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Original Essays | July 22, 2014

Nick Harkaway: IMG The Florist-Assassins

The three men lit up in my mind's eye, with footnotes. They were converging on me — and on the object I was carrying — in a way that had... Continue »
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    Nick Harkaway 9780385352413


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Brian Grouhel has commented on (15) products.

Nothing Lasts Forever (Inspiration for the Film Die Hard)
Nothing Lasts Forever (Inspiration for the Film Die Hard)

Brian Grouhel, December 9, 2013

Nothing Lasts Forever doesn't sound much like Die Hard. But, one of my failings is reading the fine print in the credits after a favourite movie and discovering what the book was and who wrote it. Nothing Lasts Forever is the second tale about John Leland, a detective in a north eastern US city. In the second book John flies into Los Angeles to visit his daughter for Christmas and the story unfolds from there. It remarkably follows the story we know from the movie but with subtle differences. It's still Christmas in LA and still in a tall building but the little differences will make another interesting story which plays out in a very similar way to the movie but also has a very different ending. Well worth reading, as is The Detective.
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Jesse Stone Novels #12: Robert B. Parker's Damned If You Do by Michael Brandman
Jesse Stone Novels #12: Robert B. Parker's Damned If You Do

Brian Grouhel, December 9, 2013

When Robert B. Parker passed away, I heard that news with no little sadness. I have become enamoured with the Sunny Randall and Jesse Stone stories and was more than a little sad to think I had reached the end of the saga. However, Michael Brandman took up the reins for Jesse and now with his third installment to the series, I am more than happy with the results. The story is pure Jesse Stone as you might expect since Mr. Brandman also collaborates in writing the movies.

The story line runs true with several plot twists and involves many familiar characters and some long forgotten. The trademark short and snappy dialogue is there too. Mr. Brandman has incorporated many "Parkerisims" which only add to the enjoyment of the stories. I don't want to give anything away for the Die Hard Parker fans except that this is a story that you will enjoy. Be sure to read it!
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Long Beach Wild: A Celebration of People and Place on Canada's Rugged Western Shore by Adrienne Mason
Long Beach Wild: A Celebration of People and Place on Canada's Rugged Western Shore

Brian Grouhel, October 23, 2013

The title pretty much says it all for Adrienne Mason's book Long Beach Wild. This is an interesting and delightful collection that portrays the history and personalities of the Ucluelet - Tofino area we all call Long Beach. From the beginnings and the First Nations up to present day Ms. Mason's story entertains and also gives many insights to the development of the area. One of my favourite stories details the last flight of an RCAF Canso Flying Boat taking off from the Tofino base in February of 1945. That airplane was never removed and today makes a rewarding hike onto Radar Hill to view the remains. There is to this day a perfectly circular frog pond left as a result of detonating the four depth charges that were on the plane when it crashed.
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White Sands, Red Menace by Ellen Klages
White Sands, Red Menace

Brian Grouhel, May 16, 2013

White Sands, Red Menace was a thoroughly enjoyable book. Had I not noticed on the inside jacket cover that this was a youth story, I would have been hard pressed to figure that out. About two young girls growing up in Alamogordo, New Mexico at the dawn of the rocket age and learning how to live with the bomb. The author has woven historical fact into an enthralling story that depicts what life in the late 1940's might have been like for the two main characters. After reading this book and enjoying it so much, I will now look for Ms. Klages' first book and give that one a read also.
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One Ranger: A Memoir (Bridwell Texas History Series) by H Joaquin Jackson
One Ranger: A Memoir (Bridwell Texas History Series)

Brian Grouhel, January 30, 2013

I'm usually leery of first person memoir stories, unless they embody some of my preset conditions. They would be a legal or law-enforcement use of firearms, the old west and a colourful story. I've usually found such memoirs from personal exploits of Border Patrol veterns and local south-western sherrifs, of which I have read and collected more than a few.

This story, One Ranger, caught my attention from the get go. The picture on the cover had me from the first. I saw a tall man beneath a white Resitol felt hat, wearing chaps with a belt gun strapped on and holding a Winchester. After looking at the back cover and scanning a few random pages from inside the book, I had to have it. I'm happy to say that my first impression was more than realized after having read the book.

Joaquin Jackson starts his tale in mid 1930's Texas growing up hard in a hard place. From an affinity for throwing baseballs accurately and having to take the family .22 with a measured handful of cartridges to help fill the pot for dinner, we follow the young man as he grows and measures up on his way into law enforcement. You might think that this would be a standard story following set out rules and in some way that is partially true. However, Joaquin manages to bring just enough of his personal information into the mix to make it extraordinarilly interesting. Nothing drags in this story. We get to follow this man from his beginning into the Rangers until shortly after his retirement in the early 90's. We see both the high's and the low's of his active career from life threatening to life devastating events. A story like this, about this time in history would not be able to be written by a similar law enforcement official today. Times are different, methods have changed, technology has altered the landscape of the way our guardians do their work. In fifty years the stuff of Joaquin Jackson's tale will seem as ancient and romantic to our children as the exploits of Charlie Barton, Bob Bell, Bill Tilghman and Bat Masterson seem to us.

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