So, first: the books.
...manners are of more importance than morals, and , in its opinion, the highest respectability is of much less value than the possession of a good chef. And, after all, it is a very poor consolation to be told that the man who has given one a bad dinner, or poor wine, is irreproachable in his private life. Even the cardinal virtues cannot atone for half-cold entrees.
Kevin picked me up a copy of Oscar Wilde's "The Picture of Dorian Gray" while he was shopping at the big "Lifeline" used book sale. First, just let me say : I liked the book. I enjoyed the story, the concept, and Wilde's witticisms.
I liked the book but found it to be tedious at times. The action doesn't really start until about page 100: and that is page 100 of a 250 page book. And, while I appreciated a number of Wilde's observations, after page 150, when the action slows down again, there are places where paragraph after paragraph we are reading lists. "An example?" you ask as you have obviously not read "Dorian Gray". Well, everybody knows that Dorian Gray remains ever youthful in appearance and so, what is an immortal to do (if that immortal has lots of money) but study and/or collect things; and, from the top of page 156 to the bottom of page 158 you can read a description of some of those jewels. I must admit on more than one occasion I committed the sin of skimming.
Kevin cued me in on the fine are of flinging which has been sadly lacking in my own life though I hope to take a page from Wilde and reintroduce it with gusto.
Lord Henry flung himself down on the divan
Lord Henry flung himself down into a large wicker arm-chair
the painter flung himself down on a sofa
Then he lit a cigarette, and flung himself down on the sofa
she flung herself at his feet
Then he rose from the table, lit a cigarette, and flung himself down on a luxuriously-cushioned couch
he flung himself into the rickety chair
"The Forgotten" by Faye Kellerman and "4th of July" by James Patterson and Maxine Paetro
The master bedroom had its own deck and its own cerulean view. The bed was a king and dressed with white lace pillows piled high over a while down-filled comforter. Very serene except for the black powder all over the walls and bed frame, not to mention the dead body smashed up against the wall. It spoiled the Zen effect.- from "The Forgotten"
OK. Kevin knows, and you should too, I really like a gruesome crime novel. I'm not a psychopath, really. I cut my teeth on horror as a kid and then matured into crime/mystery/thriller. But now, I feel like I've been ruined by James Lee Burke. Now, I want some lyrical prose, some three dimensional characters, and a really, really, really bad-ass villain. I can let the first two of these cravings drop a bit, however, when I'm listening to a book on tape. (Or, CD for those who demand the literal truth.) Then, page turning (so to speak) suspense and action will come a long way in satisfying me.
A long way, but not ALL THE WAY.
Both "The Forgotten" and "4th of July" were easy enough to listen to. In both cases I was happy to sit in the car an extra few minutes to hear a bit more of the story. In both books the crimes were sufficiently disturbing, but in both books I was woefully disappointed by the bad guys.
SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER
Really, I expect so much more from James "Kiss the Girls" Patterson. All I can think is that Patterson has always wanted to write for "Murder She Wrote". Lindsay leaves San Fransisco for a break (why is not really important) and not only does she find that in this little seaside village where she's recuperating there has been a series of murders, but that these murders resemble one of her first unsolved cases "John Doe #24". Then, in perfect "Scooby Doo" fashion we're introduced to a slimy ex-porn star and a helpful, handsome, flirtatious mechanic. Which is the bad guy?? Do I have to tell you? Wasn't the "Scooby Doo" hint enough?
In "The Forgotten" we get a horrendous vandalism of a synagogue followed by some gory murders. There's lots of talk of Nazi atrocities, concentration camps, hate groups...but in the end the murders are linked with helping rich kids cheat on college entrance exams!!!!!!!!!! Ooooo. Scary.
And, one more thing... WHAT or WHO is "The Forgotten"???????????????
Maybe it is time to request the next Burke novel...
and rethink horror.