March 2009
Book Reviews by Meg Wood

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(3/15) Resolution by Robert B. Parker. (read me! )

I'm not sure why I picked this book up, considering the fact I wasn't that impressed with the first book in Parker's Western series, Appaloosa, nor was I that impressed with the film version that came out last year (starring Viggo Mortensen and Ed Harris).

The only way I can explain it is that Iíve been a fan of Robert B. Parker's since I was a teenager, and, kind of like with the show ER, once I've invested over a decade in something -- a TV show, an author, a convoluted procedure by which I consume a bag of M&Ms (donít ask), it's hard for me to let go.

In any case, as I'm sure you can tell, I wasnít all that impressed by this second installment in the Hitch and Cole series either. In this one, Hitch has left partner Cole behind in Appaloosa, and been hired to "keep the peace" in the small town of Resolution. There's a local guy who has been systematically taking control of everything in town, and the local farmers, keen to keep their land, eventually also enlist Hitch's support in their cause. As those of us familiar with the character no doubt knew was coming, Cole shows up eventually, having finally come to his senses about flaky, flirty wife Allison. So, the team is back together again, uniting to save the town from the bad guy.

Here's my problem -- again, this is a storyline that Iíve encountered 86 gazillion times in the Western genre. Iím a big fan of that genre, so I know all these stories already, and Parker doesn't seem capable of coming up with any new plotlines for this series. That would be fine, though, if the characters were unique and interesting. Here, they just aren't. Watch Clint Eastwood in Unforgiven, and then watch Ed Harris again in Appaloosa, and I think you'll see what I mean. And in written form, Hitch and Cole are no more intriguing. They're just flat, with a few little personality affects that are supposed to authenticate them, but just aren't quite "on" enough to seem anything but forced.

Anyway, I hate to say it, but dude, I sincerely hope Parker ditches this series soon and returns to the characters we already know and love -- characters that have remained dynamic and authentic for years and years. I actually MISS Spenser when Iím in between novels. When I finished Appaloosa or Resolution, I honestly never gave Hitch and Cole another thought. Meh. Done. [comment on this book review]
[WESTERN]

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(3/2) Prayers for Rain by Dennis Lehane. (read me! )

This is the first of the Kenzie/Gennaro series that I've read, but I'm familiar with both characters from the film version of the book that comes right before this one in Lehane's series, Gone Baby Gone. While I enjoyed that movie, I have to confess that nothing about it inspired me to pick up any of the books featuring the same two lead characters. Now that I've finally done so, I'm sorry it took me this long AND that I ever saw the movie to begin with. Because, alas, I think that since my first experience with Patrick Kenzie was via Casey Affleck, that character is always going to look like Casey Affleck to me. And that's not really a plus, in my book (because Casey Affleck looks 12 years old, and Patrick Kenzie doesn't read that way to me).

That said, this is a really great mystery and now that I've gotten a taste of the series in print, I'm definitely looking forward to reading more (note: I've read other novels by Lehane, just not ones from this set). In this installment, private detective Patrick Kenzie has split from his old partner-slash-girlfriend Angela Gennaro, after their disagreements about the way their last case was handled drove a wedge between them. Patrick is feeling pretty burned out by his life AND his career as this story opens, but can't resist agreeing to help his latest client, a young woman named Karen Nichols, who reports that she's being stalked by a guy at her gym.

It doesn't take long for Kenzie (and his tough-guy buddy Bubba) to scare the patooties out of the stalker and resolve the case for Karen. So you can imagine his surprise when, six months later, he's listening to the news and hears that Karen has just leapt to her death -- naked -- from the roof of a building in downtown Boston.

Determined to find out what happened in those six months to push Karen (literally) over the edge, Patrick manages to talk Angela into working with him again, and the gang begins an investigation that leads them right to the victim's twisted, estranged brother.

Or so they think.

This is a brilliantly written and intricately plotted novel, with many of the same types of moral complexities found in the story behind Gone Baby Gone. Definitely a hit with me, and I look forward to the rest of the novels in this series. [comment on this book review]
[MYSTERY]

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