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.

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Turbo 23: Janet Evanovich

Reading an Evanovich book is like eating Victoria’s Secret shaped cheezies, but you neither enjoy eating them that much at the time or look forward to the next time, all the while knowing you’ll be at them again soon.

Evanovich had a great formula when it was fresh. Unfortunately, that freshness ended about a dozen books ago. This one is called “TURBO” for reasons I can’t fathom, as it has no connection to the book except it matches the formula of using an alliterative word that goes with the book number.

Evanovich has franchished out that formula under different series to a large number of affiliated writers and they follow it religiously.

Check out the GOODREADS reviews and you’ll notice identical plot summaries with different alliterative numbered titles written under so many affiliated writers that the series has gotten as lame as recent THE BIG BANG episodes.

It’s too bad Evanovich doesn’t have to follow the Grafton model and give up on a title with “Z.” Unlike the alphabet, numbers are infinite.

As I said, the formula was a good one when it was fresh, much like wearing a nice Hermes blouse to a great party, but it gets stale and stained after wearing it 48 straight days.

In a House of Lies: Ian Rankin

Unlike many top-quality police/mystery writers whose amazing early work gets tired and self-derivative at some point, Rankin’s Rebus series never does. John Rebus may be superannuated, but Rankin’s writing never is.

Go back to his first (non-Rebus) novel and the growth and progression ever since is amazing to see.

Rebus’ Scottish mafia crime boss Big Ger Cafferty isn’t quite as good as the crazed New York Irish mafia butcher in Lawrence Block’s Matthew Scudder series, but it’s not for want of trying.

47: Walter Mosley

Mosley is one of my favourite authors. He seldom tells a story that isn’t about social inequity and man’s inhumanity to man. But he never forgets the story, which rises above all. Combined with memorable characters and a fine flourish in manipulating the English language, he is almost always worth reading.

This one is a melange, YA with historical fiction, the supernatural, aliens and love in many forms.

Lethal White: Robert Galbraith (JK Rowling)

The core of his excellent mystery serial is the unlikely relationship and sexual tension between Cormoran and Robin, who by now are shared partners in the detective agency. Unfortunately, it should be the plot that carries that along and illustrates it instead of having it jammed down our throats and choking the life out of the story. The worst of the four. Rowling says it is the favorite book she has written. I hope she’s gotten it out of her system and gets back to writing good, balanced stories.

The Burglar in the Closet: Lawrence Block

My last review was of a book by Nancy Kress, a Writer’s Digest columnist. Today’s book was also written by a former columnist for the same magazine, Lawrence Block.

I have been a fan of Block’s, a repeat Edgar Award writer, for many years.

His Bernie Rhodenbarr “burglar” series was probably my least favourite of his several serials. Recently, I re-read his 2nd entry in the series, “The Burglar in the Closet.”

Unfortunately, it wasn’t as good as I remember his other series. Either I or this work haven’t aged well. The writing is a bit too “loose,” with too many coincidences and self-expository passages to make it a good read.

The reader would do well to try Block’s “Scudder” series, or even the “Evan Tanner” offerings.