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Old 01-11-2009, 03:34 PM   #123
Kroms
Moose fell on my head
 
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Join Date: Jun 2007
Posts: 697
Here's what I read from September 2008 till today.

California Girl - by T. Jefferson Parker (8/10).

Four brothers in California all meet and get acquainted with the one, same girl, who, a few years later, turns-up dead. By this point the sixties are in full-sway and one is the detective assigned to the case, one a reporter, one a Priest and one somewhere in Vietnam. It's great in that the characters are well-defined enough to each react to the death in a different way that makes them question their beliefs and foundations. It's a thoughtful read, not a flat-out thriller.

And Then There Were None - by Agatha Christie (8/10)

Ten people arrive on an island, invited by a mysterious stranger. As they eat dinner without their host (who is absent), a voice booms that accuses each and every one of them of a murder, and says they will all die before the week is up.

Even though a little mechanical and not entirely believable, the book is the world's best-selling mystery and probably deserves it. It's just one of those books that'll make you smack your head when the killer is revealed. Personally, I figured out how the killer was doing his/her thing early on, but the identity came as a surprise, I must admit. Very scary book, I might add. I loved it.

Old Flames - by Jack Ketchum (9/10)

Two horror novellas that twist and turn. I won't tell you what they're about but they're lots of fun. I liked the second one better - "Right to Life" makes a strange, disturbing case for life in the abortion debate (or so I interpreted it, anyways). The first is a little conventional, but then again it isn't. Some people might find them boring but I loved them so much I already bought another two Ketchums and am halfway through Off Season.

Being John Malkovich: The Original Screenplay - by Charlie Kaufman (8/10)

It's interesting to see how the script went from this strange mess to the final film, no less strange, maybe a little less messy. The brains are there, the beginnings of the writer that would go on to write Adaptation., Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and this year's Synecdoche, New York.

Little Scarlet: An Easy Rawlins Novel - by Walter Mosley (7/10)

It's a little like a sequel to Do the Right Thing. Set in LA after the "black riots" of the 1960s, it follows an African-American detective as he tries to track down a white man believed to have been the last person to see a murdered black woman alive. It helped me understand a little bit what it feels like to be discriminated against. But there's this obsession with this writer with "white halls," "white ceilings," "white white white". It kind-of gets annoying.

Nine Stories - by JD Salinger (7/10).

Just nine stories that could only have been written by the man who wrote The Catcher in the Rye. I think a lot of it is just, "I wanna eff with your mind," but it's also a little fun when he does that, I have to admit.

The Secret Adversary - by Agatha Christie (7/10)

Fun in the Christie sense. The new protagonists Tommy and Tuppence are a fresh breath of air away from Poirot and Marple. They're just a pair of dimwits way in over their heads. The romantic subplots were dumb, though. The ending was a surprise. I love how she used cliches to both lessen the work (unintentionally) and make it better (intentional).

Murder on the Links - by Agatha Christie (7/10)

A fun mystery novel, but I figured everything out a good twenty pages before Christie lets on. It relies too much on things like chance for me to say it's "great" though. Still, most people seem to be surprised by the identity of the killer.

The Man in the Brown Suit - by Agatha Christie (6/10)

One of those off-series novels she writes. It basically follows a somewhat boring protagonist as she decides to find "some adventure" in the high-old Romantic sense. I have to admit it was just fine. The stuff of early-20th Century English girls in their daydreams.

Poirot Investigates - by Agatha Christie (2/10)

Just bad. Plain old BAD. Some short stories that make no sense, that aren't any good, and that are just so goddam boring. Avoid.

The Murder of Roger Ackroyd - by Agatha Christie (9/10)

I have to admit that at this point I'd begun to doubt Agatha Christie - the last two were mediocre, and the two before that were only "good". But this was great, even better than And Then There Were None.

I wrote down a list of all the suspects, and then re-wrote wrote down why I thought each was the killer, then presented the argument against (hey, it was a slow weekend). And then I circled the killer's name, thought "Gotcha," shook my head and said "Nah, impossible," then got sucker-punched. Highly recommended. So simple, yet so brilliant.

The Big Four - by Agatha Christie (3/10)

A stinker. Just forget it, it's deus ex machina after another and half the time you're thinking it's a James Bond story.

The Mystery of the Blue Train - by Agatha Christie (5/10)

Not bad, not good. I actually don't remember that much about it, even though it's been barely a month. Which says how "meh" it is.

The Big Sleep - by Raymond Chandler (9/10)

Tired of Agatha Christie, I decided to go ahead with some Tim Schafer recommendations (Chandler is one of his favourites) and read this. Man, it's just so good. It's so freaking convoluted but it falls nicely into place (well...not entirely). It's a totally hardboiled novel, with a detective that's more badass than most "awesome"/Kratos-ish video games characters put together. And it's just so funny.

Raymond Chandler, wow. Definitely reading more of his work.

"Shakespeare" By Another Name: The Life of Edward de-Vere, the Earl of Oxford, the Man Who Was Shakespeare - by Mark Anderson (6/10).

Basically makes a case for Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford, having really been Shakespeare. Good case, but it wouldn't hold-up in court; it also twists facts around too much. Move along.

Rosebud: the Story of Orson Welles - by David Thomsen (7/10)

It's one of those "intellectual" biographies. The author basically loves the man's work, likes the man, and hates anyone "dumb" (he uses the word "intellectuals" maybe ten times in the book). There's this really silly tendency to put "conversations" between himself and the publisher about Welles that explains things, with dialogue like "In walks the publisher extraordinaire, brandishing a legal letter." This is the publisher talking. Ugh.

The Life and Death of Harriet Freane - by May Sinclair (8/10)

It's not a biography. It's a novella about a girl called Harriett who can't stand the change that's going on around her life, and resolves to be "beautiful". Very stream-of-consciousness. Reading this made me feel like I was in that zone between being asleep and awake, neither here nor there.

Peril at End House - by Agatha Christie (8/10)

I went back to dame Agatha, hoping this wouldn't suck - and it didn't. Although I figured it out really early on, it was a lot of fun. Not a classic but it's really pretty good. But Poirot? Eat your heart out. I figured this one out before you did, mon ami. Way, way before.

Slaughterhouse-Five - by Kurt Vonnegut (9/10)

Woo, Kurt Vonnegut. This could have been a preachy book. This could have been a boring, super-serious book about the horrors of war. But it isn't. I know it works because, right now, my heritage is getting it in Gaza (850+ dead and counting), and I'm telling you, the fact that this book flits between being so very dark and actually having a sense of humour about it works. Probably one of the best novels I've ever read, and definitely the first political one to move me like this since Animal Farm.

Phew.

Last edited by Kroms; 10-16-2009 at 07:45 PM.
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