Lawrence Block is a prolific writer who has several crime novels under his belt and is a master of the genre, but he seems to have lost something with this story. “Getting Off” is about a woman serial killer, a rarity in real life but overly represented in the media, named Kitty who meets men and then kills them while having sex with them or just after. Kitty has been doing this for some time and discovers that there is no end game to her killing spree because there are a few that have gotten away from her. She decides to rectify that and begins hunting for the men. Block always tells a good tale and there are chapters which are well done, but the book as a whole does not culminate in a satisfying tale. There is a lot of sex, humor, and creative situations: my favorite is how do you kill someone who is already in prison. However, the problem that I find with the book as whole is that there is no suspense or foil for the main character. There are no police hot on her trail or a victim intelligent enough to see that they are in her cross hairs. This leaves only sex and humor to make the character more interesting. The sex scenes are interesting and wouldn’t be labelled pornographic and the humor is somewhat dark for the most part. Still, in this day and age of forensic detective novels and television shows one would think that the authorities would be aware of a female serial killer who has sex, kills, and robs her victims. Then again, that might be something we tell ourselves because the thought of a successful serial killer is too frightening and that the authorities are not that good at finding them. Either way, I can recommend this book for fans of the author and the hard boiled crime novel but not the casual reader.
Who is it for? Hard boiled crime novel fans.
Is it any good? It has a few chapters that work really well, but overall the story doesn’t work for me.
Would I recommend it? I would say skim through the first two chapters and see if it is of your liking.
Today, I am sadden by the passing of Elmore Leonard who kept writing until a few days ago. I have read several of his books, but hadn’t written a review for any of them. What I appreciated about his books were the characters. Tough guys who were always thinking of the next score that would end badly mostly because, well, not that bright to begin with. Without Elmore Leonard, there wouldn’t be a Quentin Tarantino or anti-hero characters that ruminate throughout the popular culture. The part of life that drives one to despair is that every author you enjoy reading seems to die before you.
Rest in Peace Elmore Leonard, you will be missed by this reader of fiction.
The Magician King by Lev Grossman
Who would find it appealing? People who enjoy reading Fantasy, Urban Fantasy, hipsters, Dungeons and Dragons players, Renaissance Fair fans, Magic the Gathering players, Narnia readers who are adults, and if you liked the first book in the series “The Magicians.”
Why is this book better than going to Ren Fairs, Magic Card game nights, and Harry Potter Movie Marathons? You are more likely to read this book than convince your date to do any of the above with you.
What’s it about? “The Magician King” is the sequel to “The Magicians,” in which the main character Quentin’s magic training experience at Brakebills, best described as a University of Magic, and the discovery that the fictional land Fillory, which is similar to C.S. Lewis’s magical land of Narnia, is a real place. Quentin is now a King of Fillory ruling along with two classmates’ Janet and Elliot and his childhood friend the more mysterious Julia, who became a self-taught magician. Bored with the royal court life, Quentin and Julia decide to go on a quest to the far reaches of the kingdom and beyond with thoughts of glory, romance, and discovery only to end up back in the one place he didn’t want to be: Earth. The book focuses mostly on Quentin getting back to Fillory, but also tells how Julia learned magic and the terrible price she paid in doing so. Along the way, we meet new characters as well as the ones from the previous novel. Grossman does a great job of building his worlds and characters that one feels for their trials and tribulations as well as the climatic ending that is skillfully done.
Anything that wouldn’t surprise you about this book? That these are books that will be banned by fundamentalist for encouraging witch craft and belief in magic.
Anything else? It is a matter of time before these books are made into a Movie or television miniseries so it is better to read it now so you can tell everyone how great and better the book is.
Who would find it appealing? Those who like reading historical non fiction, politics, philosophy, religion, social issues, science, and those who enjoy reading a damn good story.
Why is it better to read this book than sleeping, watching televison, or talking to other humans? The author writes really well and the story engages the active mind. Also, sleep is overrated, television is boring, and other humans aren’t as interesting.
What’s it about? Sixteen years after the French philosopher Rene Descartes had died in 1650 and buried was laid to rest in Stockholm, Sweden, the French ambassador took it upon himself to have the body dug up and shipped back to Paris for reburial marking the beginning of a 350 year journey. The bones would be passed through the centuries amongst kings, philosophers, poets, and painters while Decartes philosophy would provide inspiration for the rise of democracy, the birth of science, and the beginning of the debate between faith and reason that continues to this day.
Possible Future Jeopardy Question? French philosopher who said “cognito ergo sum.”
Anything else? You will be surprised when you learn much more about the present world than the past after reading this story.