With a personal viewpoint, writing about the arts stops sounding like Newspeak. Here is the best gift I can give an artist—a flash of my impressions of the work as open as I can divine them, uncluttered by social and historical baggage, and free of plot-spoilers.
Photographs were taken of or from Point Richmond, California and Champaign, Illinois.
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Ultimately DIARY OF A SMALL FISH by Pete Morin is a love story. And a crime story, but not my usual fare. I rarely read legal fiction and almost never read American political thrillers; usually I find the machinations boring. Not so with DIARY OF A SMALL FISH—I was riveted, finding the action smack in the middle of a slippery slope where seemingly innocent behaviour can become criminalized just because someone intimates it so. And worse, where highly criminal behaviour is the order of the day—where no one goes after the big fish.
The protagonists are a blissfully married African-American couple who have run away from their adult children. For anybody who'd like a good chuckle (possibly parents of adult children particularly), these are a fast, entertaining, suspenseful, well-written read. Having read the first in the series, I ordered BAD NEWS TRAVELS FAST from my library. Turns out I couldn't wait, so I bought the ebook (Gar has recently made the titles available as ebooks).
THE GIRL WHO CRIED WOLF by Robert Ferrigno is an outrageous, sardonic romp through the rainforests with idiots on both sides of the story’s moral watershed. It takes time to read 326 pages, so what one thinks about the characters changes, the bad- and good- guys mutate into something else.
Robert Ferrigno is a highly talented storyteller. He takes us derisively through preposterous ecological positions, then we burst out laughing, then we stumble upon something distressingly sad. Though he’s made the eco-terrorists a laughing stock, he manages to pull off some real appreciation for just how badly humans have endangered the earth. Lots of philosophical vignettes are jammed in there alongside tongue-in-cheek wacky characters who remain passionately self-centred.
Military spy thrillers aren’t my cup of tea, so you’d think I wouldn’t enjoy JUSTIFIED ACTION by Earl Staggs. I might have given up but I kept on as I had faith in Earl’s storytelling, and halfway through emerged a traditional mystery with rich characters, several with complex motivations.
Tall Chambers is an ex-Special Services officer whose job is to eliminate terrorists before they perform the terrorism for which they would then be imprisioned. Tall is strongly motivated to protect the innocent. The dichotomy in the former two sentences is not debated in this patriotic thriller as the guilty usually are guilty. Usually. And the innocent—er, they are sometimes guilty too. The plot has some amusing twists, both tender and clever.
Tall Chambers is tough, altruistic and suprisingly lucky. I’ve enjoyed shadowing him from the depths of my armchair.
Yesterday I finished BLEEDING HEART SQUARE by Andrew Taylor. Whoo boy, I didn’t see it coming—rather, I did see something coming—and it made me complaisant. Engaging sensitivity and bullies, side by side. Twists upon twists.
BLEEDING HEART SQUARE is timed in the early 1930s in England, so the atmosphere is charged with the reader's foreknowledge of war.
An outstanding read.
I have always liked the way L. J. Sellers unwraps a character to give the reader a deeply personal view. Not surprisingly, it’s a difficult feat to sustain with a series character over many books. In RULES OF CRIME, the seventh Wade Jackson story, we get reminders of why we care for Detective Jackson. But—most excellently—L. J. develops an intimate understanding for some new characters alongside reacquainting us with familiars from earlier stories. Several times during the story, I paused to recognize that I really enjoy her writing style.
This is not easy to do: to pause in the middle of an L. J. Sellers story. And the ending blew me right out of the water.
MEMORY OF A MURDER by Earl Staggs is a tale told by a gentleman, a fine upstanding gentleman, one you’d like to have for a next-door neighbour. Adam Kingston, the protagonist, is a mere 44 years of age but he feels like he comes from an older time where grace prevailed and everyday cussing was a gentle banter between friends.
Curiously Adam is now an itinerant psychic consultant, formerly FBI. Not to worry, woo-woo plays a low key element in the story. Although Adam works alongside law enforcement officers, he occasionally has a flagrant disregard for their rules. Probably a benefit from being retired.
There’s a very old-fashioned feel to the story—I kept expecting Humphrey Bogart to appear. The good guys are repeatedly attacked and beaten up, for what seems like slight reason. And there are plenty of horrible deaths.
Not my kind of story, you would say.