Colin Cotterrill is the author of the popular Dr Siri mysteries. I have never read any of them, but when a title as intriguing as this came a long I had to give it a try. Killed at the Whim of a Hat starts a new series, also set in Thailand. Jimm Juree is on a path to become a big city crime reporter when her mother suddenly sells a family business and buys a run down resort in a tiny village in southern Thailand. Jimm is concerned about her mother’s mental state and follows her, along with her bodybuilder brother, Arny, and Granddad Jah, but she is bored and unhappy in her new environment. Things start looking up when two human skeletons are found in a Volkswagen van and an abbot is stabbed to death at a local monastery. With articles to write and two mysteries to solve Jimm enlists the aid of her grandfather, a former traffic cop, her brother and her transgendered sibling, an internet whiz who stayed behind in the big city, and assorted local characters to help her. About half way through the book the meaning of the title as well as the quotes from George W. Bush that begin each chapter is revealed. There is alot of humor, a fascinating look at a culture most Americans are unfamiliar with, and a good mystery here.
Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category
Is Alexander McCall Smith the only writer of crime fiction set in Africa? No, there are more and many of them show a much more grimmer view of sub-Saharan Africa. In the August 29, 2011 “Publishers Weekly” Leslie Picker offers more for the reader than Precious Ramotswe, the main detective at the No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency. Michael Stanley, (writers Michael Sears and Stanley Trollip) has just published the third title in the David “Kubu” Bengu series. The series is set in contemporary Botswana and the most recent title, Death of Mantis, interweaves the prejudice against the Bushmen into the murder mystery. Ghanaian author, Kwei Quartey, sets his two book series in Accra. His third book, Men of the Rig, will be out next year.
Crime fiction from South Africa predominates as the publishing industry there is the most robust in Africa. The October Killings by Wessel Ebersohn, is set in late 2oth century South Africa. The protagonist is lawyer Abby Bukula, the grown daughter of parents killed during an anti-apartheid protest. This is the first book in a projected series. Malla Nunn, has two books featuring Emmanuel Cooper, a detective working the 1950s apartheid South Africa. Deon Meyer, who writes in Afrikaans, won the 2010 Martin Beck Award for the best crime novel in translation for Devil’s Peak, another mystery set in South Africa. Picker even throws in Zoo City, a science fiction/fantasy crime novel by Lauren Beukes. Beukes’ book also takes place in South Africa.
If McCall Smith is the only crime writer from Africa you have read expand your horizons. Or if you have tired of Scandinavia, try a title from much farther south.
Believe it or not, stealth Waldo’s are making mysterious appearances on the streets and buildings of Boulder, Colorado. And this city’s officials are not what you’d call amused. Even though many residents actually are enjoying the surprise graffiti.Threatening legal action should perpetrators be found, the city of Boulder plans to remove them soon. See more about the story below:
Waldo, an iconic children’s picture book character, first made his American appearance in 1987. Martin Handford, a British author, originally called his character Wally. But changed it Waldo when the first book was published in Canada and the United States. This book and those that followed were a huge hit worldwide, selling millions of copies. They also spawned a television series, comic strip, magazine, video games, and even cereal box puzzles and prizes.
The fascination that generations of children have had with Waldo books is due to the use of picture puzzle imagery. Though there’s a slight storyline, the emphasis is upon tiny illustrations with thousands of details spread over double page spreads. There are usually a dozen scenes with Waldo hidden in them. In addition, each book has additional hidden objects and/or characters in each scene specific to that book. Reader aren’t told about some until the end of the book so that they’ll have to go through the pages again. Since the 80′s, the original books have been revised several times to refresh the series, thus finding new audiences.
There are many fine picture puzzle books in the library’s collection. If you and your children enjoy solving mysteries or finding hidden objects while reading be sure to check out these authors’/illustrators’ works:
Dan Marzollo – I Spy: a Book of Picture Riddles; I Spy Fun House; I Spy Mystery; I Spy Spooky Night; I Spy Fantasy; I Spy School Days; I Spy Super Challenger; I Spy Christmas; I Spy Year-Round Challenger; I Spy Spectacular; and I Spy A to Z
Walter Wick – Can You See What I See? Picture Puzzles; Can You See What I See? Dream Machine; Can You See What I See? Seymour Makes New Friends; Can You See What I See? Once Upon a Time; Can You See What I See? On a Scary, Scary Night; and Can You See What I See? Seymour and the Juice Box Boat
It sounds so innocent, almost whimsical. Aging rock star buys a ghost on the internet. Jude Coyne collects stuff like that. What could go wrong? Turns out this particular ghost has a grudge against Jude, being the stepfather of an ex-girlfriend who killed herself after Jude threw her out. Jude isn’t all than nice a guy–spoiled, and a bit self-centered, but it turns out that being haunted is an opportunity for personal growth. Who knew?
A ghost story also seems almost innocent, a relic of an earlier time. Ghosts are incorporeal. They aren’t trying to drink your blood or eat your brains. The rules may vary some. This ghost can’t hurt you physically, but can control your mind under most circumstances. On the other hand, he’s afraid of dogs, and Jude has two, Angus and Bon. If you get that reference, this may be the book for you.
It’s an outrage when a cadet is found murdered in 1830 West Point, but when his heart is stolen from his body, retired detective Gus Landor is called in. To be his eyes and ears among the students, Landor recruits young cadet Edgar Poe, of whom you may have heard. Naturally, the case takes on occult overtones.
Poe makes quite a character, too–vain, fanciful, over-educated, impoverished, unreliable, and already a heavy drinker. His portions of the narration are entertainingly over-written. “How ferventlty do I pray that the Spirit which sees fit to use me as its conduit will–soon! soon! make me the Oedipus to its Sphinxlike enigmas.“ Author Louis Bayard has some fun with this, pre-shadowing some of Poe’s famous lines, even finding a use for the word tintinnabulation .
Bayard’s writing has a sparkle, almost a wink. We’re all in this for a good time, he seems to say. We both want a rollicking story, well researched, with strong characters and surprises galore. His startling last second twist here falls about midway between audacious and ridculous.
In The Influencing Machine, Brooke Gladstone brings her analysis and wit from her radio show On the Media to the page. In comic form, Gladstone considers how the media influences the public, how the public influences the media, and the past, present, and future of journalism. Gladstone entertains when discussing media bias, disclosure, multiple media outlets to reflect an individual’s world view, and the digital age where news is created by anyone anywhere as soon as an event occurs.The illustrations, drawn by Josh Neufeld, are fun too. Neufeld tips his cap to iconic images from Hogarth to magazine illustrations from the Civil War era, to Planet of the Apes.
At times, The Influencing Machine felt a little disjointed and some themes were left unconnected, which may be a limitation of the graphic novel form. I wanted more depth where Gladstone provided only small glimpses into the issues. It seemed like she only grazed the tip of the iceberg and I know she has much more to say on these issues. The conclusion also fell a little flat. Gladstone could have used the last few pages to make connections or provide an overall view of the status of the media and the public. However, she only used the last few frames, so the conclusion ended abruptly. Despite these problems, I do recommend checking it out. It is a humorous and entertaining take on this exciting and troubling time for journalism.
The latest Kurt Vonnegut collection, While Mortals Sleep, should be out in January. In the introduction, Dave Eggers calls Vonnegut a “hippie Mark Twain.” We’re down to stories that he couldn’t get published while alive tho, so we’re well into diminishing returns.
The Autobiography of Mark Twain, Volume 1 is out now, and a massive tome it is. Two more volumes are scheduled. Why wait 100 years? Supposedly, Twain considered his opinions so incendiary, he wanted to be long gone, and his loved ones, too, by the time they were published. I kinda hoped for same with Vonnegut, but no.
Anyone else think the new Sedaris is a dud?
You’ll have to wait until March 11 for local favorite Sarah Vowell’s Unfamiliar Fishes. It deals with Hawaiian history, in terms of American imperialism, which she argues peaked in 1898.
Deep Creek is a historical novel that recounts the story of an 1887 massacre of more than 30 Chinese gold miners in a remote area of Idaho along the Snake River. The story begins when a small town judge and former sheriff, Joe Vincent, takes his ten year old daughter, Nell, fishing and Nell ends up snagging a body…and then another one, and another one. The Chinese miners working for the Sam Yup Company have been brutally murdered and their bodies mutilated. Vincent ends up working with a representative of the mining company, Lee Loi, and metis mountain guide Grace Sundown to track the killers and bring them to justice. The characters are compelling, the story is intriguing, but the history is what really caught me up in this book. Dana Hand is a pen name for Will Howarth and Anne Matthews who have collaborated on eighteen books of nonfiction, many of them on American history. They know their stuff. The Wild West is portrayed in all it’s glory and excitement, but the dark side of land deals, exploitation, and casual, often violent, discrimination against Chinese immigrants and American Indians is the back story. This is a Mystery, a Western and a character study — not an easy read, but a rewarding one.
Looks like I bought too many copies of The Power, Rhonda Byrne’s follow-up to her mega-hit The Secret. C’mon people, help me out. We all indulge in a little wishful thinking now and then. If you want to be told that it’s science and that it works, this is for you!
Louann Brizendine’s book The Female Brain has 163 pages of text, and three appendices. Her book The Male Brain comes in at 132 page of text and only one appendix. If mens’ brain’s are true/false tests, women’s are essay questions.
Tempted to try the Twilight Saga? Not me. It’s 2,446 of unconsummated teenage longing? Despite my best efforts, I remember all too well.
David Sedaris’s new title Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk is a bit of a departure, being animal stories, so presumably less autiobiographical than usual. Having made his reputation with stories about his wickedly funny mother, Sedaris’s more recent material about boyfriend Hugh (rhymes with too good to be true) seems to lack some of his earlier edge. Can’t wait for this one. More copies on the way.
Both Tim Hallinan and John Burdett write thrillers based in Bangkok, which means they are set against the background of Thailand’s sex tourism, coz that’s where crime happens. Hallinan’s newest, Queen of Patpong, takes us pretty deep into the sex trade, with a long middle section about how one girl ended up dancing and worse. It’s a heartbreaking story, and all too real. As Hallinan says in an author’s note, each of them “is a real person who has been given a very narrow range of choices. I think that most of them cope with their difficult situation with a certain amount of grace.”
Finally, Earth (the book) : a visitor’s guide to the human race by Jon Stewart and his staff at the Daily Show, purports to be a guide to our planet for aliens visiting after humans have destroyed themselves. If you liked America– the book you know what to expect.
A best selling author in Sweden, this is the first of author Camilla Lackberg’s books to be translated into English. It tells the story of Erica Faick, a writer who has come back to the tiny resort town of Fjallbacks to put her parents’ house in order after their death. While there, a childhood friend who she has not been close to in years dies of an apparent suicide. Erica’s search for the truth and an understanding of what had happened to her once good friend in the years that have passed slowly reveals clues and a complicated set of possibilities. The tale is a little Agatha Christie-ish with many motives and characters and a strong sense of time and place. Erica teams up with another childhood friend and local police officer, Patrik, who has an almost pathetically incompetent boss. If you like Scandinavian mysteries you’ll like this book.