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Showing posts from November, 2011

CR3 #89: In the Night Room by Peter Straub

Up until now, I've mostly enjoyed Peter Straub's books. I found the plots interesting and the characters compelling. I also enjoyed the way they were all slightly related to one another, by either plot or character. However, this book seems to be where he went down the rabbit hole.

In the Night Room features Tim Underhill, who has previously appeared in Koko and The Throat. Underhill is living in NYC, working on his latest novel, when he begins to have a problem. The ghost of his nine-year-old sister April (whose murder was unraveled in The Throat) has started appearing to him, trying to communicate a very important message he can't quite figure out. He's also started receiving emails from dead people, which is disconcerting, to say the least. He's not sure what's going on, and when his "guide" turns up, he's not nearly as helpful as one would hope. Meanwhile, in New Jersey, a woman named Willy Bryce Patrick has been losing chunks of time, she sus…

CR3 #88: Dead Famous by Carol O'Connell

(I received this book for free from the publisher through a Goodreads.com give-away. Don't worry, I'll still be honest.)

Dead Famous is apparently the seventh in Carol O'Connell's Kathleen Mallory series. I haven't read any of the others, so I can't comment on how this fits in to the series. However, I will say that I did enjoy the book quite a bit.

At the heart of the story is a serial murderer--he's been hunting down and murdering the members of a jury who let a killer go free. The tale is told mostly from the perspective of Riker, a former-cop who has turned to crime-scene cleaning work. There's also the view of his employee Johanna, a hunch-backed but beautiful mystery. In addition, there's Mallory, who is a brilliant and devoted--if slightly sociopathic--police detective. She is trying to get Riker to return to the police department, but he's got other plans. She hopes perhaps this new murderer will help convince him. Complicating matters is…

CR3 #87: The Intern Blues by Dr. Robert Marion

As many of you may know (or have guessed by now), I work in the hospital system. I'm not a medical professional by any stretch of the imagination--I am strictly administrative--but I work with physicians, and occasionally I wonder how some of them managed to get through medical school. After reading The Intern Blues I am still wondering how they managed to get through, but this time it's because I'm not sure how ANYONE could make it through that insanity.

Dr. Robert Marion worked with a group of interns (first year of medical residency out of medical school) who were going to spend a year rotating through two pediatric hospitals in the Bronx. The year was 1985, and on top of all the normal childhood ailments, AIDS infections, crack-addicted babies, and domestic violence were on the rise. Dr. Marion asked three of his interns to record their experiences over the course of the year, which--along with his own observations--are what he used to put together this book. The inter…

CR3 #86: Cut to the Quick by Kate Ross

It's a real shame that Kate Ross passed away after writing only four Julian Kestrel mysteries. Her hero is an 1820s-era English dandy, possessed of a keen fashion sense and an even keener set of wits. He's a fascinating and well-drawn character, and I could probably read about fifty more books about him quite happily. Unfortunately, it looks like I'll have to settle for four.

In this novel Kestrel finds himself at a country home inhabited by the Fontclairs, a high-class and very proud family. Having provided a much-needed service to young Hugh Fontclair, Julian is invited to be a groomsman in Hugh's wedding. It turns out that things are murkier than expected--the wedding is based on secrets and blackmail, the families are at each others' throats, and then a beautiful dead woman turns up in Kestrel's bed. His valet Dipper (a former pickpocket) is suspected, and this (aside from the fact that the girl was apparently murdered in his bedroom) drives him to involve …

CR3 #85: Swan Song by Robert McCammon

My favorite books and some of my favorite movies involve groups of very different people who are thrown together by circumstance and must work together to accomplish a goal (IT, 'Salem's Lot, The Stand, The Westing Game). It's particularly effective in post-apocalyptic scenarios, since it's up to the survivors to try and recreate society.

Swan Song has drawn many comparisons to The Stand, and it's easy to see why. Due to a world-wide catastrophe (nuclear holocaust, basically) society has collapsed. The climate has changed and nearly all the plants are dead. Those who survive are left wounded and sickened, some with hideous, tumorous growths. People will do anything to survive, including form large armies that travel across the country, pillaging and stealing anything they can. In this mess we find our main characters, which include Sister Creep, a homeless woman from New York city, Roland, a boy whose survivalist parents perish early in the process, Colonel Macklin…

CR3 #84: The Hollow Chocolate Bunnies of the Apocalypse by Robert Rankin

I think I've mentioned here before that I draw a very fine line between "quirky and whimsical" and "desperate and over-the-top." Sometimes that line is tough to define, and many people disagree with me--Sacred Cow and I have very different feelings about Terry Pratchett. Many of my friends love Christopher Moore and I am not a fan. Robert Rankin's The Hollow Chocolate Bunnies of the Apocalypse falls just to the side of the line where I like to place Douglas Adams and Neil Gaiman.

Toy City used to be a sweet place, but it's really gone down hill. Mother Goose is now Madame Goose, and she's running a brothel. Georgie Porgie is a child molester and Little Miss Muffett has a talk show. All the old fairy tales have been corrupted, and the toys of the city are getting very jaded. Into this rotten mess arrives Jack, a not-especially-bright farm boy, come to seek his fortune. At the same time, someone begins inflicting painful (and somewhat apt) deaths on t…

CR3 #83: Castaways by Brian Keene

I know, I know, it's been ages since I've popped by to babble incoherently about what I've been reading. My only excuse is that work has been madness. (Speaking of work -- word of advice to you gentlemen in the audience: If you are age 50 or above, be sure to talk to your doctor about starting to screen for prostate cancer every year. It's a simple blood test, and the earlier prostate cancer is detected, the more easily and successfully it can be treated. For you gentlemen between 17 and 50: Feel your balls. You are in the prime age group for testicular cancer, another disease that can be treated fairly simply and successfully if detected early. *Shooting star graphic* The More You Know!) Since I need to get 22 reviews in before the end of the year in order to make my Double Cannonball, I guess I'd better get cracking. I can't promise genius literary criticism, but I'll do the best I can.

Castaways by Brian Keene is the story of a group of people left on an …