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Books of April, 06

April 30, 2006

Spending a few days in bed definitely kicks up the reading time, and even when feeling “better” it didn’t equate to feeling good (or even close to good) so along with those days there were a number of afternoons spent in bed. The time spent betwixt dozing and reading does show in the number of books I read during April:

  • Greenthieves by Alan Dean Foster
  • Big Stone Gap by Adriana Trigiani
  • Sanibel Flats by Randy Wayne White
  • Purple Cane Road by James Lee Burke
  • Wolves of the Calla by Stephen King
  • Bad Move by Linwood Barclay
  • The Baker’s Boy by J. V. Jones
  • Bad Guys by Linwood Barclay
  • Big Cherry Holler by Adriana Trigiani
  • The Wizard and the War Machine by Lawrence Watt-Evans
  • Cachalot by Alan Dean Foster
  • Currently reading A Man Betrayed by J. V. Jones

Greenthieves by Alan Dean Foster – This was an SF detective story about an insurance “adjuster” (this adjuster uses weapons more than adding machines) trying to solve a locked-room theft – actually, multiple thefts from the locked room. The detective story was routine, and being it was SF, it was flavored with the a futuristic landscape. Not bad, a bit of a neat idea included, but overall not spectacular by any means. Do note that if you enjoy Foster’s off-beat Spellsinger books, you should know that Greenthieves is a straight SF detective story.

Big Stone Gap by Adriana Trigiani – I call books like this one a “slice of life” style book; nothing that would make the newspaper, just a warm story about average folks. I found it a nice change of pace to thrillers of various sort, and while my brothers tend to suggest my liking such books is an indication of a lack of positive deflection on the mass meter when my foot apparel is placed upon it, I don’t care. I likes what I likes.

Sanibel Flats by Randy Wayne White – I picked this book up on the paperback swap website, an opening novel in the Doc Ford series, first published back in 1990. Doc Ford is a former government agent who has retired and now lives in Florida. The cover of the copy I have compares White to Carl Hiassen though it’s probably more for the Florida base than the actual novel. And while Ford, the central character, does now live in Florida, most of the action in this opening novel of the series takes place in South America. I wouldn’t rate it superb, but it wasn’t bad, had interesting characters, and I liked it well enough to see where the next novel goes. Hopefully it’ll work out into an enjoyable series as there are several Doc Ford books out there.

Purple Cane Road by James Lee Burke – The first of Burke’s books I read was Cadillac Jukebox which I thoroughly enjoyed. It was set in the New Iberia area of Louisiana, an area where I spent several weeks on business, and revisited with my wife one anniversary. My (very limited) familiarity with the area, along with Burke’s masterful characterization and storytelling skills, left me wanting more of the series. I did read a couple of others in the “Robicheaux” series (the central character being Dave Robicheaux), but now my problem lies in remembering which ones I had read and which ones I had not read. Purple Cane Road didn’t sound familiar, and I was right that I hadn’t read it. It, too, was a great read, but I’ve decided I don’t want to keep randomly picking them up and reading them out of order. I think I’m going to start with the first in the series – The Neon Rain, and go in order. If I accidentally pick up one I’ve read along the way, no biggie. The story? Oh, yeah. Well, it’s your basic “damaged cop” sort of story, with Robicheaux being the damaged cop, and by “damaged” it’s the standard alcohol problems that so many fictional cops/private eyes seem to be fighting. But the backstory around Robicheaux is well done, and the supporting cast is great, and the mixture of detective story with the human qualities of Robicheaux makes for a very good read.

Wolves of the Calla (The Dark Tower V) by Stephen King – It’s been awhile since I readWizard and Glass, the fourth book in the Dark Tower series, but it only took a bit of time to catch back up in the story, and I enjoyed this one more than I remember (been a couple years or more) enjoying Wizards and Glass. I’ll pick up book six sometime in the reasonable future, and eventually finish the entire series. But unless things change, Book One by far is still the best and I don’t think the series lived up to the potential from a (or at least this) reader’s perspective.

Bad Move by Linwood Barclay – Absolutely hilarious. The cover states “If Dave Barry wrote mystery, it would be something like Barclay’s Bad Move.” Which is true, because as I read it I was reminded of Dave Barry’s mysteries, which apparently the writers of the blurb didn’t realize Barry wrote – though I’d call both this one and Barry’s books “criminal capers.” But it is a very funny book, enough so that I ordered the hardback of the second novel Bad Guys without waiting for it’s soon-released paperback version. The story centers around Zack Walker, a married father of two, whose attempts at life’s lessons to his family tend to go awry.

The Baker’s Boy by J. V. Jones (Book I of the The Book of Words trilogy) – Barring The Wicked Witch of the West and my partial of Son of a Witch, it’s been awhile since I’ve read any fantasy. Well, I suppose Casual Rex would be considered fantasy, but it was more a detective story with dinosaurs than a fantasy story. The Baker’s Boy was a beginning for The Book of Words trilogy. So far, an enjoyable fantasy read — some small points are brushed over, so a bit of suspension of disbelief is required, but overall enjoyable. The other two books of the trilogy are on the way from paperback book swap members and I look forward to continuing the series.

Bad Guys by Linwood Barclay – The follow-up to Bad Move was also a dynamite, funny story. The hiccups are centered more around central character Zack Walker’s relationship with his daughter this go around, but the story is still fast-paced and fun. On the one hand, I’m happy that the sequel wasn’t a let down. On the other hand, darn — that marks all of Barclay’s work in this series so now I’ll have to wait while he (presumably) writes. But Barclay has been added to my “Hardback Buy” list, and not many make the cut.

Big Cherry Holler by Adriana Trigiani was the sequel to Big Stone Gap. I found Big Stone Gap to be a nice slice of life book, but Big Cherry Holler wasn’t nearly as interesting to me. It followed Ave Marie, now married to Jack MacChesney, and dealt with marital problems between Ave and Jack. Basically Ave is pretty passive about life at this point and nothing new was introduced to hold my interest. It seemed to do a bit of a 180 on both Ave and Jack and how their characters behave. Was skip-able in my opinion, having become a sort of failed romance story — and though some might read it and say “hey, wait, in the end it wasn’t a failed romance” I’d disagree.

The Wizard and the War Machine by Lawrence Watt-Evans — Years ago I read Watt-Evans’ The Cyborg and the Sorcerers and this was the follow-up to that book. While I’m a Watt-Evans fan, I didn’t get into this book. Watt-Evans shines with his fantasy (the recent Obsidian series, his early Lords of Dus series, or any of the Ethshar books are all examples) but I’ve not been particularly enthralled with the little Watt-Evans SF I’ve read. This was an older work from the eighties, and Watt-Evans has settled in to doing Fantasy more so than SF; if you want to give Watt-Evans a try (and you should), make it his fantasy work.

Cachalot by Alan Dean Foster – I couldn’t get into this book, try is I might. Written back in 1980, perhaps it was prior to Foster hitting his stride. Like Greenthieves mentioned above,Cachalot is an SF detective story but, while Greenthieves was engaging, I didn’t findCachalot to be in the same vein. The story is about an oceanographer (though I don’t think that was what she was called) who was sent to an almost entirely water-covered planet to help figure out what was happening to some of the floating cities of the planet. About half way through I got tired of the story, but did at least check to see who-dunnit.

Currently reading A Man Betrayed by J. V. Jones (Book II of the The Book of Words trilogy)

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