Books

All other non-Clue/Cluedo discussion.

Moderators: Michael, BBP, Tum

Post Reply
User avatar
go_leafs_nation
Trigger Man
Posts: 4811
Joined: Sat Apr 12, 2008 7:08 pm
Location: Somewhere in Canada, eh?

Post by go_leafs_nation » Wed Dec 22, 2010 9:49 pm

I'm 100 pages into another Fowler, White Corridor. It's horrible. It literally took 95 pages for something to happen. Everything before that was unnaturally placed psychoanalysis and build-up that was so obvious and so cliche, it isn't worth it.
The two women exchanged the kind of glance women use when no knife is handy.
~Ellery Queen
At the Scene of the Crime

User avatar
PeachFreak
Highbinder
Posts: 4913
Joined: Fri Jun 08, 2007 6:54 pm
Location: New York

Post by PeachFreak » Wed Dec 22, 2010 9:59 pm

I'm working on Dante's Divine Comedy right now. Inferno, while certainly the most exciting part, was too overwrought with plot holes, with lapses of logic, and with incorrect allusions to be entirely enjoyable. Purgatorio was kind of dull, really. Though, I am enjoying Paradiso.
"Like my daddy always says, give me a good neuromuscular poison any day."

janstephens69
Suspect
Posts: 11
Joined: Thu Jan 13, 2011 9:44 am
Location: Norfolk

Post by janstephens69 » Thu Jan 13, 2011 10:18 am

Recently bought The Bar on the Seine and The Yellow Dog featuring Maigret.

User avatar
go_leafs_nation
Trigger Man
Posts: 4811
Joined: Sat Apr 12, 2008 7:08 pm
Location: Somewhere in Canada, eh?

Post by go_leafs_nation » Thu Jan 27, 2011 9:20 pm

After a lot of thinking, I decided that the best place to place this post would be in "Books", even though I talk about both a book and a movie.

I found this really interesting. Basically, it’s Ron Howard defending his movie Angels and Demons in light of its being criticized before its release.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/ron-howar ... 89053.html

I really feel for Ron Howard. Here’s a guy who just wanted to make a good thriller or two and entertain audiences, and everyone’s on his back about it. The Catholic Church is ticked off about The Da Vinci Code, Dan Brown fans are ticked off because the book was “ruined� (although in my opinion, it entirely improved on the source material—more on that in a sec), and so on.

I hate Dan Brown’s novels. Not because the Church says I should, nor out of misguided notions sprouting from literary snobbishness. What I hate about his books is that he trumps up fake facts for his story while trying to pass it off as accurate and well-researched. Thus he violates one of the big unwritten rules in mysteries: If you’re using history as the basis for your mystery, research it thoroughly. Brown’s books are riddled with so many inaccuracies of an idiotic sort—you don’t need to be a historian or a mathematician or a physicist to see them. I’m certainly neither (and definitely not a physicist by any means).

I’m not necessarily against inaccuracies. Sometimes they slip in there. I don’t give a d@mn if I have to carry out some trigonometric calculations to find out that the pies could never have risen to the height specified in the book. But if the book tries to pass off obviously phony history as authentic, I get irritated. I don’t take The Da Vinci Code seriously, but it bothers me that so many do. Five minutes on the Internet will prove that the history in that novel is bunkum.

[Incidentally, if anyone wants to read some really carefully researched historical mystery novels, John D!ckson Carr wrote a whole string of them, which were fabulously done. Everything from customs of the day to accurate language is in his books, and the history is so colourfully detailed it makes for excellent reading. In addition to his historical mysteries, he’d often have sinister ghost stories of the past in his books which made for fabulous spooky stories, which would often be the basis for an impossible crime in the present. It’s all based on his love of both mystery and history, and is far better than anything Brown has written.]

What has inspired this trek of mine into Dan Brown territory with Angels and Demons? I’ve been trying to give modern mysteries another chance. Once again, they’ve failed me miserably. The book was, simply put, pathetic (for the reasons I describe above). And it’s a real shame. I wanted to like it. I’m a sucker for serial killer tales, those stories where a killer taunts the detectives into trying to stop him, throwing clues into the air and so on. The idea is excellent. Its execution is horrible.

Luckily, Ron Howard is a far better filmmaker than Dan Brown is a novelist. The idiotic story of Angels and Demons makes its way onto the big screen in a film adaptation that can’t get rid of the novel’s nonsense, but it is highly entertaining viewing. It’s done with great gusto and style. The action is excellent. The direction is wonderful. The acting is top-notch. Hans Zimmer’s music is sublime— one of the best action movie scores I’ve ever listened to. The sets are excellent and could probably fool many into thinking it’s the actual Vatican and so on, although Howard and Co. were denied access to it for the film. The only thing wrong with the adaptation is the stupidity of its trumped-up historical facts (and the obvious twist ending), but the ride is so entertaining that I decided, to *beep* with it, I’ll just have fun and enjoy the movie.

But yes, Howard and the movie have gotten unfairly lambasted. There’s nothing anti-Catholic in this movie. Langdon saves the Church in this film from a terrorist threat. Its portrayal of priests and Catholics is for the most part sympathetic. The only religious @sshole in the movie is played by Stellan Skarsgard, and he’s such a huge @sshole that it quite probably gives the twist away. The one comment of his I highly disagree about is the comment that the movie gives a balanced depiction of the stem cell research controversy. What that is takes up less than 30 seconds and shows a bunch of people protesting stem cell research… while waiting for the new Pope to be elected? O—kay….

Nonetheless, Ron Howard and his crew managed to take a fairly idiotic book and a horrible mystery and make it into an entertaining, action-packed thriller that’s quite fun to watch if you’re willing to forgive the stupidity throughout.
The two women exchanged the kind of glance women use when no knife is handy.
~Ellery Queen
At the Scene of the Crime

User avatar
Michael
Mastermind
Posts: 6130
Joined: Sat May 22, 2004 11:46 pm
Location: NYC & Atlanta

Post by Michael » Fri Jan 28, 2011 11:32 am

I've got to disagree with the criticism of Dan Brown's books. I've read and - with the exception of his last one - enjoyed them all. The Da Vinci Code ruined my first trip to Hawaii because I started reading it on the plane and became so engrossed in it that each day of my vacation (I'm a slow reader) all I could think about was getting back to the hotel so I could read a few more chapters to find out what happened. I think if an author can elicit that sort of response in a reader, then he's done his job well - he's told a good story.

I disagree that a book has to be historically accurate. If it's plausible, then great. I'm all for it. Unless I've become obsessed with it, I'm not going to spend five minutes on the internet, as you suggest, verifying the exact details. I'm not a fact checker. I'm a reader wanting to be entertained.

The only time I felt cheated as a reader in one of Dan Brown's books was in Angels and Demons (which I liked better than the Da Vinci Code) was when *spoiler* Langdon jumps out of the helicopter and uses his jacket to
safely parachute to the ground.
*end spoiler*. That was just absurd and I haven't forgotten it yet. I think the movie found a much better way to handle that situation by eliminating it altogether.

I did like the movie version of Angels and Demons better than the Da Vinci Code.
How do you know what kind of pictures they are if you're such a lay-dee?

User avatar
go_leafs_nation
Trigger Man
Posts: 4811
Joined: Sat Apr 12, 2008 7:08 pm
Location: Somewhere in Canada, eh?

Post by go_leafs_nation » Fri Jan 28, 2011 11:40 am

I too don't think it's a big deal if you have to do some serious research to discover that the facts are skewed. But I didn't even need to do that. Even with my casual knowledge, I could just walk along, pointing out "Yeah, right" "You didn't check that, did you?" and "Really, Dan?" I would have to say Angels and Demons is superior to Da Vinci, because its plot idea is really excellent. In the end, I don't like the book very much, but I really like the film adaptation. It's very visual and the action is good, even though the inconsistencies are often obvious to anyone who's been in Rome. There's no way you can cross Rome in so little time when ... oh, what the heck. Howard's skill as a filmmaker more than makes up for it. (Most of the stuff about Church proceedings in the elections and so on is entirely inaccurate, but in the movie, I could sit back and enjoy it, while in the book I could just roll my eyes.) There are also some pretty funny bits, such as when Langdon attempts to break through the glass with a bookcase.

I will give Brown credit where it's due, though. Not all of his clues are bad. The one involving the keys in Angels and Demons (the film) is a brilliant replacement for the moronic "I had a vision from God" explanation from the book. (He apparently came up with it on the spot.) That really left me feeling cheated.
The two women exchanged the kind of glance women use when no knife is handy.
~Ellery Queen
At the Scene of the Crime

User avatar
go_leafs_nation
Trigger Man
Posts: 4811
Joined: Sat Apr 12, 2008 7:08 pm
Location: Somewhere in Canada, eh?

Post by go_leafs_nation » Thu Mar 03, 2011 5:08 pm

I just read a godawful, highly mean-spirited "satire" of Agatha Christie (apparently) called The Affair at Royalties. Never have I seen such clumsy prose, awkward dialogue, lazy plotting, and surprising lack of satire (for a satire).

Back to reading Golden Age authors for me.
The two women exchanged the kind of glance women use when no knife is handy.
~Ellery Queen
At the Scene of the Crime

User avatar
go_leafs_nation
Trigger Man
Posts: 4811
Joined: Sat Apr 12, 2008 7:08 pm
Location: Somewhere in Canada, eh?

Post by go_leafs_nation » Wed Mar 09, 2011 6:35 am

After posting about the total stupidity of The Affair at Royalties on another forum, the members encouraged me to "adapt" my furious rant into a YouTube video. So, here it is:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WCchdq6NBn4

It fails at everything it tries. It's an awful satire, a worse mysteries, spends too much time on character angst and still manages to make the characters total strangers. its plotting is lazy, and even the humour has a batting average of less than .500. Add to this the fact that we never get to see the cool ideas the cover leads us to expect, and you get one of the worst books I've ever read.
The two women exchanged the kind of glance women use when no knife is handy.
~Ellery Queen
At the Scene of the Crime

Black
Bindle Stiff
Posts: 6191
Joined: Tue Mar 10, 2009 4:04 pm
Location: In the Billiard Rm with the Wrench

Post by Black » Wed Mar 09, 2011 7:26 am

No offence, you do not look 31.

User avatar
go_leafs_nation
Trigger Man
Posts: 4811
Joined: Sat Apr 12, 2008 7:08 pm
Location: Somewhere in Canada, eh?

Post by go_leafs_nation » Wed Mar 09, 2011 8:06 am

That's a good thing, considering that I'm not.
The two women exchanged the kind of glance women use when no knife is handy.
~Ellery Queen
At the Scene of the Crime

Black
Bindle Stiff
Posts: 6191
Joined: Tue Mar 10, 2009 4:04 pm
Location: In the Billiard Rm with the Wrench

Post by Black » Wed Mar 09, 2011 9:17 am

go_leafs_nation wrote:That's a good thing, considering that I'm not.
But your Youtube channel says you are, unless you lied to get an account.

User avatar
go_leafs_nation
Trigger Man
Posts: 4811
Joined: Sat Apr 12, 2008 7:08 pm
Location: Somewhere in Canada, eh?

Post by go_leafs_nation » Wed Mar 09, 2011 10:24 am

I probably did. I made that account years ago.
The two women exchanged the kind of glance women use when no knife is handy.
~Ellery Queen
At the Scene of the Crime

1812
Suspect
Posts: 6
Joined: Wed Mar 09, 2011 1:13 pm

Post by 1812 » Wed Mar 09, 2011 1:47 pm

Off-topic, I recently bought the Alan Clark Diaries.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alan_Clark

Jamie
Firearms Specialist
Posts: 2505
Joined: Fri Aug 22, 2008 1:29 pm
Location: secreted behind the curtain in the dining room

Post by Jamie » Wed Mar 09, 2011 4:33 pm

Having read all the Christie books years ago, and having found PD James novels incredibly dull, I recently got my hands on a Ngaio Marsh mystery.
I had seen newspaper reviews on the covers and websites etc saying that Marsh was more than a match for Christie, and having finished the book, 'Death at the Bar' I have to agree.
I found it really easy to read, and centered around a really clever puzzle that was actually solvable (not that I did). So I've ordered quite a few more by Marsh.

Has anyone else read any of her books?

User avatar
go_leafs_nation
Trigger Man
Posts: 4811
Joined: Sat Apr 12, 2008 7:08 pm
Location: Somewhere in Canada, eh?

Post by go_leafs_nation » Wed Mar 09, 2011 4:40 pm

Almost. I have four of her books sitting on my shelf, but I've been occupied with other authors, whose books have to be returned to the library. I've heard good things about her, and my involvement with the local arts community should give me another reason to appreciate her work, as apparently, theatre and so on often play major roles. Off With His Head sounds like a fascinating read.
The two women exchanged the kind of glance women use when no knife is handy.
~Ellery Queen
At the Scene of the Crime

Black
Bindle Stiff
Posts: 6191
Joined: Tue Mar 10, 2009 4:04 pm
Location: In the Billiard Rm with the Wrench

Post by Black » Wed Mar 09, 2011 5:21 pm

I haven't read any of PD James books but I've watched the programmes based on the books and they weren't that interesting.

I've been looking for books written by Caroline Graham. Anyone read any of her work?

User avatar
go_leafs_nation
Trigger Man
Posts: 4811
Joined: Sat Apr 12, 2008 7:08 pm
Location: Somewhere in Canada, eh?

Post by go_leafs_nation » Thu Mar 10, 2011 10:27 am

I haven't read Caroline Graham, although the series inspired by her work, Midsomer Murders, has a great theme song and is actually fairly decent for a modern mystery series. Well, the episodes I've seen, at any rate.

I just got started on Ngaio (wow, how do you pronounce that?) Marsh's Off With His Head, which promises a mixture of traditional (almost ritualistic) dancing, a countryside setting, and an impossible decapitation!!!

The first 30 pages have been... okay. Marsh has introduced characters carefully, but the sheer amount of characters listed at the start of the novel is making my head spin, wondering whether the first 200 pages will be simply devoted to characters. It's not badly done, I admit, but finding out that there's an impossible decapitation involved makes me want to get there as fast as possible. This is why I usually avoid reading the back of a book.
The two women exchanged the kind of glance women use when no knife is handy.
~Ellery Queen
At the Scene of the Crime

User avatar
Michael
Mastermind
Posts: 6130
Joined: Sat May 22, 2004 11:46 pm
Location: NYC & Atlanta

Post by Michael » Fri Mar 11, 2011 3:11 pm

I read The Confession which is John Grisham's latest book and couldn't put it down. It is the story about a man who comes forward to reveal he killed a girl that another man was convicted of - and is about to be executed for - murdering. The whole sense of injustice throughout the Texas judicial system is riveting and it's really tense. As is trying to figure out of the confessor is legit or not. I highly recommend this book.
How do you know what kind of pictures they are if you're such a lay-dee?

User avatar
go_leafs_nation
Trigger Man
Posts: 4811
Joined: Sat Apr 12, 2008 7:08 pm
Location: Somewhere in Canada, eh?

Post by go_leafs_nation » Sat Mar 12, 2011 1:37 pm

I have a mountain of books sitting around waiting to be read.

Literally.

Image
The two women exchanged the kind of glance women use when no knife is handy.
~Ellery Queen
At the Scene of the Crime

Black
Bindle Stiff
Posts: 6191
Joined: Tue Mar 10, 2009 4:04 pm
Location: In the Billiard Rm with the Wrench

Post by Black » Sat Mar 12, 2011 1:43 pm

Any of them 1st editions?

Post Reply