I recently finished Wind Through the Keyhole, by Stephen King. This book is a recent addition to the Dark Tower series, in between Wizard in Glass and Wolves of the Calla. (If that means anything to you) Wizard was published in '97 and Wolves in '03, but Wind Through the Keyhole was published in '12. King says in his forward that it is sort of like book 4.5. Sometimes a writer discovers that a story really isn't finished after all, and it appears that is the case here.
If you haven't read any of the Dark Tower series, just ignore this book and begin with The Gunslinger. The Dark Tower books are set in a futuristic/western/fantasy world that in some places overlaps our time line and in others deviates into bizarre machines that control the world.
Wind Through the Keyhole is a story within a story within a story. Roland and his gang settle in to shelter from a stark blast - a terrible tornado/hurricane/arctic storm that will freeze everything in its path - and this reminds Roland of a story from his youth as a fledgling gunslinger (law man), and in that story he told the story of young Tim and his adventures seeking truth and also weathering a stark blast. In typical King fashion, this story reaches out and holds you from beginning to end, twisting and turning along a winding path that is all together fascinating and at the same time never losing its way. The writers talent is well known and his praises rightly sung. It isn't necessary to read this book in order with the others, but it does help develop Roland's character a tiny bit. He is alternately cold hearted and sentimental, a clash of his history with his conscience, and truly the much beloved anti-hero hero of the Dark Tower series.
I was tired of Stephen King, historical novels and histories of the Civil War. I needed something exciting that I could not put down, and happily I found what I was looking for. The Neighbor, by Lisa Gardner was my entree to an exciting readers' list of suspense & thriller books. Lisa Gardner has been writing for many years and has numerous titles. However, The Neighbor introduced me to Seargant Detective Dee Dee Warren of the Homocide Division of the Boston Police Department.
This is a contemporary murder mystery with an exciting climax and confusing back story. The way the story unfolds, the wife of a fiercely private man is missing. He is the prime - the only - suspect. He is reluctant for police to question his four year old daughter. His story is clean and tight and he always gets it straight. He knows his rights and that only serves to annoy the police. Throw in a local sex offender and an estranged relationship with the missing woman's father, and it becomes complex without becoming convoluted.
The book is written in two voices, first person of the missing woman, third person for the detective and all other aspects of the story. It is an interesting method that will draw you through the book at break neck speed, but it doesn't leave any detail out of place, no loose ends untied. Warren finds herself led along several theories as the story unfolds, some more plausible than others, and while you may find yourself wishing you could step into the conference room and correct her during one of the investigatory team meetings, you can't and it's tough to have to sit back and wait for Dee Dee to figure it all out in the end.
Which she does. She is the best detective BPD's got, after all.
Happily, the book is not overloaded with police jargon and for those who enjoy true crime you will be satisfied that the rules of forensics aren't ignored in favor of a better story line. It is a gripping read with a satisfactory conclusion which I recommend to those who already love the genre and to those who, like me, are looking for something new.
I recently listened to the audiobook of A Stolen Life by Jaycee Dugard, narrated by Jaycee Dugard. To say this book was difficult would be overstating the obvious. If you have lived under a rock for the past couple years, then you won't know that Jaycee Dugard was kidnapped at the age of 11 and held in captivity by a convicted child molestor until she was 29 years old. At the time she was recovered, she had two children, aged 11 and 15.
Just let that sit there in your mind for a moment. She was kidnapped at age 11 and when she was recovered she had a daughter who was 11. But Jaycee at 11 had been on her way to school when kidnapped and her own 11 year old daughter had never been to school. Ever. She had rarely been outside the backyard of her captor-father. Jaycee was younger than her 15 year old daughter when her 15 year old daughter was born. Her children had never been to the doctor, had never been to school, had not known the normal growing up that the rest of us Western families take for granted. They never played with friends next door, organized games of stickball or hockey in the street, didn't have crushes on the cute boy in class, nothing.
I cannot tell you how many times I wanted to cry for Jaycee and her daughters while listening to this book. As a woman, a mother, a grown up girl, her story is horrifying. It is beyond comprehension that someone could be forced to endure the tortures and abuses that Jaycee endured. What is almost more incomprehensible is that Jaycee Dugard came through that experience with a seemingly positive outlook on life. She explained that she had some dark times, but the overall impression at the end of the book was one of an amazingly strong woman who just survived and did the best she could for her daughters.
That strength inspires me to do the best for my daughter when push comes to shove in my life. Frankly, I am a queen in a palace compared to Jaycee's experience, and it really puts my complaints into drastic perspective, but if Jaycee can be strong, loving and optimistic for her daughters, then I can do my very best too. Each of us mothers - who feel strong enough in the first place - could benefit from a read through of A Stolen Life. It will cause you to realize that your shitty life really isn't all that bad after all, but not in a way that makes you feel riddled with guilt and shame.
You know how sometimes you read in the paper about some person accused of murder who gets away scot free? For whatever reason, either the case isn't prosecuted, or heaven help us it is adjudicated and the jury cannot find them guilty. Don't you ever think to yourself "someone will do us all a favor and take 'em out"? In real life that rarely, if ever happens. The acqitted person goes on a book tour or gets a reality TV show and we are all disgusted by the twist of fate that let them loose to potentially kill again. Well, in the book Darkly Dreaming Dexter, there is someone who does equalize the situation.
Thankfully, Dexter is just a character in a fiction novel, because he's a bona fide psychopath. He has difficulty understanding people and social situations, he lacks deeper feelings like love and compassion, does not understand what motivates humans to do the things they do, and does not even consider himself human. He knows he is flawed, with a big empty spot where everyone else has a conscience. But Dexter hunts the bad guys. He is a serial killer, and a prolific one, taking out Miami's garbage. He only kills the killers, though, and he must have proof of the ultimate badness of his quarry, otherwise, his code will not allow him to act.
You see, Dexter was raised and coached by a cop. His adoptive father Harry realized that Dexter was missing "that thing" other people have, and helped him to shape his need to kill into righteous vigilanteeism. Harry created a code, rules that would help Dexter survive in a world he did not understand; rules that would keep him out of the eye of the police and out of jail. Part of Dexter's cover is to work for the police as a blood spatter analist.
The best predators hide in plain sight, and that is Dexter. He has learned, like many psychopaths before him, to play the role, say the witty sayings, and pretend to feel the feelings, that normal people expect. And while you might think Dexter is a bad guy himself, in this book, he is the "hero" protecting the city from those other murderers who cannot be proven guilty and preventing them from committing their heinous crimes again.
Darkly Dreaming Dexter is the first in a series about Dexter and was the inspiration for the popular Showtime television drama "Dexter." If you are a fan of the show, be prepared for the book to have its differences that might not make you happy. The key characters are there: Dexter, Deb, Angel Batista, LaGuerta, Doakes, Masuka; but they are the originals as imagined by Jeff Lindsay, not the screenwriters. Dexter himself is as weirdly lovable in the book as he is in the show, and that is part of the guilty pleasure. You feel like you really should not like him, but you just can't help it.
Darkly Dreaming Dexter is not terribly long, yet the pages turn at an enjoyable pace, drawing you through the story arc and toward a climactic ending that feels a tiny bit rushed. Did Lindsay come up against a deadline? I would have liked the ending to be developed a bit more, but otherwise this is a very good book. I will be seeking out the next installment soon.
Those who know me know I love historical novels, and The Map of Time definitely delivers. Set in late 1890s London and featuring H. G. Wells as a character, the novel takes the reader on a journey from Jack the Ripper's Whitechapel through to a future of time travel. It is clever, with twists that had me considering the next possible outcome during the times I could not be reading (oh, that dastardly job of mine!).
The author, Felix Palma, wrote the book in Spanish, which I find intriguing in itself. We English-speaking nations don't generally consider that "other people" might be fascinated with the social mores and scientific discoveries of 19th century England. Mr Palma definitely painted what I believe to be an accurate portrait of the time and was able to believably describe both the lowest classes of prostitutes and the highest classes of the wealthy elite.
The novel is structured as three intertwined stories, all involving the concept of time travel, which H. G. Wells wrote about so famously in his novel The Time Machine, published in 1885. It simultaneously questions the consequences of changing the past as well as exploring the daily lives and loves of its protagonists. Some of the plot lines were so well developed that no detail was left untouched, all the way to exposing one of the source of one character's fortune having come from the importation of toilet paper - an irony that is both hilarious and revealing of his inner compass.
It's a bit of steampunk, a bit of history, a bit of science fiction, and a bit of romance, all smash together quite well. It will have you secretly trying out Victorian vernacular while you wax poetical on the possibilities of the 4th dimension. I highly recommend this one!