My resolution for Cannonball Read in 2022 is to only write reviews where I feel like I have much to say and then dump the others in a singular post at the end of the month to track how much I’ve read. This’ll spare me from writing 250+ words about books that I can’t even think of a hundred for. So…
Hit Parade ****
I enjoy these books and while this is the one I maybe enjoyed the least (did EVERY story need cutaway conversations with Dot?), I still enjoyed it. Was especially curious to see how Keller navigated the flight scene post-9/11 and I think he captures the mood of NYers far better than he did in his self-proclaimed post-9/11 take (Small Town).
Sex Criminals, Vol. 1 ****
One thing this does really well is capture the awkwardness of learning about sex. Matt Fraction does a great job of translating this awkwardness into the two leads learning about their powers. The result is a funny, fun crime caper. Can be a little too male gaze-y at times with how it focuses on women’s bodies but otherwise, it’s an entertaining tale.
Devils In Exile ***
I had mostly sworn off these testosterone-laden crime novels but I remember being intrigued by this premise a decade ago when I saw the book in a bookstore: ex-Iraqi vet has a problem getting a job back home in Boston so he gets involved with a drug theft ring. When I saw it at a used store a decade later, I decided to grab it. It’s good enough, if predictable, with horribly written female characters. Hogan was on to something here, I just wish he fleshed it out in a different way. Read Cherry instead.
Ex Machina, the Deluxe Edition: Volume 2****
It would’ve been tough for this one to live up to the operatic heights of the first, but to be fair, Brian K. Vaughan comes darn close. The dialogue is still great and it’s neat to see Hundred’s days as a superhero teased out more. Could’ve done without one of the post-9/11 subplots, not only because of what Vaughan was trying to say but also because it just hasn’t aged well given all that’s happened even since these came out. But it’s still another great entry in a great series.
A Trick of the Light ****
Coming off the worst Gamache book I’ve read, this is the best. Just a complete tale from start to finish, beautifully told. Some of my criticisms of the series still lingered in this one but not enough to overcome how good it is. Glad to finally see Clara have some character evolution.
Says something about Robert Harris’ ability to write a thriller that I knew what was coming and yet still was gripped on the edge of my seat. I do think the Oster conspiracy was mostly a bunch of Nazi generals doing CYA after the war but it’s still wild to think of what could have happened. If you enjoyed this, check out Jane Thynne’s “Scent of Secrets.”
Andrew Vachss is one of those writers whose books I wish I enjoyed more. I should like Manhattan crime tales that dive so deep into the city’s underbelly BUT, given Vachss history as a prosecutor, they inevitably deal with sex abuse involving minors. And I just don’t have the stomach.
This was recommended by a fan after Vachss’ recent passing. It is quite good, utilizing his talents in a great way. The third act dragged a little too long but it’s still a quality meditative crime tale with a solid ending.
Blitzed: Drugs in the Third Reich ****
An interesting look at yet another malicious corner of Nazi Germany. Taught me a lot about the origins of some drugs and how they came to be. I think Ohler overstates his historical case on several occasions but he presents enough evidence to make me think that the drugs had at least something to do with fueling the Nazis in order to carry out their campaign of genocide and death.
The Accomplice ***
A lot of folks are more hyped for this than I was. I think it’s perfectly adequate. Some of the characterization is great but where it’s lacking really hurts because it makes the reader realize that auxiliary characters are plot devices and thus, make the plot predictable. It thrills in spots but is too familiar to the rest of the genre.
No One Will Miss Her ***
Really hard to think this got nominated for an Edgar Award. There’s gotta be better stuff out there. This is overwritten, derivative, predictable. The class aspects of it are pandering, as if JD Vance wrote a Gone Girl rip off. Kat Rosenfeld has talent; some of it lands in spite of itself. But it’s tough to see this as much more than a mediocre effort.
The Man in the Brown suit ***
Started out well but became a bit too convoluted. Rebooted itself in the last 80 pages and that made it difficult to appreciate.
The Second Sleep ***
This is a book where the less you know going in, the better. It worked for me.
Being a clergy person, I appreciated the angle here as I’m in a season of my life where I’m reevaluating everything. My faith is fine but what do you do when the world around you is changing and you feel like what you knew in the past doesn’t work for the present? I related a lot to the protagonist here.
The world Harris creates is interesting, the characters he populates it with less so. The women exist to advance the plot and have sex (or look attractive). The auxiliary characters don’t stretch much further either. The ending was flat. It’s an interesting effort, just feel like it could’ve been better.