Thursday, September 6, 2018

The Bond Story That Never Was

The Diamond Smugglers – Ian Fleming, 1957
½ (out of five)
You know their names, no introductions necessary: Ernst Stavro Blofeld. Goldfinger. Dr. No. Rosa Klebb. Classic villains brought to you by the same man who created their common foil, James Bond 007: Ian Fleming.

But none got the build-up of a villain from another Fleming book: Monsieur Diamant, a. k. a. Mr. Diamond.

Monday, September 3, 2018

Trying To Like Dean Koontz

The City – Dean Koontz, 2014
½ (out of five)
Reading The City makes me wonder what makes for pop-fiction success. Is it writing something that truly engages, provokes, inspires? Or is it delivering product to a well-conditioned audience? After a pulsating start, The City settles into a tired-feeling, slow-moving tale that delivers morals and thrills with the loping subtlety of a ball-peen hammer.

Saturday, August 25, 2018

Heavy Lies The Crown

DiMaggio: The Last American Knight – Joseph Durso, 1995
½ (out of five)
Heroes seemed to come thick and fast for America in the middle of the 20th century. Few burned as bright, or left as deep a mark, as Joltin’ Joe DiMaggio. Whether in baseball or his personal life, his story inspires wonder to the point of disbelief. How to tell it in a way that is relatable?

Thursday, August 23, 2018

Fatal Abstraction

Daisy Miller Henry James, 1879
½ (out of five)
Is Daisy Miller a little child running wild? Or is she an innocent martyr to outdated social conventions? Could she be both? And why is this acclaimed novella more interesting to ponder than to read?

Sunday, August 19, 2018

Score Another For Monsieur Poirot

Evil Under The Sun – Agatha Christie, 1941
  (out of five)
Characters who employ multiple secret identities, dialogue scenes that turn out staged for a listener, red herrings, U-turns, left-field clues, secondary characters who portend nothing but offer strategic diversion at critical intervals: These are devices one not only expects but comes to appreciate reading Agatha Christie novels.

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

A Sidekick's Lot Is Not An Easy One

Here's Johnny! – Ed McMahon, 2005
½ (out of five)
Whenever I tuck into a celebrity memoir, great expectations are not an issue. Maybe I’ll learn something. Maybe I’ll be entertained. But it’s unlikely I’ll be blown away, or even remember much about the book a year later. Grant me pleasant diversion, and I’m satisfied.

Saturday, August 11, 2018

Building A Monster

The Power Broker: Robert Moses And The Fall Of New York – Robert A. Caro, 1974
  (out of five)
Like platinum, efficiency in government is highly prized but hard to find. Yet it can be overvalued, too; think of Mussolini making the trains run on time. If you think a fascist analogy is out-of-place in reviewing a biography of a parks commissioner, you probably haven’t read Robert A. Caro’s The Power Broker.