Professor Andersen’s Night is an unsettling yet highly entertaining novel of apathy, rebellion and morality. In flinty prose, Solstad presents an uncomfortable question: would we, like his cerebral protagonist, do nothing?
While Professor Andersen is drinking his cognac and letting the “Christmas spirit fill my mind”, he peeks out his window and sees a woman being strangled. He hides behind the curtains and eventually picks up the telephone to call the police but he changes his mind. He thinks: what’s done is done, the woman is probably dead anyway:
“I can’t tell them about this. The only outcome would be the murderer’s arrest.” And the murderer might well be caught, but not on account of him, Professor Andersen, intervening and notifying them that the man had committed a murder. The idea was distasteful to him.
According to the blurb of Professor Andersen’s Night, Professor Andersen runs into the murderer at a sushi bar several days later. Sadly, I didn’t make it that far into the story. Red flags went up immediately when I found myself setting this book aside after reading the first two pages. This is a book about a man and his conscience. He doesn’t phone the police but continues to rationalize his actions. The following day he attends a dinner party and plans to share the night’s events with his friend. He keeps going back and forth in his decision to say to his host/friend that he witnessed a murder and didn’t report it to the police. This is where my interest started to wan. I stopped reading at page 18 because I got bored with reading stuff like this:
Back of Beyond (2011), written by C.J. Box is a standalone novel set in Montana, 400 pages told in third person narrative. Sorry to say but I was disappointed. This novel had a terrific start with an interesting lead before it fell apart and lost my interest. Cody Hoyt is a troubled cop. He lost his badge in Denver and moved back to Helena, Montana to be near his family. He now works for the Lewis and Clark County Sheriff’s Department.
I’m a sucker for flawed characters and he’s been saddled with some heavy baggage/serious issues: alcoholic (check), rogue cop (check) from a white trash family (his words). He’s divorced with one son, Justin, who is the only good thing in his life he managed to produce even though his ex-wife gets the credit for raising him. Cody admits to hardly ever spending any time with him and the gifts he sends often come from the evidence room. His son noted the tags on some of the items. Nice.
The momentum and writing in the first part of the story was excellent. Cody wrestling with his need for alcohol after being on the wagon for two months grabbed my attention immediately. Then when his partner, Larry, meets up with him at the cabin where a body’s been reported, it got even more interesting when we learn that the victim happened to be someone Cody knows, who helped him stay sober and he has plans to go after the bastard full guns blazing. But then you have some in house fighting between the coroner and the sheriff, both elected officials and it’s in their best interest that the case is classified as an “accident” but of course it’s up to the coroner. Cody sees this as a homicide and manages to convince Larry of the same but Larry is reluctant to see it that way without more digging. Continue reading
Title: Misery Bay
Series? Yes and ongoing (#8)
Year Published: 2011
Length: 245 pages*
Format: print and digital
Premise: On a frozen January night, a young man loops one end of a long rope over the branch of a tree. The other end he ties around his neck. A snowmobiler will find him thirty-six hours later, his lifeless eyes staring out at the endless cold water of Lake Superior. It happens in a lonely corner of the Upper Peninsula, in a place they call Misery Bay.
Alex McKnight does not know this young man, and he won’t even hear about the suicide until another cold night, two months later and 250 miles away, when the door to the Glasgow Inn opens and the last person Alex would ever expect to see comes walking in to ask for his help.
What seems like a simple quest to find a few answers will turn into a nightmare of sudden violence and bloody revenge, and a race against time to catch a ruthless killer. McKnight knows all about evil, of course, having faced down a madman who killed his partner and left a bullet next to his heart. Mobsters, drug dealers, hit men—he’s seen them all, and they’ve taken away almost everything he’s ever loved. But none of them could have ever prepared him for the darkness he’s about to face. from Amazon.com
Thoughts: I must have jinxed myself or something because I am struggling with this novel. I was so looking forward to this book but so far the storyline that follows the suicide of a college student seems to be going nowhere fast. Alex McKnight is a semi-retired private investigator and an ex-cop from Detroit now living in Paradise, Michigan. He’s hired by the boy’s father and Chief Maven to investigate and unearth a motive as to why the boy killed himself. Continue reading
A Drop of the Hard Stuff (2011) by Lawrence Block is the 17th book in the Matthew Scudder series, due out May 12th of this year. This is a brief review because quite frankly, I couldn’t finish the book even though it started off so promising. I will only discuss what I’d read thus far. My brief history with this author: I’ve read several of his books but not a whole lot in this particular series. I find his hit man series featuring John Keller, a passionate stamp collector and a professional hit man, much more entertaining. As for Matthew Scudder, I’ve only read When The Sacred Ginmill Closes which was a nice standalone (flashback book) and almost the entire story took place in a bar. If memory serves it was a fast read.
I asked for and received this advanced copy A Drop of the Hard Stuff by Lawrence Block via NetGalley. It’s a service that provides digital reader copies ahead of publication in exchange for a review. I really, really, wanted to like this book but after 50 pages in, I think I should have been hooked into the story at this point but nope. I had a difficult time keeping myself interested. It moves at a snails pace and it’s bogged down with a lot of what I call “tedious” details. The story just wasn’t going anywhere fast. The start or more appropriately, the prologue of the novel started off with a philosophical discussion between two men about the good old days of Brooklyn. I enjoyed the start of the novel, thinking to myself that this was going to be a good read.
Alas, no. Continue reading
Adrian Hyland’s debut novel, Moonlight Downs , also known as Diamond Dove, started off well enough. What attracted me to the story was the setting, it’s in Australia, and the heroine Emily Tempest, who is half-Aboriginal. The book should have been retitled:Moonlight Downs: A Emily Tempest Homecoming & Investigation.
The story starts off with Emily returning to her “mob” Moonlight (it’s a camp) after several years of traveling the world. She’s in her early twenties and had started several degrees but never finished them. Her father, Motor Jack, is a miner. He’s nomadic as is his daughter. Emily decides to return home to catch up with her childhood friend but something bad happens. The camp’s elder or leader is murdered. He’d had a public argument with Blakie Japanangka. He’s the local sorcerer in the camp that everybody gives a wide berth to. It’s been whispered that he’s good at speeding up the healing process or bringing about death really quickly. He’s also someone who has a nasty temper when foolish people violate sacred ground. He metes out punishment for it, too.
While the finger points at Blakie, there might be someone else – maybe a landowner, who wanted the leader dead. Land claims and all of that is serious business in the Outback. But anyway, after the murder, the camp dissipates and Emily is forced to temporarily move to Bluebush, a city she despises. While I thought it neat that we get to see and be apart of a different culture and see their daily life, I thought the story kind of slipped in focus, instead, going more into Emily’s homecoming with her childhood friends. While I didn’t mind her catching up with everybody, it did start to get tiresome and boring.
The story is riveting from the start and remained riveting when time was actually spent investigating the crime against the elderly leader. But I only have so much time to spend on books that want to wander around the plot or the main thrust of the story and rely heavily on the protagonist to carry the story. While I do enjoy learning new cultures, new languages – this book has two glossaries – it got bogged down with extraneous stuff or what most people would refer to as ambiance. So with that said, I am setting it aside and labeling it with “to be continued.” I feel like skipping ahead to his second book to see if it’s much tighter. I will come back to this story but I’m moving onto something else for now. I need a breather.
Note: One of the drawbacks of ereading is trying to access the glossary. How do you do that without disrupting the flow of the story? And trust me, you will have a need to look at or use the glossary with this book. The language is not all that intuitive but I didn’t refer to the glossary at all while reading and did fine. Although I do admit some stuff did go over my head but I was good with it. Am now tackling Jo Nesbo’s Snowman. Have a good weekend.