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Sunday, November 17, 2013

Atomic Lobster

A murderous family bent on revenge, antiquities smuggling, drug mules, and unsolved  Florida murders.  What do all of these have in common in Tim Dorsey's Atomic Lobster (#347)?  Serge A. Storms, of course!  Several groups of characters we've met in previous books cross paths here with the action focused in the Tampa area with its active cruise port.

As usual, Serge's murder methods are ingenious, and only applied to those miscreants who really, really deserve it.  With his sidekick Coleman in a perpetual haze of drugs and booze, Serge manages to score a sweet gig house-sitting on the exclusive Davis Islands in order to protect the Davenport family.  Jim once saved Serge's life, and Serge intends to honor his commitment to watch over him whether Jim wants it or not for the rest of his life.  And then there's the G-Unit, the four grannies who have discovered that living on a cruise ship circling between Tampa and Cozumel is cheaper than life on land, especially with the all-you-can eat food and a choice of eligible ball room dance partners.  They never suspect that the handsome men romancing them are looking for more than just a little nookie.  And at the very end of the book, a secret revealed which I did not see coming.

I really enjoyed this one, and yet I never fail to learn some interesting facts about Florida with every Tim Dorsey book I read.  I also liked the cover art for Atomic Lobster.  The only problem was that each time I glanced at the cover of this book, I found myself craving a lobster roll (with celery and mayonnaise, thank you very much!).  I do love a book that leaves you hungry for more...

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

A Cruise to Die For; An Alix London Mystery

I've read and enjoyed Aaron Elkins' paleontology mysteries, but A Cruise to Die For (#346) is the first novel I've read which is co-authored with his wife Charlotte.  I definitely don't think it will be my last.

Impressionist art forgeries, a luxurious mega-yacht cruising the scenic Greek isles with a master chef aboard, a private auction of fabled art works; what's not to like?  Well, if you're Alix London, blessed with a seemingly infallible "connoisseur's eye for spotting fakes, on board on her first official FBI undercover assignment, being attacked within the first five minutes doesn't start off  her dream voyage on a positive note.  Is Panos Papadakis, the owner of both the Artemis and the art collection, the victim of a forger, or is he the one manipulating the money?  Alix isn't the only one in danger on this cruise!

The sophisticated setting and a glimpse into the world of art forgers make for an entertaining escapist read with several unexpected plot twists.  I'm going to have to get my hands on the first Alix London mystery, A Dangerous Talent, and I'll look forward to reading about her further adventures.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Bad Monkey

I had a hard time concentrating on Carl Hiaasen's latest novel, Bad Monkey (#345).  It was mildly amusing, but I think he ran out of story and substituted sex and profanity to fill in the gaps.

The Bad Monkey of the title supposedly starred in the first of the Pirates of the Caribbean movies, where the only person he didn't physically attack was Johnny Depp (obviously, this was not a female monkey!).  Because of his personality, Driggs eventually found himself traded to a Bahamian beach dweller.  When his owner's beach property is sold out from under him to a dubious American real estate developer, things head even further south for Driggs.  In the meantime, in the Florida Keys, Andrew Yancy has been demoted from detective to roach inspector due to his very public assault of a prominent doctor in the middle of Key West, defending the honor of his lover, the doctor's wife.  When a human arm is hooked by a tourist on a Key West charter fishing boat, Driggs and Yancy's lives are set on a collision course which will not end well for a number of players.

Maybe it was because the book seemed to drag on too long, or maybe it's because I think Tim Dorsey does Florida crime humor so much better, but I found this book, like Carl Hiaasen's last novel Star Island, a disappointment.  Mr. Hiaasen has the name, but in my opinion, not the claim to best Florida writer.  An okay read if you have plenty of time to spare.

Monday, November 4, 2013

And the Mountains Echoed

After a less than rapturous acclaim from the critics, I have to admit that Khaled Hosseini's latest novel And the Mountains Echoed (#344) has been languishing on my bookshelf.  However, my book club choose it as our November selection so in the end I was glad it was there.  I was also very pleasantly surprised by it.

Perhaps the critics didn't like this book because they didn't perceive it to be every bit as brutal in its own way as The Kite Runner or A Thousand Splendid Suns,   They've claimed that there are too many families here, and that the end isn't neatly tied up in a bow.  I disagree.  To me, this book, instead of being one long narrative, is a series of interconnected novellas, and it doesn't take a genius to figure out how the stories are connected.  It's a circle, with the first tale chronicling a separation and the final one a reunion which comes too late for one of the participants.  The other stories in And the Mountains Echoed are all smaller moons circling the orbit of those who have been forcibly separated.

Again, this type of storytelling reminds me of Olive Kitteridge and Where Somebody Waits (See my post of 10/22/13.).  I find the change of viewpoint interesting here; it broadens the scope of the story although the focus always remains on family.  It also led my mind to wander down some fraught "What if....?" pathways I might not have otherwise thought of.  Isn't that what good literature is supposed to do?  If you choose to read this book, I don't think you'll be disappointed.