 2013

read: The Devotion of Suspect X (2 stars)

The Devotion of Suspect XThe Devotion of Suspect X by Keigo Higashino
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I almost did not finish this one. The prose is repetitive and uninspiring, the characters are flat and barely distinguishable, making the entire experience feel like watching the pilot of a cop show from the 1980s that did not get picked up. The only reasons I pushed on to the end were that this was a book club pick and there was just enough suspense that I had to see what the author had cooked up as the final solution.

That final twist is the only thing that bumped this from one star to two. It's a pretty good twist. But then the author goes and ruins it with a denouement full of melodrama. Maybe something was lost in translation.

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Sunday, August 11, 2013

read: The Loch Ness Legacy (5 stars)

The Loch Ness Legacy (Tyler Locke, #4)The Loch Ness Legacy by Boyd Morrison
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Boyd Morrison knocks it out of the park again. His globe-trotting engineer, Tyler Locke, is swept into the middle of a yet another global threat and once again he uses logic, science, and action-hero skills to save the day.

This time the threat involves biological warfare and the Middle East. The puzzles revolve around Charles Darwin, Nazis, and the Loch Ness monster. The action starts in Paris on top of the Eiffel Tower and travels to the remote reaches of Washington State and back to the depths of Loch Ness.

Once more, the author takes some liberty with science, a bit more with history, and manages to create an almost believable situation that keeps the reader turning page after page. The writing is solid, smart, and sometimes funny.

I recommend this for those who enjoy the adventures of James Bond or the books of James Rollins.

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Saturday, August 3, 2013

read: Telegraph Avenue (3 stars)

Telegraph AvenueTelegraph Avenue by Michael Chabon
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I was so looking forward to this book. After the over-the-top suspense of The Yiddish Policemen's Union and the bittersweet comic book epic The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay, I was hoping for more fine writing set in the California music world. Boy am I disappointed.

First, the cast is too big. There are really six main characters (four too many) and they are all supporting characters for each other, along with the other (even more!) supporting characters. Thankfully, Chabon does a reasonable job of making them distinct individuals. I found it difficult to pick one to identify with for the duration of the story.

Second, the prose suffers from authoritis. It's just too much. I like it when an author spends some time choosing their words and constructing beautiful sentences. It gives life and adds poetry to what can become dull deliberation. But there was so much of this here that it felt like Chabon was just showing off.

Third, the large cast meant that there were too many plots. Each of the main characters had a life changing situation to deal with and most had sub-plots. Chabon may have been going for realism here, but this is a novel and too much realism makes the story lack focus. It feels jumpy and full of vignettes, rather than a continuous stream. Perhaps that what the author wanted, but I didn't like it.

Fourth, there were too many side-trips to nowhere. I don't need the complete backstory of every mother the midwife tends to. I don't need President Obama popping up at a party for no good reason.

On the other hand, there is a richness to this writing that immerses you into record shop and the apartments and the cafes and the warehouses these people inhabit. If you have the time to spend meandering through this world, you may be rewarded. But if you don't have patience for it, you may just be frustrated.

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