Wednesday, March 3, 2010

From Oslo, to London, Hong Kong to LA

My reading over the past few weeks gives new meaning to "read around the world!" Just when I was thinking that I should shorten the title of my blog and increase hits, I realized that I truly do read all over the place. I received my latest book from Library Journal last week and have read it twice just to be absolutely sure I wasn't giving it short shrift. As you know by now, I can't talk about it here until the review is published but I suspect that Norwegian superstar Per Petterson's title speaks for itself: I Curse the River of Time.

Meanwhile, my man Michael Connelly threw me for a complete loop with his latest entry in the Harry Bosch series, Nine Dragons. As gritty as Connelly has been in the past, this one seems to top them all in unforeseen surprises. At one point I almost had to pull to the side of the road and say "WHAT?" as Connelly offed a character who's been on the periphery for the entire series.

I have to admit that this may be the last book I listen to by Connelly as I'm tiring of Harry's "dirty Harry" routine, always taking pride in bending the rules. I no longer find it an admirable quality when Harry gets to the heart of the crime by throwing away first amendment rights. No wonder I'm so terrified when I see a police cruiser behind me, on the side of the road, flying past me at 90 miles an hour, even though I know I have nothing to feel guilty about.

The interesting thing about Nine Dragons was learning so much about Hong Kong as a friend's daughter has just gone to China for a semester of study abroad and my friend Don is such a lover of all things Asian. From the senseless murder of a liquor store salesman in LA, the trail Harry's on leads him to an ancient Chinese mafia-type organization called The Triad. Harry inadvertently involves his daughter Maddy, who is now living in Hong Kong with her mom, a professional gambler, by sending her an email with a photo of a tatoo of Chinese characters on the victim's leg. All he wanted was a translation but what he got was a world of hurt.

Yesterday I started reading my next book discussion selection, Little Bee, by Chris Cleave. Customers are always asking me what I think of the books I choose to discuss and are surprised when I tell them, "I haven't read it yet." I like to read it fresh, when they do, and come to the discussion hot from just reading the book. I can usually tell from reviews and pre-publicity just what I'm going to enjoy and what will bring conflict to the group - a must for any discussion.

Little Bee is surpassing all expectations! For someone whose battery usually winds down at the stroke of 10 pm, no matter what, the fact that I was reading for over 2 hours last night is a remarkable feat. Thanks Mr. Cleave! The title character, Little Bee, is a most delightful narrator. A Liberian refugee who's just been released from a British immigration detention facility after a two year incarceration, the resourceful Little Bee has used her time wisely, learning to read and speak the "Queen's English" with aplomb. Her quirky sense of humor, though, masks a pain so deep, she refers to herself as a refugee but explains to readers that there is no refuge for her.
Still she has the smarts to contact Andrew and Sarah, a British couple she met several years ago under mysterious conditions that the author has yet to reveal, while the Brits were vacationing at a Liberian beach resort. Bee's phone call out of the blue sets in motion a catastrophic series of events that will form the core of this book that I can't wait to get back to. I'm on it - more later.

1 comment:

jessie said...

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