Monthly Archives: June 2013

The Cold Dish & Death Without Company – Review

Currently on Loan from the Library:

Blindfold Game by: Dana Stabenow

Halt’s Peril by: John Flannagan

What Alice Forgot by: Liane Moriarty

Death Without Company  by: Craig Johnson

 

Other Books I’m Reading: 

World War Z by: Max Books

Anathem by: Neal Stephenson  (Poor Neal.  He’s been languishing on the night stand for several months now.  To think I was going to read the first book of the Mongliad this summer too.  Ha!)

When the Longmire television series popped up on Netflix, I thought I’d give it a try.  I enjoyed the show.  Then I read the Netflix comments and found out several people really liked the books better than the show.  Books?  That’s when I got all excited.  Because we know how I love a really good book.

The Netflix reviewers were right.  The books are much better, then the very good series.

The whole series of books is set in fictional Absaroka county Wyoming.  Walt Longmire, is the county sheriff.  In The Cold Dish we see Walt try to figure out who is shooting some very guilty young men.  I had actually gotten Death Without Company from the Library and started it, before realizing I really needed to read The Cold Dish first.  That being the case, I knew who the shooter was in The Cold Dish.   This knowledge did not in anyway impede my enjoyment of The Cold Dish.  If anything, I think I enjoyed it more.  I kept wondering how Craig Johnson was going to pull it off.  And then he did.  It was very well done, and at the same time completely heartbreaking.

In Death Without Company an elderly woman dies in a retirement home.  This seems not at all odd to Walt, but sets all the alarms going for the former county sheriff Lucian.  With some serious convincing from Lucian, Walt starts to investigate what looks like a routine death, and stumbles onto a sixty year old murder mystery.

Interestingly, these books are written in the first person.  I wouldn’t have thought that I’d relish the thoughts of a Wyoming sheriff.  I was wrong.  Walt is intelligent, in possession of a rich inner landscape, and funny.  Between Henry’s remarks, and Walt’s internal monologue, I was laughing for a good half of these books.  Also, there was a literary reference I had to look up in The Cold Dish.  That does not happen often.

There are many colorful supporting characters.  Henry Standing Bear, Walt’s best friend.  Ferg, Turk, Sancho, and Vic, the deputies.  Ruby, Walt’s secretary.  Dorothy, the woman who runs the local restaurant.  Having read the books, I have to say that Katee Sackhoff’s casting as Vic in the television series is completely inspired.  The physical description in the book doesn’t match, and I don’t even care.  Even without having seen the television series Katee would have been Vic in my head.  You’d be that pissed off too if they took away your fighter and stranded you in Wyoming without a Cylon in sight.

These books do not have any scenes of corporeal exuberance.   At least not yet.  There is a rape in Death Without Company.  However, it is not unnecessarily graphic, and is very much in keeping with the characters and plot.  I will say that like a Bernard Cornwell book, these books are not for sensitive readers.  Walt is dealing with some seriously blood soaked vistas.  Which is only to be expected.

Unlike Dana Stabenow’s Kate Shugak series – which has left me with an unreasonable fear of getting eaten by bears, or shot by Germans in any part of Alaska outside Anchorage – these books leave me thinking I could deal with Wyoming.  I’ll just need a 20 gauge.  Well, okay, maybe a 20 gauge, and a .357.  My husband says that would be fine with him.  I’d at least shoot in the right direction.

Also, apparently, if an Indian gives you something and tells you that it’s haunted, believe him.

 

Enjoyability: Five stars, and a Bullet. 

Where to read this book:  I’ve been reading these on a blanket in the back yard while the kids play.  I highly recommend it.   

Further reading:  I should probably read more Anathem.  It doesn’t do to neglect Neal.   

Name Change

I’ve decided to change the name of this blog.  The reading and reviewing seems to have taken over everything else.  Which is fine.  I really like reviewing.  So before I post my next review, It’s time for a name change.

If anyone has any suggestions, I’d love to hear them.

Now I’ve got to go write a new review.

Cheers!

Fly Away Home – Review

Currently on Loan from the Library:

Fly Away Home by: Jennifer Weiner

Whisper to the Blood by: Dana Stabenow

The Historian by: Elizabeth Kostova 

Other Books I’m Reading:

 Anathem: by Neal Stephenson. 

Fly Away Home by: Jennifer Weiner is probably never going to be a favorite of mine.  Still, as always with Jennifer’s work, I absolutely respect the effort.  Her pacing is good.  Her characters multi faceted, and surprising.  She’s got a clear and interesting voice as a writer.  Fly Away Home is a well constructed novel.

That said, I didn’t find Sylvie Woodruff scorned wife of Senator Richard Woodruff all that sympathetic.  Which may, in a way, be the point of the book.  Sylvie doesn’t really seem to find herself all that sympathetic.

Our story starts with Senator Woodruff’s wife headed home down the Jersey Turnpike in the back of the standard black Town Car when she gets  a call from her best friend  Ceil.  Sylvie isn’t near a television, so it falls to Ceil to break the news of Richard’s affair.  Sylvie is understandably upset and pulls over at a rest stop to see the news on a television.  Possibly, the experience of hearing herself spoken of so harshly in the rest stop is almost as bad a shock as hearing about her husband’s affair.  Either way, Sylvie stays in town for the mandatory apologetic press conference, and then beats a hasty retreat to regroup.

Meanwhile, the Woodruff daughters Diana and Lizzie are finding out about the affair as well.  Diana, wife, mother, ER doctor, and woman cheating on her husband with a younger man, blames her father entirely.  Which I guess is no surprise.  Rather refreshingly, she blames herself for ruining her own marriage too.  Lizzie, younger, just out of drug rehab, and spending the summer babysitting for her sister’s son, adores her father, and doesn’t really seem to come down on a side for most of the book.

In fact the interplay between the sisters is some of the best material in the book.  Their relationships with each other, and with their parents is insightful and well written.  No surprise.  Weiner has always had a talent for writing about the difficult and confusing world of the sisterly relationship.

After finding out about the affair, Sylvie does the only thing she really can.  She leaves to rebuild herself, and eventually the relationships she has let slip with her daughters.

Watch for the scene where Sylvie yells at the woman in the grocery store.  It put me in mind of something Elizabeth Edwards said in an interview about the death of her son.  Actually not long before Elizabeth’s husband was caught cheating.

Enjoyability:  Four stars.  

 

Where to read this book: This is a good beach book.  

 

Further reading: I’m having another run at The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova.  Last time I was really distracted.  

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