Carlo

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Carlo

Carlo’s book reviews

A worthy continuation of the Lester / Godfrey series with a feel more along the lines of \"The Marathon Mystery\" than its immediate predecessor \"That Affair at Elizabeth\". The author creatively renders the titular Boule cabinet itself an antagonist during the first part of the book, along with the master French criminal introduced later on. In fact I found there to be much more tension and interest generated in the first part of the novel than the second, after the flesh-and-blood villain appears. Nevertheless, a good read all the way through.
10/05/2012
This sequel to "The Holladay Case" is cut above that work and the next book available here in the Lester / Godfrey mystery series, "That Affair At Elizabeth". Somewhat daringly, there are multiple shifts in narrative perspective in "The Marathon Mystery", with Godfrey initially taking center stage. The various characters involved in the mystery, especially the villain and his mistress, are portrayed with more flair and individuality. Finally, the plot itself is more gripping due to an active conflict; key subplots also are able to hold the reader's interest in themselves. Lester's gullibility I found a bit much, as in the first novel, but I suppose that was how Society was supposed to work.
09/24/2012
This is the first of the Lester / Godfrey novels, which feature the law clerk Lester solving mysteries related to his firm's top clients, with an appearance by Godfrey the reporter in a supporting role.

After a rather gripping initial setup, with a classic apparent murder and associated inquest, the action trails into a more gentlemanly type story of pursuing a quarry while tending to genteel relationships.

A short and enjoyable read, if not terribly challenging. I found Lester's tendency to take everything at face value initially somewhat amusing and annoying at the same time; apparently that's what's done in Society.
09/22/2012
This is a sequel to "The Holladay Case" which is also available at Manybooks, although this book also reads well as a standalone.

The main character is a lawyer who (from the previous case) has acquired a reputation as an investigator/fixer. He is therefore summoned by the law partner he works for to Elizabeth (New Jersey) in order to delve into a runaway bride case. The short novel moves along well and the small circle of uncomplicated characters are generally sympathetic. The plot is largely conflict-free, which I found rather relaxing, although the reader is indeed drawn into peeling back the layers of the mystery. An easy read, if not terribly challenging.
09/21/2012
This is a very uneven effort from the author, who does an excellent job setting the stage in the first part of the book with an interesting sprinkle of main characters - a sophisticated, slightly black sheep of a younger aristocratic son, a Labour MP, and a beautiful half-Russian woman. The initial espionage and mystery elements are enough to seize the reader's attention. However, the propagandistic and bombastic elements begin to grow and by the end almost completely dominate the book. The story in the end comes across as a patronizing attempt to win over the "toiler" class to finish off the war effort, with some truly awful soliloquies in the last part. Not entirely a waste of time, but I'd have given it a pass if I'd known in advance what I'd be getting in the end.
09/18/2012
This is a sequel to "Deathworld" and was published as "Deathworld 2" at some point; not sure if it was slightly expanded or not in that incarnation.

I read the original Deathworld trilogy a number of years back and had a good, strong impression from the first novel; the reviews here of it I think are fair. This one was entirely forgettable (and I had in fact forgotten it), however. The unique world-building, character tension and relatively sophisticated look at psychological dynamics featured in the first are all missing here. Instead, we get a retread of the engineer-among-primitives story with farcical interactions between the main characters. The characters also seem to be mostly acting in accordance with sending a hamfisted message about moral relativism and religion, to the point of spouting extended monologues on the topics. Regardless of where you fall out on the philosophical debate, it makes for a disappointing read.

My recommendation would be to stop reading with the original Deathworld - the ending there was satisfying enough - and skip this, which features some of the original characters acting like cardboard cutouts or complete idiots. About the fourth time Jason dinAlt saves his captor/tormentor for no particular reason other than to have a convenient foil, it gets old.

I don't rate it a complete loss because the author knows how to tell a good adventure story, but the interesting parts are still not worth the investment in time.
05/07/2012
Cute little story/morality tale appropriate for and understandable by kids. Only read it because of the name similarity, to be honest.
12/30/2011
An interesting and unpredictable espionage yarn, following the (several) protagonists from America to England (and beyond). One has to appreciate gentlemanly society, although it is not quite as central to the story as in some of Oppenheim's other novels, with the cat-and-mouse plot dominating things. Also is notable for not having casual period bigotry or imperialist references inserted into the text, which occasionally mars other works by the author.

As more of an ensemble cast, the characters are perhaps not as individually gripping or detailed as in comparable Oppenheim stories, but are developed well enough and have interesting things to do. Worth the read.
12/30/2011
"Planet of the Damned" is the book version of this and already has some comments, FYI.

The author does his usual good job of introducing sympathetic heroes, fast-paced action, tough opposition, and a few interesting minor characters thrown into the mix. The man vs. world theme is repeated a lot in Harrison's works (cf "Deathworld" and the Stainless Steel Rat series), but there are enough differences in plot and setting to not make this story routine or predictable. I thought the introductory scenes were fascinating in and of themselves.

The only hiccups I ran across were some hand-waving regarding the organization the protagonist ends up working for, along a bit of dated male-female interaction. This story also appears to have been a setup for a series that never continued, which made the very end feel a little shoehorned into the rest of it. However, well worth the read.
12/30/2011
I admittedly couldn't finish this, so things might have picked up after the first third. The time spent describing and dealing with period practices regarding the education of girls (i.e. most men and women felt they shouldn't receive any beyond household tasks) and other repressive 19th century attitudes got to be too much for an enjoyable read. The core romantic story isn't bad, although probably best suited for younger girls (who may also raise their awareness of past gender issues) rather than a general audience.
12/30/2011
Pat Dunlap Evans - Suspenseful Ride Through Dallas High Society
FEATURED AUTHOR - Pat Dunlap Evans was born in Michigan but "got to Texas as soon as I could." Her family lived in San Antonio and later Dallas, where she attended South Oak Cliff High School and Southern Methodist University. After marrying and having three children, Pat later completed bachelor's and master's degrees in English / Creative Writing at the University of Missouri branch in Kansas City, where her then-husband quarterbacked the Kansas City Chiefs. After a divorce, Pat stressed her way as a single… Read more