Skip to main content

Posts

Showing posts from July, 2011

CR3 #62: Kings of Colorado by David E. Hilton

(Disclaimer: I received this book free from Simon & Schuster in a giveaway through Goodreads.com. My opinions are my own.)

William Sheppard is a kid from mid-60s Chicago who--in a moment of desperation--stabs his abusive stepfather with a pen-knife. Although the man survives, Will is sent away for two years to Swope Ranch, a reformatory for boys in the Colorado mountains. He makes few friends (though the ones he finds are something special) and a few (brutal) enemies. He spends time learning how to break horses, how to survive in a completely hostile environment, and trying to figure out who he will become. The majority of the staff are at best uninterested and at worst actively dangerous. Soon, Will and his friends find themselves in a situation none of them could have imagined when they arrived.

Kings of Colorado reminded me a lot of Lorenzo Carcaterra's book Sleepers, in that both take place in a prison for boys, and the circumstances vary from grim to downright deadly. Slee…

CR3 #61: Carrie by Stephen King (King REreview #3)

(Sorry people -- I've been reading just as much lately, but work has been sort of horrifying, and when combined with this ridiculous heat wave, it doesn't do a whole lot for my motivation to accomplish...anything at all, really [well, except maybe eat popsicles and drink mojitos, but neither of those things exactly counts as productivity]. I have a couple reviews to write, but I'm hoping they'll get done in the next couple days.)

Carrie is the first Stephen King book I ever read. As I share a name with the protagonist, I figured I might as well read the damn thing so I would at least get the allusions people made to the novel. Therefore, at 13, I walked into the local library and hunted down the Stephen King section, which at the time was entirely made up of paper backs crammed into one tall rotating rack. I had no idea what I was getting myself into.

The story concerns Carrie White, a teenager living in Maine. She is neither attractive nor particularly bright, and due …

CR3 #60: Think of a Number by John Verdon

(Disclaimer: I received this book for free from Crown Publishing Group in a giveaway through Goodreads.com.)

Dave Gurney was a superstar detective in NYC homicide. He was well-known for his work putting dangerous serial killers away, but now he's retired and has moved to the countryside. He fills his time with his new hobby--despised by his wife, Madeleine--of doing digitally enhanced portraits of the serial killers he's put away. Life is going along quietly until one day he receives a call from a college friend he hasn't spoken to in 25 years. The friend has been receiving some strange, threatening notes in the mail, and is more than a little worried about his own safety. As it turns out, he's right to be.

Eventually, Dave finds himself getting more and more involved in the case, both due to concern for his friend and because he misses the joy of detection. The criminal is the smartest Gurney has ever encountered, and catching him is going to take every ounce of intel…

CR3 #59: The Franchise Affair by Josephine Tey

The Franchise Affair is another well-written, classic mystery by author Josephine Tey.

The book takes place in a small British village called Milford. Robert Blair is a lawyer there, as has a member of his family for more than 150 years. He's a stodgy, forty-something who lives with a doting aunt and has his routines down so pat that he knows exactly what kind of cookies his secretary will be bringing him at tea time every day. Then, one afternoon as he's preparing to leave for the day, he receives a phone call. Two women who live on the outskirts of town need assistance--they've been accused of kidnapping a teenage girl, holding her hostage in their attic, and beating her unmercifully until she was able to escape. Robert would prefer to give the case to someone (anyone) else, since he is much more familiar with cases of probate issues and civil matters. However, the ladies will accept no one else, and he soon finds himself headed out to The Franchise--the dilapidated hous…

Sequels: Clerks II and Road House 2: Last Call

Sequels.

Sometimes they work and sometimes they do not. Recently, I ran across examples of both in the same evening. In the course of ONE EVENING, I watched both Clerks II and Road House 2: Last Call.

Actually, let's say I "watched" Clerks II and "subjected myself to" Road House 2.

Perhaps I should define for you what I think makes a good sequel, and explain why these two films do/do not qualify.

1. A good sequel is a rational extension of the original film. In this case, CII is a continuation of the lives of the characters from the first film. RH2 takes place in an entirely different place, with different people, and an almost entirely unrelated plot. There IS a bar, and there ARE some bad guys, but that's about as far as the resemblance goes. With the exception of a few mentions of Dalton and how he's the father of the main character in RH2 (as well as a few admittedly funny "I thought you'd be taller" jokes) this movie had absolutely no…

CR3 #58: The West End Horror: A Posthumous Memoir of John H. Watson, M.D. by Nicholas Meyer

So this is another "lost" Holmes story written by Nicholas Meyer. Although I very much enjoyed The Seven-Per-Cent Solution(Look! Look! My review was posted on Pajiba!)The West End Horror leaves much to be desired.

This story begins with the murder of a theater critic during the winter of 1895. Holmes and Watson are drawn into the case by Sherlock's friend Bernard Shaw (yes, THAT Bernard Shaw). Soon, they are wending their way through the dark and shady world of London theater as more murders soon pile up. In the course of their investigation, they meet several notable theater figures of the time: Gilbert and Sullivan! Bram Stoker! Oscar Wilde (just as he gets involved in the libel trial versus the Marquess of Queensbury)!

Unfortunately, it seems that the author go so carried away trying to stuff in as many historical figures of the time that he forgot about the other minor but necessary details of writing a book, such as character and plot. As thrilling as having Oscar W…

CR3 #57: Black House by Stephen King and Peter Straub (King REreview #2)

The first time I read this book, I didn't like it very much. It seemed scattered, bringing in characters that seemed like they should be familiar but weren't, and referencing things that were treated like common knowledge but weren't mentioned fully in the course of the story. The whole thing felt like a mess. I thought perhaps the trouble was the collaboration between the two authors--perhaps they hadn't been able to mesh their ideas and styles together as easily as originally intended?

It wasn't until later that I realized this book is actually a sequel. The first book the two authors wrote together is called The Talisman, and that tells the whole story of young Jack Sawyer and his trip over into "The Territories" to find the talisman and save his mother. After I read that book, BlackHouse made a LOT more sense. And after reading the Dark Tower series, it makes even more, since the world of The Territories seems to be inextricably linked to that of Mid-…

CR3 #56: The Deep Blue Good-by by John D. MacDonald

This is the first of John D. MacDonald's novels about Travis McGee, a sometime private eye who lives on a boat and takes jobs when money runs low. Basically, Trav hunts down things that have been taken (or lost or stolen) and returns them, keeping half the proceeds for himself. In this particular case, he gets a little more than he bargained for when he agrees to help a woman get back her late father's nest egg.

The story takes place in Florida during the sixties, and I very much appreciated MadDonald's sixties vibe--it felt very natural. The character of Trav is quite likable--tough but funny, and sensitive when the situation demands. I pictured him as sort of similar to Jim Longworth of The Glades (if you haven't been watching this show on A&E, you should. It's a fun summer procedural), very laid-back but capable of violence if sufficiently provoked. The other characters in the story were also interesting and fairly well-written. MacDonald's style of writ…