Sunday, October 22, 2006

"The Wrong Man" by John Katzenbach

It is difficult to imagine a creepier or more venal villain than the lurid Michael O’Connell in John Katzenbach’s hypnotic tale, “The Wrong Man.”
It is a terrifyingly gripping story of an ultimate stalker’s proactive journey to possess Ashley Freeman, a grad student with whom he had a one-night stand.
O’Connell is a petty criminal who has made himself a computer mastermind---he is a relentless psychopath.
Ashley’s father is college professor---her mother a real estate lawyer, divorced and living with her female partner (a soccer coach at a private school.) These four intelligent people appear no match for the obsessions of O’Connell.
Reasoning, bribery, the force of an ethically compromised PI, and an attempt to secrete Ashley fail to halt the fanatical efforts of O’Connell. He seems unstoppable.
Leaving no trace, O’Connell has the professor accused of plagiarism, the lawyer charged with commingling of funds, the soccer coach thought to have made advances on a student and Ashley fired for E*Mails she never sent…their lives in turmoil.
O’Connell proves to them that he is in control.
Mr. Katzenbach paints a terrifying doom-laden atmosphere, and you just know that someone other than the stalker is going to die.
A plan to turn the strengths of O’Connell against him is the last gasp of Ashley’s extended family. It is an elaborate scheme that relies on precise timing…designed to provide iron clad alibis for all four.
“The Wrong Man” is a very scary narrative that keeps your anxiety level pegging the needle.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

"Echo Park" by Michael Connelly

“Echo Park,” the latest Harry Bosch novel from Michael Connelly is quite spectacular.

LAPD Detective Bosch is now working cold cases as a member of the Open-Unsolved Unit with his partner Kiz Rider.

In 1993, Bosch worked the Marie Gesto case, where she walked out of a supermarket and disappeared. Her car and cloths were found, but the body never turned up.

Bosch never let go of the case in the thirteen intervening years.

A captured serial killer strikes a deal with the DA. To avoid the death penalty he will own up to several other killings---including Marie Gesto.

Now Bosch must make certain the killer (Raynard Waits) is not conning the DA. Waits’s name never came up in Bosch’s original investigation---in fact, Bosch had a suspect that he still believes could have done it.

Even after Waits leads the DA’s team to the buried body, Bosch is still skeptical.

The well-executed plot is so first-rate and too intricate to reveal any more.

As thought provoking and unsettling as the plot is, it is the well-formed characters with multifaceted personas that are driving forces of the novel.

Mr. Connelly makes the characters authentic…you feel a bona fide attachment to them. He makes you invest in them and truly care for them.

There is a section devoted to the “field trip” to uncover Marie Gesto’s body that is as powerful, emotional and riveting as anything I have ever read. When the “field trip” concluded, I was exhausted…but could not stop reading.

The police procedural aspect is interwoven with LA politics creating an added layer of tension.

Michael Connelly is the master of hiding the telling clues in plain sight. His style deftly entrances you. At the dénouement you have the wonderful “oh wow” moment.

As usual, the Connelly novel is one to read more than once.

Curmudgeon in the Wry 333

Wednesday, October 11, 2006---737 Words---Average reading time: 2-minutes, 22 seconds (time frittered away)
Offending readers one issue at a time since 2001.
Almost completely free of original ideas.
Often wrong…but never in doubt.
+++++++
Rave: Gloria deHaven
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Currently reading: “The Wrong Man” by John Katzanbach.
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Rimshot: The new book on podiatry? Nothing but footnotes!
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On the Victrola: “The Black Velvet Band”---Illinois Jacquet.
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Rant: Immediately after I delete the SPAM in my inbox I delete any and all “forwarded” messages.
If you think it is worth passing along…it is worth taking a couple of seconds to cut and paste…and taking a visit to Mr. Ed’s Simple E-Mail Bracket Stripper. Mr. Ed removes all those unsightly and annoying >>>>>marks.
It takes a minimum of time and effort to send a presentable E-Mail!!!
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Guilty pleasure: Les Brown Jr. and Deana Martin in the Morning on Music of Your Life.
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Hmmmmmmmmm: Too bad Mark Foley isn’t married. His wife would now be qualified to be a senator from New York.
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Rave: Great to see Peter Gammons back on ESPN…comeback of the year!
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Quote: “Barbra Streisand is so horrible, that if she did not exist, the Republican Party would invent her.”---Tucker Carlson, 10.10.06 on MSNBC.
One of the best lines of this or any year…she is such a cow.
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Rave: “Echo Park,” the latest Harry Bosch novel from Michael Connelly is quite spectacular.
LAPD Detective Bosch is now working cold cases as a member of the Open-Unsolved Unit with his partner Kiz Rider.
In 1993, Bosch worked the Marie Gesto case, where she walked out of a supermarket and disappeared. Her car and cloths were found, but the body never turned up.
Bosch never let go of the case in the thirteen intervening years.
A captured serial killer strikes a deal with the DA. To avoid the death penalty he will own up to several other killings---including Marie Gesto.
Now Bosch must make certain the killer (Raynard Waits) is not conning the DA. Waits’s name never came up in Bosch’s original investigation---in fact, Bosch had a suspect that he still believes could have done it.
Even after Waits leads the DA’s team to the buried body, Bosch is still skeptical.
The well-executed plot is so first-rate and too intricate to reveal any more.
As thought provoking and unsettling as the plot is, it is the well-formed characters with multifaceted personas that are driving forces of the novel.
Mr. Connelly makes the characters authentic…you feel a bona fide attachment to them. He makes you invest in them and truly care for them.
There is a section devoted to the “field trip” to uncover Marie Gesto’s body that is as powerful, emotional and riveting as anything I have ever read. When the “field trip” concluded, I was exhausted…but could not stop reading.
The police procedural aspect is interwoven with LA politics creating an added layer of tension.
Michael Connelly is the master of hiding the telling clues in plain sight. His style deftly entrances you. At the dénouement you have the wonderful “oh wow” moment.
As usual, the Connelly novel is one to read more than once.
+++++++
Rant: According to Good Housekeeping’s testing lab Martha Stewart's Everyday Egyptian towels shrink almost six inches after repeated washes.
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Rave: Great to have two innings of Ernie Harwell during last Friday’s playoff game…was nowhere near enough!
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Rant: Shaquille O'Neal leads the chorus of complaints from players about the new non-leather, microfiber composite ball the NBA is using this season. He calls it a "toy-store" ball. It's easy to see how a player with Shaq's exquisite shooting touch would be affected by a change in basketballs.
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Rave: Getting a great report after the colonoscopy.
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Rave: My favorite Halloween costume seen displayed this year: An orange jumpsuit entitled “Felon.”
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Hmmm: Today is the first day of the rest of your life. But so was yesterday, and look how you messed that up.
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Truism: Ahmadinejad and Chavez: The Axis of Idiots.
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Rant: What would old Sam Walton think if he knew you went into his store and none of the help could speak English or help you find what you’re looking for?
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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.