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Thursday, February 24, 2011

Recently read: "Sacred" by Dennis Lehane


Sacred: A Novel

The third novel with Boston PIs Patrick Kenzie and Angie Gennaro, this one is sort of an updating of Chandler's The Big Sleep, with a dying billionaire kidnapping the two and then convincing them to search for his daughter, missing after a series of emotional wounds.  Kenzie and Gennaro have not been working, after the events of the previous book, and take the job for a) greed (the money is good) b) Gennaro is convinced the man is grieving over his missing daughter, and wants to find out what happened to her before he dies of cancer and c) Kenzie's mentor Jay Becker is also missing, after being on the case first.

The trail, which involves a "grief" counseling center associated with what appears to be a cult, quickly leads the pair to Florida.  They quickly find out the case is more complicated, and there are car chases and gun battles before the scene switches back to Boston, and they find out that once again, there's evil in the world.  Lehane really runs his two PIs through emotional wringers in his books, and the violence level is high in each one.  The saving grace remains the bond between Kenzi and Gennaro, friends since youth, who are slowly discovering what they truly mean to each other.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

E-book price annoyance

Another example of why the publishers don't seem to be getting the ebook  price point.

John Barnes' Directive 51, published last April, is now available in mass market paperback, and the sequel Daybreak Zero will be published in March.  The paperback version of Directive 51 is priced at $7.99.  The ebook price remains at $12.99, which is what it has been since the initial release.

I understand the publishers want to hold the line somewhat on prices, but they must realize that as the book ages, the ebook price is going to have to drop.

I'm a mild Barnes fan (not having read all of his output, but a good percentage), but this is a way to keep me from buying more of his books.

Recently read: "Altered Carbon" by Richard K. Morgan

Altered Carbon

Altered Carbon

The first book Morgan published, I read it when the initial US edition came out.  Our book group picked it for this month, so I did a re-read.  In my first reading, I enjoyed it enough that I later bought the two sequels, and Morgan's two stand alone SF books.  Upon the second reading, I'm no longer such a big fan, though I can see it's appeal.  In Morgan's future, humans are issued a cortical stack, implanted after birth, into which their consciousness is download.  Death, as long as the stack is not destroyed, is therefore temporary, at least if you can afford a new body (the rich keep clones on tap, others have to get the means to buy a new "sleeve").  Takeshi Kovas is a former Envoy (a specially trained solider, taught to soak up information about new environments).  He's brought to earth ("needlecasted") and re sleeved by millionaire and centuries old Laurn Bancroft to investigate Bancroft death (Bancorft was backed up, and has been re sleeved into one of many clones).  There's a lot going on here: Bancroft's wife (equal old, in a young body), the Vatican pushing legislation that would be re sleeving of Catholics illegal, Kovacs enemines from his former Envoy days, the AI that projects itself as Jimi Hendrix (and running the hotel Kovacs stays at) and the distrust/possible emotion attachment of police lieutenant Kristin Ortega, the lover of the former owner of Kovacs' new body.

Morgan is clearly writing an update of the hard boiled detective story, trying to produce a 21st century Hammett or Chandler, but I don't think he quite pulls it off.  It's too over the top, with a lot of ultra violence, and to me a big problem is that the sex scenes are juvenile.  Ultimately, though Kovacs "wins", I think Morgan pulls his punch when he ends up letting a certain character go (compare the ending to that of "The Maltese Falcon").  He hints at the reason, but since the event that drives that reason happens off screen, it doesn't feel right.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Recently read: "Darkness, Take My Hand" by Dennis Lehane

Darkness, Take My Hand

Darkness, Take My Hand

The second novel following Boston PIs Patrick Kenzie and Angie Gennaro.  The two help out psychiatrist Diandra Warren, who fears that her son's life is in danger after she sees a patient named Moira Kenzie, who claims she was abused by Kevin Hurlihy.  Hurlihy is a sociopath with mobster ties, who also grew up in the same Dorchester neighborhood as the two PIs.  After another neighborhood woman, Kara Rider, is found crucified, the mystery deepens when a bar owner (and former cop) tells Patrick of a similar murder in the neighborhood twenty years ago.  The murderer is in prison, but did he have a partner?  The number of bodies grow, and the FBI arrives on the scene, with interest in Patrick.  There's something that happened in Dorchester twenty years ago, and it's effects are still playing out.  Patrick faces losing the woman he loves as she is horrified by the violence that follows him, and must deal with the knowledge that he and Angie are now targets.

Lehane writes powerfully, and the characters in the novel, though many are broken and/or depraved, are finely drawn.  Highly recommended.