Zoo Station: David Downing

I’ve read all of Downing’s “Station” books before, but decided to go back to the source and remind myself what makes a good writer.

Downing provides extraordinary portraits of decent, ordinary people in extraordinarily evil times. My favourite Nazi-timeline series.

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The Vital Abyss: James SA Corey

hmmm….the least readable of Corey’s Expanse series. This one, a novella, 5.5 in the series, covers the incarceration of the team responsible for the protomolecule.

Despite the usual quality writing, if I hadn’t been deep into the series, I would have found it of little to no interest as a stand alone.

Transcript: Kate Atkinson

Oh my! Didn’t this one surreptitiously infiltrate onto my device clandestinely. I don’t remember ever having heard of this author, much less installing it on my device.

Oh my! Erudition! Intelligence! Bon mots! Clever turns of phrase! A superb sense of time and place!

And of course, the sublime Juliet Armstrong: orphan, romantic, thief, inveterate liar, unhappy virgin, free with her charms, spy, loyal friend, completely selfish, spunky, devil may care, murderess [yes, that’s a spoiler, but Ms Atkinson saves a much larger surprise ending that I had not one iota was coming].

Superb bibliography. With the ‘right’ books (my grad degree is in the History of Intelligence during this time period, so I know which ones are which).

I sincerely hope Ms Atkinson will see fit to provide me with an invitation to be part of Juliet Armstrong’s fascination life again.

I’ll be waiting.

Juliet….Juliet…wherefore art thou?

Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth/Reza Aslan

Aslan states that his purpose in writing the book was to write the history of Jesus the man, as opposed to Jesus the Christ (messiah).

If so, he’s failed. Most of the sources are still religious (only loosely referenced). The non-religious sources are much less frequent and have no reference or provenance provided.

Large parts of the book deal with the church and other early leaders, having nothing to do with the mortal Jesus whatsoever.

The Rooster Bar: John Grisham

What do lawyers and sperm have in common? It takes 300 million of them to make one human being.

Unlike a lot of “best-seller” authors who hit upon a fantastic formula and then coast on that reputation for years, cranking out 3 or 4 “new” books each year, Grisham actually knows how to tell a story.

Lots of shady lawyers and people pretending to be lawyers. Pretty much matches most of the real life ones I’ve met.

Heroes of the Frontier: Dave Eggers

When our protaganist, Josie’s, life fails completely (career, marriage, friends, family, social beliefs) she packs up her two kids and flees to the farthest part of America available, Alaska.

Despite this distance, her journey never goes farther than the struggle in her own heart and soul.

Fitting, since the Alaska portrayed is some kind of fictional location that doesn’t exist in reality.

It didn’t really matter where she fled; what she had to find was what was hidden inside herself.

Don’t Let Go: Harlan Coben

SPOILER ALERTS

In many ways, Napoleon Dumas, French-born New Jersey cop, is the mirror image of my favourite Coben character, Myron Bolitar (who actually makes a two-line cameo in the book; cool). Mirrored because in some ways they are so alike, but in others so different. Both are loyal to a fault to their friends and family, and have an internal moral compass that isn’t going to change for anyone. Nap’s moral compass runs a little less true than Bolitar’s, however. And that makes all the difference.

Coben is the master of describing average, ordinary people’s lives thrown awry from one small minor incident and DON’T LET GO is no different. As usual, the characters and story are mostly solid. I did roll my eyes over the vastly over-used trope of high school lives ruined from casual recreational drug use.

SPOILER ALERT: it was refreshing to finally see a story where former high school sweethearts actually have a happy ending.