Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Recent Reads

Steve Berry - The Paris Vendetta Berry's latest pot-boiler finds former special agent Cotton Malone having his bookshop destroyed (again) as gunmen attack. He is then drawn into a mystery that involves economic manipulation by a greedy cabal of rich investors looking to get richer. His friend Henrik is pulled into a life or death struggle with the nemesis whom he believes responsible for the death of his son. So, there is a lot going one here. Luckily Berry writes well enough to keep the standard thriller plot moving along and there is enough gunplay and explosions to keep things interesting. Where he really excels is in his historical research, which he folds in nicely to gave the treasure hunt subplot added excitement. This is a solid thriller for the beach or vacation, but nothing more. Fans of conspiracy thrillers of a historical bent like the Da Vinci Code will feel right at home.

Kinky Friedman - Greenwich Killing Time Take a Texas born and bred country music singer and transplant him to Greenwich Village and what do you get? Why, an amateur detective, of course! Friedman puts himself and fictionalized versions of his friends (and cat) into this enjoyable romp. When Friedman's reporter friend McGovern discovers that his neighbor has been murdered, the police charge him for the crime. McGovern takes to his heels and it is up to Kinky to find the killer as the noose tightens and the bodies start to pile up. This...more Take a Texas born and bred country music singer and transplant him to Greenwich Village and what do you get? Why, an amateur detective, of course! Friedman puts himself and fictionalized versions of his friends (and cat) into this enjoyable romp. When Friedman's reporter friend McGovern discovers that his neighbor has been murdered, the police charge him for the crime. McGovern takes to his heels and it is up to Kinky to find the killer as the noose tightens and the bodies start to pile up. This book is also very funny, Friedman keeps the quips coming and nothing is sacred as he travels Greenwich Village in search of the killer.

Jim Thompson - The Killer Inside Me Do you know what it is like to hide part of your soul from the world? To walk through life pretending to be a human being while all the time feeling like an outsider, unsure how to talk and act around people? I feel this way all the time so I really connected with the main character of this book. Lou Ford is a small town policeman who hides his schizophrenia behind the self made mask of country bumpkin homilies that lull the people in the town into thinking he is just a harmless bore. But deep within Ford lies what he calls "the sickness" a hated and fear of women that stems from an incident of sexual abuse as a child. "The sickness" makes Ford a killer, murdering a prostitute and the son of a prominent town leader and then his fiance. What is so haunting about this novel is the way Thompson writes it, in the cold and calculating first person, presenting a man who has everybody fooled at first before things go horribly wrong. I will never harm anyone, and the idea of violence in real life is abhorrent to me. But I understand all to well how it is to be the outsider, the one who has to put on a mask to function in society as a whole, and that was why this novel resonated with me so deeply.

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