Posts Tagged ‘thriller’

Book Report

August 11, 2016

Noodle as Editor

I’ve finished five books of late, and I’m patting myself on the back.  So many periodicals arrive daily that I found I wasn’t finishing the books I’d purchased.  So I have made the effort and here is my report.

A Man Called Ove” by Fredrik Backman:  This is an English translation of a current Swedish bestseller.  It’s a marvel of sweet and sour.  Ove is the sour.  His works are the sweet.  Very dark humor is pitched perfectly for some hilarious moments.  A woman friend recommended this and it got snatched away by my wife midway through my own reading.  I finally pulled hard enough to get it back, and it was worth the effort.

The book is pumped with warmth, infused like steam heat, perhaps because we are in cold Sweden.  It is not sentimental.  Every feeling is earned honestly.  But the book seems of a type with some other current bestsellers which are cooked with a lot of cream.  Rather than thin soup, we are fed a rich bisque.  Not something you would want to have every day, but which can mark off a fine experience.

I wonder at the irony of a story coming from such a PC culture, of a hero who is so anti-PC, swimming in a bisque of such creamy texture.  The feeling function is highly prized in this one.

https://www.amazon.com/Man-Called-Ove-Novel/dp/1476738025/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1470935877&sr=1-1&keywords=a+man+called+ove+by+fredrik+backman

“Ralph Marlowe” by James Ball Naylor:  I was driving through the rural town of Malta, Ohio to the town of McConnelsville, Ohio just across the Muskingham River, to attend a concert by Marty Haggard (Merle’s son).  I noticed a small historical marker.  It marked the town of Malta as the home of the writer James Ball Naylor, who wrote this bestseller circa 1900.  The story takes place downriver in the town of Stockton and concerns a young man on the lam from a bad experience who takes up with the irascible town physician, first as the pharmacist and then as his partner physician.  There’s a lot of stock characters, (though they are ‘taken from life’), whose rustic tales leave one wanting.  But the narrative has drive and the lead character, as the whole menagerie admits, is a natural leader.  He’s a pretty stiff fellow though, a hair-splitting moralist – but by the books end, I closed it on good terms.

https://www.amazon.com/Ralph-Marlowe-Tribute-James-Naylor/dp/0983234272/ref=sr_1_fkmr0_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1470935997&sr=1-1-fkmr0&keywords=Ralph+Marlowe+by+James+Ball+Naylor

“Excellent Women” by  Barbara Pym:  Her name keeps popping up here and there in my reading, so I decided I had to sample something.  This is a very low key but well written ‘comic’ treatment of the life of an unmarried clergyman’s daughter in immediate post WWII Britain.  The comedy is language prompted and reserved, and the intelligence behind it quite pronounced.  And the through line of the put-upon selfless personality is classic.  No good deed or good person goes unpunished.  If you enjoy hearing the ironic thoughts of a person ignored, even as her companions speak to her, this is your book.

https://www.amazon.com/Excellent-Women-Publisher-Penguin-Classics/dp/B004OYD1QI/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1470936071&sr=1-2&keywords=excellent+women+by+barbara+pym

“The Mullah’s Storm” by Thomas W. Young:  Okay.  I kept sneaking back to this one when some of the non-fiction I’m plowing away on got too dry.  A plane goes down in Afghanistan with a high value prisoner aboard.  The second in command is left alive along with a female translator to get this Mullah to a safe place.  The Taliban though have other plans.  So has their prisoner.  It’s a hard marching narrative whose author knows those hills and defiles apparently.  The quiet relationship between the narrator and the female translator is the defining interest apart from survival.

https://www.amazon.com/Mullahs-Storm-Parson-Gold-Novel-ebook/dp/0399156925/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1470936114&sr=1-1&keywords=The+Mullah%27s+Storm+by+Thomas+Young

“Hillbilly Elegy” by J. D. Vance:  After having moved to Appalachia from Seattle, I’ve been doing my due diligence.  This book is right up there, but it doesn’t need my good review.  It’s already made a lot of noise.  The culture he describes pretty much is as I’ve witnessed, save his background being a little further up the scale, over the top and down the other side.

Some local traits, which have particularly ground on me, look to be a culturally wide phenomena from what Vance relates.  Kinship ties trump everything, especially common sense.  And the child rearing is ‘free range’.  Vance relates the tale of one of his uncles when a child was asked to leave a store because he was unchaperoned and playing with the toys inside.  The grandfather and grandmother walked into the store, destroyed toys, trashed the shelves, and threatened the store employee with grievous harm – all because the man had disciplined their son to protect his wares.

This is further up the scale, but spot on in style from what I’ve witnessed.  And if you consider that a person’s closest family member is themselves – you might understand how stubborn and refractory to correction people around here can be.  It’s an ethos which travels across class lines.  You’re fur’ em or agin’ em first.  Later on, if pressed, they might consider an outside perspective – if only to argue against it and to suggest some previously unvocalized injury.  You couple this with gossip and intermingled family trees which span a multitude of generations – and you’ve got fertile grounds for simmering feuds and bad feeling all around.  It certainly doesn’t help fix things!

I’ve been working pretty hard at never meeting any of my son’s friends’ parents.  My son is pretty savvy at social navigating.  I’m not.  But I’m pretty big, 6’8”, and do best when I just keep my mouth shut.  One day my son said while leaving Home Depot, “Dad.  I think that they are afraid of you.”

I nodded.  We were off on the right foot.

https://www.amazon.com/Hillbilly-Elegy-Memoir-Family-Culture/dp/0062300547/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1470936165&sr=1-1&keywords=hillbilly+elegy+by+j+d+vance

“The Girl on the Train” by Paula Hawkins:  Okay.  I’m only in five pages.  But my wife swears by it, says it‘s a great read.  And I’m hooked so far…

https://www.amazon.com/Girl-Train-Novel-Paula-Hawkins/dp/1594634025/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1470936199&sr=1-1&keywords=the+girl+on+the+train+by+paula+hawkins

Meet you at the back cover.

For more ideas, visit:  http://www.magicbeanbooks.co/home.html

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Murders in Progress by Eldon Cene

July 3, 2013

Dear Readers!

2010-5-16 Lizzie-1-3

NOTICE:  Murders in Progress by Eldon Cene is continuing in Part Two as The Cognitive Web, and has been transferred to authonomy, a serial fiction website.  To find the next episode, go to:   http://authonomy.com/books/53824/the-cognitive-web/read-book/#chapter

See you there!

Best regards, ur Editor

Photo by Carl Nelson

Murders in Progress…

October 22, 2012

Merlin the Veterinarian

(Episode 9)

 

Leland thought he’d better give himself a while before he called Ramey.  So he called Burt Campbell, the Kimmel County High’s science teacher.  After that, he tromped around taking photos.  And after that, he phoned Ruth, told her what was up, and by that time Merlin Travers, the Veterinarian had showed.  Big animal, small animal, human; Merlin didn’t discriminate.  But Leland always put Merlin’s charge into the Sheriff’s Canine Unit accounts column, because not having a dog was easier to explain away than not having a horse.

“What’s up, Leland?”  Merlin said.  He had parked his Range Rover immediately behind the parked Mercedes.  Leland handed Merlin some latex gloves and shoe booties.  And while Merlin put them on Leland explained.

“Woman here, by the name of Nancy Loomis it appears, parks her new Mercedes by the side of the road after its headlights have been shot out.  Then she gets led off into the woods by two guys, it appears.”  He motioned.  “Try not to step on any of the footprints or to tromp on any of the evidence, of course.”  He rolled his hand.  “They have a bit of a walk, and then she’s murdered about 30 yards in.”

Merlin whistled.

“I want you to have a look at her.  Tell me what you think?”

“Okay.”  Merlin nodded.  “Where’s Pete, our Kimmel County Coroner?”

“Sister City Convention business,” Leland replied, with a shake of his head.

“Aaahhh.”  Merlin said.  “Love the government.  Work hard.  Always short-handed.”

“Shut yer yap and just think about who’s paying you,” Leland retorted.

“Yessir.”  Merlin smirked.

 

Merlin kept his promise.  He just whistled lowly when he saw the mess that was left.

The first thing Merlin did, after standing and studying the scene silently, was to set the rectal thermometer.  Then he began to examine the wounds.  “He broke her hand for some reason.  Maybe she had a gun?  Maybe some of this blood is theirs?”

Leland nodded.  He’d checked the Mercedes while waiting for the Vet, and sure enough, there was an empty holding clip right behind the ignition.   He silently thanked his good fortune that Pete was on that Sister Cities tour this week.  Merlin was the much better deal.

“Sideswiped her.”  Merlin pointed to the grotesquely bent knee.  “Probably in order to incapacitate her.  “Hands tied with a plastic tie.”  He probed around with his pencil.  “Coat pocket ripped, burnt pencil-sized holes.”  He laughed.  “Maybe that’s where she carried her gun?”  Leland nodded.  Then Merlin began to examine the wounds.  Finally, he stood.

“I had a schizophrenic who did his dog something like this, years ago,” Merlin rubbed his face hard, as if to rub away the vision.  “He thought the dog must have had some kind of a transmitter or walkie talkie hidden somewhere on it – because he said he could “hear the dog talking to him”.  So he went looking.  “Like this guy, he pushed his hands into the skull cavity and let the brains squeeze through his fingers as if they were clay, looking for it.”  Merlin pantomimed it.  ”Apparently the dog had been bringing up some sore points and just wouldn’t let it drop.”  Merlin glanced at Leland.  “Could piss anyone off.”

“Yeah.”  Leland scowled.

“The guy started taking his meds again, washed his hands, bought another dog, and everything was fine.”  Merlin removed the rectal thermometer.

“So you’re saying I should just hang this guy up by his balls and beat him with a stick until he promises to start taking his meds again,” Leland growled.

“No.  You need to shoot him.  There’s obviously two of them.  Which means the guy’s not off his meds.  Or there is something else going on.  Something much more long-standing, I’d say.  Because he’s able to recruit help.  And I’m guessing he pays them with a little ‘whoopee!’”  Merlin nodded at the spread knees and the shredded clothing.  “You really need to have the body examined though, and do the whole rape work up.”

Leland nodded.

“Is that it?”

“You think I have another couple murders around here for you to look into?”

Merlin’s eyebrows rose.  He took a look at thermometer, then wiped it clean and put it away.  “I figured she must have died about 12 hours ago.”  He sighed.  “Can I go, then?  There’s a dog who’s breeching, and she’s about 20 miles away.”

“Sure.  Get lost,” Leland said.

“Will do.”  Merlin waved and walked off through the undergrowth.

Leland stayed to gaze around the scene and think some more.  Then he trudged back out to the roadway to welcome the ‘kids’.

Photo by Carl Nelson


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