Saturday, March 24, 2007

Listened To: "Kidnapped" by Robert Louis Stevenson

Listened to: Kidnapped by Robert Louis Stevenson, Blackstone Audio Edition, downloaded from Overdrive.

Pretty good. I was surprised by this; the story was not what I expected.

I tried reading this book quite a while ago in either elementary school or junior high and gave up after a chapter or so. I was very surprised about how much of the story I remembered. All of the storyline that I initially read came back very quickly.

I cannot quite recall why I quit reading Kidnapped the first time around. I suspect the storyline of the main character being kidnapped and taken aboard ship queered the whole thing for me. Too creepy, maybe. Or, I didn't want to read what appeared to be a sea story.

Recap: In 1745 sixteen year old Scotsman David Balfour's father dies and David is sent to an uncle he never knew existed. The uncle, although a Lord, lives as a hermit in a decaying mansion. After trying to kill David by sending him up a decaying staircase in the dark, David forces the uncle to take him to town for his proper inheritance. But, the uncle ends up selling David to a ship captain who will take David to the Colonies as a slave in the tobacco fields.

In the voyage around Scotland the ship runs over a smaller boat and they rescue the passenger, Alan Breck. Long story short: Alan and David take arms against the crew, the ship wrecks, and David and Alan walk across Scotland - with the added danger that Alan is a much wanted man.

A well written book. It fits in as a "classic".

Friday, March 23, 2007

Finally finished: The Brothers Bulger by Howie Carr

Finally Finished: The Brothers Bulger: How They Terrorized and Corrupted Boston for a Quarter Century by Howie Carr, 2006, 0446576514.

Very good and scary story. I ordered this after seeing Howie Carr speak on C-SPANs BookTV. Carr works for the Boston Herald and has followed the story of the Bulgers for several years.

Billy and Whitey Bulger grew up in South Boston. Whitey started out as a nutjob crook and was one of the last convicts to serve time in Alcatraz. Billy went to college and law school and then got elected to the state legislature. After doing a few years time for bank robbery, Whitey murdered his way up the Boston crime world to be the boss of his own crime ring. Billy worked his way up to be President of the Massachusetts Senate and was the most powerful politician in MA, even more powerful than the governor.

Billy Bulger's corruption was astonishing; the fact that he was in charge of the Senate for so many years and got away with so much is difficult to believe. Whitey co-opted several FBI agents and used his status as an informer to destroy the Italian Mafia in Boston and other crime rivals. Whitey killed the crooks he could not use the corrupt FBI agents against.

The sad part is that Billy weaseled his way into a $200,000 year pension and his murderous piece of shit brother is still on the run. Carr's suspicions, voiced on BookTV, are that Whitey is in Europe and stuck there. Carr's theory is that Whitey was stuck overseas after 9/11 when the newer, stricter customs rules were to much to chance his false passports against.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Listened to: "Red, White and Blue Murder" by Bill Crider

Listened to: Red, White and Blue Murder by Bill Crider, 2004, 1402583664 (CD).

I had not read a Sheriff Dan Rhodes novel in a while and this one was good. Rhodes is the Sheriff of Blacklin County, TX. Blacklin is a rural county with little crime - except for the regular murders Rhodes has to investigate. Rhodes loves Dr. Pepper, is watching his weight, and always has people threatening his job with their votes.

After a body is founding a burned down cabin Rhodes has to figure out why the local historian was killed. Was it his slutty wife? A County Commissioner? The convicted arsonist from up the road?

Like usual, Rhodes gets beaten up. Four times in this book; twice by women. Rhodes is soaked by rain once and covered in mud twice. His jailers are a pain in the ass several times. Throughout it all Rhodes keeps his cool, maintains his manners, and doesn't have to shoot anyone.

I have three other Crider books here that I can think. One of them is a short story collection with a Crider that received an Edgar nomination.