14 October 2013

The Golden Orange, by Joseph Wambaugh

Starring Winnie Farlowe, ex-cop with a bad back, who becomes entangled with a very unlikely woman in another of Wambaugh's wonderful Southern California police-related novels. Great plot, very entertaining, with lots of local color. Set mostly in Newport Beach.

Harbor Nocturne, by Joseph Wambaugh

This was an audio book.

An interesting story, well done, that deals primarily with a human trafficking case in which several would-be migrants to the USA lose their lives. The bad guys include a Ukranian and Korean gangster who have formed an unlikely and unholy alliance, and a low-level hustler from San Pedro who, in becoming their lackey, has found himself seriously out of his depth.

There is a central character, Dinko Babich, of Croatian ancestry, a young man who lives in San Pedro with his widowed mother. He falls in love with a young girl who has been illicitly transported from Mexico to work as a stripper. She is in deep trouble with the above-mentioned gangsters.

Woven in and out of the plot are a group of wonderful LAPD characters. There is the story of these police officers, that of the gangsters, the young Mexican girl, Dinko and his mother--and all of these stories play out together, rushing in and out of the focus of the novel like the waves of the Pacific Ocean.

And one mustn't forget Hollywood. Hollywood is all over, and all through this book. There are the super-hero impersonators, the stars in the pavement, and the insanity that is, in the words of the cops, "fucking Hollywood."

This was a terrific novel, of course, which provided a lot of boredom-relief on my commute for a few days.

07 October 2013

Feast Day of Fools, by James Lee Burke

A Hackberry Holland novel.

This one got a little bit long. For the first time, I noticed that I was getting impatient with Burke's flowery language and excessive descriptions. Holland's character, and that of his deputy, are noble and attractive, but after a while perhaps just a bit too good to believe.

But still, after all is said and done, I read the whole thing.

The Drop, by Michael Connelly

Bosch, post-9 Dragons. A fabulous read, another great Bosch adventure, and yet another reprieve from the impending retirement of the great detective. Michael Connelly does not disappoint.

Moonwalking With Einstein, by Joshua Foer

This is a book about memory, and about memory-champions.

Very readable, and interesting. Foer delves into the world of memory contests, a thing of which I was unaware. These competitions are more popular, and on a higher level, in Europe.

Foer describes complicated "memory palaces" and other mental devices where one may "store" items for future regurgitation. While the methods he describes seem to work well for him, and others, I can't imagine attempting to furnish my brain in this way. Not only does it strike me as improbable of success, the prospect of this type of mental effort bores me in advance and gives me an impatient headache.

Nonetheless, Foer has written a fascinating-enough book that I read from cover to cover in a short time.

Not long after reading this book did I encounter an article in the 24-31 December 2012 New Yorker by Foer entitled "Utopian for Beginners," an account of the constructed language Ithkuil, and its creator, John Quijada. I read almost the entire article before discovering who the author was. This article is worth finding and reading, also, if only for its very strange ending.

Utopian for Beginners, link to www.newyorker.com

USA Memory Championship home page.