Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Curmudgeon in the Wry 296

Wednesday, May 25, 2005---685 Words---Average reading time: 2-minutes, 27 seconds
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Rave: Dan Duryea
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Quote: "When one says that a writer is fashionable, one practically always means that he is admired by people under thirty."--- George Orwell
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Rave: Monument Valley
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Useless factoid: There are about 40,000 Chinese restaurants in the USA…more than McDonald’s, Wendy’s and Burger King combined.
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Rant: “Kicking & Screaming,” is a Will Ferrell film about a soccer dad. Coincidentally, the words “kicking and screaming” also describe the way most American fans are taken to soccer games.
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Idle thought: In the last couple years, Jason Giambi has been the biggest baseball bust since Morganna’s.
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Rant: Mysteries that include recipes are not interesting on either level.
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Bumper sticker of the week: Eve was framed.
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Totally useless factoid: 5% of Americans iron their socks.
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Rant: What’s wrong with this picture? Disabled veterans in this country do not receive free medical care, but illegal immigrants do.
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Quote: “A whole world of evil lies right on the edge of the everyday world and you can cross the border in a city minute.”---James M. Cain
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Rave: Harry Bosch has become one of crime fiction’s most fleshed-out characters…and he keeps improving with each novel Michael Connelly writes. Mr. Connelly is a modern master.
Harry has returned to the LAPD, repartnered with Kiz Rider in the recently created Open Unsolved Unit. He remains a relentless, smart, hard working, compassionate, fundamentally decent detective. He is a complicated character---still seeking justice.
Harry and Kiz draw a case from 1988…the murder of an eighteen year biracial girl. DNA is available from the murder weapon…and they get an immediate match.
They both feel there are enough inconsistencies in the match’s history to question whether he is the perp.
As they work the case they uncover the crime’s heartbreaking effects for the victim’s family. These unsolved mysteries can haunt a department…often defining the police force that cannot resolve them.
Even with the tools unavailable in 1988, it still takes dogged legwork, cop’s instinct and long grinding hours to decipher the case. This is where Michael Connelly excels…the calculated progress of Police Procedure 101.
The suspense is constant; surprises appear at every turn, the entire cast vibrant in this taut crime thriller. “The Closers” is well executed and well envisioned.
The plot builds in a deceptive manner…accelerating geometrically as the novel progresses. It ignites in a hushed manner…propelling you to the resolution.
Mr. Connelly is most adept at setting the hook in a most subtle manner…he hides the clues in plain sight as well as any writer. He makes discovering the solution completely satisfying.
It is easy to immerse oneself in “The Closers.”
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Hmmm: Is it true that a Texas-cattleman-vegetarian is someone who only eats meat once a day?
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Rave: I cannot help it…I love the vibraphone. And, am torn between Lionel Hampton and Milt Jackson, as to whom I like the best.
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Rant: I plan to see "Monster-in-Law" just as soon as I finish re-reading the Dowd Report on Pete Rose.
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Rave: Rob Bartlett's version of Dr. Phil on "Imus in the Morning" is only an absolute scream.
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Rave: Bernard McGuirk’s Cardinal Egan (on Imus) is as funny as anything I have seen on the tube.
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Truism: The Rolling Stones kick off their world tour at Fenway Park this August, which means that the Yankees won't be the oldest team to play there this season.
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Rant: If the doctor shows on television cannot run out of storylines, I guess the Mets can keep coming up with medical reasons why Mike Piazza has to get a day off when Pedro is pitching.
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Hmmm: Okay, what is harder in sports, winning the Tour de France as many times in a row as Lance Armstrong has, or walking Jose Reyes?
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Perhaps: Perpetual motion is a Slinky on an escalator.
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If you can read this, thank a teacher. If you are reading it in English thank a Veteran.
That is all.
As you were.

"The Closers" by Michael Connelly

Harry Bosch has become one of crime fiction’s most fleshed-out characters…and he keeps improving with each novel Michael Connelly writes. Mr. Connelly is a modern master.

Harry has returned to the LAPD, repartnered with Kiz Rider in the recently created Open Unsolved Unit. He remains a relentless, smart, hard working, compassionate, fundamentally decent detective. He is a complicated character---still seeking justice.

Harry and Kiz draw a case from 1988…the murder of an eighteen year biracial girl. DNA is available from the murder weapon…and they get an immediate match.
They both feel there are enough inconsistencies in match’s history to question whether he is the perp.

As they work the case they uncover the crime’s heartbreaking effects for the victim’s family. These unsolved mysteries can haunt a department…often defining the police force that cannot resolve them.

Even with the tools unavailable in 1988, it still takes dogged legwork, cop’s instinct and long grinding hours to decipher the case. This is where Michael Connelly excels…the calculated progress of Police Procedure 101.

The suspense is constant; surprises appear at every turn, the entire cast vibrant in this taut crime thriller. “The Closers” is well executed and well envisioned.

The plot builds in a deceptive manner…accelerating geometrically as the novel progresses. It ignites in a hushed manner…propelling you to the resolution.

Mr. Connelly is most adept at setting the hook in a most subtle manner…he hides the clues in plain sight as well as any writer. He makes discovering the solution completely satisfying.

It is easy to immerse oneself in “The Closers.”

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Michael Connelly Book Signing

Michael Connelly gave a noon talk and book signing today at Barnes and Noble in Greensboro, North Carolina.
Since I am participating in the Healthy Escapes program at the Duke University Center for Living, I hopped in the Buick coupe and motored the sixty miles over there to sit at the foot of the master.
Over one hundred attended the event.
Michael spoke about the latest Harry Bosch novel, “The Closers,” explaining the genesis of the idea…read a couple of pages and took questions---giving about fifty minutes of conversation.
He considers law enforcement a noble pursuit, and the cold case detectives to be the most noble of the men in blue. He stressed that “the chorus of forgotten voices” is very real to the dedicated detectives.
He follows his instincts when writing and wanted to “shake the series up” when he had Harry retire and become a private eye. He was happy with the pair of PI novels, but felt the structure for continued PI novels would be too repetitive. He worried that would shorten the life of his main character.
Then real life stepped in and allowed Michael to bring Harry to the LAPD.
An LAPD homicide detective who retired and moved to Maine was recruited to return to the force and work in the cold case section. The detective (the real life Tim Marcia) was close to Michael Connelly and called him up to say he was returning.
Tim Marcia gave Michael lots of access to the new squad, making “The Closers” his most researched book in over ten years. The LA Opened Unsolved Unit allowed Michael Connelly to bring Harry back to the LAPD in legit fashion.
Michael was as happy as Harry Bosch was in returning to LAPD. He said Harry has found his true calling with Open Unsolved, knows how lucky he is to be there and will revel in it.
Open Unsolved in LA has about 8,000 cases going back to 1960. 1960 was chosen as the cut off as cases older would have too many witnesses, cops and contacts dead…making solutions nearly impossible.
He writes without an outline. “It is risky without an outline…an outline is like having a boss…much more fulfilling to write without one.”
His initial draft is based on momentum and velocity. Further drafts are used to “hone it down to the best possible writing…sometimes sentence by sentence.”
There have been six failed attempts at screenplays for a Harry Bosch movie…including one he did and one he worked on. He remarked that the movies rely on dialogue and action to define the character…and Harry does not say much. Much of the development of Harry is done through interior dialogue---most difficult to convey in a film.
There will be a second 2005 book out in October…”The Lincoln Lawyer.” It is a legal thriller inspired by a situation with a lawyer six years ago. The Lincoln Lawyer refers to those LA lawyers whose “office” is the Lincoln Towncar and who commute between the 39 criminal courts in the LA jurisdiction.
His first attempt at writing was a short story in high school entitled “The Perfect Murder” featuring Jack McEvoy…who later became the journalist in “The Poet.”
“I am a writer because I am a reader.”
He feels readers read more for character than plot…”and I never miss an opportunity to say something about a character.”
The music mentioned in the books is the music he is listening to at the particular time it shows up.
“Void Moon” was written off a conversation Michael Connelly had with an LAPD cop over a cup of coffee after a book signing.
After the question period he signed as many books as you brought. Every book and every person received an individual message.
Michael Connelly is most generous with his time and a most humble man. It is always a treat to attend his events.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

"The Forgotten Man" by Robert Crais

In “The Forgotten Man”, Robert Crais weaves an exceptionally intricate plot and unravels it in a most satisfying and logical manner.

The police procedural aspect is realistic and intriguing.

We also learn a bit more of the back story on lead character, Elvis Cole (“world’s greatest detective”).

A murder victim’s dying words are that he the father Elvis never knew.

This revelation starts Elvis tracing the man’s history in a quest to learn the truth. He and the LAPD investigators cooperate and share information…a rare show of collaboration.

Crimes from the past show up as one generation casts a shadow over the next.

The twists and turns are genuinely well crafted…I was taken in often as the case evolved. Magnificent plotting!

Los Angeles is a major character and Mr. Crais is a master at getting the city’s culture, lifestyle and state of mind to seep into the reader’s consciousness without drenching the reader and overdoing it.

This is an outstanding addition to the Elvis Cole anthology. Not to be missed.

Curmudgeon in the Wry 295

Wednesday, May 11, 2005---560 Words---Average reading time: 1-minute, 48 seconds
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Rave: Herb Alpert
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Hmmm: Why do riding lawn mowers have head lights?
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Rant: I would gladly pay $5,000 for a device that disables all automotive subwoofers within a half-mile radius. And the inventor should get the Nobel Prize!
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Just wondering: Who do you figure out there has the capacity to creep Michael Jackson out?
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Rant: It never ceases to amaze me how quickly movies nowadays become “new classics.” Give me a break!
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Admit it: You refuse to take the top newspaper in the stack…even if it is in pristine condition.
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Rave: Cannot think of a nicer NFL story than Doug Flutie getting to finish his football career in New England, where it all started.
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Rant: Radio commercials should not be allowed to use car horns.
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Stats: On her current five-title streak, golfer Annika Sorenstam has won $1,025,000. In 1978, Nancy Lopez’s five consecutive LPGA tournament victories earned her $73,500.
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Rave: In “The Forgotten Man”, Robert Crais weaves an exceptionally intricate plot and unravels it in a most satisfying and logical manner.
The police procedural aspect is realistic and intriguing.
We also learn a bit more of the back story on lead character, Elvis Cole (“world’s greatest detective”).
A murder victim’s dying words are that he the father Elvis never knew.
This revelation starts Elvis tracing the man’s history in a quest to learn the truth. He and the LAPD investigators cooperate and share information…a rare show of collaboration.
Crimes from the past show up as one generation casts a shadow over the next.
The twists and turns are genuinely well crafted…I was taken in often as the case evolved. Magnificent plotting!
Los Angeles is a major character and Mr. Crais is a master at getting the city’s culture, lifestyle and state of mind to seep into the reader’s consciousness without drenching the reader and overdoing it.
This is an outstanding addition to the Elvis Cole anthology. Not to be missed.
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Rant: Those who refuse to fill prescriptions for birth control pills because of religious beliefs should have become preachers instead of pharmacists.
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Rimshot: I went bald at an early age; I suffered from premature Kojak-ulation.
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Rant: Nancy Grace should be named Nancy Disgrace.
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Rimshot II: The rehab clinic for people addicted to Girl Scout cookies is called the Betty Crocker Center.
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Rave: www.dandydons.com
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Rave: “Bad Day at Black Rock” is finally out on DVD.
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Rant: The toy-like coffee makers hotels place in your room.
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Useless Factoid: It takes the same amount of time for a ray of sunlight to reach the Earth as it does to listen to Don McLean’s 1971 hit, “American Pie”---eight and a half minutes.
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Rant: Those who walk around with wireless cellphone headsets in their ear all day look ridiculous. Hey Captain Kirk, wake up, the Star Trek convention left town a long time ago.
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Rave: Nobody on TV gets away with saying what he thinks — about anything — more than Charles Barkley. We need more people like him…especially in the disgustingly politically correct sports broadcasting.
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If you can read this, thank a teacher. If you are reading it in English thank a Veteran.
That is all.
As you were.

Sunday, May 01, 2005

"A Killing Night" by Jonathon King

Jonathon King is a seductive writer…he lures the reader into every scene and rewards the reader with a deeply satisfying pleasurable novel.

No one is better at setting a Florida scene…he is a pithy James Lee Burke in that respect.

He utilizes an economical cast of players, develops characters and balances the main plot and subplot without unnecessary complexity. He is a most efficient writer.

His fourth Max Freeman crime novel, “A Killing Night” continues Mr. King’s ability to get better with each installment.

Max is an ex Philly cop, now doing PI work in South Florida for lawyer (and mentor) Billy Manchester.

In a story that resonates with authenticity and emotion, Max is contacted by former girl friend and Broward County Detective Sherry Richards. She is investigating the disappearance of several young female bartenders, thinks the cases are related and has a suspect---another ex-Philly cop (Colin O’Shea)…one who saved Max’s life on the job.

Is Colin an innocent man caught in the grinding wheels of crime and justice? Or is he a sick, nasty criminal?

Max travels back to Philly in an attempt to unravel the mysteries of O’Shea’s departure from the Philly PD.

Nothing is as simple as it appears on paper and the info he gathers seems to say that everyone is wrong about everything.

Told in Max’s first person and a third person narrative (the killer’s) that permits the reader to ride along.

Mr. King builds the suspense and maintains the tension until the final twist that is uncommonly sensitive…a conclusion that you will not see coming.

Jonathon King and Max Freeman will be around for a long time.

Curmudgeon in the Wry 294

Sunday, May 01, 2005---572 Words---Average reading time: 1-minute, 58 seconds
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Rave: Robert Montgomery
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Rimshot: April showers bring May flowers. Mayflowers bring Pilgrims.
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Rant: Tracy McGrady recently was heard referring to his Houston Rockets teammates as “the supporting cast.” I wonder how that translates into Chinese.
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Quote: Charles Barkley, on why he has not kept his promise to run for office in Alabama: “I saw what the governor makes. That’s like four hands of blackjack.”
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Hmmm: I'm puzzled. Do men who do the "the combover" honestly think women don't notice the hair is 12 inches longer on one side?
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Draft Notice: Utah, of all schools, could pull off a rare double if, as widely expected, big man Andrew Bogut goes No. 1 in the NBA draft after Utes quarterback Alex Smith was the NFL’s top choice.
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Rave: Duke’s J.J. Redick and Shelden Williams are the only two players among the 15 on the AP All-America teams who have confirmed their plans to play college basketball next season.
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Rant: the best thing that could happen to ESPN would be for Chris Berman to take a vow of silence.
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Rave: Jonathon King is a seductive writer…he lures the reader into every scene and rewards the reader with a deeply satisfying pleasurable novel.
No one is better at setting a Florida scene…he is a pithy James Lee Burke in that respect.
He utilizes an economical cast of players, develops characters and balances the main plot and subplot without unnecessary complexity. He is a most efficient writer.
His fourth Max Freeman crime novel, “A Killing Night” continues Mr. King’s ability to get better with each installment.
Max is an ex Philly cop, now doing PI work in South Florida for lawyer (and mentor) Billy Manchester.
In a story that resonates with authenticity and emotion, Max is contacted by former girl friend and Broward County Detective Sherry Richards. She is investigating the disappearance of several young female bartenders, thinks the cases are related and has a suspect---another ex-Philly cop (Colin O’Shea)…one who saved Max’s life on the job.
Is Colin an innocent man caught in the grinding wheels of crime and justice? Or is he a sick, nasty criminal?
Max travels back to Philly in an attempt to unravel the mysteries of O’Shea’s departure from the Philly PD.
Nothing is as simple as it appears on paper and the info he gathers seems to say that everyone is wrong about everything.
Told in Max’s first person and a third person narrative (the killer’s) that permits the reader to ride along.
Mr. King builds the suspense and maintains the tension until the final twist that is uncommonly sensitive…a conclusion that you will not see coming.
Jonathon King and Max Freeman will be around for a long time.
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Hmmm: What is with people who refuse to use the moving walkways in airline terminals? Are they just showing off? Don’t they know how much fun it is to walk fast on a moving walkway?
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Just asking: Do you feel sort of goofy after a flight is over and you lurch up from your seat to grab your suitcase from the overhead bin---and you forgot to unbuckle your seatbelt?
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If you can read this, thank a teacher. If you are reading it in English thank a Veteran.
That is all.
As you were.