Thursday, March 31, 2016

Big Trouble

by Dave Barry

After mentioning my hysteria over Dave Barry's history of America, a friend of mine suggested I try one of his suspense novels.... didn't know he'd written these. Bearing in mind it's Dave Barry, you can pretty much assume the book is short on suspense and big on humor. Even though Big Trouble isn't intended to be strictly humorous, the entire premise automatically shifts it in that direction.

The students at Coconut Grove High are engaged in an elimination game involving shooting people with squirt guns. Matt has chosen to "kill" Jenny, the daughter of a mobster type businessman, Arthur Herk. At the same time, some hit men have been hired to knock off Arthur. Both shooters appear at the Herk home at the same time and thus begins the chaos! Most of this book is Three Stooges type humor, but there are a couple of events that are so NOT funny they seem a bit out of place.

Either way, it's a fast and mostly fun read. 

Sunday, March 20, 2016

In a Dark Dark Wood

by Ruth Ware

I'll just cut to the chase here and say, "don't waste your time." This book is not a psychological thriller except for the psychological imbalance of every single character within. And the mystery is limited to them as well, which is somewhat surprising since the main character, who is a crime fiction novelist, is completely blind to all the obvious clues pointing to the murderer.

Enough said about In a Dark Dark Wood.

Friday, March 11, 2016

Isaac's Storm

by Erik Larson

The full title of this book is Isaac's Storm: A Man, a Time and the Deadliest Hurricane in History, which is quite a mouthful, but really sums up the whole thing in a nutshell. Isaac is Isaac Cline, one of the earliest meteorologists in the fledgling US Weather Bureau who was sent to Galveston TX as their expert weatherman. The time is 1900 when Galveston was trying to win the battle with Houston over which city would be THE elite place to dwell. A good chunk of this book is devoted to such struggles over making a name and a place and an impact, which is exactly what the US Weather Bureau was trying to do at the time, with men such as Cline who wanted to establish themselves as an elite forecasting group.

The first portion of the book details a history of Galveston, the weather bureau and advances in forecasting. Midway through you finally get to the hurricane that put a damper on all of it. Due to some unfortunate but prevalent beliefs in 1900's America, Galveston went from glory to devastation in a matter of hours. It is the assertion of Larson that many lives could have been spared but for some egotism, however the destruction of the city would have been the same.

This book is very typical of Larson's others, so if you like those this would be a good read for you.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

The Truth According to Us

by Annie Barrows

A story about a small town and the Federal Writer's Project, which the FDR administration put into place during the Great Depression in order to fund & support writers (you're welcome, I won't go there). Although this story had a lot going on, it was slow moving. The daughter of a US Senator, Layla Beck rebels against her father's wishes for her future, so he sends her off to live among the commoners in the hopes of teaching her a lesson. She is assigned to the town of Macedonia, WV where she dives right into the middle of the strange happenings of the founding family.

The bulk of The Truth According to Us is told from the perspective of the 12 year-old Willa Romeyn as she too is trying to uncover some of the mysteries surrounding her family. And that is where I think the book falls flat, because there are just too many of them to follow. Willa's father is mixed up in some bootlegging venture as well as having some shady past related to the family business. One aunt has two secret loves, two others have some convoluted marriages and living arrangements, there's an old arson mystery and some dead people who are haunting everyone. Oh, and there's more! For some reason, the entire town resents this family, there is some sibling rivalry between the two brothers, there's some sneaking and spying and flirtations and on and on it goes.

In general, Barrows does capture the feel of a small town but spreads her story too thin to capture interest in the people living there. It's just ok.