Make Me — Lee Child

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Welcome to Mother’s Rest. <shiver of terror>

While the group found this to be a compelling read, we agreed that in the end, the subject matter was extremely distasteful.  Watching the story unfold, being in the minds of both the good guys and the bad guys, and looming question of just what the heck was going on kept us moving through the story.  But it was the last quarter of the book or so where most of us started to turn away in disgust.

We had a real problem with Jack Reacher, who does have has some sort of code of conduct, but his brand of vigilante justice operates so far outside the law, that he seems to be thisclose to being just like the bad guys.  We agreed that it was hard to care about the story when we didn’t care about the main character.  We found it very disturbing, seeing as how he doesn’t express remorse and feels he’s totally justified in his actions.

Favorite – Westwood, the journalist; Chang, who was called faithful; Keever; the waitress in the cafe; the maid at the motel; and Peters’ neighbor lady.

Least favorite – Everybody else; Reacher; the bad guys; the boss guy with the ironed jeans and blow-dried hair; Russian mob guy; the main gang; the Moynahan brothers.

Midnight in Peking – Paul French

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The group found this to be a compelling story and an interesting look at an era and part of the world with which not all of us were terribly familiar.

It was also an interesting look at the politics within the politics.  The investigation of the murder was doomed from the start, what with the Chinese detective being hamstrung by his superiors and the English detective being hamstrung by his superiors.  Then there was just poor detecting and general muck ups by people.  The English guy seemed to do okay, but one of his guys mucked up.  And the Chinese guy mucked up and/or was on the take.  But they were encouraged not to solve anything.

We found that the author did a good job of making the reader feel a certain way about certain characters at certain times in the book.  And then was able to make the reader have the complete opposite take about those characters in a different part of the book.

The dad was originally portrayed as a goofball, but then later portrayed as a together, driven kind of guy.  The two detectives were originally portrayed as having their poop together and then later, the holes in their investigations were pointed out in a way to make them look bad.

All in all, a rather creative way to deal with a nonfiction subject.

The group mostly liked the story, even if they found it a bit tedious.  The history was fascinating, though there too many characters and they were hard to keep track of.  There were also issues with understanding the locale.  While a map was provided in the book, it wasn’t necessarily the clearest thing to understand.

The victim herself came up for analysis and we agreed that while the common photo of her made her look mature beyond her years, in reality, we understood that she really was quite young and could relate to her attempts to move in more grown-up circles.

As is often the case in true stories, there wasn’t a clear resolution, so therefore, some found the ending unsatisfactory in a literary sense.  In a historical sense, however, it rang true.

Favorite character — English detective Dennis, Werner, Pamela

Least favorite – Chinese detective Han, Sydney Yeates, the schoolmaster, Prentice the dentist, Fitzmaurice and his successor because they were more interested in protecting the British image than in solving the murder, Werner.

 

Family Jewels – Stuart Woods

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The group was pretty underwhelmed with our book this month.  It was described as “eh,” “average,” and “not that interesting”.  We felt the last quarter was filler tied to current events and the story fell apart at the end.  The characters were declared to be empty and kind of bland, and we felt there were plot holes galore.

Its one redeeming quality seemed to be that it was easy to read and so the torture didn’t last long, though one of us didn’t finish it because it wasn’t worth the effort.

It was a different writing style in that there wasn’t much in the way of description.  Just unattributed dialogue.  And then everything ends up peachy keen and perfect, which really annoyed people.

Favorite Characters– Bob the Dog, Joan, Fred, the necklace, the Female Supreme Court Nominee, Stone, the bed-hopping whore-man.  Nothing there, but he got things done.

Least Favorite – While one of our group said all of the characters were “blech”, others called out Harvey, the ex-husband, Stone, the thieves, Nicky, Carrie, and Bob the Dog, because he was fickle.  Joan was going to go back and re-visit the people who actually did the deed, but has now decided that it’s just not worth the energy.

 

Heat Rises – Richard Castle

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Boy, were WE confused!  Turns out this is a book based on a t.v. series, written by a guy who doesn’t really exist, about characters that are based on characters from the t.v. show.  Or something.

Joan’s head hurt just trying to figure this out.

Some in the group knew what was going on and loved it, others hadn’t a clue and still loved it.  So there you go.

On the whole, we enjoyed this.  It had aspects of Nick and Nora Charles/Thin Man mysteries which we enjoyed.  Witty repartee, hot characters, all around fun.

But if a reader hadn’t seen the show, they felt like there wasn’t enough depth or background, and, ironically, the story felt scripted.  We found it predictable, and yet unpredictable and it was generally agreed that if you’d seen the show, it was hard to read.

The book didn’t just re-create one episode of the show.  It would seem that this story stretched out over a number of episodes.

We thought Nikki Heat was an interesting character and it was an interesting, albeit convoluted, story.  The boyfriend was charming in a rogue-ish way though Joan kept waiting for him to do something asinine and then they’d break up.  The relationship is a little too perfect and cutesy.

Which brings us to the story.  It’s ALL a little too perfect.  Stereotypes abound, from the top of the PD pile all the way down to the hooker on the street.  There were a number of incongruities and it felt like the writer(s) were trying to trick the reader.

But will all that, we enjoyed the book.

Favorite – Jameson Rook, the boyfriend.  I mean how can you NOT be charmed?  People liked his jokes and puns.  Nikki, as well as the two as a couple.  Team Roach.

Least Favorite – Sharon, the Hammer, Phyllis, the crooked cops, Nikki (professionally great, in her private life she was all messed up).  Montrose.  Those of us who hadn’t seen the show had never seen him when he wasn’t acting the ass.

 

Don’t forget — our book in June has been changed to Midnight in Peking by Paul French

Rain Dogs – Adrian McKinty

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Ah, the Irish.

Byanka asked that we do a St. Patrick’s Day themed party for our March meeting.  And then she couldn’t make it!  The food was quite fine with people bringing Green Goddess dip and green vegetables, various green pastries, and “15s”, an Irish sweet mentioned in earlier Sean Duffy novels.  Joan had planned to bring Irish Soda Bread, but alas, was felled by the crud and didn’t make the meeting either.

And it’s a good thing, too.  She would have been overwhelmed by the group because she definitely had a minority opinion about this book.  Joan found it to be dreary and depressing.  She claims she started drinking more just reading this.

However, everyone else in the group really really really liked the book.  The group loved the humor and the irony.  They found it to be reasonable and realistic.  Meaty with a lot of intriguing plot to it.  They liked how real people were incorporated into the plot.

Favorite characters – Duffy, Lawson.  Smart, eager, cheeky, Tony, Crabbie, lady Finnish cop

Least favorite – All the pedophiles, Ek, Lasko, Twins, Beth, Payne, the forensic guy, Dalziel, Anthony, Spineles, Tony.  Used his history with Sean to no good.

While Joan gave this one (1) star, everyone else gave it five stars and wanted more.

We’re making a change to our book list.  In June, we were supposed to be discussing “Monuments Men” as our non-fiction selection.  But it’s awfully thick, so instead, we’re going to read “Midnight in Peking” by Paul French.

Keeper of the Keys – Perri O’Shaughnessy

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keeperThis was one of those books that the group either loved or hated, so we had plenty to talk about.

We pretty much agreed that the characters were unlikable and the plot unlikely.  We objected to being manipulated.

Watching the dysfunction unfold was pretty entertaining, though, particularly for Byanka who felt that it captured the essence of the Southern California world.

Others waited for something good to happen and were disappointed.

We liked how the tension ratcheted up.  How the plot had surprising twists.  Selective head-hopping was good and timed well to add to the tension.  The interweaving of plot lines was well done, adding to the ebb and flow of action.  The impact of past events on the current events was well-presented and explained people’s characters.  And there were some really messed up characters, but they were doing the best they could with the tools they had.

Favorite character – Kat, though she was a messed up bitch, she was the most positive.  Ray.  I know, both sides.  But I liked his dedication to his art and to his vision, though in many ways it bit him in the ass.  The old Indian gentlemen.  Tom didn’t like any characters and Byanka like them all.

Least favorite character – Martin.  Slimy creep with no redeeming qualities.  Initially, Ray.  But by the end, he came off much more sympathetic.  Tom.  He seemed to bring out the worst in people.  Leigh’s dad — he was so cruel to Tom.  Esme.  Leigh — bad from the beginning

3 stars (1)

Gathering Prey – John Sandford

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prey25splashWe found this book to be wonderfully creepy.  While some didn’t finish it (or even start it), others really enjoyed it.  The bad guy was Manson-like and we were kind of horrified by the tenacity of his evil.  The depiction of multiple law enforcement agencies working together was declared to be accurate and our Wisconsin contingent liked reading about places they know.

While Joan enjoyed the book, she felt it was a little Keystone Kops-y, what with the running here and the running there.  But that, too, was said to be an accurate portrayal of the area.

But it was a compelling story.  Creepy bad guys are compelling and it was fascinating that in the end, Pilate’s identity was never fully discovered.  And really, he was just a figurehead Creepy Guy.  The women in the gang were mostly second class citizens and just tools to be used to maintain power, but interestingly enough, the brains behind the operation seemed to be Kristen, she of the pointy teeth.  Henry and Skye had a naive likeableness that made the reader sympathize with them, all the while wanting to smack them upside the head for being such dopes.

We found the depiction of the traveler culture interesting.  And while Letty’s actions made us crazy, we all understood the impulsiveness of the young.

Favorite characters –Laurent, Frisell, Lucas, Letty (feisty, though misguided), Pilate, Kristen, the law enforcement agencies, the fat clown.

Lease favorite – Pilate (ick), Kristen, Letty (a little too precocious for Joan’s taste), Lucas’s boss Sands, the gang.

3.5

REMINDER — due to the library’s holiday schedule, January’s meeting will be the FOURTH Sunday, January 22, 2017.

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