Saturday, March 29, 2008


I've read several books lately, all of which are part of a series in one way or another and none of which warrants a full review. Instead, I'm posting the first installment of a "shorties" post -- quick synopses and opinions about a few books at once -- that I'll continue in the future in between longer posts.

The Sonnet Lover -- Carol Goodman
Continuing in the style for which she is known, Goodman has cranked out another whodunit based loosely on actual literary and historical fact. In this novel set in the Tuscan countryside, professor Rose Asher finds herself investigating the suicide (or is it murder?) of a former student while searching for long-lost sonnets written to Shakespeare from a beautiful Italian poet. The novel contains all of the usual charms of Goodman's work, but the mystery is her weakest yet and the Shakespeare speculations are a little tired.
Final Verdict: **1/2

And Be A Villain -- Rex Stout
This quick read is the 13th in Stout's series about his corpulent and brilliant detective, Nero Wolfe. In this mystery, Wolfe and his sidekick, Archie Goodwin, pick up a case that has baffled Inspector Cramer and his police force for over a week: a poisoning that took place during a live radio broadcast of a popular talk show. The stunning host, Madeline Fraser, and her talk show guests and sponsors make matters difficult by promising each other to lie to the police, and Wolfe, about their knowledge of the crime. Blackmail, scandal, and intrigue abound in And Be A Villain, but Wolfe's classic caustic conversation is curiously absent, leaving longtime fans of Stout's armchair hero disappointed.
Final Verdict: **1/2

Book of the Dead -- Patricia Cornwell
Readers who have been following Kay Scarpetta since her first appearance in Post Mortem will probably enjoy learning more about her character arc in Cornwell's newest installment in the series. Newcomers to these tales about an enigmatic forensic pathologist with a penchant for failed romances would do better to return to the earlier titles and avoid this one altogether. Following the plot is almost impossible without all of the relationship subtext, and the mystery is flimsy and secondary to the character drama. Cornwell chose an apt title for this one: the writing was deadly.
Final Verdict: *1/2

Nature Girl -- Carl Hiaasen
Though perhaps best known most recently for his children's book Hoot that became a popular film, Florida native Hiaasen has published 10 novels for adults that defy categorization: part pulp thriller, part political and social satire, his books are a good beach read with an edge. Nature Girl chronicles the revenge scheme of Honey Santana, a slightly off-kilter single mom with a fanatic appreciation of Florida's natural habitat and her son, Fry, against a sex-starved telemarketer named Boyd Shreave. Throw the former mistress of a murderer, two stolen kayaks, a crab mallet, a Seminole who sees ghosts, a stoned sorority girl, and a skateboarding accident into the mix, and somehow Hiaasen stirs them together to create a bizarre, often predictable, but largely entertaining read.
Final Verdict: ***

No comments:

Post a Comment