Wednesday, May 11, 2011
Tuesday, May 10, 2011
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Laura Lippman's wonderful PI character Tess Monaghan finds herself confined to her bed on doctors' orders due to unexpected complications of her pregnancy. What happens next is right out of REAR WINDOW: a woman who Tess is used to seeing out her window every day disappears, leaving her neurotic Italian greyhound running free. Tess resolves to solve the mystery from her sickbed, all the while dealing with the abandoned canine, worrying about the impending delivery and terrified at the prospect of being a mother.
What's so striking about this book is its compactness: it's only 158 pages, but there's a full, rich, multi-textured story told in that short time. THE GIRL IN THE GREEN RAINCOAT originally ran as a serialized novel in the New York Times magazine, and every chapter is a perfectly crafted, self-contained little gem. As so often happens with a Laura Lippman book, I put it down at the end and went "Wow. That was AMAZING." I loved this book.
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Here's what Paul Goat Allen of the Chicago Tribune had to say about the print version:
After penning three "redneck noir" novels featuring North Carolina bail bondsman Jack Keller, J.D. Rhoades has written a stand-alone story that could quite possibly be the perfectly crafted hard-edged thriller. With a plot that features a rogue undercover FBI agent, a sadistic outlaw motorcycle gang that controls a network of backwoods meth labs and a harem of hillbilly strippers, an overly ambitious female television reporter, and a much-publicized kidnapping case involving two young brothers, what more could a discerning crime fiction reader hope for?
"Breaking Cover" is nothing short of masterful on numerous levels: Rhoades' singular ability to make every character—even peripheral ones—unique, realistic and intriguing; his innate sense of narrative tempo, which is pedal-to-the-metal throughout thanks in no small part to a staccato writing style and succinct chapters all ending with cliffhangers of varying degrees; and, lastly, the author's over-the-top, pulp fiction-inspired audaciousness, which will have readers saying to themselves, "I can't believe that just happened...."
Simply put, "Breaking Cover" is destined to become a crime fiction cult classic—leather biker jacket, submachine gun and crystal meth not included.
Sunday, May 08, 2011
A good person does not rejoice in the death of another human being. A good person doesn’t hear that another living, breathing soul, one created by the maker of all things, has been gunned down and feel happy about the news.
Guess I’m just a bad person, then.
When I heard the news that Osama bin Laden had been shot and killed by U.S. Navy SEALs, I didn’t exactly go out and dance in the street. It was late, I was tired, and it would have been kind of weird to do it all by myself. I know for sure it would have freaked out the dog.
But I did pour myself a large celebratory drink, sit down, and smile a smile of pure satisfaction.
Truth be told, my revenge fantasies since Sept. 11, 2001, have not involved Osama bin Laden being blown away. They’ve been of him sitting alone in a clear plastic cage, like Magneto in the X-men movie, surrounded by pictures and constantly playing videos of the people whose deaths he orchestrated and their families, constantly confronted with the human cost of what he’d done for the rest of a long, miserable life.
But I knew that would probably never happen. I don’t even know where you’d go to get a cell like that. So as second choices go, this one will do just fine.
I can’t help it. I still remember, as if it was yesterday: the shock, the fear, the anxiety of that pretty September day when I heard about the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, followed by the news of the plane that crashed as its passengers tried to take it back from the terrorists to keep it from becoming another flying bomb.
We all felt it, and we’ve all felt that anxiety and that sense of creeping paranoia every day since. It’s made a lot of us a little bit nuts. It’s made a few of us really nuts. That one incident united us, then it divided us, and I don’t know how long it will be before we’re really whole again.
My children grew up in a world afraid of its own shadow because of that son of a bitch, and while his death will not spell the end of terrorism, I can’t help but be happy he’s been paid back for that.
So what now? Will the death of the man who’s been the dark and beardy face of terror bring us together just as the original attacks did, albeit all too briefly? Will the slaying of this particular dragon start a national healing process?
I was encouraged by the fact that even Dick Cheney, who’s previously made thoroughly obnoxious pronouncements that he didn’t think President Obama actually believed we were at war with terrorists, had nothing but praise for the “people who worked very very hard for a long time,” then went on to say, “It’s also a good day for the administration. President Obama and his national security team acted on the intelligence when it came in and they deserve a lot of credit too.”
Former President George W. Bush also was very gracious, acknowledging President Obama’s “courtesy call” to him before the announcement. So credit goes right back to them as well. In their honor there’ll be a two-week moratorium on calling Mr. Bush “Dubbya” and on “shooting in the face” jokes.
On the other hand, a person on Twitter who identified himself as the founder of the “NYC Tea Party” couldn’t bring himself to celebrate the moment without a bitter jab at the commander in chief who was announcing the success of the operation: “I can literally see Obama’s eyes moving back and forth reading the teleprompter. Cheapens this historic moment.”
Meanwhile, commenters at the right-wing site RedState were confident that the whole thing was orchestrated to take people’s minds off examining Obama’s birth certificate. Is that some tunnel vision or what?
So we’ll see. Haters are gonna hate, no matter what. This, however, is a time when the vast majority of Americans want to greet this as good news, as evidenced by the celebrations at the White House, Times Square and ground zero. Maybe this time, the haters, sore losers and conspiracy theorists will find themselves marginalized and, for once, shunned by the people who direct the media spotlight.
We live in hope.