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Tuesday, May 17, 2005
50 Book Challenge Update
12. Star Trek: Titan - Taking Wing by Michael A. Martin, Andy Mangels.
Yet another spin-off series from the ever popular Star Trek publishing line at Pocket Books. This one is about Captain Riker taking command of his own ship, the Titan. The novel is really a lot like a TV pilot where we get isolated moments with the new cast and crew, getting to know more about them. There's also a plotline that deals with the effects of the events of the last movie, Nemesis. Overall, a fast-paced, fun book that is a nice introduction to another Star Trek spin-off. It's certainly not quite on the same level as the New Frontier or DS9 relaunch novels, but it has potential to get there.

11. The Monkey's Raincoat by Robert Crais
First in the Elvis Cole series of novels. Cole is a private detective in Los Angeles and so he works with a lot of the interesting people who populate that area of the country. Everyone is quirky and different and while I like Cole being this way, I found it a bit too much that everyone is so quirky and different. And the mystery itself is not the most compelling page turner. Cole's first person narration makes up for the lack of a great plot hook though and keep me at least reading until I got to end. There are others in this series and I'm not sure how anxious I am to run out and read them.

10. Missing Persons by Stephen White.
White's last Dr. Alan Gregory novel, Blinded was not among the best of the series. It's nice to see him return to form a bit with the latest entry, Missing Persons. Gregory continues to try and expand the world of Alan Gregory with a story that has his colleague Diane at the center of the plot. The mystery itself works fairly well and I will admit I only guessed the solution to how a character could disappear without there being any tracks in the snow a few pages before the revelation of this occured happens.

9. Monster by Frank Peretti
Outside of one novel by Frank Peretti, I always come away from his books feeling as if I should like them more than I do. His latest novel, Monster is yet another novel I came away from with this feeling. Peretti sets out to disprove evolution, which is fine and dandy. But it's fine and dandy if you've got some good characters in the story, not just one-dimensional mouth pieces who serve only to forward your point of view. I accept that Peretti is a contemporay Christian author and therefore will have some strong religious themes in his story. This still does not excuse wooden characters and a narrative that wanders in circles for much of the book.

8. The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
When I was in junior high and had a class for reading, I discovered The Hound of the Baskservilles. I picked it up and was hooked on the world's first consulting detective. I was soon seeking out as many of the Holmes stories and novels as I could find and reading them all. Over the years, I've remained familiar with them through the BBC Audio dramas of them, various TV productions, etc. So, a few weeks ago, I was browsing and the Holmes canon caught my eye agan. It starts off with "To Sherlock Holmes, she is always the woman" and continues on through 12 interesting mysteries, all of which show off the great detective at his best. A good collection, though having read a lot of other more modern mysteries of late, the solutions seem a bit obvious--or it could be that my memory just recalls the solution as I re-read the stoires again. But that does not take away from the pleasure of the Holmes stories.

7. With No One As Witness by Elizabeth George.
I make no apologies--I unabashedly love the Lynley and Havers novels. When I saw this one was coming out, I wasted little time in purchasing it and adding it to my readng list. For me, Elizabeth George is the standard by which I judge all other modern mysteries. And I'll be honest--the last couple of mysteries have not been up to her usual standards. In fact, I'd have to say last year's A Place of Hiding was one of her more disappointing efforts.

But I am happy to say that With No One As Witness is a return to from. A gruesome mystery, a plethora of suspects, a lot of great red herrings and blind alleys--all of this will keep you guessing who done it until the final revlation. And when you get to it, it all makes perfect and total sense within the context of the story. It's one of those where you go--oh of course, it was....it had to be.

But the Lynley and Havers novels aren't just about a great mystery. It's about characters. Of course, this is a novel that has her on-going protagonists Thomas Lynley and Barbara Havers front and center. But one of the joys of these books as that as the series has progressed, George has introduced a strong supporting cast that I enjoy checking in on with each novel. Character development is what these books are about. And George is not afraid to toy with the status quo. There are some huge changes in characters in this book and some decisions made over the course of the 600 plus pages that will stun you. Indeed, this one could be the final Lynley and Havers novel ever written. (I won't tell too much of why here...just go and read it for yourself!) If it is the last novel with them, then she's set up a great supporting cast who could continue the stories if need be.

If it is the final installment, then it's a high note to exit. But as I keep reminding myself--Conan Doyle got rid of Sherlock Holmes and still brought him back for more adventures. I can only hope George sees the light and gives us more of Lynley and Havers.

posted by Michael Hickerson at 5/17/2005 10:43:00 AM | |
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