24 March 2011

The Road, by Cormac McCarthy

Audio book

One of the nicest, most patient, and kind men ever born and his son walk the Earth during the days after some kind of horrible apocalypse, the details of which we do not know. There has been fire everywhere, though, and ash continues to rain from the sky, seemingly years and years later. Except for a very few people, life on the planet is gone. Animals and plants are not present. The grass and trees are dead. The ocean is gray and lifeless. Bones lay on the beach.

The Ultimate Good Luck, by Richard Ford

This is, compared to what I've read so far by Richard Ford, very different. The style of writing is roughly the same, lots of time-stretching interior sentences, fine descriptions of place nuanced with what is happening, and well-drawn characters, but instead of following a story placed in the America of the late twentieth century, we are in Mexico in the 1980s, and the term fiction noir comes to mind.

Too late to hire Humphrey Bogart, but one imagines this becoming a screenplay that would be a fitting vehicle. Miss Bacall would have a role as well.

If I were a star-giver, I'd give it Five.

15 March 2011

Rain Gods, by James Lee Burke

Audio book.

A hell of a good book by James Lee Burke, the author of the Dave Robicheaux series. This book is set in Texas, and features a small-town sheriff named Hackberry Holland.

Holland discovers a mass grave containing 9 Asian women recently killed by gunfire. Further investigation reveals that these women are heroin "mules," with drug balloons in their stomachs.

As the story unfolds, several colorful characters emerge. Holland's deputy is Pam Gaddis, a young woman with more than workplace affection for the sheriff. An unfortunate young couple, Vicky and Pete, become involved in the investigation and endangered by the numerous hardened criminals exposed in the process.

Of the bad guys, "Preacher" Jack Collins is the worst. He is at best a psychopath, at worst pure Evil.

James Lee Burke never fails to please, and this was a thoroughly enjoyable novel.

05 March 2011

The Mission Song, by John leCarré

Audio book.

Excellent, of course, which is no surprise. "Salvo," Bruno Salvador is a British subject born in The Congo. He is a brilliant interpreter with a command of many African languages and dialects, as well as several European. In the usual leCarré fashion, he winds up recruited by British Intelligence, and does several jobs for "Mr. Anderson," interpreting sound interceptions and interviews from recordings.

The story gets into gear when Salvo is sent on an unusual mission, where he is to use an assumed name and identity, for people with whom he's not acquainted. This happens coincidentally with his discovery -- through an interpreting job -- of the love of his life, although he is a married man.

While this novel does not depart from leCarré's dark view of modern history and international affairs and the cold-hearted, cynical people who orchestrate them, its denouement is uncharacteristically uplifting, in a way still consistent with the writer's world, drawn from his own history and experiences.