As if Tom Sawyer's "little sister" had written her autobiography in a series of droll vignettes, except Ms. Himmel is a real girl, and her stories are artfully told. She writes really well, reads well, and tells a touching story about growing up in a kooky but loving home, in a community where mother is devout, father is skeptical, and the lady across the lane might just be an old witch. Recommended.
Few readers are better suited to their characters than Stacy Keach to Mike Hammer. His leathery growl brings Hammer, a private eye who's a relentless psychopath to life--making him almost sympathetic. Best exchange in the book? Something like this:
Hammer: "Honey, fix your skirt. I'm only human."
Easy listening. Fun, too.
Listening to this I tried to figure who left more dead bodies in his wake: Clint Eastwood in the spaghetti westerns, Shakespeare in Titus Andronicus, or Hammett in Red Harvest. Hobson's choice. After a while I lost track of the characters. They came, they bled, they dropped and they were forgotten. Repeat. And repeat. Competently recited by Richard Ferrone.
Some books keep me awake at night. This old war horse with its mechanical, grade school narration had the reverse effect. It is the cure for insomnia.
Simon Prebble is terrific narrating this tale of a Scotland Yard policeman as he tries to solve several murders and bury the ghost of his WWI PTSD. The best chapter? Ian Rutledge (the detective) contemplates suicide in a former battlefield that's now a cemetery for fallen soldiers.
Edward Hermann does a wonderful job reading this pseudoscientific yarn of things that go bump in the Antarctic night, about an expedition so shudderingly terrifying to the cool scientists who undertake it, that it must never be repeated. Never! Somewhere in the abyss, deep in the shadows, half glimpsed and indistinctly understood, lives a horrible ancient secret that looks and sounds like a nightmarish... [I won't spoil it] ... derailed. Pustular, foul-smelling, impenetrably dark and evil. Heads rolls and ichor oozes. Fly from the station! Fly you fools, fly!
This cleverly written science-fiction about alien possession in a rural hamlet is a worthwhile listen if you have a four-hour drive. It has that wonderful British blend of proper diction, understated elegance, subdued horror, good pacing, and just enough biological theory to keep you engaged. The aliens are strange, beautiful, and deadly competitors for an overmatched human race. The conclusion--how we deal with them--will bring to mind contemporary terrorist tactics. Recommended.
There's nothing better than a night curled-up by the fire, with Mark Twain and his eccentric, peculiar, indispensable point of view. Here he tackles desperados, stagecoaches, mountains dappled with snow, the city of Salt Lake, and so on and so forth. It hardly matters what he says, he says it so damn well.
A very diffident, self-effacing member of the British scientific classes (in the "Age of Wonder") was the first European to write of his explorations and adventures in Africa, with its warring tribes, its tradition of slavery and thuggery, its tropical diseases, hyenas, wolves, and natural beauty. His diary, reproduced here, captivated readers in his time, and still surpasses almost every travel story ever told. It reminded me of "Incidents of Travel in Central America, Chiapas, and the Yucatan," except in this true-life adventure, the author put his life at risk almost every day, with a stiff upper lip, of course.
The "schtick" here is placing the hard-boiled detective in the midst of SS officers, concentration camps, etc. while trying to solve a double murder. And, it gets better and better as it goes.
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