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Random words, pictures and thoughts of one who always wishes to be on the mind's road to discovery!

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Connecticut River Valley, New England, United States

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Who Killed Dave Robicheaux' Mother?

Purple Cane Road (Dave Robicheaux, #11)Purple Cane Road by James Lee Burke
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Ten years ago I visited New Iberia, Louisiana for the first time. It was around 2pm and we were looking for a place to eat lunch. Happening upon Victor's on Main Street, which was closed as were all the restaurants, there was a dusty sign in the window that read " Dave Robicheaux eats here!". I looked at my friend, shrugged my shoulders and said " whoever he is!".

Eleven books later I know who Dave Robicheaux is and I've become an annual visitor to New Iberia and Books on the Teche, where I obtain my next installment of his stories. I'm not sure how I came upon the first book in the series, The Neon Rain, written in 1987 and I am seriously behind in my reading, but, though each of the books is a stand alone story about a former New Orleans cop now working out of the New Iberia sheriff's department, I think it best to start with the first book to best enjoy this guy.

In this installment, all the regulars are back--Bootsie, his long suffering wife, Clete, his boozing best friend formerly NOPD, now a PI, Alafair, his adopted daughter, Tripod, her pet raccoon, Batist who works in Dave's bait shop, Helen, Dave's partner, the Sheriff. As usual we get to meet lots of the locals, pimps, drug dealers, prostitutes, politicians, dirty cops, and some of the more main stream types. In this installment, a young hit-man plays a major roll in leading Dave to the dirty cops who killed his mother years ago. The story winds through cane fields, down the four lane to Morgan City, into the bayou country south of New Orleans, over into Baton Rouge and, of course, New Orleans and Algiers. A subplot deals with the impending execution of a woman accused of murdering the former State Executioner as he begins to abuse a young girl as he'd abused the convicted woman and her sister years earlier.

As always, all the plot lines are neatly tied up by the end, there is satisfaction in the justice served, even if it isn't perfect and there is surprise when the people who murdered his mother are definitely identified, after pages of speculation. I'm ready for the next installment--Jolie Blon's Bounce. Even the titles are super Cajun, super New Iberia, super sensual--just like the stories.

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Wednesday, May 27, 2015

A Lazy Hot Day in Vermont

Terrific day--went with Bill to Corinth for his dr's apt--he's so healthy they had nothing on the " to work on " check list to check. I'm not going any time soon!!! Then we took a drive to Groton to look at a house where a friend used to live. We'd sold her blue spruce years ago and we wondered if she ever harvested them and sold them--nope, they are all tall and very dead. Went out 302 to the Interstate and took the back way home from Bradford. Stopped at Baker's to get sandwiches from one of our former students. Glen Ferriot is running the deli--Bill had an Italian bulky which looked delicious and I had a traditional steamed pastrami on rye with only spicy mustard, which WAS fabulous. Caught up with Glen and got the lowdown on the family--great people: Dan and Betty and Glen's sister Jesse. Also checked in with Melanie Durkee, another former student and chatted up Jeff Hodge, Jeff Fifield and Jon Covey--talk about old home week. After eating outdoors we headed up Barker Rd to see what all the fuss is about Ruth Dwyer's wall--much ado about nothing--with all the evergreens growing up around it, it is barely visible. That eyesore across the road from Baker's is more of a problem. Hasn't anyone ever heard of " spite barns" in this area--a good old fashioned New England tradition.Then it was down to the Town Clerk's to see if something can be done about the fact that our 911 address is apparently top secret--can't be verified nor does it show up on GPS--maybe that's a good thing. Needless to say, it doesn't come under her perview and the woman who takes care of it is in on Tues and Thurs from 9-1---most convenient for retired folks and pre-schoolers, I guess. All in all, the weather was great, the chatting was fun, the food delicious and I got a great shot of a porcupine ambling slowly down the dirt road in front of us, up Groton way. Now the thunder has begun to cool off the almost 90 degree day

Monday, May 25, 2015

The Woman Who Would Be King Kara Cooney "I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review. "
Though I have tried and tried to read this book and am more than halfway through it, I find it is just too difficult to get a rhythm and flow and interest. I had seen a TV program that dealt with Hatshepsut's remarkable story and was anxious to get into it more deeply. But this book is repetitive and just as one starts to think the story will move on, the author says something about this not being easily proven and that there is a possible alternative path that the woman's experiences took her down--that indeed the situations just described may not have occurred that way at all, but here is an alternative possibility. I appreciate that trying to find hard evidence for a life lived so many years ago and one that future generations tried to obliterate is difficult. That being the case, perhaps the story should have been presented as an biographical, historical novel, rather than as an academic presentation. It is difficult for me to stop reading a book before its ending but this is not Eric Larsen or David McCullough writing and it is too dry, too erratic and too repetitive for me to finish. Perhaps others of a more scholarly bend or those used to reading historical treatises will enjoy this book more than I. It is my sincere hope that is true, since the subject matter, if presented in a more cohesive way could have been engaging to a broader audience.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Sometimes a Historical Romance, Quickly Read, Clears the Brain

Notorious Pleasures (Maiden Lane, #2)Notorious Pleasures by Elizabeth Hoyt
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A fun romantic romp--all the usual suspects: young girl from a proper family, young man not so proper, but also from a proper family. Girl engaged to rogue's brother, girl has protective brother of her own--sparks fly where they shouldn't. Rogue not so bad as reputation implies, girl falls under his spell among other things--all ends happily ever after.

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Sunday, May 17, 2015

Margaret Truman's Capital Crimes Series Continues

Experiment in Murder (Capital Crimes, #26)Experiment in Murder by Margaret Truman
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Donald Bain continues the wonderful Capital Crime series started by the late Margaret Truman. He has as deft a hand in weaving the story and this one in which a psychiatrist programs an assassin to murder a Presidential aspirant is riveting. The possibility of this type of programming is frightening and the possibility that the CIA would do such a thing is horrifying. And yet......

My one complaint is that Margaret's hero and heroine, if those are the correct descriptions are practically non-existent in the plot. Mac and Annabelle Smith only appear a few times and really could have been left out completely without any harm to the story. That is unfortunate, since they are a major reason that I've read all of the series.

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Saturday, May 2, 2015

Neverland--or The Dangers of Only Living a Fantastical Life

Neverland: J.M. Barrie, the Du Mauriers, and the Dark Side of Peter PanNeverland: J.M. Barrie, the Du Mauriers, and the Dark Side of Peter Pan by Piers Dudgeon
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

There is nothing wrong with the author's ability to tell the story of J.M.Barrie, author of Peter Pan, and his relationship with the DuMaurier family. The movie Neverland with Johnnie Depp romanticizes Barrie's relationship to a woman, Sylvia DuMaurier and her five sons, but the true story is disquieting and creepy. Mind control through hypnosis carried out by an impotent seriously flawed man results in suicide, nervous breakdowns, marital disintegration within two generations of this famous family.

Once read the story of Peter Pan and the novels of Daphne DuMaurier will never be simply engaging pieces of fiction. For this reason, the book receives three stars. The actual deftness of the author in telling the story, however, is worthy of five.

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Friday, May 1, 2015

Fishbowl--or How Ian Fell 27 Stories from Balcony to Sidewalk

Fishbowl: A NovelFishbowl: A Novel by Bradley Somer
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Ships Passing in the Night

That's how my Dad used to describe the encounters we have with others as we all pass through our lives. In the case of The Fishbowl these encounters are just as fleeting but are experienced by a goldfish who made the instinctive leap toward the surface of his bowl only to escape its watery confines and find himself rushing headlong from the balcony on the 27th floor of his building toward his doom on the cement sidewalk below.

The imagery of the author's description of the apartment building's construction, the goldfish view of a cityscape from his bowl, the analogy of the building as a living organism are all enough to keep the reader interested. But to this wonderful interweaving of words and language he has added the lure of an almost voyeuristic glimpse into the lives of some of the apartment dwellers. Through them the individual boxes that comprise the building come alive.
He wanders back and forth among them but each of their stories begins as Ian, the goldfish, passes the floor on which they live. And being a goldfish, the initial glimpse is short and not very deep. After all gravity is pulling this little guy down to earth rather rapidly and, in addition, the brain of a fish is not exactly highly developed. So, as quickly as the scene makes an impression, it is lost and the fish cannot remember where he is or what is happening. A reoccurring refrain on his part is " what was I doing?" Not unlike the preoccupied musing of people in apartment buildings when their routine is interrupted by a brief encounter with another of its residents.

The author amazed me with his observational skills and his ability to describe so well various aspects of the story. I also loved his mind wandering to things like the amino acids of DNA and the concept of terminal velocity in Ian's descent. And at the end, the summation that shows how much can happen in people's lives in a very short time span and how little control they have over much of what happens.

I loved the book because I grew up in a six floor building with no elevator and no parking garage in Manhattan. Two towers with four apartments on each floor--48 boxes in all. Probably knew the occupants of about ten of them but really KNEW and interacted with those in only four. This story truly resonated with me and got me thinking back to that time 50 years ago and wondering what stories were being lived by all those neighbors.
All in all, for such a short book, an enjoyable and thought provoking read.

This review is of an ARC received from BookBrowse First Impressions for review.

PS--after reading do a page flip to follow Ian's descent. Clever touch.

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