Last Book Read...



  • LoeffelholzLoeffelholz The United States, With LovePosts: 8,932Quartermasters
    edited August 2008
    The Quick Red Fox, by John D. MacDonald

    Fourth in the magnificent Travis McGee series...take my reviews of the first three books, in some of the more recent pages here, and multiply them.

    For me, this is love :x :D
    Check out my Amazon author page! Mark Loeffelholz
    "I am not an entrant in the Shakespeare Stakes." - Ian Fleming
    "Screw 'em." - Daniel Craig, The Best James Bond EverTM
  • RogueAgentRogueAgent Speeding in the Tumbler...Posts: 3,676MI6 Agent
    edited September 2008
    I'm re-reading SUMMER OF NIGHT by Dan Simmons...yes the novel is just that addictive.

    I mainly read suspense and horror stories and even after going through countless works of Stephen King, Dean Koontz, Richard Laymon or Bentley Little , I have yet to find anything as engrossing as this Simmons' gem.

    I strongly recommend this title for those looking for the consumate horror fix. Everyone that I've turned it onto have all agreed that it's an underrated but potent piece of lit.

    The sequel to it is called A WINTER HAUNTING. Not as good as the first one but nothing short of entertaining.

    Why this one has been overlooked for a future movie adaptation is beyond me but with Hollywood's current rate of spewing out cheap scares, maybe that's a good thing.

    If there is a book out there that has the same chilling effect as S.O.N. had for me, please let me know.
    Mrs. Man Face: "You wouldn't hit a lady? Would you?"

    Batman: "The Hammer Of Justice is UNISEX!"
    -Batman: The Brave & The Bold -
  • John DrakeJohn Drake On assignmentPosts: 2,564MI6 Agent
    The Quick Red Fox, by John D. MacDonald

    Fourth in the magnificent Travis McGee series...take my reviews of the first three books, in some of the more recent pages here, and multiply them.

    For me, this is love :x :D

    I've taken you up on your recommendation Loeff and ordered The Girl in the Plain Brown Wrapper from Amazon. I don't know if its better to read the McGee novels in order, or just dive in like I'm going to do here.

    I've been reading the comic book follow-ups to Buffy the Vampire Slayer and her sister show Angel. Both are good and capture the feeling of the originals, although neither is an adequate replacement for them. Best of all is an incredibly poignant stand-alone issue of Buffy called 'The Chain' in which an unnamed slayer acts as a decoy for Buffy in an underworld battle, sacrificing herself for the greater good.
  • PendragonPendragon ColoradoPosts: 2,640MI6 Agent
    Currently, I am attached to the following:

    1) my Ancient Civilizations textbook (which is interesting if you're like me and are an Archaeology nerd...) It's by Christopher Scarre and Brian M. Fagan if you're really that interested :D

    2) The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien. The brilliance of this book can't really be written down. It's just amazing.

    3) The last 100 pages of Traitor's Moon, which I mentioned earlier. The plot thickens when Alec and Seregil (the two main characters) uncover a plot to kill their princess. It's a nail biter to be sure. :o

    ~Pen -{
    Hey! Observer! You trying to get yourself Killed?
  • Napoleon PluralNapoleon Plural LondonPosts: 9,646MI6 Agent
    Juliet Barker's Agincourt.

    The Battle of Agincourt in 1415 is a defining one for England. Really it was a hangover from the 1066 Norman conqests as rather than being a battle between England and France, it was between French ruling families (the Normans were French, from Normandy, so had taken over the Anglo-Saxons from 1066). However, some centuries later there was an inheritance dispute and England's Henry V figured he was due to inherit all of France. The French said, eh, no! We've changed the rules so mais non! So Henry V decided to invade. The result helped separately define the English and French nations.

    The main thing is that the English were hit by dysentry during the campaign yet in the end only 6,000 of them slaughtered 36,000 French, including the pick of their noblemen, wiping out a generation. The event is depicted in Shakespeare's Henry V and Churchill commissioned Olivier's film to prepare the country for D-Day across the channel, though of course the Brits would be fighting the Germans and liberating France.

    That said, it was a bit of a phyrric victory as Henry V died 10 days too early to be made king of England AND France and his successor wasn't up to much, being a kid. Within 20 years or so the great gains had all been lost, with the inspiration of Joan of Arc and her pesky visions! :v :D

    It's a good read, and Henry was spurred on by a sense of his father's illegitimacy to be king, he had been a usurper. Henry V was trained to be the man from an early age and battled the Welsh aged only 15, he got an arrow through his head which some amazing surgery prevented him from defacing him (though it's speculated that's the reason for his portrait in side profile. Shame about the bowl cut though...)

    He healed old wounds also between enemies and handled Parliament well. Strangely, there was an attempt to overthrow him in a coup the same year as Agincourt. He landed at Harfleur on the west coast of France and bombarded it, that took longer than anticipated. One way was to dig a tunnel under the fortifications to undermine them, however the height of honour was for a knight to be slain in said tunnel by another knight; that was the apogee of a duel. {[]

    But the King's army became more bedraggled as they marched along the Somme, pursued by the French army on the other side. However, the French had no real leader. On the night of the battle it rained, so the French in their heavy splendid army got bogged down in the mud and were sitting ducks for the crossbows.

    The actual battle takes up just one chapter in the book, the aftermath is interesting. Hostages were taken for 'a hefty ransom' and often French noblemen were imprisoned (albeit in a kind of luxury) for decades. After Agincourt a young lad was reunited with his mother who he had not seen since a kid. He didn't recognise her however and they never really made contact again - touching!

    There are many colouful little incidents in the book that help bring the context of the time to life.
    "This is where we leave you Mr Bond."

    Roger Moore 1927-2017
  • DrMaybeDrMaybe Posts: 204MI6 Agent
    A Night to Remember by Walter Lord

    A very dry, clinical approach to the sinking of the Titanic. Filled with brief anecdotes from various survivors, the book gives no hub characters with which to rally around. A quick read, but not very engrossing.
  • Napoleon PluralNapoleon Plural LondonPosts: 9,646MI6 Agent
    Have you seen the film with Kenneth More?
    "This is where we leave you Mr Bond."

    Roger Moore 1927-2017
  • DrMaybeDrMaybe Posts: 204MI6 Agent
    Not in a long time, and I tripped over the book and decided to see how much James Cameron cribbed from it for his version of the event. There are a few timeline discrepencies, and not even a mention of a ship called the Californian, which was getting visual and morse messages from the liner, not more than 10 miles away(in his film.

    Probably watch it again, as I haven't seen a More film in quite awhile. The Admiral Crichton was one of his films I've always admired. He was in quite a lot of nautical flicks.
  • Lazenby880Lazenby880 LondonPosts: 525MI6 Agent
    Recently I re-read Ambler's 1938 novel 'Epitaph for a Spy'. This is the one, apart from 'The Dark Frontier', of his pre-war novels that I have read the least. This is for no reason other than the fact that 'Cause for Alarm' and 'Uncommon Danger' are two of my favourite novels of all time and I read them quite regularly (at least every year). 'Epitaph for a Spy' always sticks out on my bookshelf - all the other pre-war novels are copies of the recent American reprint, whereas 'Spy' is a 1984 re-print of the 1966 revision I found in a bookshop on Charing Cross Road in London. It was the last pre-war Ambler I picked up so you will understand my incredible excitement when I saw it on the shelf in that bookshop!

    In fact I am glad I have this edition. It includes a very interesting intrduction by HRF Keating which I wanted to read again and I ended up re-reading the whole thing. The Keating piece is a nice introduction to Ambler in general: how he, along with Maugham's 'Ashenden', revolutionised the spy thriller, departing from the gross jingoism of Le Queux and the derring-do of Buchan and introduced a more politically sophisticated and neutral take on the genre. All this tends to be well-known, of course, especially by fans of the genre. Yet it never ceases to amaze me how this doesn't translate into wider recognition of Ambler. I understand he is still available widely in the United States, yet on these shores he is basically forgotten by most, almost a footnote in the annals of what is often termed 'crime fiction'.

    'Epitaph for a Spy' demonstrates why this should not be the case. Ambler, in his own introduction to the revised edition, writes that 'Spy' is "basically a kind of detective story, and I have brought spies into it". Structurally this is true, although it takes the form of a 'who-is-it?' rather than a 'whodunnit?'. Josef Vadassy, a languages teacher working in Paris, is a Hungarian using a Yugoslav passport (the Treaty of Trianon causing havoc for his identity). His father and brother were shot for political offences by the Yugoslav police, and he was told not to return to Yugoslavia. Having worked in England for a while he attempted to renew his Yugoslav passport, an attempt which, of course, failed. An application for British naturalisation also failed. Now working in Paris, having been deprived of his British work permit, he is applying for French citizenship. In a sense, he is nobody's man.

    (Eric Ambler's obsession with passports, and the sense of identity that comes with them, is a fascinating side issue and exemplified especially in 'Cause for Alarm' when Marlow's passport is confiscated by the Italian police).

    When on holiday at the fictional French resort of St Gatien Vadassy takes some photographs from his expensive camera as he is an amateur photographer. He hands in spools to be developed at a local shop, only to find himself under arrest. Some of the earlier exposures on the camera have photographs of a sensitive French military installation, and Vadassy is immediately suspected of being a spy. After some uncomfortable interrogation, it is realised that someone at the Hotel has picked up his camera by mistake, the two becoming swapped. This means the spy is still at large at the hotel. The police cannot go barging in - a lighter touch is required. Vadassy is roped into finding out who the spy is. After all, if he is deported from France where could he go?

    There are ten other guests, as well as the Swiss owner Köche and his wife: three French, two Americans, two Swiss, two English and a German. There are reasons to suspect a few of them; a strange accent, odd behaviour, lies and so on. It is in the rendering of these characters that the strength of Ambler's writing comes to the fore, I always find his secondary characters extremely well-drawn. There is a particularly moving passage in which one of them speaks about life as a political prisoner in a concentration camp in Nazi Germany; remember this was published in 1938. The psychological insight into these different characters is superb, as ever, as characters lie and embellish in their own interest. Köche makes an interesting point about people believing a story merely because they want to believe it. Ambler also demonstrates his political sophistication, with Vadassy reflecting about a "civilisation hastening its own destruction" as Europe flirted with war.

    Meanwhile, Vadassy is a typical Ambler central character, an innocent in too deep, forced into the murky world of espionage. Perhaps slightly more naive than Kenton in 'Uncommon Danger' or Marlow in 'Cause for Alarm' although perhaps this is due to the lesser danger in 'Spy'. What is at stake here is less menacing than in those other two novels, the atmosphere feeling rather less dangerous. For me this means that it is not quite as good as those other two novels, which embody a dark, haunting and sinister tone with fear evident throughout. Nevertheless, 'Spy' builds to a dramatic climax when the spy is ultimately revealed with the tension that would be expected in these sorts of novels.

    Overall, 'Epitaph for a Spy' is a very worthy addition to anyone's bookshelf. It is not quite as good as 'Cause for Alarm' or 'Uncommon Danger', or even 'Journey Into Fear', the threat being all the more immediate in those novels. However, it is fantastic read, full of psychological and political intrigue. Absolutely recommeded.
  • BarbelBarbel ScotlandPosts: 33,218Chief of Staff
    Blaze, by 'Richard Bachman'.

    Another, claimed to be the last, of the books Stephen King has 'found' among the papers of the late Bachman. Not the best of King (or indeed Bachman- that would be The Ruuning Man IMHO), but a readable spin on Of Mice And Men.
  • 00-Agent00-Agent CaliforniaPosts: 452MI6 Agent
    The Life of Ian Fleming by John Pearson. This is the second Fleming biography I have read, the other being the one by Andrew Lycett. I enjoyed the one by Pearson more, but both were good reads.
    "A blunt instrument wielded by a Government department. Hard, ruthless, sardonic, fatalistic. He likes gambling, golf, fast motor cars. All his movements are relaxed and economical". Ian Fleming
  • darenhatdarenhat The Old PuebloPosts: 2,029Quartermasters
    Sharpe's Prey by Bernard Cornwell

    'Prey' was a hit-and-miss Sharpe novel for me. Unlike the others in the series, I had a difficult time getting into Sharpe's head. I felt rather uninvolved in the action. Whether it was him wreaking vengeance on his old orphanage schoolmaster, or falling in love with a blonde Dane beauty, the character rang a little hollow. But I gotta admit Cornwell can write a good thriller...Sharpe's escape through a chimney almost had me panicking with claustrophobia!
  • Barry NelsonBarry Nelson ChicagoPosts: 1,508MI6 Agent
    The Snowball "Warren Buffett and the Business of Life

    I have always been an admirer of Buffett, for both his investment skills and downhome country manner. So I decided to read what would have to be the most in depth biography (Buffett collabrarated on the book) of Buffett available. At over 830 pages long the book is detailed, but never boring. Starting with his childhood, where even at an early age he showed a knack for accululating money, multiple paper routes, selling golf balls he found on the golf course and fixing broken pinball machine, then placing them in barbershops and splitting the take 50/50. Harvard turned him down so he went to Columbia and became a follower of Benjamen Graham, a Professor at Columbia and succesful investor. From there, investing became his life.

    The book, however, does not focus on his business dealing, but rather his everyday life and how certain business decisions and experiences transformed his life. Among the interesting facets of his life.

    He loved and admired his father, but was afraid of his mother who was prone to demeaning and belittling her children. Even as an adult he could not stay in the same room with her.

    His father was a very conservative Republican Congressman, but Buffett broke from his father and is a Democrat.

    Buffett remained married to his wife Susan, despite the fact she moved out to California and another woman Astrid, moved in with him. This arrangement was fine with all the parties involved. Susan Buffett died several years ago, and Buffett has since married Astrid.

    Buffett has given some money to his three children and his grandchildren, but refuses to leave anything for his step-grandchildren, because he does not consider them Buffetts.

    Buffett spends almost his entire day reading and his diet consists of ice cream, Cherry Cokes and hamburgers.

    Buffett is an avid bridge player and in his first attempt, made it to the finals of the United States Bridge Championshp, then withdrew because he was exhausted. Causing a major uproar at the championship.

    A very good read, recommended to anyone interested in his life.
  • HardyboyHardyboy Posts: 5,837Chief of Staff
    darenhat wrote:
    But I gotta admit Cornwell can write a good thriller...

    Total agreement, DH--it was that fact and Cornwell's genius at describing weaponry that had me hoping he was the "famous writer" who'd been hired to write the centenary Bond novel. I still think anything Cornwell could have come up with would have been better than Sebastian Faulks's cheesy pastiche. Ah, well. . .
    Vox clamantis in deserto
  • Sir MilesSir Miles The Wrong Side Of The WardrobePosts: 25,591Chief of Staff
    I finally got around to finishing Flashman And The Redskins ! And what a great book ! this one deals with Harry Flashman's involvement with Custer at Little Big Horn...and also mentions his meetings with Kit Carson and Crazy Horse...a cracking read !!

    Every one of MacDonald-Frasers Flashman books never fails to inform and entertain...all his novels come highly recommended...ask Willie's his fault I'm reading them :))
    YNWA 97
  • John DrakeJohn Drake On assignmentPosts: 2,564MI6 Agent
    Excavating Kafka by James Hawes

    Excellent deconstruction of the Kafka myth, rebuffing many of the cliches about one of the greatest writers of the 20th century. Hawes emphasises the fact that Kafka's writing is often as funny as it is grim, and places Kafka firmly within the literary traditions that would have formed his work. Bizarrely there is an entire chapter devoted to Kafka's porn, that offers no evidence beyond a few etchings that do not look even remotely rude. Then Hawes claims at the closing of the chapter that this does not matter anyway. Then why write a chapter on it. ?:)
  • Napoleon PluralNapoleon Plural LondonPosts: 9,646MI6 Agent
    Blink by William Gladwell.

    Gladwell is best known for The Tipping Point and has been in the review section recently for a new book suggesting that successful folk only make it thru, er, loads of practice. Or something.

    Anyway, Blink tells how some people can instantly assess a situation in the blink of an eye without knowing why. He calls it 'thin slicing' and his first example is an archeological artefact that a museum is about to buy for millions after much research and verfication; while a few experts can tell just by looking at it it's a forgery.

    It's a very readable book and misleads you into thinking that you'll be able to acquire such skills. But it's main emphasis is that,er, experts can figure stuff but others can't. And that sometimes you can't tell just by appearances.

    It has that marketing spiel thing going on. The Pepsi taste test is interesting, however. It seems Pepsi is sweeter so in a taste test it's bound to impress over its rival, but that's not the same as after drinking the whole can, so it's misleading.

    Then again, he tells of two rival whiskeys. One is outselling the other despite being no better; how can that be? He goes thru all this, spinning the yarn out. Then we discover that the bigger seller is in a chic, classy decanter while the other one is in what looks like a wine bottle. Duh, so which do you think is gonna sell better? 8-)

    All the same, there are other interesting case studies and anecodotes, just not sure it adds up to much of a thesis.
    "This is where we leave you Mr Bond."

    Roger Moore 1927-2017
  • Napoleon PluralNapoleon Plural LondonPosts: 9,646MI6 Agent
    edited February 2009
    Greenmantle by John Buchan.

    This is the long-awaited sequel to The Thirty-Nine Steps, well, long-awaited by me anyway. I've always been a fan since Hitchcock's 1935 movie; the book is sort of similar, as much as Fleming's novel Live And Let Die resembles the movie. It has the same spirit and stepping off point.


    Anyway, someone on this board recommended Greenmantle a while back and to find the hero Richard Hannay did other adventures was akin to Loeffs finding out about a parallel set of Bond films in the 1970s without space age heroics, Roger Moore in a clown suit, or Roger Moore. :D

    That said, I was put off a bit by the title and the fact it hadn't been made into a movie, though there have been three or four adapations of the first Hannay adventure.

    Anyway, in a review of the awful Thirty-Nine Steps with the bloke from Spooks over Christmas, AA Gill talked about how Buchan is today regarded as imperialist, racist etc.

    Certainly Greenmantle raises the eyebrows. It's set in 1916, during the Great War. Major Hannay is convalescing after the Battle of Loos and is recalled to London to go on an adventure. Straight away you can see he's not the innocent abroad any more, nor a man on the run like Jason Bourne. He actually volunteers for the mission put to him by some foreign office type, much as M briefs James Bond, in particular in the short story FYEO. This is the first of many Bond similarities.

    The other difference is that Hannay is not on his own in this one. Mostly he has two or three pals backing him up on his travels.

    However, it's very odd to have him talking about the war like it's a great wheeze, some kind of picnic! This is published in 1916 so it's pre-Passchendaele but even so! It's dismaying to find Hannay sound all the world like the Hugh Laurie buffoon in Blackadder: "I say, I can't wait to have a crack at the bosch, give him what for!" Horribly you realise that teens would have read this book and be gulled in to joining up, it has the feel of Kipling's folly (Kipling moved heaven and earth to get his son into the Army, who went and got killed. At the Battle of Loos, along with 20,000 other British including the brother of the woman who went onto be the Queen Mother).

    Otherwise the German stereotypes are alarming, though maybe not unfair. After all, the past is a foreign country and we lampoon our own English stereotypes, the callous generals who sent men into battle. Ultimately it reads as a propoganda piece, not unlike Fleming's From Russia With Love. It's as though the writers are saying hey, your foe seems alarming and intimidating, yet he has some fatal flaw that will be his undoing!

    Likewise, the Leiter treatment is given to a Yank called Blenkiron, who assists Hannay on his mission (though having finished the book, I'm not sure what purpose he serves, maybe to encourage American readers to support Britain in the war?) He's described as a great bloke and there's all that special relationship and so on. But Buchan takes care to describe him as a thick-set man with a stomach upset. As if to say, the Yanks are powerful but not to be envied. Much like Leiter with his hook and half a leg missing, perhaps Fleming's way of ensuring the reader wants to be Bond and Bond only.

    But most ludicrous is the plot. It has something, the Germans are keen to bring about an Islamic uprising in Turkey through the second coming or something of a prophet, which will work against the British Empire. (In this book, you really do get the sense that it's not Britain v Germany but rather two empires slugging it out for bragging rights.) Hannay has to get to Istanbul (Constantinople to them) by going across Europe, bluffing his way to be part of the German command to find out stuff (here the book is more like OHMSS, where the hero is pretending to be something else most of the time) and meeting up with his pals Sandy, an old Etonian and master of disguise, and his American friend, who also are out to find out information.

    Most of the time Hannay can be relied upon to bluff his way out of a tight spot, or run into an old school chum or something. Twice he runs into Blenkiron by coincidence on his travels. It's all ripe for parody, as if the whole of Europe is some kind of Old Etonian country club. Hannay, when in a tight spot, doesn't even kill his foe, a German called Staam but leaves him knocked out. Odd for a Bond fan to take, and odder still when you remember the equanamity with which he deals with the bloodshed of the Western Front. Naturally Staam goes in chase, and I threw the book down when it came to the part where the postmaster's son takes a shine to Hannay's clobber and suggests they swap clothes so he can show off his outfit to his girlfriend; naturally leaving Hannay to scarper with his vehicle, without having to knock him out or do anything not cricket.

    This is a Boys Own Adventure, or rather Boys Only. Later Hannay meets a femme fetale type. Here our hero confesses he has never had much experience with women or much to do with him! Okay, seen Battle of Loos but has less sexual experience than a 14 year old Londoner! But of course, it left to Blenkiron to really get the heeby-jeebies over her, and another to fall for her hook line and sinker, so Hannay's honour is upheld.

    This really is a peculiar book. Unlike the first one, one is constantly pulled up short by Hannay's mindset of the world, and his ruminations with Bond is also privy to in novels like Goldfinger. Sometimes he balances it out and redeems himself but boy! It's another world alright. The finale sees Hannay willingly engage in a heroic cavalry charge, and it's like some religious experience. He says that those most fearful of war - and death - are the grey ones who have never lived and are tired of life! Possibly true in some respects, but there you go! Fearing your legs blown off as you die in the mud of the Somme? Shame on you laddy!

    I don't think I've ever read an adventure which gave me such an ominous feeling of 'You really don't know what's round the corner, do you?' :(
    "This is where we leave you Mr Bond."

    Roger Moore 1927-2017
  • Sir Hillary BraySir Hillary Bray College of ArmsPosts: 2,172MI6 Agent
    edited February 2009
    Revolutionary Road

    Richard Yates's story of a 1950s suburban couple who can't seem to escape from their own dreams and shortcomings.

    Man, what a depressing book. Frank and April Wheeler are truly tragic and pathetic figures, living in dreary suburban blandness, dreaming of better things, but lacking the courage and wherewithal to actually improve themselves.

    Tragic figures I can deal with. What struck me was the utter contempt with which the author Yates seems to hold not only his two protagonists, but every other character in the novel as well. He's a splendid writer in terms of describing emotions, but I can only imagine what drove him to hate his characters so.

    Anyway, it's well-written, but you'll want to take a brisk walk outside afterward, or hug a loved one -- anything to escape the gloom. I plan on watching Kate and Leo in the film version this weekend, after which I will try my best not to blow my brains out (kidding, of course). old devil!
  • BarbelBarbel ScotlandPosts: 33,218Chief of Staff
    Greenmantle by John Buchan. find the hero Richard Hannay did other adventures was akin to Loeffs finding out about a parallel set of Bond films in the 1970s without space age heroics, Roger Moore in a clown suit, or Roger Moore. :D

    :)) :)) :))
  • Napoleon PluralNapoleon Plural LondonPosts: 9,646MI6 Agent
    edited February 2009
    Revolutionary Road

    I plan on watching Kate and Leo in the film version this weekend, after which I will try my best not to blow my brains out (kidding, of course).

    What, you mean you'd need to have a brain first... :p :D
    "This is where we leave you Mr Bond."

    Roger Moore 1927-2017
  • Willie GarvinWillie Garvin Posts: 1,412MI6 Agent
    edited March 2009
    Brush With Passion:The Art and Life of Dave Stevens by Cathy and Arnie Fenner.This was originally intended to be a combination art book and autobiography.However,when artist Dave Stevens died late last year,the book became not only Stevens' life story but also a final tribute to him by his friends--many of whom are artists,authors,actors and filmmakers.

    Dave Stevens is perhaps best known for his creation "The Rocketeer",a character in the general mold of Republic Studios' serial heroes "Commando Cody" and "Rocketman".Stevens drew some popular comic book stories in the 1980s featuring his hero and Disney eventually made a movie about the character.The complete story of The Rocketeer- from its inception and appearances in comic books -to the making of the motion picture are all in this book.In addition,Stevens was also a successful advertising artist who worked for a major animation studio.Additionally,he became famous for his beautifully realized "Good Girl" art--ala' Petty and Vargas.That he was largely self-taught makes Stevens' highly realistic paintings and illustrations all the more impressive.

    The many remembrances that accompany Stevens' life story are clearly heartfelt and quite touching.All of the contributors agree that Dave was one of the Good Guys, and that his tragic death --at only 51 from leukemia-- robbed the world of a very fine man who also happened to be an extremely gifted artist.

    Excellent book and highly recommended.
  • LoeffelholzLoeffelholz The United States, With LovePosts: 8,932Quartermasters
    edited March 2009
    A Deadly Shade Of Gold, by John D. MacDonald

    The fifth novel in the masterful Travis McGee series---easily the most violent, and ultimately the most tragic one so far. The theft of a number of ancient gold statues sets a series of murders into motion, from Florida to rural Mexico, and finally to Los Angeles.

    Great stuff. Read John D. MacDonald. You will not be disappointed B-)
    Check out my Amazon author page! Mark Loeffelholz
    "I am not an entrant in the Shakespeare Stakes." - Ian Fleming
    "Screw 'em." - Daniel Craig, The Best James Bond EverTM
  • Barry NelsonBarry Nelson ChicagoPosts: 1,508MI6 Agent
    edited March 2009
    The Prize "The Epic Quest for Oil, Money & Power"

    Written by Daniel Yergin and winner of the 1992 Pulitzer Prize for nonfiction, the book details the history of oil, from its discovery in Pennsylvania in the 1850's through the current state of affairs with the Middle East oil empires. The book is fascinating and very readable detailing the men who searched and discovered oil, the countries where oil has ruled supreme and how oil effected history. Oil was pivotal in deciding the two world wars and has also been pivotal in starting some disputes. The book was a revelation.

    The last three books I have read, have all been non-fiction and all over 700 pages. I resolve to read something a little lighter and a little smaller next time.
  • Kilroy6644Kilroy6644 Saginaw, MIPosts: 12MI6 Agent
    Adventure! Thrilling Tales of Discovery edited by John Richard Stephens. I picked it up in the bargain book section at Barnes & Noble. Just your standard fare of mummy's tombs and bandits and cannibal tribes in the Amazon, interspersed with a few shorts stories by Kipling and Haggard. It's going quite slow. Not that it's bad, but it's just not grabbing me, so when I sit down to read, I rarely read more than a page or two.
  • Barry NelsonBarry Nelson ChicagoPosts: 1,508MI6 Agent
    edited March 2009
    Devil May Care

    The new James Bond novel written by Sebastien Faulks is a disappointment. Although the book has some bright spots, overall I was underwhelmed. A seperate thread for this book is in the literature section so I will post more expanded thoughts there.
  • John DrakeJohn Drake On assignmentPosts: 2,564MI6 Agent
    Sundays at the Skin Launderette by Kathryn Simmonds

    Excellent first poetry volume from Simmonds, whose work I've long admired online. She is capable of finding transendence in the most unlikely places. She's seriously funny too. Best of all is a poem about taking Mickey Rooney to watch greyhound racing. Highly recommended.
  • Napoleon PluralNapoleon Plural LondonPosts: 9,646MI6 Agent
    edited March 2009
    We Need to Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver.

    Ms Shriver is a woman.

    I picked this up on a 3 for 2 offer some years back but never got around to reading it; unread books become a reproach like the uncompleted tax return or unemptied rubbish bin. I was going to take it to the charity shop ("I understand eBay but what's a charity shop grandad?!") when I thought I'd give it another chance.

    It's written in the form of letters by a woman to her estranged husband following the fatal rampage of their teenage son in a Columbine-style massacre, as the mom tries to come to terms with the way their son turned out and all the tell tale signs along the way.

    It's a real pageturner, though I admit I started a third of the way in, and I finished it by the end of last night. That said, it's best earlier on in describing her bewilderment with a young son who insists on still wearing diapers at five, intercut with her present-day visits to him in the jail (unusually, he didn't off himself after his spree).

    But later I felt Shriver had her eye on the movie rights. It enters Roald Dahl territory as you wait for Kevin's misdeeds to escalate into evil territory, a bit like The Omen. You could see Meryl Streep as the mum, a bit stressed and neurotic.

    Ultimately I felt the description of his killing spree - which is the last thing in the book = seemed a bit sadistic, as if the writer was enjoying twisting the knife a bit. It also seeks to explain his behaviour, like there's some magic key to it all, but I think many of these killers are just guys who end up barking up the wrong tree, or are just barking. They don't have such a colourfully sadistic backstory as Kevin. I felt it got a bit lurid near the end.
    "This is where we leave you Mr Bond."

    Roger Moore 1927-2017
  • Kilroy6644Kilroy6644 Saginaw, MIPosts: 12MI6 Agent
    The last book I finished was Siddhartha, by Hermann Hesse. I'm currently reading Kushiel's Scion, by Jacqueline Carey.
  • walther p99walther p99 NJPosts: 3,417MI6 Agent
    just finshed rereading "Currahee:a screaming eagle at normandy" which has always been my absolute favorite book (and book series) which are first hand accounts of a paratrooper throughout world war 2.
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