Saturday, December 31, 2011

December Book Report

Well, I haven't been blogging, but I have been reading, my standard book or so per week. Here are my usual snapshot reviews.
  • Worth Dying For by Lee Child - Jack Reacher is Child's franchise character, ex-military, massive, super-smart, with cat-quick reflexes, and an encyclopedic knowledge of anatomy that instantly informs his hand-to-hand combat moves. Moves he needs quite often, at least in the nondescript Nebraska town he finds himself in in this novel. While hitching his way east, Reacher gets entangled in a nefarious family and their stranglehold on the small farming community. He has to kick a fair amount of Cornhusker ass in order to untangle things, which he does with unbelievable alacrity. Still you know he's putting it to really bad guys so you don't mind too much. The problem with the book is that all Reacher's foes are so easily overcome by him it's hard to feel much menace in what should be menacing situations.
  • Red Inferno: 1945 by Robert Conroy - This is an interesting alternate history novel based on the premise that Russians did not stop in Berlin as WWII concluded in Europe, but instead pressed on to attempt the capture of all Germany, thus reneging on the Yalta pacts. What ensues, in this version, is a massive land war once more consuming western Europe, this time with the US, Britain and France (and some of the vanquished Germans) fighting Russia. The book unfurls its events with good pacing through several POV, interesting characters on both sides of the battle lines.
  • Blood Street Punx by Joseph Flynn - Not at all what you might expect of a book whose title suggests it's a novel of Chicago gangstas seen at street level. In fact, the Punx are a group of well-heeled boys from the near North Side who are talented artists. However, most of their parents want them to pursue family careers in law, real estate, etc, so they decide to make a big splash on the art scene--painting giant murals as the gang of the book's title. They seem oblivious to the fact that they are "tagging" territory owned by some of the city's most vicious gangs, and pissing of the mayor and police, as well. They wanted attention, just not the kind of attention they were getting. Interesting premise, well-drawn characters (mostly), a quick read with a satisfying ending. Surprisingly good.
  • Skylar by Gregory McDonald - Teen-age beauty queen Mary Lou Simes has been brutally nurdered, her body found a quarter-mile from The Holler, an illegal dive in the forested area of rural Greendowns County. Sheriff "Pepp" Culpepper and his deputies have a built-in suspect in the person of Skylar Whitfield, the boy who always escorted Mary Lou in her pageants. Skylar is a smart but happy-go-lucky recent high school grad, with no college acceptances but lots of offers from the local females. Meanwhile, his cousin from Boston is spending the summer to recover from mono, and the two don't seem to be getting along. Sheriff Pepp and his wife aren't getting along either, and when another body turns up, the heat is turned up both on Skylar and the Sheriff who is pursuing him. Good story up to the end, but I'm just not sure I can believe the final solution to the murders.