Friday, May 29, 2009

"Lethal Legacy" by Linda Fairstein

You can usually rely upon Linda Fairstein for an entertaining, if forgettable, mystery thriller. This time around, sex crimes prosecutor Alexandra Cooper, homicide detective Mike Chapman and sex crimes detective Mercer Wallace are drawn into a mystery involving the scrupulous folk who collect rare books. And rare maps. It seems somebody is willing to kill to get hold of the 12 parts of some ancient map.

The funny thing about Fairstein's books is that although two of the main characters work in sex crimes, the novels are never about that. The word count is usually padded out with some of Alex's cases, but they have nothing to do with the central plot. The central plot is generally an excuse for Fairstein to show off her knowledge of New York history. This is particularly evident in "Lethal Legacy" as just about every other page has one of the main or ancillary characters sounding off about some historical factoid. It gets to the point where you feel like saying: "just get on with it, already!" Of course, you don't actually say that, because talking to yourself would make you look strange....

The other thing that irks me about Fairstein's books is the relationship between Cooper and Chapman. Some of the things he says to her are downright vulgar and sexist and border on sexual harrassment, yet she never seems terribly bothered by it. She never has a go at him, yet he is constantly on her back with a ridiculously harsh putdown. I'm stunned that an author who so obviously is a champion of women's rights could create a main character that would put up with this behaviour. And I'm sure even the most loutish slob would cringe at some of the things Mike Chapman says. To be fair, it seems toned down in "Lethal Legacy", so maybe someone finally pointed out to Fairstein just how out-of-touch she was when it came to creating a male-female friendship.

Give Linda Fairstein a go if you like your crime on the lighter side. It's not quite as tame as Mary Higgins Clark, but generally shies away from the gore you find in most crime fiction.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Crater Face

I really, really wanted to vote in the Daylight Savings referendum in WA today. I wanted to proudly say NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO. As it happens, my "no" vote has even more relevance considering my current appearance is more like what you'd expect to find in the dark corners of the night.

I have Chicken Pox. I never caught it as a child, but I kinda figured that since I'm nearly 30 that I'd avoided ever having to worry about it. Not the case. After surviving a busy day at work on Monday (I can't believe I did - I'm obviously a strong, virile near-30-year-old) where my whole body was aching and I was alternating between shivering and sweating, I took Tuesday off. I can't remember much of the day amidst the feverish dreaming and sweating, but I was sufficiently coherent on Wednesday to organise a doctor's visit where I discovered the terrible news.

At that point, I still looked human. I was able to walk amongst the general public and appear like I belonged. Now, that didn't last long. By Thursday, I was resembling something out of a David Cronenberg movie. Totally gross. Redness, spots, leaking fluids, you name it. My parents arrived on Friday to "look after me", but the veracity of this statement was somewhat undermined by the fact they'd brought with them enough anti-bacterial material to survive an apocalyptic George A. Romero opus. Not to mention they'd back away in horror if I came within metres of them.

So you understand my apprehension in going out in public to cast my vote. Although it would have given me great joy to leave the house and scare small children, I am what you call a "human monster" with (according to my mum) 35 spots on my face, so I remain inside to keep the general population safe. And hopefully, if the "no" vote succeeds, I can be left to live out the rest of my existence in the dark, or at least as the basis of the scary stories that keep children awake at night.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Those long-promised reviews

Actually, I lie. Do you really expect me to remember what happened in "Until It's Over" and "8th Confession" nearly a month after I read them? Especially since neither were particularly good? With "8th Confession" it's all my own fault, really, because James Patterson hasn't put out anything resembling decent in years and years. And yet I keep on getting the next installment of his Women's Murder Club and Alex Cross series. I even get a few of the stand-alones, although I thought "The Quickie" and "Sail" were at least trashily entertaining.

I seriously need to overcome the temptation to get the Women's Murder Club books. They are so lazily written that they typically combine about three or four storylines that have nothing to do with each other. Well, they've followed that path since about part 5. It really shits me because that's one of the reasons I turn my nose at the CSI franchise on TV: they always have two separate storylines, as if they don't trust the audience has enough intelligence or patience to follow just one story. That, and CRIME SCENE INVESTIGATORS DO NOT QUESTION SUSPECTS OR SOLVE THE CRIMES!!!!!! They collect the samples, give the results, then go home for coffee. It annoys me so much that I always change the channel in disgust and try to find something else to watch. Except it's always one of those 1207 different "Animal Rescue" or "Crash Investigation" shows. So I just turn the television off a book. Which brings me back to....

"8th Confession" was so by-the-numbers that I can't remember one storyline, much less three. "Until It's Over", written by Nicci French, was undoubtedly a much better written book, but hindered by a device that simply didn't work for me. The storyline involved bike messenger Astrid having the unlucky distinction of being present at numerous murder scenes, making her one of the suspects. Could the culprit be one of her six (six???) housemates, who are all about to be kicked out their current stomping grounds? The situation does generate suspense and interest....until halfway through when the culprit is revealed, and the remainder of the book is events seen through their eyes. It was much like reading the same book twice, without much new information to make it worthwhile. Although the fact I actually remembers what happens should probably be a recommendation.