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The Light of Day
The Light of Day
par Graham Swift
Edition : Broché

1 internaute sur 1 a trouvé ce commentaire utile :
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Crossing boundaries, crossing lines, 3 décembre 2012
Ce commentaire fait référence à cette édition : The Light of Day (Broché)
Slow-moving but gradually disturbing novel written in the I-form about a day in the life of George Webb, private detective, whose life is falling apart. It is about the follies of an average man after a tough 24-years as a policeman, mostly as a plain-clothed detective. He always hated teachers, but married one who then appeared to judge him constantly. His daughter Helen was long an enemy. When George slips up and is dismissed from the Force, his wife Rachel moves out, divorces him. Helen then moves closer to her dad and his cooking hobby. George becomes a private eye specialized in "matrimonial work", providing proof for clients, mostly women, of their partners' affairs. Early on, it is suggested that George has slept with his PA. Later, George admits he also slept with some of his clients.
One morning, strong sun light is shining through his front room window on the knees of a new lady client, Sarah. George is instantly smitten with her and arranges a second meeting to view photos of his quarries. They are her husband Robert, a gynecologist and Kristina, a Croatian refugee they adopted, gave sanctuary in their home earlier. They have an affair. Kristina has to go. George is contracted by Sarah to follow the couple from Katrina's rented flat to Heathrow and observe and report exactly what happens from start to finish, because there are several possible outcomes... A simple job George could have left to his PA Rita. Or rather, should have...
George is not the sharpest tool in the box, but is sensitive enough to see parallels to events he witnessed earlier in life but remained silent about... Swift is an outstanding plotter and a master at playing with the meanings of different words, even making the weather work for him. Highly sensitive and rueful novel.


Djibouti
Djibouti
par Elmore Leonard
Edition : Broché
Prix : EUR 10,55

3.0 étoiles sur 5 A hard act to follow, 30 novembre 2012
Ce commentaire fait référence à cette édition : Djibouti (Broché)
Have read at least half of his books. Found this novel lacking the flow and ease of EL's usual writing and I struggled more than ever with the slang in the dialogues. The opening chapters are OK. The objective is to shoot a documentary about Somali pirates. One learns about the prime movers, white Dara (36) and black Xavier (72), her fixer and cameraman, both from New Orleans, Louisina. Dara is famous: three docs, three major prizes. This one has to become a hit too.
Chapter 5 marks a turning point, when >3 weeks later they are back in a luxury hotel in Djibouti and view and argue about the 12 hours of material they shot. Some 60-80 confusing, tedious, jarring pages follow, full of flashbacks and flash forwards about how to turn what they have into a doc. and what to do next. This part truly discourages further reading. But persistent readers are treated to a mongrel of a book full of strengths and weaknesses about (1) an al-Qaida plot to explode a huge LNG-tanker in a Louisiana port, or in Djibouti itself; (2) a well-connected Texas billionaire testing his model girlfriend, and following the tanker in their yacht; (3) Afro-American al-Qaida warrior James Russell, a.k.a. Jama Raisuli, cornered in Somalia and Djibouti. Etc., etc., because EL is a master of subplots.

What kept me alert and reading was what was brewing between Dara and slim, old, 6/6 tall Xavier, who stakes his fee + expenses on the outcome of a bet with Dara about his virility... The novel improves beyond the halfway point, but loses credibility with EL naming Somalis 'Kwame' (a purely Ghanaian first name) or when the Djibouti Chief of Police starts to talk slang like Xavier. For diehard fans only.


Limitations
Limitations
par Scott Turow
Edition : Broché
Prix : EUR 5,58

1 internaute sur 1 a trouvé ce commentaire utile :
4.0 étoiles sur 5 Morally-challenging tale about a judge, 25 novembre 2012
Ce commentaire fait référence à cette édition : Limitations (Broché)
This novel finds George Mason(GM), a well-respected Appellate Judge in a US state court in a situation prompting soul-searching and perhaps a personal crisis. A shortlist of his worries, in no particular order:
(1) A week ago he lost his mobile. He uses the cell phone of his wife of 30+ years, who is undergoing chemical therapy against thyroid cancer;
(2) He has been receiving death threats via email. The FBI has no idea about the sender; he accepts protection in his workplace, refuses his home guarded 24/24;
(3) He and two other judges will decide shortly about a ruling by a lower criminal court in a complex rape case;
(4) He is under pressure to declare his intention to serve another 10 years as Appellate Judge within two weeks.

The age of 60 is held as the time when long-forgotten memories emerge spontaneously from dark recesses of the mind. GM is 59 when he suddenly sees the loss of his own virginity >40 years ago in a perspective acutely relevant to the rape verdict he is judging. His deep shock is described on p.57. And he soon worries about what became of the girl who released him from his virginity. The rest is for readers to enjoy!

Rich, short study of the dilemmas of a high-minded, steely, rigorously logical, but also imperfect, fallible, occasionally sentimental or paranoid servant of the law. Few authors beat Scott Turow on plotting, background, characters and quality of dialogue, or the ethical perils of practicing law. Once again, beautifully written and well plotted, with convincing characters, albeit seen through the eyes of GM. And one plot line is thriller-like as well. I liked it.


Deadline Man
Deadline Man
par Jon Talton
Edition : Relié
Prix : EUR 18,97

4.0 étoiles sur 5 Fast-paced, alarming conspiracy thriller, 25 novembre 2012
Ce commentaire fait référence à cette édition : Deadline Man (Relié)
I found this book in the library, read Michael Connelly's endorsement on the cover and took it home. Why not? Having read it, I second Connelly's praise: "This is a great read!" Why? It has flow, urgency and no flab with 200, not 500+ pages. Best of all, it has true focus and real passion.

Jon Talton's nameless hero never misses a deadline as a respected and hated, popular business columnist of a serious Seattle daily newspaper with a long tradition of critical investigation. But the paper is about to fold. His life focuses on the 3 deadlines he faces 48/52 weeks a year, and keeping three or four lady friends happy and apart. A high-octane life indeed, but he was a virgin until 21, born poor, spending his formative, murky years in the army. He thinks compensation for lost time is his due.

The hero laments the dearth of critical, investigative news gathering and the general decline of journalism and newspapers in the US. And opines why this happened. As a backdrop to the murders and the decline of critical media, Talton slowly unfurls a mega-conspiracy involving companies benefitting from US wars abroad and Homeland Security legislation and implementation... This reader has read Naomi Klein's `The Shock Doctrine', a very scary and well-researched book indeed about how successive US administrations were successfully lobbied by a variety of corporate and other interest groups, and found the conspiracy sketched in this thriller not far-fetched or silly.

Action wise, JT's `Deadline Man' is on par with the best crime writers' bestsellers. At least 10 people die violently. The first landed on the pavement right in front of the hero, a hedge fund manager he interviewed minutes earlier, pushed from the 20th floor. Later the hero himself uses his old army skills and sends three professional killers to heaven, acting in self defense.

This review underscores the charms and dress code of the hero. In a possible sequel Jon Talton should give him a name and make him use condoms in his pursuit of compensation. Otherwise, a credible, highly-readable page turner with great context and background.


A Hero's Daughter
A Hero's Daughter
par Andreï Makine
Edition : Relié
Prix : EUR 22,43

4.0 étoiles sur 5 Dream debut, 22 novembre 2012
Ce commentaire fait référence à cette édition : A Hero's Daughter (Relié)
Great 1990 debut novel by Andreï Makine (AM), translated and published into English only in 2004. He grew up in the former Soviet Union (SU) with a French grandmother and became bi-lingual. He sought political asylum in France in 1987. Since 1990, he has published a series of highly acclaimed novels about the (post-) communist Soviet Union.
AM is a born storyteller in this and later books, covering many violent and deceitful personal dramas in the history of his birth land. The SU prevailed against the German invasion of 1941 despite great losses: a huge, multiethnic nation, enthralled by and living in mortal fear of its leader Stalin and his security organs, suffered 20m war dead and millions of widowed, orphaned, disabled and traumatized survivors.
The novel's hero is much-decorated Corporal Ivan, who enlisted in 1941, lying about his age (17). AM describes Ivan's near death and rescue by his future wife. The homecoming of returning soldiers is a recurring theme in AM's future novels. The great drought of 1946 is evoked when no relief was sent to stricken regions. Ivan's baby son dies. The distraught parents move to Borissov, a small town 100 km from Moscow, where Ivan becomes a driver, his handicapped savior/wife (three fingers missing, a piece of shrapnel constantly threatening her heart) a worker in a furniture factory. They have a daughter, Olya.
Ivan's wife's sudden death during a scuffle of pushy shoppers is a turning point in his life: he starts to drink heavily and to dissemble, come apart. Especially when he finds out what his beloved Olya does for a living... AM's exposure of the dreams of communism as cruel lies in this highly-recommended debut is a prelude to other, even more powerful and much better plotted tales. Highly recommended as an introduction to a great living writer.


Tomorrow
Tomorrow
par Graham Swift
Edition : Broché

3.0 étoiles sur 5 Why tell?, 18 novembre 2012
Ce commentaire fait référence à cette édition : Tomorrow (Broché)
Poorly reviewed novel that is basically a monologue lasting 5-6 hours full of flashbacks and -forewards of a wife's nightly fears for the morning to come, while her husband snores quietly beside her and her children, twins aged 16 do the same in their rooms. After making love with Mike, her partner of 30 years, Paula tells it all: they are a blissfully happy pair, 50 and 49 years old. But tomorrow, Kate and Nick will be told the truth. They passed their final exams and should be able to cope with bad news. Mike will tell everything.

With Mike and the twins asleep, Paula in her mind, wordlessly tells her twins the whole story, her own and their family history, knowing Mike does not know all the details and therefore cannot possibly tell the whole story. What he tells them tomorrow will have an impact, and soon after on Mike's mother too, the only functional grandparent. And Mike himself may become a casualty of his disclosure.

The main weakness of this slow-moving novel is Swift's burying the key question underlying Paula's long drawn-out history. From her account readers will surmise Mike is not going to announce a divorce, a crime, a deadly disease or a new faith. It is simply that he is not their biological father...

The key question for this reader is, why? Why bother, upset your 16-year old children with such news unnecessarily? I may have missed a justification somewhere (but doubt it because the true nature of the confession came, of course, late in the book), so I must conclude that this is a smug (on the part of Paula), but well-written book around a contrived, foolish theme.


The Litigators
The Litigators
par John Grisham
Edition : Relié
Prix : EUR 24,08

3 internautes sur 3 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 David vs. Goliath, 2 novembre 2012
Ce commentaire fait référence à cette édition : The Litigators (Relié)
Highly entertaining thriller about the bizarre world of the practice of law in the US. This book is situated in Chicago, home to 20.000 lawyers. In the US, many lawyers specialize in small, but potentially lucrative niche fields. Grisham, whose pleasure in writing this book shines from every page, offers a tentative ranking of this caste measured by income and status. The high flyers, literally because they own jet aircraft, are lawyers who sue big corporations for harmful and deadly products. The lowest type of lawyers sue fellows for malpractice.
Grisham describes a fight between the absolute top of US legal practitioners and a rock bottom caste of barely surviving lawyers. David (31) has worked 100 hours per week for five years for a major firm employing 600 lawyers for USD 300.000 a year. He writes thick contracts in its international finance division in a windowless office on the 93rd floor. He hates his job and his colleagues. One morning he snaps, takes the elevator back to ground level and spends the day celebrating in a bar. Later that day he presents himself, inebriated, to the partners of Finley & Figg, who hire him on probation.
Partners Oscar (62) and Wally (46) have personal and professional problems. Their firm belongs to the category of `ambulance chasers'. It has to drum up business every day for low fees. Both partners daydream about a big kill, a case that will solve their problems. When David joins them, Wally is busy suing the third largest US pharmaceutical company about an anti-cholesterol drug that has allegedly killed people, and Wally is unstoppable... Can David's career switch have a happy end?
Bitter-sweet tale full of plot changes and a nice cast of characters. Reviewers in the US judged it Grisham's best in ten years. Recommended as a great work of entertainment.


Open City
Open City
par Teju Cole
Edition : Broché
Prix : EUR 17,45

4.0 étoiles sur 5 Confusing Debut, 31 octobre 2012
Ce commentaire fait référence à cette édition : Open City (Broché)
This debut has been showered with praise and prizes. I find it hard to judge it away from NYC, Brussels and Nigeria, its main venues. It is written in the I-form and its narrator makes lengthy walkabouts in Manhattan, pondering about his patients (he is a Nigerian MD, about to become a psychiatrist), commenting on little-known aspects of buildings he visits or passes by, bird migrations, etc., etc.
His history is complicated and he is brilliant when describing dead matter: buildings, paintings by known and unknown masters, works of little-known experimental composers and -philosophers, the life and works of Gustav Mahler. He visits Brussels looking for his beloved German grandma, but quickly gives up his search and starts walking again, criticizing the town's many statues of false heroes. His dislike of his German mother is not explored; he does not want to see her again. He is a grown man holding on to shreds of early memories, with a powerful one about his grandmother squeezing his shoulder while his parents climbed some shrine or mountain in Nigeria, overruling any feeling he has for his white mother.
In Brussels he lends his ear to a pair of Moroccans who feel persecuted for their mindsets before they even expressed them in public. The account of his talks with his dying, former English professor Saito shows a warm side of him. He has one or two other such friends, and meets other "brothers" blacks, whose friendly overtures he does not reciprocate. And a small band of "brothers" assails and robs him.
Rich book in terms of symbols such as light vs. darkness and the many meanings of white vs. black. And about the uses and limits of psychiatry. Rich also in its sudden associations and flashbacks, and his description of the NY bedbug epidemic as a metaphor for worse to come. But what? Real epidemics the world is ill-prepared for? The narrator shows worrying memory-lapses, e.g. forgetting his ATM four-digit code and a rape he committed long ago and whose victim, as well as the act, he has erased from his memory.
The author never reaches out to his readers to convince them of his vision and worldview. His book is a rolled-up porcupine, protecting a few private truths, but unwilling or unable to chart a future perspective... Confused, I did something I never do: I read Amazon reviews by other readers after penning this review. And no two reviews are alike. Readers seized on different aspects of Cole's book as if filling a dinner plate at a stand-up banquet with many dishes.
Wonder if he has a second novel in him.


Steal You Away
Steal You Away
par Niccolo Ammaniti
Edition : Broché
Prix : EUR 10,65

3.0 étoiles sur 5 Not his best, but rewarding towards the end, 26 octobre 2012
Ce commentaire fait référence à cette édition : Steal You Away (Broché)
Early (1999) third novel by Niccolò Ammaniti (NA), who won great praise for his second, `I'm not Afraid', which was made into an awards-winning movie. This reader has read (only) five of NA's books and finds this creation his least. Why? NA's second novel about a 9-year old showed him to be a great writer about the mindset of growing-up children. He may not have wanted to write another such book that would be criticized as a repetition, sequel, or whatever. So, in this book Pietro (12), unhappy at home and bullied at school, is one of a few believable characters of a farce. His best friend is privileged Gloria, too cute for words. NA joins him precariously with a co-star, Graziano Biglia (44), a carefree playboy, musician, globetrotter, erotic champion, who when forced to choose, always makes the wrong decision. Pietro and Graziano meet briefly, late in the novel... Why? Because they hail from the same coastal village NW of Rome.
The first half of this novel is full of bad jokes, superlatives, clichés, prejudices, crude language and ugly violence. And references to Italian sing-along's, TV programs and -stars and English-language music and movies. Throughout the novel, the texts written in italics are a bonus to readers: they contain the thoughts of the main characters when under great pressure, in mortal fear.
Only after 250 pp a dramatic structure becomes evident. By then many readers may have given up, whilst others have ploughed on until the end. Persistent readers are rewarded by a satisfactory and dramatic ending. In an interview on internet, the author expressed his joy and satisfaction about writing this book. But he doubted that it could be put on screen...
Overlong, poorly-planned, and full of bad taste. But altogether, a brilliant portrayal of a quiet child somehow forced to commit crimes. With 100-150 pp less, it would have been a better book.


I'm Not Scared
I'm Not Scared
par Niccolo Ammaniti
Edition : Broché
Prix : EUR 10,76

5.0 étoiles sur 5 Dramatic masterpiece, 22 octobre 2012
Ce commentaire fait référence à cette édition : I'm Not Scared (Broché)
Strong, emotionally harrowing drama situated in 1978 in rural Italy, told through the eyes of Michele (aged 9). He lives in a poor hamlet composed of four small houses and a country manor. He is one of six children always playing together. Their leader is dictatorial, a prosecutor and judge rolled into one, who meets out punishment with impunity. The youngest member of the posse is five, the oldest 11, two are girls. During a hot summer they discover an isolated, ruined house. Michele is ordered by the 11-year old dictator to examine the collapsed house from front to back. Michele is challenged physically and mentally... What he sees in a hole in the ground behind the ruin at a spot overgrown with bush and brambles, is something he cannot judge. He says nothing to the posse but sneaks away on his bike the next day to have another look. And then again, and again...
On almost every page, hero and raconteur Michele struggles against his many childhood fears, nightmares and tears, with conflicting loyalties and worries about the welfare of his adored mother, and finds solace and inspiration only in cartoon heroes. Niccolò Ammaniti is a superb storyteller and is at his best when he writes from the perspective of children: in `Steal you Away' (1999; tr. 2007), it is 12-year old Pietro, in his recent novella `Me and You' (2012), the severely self-centered and neurotic 14-year old Lorenzo surpasses himself.
Ammaniti masters several genres. His tragicomedies are well laid out and -written with plenty of atmosphere and good dialogues. But his serious dramas such as `Me and You' and this novel are my favorites. Brilliantly planned and written, leaving the reader space to enrich and interpret what is put on paper. This novel is also a real thriller with a dramatic ending. Highly recommended.


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