Sunday, July 19, 2009

The Angel's Game By Carlos Ruiz Zafon

Not too long ago, I was enthralled by an earlier novel by this superb Spanish author “The Shadow of The Wind”. Zafon takes us, again to Barcelona where a deep, mysterious and frightening story about books, writers, unrequited love and great danger unfolds.

A poor but talented young writer, David Martin, struggles to make a name for himself but he achieves notoriety by writing steamy murder mysteries under an assumed name. He has taken up residence and writes in a dark and gloomy abandoned mansion that has a history of death and murder.

He is encouraged and helped by his editor, an old friend who owns a book store, the scion of one of Barcelona’s wealthiest families and the daughter of his friend’s chauffeur, Christina, a girl David has known and loved secretly since childhood, all of whom figure largely in the story.

David is approached by a strange and sinister person who promises wealth and, perhaps, much more to write a book that would seize the minds of the masses and cause it to embrace a new kind of religion . After a lot of internal struggle, David agrees to the proposal even though he is certain that this person is evil and will eventually possess him. David’s health totally improves; as he starts his project, he finds that there is some connection between the story he is writing and the old house. He discovers a manuscript and notes that were written by the man who murdered many years ago. David is compelled to learn more about the man. His research takes him all over the city; one meeting leads to another and as he talks to more people, his intrigue grows. Things become even more troubling when individuals he has talked to begin to die strange deaths and the police suspect David.

“The Cemetery of Forgotten Books” that Zafon introduced in “The Shadow of The Wind” is further explored in this novel. Imagine a vast collection of the sum of centuries of books that have been lost or forgotten. Every book has a soul and every time someone handles it and looks at it’s pages, it’s spirit grows and strengthens. A person who visits for the first time may take away one book; it is said that the book chooses the person.

This was a most compelling story; marvelous characters and the danger and suspense keeps building to a smashing climax.

Cemetery Dance By Lincoln Child and Douglas Preston

Another fascinating “Special Agent Pendergast” story. Zombiis,Voodoo, Obea and animal cults create a bazaar tale. Claudia has just finished it and sent the following:

Cemetery Dance Review for Dad's Blog

The first Preston/Child novel I read, which of course was recommended by Dad, was "The Cabinet of Curiosities". I've been a fan of these authors as individual writers and as co-writers ever since. "Cabinet" and "Thunderhead" remain my favorites to this day. However, I get to read each new latest novel, as soon as Dad finishes them and we both get excited when we find out another story about the characters we have grown so fond of has been released.

Perhaps Dad and I especially enjoy these adventures because of all the mazes, sublevels, basements, etc. - as we both have a tendancy to have dreams involving sublevels. These books detail those sublevels at a level of detail far beyond our wildest imagination. What fun!

Smithback will be missed, but thankgoodness Nora will carry on. I wish I were Nora! I think I may be beginning to "grok" Pendgast. His observations about the medical instruments and the lamb trash intriged me. How nicely everything fits together and for such bizarre happenings makes sense. Never underestimate Pendergast.

When I left work early last Friday at 12pm, I had a list of take advantage of the time "to do's". But I thought I'd read a few chapters first as I had already started the book a few days prior. I spent the rest of the afternoon with Cemetary Dance - right there with each character till the end. A satisfying way to spend time is with this book.

Only now - we have to ponder just what news the solicitor is bringing Pendergast?

Think I'll read Thunderhead again!!

Thursday, July 09, 2009

The Golden Isle By Frank G Slaughter

Back in the 40's, Slaughter, a medical doctor and surgeon who graduated from Duke University Magna Cum Laude at 18 and Johns Hopkins at 22, took up his pen and wrote at least 30 novels. They dealt with hospitals and doctors and nurses, socialized medicine and medical schools; interesting yarns about people and places real and imaginary.. He also wrote about the South and the Civil War, He wrote historical\biblical novels and adventure novels. The first book I read was "In a Dark Garden" about the Civil War, I found it in a "rec" room at Chanute Air Force Base where I was going to "Weather Man School". Over the years I read every one of his stories.
Golden Isle was published in 1947 by Doubleday; cost $3.00. I found it in an attic. A ships surgeon in shanghaied and blackmailed to serve at an African slave collection station and then aboard the slave ship that carries it's cargo to the Americas in the early 1700's.

Slaughter's novels always gave detailed descriptions of medical procedures and he was true to the "Bodice Ripper" genre of his times as his heroes found their lady loves.

Some other favorites:
"That None Should Die"
"The Mapmaker"
"Devils Harvest"
Pilgrims in Paradise"
"The Curse of Jezebel"
I, very recently found one of his novels in a used book box; cost me a dollar but I am rereading "A Savage Place" and I will keep it on my bookshelf in case anyone wants to try him out.