21 September 2010

An American Salander?

A couple weeks ago, NetFlix delivered the DVD of the movie The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo to our mailbox. After reading the books and hearing Dan Conrad's raving about the movie, I was really looking forward to seeing the movie and reading the subtitles. I was not disappointed. I only wished I'd seen the movie on a big screen in a theater. The small screen seemed to limit the impact of the movie.

Nancy has not read the Larsson books, but she was entranced by the stories in the movie and taken by the Salander character. She was reminded of a central character in a series of mysteries by Carol O'Connell [left]: NY cop Kathy Mallory. The two young women characters are blazingly smart, extraordinary hackers, and physical fighters without equal. They both are the products of very traumatic childhoods. They're both loners. The differences are physical. If Salander is a tattooed, gothic waif, Mallory is a lucious beauty who can't do surveillance because everybody notices her.

Nancy pulled Mallory's Oracle and The Man Who Cast Two Shadows off her shelf and handed them to me. I read them both. There are big differences between the Stieg Larsson books and the Carol O'Connell books. I'm not quite sure what they are. All the characters are intriguing, but the Mallory character is somehow drawn less intensely than the Salander character.

Well, there is my reading. I think I read these books in snatches too small to get into the flow of the story telling. O'Connell uses quick cuts between "scenes" with little in the way of transistion. Sometimes there's an extra space between paragraphs; other times not. But I would be reading about a discussion of magic and illusion set in an old magician's storage spot. In the next sentence I would be reading about a poker game in which a character without a poker face keeps losing his spare change. And then there were so many characters. If I didn't remember who was who, I'd get totally lost in the transition. And if I read only a few pages at time, I had trouble remembering who was who.

So, the reading experience was, for me, disjointed.

The stories in these novels were intriguing and convoluted. The action scenes, were not interrupted by abrupt transistions and were well scripted. The setting is Manhattan. What's not to like? But, they were not as compelling as Larsson's stories. I could not have read his books in the small snatches I used to read O'Connell's.

Have you read Mallory's Oracle and/or The Man Who Cast Two Shadows? Have you read another of O'Connell's books? What did you think? Is Mallory an upper class version of Salander? Write and tell this little bit of the world what you think.

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