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2017 50 Book Challenge - Page 49

post #721 of 3342
2. Pigeon English, by Stephen Kelman (2011)

Another from the Booker short list, this is Kelman's first novel.

The story is about Harri, an 11 year old Ghanaian boy living on a London council estate. After a local boy is stabbed, Harri decides to investigate. Along the way he tells us about his life, school, family, the local gangs, and about a pigeon that is his favourite bird.

This book reminded me a bit of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time, and Harri's naive observations on life also remind me of Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha. But his is a unique voice and Kelman has done well in creating a memorable central character. The story was inspired by an actual case in the UK, altough the author only mentions that tangentially.

All in all a very good book, bit Hilary Mantell is still out in front, I think.

EDIT: On reflection, I think Narcopolis comes in ahead of this.
Edited by California Dreamer - 1/16/13 at 6:04pm
post #722 of 3342
9. The Judas Gate 2011 Jack Higgins A former British SAS major drifts into illegal arms sales in Afghanistan. As he is a lunatic for guts and glory, his next step is training al- Qaeda soldiers, and then actually fighting with them, hence the title of the book. An usual an exciting and entertaining read.
post #723 of 3342
10. The Black Box Michael Connelly 2012 An LA cop tries to solve a 20 yr murder committed during the LA riots as the dept has a push to clear all open cases. Det. Bosch found the victim but felt guilty because he wasn't allowed to pursue the case fully due to the the riots.

He traces the perpetrators to a group of Reservists who were in LA and also in the first Desert Storm, and discovered the information the victim was seeking. Then your standard cheesy ending.

A very poor imitation of Raymond Chandler and not worth reading.
post #724 of 3342
Steve, you're on track to set a styleforum world record in 2013.
post #725 of 3342
Originally Posted by clockwise View Post

Steve, you're on track to set a styleforum world record in 2013.

He's cheating by reading all the time.
post #726 of 3342
Originally Posted by clockwise View Post

Steve, you're on track to set a styleforum world record in 2013.

Trying. Not much else to do right now.

Originally Posted by California Dreamer View Post

He's cheating by reading all the time.

see above. I even had to buy a pair of reading glasses for eye strain. A very traumatic experience.
post #727 of 3342
11.Get Shorty 1990 Elmore Leonard


A small time loan shark from Miami goes out to Vegas searching for a 300K insurance settlement taken by a dry cleaner from his wife. The shylock finds the man with the money in LA and sends it back to his wife. He gets involved with the movies, disposes of 2 bad mob guys. The true story of his exploits is compelling to a famous actor who walks because he can't have complete control of it. is. They're back to the drawing board, but with a very marketable idea.

A light spoof on drugs, loan sharking, small time hoods, the movie business and the mafia.

I rather liked it.
post #728 of 3342
12 The Metamorphosis 1915 Franz Kafka


A young salesman named Gregor Samsa morphs into a dung beetle. He can no longer be understood by his family. He was their sole breadwinner and the family is tossed into financial chaos. Not to mention the horror with which the rest of his family views him. Only his younger sister warms to him enough to feed him, although it's not the right stuff. His family eventually decides to kill him, but he beats them to it by starving to death.

A short book. Excellent story- focuses on the meaning of life and the irony of it all. Most of us would say we'd still love a family member who was horribly disfigured in some sort of an accident. But what if they turned into an insect?
post #729 of 3342
Ahhh Kafka and the isolation theme. Kinda surprised you are just now reading it Steve. What's fun is replacing the insect transformation with any disease and seeing if things would be different. In High School we put on a play but instead of Samsa being an insect, he was HIV positive.
post #730 of 3342
I'm not as educated as I seem.
post #731 of 3342
13. Mr. Majestyk Elmore Leonard 1974 During union unrest among migrant workers in the 70s. Majestyk grows melons and some local thugs representing white people try to get him to replace the migrants with whites by force, The melon grower assaults one of them and winds up in jail on a trumped up charge. While he's there the melons aren't being picked and he faces the loss of his entire crop. He breaks out of the transport bus with a hit man. Because Majestyk won't do what he wants, the hit man threatens to kill him. However, when he tries to kill Majestyk, he kills his crew one by one until there aren't any left.

Because all he wants to do is grow melons in peace.

I very much liked the book and am thankful for CW's suggestion of this author.
post #732 of 3342

4. The Difference Engine


This book was co-written by Bruce Sterling and William Gibson - it's a steampunk novel, their first foray into the genre (and last, if I'm not mistaken). The book is divided into 3 shorter stories that centre around 3 different intruiges plaguing industrial London. Each story gets progressively less interesting. The first story is quite good, lively and fresh, with great characterisation, but ends abruptly with murders everywhere (competely unnecessary). The second story involves a near catacylsmic rebellion put down by London's finest (so much more cliche than Gibson and Sterling usually write), and the third is a disinteresting political drama devoid of anything resembling tension, appropriate characterisation and originality.

post #733 of 3342
3. Cop Killer, by Sjowall and Wahloo (1974)

The 9th book in the Martin Beck series has Martin investigating the disappearance of a middle-aged divorcee in a remote Swedish town. As the plot unfolds, a separate police shooting incident in Stockholm entangles the Cop Killer of the title and some of Martin's team are diverted to the ensuing manhunt.

Sjowall and Wahloo are scathing here about the Swedish police force. Their writing seems to become more political as the series progresses. 

This novel has a lot of references back to the earlier books, notably Roseanna. This tested my memory a bit and reduced my enjoyment of the book. The story is good though, and the ending rather neat.
post #734 of 3342
Clockwise counting 6/50: John Burdett - Vulture Peak (2012)

The 5th and latests in Burdett's series of novels about Royal Thai Police detective Sonchai. This is unfortunately not his best effort by a long shot. Reduced to a bare minimum are the excellent observations of Bangkok and that special and mystifying Thai version of Buddhism. Burdett is here instead writing about modern age Chinese power and greed as he has Detective Sonchai investigating a terrifying and lucrative international body parts trade.

I will still want to follow the adventures of Sonchai and his criminal boss Colonel Vikorn in any future instalments Burdett may write. I just hope Burdett isn't turning into one of those airport bookshop bestseller machines without soul. If so, he will lose me. 
post #735 of 3342
Clockwise counting 7/50: Amelie Nothomb - Fear and Trembling (1999)

Short novel about the bizarre experiences of a Japanese-born young Belgian woman working for a year in a large Japanese corporation. This is a moderately funny satire about modern Japanese society. The book is (surprisingly) included in all the various editions of 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die. A good and quick read.
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