31 October 2009

Tired, tired, tired...

Last night I hated Stieg Larsson. Dan Conrad had warned me. Dan's name finally got to the top of the waiting list at the Minneapolis Public Library for The Girl Who Played with Fire. Dan warned me that it was better than The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Larsson's first book.

At 11:00pm last night I was falling asleep. But I couldn't stop reading The Girl Who Played with Fire.

The story-telling was superb. The huge cast of characters was fascinating. The mysteries were complex and compelling. I could see I was nearing the end of the book and there was no way I could put it down. Larsson is dead, but I still hated the way he was keeping me awake.

I kept reading.

Larsson manipulated the story telling -- making the later scenes shorter and full of action. He kept revealing plot details a very few at a time leading up to the climax.

The ending was full of action and danger and fear. And the climax came at the very last sentence of the book!

It was just after 1:00am. I was still awake and staying awake had been worth it. (It also seemed that it took a lot less than 2 hours to finish the book.)

Somewhere in the future there's one more mystery by Larsson. I'm looking forward to it, but it's hard to imagine it will be as good as The Girl Who Played with Fire.

If you haven't read either of Larsson's books yet, go find The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. It's in the library and in paperback. By the time you've finished it, your chance of getting The Girl Who Played with Fire from the library will be much improved.

Then write and tell us what you thought of the book.

Solid mystery

Almost 10 years ago, son Jim gave me a volume containing three Harry Bosch mysteries by Michael Connolly. Jim had been reading the Bosch novels and knew I liked mysteries, so it was a great gift. And three in one was quite a deal.

Way back then I read the first novel The Black Echo. I took the book up to the cabin called Sidetrack, where I do a lot of reading. Then it got "buried" on a bedside table until this fall.

On one of those last clean up days at Sidetrack I started reading The Concrete Blonde. I finished cleaning and closing up the cabin before I finished the novel. So, it came home.

Like Connolly's other novels, this one is straight forward and well-paced. Nothing fancy and nothing subtle. Nothing fanciful either. Enjoyable reading. No wonder he sells so many books.

Harry Bosch, like so many mysteries' main characters, is a tough semi-renegade, dogged investigator. You'd want him on your side, but judges and his bosses might be worried about what Bosch might do. I'm ambivalent about the character even though I like the stories.

In this one, a body is found in the poured concrete structure of a building being torn down. It seems to be a victim of a serial killer from some time ago. But not everything fits, and Harry Bosch, who shot the serial killer, is part of the investigation into what looks like a copy-cat killing. Oh, and he and the city are being sued by the serial killer's family who argue that the killing wasn't justified. (See why Bosch's bosses aren't always thrilled?)

Have you read a Connolly book? Write and tell this little bit of the world what you thought of it.

16 October 2009

More on Swedish murder mystery writers

Aha, someone else has noticed Swedish murder mysteries.

This was on MinnPost, an online news source here in the lesser north.

Sweden has murder on the brain
Sweden's second city does not look like it's in the grip of a crime wave...

It only takes a look in any bookstore however, to see that this is a city, and a country, with murder on its mind...

Peter Wahlqvist, a Goteborg-based lecturer in crime fiction, said the international success of Swedish thrillers results from a combination of good writing, a taste for the exotic and the contrast between the make-believe mayhem and common foreign perceptions of Sweden as a blond, healthy, welfare state utopia...

04 October 2009

Global warming, competition, and more people

So, I picked up a copy of Thomas L. Friedman's Hot, Flat, and Crowded at the Northfield Library.

Friedman seems like a reasonable observer. However, a decade ago I tried to read The Lexus and the Olive Tree, and couldn't get far because his explanations of his observations seemed so incomplete.

This time, I couldn't read very far either. Friedman's subtitle is "Why we need a green revolution and how it can renew America." I don't need to be persuaded.

My problem is that it's depressing to read about why we need a green revolution, when it seems so impossible. Friedman himself catalogs the reasons: we're walling ourselves off from the rest of the world (one of the reasons the Olympic committee didn't want to send the summer games to Chicago) and the national attitude seems to be that IF there's really a problem, we'll get around to it in our own good time.

Of course it didn't help to read Scott Canon writing in the St. Paul Pioneer Press, that we can't call on politicians to lead us out the big messes we're in now. Because making things better is going to require sacrifice. And we all know what happened to politicians who asked Americans to make sacrifices. Remember Walter Mondale, Jimmy Carter, and Ross Perot?

Even when I skipped ahead to the section titled, "How We Move Forward," I kept feeling worse and worse. I read nothing that would lead me to have a bit of hope. Friedman's insistence that it's the creativity and entrepreneurship so powerful in American culture that will lead us out of the woods doesn't convince me. Of course, I didn't read the whole thing.

Did you read Hot, Flat, and Crowded? What did you think?

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