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Showing posts from October, 2011

CR3 #82: Houses Without Doors by Peter Straub

Houses Without Doors is a collection of short stories by Peter Straub. Some of them are tied to his Blue Rose trilogy, but most are unrelated. I was not a fan of this book--it was simply too dark for me, and not in a fun way. The stories were technically quite good, but I just found them unpleasant. Topics include fraternal abuse, molestation, infantilization, murder...It's all too much, even for a morbid person like me. The characters were all right, but the short story format doesn't necessarily allow the amount of depth a novel does. Besides, some of the characters (the main character from "The Buffalo Hunter" for example) were people I wanted to get to know anyway. I thought some of the short vignettes between longer stories were interesting and thoughtful, but the full-length stories really put me off.

For those who like short stories, I'd say skip this collection and read Stephen King's short stories instead. He manages to make them both well-written AN…

CR3 #81: Moonlight Mile (Kenzie & Gennaro #6) by Dennis Lehane

Twelve years ago, Patrick Kenzie and Angie Gennaro got involved in tracking down Amanda McCready, a missing child from the tough Boston neighborhood of Dorchester. The case was a moral quandary, and nearly destroyed their relationship. Both of them still have doubts about how the girl's problems were solved, and whether returning her to her substance addled mother was the right decision. Now, time has passed, Patrick and Angie are married with a daughter of their own, they've both grown dissatisfied with the private eye business, and Amanda is missing again. Patrick sets out to find her, perhaps to quiet his long restless conscience.

The plot on this is good and interesting, though rather far-fetched. My problems had more to do with the characters. Although the characters of Patrick and Angie were more or less believable, everyone else was a cartoon. Amanda was too smart, the adults around her too stupid. The eastern European gangsters were stereotypes. It's almost as if L…

CR3 #80: Floating Dragon by Peter Straub

Floating Dragon is the story of a town that isn't quite right, and has never BEEN quite right. From its earliest beginnings, the town has been off-kilter, and every thirty years or so, really bad things seem to happen. Unfortunately, this time not only is the evil back, but it has help from a man-made toxic agent. The people in the small town are going mad, there's a serial killer on the loose, and the only people who can stop it are a former child star, an old man, a teenager, and a battered wife.

This story has a lot in common with the work of Stephen King, which is probably part of the reason I like it so much. In some ways, it's a lot like IT, and also shares some traits with the TV show Haven*, in that evil has come to rest in a small town and has been devouring the people who live there for centuries. I will say that Straub moves his plot along better than King usually does, and he also manages to put together an ending that doesn't make me want to kick the wall …

CR3 #79: Gone South by Robert McCammon

Dan Lambert is a Vietnam vet whose whole life is falling apart around him. He's broke, unemployed, and dying slowly from a combat-related disease. Just when he thinks that things can't possibly get any worse, they do. In a moment of rage and panic, he accidentally kills a man. Alone and on the run, he isn't sure what to do. Along the way, he meets up with a disfigured young girl who is searching for a mythical healer. Dan finds himself unwillingly helping her in her quest, all while trying to figure out what his next step should be. The situation is further confused by the advent of two very, very unusual bounty hunters.

This was a really great read. The main characters are all quirky and interesting without being over the top. Even bounty-hunters Flint and Pelvis--who could definitely come off as cartoonish--are drawn in such a way that they are totally believable. I was deeply interested in the characters and rooting for all of them. The plot moved along quickly, and I n…