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Jeffrey Bluhm has commented on (41) products.

Skippy Dies by Paul Murray
Skippy Dies

Jeffrey Bluhm, May 23, 2015

Despite the sad inevitability the title suggests, and delivers on even in the Prologue, this is a entertaining, if at times darkly so, novel. Numerous plot lines, both major and minor, intertwine seamlessly; the most amusing, because of the accuracy with which the author captures teenage boy relationships, dialogue, and humor, is that of Skippy and his friends. The excitement and confusion of a first crush is evident as well in Skippy's pursuit of Lori, and the melancholy of (teacher) Howard's middle-age crisis hits close to home for those of us at a more...mature stage in our lives. The characters are fully developed and, though I (thankfully) can't claim a boarding school background, the nature of such an experience, for both students and adults alike, seemed an accurate portrayal. Thoroughly enjoyable!
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The Murder Room: The Heirs of Sherlock Holmes Gather to Solve the World's Most Perplexing Cold Cases by Michael Capuzzo
The Murder Room: The Heirs of Sherlock Holmes Gather to Solve the World's Most Perplexing Cold Cases

Jeffrey Bluhm, May 16, 2015

An engaging history of the Vidocq Society, an association of top professionals from the various disciplines involved in murder investigation, whose purpose is to examine cases that have gone unsolved for at least two years. It's very interesting to learn how forensic pathologists, forensic artists, and especially psychological profilers work, and how their disparate styles can complement each other. While the Society's 90% success rate is admirable, the author seems to hold little, if anything, back in describing crime scenes and what victims suffered, with numerous cases that plumb the depths of human misery and death. The writing style is at times over-the-top potboiler in nature, which can either amuse or annoy, depending on one's mood. Fascinating book, but be forewarned you'll endure many tales about the worst things one human being can do to another.
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Paris: The Novel by Edward Rutherfurd
Paris: The Novel

Jeffrey Bluhm, April 27, 2015

This sweeping, Michener-esque epic is an outstanding tale focused on Paris and Parisian culture. It is a work of historical fiction, following various members of six families back and forth from the 1200s through WW II. The family trees in the front of the book are invaluable, as this is an extensive and detailed tome, but despite there being a series of small dramas, rather than a single climax toward which the story builds, the characters are engaging and the stories never feel slow or contrived. The chapters that follow a ironworker constructing the Statue of Liberty, to which we later return when he is helping build the Eiffel Tower, were particular favorites. The struggles and triumphs of multiple generations combine to create a comprehensive picture of how historical and cultural events transpired to influence the growth and evolution of one of the great cities in the world. I read this as a prelude to a visit to Paris later this year, and for 800 pages it engaged my attention and introduced the city in a way that no non-fiction history or travel book could.
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The Dinner by Herman Koch
The Dinner

Jeffrey Bluhm, April 2, 2015

This book is a relatively quick read, and actually delivers on the promise (on the back cover) of an escalating conflict and dramatic climax. The author does an outstanding job of pacing the slow reveal of the underlying natures of his protagonists, and the reader's growing familiarity with their personalities and motivations greatly enriches the evolution of the story. No one is going to hold any of these folks up as models of laudable behavior, but then that's what makes them interesting, isn't it?
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The Martian by Andy Weir
The Martian

Jeffrey Bluhm, March 29, 2015

Most authors will say (and I concur) that there is no such thing as a perfect book. OK, then let's call this one merely flawless. There are moments where the mathematical calculations our hero is making are eye-crossingly complex, but those are balanced with scatalogical sophomoric humor and everything in between. Throughout, the author keeps the reader riveted by one man's struggle to survive alone on Mars, alternating with the efforts of the Earth-bound scientists and his fellow astronauts to aid him. There's few books I recommend without reservation; if you're a fan of science fiction (with this more akin to near-future fiction), you should enjoy this book immensely.
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