April 21, 2018 - April 27, 2018
Jo Nesbo’s ‘Macbeth’ is recast of Shakespeare play
“Macbeth” is a
modern-day drug-war, power-struggle, double-cross,
lawmen-versus-gangsters recast of Shakespeare’s Scottish play,
Set in an unnamed
and dreary industrial town populated by addicts and drug gangs, police
and politicians, the story matches much of the bard’s story with a
power-mad couple, Inspector Macbeth, who leads the SWAT team, and his
Lady, the owner of a high-end casino seeking to seize control of the
law-and-order establishment and thus domination of the entire town.
long-standing police chief dies and one of the town’s drug gangs is all
but eradicated in a raid, Macbeth receives a prophesy foretelling that
he will become chief of police. Once the message is received, Lady and
Macbeth connive to bring the prediction to fruition. What follows is a
series of bloodbaths, double crosses, attempted cover-ups, intimidations
and threats. Characters succumb to fear and paranoia, with political
ambition and blood lust rampant.
The relationship of
love and loyalty between Macbeth and Lady is the most engrossing aspect
of the story. Macbeth loves Lady, and she manipulates him, forcing him
to action when he expresses doubt. As the story progresses, the power
dynamic changes and he becomes more assertive, while she loses her grip
vignette, a raindrop making a long inevitable fall to earth, may be the
obvious metaphor for Nesbo’s tale: the fall of man is as inevitable as a
raindrop coming to the ground. We know that the ambitious Macbeth will
fall, but with Lady at his side and urging him forward most of the way,
we’re still eager to see how far the protagonist climbs before he comes
crashing down. (AP)
April 14, 2018 - April 20, 2018
Book shows Apollo 8 was
a big risk for 3 astronauts
“Rocket Men” (Random House), by Robert Kurson
The first astronauts to orbit the
moon ended their 1968 Christmas Eve television broadcast with a personal
message for the people of Earth.
No one knew what the three Apollo 8
astronauts would say — not their worried wives 240,000 miles away nor
the buttoned-down NASA engineers who meticulously planned every moment
of the high-stakes mission to reach the moon before the Soviets.
With the moon showing on TV
screens, Bill Anders began reading: “In the beginning, God created the
heaven and the Earth ...” Then Jim Lovell and Frank Borman followed by
reading a few lines each from the book of Genesis. The plain voices
reading the Bible’s creation story made grown men weep, Kurson writes,
and sent people outside to peer at the sky in wonder.
Sweet moments like this punctuate
this mostly engrossing book about the historic but sometimes overlooked
Apollo 8 mission. Neil Armstrong and company will always get top
billing among astronauts for landing on the moon in 1969, but first
someone had to show it was even possible to get there and back.
By 1968, the Soviets appeared
poised to launch and deal Americans yet another in a series of
space-related humiliations dating back to Sputnik. NASA was determined
to get there first, even if it meant dramatically compressing the
reporting had the cooperation from the astronauts and their wives,
giving him invaluable details of what happened inside the astronaut’s
capsule and in their homes below. Most readers already know how the
mission turned out (success!), but Kurson builds suspense around a
mind-bendingly complex and dangerous journey.
One NASA official explained that
with Apollo 8’s 5.6 million parts and 1.5 million systems, even if the
mission went 99.9 percent right, there would be 5,600 defects. Borman,
Lovell and Anders knew full well there was a very real chance the tiny
capsule could become their tomb.
Their wives knew it, too. Marilyn
Lovell, Susan Borman and Valerie Anders shared all of their husbands’
anxiety and got almost none of their glory. Their fate was to keep
brave faces for the press photographers and to wait to hear their
husbands’ voices on the squawk boxes installed in their homes. Just in
case, Susan Borman sat at her kitchen table to write her husband’s
eulogy. The three women provide the most poignant moments in the book.
Update April 7, 2018 - April 13, 2018
‘Bishop’s Pawn’ is Steve Berry’s most personal novel to date
“The Bishop’s Pawn” (Minotaur), by Steve Berry
Before Cotton Malone worked with
Stephanie Nelle and the Magellan Billet, he was a Navy lawyer who seemed
to get cases that kept him busy, but weren’t intellectually challenging.
When Nelle approaches him with a
simple assignment, Malone cannot say no. A vessel containing a rare
1933 Double Eagle has sunk near Dry Tortugas National Park, just over 70
miles from Key West, Florida. His mission is to retrieve the case with
the coin from the sunken ship and give it to Nelle. When he arrives, he
quickly learns that he’s not the only one trying to get the case.
The coin plays only a tiny part of
a much bolder plot when he learns the case is somewhat heavy and
actually contains classified files. The contents reveal what really
happened on April 4, 1968, the day of the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s
Since the story showcases Cotton
Malone’s first mission, it creates a lack of suspense regarding his
safety because readers know he will come out just fine. So Berry has to
create a compelling historical mystery with a terrific payoff to
compensate — and he nails it. To further his experimentation, Berry
writes Malone’s story in first person rather than third person using
multiple points of view. Narrowing it to just Malone’s perspective
makes the story tighter while providing a more insightful look into
Berry’s hero. It also makes it Berry’s most personal novel to date.
March 31, 2018 - April 6, 2018
‘Broken Girls’ mixes supernatural
tale with gripping mystery
Oline H. Cogdill
Simone St. James’ sixth
stand-alone novel mixes a creepy supernatural tale, complete with ghosts and
things that go bump in the night, with a gripping mystery.
“The Broken Girls” also
works well as a story about unshakeable friendship, parenting issues,
obsession and sexism folded into a satisfying plot that straddles two eras
The broken girls are
those who end up in Idlewild Hall, “the boarding school of last resort,
where parents stashed their embarrassments, their failures, and their
recalcitrant girls.” Four of the girls who are roommates at Idlewild in
1950 — Katie, CeCe, Roberta and Sonia — refuse to be broken by the school’s
strict rules and the abandonment of their families.
Located in “the
backwoods of Vermont,” the castlelike fortress is rumored to be haunted by
the ghost of Mary Hand, a young woman who once lived there.
In 2014, the now
shuttered Idlewild haunts Vermont journalist Fiona Sheridan, whose sister’s
body was found on the school’s grounds 20 years ago. Deb Sheridan’s
boyfriend was convicted and he is still in prison for her murder. But Fiona
is obsessed with the murder and believes the truth didn’t come out in
court. When a family with no local ties buys Idlewild, Fiona seizes on the
chance to do a story on the school — and further investigate her sister’s
murder. The story intensifies when the remains of another girl are found
buried on the grounds.
“The Broken Girls”
smoothly alternates between the two eras, capturing the idiosyncrasies of
each. Fear and distrust permeate the scenes of the 1950s, while Fiona’s
terrors come from within her. The roommates’ bonds and strength serve these
naive teens well, while Fiona’s support system is lacking.
St. James blankets
Idlewild with an evocative atmosphere that makes the appearance of a ghost
seem real. The school’s abandoned rooms with rotting furniture, dripping
water and a chill that permeates the building add to the deliciously creepy
feeling. Sure, these are cliches of supernatural and horror, but St. James
makes the tropes seem fresh. (AP)