The Woman In the Window by A. J. Finn

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Over hyped and a weak blend of old movies….  **

With endorsements from Stephen King and Gillian Flynn, I was expecting more from this novel. What I found was a mediocre blend of the Alfred Hitchcock movie Rear Window, the 1984 film Body Double, and a character mirroring  Rachel from The Girl On A Train. The cover is even a ripoff from the poster for Body Double.

Finn must have watched Rear Window and noted the types of people James Stewart observed and copied them into this novel, with only slight modifications. The book description calls this “a smart, sophisticated novel of psychological suspense that recalls the best of Hitchcock.” I would call it more of a ripoff of Hitchcock.

Body Double is one of my favorite movies and Finn takes the basic idea as one of his “twists”. Anna Fox, his main character is Rachel from The Girl On A Train, a woman whose observations are blurred by alcohol. The only difference being location.

The only thing that kept me reading was curiosity. I was curious to see if Finn had anything new to offer. He didn’t. His use of old movie references were the only good parts, because most of the films he refers to I have seen.

This one gets two stars. It should be one but one of my New Year’s resolutions is to not be so harsh.

 

 

 

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Origin: A Novel by Dan Brown

OriginMuch ado about nothing……..  *

WARNING: POSSIBLE SPOILER. I say possible because I don’t think it is, but some might.

Dan Brown is known for his detail in describing places and things, giving us the history of both. The details combined with the various codes and symbolism made The Da Vinci Code a great read. Unfortunately, in Origin, Brown does too much of one and not enough of the other.

Each time a location is changed or a building entered, Brown spends way to much time on describing every intricate detail along with the history behind each. Take out all of the elaborate descriptions and this novel becomes a novella, which brings me to the story itself.

The plot is thin and falls apart once the “big reveal” is uncovered. What had been hyped throughout the book as something that will shake the foundations of all religions, turns out to fail in that regard. The questions of where we came from and where are we going are answered with information that is not new nor troubling.

One of the more aggravating aspects to the way Brown wrote this novel was having characters discussing information critical to the story without making the reader privy to the conversation until later in the book. This trick was used too many times. Also, for some reason Brown kept summarizing or repeating facts as if his readers are not that intelligent. Or maybe he knew after wading through long passages of descriptions and history lessons, the reader would forget what the story was about.

The story is very predictable. Brown has fallen into the trap of using what worked in his other novels to produce an unoriginal boring read. I figured out who the “bad guy” was fairly early, which made this an even more tedious read.

This one gets one star.

 

The Wanted by Robert Crais

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I wanted a good read, but was disappointed…..   **

We get Chinese take-out every Friday and last night the food was not up to the usual standard. My wife said, “I guess every one misses the mark sometimes.” Robert Crais, who I usually enjoy, missed the mark on this one.

The story is weak and some of the events are unbelievable. When the mother gets her son back only to let him go out for frozen yogurt and goes missing again, being one of the first. Elvis Cole and Joe Pike are not as compelling as in Crais’s other novels. Cole makes dumb mistakes, and Pike is mostly MIA.

The bad guys, named Stemms and Harvey, are the most exciting part of the book. Yet, their back story, which is awkwardly placed, is hard to swallow. They reminded me of John Connolly’s characters, Louis and Angel, only not as compelling.

The ending felt rushed and certain threads just fell to the wayside. I won’t spoil it by mentioning them. After reading the last page, I turned to my wife and said, “Well, that was boring.”

This one gets two stars.

Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them by Al Franken

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A must read, especially if you watch Fox News……..   ****

With humor and first hand knowledge Franken pulls back the curtain on the misdirection used by pundits, commentators, so called news analysts, and in particular Bill O’ Reilly, Sean Hannity, and Ann Coulter. In today’s political climate this book is even more of a must read.

While addressing the way the ‘right’ uses partial facts, selected quotes, and false information, this book is a reminder to all of us to check the facts as best we can before making decisions about who is telling the truth, regardless of the source.

Although written in 2003, the lies and the liars that tell them are, for the most part, still around and have actually increased in number. If there was ever a book that prompted deeper reading into what is truth, it is this one.

This one gets four stars.