A genius software developer’s death triggers a computer virus that threatens to take control of the world. It’s pretty much non-stop action. The cutting-edge technical stuff kept it interesting, plus there are the seeds of some interesting ideas. I've started the sequel, “Freedom TM.” On the downside, the characters are never developed enough to care about anyone; it fails Question 2 in the Bechdel test (there’s never a conversation between two women) and there's a gang rape scene where the woman is made to seem like she wants it (it's not sympathetic to the rapists, it's more part of the action, but it's questionable).
I was really looking forward to this book after the chapter in Laymon’s essay collection about the trials he had to go through to get it published. It’s about a black boy in Mississippi who finds a book that tells a parallel story about a black boy with the same name (and friends and family) but in a different year. There’s a hole in the woods that allows time travel, the Klan, family secrets revealed, and a few interesting discussions of race (and a bit about gender). (There’s a black man who gets killed by the Klan after making a come-on to a 16-year-old white girl. Of course, killing him was an evil but a female character notes that it’s messed up for a grown man to be talking that way to a girl.) Anyway, by the end, I was frustrated with it and I realized why: It’s just like when someone goes on and on and on about a crazy dream where all these fantastical and nonsensical things happen — it’s interesting to them but not to anybody else.
This is the first Harry Bosch story I thought was worthless. An anonymous tip breaks open a cold-case involving a couple of murders involving a switchblade used on gay men. No real twists or investigatory hurdles, just a straight line from A to B. Bechdel test: Fail. You know, it makes me realize that I didn't care for the last two Bosch books, "The Drop" and "The Black Box." The new Mickey Haller book — "The Gods of Guilt" — was great, among his best, so maybe Harry's character has run his course. Connelly keeps threatening to have a case featuring Bosch's daughter, maybe it's time. (That said, the two Bosch short story collections — "Angle of Investigation" and "Suicide Run" — were very good.)
Although it has the same name as the Sandra Bullock movie and features a female astronaut lost in space, it bares no relationship. It’s a medical thriller set on the space station where a mysterious illness causes everything to go wrong that could go wrong. I read it because Stephen King listed it as one of his favorite books. It was solid and exciting from start to finish, but not great by any stretch. Bechdel test: pass.
Two lowlifes realize they can make a comfortable living doing low-level armed robberies of grocery and liquor stores. They get an apartment in a swingers apartment complex and throw parties with lots of booze, sex and Mantovani records. Then they get bored and try for one big score that will set them for a year. The book was written in 1976, and the white male main characters are products of their time: sexist and racist. Leonard himself seems respectful of the black characters, even if the white characters have to remind themselves not to use the N-word in their company. But he treats the female characters as less significant in every way. That said, the plot is good and dialogue excellent. Bechdel test: fail.
Two thugs enter a real estate office to fulfill an extortion scheme, and a woman and her husband see too much and become targets. People I respect love this book, so maybe I didn’t get it. But I found it totally forgettable. Bechdel test: fail.
Coming of age story set in U.S. high school of the early 1990s about a sensitive boy who cries all the time and finds himself friends with hard partiers. Thoroughly loved it while I was reading it. In hindsight, maybe it wasn't as strong. I could see some people complaining about cliche parts but, damn, high school is a cliche. Awesome narration. (I'm a white male in my late 40s.)
Three short stories: cheating at an 1920s backroom poker game, a traffic crime investigator analyzes the scene of a suspicious celebrity death, and a cop tails a would-be assassin to a Dodgers game. The stories were all decent because Connelly’s a good writer but they’re lightweight and easily missed, even for fans. His short story books “Angle of Investigation” and “Suicide Run” were much better. Bechdel test: fail.
A sociopath book not about serial killers but instead about your average sociopath — the stepdad, the co-worker, the boyfriend. A Harvard psychologist, Stout says 1 in 25 people is a sociopath, meaning they have no conscience. I found the whole thing fascinating, especially the stray comment about how sociopaths are more dangerous in societies that worship greed and individual accomplishment while they are more innocuous in societies that reward cooperation and community achievement — that’s because life is a game for the sociopath and being a ruthless cooperator is very different from being a ruthless capitalist.
Memoir of growing up in extreme poverty in Battle Mountain, Nevada; Phoenix; and a tiny coal town in West Virginia. What makes it so fascinating aside from one harrowing adventure after another is how damaged yet intellectually sharp her parents are as they haphazardly care for four kids. The scenes involving cheetah-petting and traveling in the back of an enclosed U-Haul truck across Nevada will stay with me a long time. A classic.
A serial killer is using medieval torture devices to kill men, and a psychological profile named Tony Hill gets brought in even though the cops don't think the cases are related. I thought I knew where this was going and kind of wrote it off as a predictable serial killer book, but the ending was magnificent. Contains some good gender discussions. The first in an ongoing series. I've now read three in the series and each one makes me appreciate the others more.
The narrator did an excellent job, especially consider how the killer's identity needed to be disguised despite conveying much of the action.
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