Thursday, February 26, 2015

BOOK: Cobra by Deon Meyer

Cobra by Deon Meyer, 338 pages

review copy from Penguin Random House Canada

from the publisher:
Why would a mathematics professor from Cambridge University, renting a holiday home outside Cape Town, require a false identity and 3 bodyguards? And where is he, now that they are dead? The only clue to the bodyguards' murder is the snake engraved on the shell casings of the bullets that killed them.

My favourite detective, Benny Griessel is back in his fifth book - I've loved all of them. Benny is a recovering alcoholic (400+ days) and a member of an elite group of detectives in South Africa. His recovery is not easy, even with his new girlfriend and seemingly good life. Plagued with self-doubt and feeling like he is too old in many ways, Benny is struggling all the time and when he shows up to work on the first pages looking terrible and sloppy, his colleagues are concerned that he is back on the booze.

The mystery is top-notch, the pacing is great, the views from the police and from the other characters like the pick-pocketer who gets caught up in a crazy situation provide just enough information to see what the police are doing and what they do not know. The mystery was international and convoluted, but not so confusing I didn't know what was going on. Police procedurals are my favourite type of mystery and Meyer writes them extremely well. This one also used cell phones and technology as a major plot point.

The other members of Benny's team are well developed and add so much to the story. From Vaughn Cupido, the blow-hard, difficult to get along with member, to no gray-area, no-nonsense Mbali, I want more stories with these cops. More Mr Meyer, please may I have some more.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

REVIEW: Walt by Russell Wangersky

Walt by Russell Wangersky, 304 pages

Great little suspense mystery!

I first read Wangersky's short story collection, Whirl Away, and quite enjoyed it. Rereading my review makes me almost want to read it again. I also followed the link and reread Buried in Print's review, which is up to her very high standards. We are both Wangersky fans after the first book. Then, lo and behold, Russell began writing a column in my local newspaper. It's an Atlantic provinces syndicated editorial column. But what about Walt?

Yes, what about Walt. Walt is a lonely, middle aged janitor at a grocery store, who has a hobby of picking up disposed grocery lists, and trying to build a person based on what was on the list. Seems benign in the beginning. But he reveals that he lurks some of the women on Facebook, that some lists are written on the back of discarded bills (with addresses) and the reader begins to have some concerns about Walt. He's lonely, and quite a bit creepy.  Then some back story about his wife who disappeared as the marriage was breaking down. Two policemen in St John's, Newfoundland, are assigned to look into cold cases, and it seems Walt is a prime suspect in his wife Mary's disappearance. Walt is moving up a notch into lonely, creepy, maybe wife killer.

I liked the writing, I liked the pacing, I liked the different narrative voices (Walt, the cop, and Alisha's diary entries), and so help me, I kinda liked Walt. Well, maybe not liked, but I felt for him. He had no personal contact in his day to day life, not a single person to talk to. He developed a world that he was able to be content with, imagining these women from the grocery store. And it is not clear, for much of the story, whether Walt is a stalker escalating to killer, or a guy who is creepy, but harmless. The tension builds, slowly, and I loved how the book developed. Great read!

Thursday, February 19, 2015

UPDATE: Mid-February Stormy Days

not my house, but my driveway looked similar

The weather has been: Did I say it was stormy at the end of last month? I'm sorry - that storm was just a baby. A baby who grew into a temper tantrum toddler who let us know exactly how he/she felt. How to explain how stormy it's been? Buzzfeed has done a feature on us:   Terrifying Pictures of Snow in Eastern Canada  (although we are Atlantic Canada, not Eastern, but anyway) and here's a slide show from CBC : Islander Day Storm Pictures. Because, Yay! it happened on a long weekend. But we haven't been back to school all week as the roads are really not safe for buses. Crazy. It started snowing and blowing on Sunday and continued all day Monday. There were no plows on the roads, the bridge was completely shut down, and nothing was moving. When we got up on Tuesday morning, over 80 cm of snow had fallen. On top of the 75 cm the week before. Our suburban street and neighbourhood didn't see a plow until Wednesday, and that was just a one -lane path.
On the plus side, we never lost power, we are warm and fed, and there really was no where to go. Usually we say on PEI, it's not the snow, it's the wind. This time it was both, and the drifts are unbelievable, even though we keep taking pictures and talking about it, as if trying to make it believable.

 I am listening to:  I listened to Not that Kind of Girl by Lena Dunham. It was okay. I haven't seen Girls and I'm not familiar with her comedy so I wasn't coming in as a huge fan or anything but there were funny sections. Parts worked for me, but she's younger than me, and I didn't relate completely.
Murder at the Vicarage by Agatha Christie is my current listen. I hadn't been a Miss Marple fan when I was younger, but I may be changing my mind.
Waiting for the next Veronica Roth book, Insurgent, and I Must Say by Martin Short.

 I am watching: Two seasons worth of  The Great British Bake-Off. Loving the show a lot, especially the polite nature of the competitive show. No need for 'advantages' or ways to hurt an opponent. Everyone is on equal footing, and the food rules. I love the blind judging of the technical challenge.
I also watched the SNL40 special which was perfect. So funny, so many great stars, great clips, great music, so many great memories. I thought Miley did a great version of 50 Ways to Leave Your Lover but whatever Kanye did wasn't needed. Norm MacDonald tweeted a behind the scenes story last night of the making of the show, which is well worth reading. @normmacdonald
I also like watching the Scotties Tournament of Hearts, the Canadian Women's Curling Championships. Yah, I'm a (Canadian) nerd.

 I am reading:
February started with The Handsome Man's De Luxe Cafe by Alexander McCall Smith, another wonderful outing with Mma Precious Ramotswe. I finished What We All Long For by Dionne Brand for my on-line family book club. Very Toronto book.
I'm well into Cobra, by Deon Meyers, the fabulous South African mystery writer. Cobra has an old character I like in Benny Griessel, great pacing, and an international mystery. Perfect for stormy days.

Books Entering House: I haven't been out of the house- how could books enter?

 Plans for the rest of February:
Finish Cobra; maybe start Skin by Mo Hayder, or a Canadian book for the Reading Bingo, Eh challenge and hopefully get back into a regular school routine.