Tuesday, August 12, 2008

I've Been Reading Again 2

Under Orders by Dick Francis

I began reading Dick Francis several years ago. His wife, Mary, died in 2000 and I am pretty sure it was well afterwards when I began reading his novels. He was recommended to me as someone who was interesting but also did not resort to the overuse of violence, sex, and profanity. I did not read him in any particular order but I did enjoy his books very much.

Mary was also his writing partner and he did not write again after her death until Under Orders was published in 2006. Some of Francis' fans believe that Mary was more responsible for the books than her husband and they believe Under Orders reflects her absence in a negative way.

I am more sympathetic and I enjoyed the book. For one thing Dick Francis was born in 1920 so when Mary died he was 80 years old. and they were together a long time. I think people need to be more understanding of what it is like to lose someone you've been close to for a long time. And by the way when you're 85 or 86 life is different than when you were 40 or 30.

As a mater of fact life is pretty different when you're 60.

I know I am overly defensive about Francis and it has to do with my own caregiving of elderly parents. But that's the way it is.

Another thing is that Dick left school when he was 15 to become a jockey. His wife had a degree in English and worked for a publisher. Anyone who thinks that writing novels is a solitary occupation is just silly. They were a team and disrupting a team is - well - disruptive. The work product of their partnership made life enjoyable for a lot of us. That's a lot more than a lot of people can say.

This book is about a retired jockey, Sid Halley, who because of an injury left the horse racing business and became a private investigator. Suddenly he has a couple of murders that he has to solve while his live-in girlfriend is nearly killed and he is almost killed towards the end of the story. I thought it was a good read.

It's not great literature but I enjoyed it a lot. And I was very happy to see Dick back writing even at 86. He has 40 novels or more to his credit. I like him. More power to him.
The Shack by William P. Young
I am outside the inner circles of most everything now. Actually I never was in an inner circle. So that's why I didn't know this book was all the buzz in some circles. My daughter told me about it though and she enjoyed it very much and then it was available for Kindle so I bought it.

It starts out with some harsh stuff. The protagonist, Mack, is a child of a mean drunk father. Mack confides in a church counselor that he didn't stop his father from beating his mother. But the church person doesn't maintain the confidence and when Mack gets home he is beaten for a week. Later he poisons his father and leaves. That's pretty tough.

But Mack marries and has children of his own and at the beginning of the book they are on a camping trip. The youngest daughter, Missy, is kidnapped and declared dead by virtue of her bloody dress being found in a shack in the woods.

Four years later Mack receives a note in his mailbox from "Papa" which is his wife's name for God. The not invites Mack to come to that shack for a visit.

I decided this book should have its own blog entry.
The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch
I posted about this separately.
Dead Heat by Dick Francis and Felix Francis
This is brand new. In fact it isn't supposed to be released until September 2, 2008. But I have a Kindle so I already have it. This is quite a departure from racing although there is some and there are horses. But the hero is a chef and he really gets into a lot of trouble.

I enjoyed the book immensely. I am quite certain there will be complaints about some of the detailed accounts of food and one thing or another but I personally found those narratives to be interesting rather than tedious.

There is a particular section in the book where the hero's new love interest describes what it is like playing in an orchestra and a few pages later defends playing the viola over a violin. I thought this was just particularly well done.

Felix is Dick's son apparently and I gather a former physics teacher. I like that of course.
The Blessing Way by Tony Hillerman
This is apparently Hillerman's first novel and was published 38 years ago in 1970. I decided I needed to branch out a bit and just chose this title. The story is a murder mystery set in the culture of the Navajo people.

I enjoyed it a great deal. I might read some more titles. They are just over $5 on my Kindle so pretty inexpensive (I'm trying to be budget conscious - ha ha!)

This professor type who studies Navajo witches hears about some possible witch activity and sets off with another professor buddy to check it out. Of course he gets involved in the action pretty soon and his buddy gets whacked. There's a girl, too, and pretty good action. He's saved in the end by the local law and order man who is kind of a co-hero in my view.

Good read.
When the Wind Blows by James Patterson
Another blogger (YASTM) had posted about this book. I got it for my Kindle for $3.99. I just checked though and they've raised the price to $6.39!! It is funny that saving $2.40 would make me so happy - nearly like I had done something.

This one was published in 2000 according to Amazon's blurb but I've also read it was first published in 1998. I don't care that much so I'm not researching more. The Kindle version is more recent of course but not sure how they count that. I hadn't read it even though I do read Patterson but I'm more into his Alex Cross stories.

This is a kind of science fiction thriller murder mystery. Seems as though there's a girl that can fly thanks to genetic monkey business (cool use of words don't you think?). And there's a bunch of murders and a rebel FBI guy and a beautiful woman - and - well you can see it has all the right elements.

And Patterson can tell a good story, too.

This book was sufficiently successful to launch a series for younger readers.

I can see why.

The book is a good mystery but it also deals with very important and very current issues. I have very little doubt that genetic engineering on humans will be done if it hasn't already.

Some of the very old stories about Atlantis include what might be called genetic engineering or bio-engineering maybe. I recall a movie once where creatures had been engineered by Atlanteans that had the strength of bulls but bodies of men.

Something similar would not surprise me very much.

1 comment:

Lori1955 said...

Oh my, when you say you have been reading, you really mean it. Of course my big question is when are you going to start writing? I hate to see your great talent left only to blogs.