Monday, May 30, 2011

The Most Dangerous Thing

The Most Dangerous Thing
By Laura Lippman
William Morrow
Harper Collins Publishers
August 2011
ISBN: 978-0-06-170651-6
384 pages
$ 25.99

Have you ever felt guilty about something that happened in your teen years? Could the guilt that you
feel actually affect the choices that you make and your success in your adult life? Do you ever get over

A generation ago, life was different. Kids could actually explore in nearbywoods without parents being
worried. It was a part of life, growing up, exploring, and coming home when your mom called you for

The Most Dangerous Thing is about a group of children who grew up together exploring their
neighborhood as close friends. There were three brothers, Tim, Sean, and Gordon (Go-Go) Halloran.
Gwen who lived at the edge of the woods who seemed to have the perfect parents and Mickey who
lived in a single family home with a much younger little brother and her mom’s boyfriend.

The five spent much of their summer time in the woods visiting a black man who lived in a shack in the
woods that only seamed to value his guitar. Gwen especially would take food from her house to give to
Chicken George. They frequently spent time at his shack with a few chickens and an unusual friendship
including this vagabond.

The story revolves about Gwen who is now spending her nights at her father’s house helping him since
his recent fall. While she is there, Go-Go is in a car accident that kills him. It appears that he didn’t
apply the brake and that he purposely ran the car into a head-on collision. As the surviving four reunite,
they each question themselves as well as the accident. Did Go-Go feel responsible for Chicken George
and what happened? What did happen?

Gwen searches into their past to discover for herself the answers about Chicken George. Did the guilt
really cause Go-Go’s death? Is the guilt the reason that Gwen fails to have successful personal
relationships or the reason that Mickey (Mckey) refuses to be involved in any relationship?

The Most Dangerous Thing is a haunting novel. Life is not as neatly concluded at the end leaving
the reader feeling a little uneasy. The story is enthralling and definitely a page turner. The characters
are realistic as are their actions.

Laura Lippman relies on her past of being raised in Baltimore for the basis of this story. She is a former
Newspaper reporter and has won numerous awards including the Agatha, Anthony, Edgar, Nero, Barry,
Macavity, Strand, Gumshoe, and Shamus as well as having her books on the New York Times bestseller
list. She also teaches at Goucher College in Maryland.

The Most Dangerous Thing is haunting in that are your memories can be dangerous. Do you have a
memory that you would prefer be forgotten? Read The Most Dangerous Thing.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

The Barbary Pirates

The Barbary Pirates
William Dietrich
424 pages
ISBN: 978-0-06-156807-7
Harper Collins
April 2010 Hardcover
April 2011 Paperback
$ 9.99

Ethan Gage is successful in that world leaders seem to seek out his assistance and expertise for unusual requests and adventures. Imagine an Indiana Jones who has political connections throughout the world but who tends to be attracted to trouble like a magnet.

It’s the year 1802 and beginning in Paris visiting Napoleon, Ethan finds himself with three savants: British geologist William Smith, French Zoologist George Cuvier, and the American Robert Fulton who invented the submarine before his steamboat. Napoleon sends the quartet to Greece to search for the mirror of Archimedes, which supposedly was able to concentrate the sunlight by using mirrors to attack ships at sea and destroy them. Napoleon wants the mirror destroyed if it exists.

However, Gage’s group is not the only group looking for the mirror. The Egyptian Rite already has a grudge against Gage from previous encounters. Added to this is Lady Aurora who joins with a group of Barbary pirates and continues to a few scores to settle with Gage. When Gage finds Astiza, his former lover, he is shocked to learn that he has a son who is now two years old. However, using his sense of responsibility and love for both is used against him by all.

The Barbary Pirates is the fourth novel in the Ethan Gage series following Napoleon’s Pyramids, The Rosetta Key, and The Dakota Cipher. The Barbary Pirates works as both a continuation of a series or as a standalone novel. Compared to the previous three novels, I found this one the most enjoyable as it resolved some relationships and problems from the previous ones.

William Dietrich is a Pulitzer Prize winning journalist and the author of ten novels, many of which have been listed on the New York Times bestselling lists. Daily, he is a professor at Western Washington University teaching journalism.

The Barbary Pirates is a page turner with every page being a swash-buckling adventure. Looking at the world as Ethan Gage means that any plan will not work as expected. Bungling as he attempts to save the world makes the novel humorous, fun, and realistic. Ethan’s devotion to his Egyptian lover and son gives him a more likable personality in that he is finally showing some maturity and caring. Personally, I found The Barbary Pirates as the most enjoyable of the four and a delightful novel.

The Countertenor Wore Garlic

The Countertenor Wore Garlic
By Mark Schweizer
St. James Music Press
March 2011
ISBN: 978-0-9844846-2-1
192 pages

Everyone needs to just relax and have a good laugh occasionally. You won’t find a better series of
books that always have a crime, usually a murder, an investigation, a church choir and the behind the
scenes politics of a church, and a separate mystery in the old private investigator style of Raymond
Chandler. These books have no sexual content, minimal violence, no bad language, and are just fun to
read. These are somewhat similar to Jan Karon’s but more from a male point-of-view and humorous..

The Countertenor Wore Garlic takes place in the fictional town of St. Germaine, North Carolina located
in the Appalachian Mountains. The small town is currently infected with teen vampires who are
anxiously awaiting the author of a famous vampire series of books at their local bookstore while
zombies are also roaming the town as a result of a flash mob. Somehow I had visions of the Twilight
Series by Stephanie Meyers.

The death of a town citizen in the hay maze behind the church leads Hayden Konig, the chief of police
and the organist for the Episcopal church to find out who killed Flori Cabbage, secretary to Ian Burch,
PhD, who also is a countertenor singing the alto part beautifully in the choir. Added to that, the
current pastor of the church is leaving to become a bishop. In her place is a Scottish reverend that
plans to send the church back to the Dark Ages in terms of liturgy, the sermon, and the status
of women.

Being this is the ninth book in this series, I was concerned about whether a reader could understand this novel without having read the previous eight. Yes, this is a series that reacquaints the continuing characters and could easily work as a standalone. However, you’re missing a delightful and laughable series of books if you don’t read them all. The
characterization is fictional but very realistic in that you can visualize these people in your
personal everyday life.

Mark Schweizer has a doctoral degree in vocal performance from the University of Arizona. He has worked extensively with regional opera companies and has also appeared as the bass soloist with the Robert Shaw Chorale. He currently is the director of St. James Music Press while writing these series, as well as Christmas opera librettos, choral selections, and several children’s musicals.

What will the next novel be called? The Composer Wore Corduroy or The Choir Director Wore Double Knit are my suggestions.

Need a good enjoyable laugh? Read The Countertenor Wore Garlic.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

The Bayou Trilogy

Under the Bright Lights, Muscle for the Wing, and The Ones You Do
Daniel Woodrell
Mulholland Books
Little, Brown and Company
April 28, 2011
Trade Paperback
ISBN: 978-0-316-13365-4
512 pages

It is rare to read a series of three novellas within one cover, but that best describes The Bayou Trilogy.
Each short novella features Rene Shade, a policeman from the swamp area of Louisiana known as St.
Bruno. Rene’s family has an eclectic background as he has one brother who owns and runs a bar and
the other brother is a successful attorney. The relationship between the three is as varied as their
chosen occupations.

Rene Shade grew up becoming a boxer and finally becoming a policeman. Unfortunately, Rene dishes
out his justice through using knowing of the people and families from his life in St. Bruno. Through
understanding the people, who or what is important to them, he solves the criminal investigations
through his own version of justice frequently not having the approval of his superiors.

In Bright Lights which was first published in 1986, the investigation is about a black city councilman’s
murder. Muscle for the Wing from 1988 is about a group of paroled convicts who are on a spree of
robbing and killing anyone who gets in their way. In The One You Do from 1992, Rene’s father who has
been absent for years, appears back in St. Bruno with his ten-year-old daughter from another woman.
Being that his father was a former pool hall hustler, no one is surprised that someone wants the
father dead.

These stories are rich in the history and culture of the bayou. Their violent lifestyle and daily struggle
with people of this area feels authentic. The drinking of alcohol is part of their daily diet. With their
language, dialects, lack of education, corruption of local politics, and backwoods traditions gives the
reader a sense of this area and their alternative justice system.

At first, I found this trilogy disturbing because it was so realistic. Daniel Woodrell masterfully places his
readers with the protagonist while discovering the facts and dishing out justice. This trilogy is a
wonderful example of a different type of fiction known as “country noir” is from a part of the country
that seldom opens a window into their lives.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Infinite Exposure

Roland Hughes
Logikal Solutions
July 15, 2010
ISBN: 978-0977086696
471 pages

Many of us have noticed numerous changes since 9-11-2001, especially in that area of airport security.
However, there have been other changes that might not be the best for either ourselves or our country.
Will these changes continue? What are the indirect effects of this?
Usually when someone mentions they have read a factual book that was written like fiction, it means the book has a plot and reads easily. However, Infinite Exposure reads like fact but is really fiction. This isn’t meant to be negative, it simply means there is so much that either has happened, or is similar to a recent event, that the book takes time to digest and understand.
Infinite Exposure is the overlaying of numerous international plots involving al-Quaeda, most notably with the financial world involving the banking system. Being terrifyingly realistic in terms of present day in the United States, the plot of numerous companies being competitive and attempting to sabotage each other, seems to be very honest, straightforward, and too realistic. With having numerous companies outsource the computer specialties to India in order to be more profitable, is a reality today. What happens if there is a problem at an international data center? What if the data is destroyed either accidentally or by an act of terrorism? When does profit outweigh the balance of common sense?
The implications in this fictional novel are terrifying and realistic. Most of us go about our day and really do not consider if our bank is associated with FDIC or even what that really means. The other issues of terrorism in Infinite Exposure are the central data banks, international banking, the illegal trade of human organs, the entire communication system, stock exchanges, the computer industry, the demise of Christianity, the media’s reporting, and how the international world views our lifestyles and choices.
Curiously in this novel are unusual spaces in-between the words and no use of quotation marks. Also, since the story at first involves e-mail messages, there were strange errors such as when the word “café” was used a naught sign was placed over the last e, four separate times. It was as if the novel had a code within the story.
Roland Hughes is the president of Logikal Solutions which is a business applications consulting firm. His expertise in this field makes him the perfect author for this novel. This book is available from most booksellers, except Amazon.
Infinite Exposure is not a quick read, but is a vital one. Each of us needs to be aware of the threats to our way of life. I know that after reading this novel, I plan to make some changes.