Saturday, October 04, 2008


This book was a little too, hmmm, Joss-ian for me. Joss writes wonderful standalones with twisty characters and unexpected suspense and wonderful atmosphere, but this book seemed to rely too much on those things and not as much on story. It's a creepy enough premise--a woman who killed another woman in a hit-and-run accident begins watching over the dead woman's husband as a sort of penance. There's also a backstory that comes in the form of a manuscript the dead woman was writing. The elements were there, but it just didn't gel for me. But I'm sure I'll try Joss again.

THE COLD DISH/Craig Johnson/A-
Walt Longmire is the sheriff of the least populous county in the U.S. (Wyoming, by the way). Stuck in a unfinished house and with a life going nowhere after the death of his wife several years earlier, Walt is jostled back into things when the body of a young man is discovered. The boy was one of four convicted of sexual assault against an Indian girl and it appears to be a revenge killing. Walt has to investigate friends and along the way starts a new relationship. But Wyoming weather is only the most obvious treachery--people aren't far behind. Very, very good and I'll definitely look for the next in the series.

I thought I would like this. I didn't so much. I can't even remember the main character's name (bad sign), but she's a 21st-century LA woman who wakes up in the body of a Regency-era woman named Jane. With a forbidding mother who threatens to send her to an insane asylum to a suitor who can't understand her change of personality, the woman is more interested in figuring out how to get back to her own life than fitting into her new one. I wouldn't bother with it.

FOUR QUEENS/Nancy Goldstone/A
Once upon a time there were four sister who each became a queen. This is history, not fairytale, and the sisters in question lived in Provence during the 13th-century. They became queens of (by sibling age) France, England, Germany, and Sicily. Disproves the common notion that women of the past did nothing but look pretty--two of the sisters went on Crusade with their husbands and gave birth in the Middle East (one while holding a besieged city after her husband was taken hostage); one used every wile to maneuver herself into political power; and the youngest schemed her way into a queenship so she wouldn't be left out. Fascinating.

Quirke is a pathologist in 1950s Dublin. When he finds his stepbrother altering the death record of Christine Falls, Quirke is drawn into a conspiracy that reaches from Irish society to a Boston convent. The atmosphere is well drawn, but the story is much too bleak for me and I even got tired of Quirke after a while. I won't go looking for the second in the series.

After surviving a school shooting, Sophie Chase heads to Capri for an archaeological expedition. While searching for scrolls in the remains of a volcano-buried villa, Sophie also has to deal with a distraught student and her old lover who has shown up after five years in a secretive cult. Sophie's story intertwines with that of a Christian slave who lived in the villa when it was destroyed. Goodman is a master at plot twists and satisfying storylines along with great characters. I loved it.

FOOLED BY RANDOMNESS/Nassim Nicholas Taleb/B+

I'm not sure I was smart enough for this study of financial markets, but there were a few concepts that caught my interest. And look . . . they've escaped my mind. Oh, here's one: history is learned backward, but flows forward. Meaning we think the past is linear, but those living it were like us, making the best decisions they could with the information available. If you're smarter than me, read it. And then come explain it to me.


Anonymous said...

And look . . . they've escaped my mind.

TOO FUNNY! I was drinking water when I read that . . . and now it's on my keyboard.

Thanks, as always, for your excellent reviews.

April said...

I was going to read Confessions... now I will not. You are so great!