Discussion in 'Entertainment, Culture, and Sports' started by edinatlanta, Dec 23, 2010.
I might try those. You always have such good taste in books.
34. The Coronation, by Boris Akunin (2010)
One of the Erast Fandorin series of detective novels. This series is set in Imperial Russia, featuring Erast Fandorin, a middle-level civil officer whose powers of observation, deduction and disguise enable him to solve the most challenging of mysteries. Fandorin is quite similar to Sherlock Holmes, but Akunin's books include elements of social class and historical observation that are missing from Doyle's stories.
The Coronation is set in Moscow in the leadup to the coronation of Tsar Nikolai. A minor member of the royal family is kidnapped and held to ransom for nothing less then the crown jewels. Such a scandalous situation would wreck the festivities and provide an ominous start to the reign of young Nikolai, so Fandorin is grudgingly asked by the Romanovs to foil the plot.
Fandorin is aware that the villain is the evil Dr Lind, a Moriarty-like figure whom Fandorin has long pursued, but never seen up close. His personal need to triumph over Lind may or may not be influencing his judgment in how to proceed.
This entry in the series differs from the others in that it is narrated by one of the other characters, a butler of the Royal Court. His classist snobbery portrays Fandorin in a very different light from the other books, and allows Akunin to present his hero through a different lens, and not always a flattering one.
The plot is complicated and pacy once it gets going, and there are quite a few historical allusions to pick up on. Akunin keeps you guessing right until the end. Recommended.
I'd heard about that aspect of it. Basically it shows that money talks in Hollywood, and Cruise can afford to buy himself any role he wants. Still, Lee Child would have been very aware of what Cruise would do with the rights when he sold them, so I guess he doesn't care.
35. In the Shadow of the Cypress, by Thomas Steinbeck (2010)
I picked up this one in a remainder store because I was curious as to what sort of writer John Steinbeck's son had turned out to be.
The novel starts pretty well. It's set around Monterey, CA, which is of course the author's childhood stamping ground. A railroad worker knocks over an aged cypress tree to clear the way for a new railroad. Underneath, he finds some strange Chinese artefacts. An academic dates the tree and works out that, given that they must have been under the tree when it was planted, the artefacts are proof that Chinese explorers discovered America before Columbus.
The Chinese community gets wind of this and, concerned at the racial tension this news might stir up, seek to acquire the artefacts and hide them from sight. Factions in the community bargain over the right to own and protect them.
At this point, Steinbeck has set up in intriguing premise and introduced some interesting characters with a fine sense of CA at the turn of the century. He then suddenly shifts gear, jumping forward a century to focus on a young academic who, while rooting around in a university storage room, discovers documents describing the lost artefacts. He then sets out to rediscover them.
The problem is this second half is trite and unbelievable, people by characters that are far less appealing. Steinbeck carries on about nonsense like electrified surfboards and members only billionaire dining clubs, which sounds like the worst kind of Harold Robbins dreck. The second half wrecks the book, and he would have done better to stay with his 1906 beginning and develop that further, rather than quantum leap into modern schlock.
Clockwise counting 32/50: Vladimir Sorokin - Bro (2004)
Russian author Sorokin is known to shock his readers and he has become a bit of a cult phenomenon in the West. Bro is the first novel of three that he has collectively called The Ice Trilogy. This is part science fiction, part religious discourse and it is also a fluently written narrative, set in the great Siberian wilderness, Stalin-era Moscow and in wartime Germany. It is about a search and an awakening. Nothing particularly shocking but mildly entertaining and probably reason enough to read the next novel of the series and find out if the blonde and blue eyed members of the Brotherhood of Light are really the chosen ones.
60 The Nine Tailors Dorothy L. Sayers 1934
I chose this one because I spotted it out of the corner of my eye at the library and it's on The List. I found it almost incoherent, and a far inferior book to Murder Must Advertise.
Now Clock will say he liked it.
I expect I will like it. Haven't read it yet.
61. Persuader 2003 Lee Child
This time Reacher foils arms dealers headquartered in Maine. ?!
My brother and I have come up with a suitable substitute forTiny Tom.
36. Black Skies, by Arnaldur Indridason (2012)
The latest in the Reykjavik Murder Mysteries series. This book is set contemporaneously with the previous novel, Outrage, and focuses on the third member of the team, Sigurdur Oli.
The character of Sigurdur Oli owes an awful lot to the character of Gunvald Larsson in the Martin Beck series. He is fussy about his clothes and comes from a more privileged background than his colleagues. Amusingly, he detests Icelandic crime novels and Scandinavian TV series, preferring to which MLB games on cable.
Sigurdur Oli gets roped into paying a visit to a woman who is blackmailing an acquaintance to talk her out of it. While he is on the premises, he finds the woman bashed senseless, and she ultimately dies. He knows he should extricate himself from the case, but can't resist getting involved to find out just who has made a fool of him.
In the meantime, he is contacted by Andres, an alcoholic tramp seeking to talk to Erlendur, who is still missing, whereabouts unknown. Andres is behaving in a very weird fashion, but the distracted Sigurdur Oli finds it hard to make much time for him. Until a brief strip of film is sent to him showing a terrified boy pleading for somebody to "Stop!".
The plot is satisfyingly complex, involving everything from blackmail to murder to white collar crime. Indridason describes Iceland in its boom years, while also conveying the impending sense that the bust is about to hit.
While I inderstand what Indridason is doing by diversifying his books to focus on different investigators, I think it is being clumsily handled and reducing the interest in the series. Erlendur was a fascinating character with a dark and twisted back story that the author was still expanding on. No real reason is given for his removal from the scene, and his absence means some of the interesting ongoing narrative arcs are just parked, turning the series into a more episodic set of stories. Elingborg and Sigurdur Oli are nowhere near as interesting or original as characters. Bring back Erlendur!
OT, Steve, but are you a Spurs fan? What do you think of Patrick Mills? (A rare Aussie in the NBA).
Clockwise counting 33/50: John Galsworthy - To Let (1921)
The final novel in the trilogy that makes up The Forsyte Saga. After this Galsworthy wrote two additional trilogies about the Forsyte family, I guess I will one day tackle those as well.
The old family conflict continues through the third generation in a rapidly changing English post-war society. It's all about love and property with the Forsytes. I really enjoyed this!
A valuable reserve, given the opponent. Just KILLED Portland and one other team back to back at the end of the season. But Manu REALLY backs up Tony so I don't knnow how much playing time he will get. But they worked quickly resigning him...
I'll join the OT when it turns to Pekovic, Love, Rubio. Until then, let me assure you that I am busy reading. Now Roberto Bolano's masterpiece 2666. I am in transit on my way to Asia and the 900 pages should help me kill time on the long flight. Especially if assisted with champagne.
Didn't know you were a Wolves Fan. IMO they need to make some uniform changes. Good team, though.
I was thinking of that book too but gotta finish the junk food first. It's just the only way. Or going to a Step Withdrawal program from Reacher.
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