David Gordon’s unique thriller opens with a series of police raids in New York City. Local and federal law enforcement are under pressure from above as worries of an impending terrorist attack escalate. The cops, not knowing who their targets are, or where they may be lurking, have to look like they’re doing something to quell the public angst. So, like the authorities in Casablanca, they round up the usual suspects in a series of high profile raids.
The plot was good enough, but this one fell short on several levels, reading like a journeyman’s immitation of a John D. MacDonald novel. I didn’t like the strained smart-guy dialog, the wisecracks that fell flat or the banter between main character Lemuel Gunn and his girl Friday, aka Ornella Neppi. Much of the humor and wit just wasn’t that funny, though it might appeal to an older generation. Neither Gunn nor Neppi came off as fully-formed characters worth caring about until the very end.
Ordo, a novella of just 73 pages, is the second work in Hard Case Crime’s Double Feature. Ordo Tupikos, a sailor in the US Navy in the early 1970s, is enjoying some down time with friends during a work break. One of them asks him why he never told them he had been married to movie star Dawn Devayne. Ordo thinks his friend, a practical joker, is kidding, so he brushes him off.
A Travesty is the first of two short novels in Donald Westlake’s Double Feature. The story opens with New York film critic Carey Thorpe looking down at the body of the girlfriend he’s just accidentally killed in her own apartment. A series of thoughts run through his mind, most of them converging on self-preservation: how can he get out of this mess without being fingered as the killer? Well, no one saw him walk in.
Stephen Galloway’s Truly, Madly describes the long and tragic arc of one of the twentieth century’s most extraordinary love affairs. Laurence Olivier and Vivien Leigh fell in love while each was already married to someone else. Each had a child, and neither was suited to parenthood or fidelity. Olivier’s first wife, Jill Esmond, seemed to recognize early on the intensity of the Olivier-Leigh bond, and what it meant for her marriage.
Perry Mason makes his first appearance in The Case of the Velvet Claws. The book begins with a Mrs. Eva Griffin approaching Mason for a favor. She’d been out on a date the night before with a man who wasn’t her husband. The police showed up to investigate a robbery at the hotel where said date occurred, and they took statements from witnesses. Eva Griffin’s date was a powerful local politician, powerful enough to get the police to exclude his name from the witness list.
Gregg Allman’s memoir, My Cross to Bear, covers a lot of ground, from the murder of his father to the musician’s coming to terms with his own fatherhood late in life. Gregg and his older brother, Duane, were born in Nashville and raised by a single mom who could barely keep the family afloat. The brothers were sent off to military school at a young age–Gregg was only eight–to avoid being sent to the orphanage.
Daniel L. Pals Seven Theories of Religion describes seven different attempts to describe what religion is, how it arose, and what it means to society. The book begins with a look at the two writers who first attempted to study religion through a scientific lens: E.B. Tylor and James Frazer. Both men described what they perceived as the evolution of religion across numerous societies around the world. They each described essentially the same progress, from primitive magic to animism (where everything in the world was inhabited by some spirit) to polytheism to monotheism.
The premis of The Holographic Universe is not that the universe is a literal holograph, but that a holograph may be the best metaphor for understanding the universe. Michael Talbot describes how holographs are made: using mirrors and lenses, you split a laser beam into two parts, the object beam and the reference beam. The object beam reflects off the object you want to record (a strawberry, or a bird, or whatever) onto holographic film, while the reference beam hits the same film at the same time from a different angle.
I graduated college way back in 1990, in the midst of an economic recession. Jobs were scarce, especially for new graduates who had no real work experience. I spent quite a bit of time looking for work, to no avail. In those days, the job hunt involved getting a copy of the Sunday Washington Post, with its thick classifieds section, combing through the listings, circling the interesting jobs and then making calls and mailing paper resumes with cover letters.