Thursday, February 04, 2010

Reading and Book Miscellany

Currently reading:

  • Give My Poor Heart Ease, Voices of the Mississippi Blues by William Ferris (taking my time with this one, reading only one or two of the interviews each day).
  • Gunshot Straight by Lou Berney (I'll have more to say later, but 100 pages into this thriller set in Vegas I think Berney may be the new Elmore Leonard).
New acquisitions:

  • Food Rules by Michael Pollan
  • The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot (great review in the New York Times)
  • Wild Child and Other Stories by T.C. Boyle
Intriguing new website: Coverspy. Whenever I am on the D.C. Metro or flying, I try to check out what other people are reading. Returning from Vegas this weekend, I realized I may not be able to exercise this particular bookish nosiness much longer -- ebooks to the right of me, ebooks to the left. I spotted at least three ebooks on the plane and it is impossible, unless the reader is at your side, to notice what's being read.

Last read: The Hidden Man by David Ellis is the first book I've completed in February and the 10th in 2010. Late in this thriller there's an improbable event that ruined the novel for me. (Wait! What just happened! Let me read that again. Oh?!) Besides being improbable and annoying, Ellis doesn't let this plot point unfold properly. The reader is by it (at least I was) and has to go back and re-read a few sentences to be certain that what happened really happened. Yet, Ellis makes much of this event throughout the final pages of the novel.

The result is that I am not nearly as enthusiastic about The Hidden Man as I might have been otherwise. The protagonist, attorney Jason Kolarich, is mourning the death of his wife and child when a mysterious man shows up in his office with a briefcase full of cash. The man hires Kolarich to defend a man accused of murdering a child molester. The accused man is Kolarich's childhood buddy.

Kolarich is given explicit instructions about how to handle the trial, but he doesn't play well with others; especially mysterious figures who threaten him and his brother.

The book is OK as thrillers go, but if you see my previous post there are better books in the genre out there just now.


  1. I was just talking to my husband last night about a plot point (and for the life of me, I can't remember if it's in a book we both read or a movie; darn it!) -- and it was one that, like in "THe Hidden Man," sort of ruined it. It's OK to suspend credulity, it's another to have a major plot flaw that just doesn't make sense. I've been kind of in a funk, bookwise, so I'm glad to see your recommendations. I'll be visiting my library web site soon!

    Here's a page-turner of a thriller you might like: "They Never Die Quietly." (I think the title says a lot...) Serial killer (or the deranged, religiously-oriented/twisted type who's nonetheless intelligently and deceptively charming), woman homicide detective who's in charge of the task force and wants to solve the case to get the respect of her male colleagues, and that clouds her thinking. Very "Silence of the Lambs"-like -- my husband is going to read it next, just based on my comparison to that movie.

  2. By the way, I just noticed the book "Rizzo's War" later in your blog (I was looking for more recommendations!) -- coincidentally, the detective in "Die Quietly" is named ... Sami Rizzo.

  3. Liz, thanks for the book recommendation. I will check it out.

    Your summary about plot points is spot on when you say "it's OK to suspend credulity, it's another to have a major plot flaw that just doesn't make sense." Yes. Exactly. Wish I'd said it. Good reading.