Thursday, October 1, 2015

Reading List - September 2015

September seemed to fly past. Now it's Fall. Cool crisp days and chilly nights. Well, not in Houston, where I live. Hopefully it's different where you live.  Here's what I read in September.

Ty Hauck is a former cop who now works for a private investigative firm that he founded. After a particularly rough case, he's on a long vacation in the Caribbean. He gets a call from an old friend. The friend's daughter (Haycks goddaughter) is in some kind of trouble in Colorado. Ty decides he's had enough sun and fun and heads out to help her. The girl, Dani Whalen, had found the body of a friend in a local river. The friend had been running the rapids and apparently had an accident. But Dani knows that he's an expert on the river and didn't believe his death was an accident. By the time Ty arrives, she'd learned some stuff which she brought to her step-father, the local police chief. He had his own reasons not to investigate too closely. Ty and Dani eventually unravel the plot involving a giant oil operation and a fracking operation.  A little far fetched but I liked the writing.

"Prador Moon" is an early entry in Asher's Polity series. The Polity is a star-spanning human government run by a group of Artificial Intelligences. Except for space pirates and criminal underworlds, it's a pretty peaceful society. Then the Polity runs into the Prador, an alien crab-like race with no interest in human beings beyond what they taste like. Asher writes good hard science fiction that I like.

I had just read the audio book of one of the later Indridason novels about Inspector Erlendur last month. I went looking for earlier books in the series and found this. It's actually the newest Erlendur novel, but is a prequel of sorts. It deals with Erlendur's earliest days as a policeman when he was still a beat cop. He gets involved in the death of a homeless man that he'd known. Erlendur starts wondering about the man and his life and starts. The more he learns the more he comes to believe that the man was murdered. Pretty good and even more interesting as it takes place in Iceland where things are different than around here.

I wouldn't have thought that quantum mechanics would make for a good basis of a novel but here it does. Eric Argus is burned out as a quantum physicist. A brilliant mathematician, the implications of the math of the quantum universe drove him to drink. Due to the intervention of an old friend he gets a job for a research startup. He has 6 months to find some fruitful branch of research. After weeks of indecision, he decides to recreate the famous double-slit experiment that showed the duality of light, it's both a particle and a wave. As he tries more sensitive photon detectors, he makes the unexpected discovery that if an animal makes the detection he would get a different result than if a human being made the detection. At this point, Kosmatka is, in my opinion as a chemical engineer, taking a lot of liberties with the theory. The story leads to a discovery of multiple universes and an age-old struggle between those who would try to collapse the universes and those who would not. A little confusing at the end.

Adam Price is a pretty ordinary guy, although on the high side of ordinary. He's a property lawyer with a beautiful wife, two wonderful sons and a big house in the suburbs. One night, a stranger approaches him in a bar and tells him a secret about his wife, something that Adam didn't know. The secret was devastating. It causes Adam to question his whole life. Meanwhile, this stranger is approaching other people with similarly devastating secrets. Adam's wife disappears and Adam attempts to find her and to also find the guy who has ruined his life. His and the other stories come together in a bloody confrontation. A pretty good who-dun-it and well written.

This is the second Ted Williams biography that I've read. The other was "Hitter: The Life and Turmoils of Ted Williams" written by Ed Linn in 1993. This second book was written in 2004 and therefore includes the last 8-9 years of Williams' life. If you're a baseball fan then of course you know the salient points of William's life. The last man to hit over .400 for a season. A brilliant career interrupted by two stints of war service (WWII and Korea). A multiple All-Star and Hall of Famer. If you're not a baseball fan the only thing you may know about Williams is that his head is frozen in a vault in Arizona. This book takes you through all the baseball stuff plus his fishing and hunting, his troubles with various wives, his troubles with the Boston sportswriters. It also details his decline after a stroke in 1994. I last remember seeing Williams at the 1999 All-Star game where he looked so bad. The last years of his life were pretty sad as he came more under control of his son John Henry.

This is the second novel in the Ty Hauck series when he was still a detective with the Greenwich CT police force. I couldn't find the first but I have it now and will report on it in October's book list. "The Dark Tide" isn't written as well as "One Mile Under" but was still a good story. As with the latter book, the story begins with a seeming accident, the hit-and-run of a young man in Greenwich. It looks like an open and shut case. Murder for sure but the police have no leads on the suspect. On the same day as this death there was a terrorist attack in NYC on a commuter train. Months later, the widow of someone killed in the attack comes to Ty with her suspicions about her husband's death that somehow seem to tie into the unsolved hit-and-run.

Just look at that cover. This should be the kind of book I like. It's the second book in a series. I read the 1st book a few years ago and didn't remember any misgivings about it, so when I saw this I snapped it up. Unfortunately it's a mess. It has a good, if not original, plot involving a coalition of several alien species with humans against an implacable alien foe that desires to wipe out all life in the universe. But the writing will keep me from picking up the next book in the series. I nearly abandoned this 600-page book several times but kept with it for some reason. Here's an example of the bad writing. Nearly every time Anderson returns to a character, he feels it's necessary to tell us something about that character. Something he's already told us several times. The book might have been only 300 pages without all that revisiting.

1 comment:

Hackenbush said...

I read the Montville book on Williams. I thought the recent one by Ben Bradlee Jr. was much better. Reviewers on Amazon have them about even so I guess it's just personal taste. A fascinating man either way. Having read about the equally talented yet flawed Joe Dimaggio I found the observation about the differences in their later years interesting. It was said that Ted mellowed toward people while Joe grew more sour.