Sunday, October 26, 2014

Ghostman (Roger Hobbs)

Wow, by the review snippets on this book's jacket, I was expecting something spectacular and never-before-seen in the crime novel genre.  Instead, Roger Hobbs's Ghostman is filled with unmemorable characters and a plot that just didn't keep my interest.

The novel begins with an attempted Atlantic City casino robbery that goes awry quickly.  Only one of the two robbers has survived, and he ends up vanishing with all the money.  Marcus, the heist's "brains", is far away from the action and calls in the Ghostman to find out what happened; in so doing, the Ghostman can pay a long-owed "debt" to Marcus.  As his name suggests, the Ghostman's identity is always changing with the crime, and he makes himself invisible in between each one.  Simultaneously, Hobbs also flashes back to the foreign bank heist that got the Ghostman into Marcus's bad graces to begin with.

Though mildly entertaining at times, Ghostman was definitely not for me.  I found the characters very cookie cutter and the ending silly.  I seem to be in the minority however, so use your own judgment here.


Sunday, October 19, 2014

The Tucci Table (Stanley Tucci)

Stanley Tucci -- not the most popular actor in the world, but you've definitely seen him in lots of places.  He stole every scene he was in in The Devil Wears Prada (with Meryl Streep no less) and was Streep's equal partner in Julie & Julia.  Now he has brought his Italian heritage to all of us with The Tucci Table, a cookbook that will certainly get well used in my kitchen.

The Tucci Table is filled with delicious recipes, colorful pictures, and timeless family stories.  He combines wonderful Italian dishes from his heritage with British recipes from his wife, all guaranteed to bring the family around the table. From Tuscan Tomato Soup to Fish and Chips to Beef Wellington to Raspberry Ripple Lemon Cake, there is something for everyone's palate in The Tucci Table.

In this rush-rush world where getting everyone together for dinner is often a fantasy, it's so nice that Stanley Tucci is still trying to make it a reality.


Wednesday, October 8, 2014

The Secret Place (Tana French)

Tana French's Dublin Murder Squad series beautifully balances poetic prose, exciting mystery and engaging, wonderfully flawed characters.

The latter is French's true bread and butter, and it shines in The Secret Place through both the detective duo and the girls of St. Kilda's boarding school, where a murder has taken place.

Here's the thing: almost from the start I cared far more about the relationships between the teenage girls (two rival cliques handled in the most uncliched of ways) and the two detectives investigating the case than I did about the murder of a boy from the corresponding male boarding school.

And that's okay. French ensnares her readers not with sensational deaths or manipulative run-of-the-mill murder mystery tricks; she uses our humanity so that we have no choice but to find ourselves in the most unlikely of characters: the newbie murder detective, the daydreamy teenage girl, the high-strung headmistress.

Fans of French's former four novels will adore The Secret Place - especially in the last quarter of the novel, when Frank Mackey makes his cameo appearance and (as he always does) steals an already fabulous show.

RATING - 4.5