27 February 2015

What I've Been Reading

By Dixon Hill

I've been pretty busy these last several weeks, but that hasn't kept me from snagging the odd moment to read.  I've chosen among old friends and new ones, and the list looks something like this:

Death in Paradise by Robert B. Parker

My wife and I enjoy watching the Jesse Stone mysteries, so I jumped at this book when I saw it on the shelf.  Never having read one of them before, I found it even better than I'd expected.  Perhaps it's a burden, having to picture Tom Selleck as Stone (since that's how I'd first encountered Stone on-screen), but I didn't find it any trouble, and I really enjoyed the book.

As a side note, there was a TV series with this title, and I might just blog on that in the near future.

By the Light of the Moon by Dean Koontz

This one was a re-visit to an old friend.  Yes, it has mystery, suspense, and yet is strangely filled with love, but it also has a science fiction element that might not appeal to every mystery reader.  Those who loved super hero comic books during childhood, however, will probably love this adult-styled  . . . well . . . I'm not sure exactly how to define it.  But I love it.

River of Death by  Alistair MacLean

I fell in love with MacLean's writing the first time I met it, with Ice Station Zebra, a book with a protagonist who seems to create his very own definition of "unreliable narrator."

Reading MacLean since my days in the army, I'm not as captured as I was in childhood.  Still, it's nice to get a fun little romp (only 253 pages in paperback) with this story of those wreaking vengence on Nazi SS officers who thought they'd managed to escape punishment in the depths of the Amazon.

The Blue Hammer by Ross MacDonald

WOW!  I suppose it's wrong to describe writing as "lush, spare prose," but I find it difficult not to when it comes to this one.  Spare to the point of nearly shifting the feel into one of poetry, the writing in The Blue Hammer really knocked me out.  Not just a pun, either.

I have to admit, I figured out the final little "twist" long before the ending.  But, with writing like this, I didn't mind sitting back and enjoying the ride to a location I knew was calling our name.  Additionally, the title had me pondering its meaning for awhile after reading.  Finally, however, I came up with a meaning that satisfied me.

Saint Odd by Dean Koontz

This is at once a new entry and an old friend.  Saint Odd is the latest, and final, of Koontz's Odd Thomas series, which chronicles the off-beat adventures of a young fry cook who happens to see dead folks (including Elvis and Sinatra) and tries to save the world, or at least parts of it, with each installment.

The storyline began several years ago, and in this final installment it (almost) ends with Oddie's death.  And what a death adventure this is!

Never before have I read a series in which the main character died, then wondered if the series might continue to follow that character anyway -- without bringing him back to life on earth.  But, this one has me wondering just that.

See you in two weeks,


  1. I enjoy all those authors, Dixon.

    I'm working on an SS article that touches on Alistair MacLean. I thought I'd read all of MacLean, but for the life of me I can't recall the title River of Death, which I have to look it up. I like most of his novels except his first, HMS Ulysses, or anything set in California. But I have to go back and reread a few.

  2. To be honest, I've never liked Koontz' style. Don't know why, it leaves me cold. (OBviously, I'm in a minority). On the other hand, I like Ross Macdonald and Lew Archer, but never read The Blue Hammer - I'll have to rectify that.

  3. Eve, I'm with you on Koontz. But it has been awhile and I might give him another try.

    Thanks for the list, Dixon.

  4. I looked up River of Death, apparently MacLean's last novel. Reviews find it disappointing, saying his latter novels show an author in alcoholic decline, River of Death a shadow of his earlier novels. Still, Alistair MacLean left a great legacy.

  5. Leigh, I think some of the novels attributed to him were based on his ideas, but actually written by someone else. River of Death read as if MacLean had written it himself imho, but I have to agree it wasn't MacLean at his best.

    Eve and Herschel, my wife finds Koontz too descriptive for her taste while I find that I enjoy the majority of his work. Naturally, taste is a personal thing -- which often seems to mean 'more hotdogs for me!' lol


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