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Lost Light
Lost Light
par Michael Connelly
Edition : Poche
Prix : EUR 6,37

4.0 étoiles sur 5 Harry goes solo, 2 avril 2014
Ce commentaire fait référence à cette édition : Lost Light (Poche)
This 9th Harry (Hieronymus) Bosch adventure published in 2003 deals in part with the aftermath of 9/11 and the sweeping changes in the practice of law enforcement and counterterrorism following the creation of the Department of Homeland Security. Early on, Harry is enjoying his eighth month of voluntary early retirement after 28 years service, learning to play the saxophone and listening to Art Pepper’s music. But fate drives him to look into his own unsolved murder of case of 4 years ago, of Angella Benton, a black production assistant for a film company. Harry’s mission in life is to seek justice for murder victims (the LAPD has some 8.000 open cases) and he cannot forget Angella’s final posture in death, esp. how she held her hands.
He is soon told to desist, stop investigating the case by his former partner Kiz, who is now close to the top of the LAPD, She never made a secret about what she thought of his retiring: Harry Bosch is a quitter. These mixed messages drive him to continue a search that includes meetings with many former contacts, incl. his now poker playing ex-wife in Las Vegas. Gradually and ultimately Harry uncovers a complex series of crimes that will end in a bloody finale. The final, 44th chapter holds a stunning surprise that will change Harry’s life forever.
Michael Connelly (MC) is a superior crime writer. His Harry Bosch books can be read in any particular order. MC is brilliant when describing LAPD culture and its awful internal politics. He also describes cutting-edge police procedures and gains in forensic, ballistic and computer technology, which he had to update in every new book.
“Lost Light” gave MC a time-out: Harry is no longer with the LAPD, so no more office intrigues. And re tech innovation, we read only about Harry’s progress into the digital age in 2003: he now has a mobile phone, but no fax or email. But MCs major talent throughout the series is to very slowly unfurl Harry’ complex family origins…


Jar City
Jar City
par Arnaldur Indridason
Edition : Broché
Prix : EUR 9,26

4.0 étoiles sur 5 Intelligent and entertaining, 24 mars 2014
Ce commentaire fait référence à cette édition : Jar City (Broché)
Jar City is a section of Reykjavik where housing was built on former swamp ground. In one of the district’s houses a dead man is found on the ground floor of his house. He was a retired truck driver. His home is neat and clean, but there hangs a strange smell, prompting intensive police investigation in all directions, because murder is rare in Iceland with its 320.000+ citizens.
This novel is situated in 2001. Read earlier AIs searing prequel to the Erlendur series from 2012 about the famous 1972 Spassky-Fischer chess duel for the world title, which was staged in Reykjavik. In that book, which has to date not appeared in English translation, Erlendur makes his first appearance as a young uniformed cop in the very last sentence of the book. Now I read about him for the second time. He is 50 now and has been divorced for two decades. His two grown up children are not doing well. He himself fits perfectly in the tradition of Martin Beck, Kurt Wallander and other gloomy Nordic crime fighters: he smokes too much, eats badly, sits most of his waking hours and appears to have heart trouble already.
As in the prequel, AI develops more than his illustrious examples multiple story lines. In addition to the murder case, he starts a line of inquiry on Erlendur’s addicted daughter and another in what makes Iceland unique: a genetically almost homogeneous population whose genealogies and (hereditary)disease patterns have been perfectly researched, documented and securely stored. Are they really?
Lots of cliffhangers pushed this reader on and on. Thrilling finish.


The Postman Always Rings Twice
The Postman Always Rings Twice
par James M. Cain
Edition : Relié
Prix : EUR 10,59

4.0 étoiles sur 5 Raw, fast, furious, 22 mars 2014
Ce commentaire fait référence à cette édition : The Postman Always Rings Twice (Relié)
Two famous Hollywood films were made with this title, in 1946 with Ava Gardner as Cora and another in 1981 with Jack Nicholson as Frank, neither of which this reader ever saw. After this literary debut in 1934 at the age of 42, James M. Cain produced some 20 less successful books whilst working on numerous Hollywood screenplays. This book, once banned in Boston for its mix of sex and violence, is today considered an American noir classic and his best. The meaning of the book’s title remains a mystery and adds to its aura of brilliance.
The novel is about penniless drifter Frank (24) meeting cook and waitress Cora (20?) in a roadside diner/gas station owned by her despised Greek husband Nick. They fall for each other instantly and soon decide to kill Nick. Much of author Cain’s brilliance is to write, from start to finish, purely from the perspective of his impulsive, somewhat dim-witted but passionate character Frank, and to gradually expose his past and character, strengths and weaknesses in his own words to us, readers to mull over and judge…
This Cain technique gave readers the chance to judge Frank’s choices for themselves by what at every twist and turn of the tale. Cain always refused to be categorized: hard-boiled crime stories were about catching criminals. His book explored the mind of one (or two) of them. In the 1930s, this was a novelty.
Full of deliberate grammar errors and quasi-clumsy writing, this book is authentic because of the powerful prose and wild passion and poorly defined hopes it exudes. It is written in a raw, fast and furious manner James M. Cain never managed to replicate. Great stylistic writing experiment. Captivating reading.
But what is the drink Frank called "coke and ammonia"?


Hardboiled & Hard Luck
Hardboiled & Hard Luck
par Banana Yoshimoto
Edition : Broché

4.0 étoiles sur 5 Autumn in Japan, 19 mars 2014
Ce commentaire fait référence à cette édition : Hardboiled & Hard Luck (Broché)
Two stories or short novella about coping with personal loss, bereavement told by 2 young women in the I-form. Both narrators are very sensitive and good at remembering their dreams, one even realizing she must be dreaming, while doing so. Finally, both narrators have occasional bouts of a strong cosmic and natural awareness symbolizing a brightened mood by e.g. bright stars in a pitch dark sky, swirling multicolored autumn leaves, the beauty of fruits and vegetables. Periods of gloom take the form of sounds muffled by prolonged periods of fog, sleeplessness, crying.
“Hardboiled” is the more straightforward of the two, albeit full of omens, dreams and ghosts from the past, sketching a woman’s hike in the mountains and her eventful overnight stay in a small town hotel. Late in the tale she realizes she has forgotten the anniversary of the death of her friend/lover Shizuru. Full of cross references and symbolism and an example of how much closer Japanese feel to living in a fleeting world with multiple gods and ancestral spirits, where time can slow down, stop or surge ahead. Like Murakami’s “After Midnight”, this story covers less than 24 hours.
Whilst Shizuru’s death came suddenly and its long-term impact on her friend is hard to grasp for readers, “Hard Luck” is a study of the predicted and real death and bereavement of female narrator’s sister Kuni, for months on life support after a brain hemorrhage. The reader is taken on an emotional tour of the narrator’s memories of her sister, the response from Kuni’s fiancé and his older brother Sakai, her former work colleagues, her parents… It ends on a slightly higher note than “Hardboiled”. Needs to be read more than once to fully appreciate it.


Look at the Birdie: Short Fiction
Look at the Birdie: Short Fiction
par Kurt Vonnegut
Edition : Broché
Prix : EUR 12,01

3.0 étoiles sur 5 A must for lifelong fans only, 12 mars 2014
Ce commentaire fait référence à cette édition : Look at the Birdie: Short Fiction (Broché)
This posthumous collection of 14 unpublished early-1950s stories by Kurt Vonnegut (KV; 1922-2007) was endorsed by his estate. Why they remained in a drawer so long is not explained. Did he question their intrinsic value? Were they submitted and rejected by publications that often bought his stories? Did he cannibalize them for use in later literary outputs? Only scholars can tell and this collection will no doubt spawn more research on America’s most humanistic author.
Are the stories as good as the reviews say? In my humble opinion, no. Each one is unmistakably written by KV and a product from the mind of one of the most imaginative writers ever: KV simply never struggled to find a voice of his own. They reflect the post WW-II new wealth In the US (and its losers), KVs fear of bureaucracy, central control and constant oversight, and his use of SF-type stories to highlight them. And much else. This book foreshadows many of KVs future themes and novels.
The trouble with these stories concerns writing technique: all stories start promising, then somewhere, usually not very far from the finishing line, things go wrong, technically. A stern editor would have marked where things went wrong. But at the time of writing, KV struggled to make a living to support his family. If a story was bought, the buyer did the final editing. If not, tough luck. The Introduction describes KV as a persistent rewriter. Did he really despair and give up about the stories presented is this volume, think they were beyond repair and rescue? Live and learn from said scholars of literature.
This reader enjoyed this collection, seeing the enormous early potential of KV confirmed. But rewarding it with 5 or even 4 stars is over the top. None of the 14 stories is great, so what more can be said than saying that they are quite OK?


Club Of Angels
Club Of Angels
Prix : EUR 7,83

4.0 étoiles sur 5 A warning tale for foodies, 8 mars 2014
Ce commentaire fait référence à cette édition : Club Of Angels (Format Kindle)
Compact novella about a group of 10 once promising Brazilian men and their dining club. For more than 20 years they have met in their homes once per month to indulge in food and drink. After the death of founder Ramos, who memorably declared a dozen years earlier that the club had at that moment reached its zenith, not every member is keen to continue… A stranger named Lucídio offers to prepare the opening dinner of season 22 in the apartment of narrator Daniël. Wonderful appetizers, a phenomenal main course (club member Abel’s favorite) and a tongue melting desert. There is just one potion left of the main dish. Anyone for seconds? Of course Abel is the first to raise his hand…
By next morning Abel is dead.
And this repeats itself every month in Daniël’s strangely decorated apartment. Whoever consumes the left-over portion of his favorite dish, dies soon after.
Daniël’s account provides detailed accounts of the club members and their intricate histories, likes and dislikes. His best portrayal is of himself, accident-prone, fat, 3 times married, cannot keep his mouth shut, wearing woolen socks and sandals and creator of a fictional pair of lesbian Siamese twins. Remarkable man, Daniël. Plenty of quotations (?) from Shakespeare’s tragedy “King Lear” and biblical lore because in Catholic Brazil the club is committing the deadly sin of gluttony.
Full of ideas and surprises and recommended reading for foodies, students of Shakespeare and canonic law and fans attending the football World Cup in Brazil, esp. if your team plays in Porto Alegre.


Goodbye, Mickey Mouse
Goodbye, Mickey Mouse
par Len Deighton
Edition : Broché
Prix : EUR 9,25

4.0 étoiles sur 5 They 're overfed, overpaid, over-sexed and over here, 17 février 2014
Ce commentaire fait référence à cette édition : Goodbye, Mickey Mouse (Broché)
Len Deighton, Goodbye Mickey Mouse
Title, “They ‘re overfed, overpaid, over-sexed and over here”
This was said in the UK about US Army bombing and fighting units stationed there prior to the allied invasion of Normandy on 22 June 1944. Len Deighton (LD) depicts Great Britain as a nation stolid in its self defense, prepared to suffer years of missile attacks, rationing, blackouts, and many casualties of its own RAF airmen, to secure victory over Germany.
This is a companion volume to “Bomber”, a very scary exposé of the aerial campaign to paralyze Germany’s industrial capacity and communications. This book focuses on the fighter pilots protecting the hundreds of bombers, flying zigzag patterns above and below them, looking for and attacking German fighting planes. LD created a very clever structure for the mass of written and oral data he collected in the UK and US over a six-year period: he headed each chapter with the name of a character to move the story onward. These characters become the lifeblood of the story, allowing LD to insert lots and lots of observations about real-life warfare.
Mickey Mouse in the nickname of Mickey Morse, the top US fighter pilot at a base near Cambridge. But the real focus is Capt. Jamie Farebrother, a new arrival at the start of the book, who makes a deep impact with his first test flight. It is moved on by characters of all ranks between corporal and one-star general and a few digressions to crucial British inputs. It contains hair-raising air battles, two dramatic love affairs, lots of rule breaking- and enforcement on and off base.
LD has always been more Transatlantic than John Le Carré. This is his most passionate effort to capture more US readers. In his acknowledgements he states that taking part in a 1975 trip by US veteran flyers prompted him to dive into their fighting past. It is also a perfect book for ‘enhanced reading’, using Google and YouTube on your nearby Pad or laptop, to see pictures of the planes and hear the music of the parties…


The Closers (A Harry Bosch Novel) (English Edition)
The Closers (A Harry Bosch Novel) (English Edition)
Prix : EUR 4,99

5.0 étoiles sur 5 Harry Bosch tackles old murder cases, 8 février 2014
Ce commentaire fait référence à cette édition : The Closers (A Harry Bosch Novel) (English Edition) (Format Kindle)
Michael Connelly’s books are police procedurals and should be required reading at police academies. They are about how cops should think and work with the means they have. But they also show how or why a nasty canteen culture, external temptations, plain stupidity and indifference, or poor reasoning, tunnel vision and personal ambition too often yield poor to mediocre results. Which in turn leads to innumerable unsolved murder cases.
Hieronymus (Harry) Bosch (HB) had retired three years before after 25 years service and began a career as a private eye (“The Narrows”) when he is suddenly asked back by his former employer, the Los Angeles PD. A lot has changed there following a number of painful scandals. A new Chief of Police, imported from New York, has been appointed. A new elite unit has been established with the sole task, and with the aid of the latest DNA-, ballistic- and computer techniques, to solve old murder cases before the deadline for persecution expires. The new Chief refuses to refer to them as ‘cold cases’. HB shares his opinion and begins to believe he is entering a more wholesome working environment than the one he left 3 years ago, esp. when he is rejoined with his old partner Kizmin Riders (KR).
But the appointment of the pensioned and soloist HB with his unconventional working style and methods to such a nice position inevitably also causes disappointment on the LAPD work floor... HB’s first morning back at the office teaches him once more, just like 30 years before as a “tunnel rat” during the Vietnam war, that he is not a little cog or wheel within an organization, but that he has to fight his own wars. The first file HB and KR are given on the morning of the first day of Harry’s miraculous return to the LAPD concerns the murder of a 16-year old girl in 1988.
Enough said, this should be sufficient information for aficionados of crime novels to want to read this excellent book. Michael Connelly is quite simply the best in this genre.


Dar Al-Kuti and the Last Years of the Trans-Sahara Slave Trade
Dar Al-Kuti and the Last Years of the Trans-Sahara Slave Trade
par Dennis D. Cordell
Edition : Relié

5.0 étoiles sur 5 For specialists, diplomats and humanitarians, 8 février 2014
Ce commentaire fait référence à cette édition : Dar Al-Kuti and the Last Years of the Trans-Sahara Slave Trade (Relié)
A recent book review in The Economist held that publicity-wise, the term “Heart of Darkness” should go to the Central African Republic (CAR) instead of the Congo. Yes. This reader knows of few serious studies about CAR in English other than this great book. The CAR attracted, briefly, worldwide attention in 1977 when its then president Bokassa (r. 1966-79) crowned himself emperor. Today, the CAR is news because of an ongoing, cruel and bloody conflict between its Muslims and Christians. Is this the full explanation? The full extent of the carnage may never be known. What explains the current mayhem and religious hatred?

(1) Memories of a long tradition of slavery across much of the African Sahel, particularly in Sudan and Chad, have poisoned relations between Muslims and non-Muslims, and internal north-south relations to the present day: Chad has miraculously remained one nation. But Sudan split in July 2011 into two disaster-prone, separate entities. In the CAR Muslims and non-Muslims appear to have co-existed peacefully from colonial times onwards and continued doing so since independence. For generations resident Muslim Sudanese merchants and traders bought and sold products in the CAR and worked in other capacities, often as citizens.
(2) What upset this peaceful co-existence is due, again, to dynamics and events north in Sudan and Chad. Heavily armed, highly mobile, foreign, mostly Arab forces called “Seleka” recently invaded the CAR, grabbed control of its capital and installed a puppet head of state and cabinet. After months of chaos and lawlessness with impunity, CAR’s first Muslim president was forced by a conference of regional leaders gathered in Ndjaména, to step down. The CAR is currently the scene of revenge killings of Muslims. The victimization sadly appears to be indiscriminate, with long-established uninvolved Muslims often suffering the fate intended for the “Seleka” invaders who, retreating will not shun violence either.

Dennis Cordell has written an exemplary history of the forces that controlled the territory called CAR before France colonized it in the late 19th century. He focused on the northern Sultanate of Dar al-Kuti and analyzed how it financed itself by trading in slaves, ivory and other goods obtained from further South, with political entities further North in today’s Chad and Sudan. The book also covers matters of security, diplomacy and taxation. His tightly argued book has 162 pp. of text in small print and another 119 pp. in annexes and footnotes underpinning what he unearthed through interviews in CAR, with archival records in the CAR, Chad, France and the UK. This is a brilliant history of a small 19th century Sultanate which has deeply impacted on Muslim-Christian relations in one of the least known countries in Africa. It is indispensible for anyone interested in understanding and explaining this sad nation's.plight.
Professor Cordell has shed light on this blighted country’s dark past but did not live to see the worst of the ongoing mayhem. He passed away on 16 October 2013.


Funeral in Berlin
Funeral in Berlin
par Len Deighton
Edition : Broché
Prix : EUR 10,55

4.0 étoiles sur 5 Quirky, prescient and deep spy story, 30 janvier 2014
Ce commentaire fait référence à cette édition : Funeral in Berlin (Broché)
This is Len Deighton's second of four spy novels with a nameless hero from Burnley, Lancashire, who in the film versions is called Harry Palmer (HP). It was published 50 years ago, has 51 brief chapters and was last reprinted in 2011. It takes place between 5 October and 10 November 1963. [JFK was killed 12 days later.] The Berlin Wall had been built a little over two years before. There are Berlin-related newspaper headlines on the first and last pages of the book. The Six Day War was some 3 ' years off, but some early stirrings appear in this book...
Tense times in Europe and busy days for its guilds of spies. HP's travails take him to France, East & West Berlin and Czechoslovakia. He meets with people with an often active WW II past: old and new spies and double agents, a Treblinka survivor, a former German general, etc., some of whom will return in other HP adventures. The tone is set from page 1 with HP, working for the civilian spy agency WOOC(P), visiting the eccentric Home Office official Hallam in his cramped living quarters.

Some reviewers on Amazon argue whether the HP novels are Deighton's best or not. My view is that the later spy books are more even, slower, with more plausible plots and less fun. His early preoccupation with WW II, science and technology gave way to epic searches for traitors and moles (cf. the three Bernard Samson trilogies plus its historical intermezzo "Winter"). The charm of his early books is that they are fast-paced, iconoclastic, with plausible and wildly improbable parts and uneven re quality of dialogue.

Re this book, one cannot deny that some of the characters and atmosphere are brilliantly drawn. It was prophetic in letting a character long for a color TV with remote control, or HP's weird boss Dawlish pondering about how normalizing the legal status of gays would ease his job. [Such reforms followed from 1967 onward, too late for hapless, blackmailed Hallam]. It is, at times, very funny too: brands LD hates like Nescafé and Omo are trashed time and again. My best evidence for fun is for readers to list the song titles KGB Col. Stok mentions and the ones played in the Dispatch Section on Charlotte Street. Next, go to Google, then YouTube and enjoy! When finished laughing, google "The Len Deighton Dossier", a blog, for more background about the man and his books...


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