Wednesday, June 29, 2016

The Second Life of Nick Mason, by Steve Hamilton

This crime drama by Steve Hamilton received a lot of very good reviews, so I got it out of my local library and started reading it. I needed a break from the more serious reading of Kevin Gutzman's, James Madison and the Making of America. I'm half way through Nick Mason's second life. I have the distinct impression I've read this before. Not this particular book, but other stories like it. The anti-hero, hero. Troubled past, troubled guy, in over his head. Trying to be a better person. Fates conspire. You know what I mean.

I'll let you know what I think when I'm finished.


I'm finished. Thank goodness. My take?

Laughably implausible plot.

Clich├ęd characters up and down the cast ladder, but especially the main character, "Nick." I can't tell you too much without revealing the plot line and outcome, but let me say this, "Jack Reacher" does it better, without all the whining, and with a more satisfying, if similar outcome.

I've read and enjoyed Steve Hamilton before -- A Cold Day in Paradise, The Lock Artist (which I particularly liked) -- his writing is straight forward, crisp, and he has an outstanding ability to put the reader in the action's locale.

I'll try another book by Hamilton. I know he can do better.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

The Windup Girl, by Paolo Bacigalupi

Hugo & Nebula Award Winning novel by the author of Water Knife.


"Anderson Lake is a company man, AgriGen’s Calorie Man in Thailand. Under cover as a factory manager, Anderson combs Bangkok’s street markets in search of foodstuffs thought to be extinct, hoping to reap the bounty of history’s lost calories. There, he encounters Emiko.

One of the New People, Emiko is not human; instead, she is an engineered being, creche-grown and programmed to satisfy the decadent whims of a Kyoto businessman, but now abandoned to the streets of Bangkok. Regarded as soulless beings by some, devils by others, New People are slaves, soldiers, and toys of the rich in a chilling near future in which calorie companies rule the world, the oil age has passed, and the side effects of bio-engineered plagues run rampant across the globe."

Friday, June 24, 2016


Donaucity-Kirche, Vienna International Center, architect Heinz Tesar. 
Photo: R. Badalamente, June 26, 2010

Saturday, June 4, 2016

All the Birds, Singing, by Evie Wyld

WYLD: Oh, yeah. It could be any number of sick pranks. There's a lot of sort of mystery around whether or not it's a person taking some kind of revenge trying to scare her off or whether it's actually a large mythical cat or something else or even herself.

This is a revealing response from the author, Evie Wyld, to a question from NPR interviewer, Scott Simon. Read the complete interview here.

I like this review of the novel by Jeff VanderMeer.

I liked the novel quite a lot, but it isn't for the faint of heart. Especially if you're living alone on a gloomy, wind-swept island someonewhere in the middle of nowhere.