29 January 2011

Nine Dragons, by Michael Connelly

A Harry Bosch novel, with a little bit of the Lincoln Lawyer at the end. Not bad, really. This was an audio book. The person who read it was a little bit intrusive. He did voices, which isn't always objectionable, and it wasn't the worst I've heard, but it was just a little bit too much.

I will read, or listen to, more of these.

Murder of a Chinese storekeeper that appears to be a Triad killing leads Bosch to arrest a Triad bag man. The plot goes very quickly and violently from this point, taking Bosch to Hong Kong, and back to Los Angeles.

Our Kind of Traitor, by John Le Carre

I've never read a bad LeCarre, and the streak continues. Perry and Gail meet Dima in Antigua. They are more or less ordinary people from England on a holiday. He is, as it turns out, a rather highly-placed member of Russian organized crime, who (of course) wishes to defect to the UK.

Zero History, by William Gibson

(audio book)

Newest in series involving Hubertus Bigend, Hollis Henry, etc.

Hollis Henry searches for the footage, and eventually encounters Cayce Pollard.

Absolutely marvelous, absorbing, totally enjoyable.

Spook Country, by William Gibson

I had thought this was first in the series, but apparently Pattern Recognition comes first, and it is the first one I "read" (as an audio book -- this one is an audio book too). Hollis Henry is the central character in this one. In this book Hollis travels to Vancouver, BC, on a quest to locate the mysterious hacker Bobby Chombo (not sure of the spelling, this is an audio book) (Chombo appears in Zero History) and a shipping container that turns out to hold laundered money. Some amazing Cuban-Americans in an ancient sleeper cell are featured, as well as the former members of "Curfew," Hollis' band.

First class.

The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, by Stieg Larsson

Translated from Swedish by Reg Keeland.

Excellent, just excellent. Try to put this book down. Just try.

Mikael Blomkvist is an investigative financial journalist. At the beginning of the novel he has been convicted of libel, and will be paying a large fine as well as doing prison time.

He is hired by Henrik Vanger, an elderly, retired industrialist, to investigate the unsolved disappearance of his granddaughter Harriet in 1966. (The novel takes place circa 2003.)

As this story unfolds, we are treated to glimpses into the life of Lisbeth Salander, an unusual young woman with a great deal of difficulty in her life, as well as a great deal of talent and skill.

Salander and Blomkvist come together to solve one of the best mysteries I've ever read.

Neuromancer, by William Gibson

Read maybe 1/3, couldn't finish it. It's too vague, the opposite of the book by Greg Egan that I recently tried to read, which had too much exposition. This one doesn't have enough, there's too much assumption that the reader will just figure out what's going on, and I fail to live up to this assumption. I was disappointed,  having recently very much enjoyed 3 other novels by Gibson.

03 January 2011

Winter's Bone, by Daniel Woodrell

This is a very unusual book. It is short, only 193 pages, reads faster than hell (less than 8 hours), uses colloquial language, and is absolutely excellent.

Set in the Missouri Ozarks of today, Winter's Bone tells the story of Ree Dolly and her family, who live in the midst of raw, horrible, bone-crushing, bloody monsters from a time in the mythological past, but who at the same time are just kinfolk, who "cook crank," and live by a strict and awful code far more strict and harsh than any mere law enforced by the civilization that, we are scarcely aware, exists all around them.

Ree's dilemma is that her father has jumped bail, and if he is not found in time to make a court appearance, the bondsman will take all she and her family (her mother, drugged into oblivion on psychotropic medication, and her two little brothers, Harold and Sonny) has, which is their house and the land it is on. This home has been in her mother's family for at least a century, and is the treasure of this family. They have nothing else.

This is truly fine writing.