Thursday, August 30, 2012

Listened to: "The Tourist" by Olen Steinhauer

Listened: The Tourist by Olen Steinhauer, 2009, download.

Spy novel.   Nothing new in the plot with a spy is set-up after stumbling into conspiracy by upper government officials, but the story is well done.  I liked it.  As with every other spy novel there is plenty of plot turns and twists.  Information is uncovered.  Dead ends are not.  Deception is detailed and deadly.  Friends are not.  Enemies are unknown.  Information comes and goes and things are revealed during the last quarter of the novel.  Spoilers follow.

For several years Milo Weaver has been a Tourist for the CIA.  A Tourist is, essentially, a 00 agent.  Tourists do all sorts of spy work including occasional murders and assassinations.  Milo's beat is wider Europe and the stress of the job has turned him into a pep pill popping suicidal agent.  In 2001 Milo is tasked to work with another agent, an old pal, to track down a station chief who disappeared with $3 million.  Milo and the other agent find and kill the Chief but Milo is shot.

Fast forward seven years.  Milo now works for the Tourism Bureau based in NYC that administers all the Tourists.  Milo is happily married with a step daughter he loves and cares for.  Milo has cleaned up but still overdrinks.  He is tasked to follow an international assassin, Tiger, who slipped in via Mexico.  Milo catches up with Tiger in South Carolina where Tiger commits suicide with a cyanide pill in his teeth.  Before the suicide Tiger confesses he is ill with AIDS and about to die.  Tiger let Milo catch him so Tiger could let Milo know someone gave him a complete dossier about Milo, Milo's job, and Milo's personal life.

Milo is next tasked to help see if Old Pal from 2001 is a giving secrets to the Chinese.  More things happen. Old Pal is murdered.  Milo is suspected.  Milo continues work on the case under guidance of his boss.  Milo split between demanding job and demanding family.  Milo ends up on the run.  Milo's wife is annoying.  Milo figures out Boss is bad guy.  Boss murdered.  Milo gets everything figured out after some serious persecution by the CIA.  Unhappy ending with Milo shut-out by his wife.

1.  Narration was not so good.  Narrator was awful at women's voices.  I thought the narrator's characterizations of Milo's wife, Tina, made her come off sounding like a harpy.  In the end, Tina is a cunt.
2.  Milo is a tragic character.  His mother gave him up to his aunt so the mom could fight the international revolution.  Milo's mom was mentally ill and hung herself in a German jail cell.  Adoptive parents killed in car crash when he is 15.  His manipulative Russian spy father shows up and takes him to a completely new country, new culture and new language.  Milo returns as an 18 year old and is recruited by the CIA as a college student.  Milo has to deny his father exists to work.  Milo's work as a Tourist leave him a wreck.  He rescues himself through though a job change and a beginning a family.
3.  Gratuitous 60's French pop music fandom by Milo.
4.  Gun nut gripe of a 9mm (implying Luger) Makarov.
5.  "She was just a goddamn librarian after all."
6.  Awful Texas accents by narrator.
7.  Milo's observations of a characterless Disney - all the restaurants the same, etc.
8.  Gratuitous Nokia.  Geez, was that a product placement?
9.  "The Library's flexible when you're the Director."

Friday, August 24, 2012

Listened: "The Black Dove" by Steve Hockensmith

Listened: The Black Dove by Steve Hockensmith, 2008, download.

Third in the series and first I read/listened to.  I've been wanting to start the series but never got to it.  Cowboys Big Red and Old Red Amlingmeyer became Sherlock Holmes acolytes after reading one of the stories in a magazine.  Old is the "deducifier" and Red is his Watson.  Old is taciturn, shorter, and parsimonious. Red is enthusiastic, tall, and loquacious.

Big Red and Old Red are in Oakland after the last novel.  The previous tale had them as railroad detectives who were quickly fired after a their work ended in a major wreck.

Big and Old are looking for work and Diana Corviss.  Diana was secretly working for the railroad and Big has the hots for her.  During an argument between Big and Old (one of many arguments) Big takes Old to Chinatown in a bet on whether Old can "deducify" the work and characteristics of a random guy.  While there they spot their pal, Doc Chan.  Chan was on the train in the last book.  Chan is killed later.  Old sees the crime scene for what it is, a faked suicide.

Crime scene has local corrupt copper and local Chinese PI.  No one wants Red and Old there.  Red and Old find Diana.  Or Diana finds them.  They team to find the killer with help of local translator.  Chan had bought a local whore.  Local whore missing.  Search for whore goes on with resistance from local Chinese tongs, cops, anyone Chinese.

Things happen.  Fist fights.  Chinese gangsters.  Chinese hatchet men (literally).  Chinese food.  Racists concerned with the Yellow Peril.  Historical tidbits about Chinese in America.  Historical tidbits about the bars and whores of the Barbary Coast.  Fun stuff all the way around.

1.  The narrator did very well.  He performed this more than read it.  My only complaint is that his voice for Diana Corviss sounded like Mr. Garrison from South Park.
2.  You know how long it was taking me to remember the title South Park?  I kept thinking Twin Peaks.  I was writing that sentence and South Park just came out.  I was about to look the title up.
3.  Speaking of Twin Peaks, there was a restaurant in Houston named Twin Peaks.  We drove by the place on the freeway.  I thought it would be a neat place to go to simply because of the TV show reminder.  Later one a cousin mentioned it is a Hooters rip-off.
4.  Lots of humor.  Big Red is unable to shut up.  Big Red and Old Red bicker.  Many humorous similes.  Or metaphors.  Both.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Finished: "Lake Country" by Sean Doolittle

Finished: Lake Country by Sean Doolittle, 2012, 9780345533920.

One of those books that probably takes months of writing and revising to create and only a few hours to finish.  A quick read with big recommendations by Barbara Fister and Ed Gorman so I ordered it for the library and read it.  I liked it.  Spoilers follow.

Mike is a driftless former Marine in Minneapolis whose fellow former jarhead and roommate Darryl is also driftless but an angry drunk as well.  Mike is a MN native.  Darryl pulled Mike out of an ambush in Iraq.  Darryl was kicked out of the Corps and Mike extended a helping hand.  Both guys served with a Marine whose sister was killed in a car wreck in MN.  The Marine died on the way home to her funeral.  The father of both kids killed himself afterwards.  The architect who caused the car wreck does 2 days of jail time every anniversary of the wreck for five years.

Anniversary of the wreck hits and Darryl sees the news report.  Mike and Darryl are on a bender.  Darryl thinks the architect needs more punishment.  Mike ignores Mike's drunken statements.  Darryl kidnaps the architect's daughter to give the guy a feelings of terror and loss as payback.  Darryl takes the girl to a lake cabin up north.  Mike goes after him to stop more trouble.

More things happen.  A bookie and hired muscle are looking for Darryl who stole 11 thousand in cash from one of the bookie's customers as bankroll.  Hired muscle is muscled, smart, and scary.  A great bad guy.  A bad guy who you really hope will get punished.

TV reporter Maya Lamb follows the story.  Lamb first covered the wreck five years ago.  (Lamb seems to have been in Safer, I'm not sure and will not check.)  All the groups converge up north.  Kidnapped college student daughter has grit.  Mike and Darryl have a meeting of the minds.  Mike's fist meets Darryl's face.  Bad Guy Muscle is frustratingly good.  Bad Guy Muscle gets a knife in the neck.

1.  Lamb never meets Mike or Darryl.  Both story lines were fun.
2.  Mike is frustrating.  He has bad leg pain from his war injury.  He drinks too much.  He cannot hold a job. He lives in a dump.  His loyalty and thanks to Darryl stretch and finally snap.
3.  I do not know Doolittle but have seen him around and he is tall.
4.  I never seem to read brand new books.  I have now read two in a row.

Done: "Dare Me" by Megan Abbott

Done: Dare Me by Megan Abbott, 2012, 97803160197772.

There is a lot that I could write about this book.  Abbott's last two books may appear, deceptively, shallow since she writes from the point of view of a couple teen girls with limited views on life and adult motivations.

One thing that sticks out from the big press Dare Me has received is, "What's the big deal?  Abbott has been writing really good books for several titles now."  (Except for Queenpin, that one did not fit me. EDIT: Dang.  I was just looking something up and saw Queenpin won an Edgar Award.)  I feel like I am ahead of the curve, or hip.  Anyway, spoilers await.

Addy and Beth are high school juniors and queen bee cheerleaders.  Their older and flabbier coach has retired to Florida and the new coach is 27-years-old, fit, and icy.  Addy adores Coach.  Bitchy and manipulative Beth, team Captain for years, hates Coach and says she is a fake.  Coach does away with the position of team Captain.  Beth is not the type to back down.  Coach is not the type to back down, especially to a girl.  Addy wants peace and harmony.  Cracks show among teammates.

Coach is cold and distant but warms up.  Coach has the girls to her house.  Coach drinks with the girls.  Coach has a workaholic husband.  Coach is unhappy but Addy cannot quite see this.  Coach starts shagging the National Guard Sergeant who runs a recruiters table at the high school.  Beth and another girl had a contest to get the reserved Sergeant to show interest.  Beth and Addy walk in on the teacher lounge shagging of Coach and Sarge and now Beth has blackmail material on Coach.

More things happen. Addy gets close with Coach and is on cloud nine about it.  Addy gets late night call from Coach to come to Sarge's apartment.  Sarge is dead from a gunshot.  Coach claims suicide.  Addy is drawn into the lies and manipulations of Coach, Beth, Guardsmen, the cops, other cheerleaders.   Everything resolved with Addy on top.

1.  A lot has been made in promotional material, reviews, and interviews about these being sport cheerleaders, not pom-pom shakers.  That Abbott wanted to show athletic gymnast cheerleaders.  She does.  Coach helps the girls progress beyond cheer skirt wearing twits concerned about school status and texting to focused athletes.
2.  The girls are that weird mix of teen optimism and teem doom and drama.  The world is their oyster but when something goes wrong it seems their lives are ruined forever.  Seeing endless potential but quickly crushed by an F grade or a friend who insults her shoes.
3. Recurring Abbott theme: Good girl versus bad girl.  Novels narrated by the good girl with a bad girl best pal.  Similar to James Ellroy's theme where the weak sister cop grows harder, tougher and by the end takes control.  The bad girl will lose in the end.

4.  Beth's actions to undermine Coach are more than jealously over being top dog.  Beth loves Addy romantically.  This is fully revealed at the end but touched upon by Abbott throughout the story that I could see it (or suspect it) ahead of time.
5.  Addy is an unreliable narrator.  Her teammates repeatedly refer back to a major rift and fight between Beth and Addy during summer cheer camp.  The others see Beth's controlling nature over Addy.  Addy refuses to see what is there.  Addy tells her teammates to stuff it when they reveal truths she does not want to face.  Addy refuses to recall her drunken, lesbian, late night fling with Beth.  That fling and a future with Addy  drive Beth. Addy refuses to face up to abandoning Beth as a pal.  That Addy has as much power as Beth - maybe more.
6.  Cheerleader cliches abound.  Abbott uses that surface sheen of ponytails, lip gloss, texting, glitter make-up, and skinny, pretty arrogance.  Beneath the image lies the darker sharper point.  Pill popping, personal nastiness, manipulation, cheap wine and late nights, hints of promiscuity aimed at older men, accessory to murder.
7.  The wild teen parties of movies. Wild teen parties in general.  Teens getting in deep trouble hanging out and drinking or doping with adults.  Because any adult partying with a high school teenager is a fucking loser.  Fucking losers attract and cause trouble.
8.  Addy is not playing the role of amateur detective.  She is not Miss Marple.  Addy ponders and worries for her own skin but does not start to figure things out until the end. Only then does Addy put the pieces together and get the full story from Coach.
9.  I took a long time to finish this.  I put the book aside about 1/4 through because I knew something bad would happen and I dreaded finding out.  Once I started reading again I kept getting interrupted and only finished on yesterday's plane from Houston.
EDIT 29 Aug 2012, 10.  I just realized that all the main characters are female.  The guys, even Sarge, take back seat in the action.
EDIT 5 may 2014.  What is with all the internet traffic coming from Oxford, MS? Are you people students?  New neighbors?  Bar flies?  Fellow faculty?
EDIT 27 May 2014.  More web traffic.  I presume because Abbott's new novel is coming out and has been getting "The next Gone Girl!!!!!!  OMG!!!!  Argle-bargle!!!" promo.
EDIT 1 July 2014: People come here but I have no idea on their thoughts.  Let me know, did you end up here after reading this, wanting to read this, or having read another Abbott novel.  I have not yet read FEVER.
EDIT 6 December 2019: with the television adaptation releasing in a couple weeks the hits keep coming.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Listened: "The Blade Itself" by Marcus Sakey

Listened: The Blade Itself by Marcus Sakey, 2007 (print), download.

Second Sakey novel I have read.  Sakey seems to like unsympathetic protagonists.

Construction manager Danny is a reformed thief after a pawn shop robbery ended in a shooting by his mercurial partner Evan.  Danny walked in the middle of the job after Evan shot the store owner and then refused to leave without hunting around for the owner's marijuana stash.  Evan was caught, convicted, and sent down for 12 years.

Danny has since cleaned up.  He lied his way into a construction firm and it is Danny's work on bid writing, site management and other things that keeps the wealthy owner afloat.  Danny has moved from slummy South Side Chicago to a condo in the North Side.  His long-term girlfriend manages a night club.  Everything is going great until Evan gets early release.

Evan shows up demanding payback from Danny.  Evan never informed to the police about Danny's presence at the pawn shop and expects Danny to return to robbery work and get them a good score.  Danny wants nothing to do with that, his girlfriend gave an ultimatum seven years ago that she would walk if he did. Violent Evan says "Tough shit".  Violent Evan cares not a whit for anyone but himself.  Violent Evan has been pumping iron in prison and nurturing his childhood-poverty-rage.

Things happen.  Evan starts putting on the pressure.  Evan kills a childhood pal of his and Danny's when pal tries to protect Danny by pressuring Evan.  Evan assaults Danny's Girlfriend in dark alley.  That assault pushes Danny to go in with him. More things happen with bad ideas, stupid actions, repulsive justifications by Danny.  Kidnapping of 12-year-old son of Danny's boss.  Innocent guy murdered by Evan.  So on.  So forth until construction site finale with another murder.

1.  Danny ends up trying to stop Evan.  But, before he does, he participates in the kidnapping of a 12-year-old boy.  Danny is the hero and does not go to prison.  Danny ends up saving the day but still deserves some prison time.  He kidnapped a child while partnering with a guy he knows is a sociopath!
2.  Decent but not great.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Listened: "True Grit" by Charles Portis

Listened: True Grit by Charles Portis, 1968 (unsure of audio date), downloaded from One Click digital when I had a trial account.  Narrated by Donna Tartt who has a nice essay afterwards.

True Grit came back in demand after the second movie came a couple years ago.  The library's copy went out on hold several times.  I had little interest in the book but Bill Crider and other, lesser lights, wrote how good the book is.  I checked it out to check it out.  I think a lot of the humor passed me by.  Maybe the humor is generational to the '60s and early '70s.  I did laugh out loud several times.

The story is well known. Mattie Ross hires Rooster Cogburn to hunt down and either catch or kill the man who murdered Mattie's father.  I don't recall much of the Wayne movie and have not yet watched the Coen movie.

Mattie's father is murdered by their farmhand while they are both in Fort Smith for business.  Mattie's dad was trying to dissuade Tom Chaney from angrily returning to a card game when Chaney shot him in the street.  Mattie's mother is ill so Mattie heads to Fort Smith to recover the body.  Hearing that Chaney has fled into Indian Territory, and that the Arkansas police will not pursue him into that Federal territory, Mattie asks who the best Federal Marshall is.  Mattie promises Marshall Rooster Cogburn money to go after Chaney.

Meanwhile, Texas Ranger LaBouef arrives in town to arrest Chaney for the murder of a Texas Senator and return him to TX for a different monetary reward.  Chaney and Cogburn reluctantly team up, they do not like one another, and Mattie follows them.  Cogburn reluctantly lets Mattie come along.

Mattie and Co. find out who Chaney is traveling with.  Cogburn leads them to a possible hideout.  The two crooks there both die - one kills the other for talking and then Cogburn/Chaney kill the first.  Chaney's group shows up and another crook is killed.  Mattie and Co. are lead by a drunken Cogburn to the groups' known hideout.

Mattie goes for water the next morning and sees Chaney at a creek.  Mattie shoots Chaney with her father's old cap-and-ball but the next shots misfire and she is captured and left with Chaney.  Mattie rescued by LaBoeuf.  LaBouef waylaid.  Mattie falls into snake pit.  Mattie rescued by Cogburn.  Mattie returns home but her arm is amputated after snake bite infection.

1.  The timeline is fairly short and simple.  Mattie goes to Fort Smith and leaves after a couple days.  The chase through Oklahoma only takes 2-3 days and involves a lot of riding.
2.  Mattie is certainly a judgmental person.  Her asides on the church and religion come out of nowhere.  She readily gives her opinions on the behavior and manners of others.  Sometimes those opinions are to that person and sometimes to the reader.
3.  The epilogue portion has Mattie telling of what happens to Cogburn afterwards and she tells of going to Memphis (was it Memphis of Nashville?) to catch a traveling Western show that advertises Cogburn tells a lot about her.  She runs a bank, is unmarried, is unliked by most people.  But, she travels a ways to see the man again.  Mattie writes that her brother occasionally teases her about Cogburn, that Mattie carried a torch for the fat, drunken, violent man.
4.   Mattie is precocious and argumentative.  Mattie is already a hard nosed businesswoman.  Mattie's negotiations with the Fort Smith, AR horse dealer are something to hear.  She rarely feels like a girl.  The only thing of notice to me is her love for her new horse, Little Blackie.  Mattie is not prone to swooning and love.  Nor dresses, dolls, gossip, or other leisure things.
5.  Tartt writes how her whole family read and loved the book.  Tartt was only 12 when she read it.  Her narrowly read grandmother loved it.  Her mother loved it.  Tartt regularly reads the book.
EDIT: 6.  I forgot.  Cogburn is a trigger happy dirt bag.  He is quick to shoot on the outlaws but it takes one to know one.  Cogburn rode with Quantrill and other Civil War scumbags - don't argue with me that Quantrill was a good guy.  Cogburn robbed a Union paymaster. Cogburn robbed a bank.  Cogburn was a drunken husband and lousy father.  Cogburn only got the Marshall job because a Confederate pal was also a Marshall.  Shortly after Mattie's escapade he is forced to resign after another questionable shooting.

Read Days Ago: "The Adjustment" by Scott Phillips

Read Days Ago: The Adjustment by Scott Phillips, 2011, 9781582437309.

Phillips is always a good choice for our annual Kansas trip.  Driving through or visiting the setting makes a difference.  It never hurts that Phillips always writes damn well and tells a good story.  The usual spoilers follow.

Wayne Ogden is out of the Army and back to work at Collins Aircraft in 1946 Wichita.  Wayne is officially in charge of the publicity department at Collins but his main job is keeping track of old man Collins.  Wayne makes sure Collins does not drive drunk, start fights, get caught with whores, or otherwise embarrass himself.  Not that the powerful Collins could ever get arrested in Wichita for anything outside murder.

Wayne worked for Collins before joining the Army.  Ogden loved the Army and made out like a bandit as a Master Sergeant in the Quartermaster Corps.  Ogden had a great time in England and Italy selling black market tires and booze, running craps games, pimping, and anything else to make a buck.  Wayne is having some trouble adjusting back to civilian life.

Wayne is a scumbag.  He is married but picks up chicks and bangs whores throughout the novel.  Wayne cares little for others but likes the lack of real work his job entails.  Babysitting Collins is not too difficult but Collins is a drunk with a mercurial temper and Wayne has grown to hate Collins.

Things happen.  Wayne fires Collins's bodyguard.  Wayne gets Collins hooked on pain pills.  Wayne has a stalker from his Italian days sending threatening letters.  Wayne blackmails members of Collins Aircraft board of Directors to make sure Collins stays in charge.  One Director kills himself.  Another Director has a massive heart attack.  Wayne sees and gets ready to murder a former Army colleague who stole a couple grand from Wayne.  Wayne leaves the guy when finding the guy has cancer - Wayne leave shim to suffer slowly.  Wayne treats his wife very poorly and is not happy when she is pregnant.  Wayne wants the happy-go-lucky chick he married before the war.  Wayne also knocks up a co-worker.  Wayne works with a mail-order porn business.  Wayne casually murders his postal stalker.  Wayne re-enlists in the Army with plans to join a pal in Japan where the post-war economy is wide open for vice and corruption.  Wayne leaves town, abandoning Wichita, his wife and "heirs in utero...permanently."

1.  Wayne is an heir of the main character in Cottonwood.  I believe he is the grandson but I do not exactly recall the timeline of Cottonwood.
2.  We visited the Kansas Aviation Museum right before I started reading this.  I would have paid more attention to the various biographical displays if I had started before.  I do not know if Phillips based Collins off one person.
3.  Wayne does feel paternal, with sexual overtones, towards Old Man Collins's secretary.  secretary is so naive and innocent that Wayne is drawn to her.  When he hears she is engaged to a 30-year-old minister he is both happy and curious.  What kind of guy, thinks whore loving Wayne, is a 30-year-old virgin?  Wayne sets up Minister by having scatological and bestial porn mailed in his name to his church.
4.  Phillips uses several ten dollar words.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Read: "Trackers" by Deon Meyer

Read: Trackers by Deon Meyer, 2011 (2010 in SA), 9780802119933.

Another novel for argument that fiction is often more informative and truthful than nonfiction.  Modern South Africa and it's trouble with corruption, race, politicians, smuggling, African turmoil, class, and crime.  This is told through three interlocking story lines.  A great job by Meyer and his translator; Meyer even calls the translator, Laura Seegers, "brilliant".  I very briefly spoke to Meyer at Bouchercon to tell him I like his books.

Milla Strachen is 40-years-old and just left her louse of a husband.  She has been a housewife almost 20 years but gets a job with an intelligence agency and her cover is a journalist.  Milla joins a storyline involving Muslim extremists in Cape Town.  Extremists are planning to smuggle in...something.  Weapons?  A terrorist plot?  The intelligence agency thinks so.

Lemmer, from Blood Safari, is revisited.  He still lives in a rural part of western SA and a wealthy local farmer wants to hire him.  Job is to escort black rhinos from Zimbabwe to Wealthy Farmer's place.  Rhinos are being imported as breeding pair.  Lemmer and the truck are briefly hijacked and searched.  What were hijacker's looking for?

The other two story lines mostly resolve themselves and then the third starts.  Recently retired policeman Mat Joubert has taken a job with a private agency in Cape Town.  The firm is hired to look into a husband's disappearance from several months ago.  Husband's absence is quite the mystery.  No sign Husband had a girlfriend or just took a walk.  Joubert looks.  Joubert frets over agency's emphasis on billing.  Joubert frets that Wife's deposit to agency will be spent before he can find out what happened.  Joubert figures it out.  Lemmer makes late appearance and provides more resolution.

1.  A lot happens and Meyer use all 475 pages.
2.  SA's name was mud for so many years.  Post-Apartheid issues of crime and corruption continue.  Racial politics continue.  So many people want to keep moving on and improving.
3.  Roger Smith's and Meyer's cape Town books dovetail so well together.  Smith cover's the nastiness and brutality of gangs on the dusty flats outside the city.  Meyer shows the Afrikaaner life.
4. We've got another book at the library by a third author, Cape Greed.  I need to read that.

Listened: "Double Dexter" by Jeff Lindsay

Listened: Double Dexter by Jeff Lindsay, 2011, download.

More alliterative murder by Dexter.  A more run-of-the-mill story compared to previous entries because there are no significant changes in Dexter's family life.

Dexter is out for an fun evening of murder.  Dexter is scene while he is cleaning up his crime scene inside a foreclosed Miami house.  Dexter slowly follows and only sees a car getting away.  Dexter starts to worry.

Dexter spends time trying to track down the witness.  Meanwhile a couple cops are murdered by slow and methodical beating to death.  With a flat faced hammer.  Beatings that take hours but do not break the skin.  Dexter is helping his cop sister Deb on the crimes.  Meanwhile, Dexter's late night searching for his witness is making his wife suspicious.  Inhuman Dexter is clueless to her behavior.

Dexter's witness contacts Dexter.  Witness is computer whiz.  Witness is a nutbag.  Witness wants to catch and kill Dexter.  Dexter is worried.  Things happen.  Deb catches killer

Dexter's wife wants to move into a bigger house.  Wife is manic about finding a house.  Dexter just wants to kill his witness and enjoy dinner.  Dexter's coworker murdered by hammering.  Everyon calls Deb a screw-up for catching wrong guy.  New detective on case is an idiot.  Idiot thinks Dexter did it.

Things come to a head as Lindsay takes us on a tour or Key West and Witness is eaten by a shark.  Dexter is cleared.  Deb is cleared.  Everyone happy.  Except for the dead people.

1.  The "mainstream" murders in previous novels usually take center stage as Dexter gets involved.  Not so much here.  The Hammerings are just a way to set-up Dexter for his co-worker's murders.
2.  Sociopath Dexter chose his wife for convenient reasons.  He first dated her because her previous marriage left her mentally unable to have sex.  He ended up marrying her because she is good cover and because she is very predictable.  Dexter knows what she will do.
3.  Dexter continues to guess his way around human interaction.  He still bases much of his action of television and movies.
4.  Dexter's Dark Passenger continues to send warnings to Dexter and Dexter continues to ignore them.  Dexter both praises the Dark Passenger's insights and ignores them.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Listened: "Revenge of the Living Dummy" by R.L. Stine

Listened: Revenge of the Living Dummy: Goosebumps HorrorLand series, book 1 by R.L. Stine, 2009, download.

I was looking for audiobooks for driving with Boy #1 and Boy #2.  I selected a variety and we listened to this on the way back from Champaign.

I am too old for the Goosebumps craze of the '90s.  I record my notes on this mainly because this is the only one I ever read or listened to.

I have disliked the Goosebumps series for several reasons; all those reasons are selfish: 1- the books wear out too fast and fall apart, 2- they are a hassle to shelve, 3- keeping track of series order is a hassle, 4- getting new titles ordered is a hassle.  All those reasons, and others, are easily outweighed by the many kids who read every book.

Britney is a 12-year-old with a best friend named Molly.  Britney has been moved from her decorated, attic bedroom into her mom's sewing room when her 9-year-old cousin moves in with the family.  Ethan, the cousin, can be a real brat.  Ethan shows up with a ventriloquist's dummy he has named Bad Boy.  Bad Boy is very poorly behaved with many insults.  Britney laughs at many of the gross or insulting jokes.  But, is Bad Boy really run by Ethan.  Of course not.

Things happen.  Bad Boy is alive.  Molly's museum anthropologist dad has books around.  Molly finds ancient words to silence Bad Boy.  Bad Boy not silenced.  Bad Boy buried in cemetery.  Next, Britney wins a trip to a huge, Disney-like theme park.  Theme park is a horror theme park.  She travels there with parents and Molly.  Britney's parents disappear but leave camera behind.  Britney checks camera and sees photo of Bad Boy!  Oh no!  What will happen?  Read Book Two to find out!

1. Music throughout the book was too loud and obscured the narrator at many points.

Listened: "West Texas Kill" by Johnny D. Boggs

Listened: West Texas Kill by Johnny D. Boggs, 2011, OverDrive download.

Damn. Damn. Damn. Damn. Damn.  I'm sure I wrote longer notes on this book but cannot find them.  Damn.  Here is another try.

2012 pub date?  I had no idea. I assumed this was older.

Very good western by Boggs.  This one won the Spur Award  for paperback original and no surprise. Spoilers await

Texas Ranger Dave Chance is one of the more honest Rangers working under command of Captain Heck Savage in Southwest Texas in the 1870s (I think).  Chance is searching for a man wanted for murder in Galveston.  The man (I forgot his name) is a big black guy and professional gambler who says he is a Moor and takes great offense at the word "nigger".  Moor carries a sawed off .45-70 Springfield and is very good with it.  Chance captures Moor and heads back to Ranger headquarters.  Moor almost escapes in vicious fight with Chance.

Meanwhile, Captain Savage has crosseed into Mexico and pursuit of a Mexican bandit.  Savage and the Company meet up with Mexican cops.  Savage and Company kill the Mexican cops with teamwork from the bandit.  Savage and bandit have plans to split the territory amongst themselves.

Chance and Moor travel the desert.  Savage kills people.  Chance is indebted to Savage.  Savage sends away or kills off the Rangers he knows are honest.  Savage and Chance are in long distance cat-and-mouse game as Chance tries to figure Savage's moves and guess what Savage - that sneaky bastard - is up to.  Savage declares his part of Texas as a sovereign state - he is really out to steal a large gold shipment and go to South America.

Moor grows to like Chance.  Moor sent away by Chance to find a working telegraph and warn Ranger headquarters in Austin.  Moor returns to assist Chance, his new buddy.  Moor is surprised to admit to himself he thinks of Chance as a buddy.

Lots of long distance horse travel.  Mexican bandits.  A local ranching bigwig out to hang Moor who recently killed Bigwig's worthless, but only, son. All ends well with Chance rescuing a female saloon owner he is sweet on.

1.  Obscure gun love for Merwin Holbert .44s carried by Savage.
2.  .32 back-up gun love.
3.  Trains.
4.  Sombreros.
5.  Long range rifle shooting with a .45-120 (I think it was a 120) lovw.
6.  A nasty and ruthless Savage but Savage refuses to injure women.
7.  Twist at the end and set-up for possible sequel.
8.  No baseball.
9.  Tour of Southwest TX geography with visits to Terlingua, Fort Davis, Fort Stockton, etc.  I've been interested in that area ever since I applied for a job at Sul Ross State Uni in Alpine.  Since then I have wanted to visit there and see what the area is like.  Especially with a couple national parks in the area.
10.  Reminders of the modern secessionist in the Davis Mountains fifteen years ago.
EDIT 8 August 2012. 11.  I went to Smoky Valley Shooting sports for my annual look and feel and they have a .32 Merwin Holbert for sale.  The nickel plating looked to be in excellent condition.  They also had an unaltered Krag.