Sunday, September 20, 2009

Title Sixty Seven: Shutter Island by Dennis Lehane

Yes, I'm cheating again. Shut it, fools. It was a rough week, and anyway Rusty already reviewed this.

"The year is 1954. U.S. Marshal Teddy Daniels and his new partner, Chuck Aule, have come to Shutter Island, home of Ashecliffe Hospital for the Criminally Insane, to investigate the disappearance of a patient. Multiple murderess Rachel Solando is loose somewhere on this remote and barren island, despite having been kept in a locked cell under constant surveillance. As a killer hurricane bears relentlessly down on them, a strange case takes on even darker, more sinister shades — with hints of radical experimentation, horrifying surgeries, and lethal countermoves made in the cause of a covert shadow war. No one is going to escape Shutter Island unscathed, because nothing at Ashecliffe Hospital is what it seems. But then neither is Teddy Daniels." - Barnes and Noble
My only previous experience with Lehane was Mystic River a few years ago, and I dug that book, so I figured this would be worth the read. Was it? Yes it was. I was completely immersed in the story almost from the beginning, the gears in my brain whirring as I tried to keep up with the pace and the twisting narrative laid out by Lehane. A couple of times, I found myself flipping back a page to re-read a passage or two, not because I was lost, exactly, but because I felt like there was a nuance that I might have been missing. Teddy Daniels is the good guy, and he has no idea who else is on his side. It could be that everyone is out to get him. Ghosts from his past won't leave him alone. He's a man on a mission. Then, just when everything seems to be resolving itself, Lehane comes up behind you with a two-by-four and nails you in the back of the skull. Everything that came before was smoke and mirrors, and holy shit, were you fooled.

I loved it. I read it in record time because I couldn't wait to get to the end, and when it was finished, I was satisfied. The conclusion isn't pat, but it's tidy, like a perfectly square box with a really rad gift inside.

Title Sixty Six: Lullaby by Chuck Palahniuk

Ok, I'm totally going to cheat for a couple of posts, okay? From the author's very own Official Lullaby Site:

"Carl Streator is a solitary widower and a forty-ish newspaper reporter who is assigned to do a series of articles on Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. In the course of this investigation, he discovers an ominous thread: the presence on the scene of these deaths of the anthology Poems and Rhymes Around the World, all opened to the page where there appears an African chant or "culling song." This song turns out to be lethal when spoken or even thought in anyone's direction and once it lodges in Streator's brain, he finds himself becoming an involuntary serial killer. So he teams up with a real estate broker, one Helen Hoover Boyle, who specializes in selling haunted (or "distressed") houses (wonderfully high turnover) and who lost a child to the culling song years before, for a cross-country odyssey. Their goal is to remove all copies of the book from libraries, lest this deadly verbal virus spread and wipe out human life. Accompanying them on this road trip are Helen's assistant, Mona Sabbat, an exquisitely earnest Wiccan, and her sardonic eco-terrorist boyfriend, Oyster, who is running a scam involving fake liability claims and business blackmail. Welcome to the new nuclear family. "

This was my first Palahniuk. (No, you cannot revoke my Pajiba card for that. It's in the rules that I've just made up.) I didn't really know what to expect, so I wasn't really surprised when I was completely blown away. I mean, damn, this dude can write. And somehow make you totally uncomfortable while keeping you so intrigued that you can't put the damn thing down. There were passages that made me actually squirm in my seat but I had to know what happened. None of the characters are likeable. In fact, they're all pretty much creepy and I felt like I needed a shower after I finished. But it was good. It wasn't so much a novel as a living thing, breathing words and images. I won't ever read it again, because it's too dark for me, but it is one of the best books I've read in a long time.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Title Sixty Five: Star Bright by Catherine Anderson

No. I must have been high when I decided to read this. I mentioned it to a friend and he replied, "I would rather poke my own eyes out than read that." I may take it out back, put it on the grill, and set it on fire.

Rainie fakes her own death while on a cruise with her husband because he's going to kill her. She ends up working as a bookkeeper for a rancher dude in Crystal Falls, Oregon. Of course he's hot, and of course he sees her as a delicate flower that he wants to pick. They fall in love and all. His entire extended family foists themselves and their "aw shucks"-iness upon her, and she decides she'll marry him, but she has to divorce the psycho, who apparently killed his two previous wives to get their money, like he was going to do to Rainie. She gets her divorce, the FBI tries to use her as bait to get the husband, it doesn't work. One night, in a scene stolen right out of the movie Sleeping with the Enemy (which is discussed earlier in the book) the husband shows up in the backseat of Rainie's car and forces her to drive to her apartment - she won't live with Parker, the rancher, because he's Catholic and his family wouldn't approve and he's fucking THIRTY-FIVE YEARS OLD - and tries to kill her with a mix of Ambien and wine, and making it look like she offed herself. (Seriously? I can take a giant Vicodin for my broken spine and then go out drinking with Pajibans all night. This lightweight has a glass of wine and three Ambien and almost dies. Pussy.)

Whatever. Parker figures out that she was giving him clues on the phone, via talking about her HALLOWEEN COSTUME, and hoofs it over. Rainie uses the last of her strength to smash the wineglass into PeterExHusband's face. The paramedics come and get her to the hospital and pump her stomach. A couple months later Parker and Rainie get married.

I need Brillo for my brain.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Title Sixty Four: Lucy Sullivan Is Getting Married

Hello, dahlings. It is I, Marian Keyes. If you haven't suspected before now, I have actually kidnapped your adorable little Nicole and locked her in a closet so that I could take over her blog and promote my books. Here's another one!

On a lark, my heroine, Lucy Sullivan, goes with three coworkers to visit a psychic one evening after work. The fortune teller's prediction for Lucy is that she'll be married within a year. Lucy brushes this off with a "Bah!" That is, until her coworkers' predictions start coming true, and she meets the lovable, unemployed Gus, an Irish musician who charms his way into her pants and her pockets. Perhaps Gus is undependable and fond of the drink, but he's an artiste, moppets. He is a free spirit. Meanwhile, Lucy's best friend Daniel begins dating her roommate Karen, but this doesn't bother Lucy in the least because she simply doesn't find Daniel attractive.

You may be able to guess where the story goes. (I know, but dearies, I wrote it.) Gus turns out to be a worthless cad, Lucy realizes that her father is an alcoholic and that she's been beastly to her mother for years without understanding what the latter goes through, and Daniel is a dream.

Go buy it.

Note from the editor

It doesn't look like I'm going to make it to 100 reviews, but I damn well will make it to 100 books. I'm pretty close. Anyway, for the three of you who read this on a semi-regular basis, I'm going to keep going. Hope you dig it.