30 September 2014

The Lonely Polygamist, by Brady Udall

So, this has to have some kind of praise for a catchy title. Brady Udall is the author of  The Miracle Life of Edgar Mint, which I read recently. Having enjoyed Edgar quite a bit, I was looking forward to another book by Udall, and this was not disappointing.

One one level, this is the story of a man with four wives and twenty-eight children. On another, it may be about what it's like to be human, imperfect, and unlucky. There are a lot of people here that want to be loved. Instead of being a work of propaganda in favor of or against the practice of polygamy, Udall uses this unusual life, however we feel about it, to describe how people get along, in whatever situation they find themselves.

New York Times Book Review

Fives and Twenty-Fives, by Michael Pitre

I heard this author interviewed on NPR. One gets somewhat jaded to the tales of returning vets. Homeless, PTSD, misunderstood: my heart goes out to all of them, but there are so many, and it seems to be constantly in front of us, a horrible problem that won't go away. But there was something about Pitre when I heard him on the radio (Fresh Air?), and I managed to remember to get his book out of the Library.

NY Times Book Review

I found the book to be a non-stop read, the "can't put it down" type. The characters are excellently drawn and believable. Pitre's Marines have stayed with me, and I doubt I'll look at any service member quite the same having read this book.

A History of Future Cities, by Daniel Brook

Dubai, Mumbai, Shangai, and St. Petersburg: all Eastern, yet all Western in conception.

This was not an easy read, it took me a while to get through, and enhanced my library fines a bit, but I am glad I read it. These four cities share an unusual quality: they were all built in the East, but built to be as Western as possible.

I am no student of architecture, and a fair amount of architectural information is imparted here, but it didn't hurt me to read it. The history, on the other hand, was nothing less than fascinating. When Peter the Great desired to build St. Petersburg, he wanted Western architecture, art, and city planning -- but he did not want Western freedom of thought, speech, ideas, and religion. This theme exists to some extent in the other three cities of this book.

Daniel Brook's website

Washington Post review

Interview with Daniel Brook in the New Orleans Review


29 September 2014

Farewell My Lovely, by Raymond Chandler

I've read this book at least twice before, but I picked it up for fifty cents at a used book sale, and can't resist reading it once again. Moose Malloy is looking for Velma. Mr. Marriott has an easy job for Marlowe, just be there when he hands $8000 to a bunch of jewel thieves to retrieve a friend's necklace. What could go wrong?

Darkness More Than Night, by Michael Connelly

A Harry Bosch novel.

In this story, Bosch's unusual first name (Hieronymous) becomes an important element in the plot.

Another great entry in the Harry Bosch series.

05 September 2014

Reversal, by Michael Connelly

An audio book.

In this novel, Harry Bosch and Mickey Haller, half-brothers (as we discovered in an earlier novel) are brought together again. Mickey Haller, the "Lincoln Lawyer," has always been a defense lawyer, and one who is particularly disliked by Los Angeles prosecutors, as he has an excellent track record of winning his cases. At the beginning of this story, however, Haller is approached by a representative of the DA's office and is asked to take a case -- for the people, as a special prosecutor.

Jason Jessup is the convicted murderer of a young girl, who has been in prison for the crime for 25 years. DNA evidence recently introduced has caused enough doubt about his conviction that he is to have a new trial. This is the case Haller is called to prosecute. Mickey is unsure exactly why the DA wants him, of all people, to take the case. There is an implication of sloppy or improper work on the original trial that may at least partially explain why Haller is a good choice -- or, is this a complicated political move wherein he will be used as a pawn?

Haller decides to take the case, but only if his ex-wife Maggie "McFierce" McPherson, a career prosecutor, will be assigned as his assistant. Furthermore, he insists on recruiting Harry Bosch as his investigator.

Good reviews and expositions exist.  I will only say that this is a terrific story, and a masterful use of the characters that Connelly has created in the Bosch and Haller series.

Wikipedia page

Official Michael Connelly page

NY Times review