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Original Essays | June 20, 2014

Lisa Howorth: IMG So Many Books, So Many Writers



I'm not a bookseller, but I'm married to one, and Square Books is a family. And we all know about families and how hard it is to disassociate... Continue »

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Customer Comments

Edward Hahn has commented on (110) products.

Airframe by Michael Crichton
Airframe

Edward Hahn, July 18, 2014

When Michael Crichton is good he is very, very good but this effort is just plain horrible. The only reason I finished it is due to my obsession about not wanting to miss anything. I found myself reading the first sentence of paragraphs and skipping the rest to move more quickly to the end. I don't think I missed anything doing it that way.

The characters are stereotyped beyond belief: the hard working but put upon single mother, the brusque and impatient boss, the techy nerds, the debonair test pilot, the slimy industrial spy, the good-hearted mentor, the young, overly ambitious news producer, and on and on.

The plot involves an incident on a Norton Aircraft passenger liner that is complicated by a pending sale of the same model to China, a union action to stall manufacturing offsets going to China as a condition of the sale, internal company politics, and a pending "Newsline" story about unsafe Norton aircraft. There may have been others. Chrichton had to do something to fill 400+ pages.

I had pretty much figured out how it was going to end about 150 pages in. Except for some details, I made a pretty accurate guess. There were a few surprises but overall it was a predictable story with a predictable ending. I wonder if the aircraft industry subsidized Chrichton's efforts.

On the positive side, I did learn some things about the aircraft industry, how accidents are investigated, and more than I wanted to know about the acronyms used in the industry.

If you are a died in the wool Crichton fan or are stuck on a long flight with nothing else to read, I can recommend this book to you. Other than that there are just too many good Michael Crichton books as well as books about the aircraft industry. You would be better served reading those.
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The Race by Richard North Patterson
The Race

Edward Hahn, May 26, 2014

I was pleasantly surprised at how good and compelling this book was. Without thinking, I grabbed it off the shelf on my way to the Doctor's office and got hooked almost immediately.

The story describes a fictional Republican primary campaign set in 2008. Patterson must have had a crystal ball as he predicted many of the issues that would be-devil the last two presidential campaigns and the upcoming 2016 fight. The main character, Corey Grace, is a Senator and war hero. His opponents in the primary season are a fundamentalist preacher, Bob Christy, and a fellow senator and insider, Rob Marotta, who will do anything to gain the nomination. It only focuses on Republicans, and the difficulties a moderate has trying to earn the Republican nomination.

The problems Grace faces underscore many of the issues Republicans have in being forced to kowtow to both the religious right and tax hating big donors. A major part of the book describes a fictional primary in South Carolina where every dirty trick seen in the recent past is used to try and destroy both Grace and Christy. It was hard to not recall the kinds of tactics often ascribed to Karl Rove and evident in the 2000 Republican primary in the same state. Adding to the difficulty is Grace's decision to continue a romantic relationship with a black actress, Lexie Hart. Though, fictional, the story rang true because it described tactics that have actually been used in recent political campaigns.

There were a couple sub-plots that, while adding to the action, were unnecessary to the major narrative including an Al Quaeda assassination attempt. That notwithstanding, I had a hard time putting the book down even though I had some pressing chores to accomplish. I was especially entranced by the last part of the book that takes place during the nominating convention. The ending is a little contrived but does tie loose ends together and provide a satisfying conclusion.

What can I say except that even if you have no interest in the current political process you will enjoy this book. If you have an interest, you will devour it.
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The Fifth Witness: A Lincoln Lawyer Novel
The Fifth Witness: A Lincoln Lawyer Novel

Edward Hahn, May 26, 2014

While I thoroughly enjoyed this book, it wasn't quite up to the usual Michael Connelly "Can't put it down" category. This is the 4th in the Mickey Haller/Lincoln Lawyer series and Mickey seems to be maturing as the series progresses. It is part of Connelly's skill as a writer in both this and the Harry Bosch series that his characters change and grow as their experiences teach them lessons.

In this story Haller, who has taken up foreclosure law, is roped into defending ex-school teacher Lisa Trammel, accused of killing the bank executive she believes responsible for foreclosing her home. While Haller finds her to be a bit of a bi-polar pain in the butt, he also can see how she might have been framed. Haller's usual feisty approach to things does not endear him to either his opponent, a sharp and experienced prosecutor, or the Superior Court judge trying the case. The plot unfolds on pretty much a day by day basis as the trial unfolds. Connelly keeps it interesting by introducing twists from time to time.

Writing a story in the first person introduces challenges but also gives Connelly a chance to show his skill with dialogue. It also puts the reader into the protagonist's mind as we only know what he knows. There are sub-plots but they also come to us through Haller's eyes.

The last part of the book surprised me totally twice. It was a fun book to read and I can unabashedly recommend it.
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Back of Beyond by C. J. Box
Back of Beyond

Edward Hahn, May 20, 2014

This book introduces a new character to the C.J.Box lexicon, Deputy Sheriff Cody Hoyt, an alcoholic from a less than desirable background and a disgraced ex-Denver detective.

The story starts fast, kind of drags in the middle and ends on a high note. It opens when Cody’s good friend and AA mentor, Hank Winters, is found burned to death in his cabin. Everything points to an accidental death or suicide but Hoyt doesn't buy it. He enlists his reluctant partner, detective Larry Olson, to prove it was murder. In the process he angers his boss, is suspended for shooting the Coroner while in an alcoholic haze and decides to pursue his hunch, especially when he discovers the murderer might be on the same wilderness trip in Yellowstone National Park as his son Justin.

The plot unfolds from there using the literary convention of jumping between the wilderness trip and Hoyt's travails trying to catch up with his son in alternate chapters. Box also takes this opportunity to introduce a couple sub-plots involving others on the trip.

In the last quarter of the book, the action picks up to a furious pace eventually coming to a satisfactory conclusion that ties up all the loose ends and there are more than a few of them.

I enjoyed the book immensely and can highly recommend it. I've only read a couple of Box's Joe Pickett novels but this book while featuring a very different sort of character is at least as satisfying as the other Box authored books I've read.
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Scoundrel
Scoundrel

Edward Hahn, May 18, 2014

An oldie but a goodie: one of Cornwell's stand-alone thriller, sea stories in which character is as important as action.

The protagonist, Paul Shanahan, hatches a plan to fund his retirement as a CIA undercover IRA activist by stealing $5 million in gold supposedly intended for the purchase of 53 Stingers and funded by Ghaddafi's Libyan apparatchiks. Of course not is all as it seems on either side of the transaction. The action happens against the background of the first Iraq War.

He's bearded when he goes home to his Cape Cod house after seven years in Europe only to find that his hated brother-in-law has leased it for five years to a Manhattan based painter who calls the police when he lets himself in while she's in residence. This blows his carefully constructed alias and he has to deal with his CIA handlers before he's ready. Paul tells them about everything except a sailboat, the "Rebel Lady", and her hull full of gold. As the plot unfolds, surprise surprise, it turns out the hull contains more than just the five million and the secret may set off a nuclear disaster if the boat, is not found in time.

The suspenseful race to the finish, is reminiscent of Cornwell's other books and brings the story to a satisfying close.
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