Sit back, relax, with your feet up; get comfortable and let's scare each other for a while.
Jack Brigance, the hero of A Time To Kill, written by John Grisham, is once again called upon to try a sensitive and potentially explosive case in front of a jury. It’s been three years since the murder trial ended in an acquittal that freed his client and put him on the map in Ford County and changed his life. Now, as he’s getting his life back together, he’s asked by a dead man to represent a handwritten will that cuts out the man’s children and leaves the entire fortune to a housekeeper, a black woman. Seth Hubbard, one of the older names in the county, is a stranger to him, but Jack takes the responsibility seriously and dives into the controversy once again, because in the South in 1989 in Ford County this is still fertile ground for an uprising and it is the backdrop of this story. Why would a white man deny his children an inheritance and leave $24 million to his housekeeper? What is the significance of the land once called Sycamore Row? Jack must walk the tightrope between racial tension and justice once again to do the right thing.
The story is well written, interesting, and exciting enough to keep you turning the pages. A Time to Kill was one of my favorite novels when it first came out and John Grisham has once again delivered a quality read in Sycamore Row.
The story focuses on the late fifties and goes into the late sixties and centers on a young boy named Jonah Ellington Basie Hines Eldridge Wilson Hampton Armstrong Kirk (his family surrounds themselves with music and his father, Tilton Kirk, was trying to impress his father-in-law by giving Jonah so many musical greats names. Jonah’s father and mother separate and Jonah lives with his mother, Sylvia. Life is good for the two of them. The only cloud is when Tilton appears.
Koontz never just deals with one evil or fantasy element, he sprinkles them throughout his story to add richness and depth. He does it in The City as the reader learns about Jonah’s life, the unrest of the sixties–a time of change, frustration, and fear–and the tragedies of love and loss. Jonah encounters a young woman who is both mysterious and frightening, and though Jonah would like to keep his distance, Fiona Cassidy will have none of that as she keeps a special eye on him. Jonah has a friend, someone he can talk to about his fears, someone with connections in many places, a neighbor, Mr. Yoshioka, a man with a tragic past of his own, who becomes a great ally in the fight against evil.
The book reads easily. The story moves along. It’s rich with history and intrigue. I recommend it as another well written Koontz novel.
Ok, I read it. Read the whole thing. Was this my favorite Carl Hiaasen book? No, but it was an entertaining read. The characters are:
Palmer Stoat – an obsessive/compulsive type prone to littering rather than having the offending item on his possession, Stoat is a cocksure deal maker in the middle of the Florida political arena.
Desie Stoat – young, beautiful, and unlucky with men. She is wife number three and wondering how or why she was still hanging around.
Twilly Spree – to say Twilly is a hero would be stretching the label a bit. With anger management problems and no filter, he pursues injustices he sees in every nook and cranny of the state.
Boodle/McGuinn – Palmer’s dog got the name Boodle as a joke. Boodle means bribe of illicit payment. Twilly quickly changes his name to McGuinn when he acquires him.
The focus of all of these characters is Shearwater Island, a natural, lightly populated habitat soon to be turned into luxury condos, hotels, and golf course. The story moves quickly, introduces more interesting characters than those I’ve listed, mixes in a bit of intrigue and violence, and reaches a satisfying conclusion. This might be a good summer beach read. Guarantee it won’t be a waste of time.
Odd Thomas is one of Dean Koontz’ strange yet endearing characters who spans several books and participates in exciting adventures. Although many look at Odd (a misspelling of Todd at the hospital when he was born) as a hero, he continues to point out to those who’ll listen that he’s jut an unemployed fry cook.
In Deeply Odd, our hero, er…, unemployed fry cook, runs into an evil cowboy (a worthy story villain) and after a brief encounter over fruit in a grocery store, feels compelled to follow the evil man and stop him from committing a horrible crime on three innocent children. Using his special abilities, Odd pursues the man aided by a ghost dog named Boo, the ghost of Alfred Hitchcock, and a kindly “smoothed out and fully blue” woman named Edie Fischer who keeps insisting that Odd is her new chauffeur. They travel to a lone hillside where Odd discovers it’s not only three children in danger, but seventeen. And it’s not just the one cowboy, it’s a crowd of like-minded individuals gathered as if attending a party with the demented cowboy as host. The odds are against Odd, but that’s when he shines.
This was the latest story in the series and a worthy addition. I’m looking forward to another adventure with Odd.
Mick Stranahan just wants to be left alone. A “retired” policeman, his idea of a perfect day includes fishing and watching the sun set and rise. Except for Strom, the Doberman pinscher that washed up on his island one day after a tropical storm, he lives a solitary life. Until Joey Perrone arrives naked as the day she was born.
Unraveling the story of her activity prior to Mick fishing her out of the water puts his past skills to the test. Carl Hiaasen weaves a story of complex emotions, shady decisions, and faltering execution. To say that Joey is angry is putting it mildly and Mick’s patience is put to the test as she lashes out at the man who tried to kill her.
Another is interested in finding the killer, Detective Karl Rolvaag, formerly from St. Paul, Minnesota. His Columbo style of work, piecing together the pieces of the puzzle and asking uncomfortable questions, inches him closer to the truth. He’s working on a deadline as well. Uprooted from the north by his wife who wanted to be in the sunshine, he’d moved to Fort Lauderdale to make a go of it. It didn’t “go” and his wife divorced him and moved back to Minnesota. In three weeks, Rolvaag planned to do the same. Anywhere north where “crimes were typically forthright and obvious, ignited by common greed, lust or alcohol. Florida was more complicated and extreme, and nothing could be assumed. Every scheming shitwad in America turned up here sooner or later; such were the opportunities for predation.”
Throw in Joey’s husband, Charles (Chaz), Chaz’ girlfriend, Ricca, Chaz’ corrupt benefactor Samuel Johnson (Red) Hammernut, Red’s muscle, Earl Edward O’Toole (Tool), Joey’s brother, Corbett Wheeler and her best friend Rose Jewell and you’ve got the rest of the cast and an interesting story of revenge and corruption. Nothing about this crime is “forthright” and it makes for an amusing and interesting story that moves at a quick pace. Thumbs up to Mr. Hiaasen for again delivering a quality piece of storytelling.
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