The Late Show by Michael Connelly

the late showJust when you thought it was safe to go back into the water…..   *

Having been a long time fan of Connelly, and recently disappointed with his novels, I had hopes that this new series with a female protagonist would be better. His Bosch novels are stale and the Lincoln Lawyer was good for one book. This one is a dud right out of the box.

If you have never read a police procedural/detective/crime novel or seen a TV show about any of those, you might enjoy this book. Connelly assumes the reader knows nothing about forensics and awkwardly describes things such as a bullet can be matched to a weapon by the striations left when it was fired.

Even setting the basics aside, the novel is not a thriller, nor a page turner, and was totally predictable. I love reading about strong female characters but there is nothing about Renee Ballard, the main character, that made me want to know any more about her.

There is the predictable clash with superiors, the renegade detective, the endangered detective who manages to escape her captor, and the false trail at the end to try and keep the reader guessing. None of which go beyond Crime Writing 101.

I would not have been surprised to see a second author’s name, a la James Patterson, and that Connelly had lent his name to help a new writer. For him to be the sole author means he just filled in the blanks in an old and worn out outline.

This one gets one star. I long for the Connelly that wrote novels such as The Poet, one of his finest.

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Black and Blue: Inside the Divide Between the Police and Black America by Jeff Pegues

jeffpeguesA well written text on a complex subject…….   ****

The issue of confrontation between the police and the black community is a major problem in this country. Understanding both sides is a necessary step to resolving a problem that has deep roots. Taking a side and blaming the other is easy and requires very little thought.

In this book Pegues presents both sides, both perspectives, and the frustration felt by all. Having interviewed several police chiefs, black leaders, and politicians, he lays out in great detail the problems facing communities. Through their eyes, Pegues gives a rational approach to solving the problem.

As a white male, I found this quite an eye opener. Especially regarding the lack of funds that police departments face in being able to hire and train good police officers. The fact that community policing would be a great step toward solving many of the problems and is hindered by funding is sad. Community policing being defined as having sufficient coverage by police to keep officers in one area where they get to know the community, Almost as astonishing was the lack of reprimands or discipline of police officers who over stepped their authority. A department that cannot remove the bad apples only perpetuates the problems.

The issue of poverty and crime in black neighborhoods is too large for this book to address, but Pegues gives a glimpse into understanding the black community’s frustration over being neglected. Add to this the abuse by law enforcement and Pegues gives us a sense of what life in these neighborhoods is like..

This is a good book to help us understand the issues, it is also a book that will make you want to know more about what can be done to bridge this blue/black gap. Here is my only criticism of the book, it lacks a clear suggestion for what the average citizen can do to help.

This one gets four stars.

The Silent Corner by Dean Koontz

Untitled-1 A different Koontz, a refreshing change….  ****

Since I am a fan who owns and has read all of Dean Koontz’s novels, I always look forward to his next one. The last few have been disappointing, especially Ashley Bell. The Silent Corner was a surprise on several levels.

Koontz has been known to experiment with different writing styles and genres, and here he steps into the world of Micheal Connelly, Lee Child, and Michael Crichton. The story of an FBI agent who loses someone close and goes on a personal vendetta for justice is a common, if not overdone, storyline.  In the hands of a master wordsmith like Koontz, the familiar becomes a lot more fun to read.

Jane Hawk is the female protagonist who takes a “leave of absence” from the FBI to discover who caused her husband’s suicide. The obstacles she faces, as someone is determined to stop her, become minor inconveniences which she cleverly overcomes.

The story is well written and the technology, while futuristic, is feasible enough to be frightening. The novel does suffer from the same flaws of most hero/heroine stories. There are times when the bad guys hesitate, ensuring the protagonist’s survival, and the ease of getting outside help strains believability.

This is book one of a series. It will be interesting to see if it stops at book two, which should wrap up the storyline or if Koontz will take this character for a longer ride.

This one gets four stars.

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

handmaid  Better title – The Handmaid’s Short Story …..  ***

This classic dystopian novel is closer to a short story or novella. The plot is simple, overly descriptive, and drags. The first person narrative became tiring to read, and although an attempt was made to bring out the emotion of the main character’s situation, it fell short.

Parts that needed fleshing out were short and parts that did not need fleshing out were too long. The back story did nothing to make this reader care about the situation the protagonist finds herself in. She seems less caring about her child and her past life than one would expect.

For me, the best part was the last chapter. The scene is in the future and is a lecture on the “diary” which the handmaid wrote and readers just read. It is here than we get a better understanding of what the tale is really about and how life has changed since.

This is a cautionary tale, one that is not out of the realm of possibility, yet as far as dystopian novels go, mediocre at best.

This one gets three stars.

Asia-literacy and Global Competence: Collections and Recollections by Alicia Su Lozeron

asialit  Not sure how to describe this one……  **

This treatise came to me by request based on my reviews on Amazon. I was intrigued enough to read it after reading the description which promised a raising of awareness between East and West in the name of global competence.

The premise is sound, as a better understanding of the world around us not only broadens our outlook, but helps bridge the divide between people of varying origins. Lozeron does this in part with several short vignettes that explain the different approach to certain aspects of life by various nationalities. Describing how certain cultures handle marriage, care for the elderly, funerals, and child rearing. These parts are interesting to read, although short and lacking depth.

Sadly, the majority of what is written, reads like a Chamber of Commerce pitch for Las Vegas. There are several chapters devoted to what this city is doing to entice and service Asian tourists. How this serves global competence escapes me, other than the filling of Las Vegas coffers.

This booklet does have some value, and at the Kindle price is possibly worth it, but I notice the hardback releasing in September is priced at $20.99. That I would not recommend.

This one gets two stars.