Monday, October 26, 2009

Cop Hater – Ed McBain

© 1956, New American Library, New York (1st Signet printing October 1973)

I knew that I’d found a copy of Ed McBain’s first 87th Precinct novel at this year’s book fair. Somehow it was misplaced for a couple of months, but I found it, and it is a superb introduction to the boys of the 87th Precinct.

In this early installment by the master of police procedural writing detective Steve Carella and company find themselves investigating the senseless murder of their colleague Mike Reardon. The early murder of this cop is followed quickly by the death of his partner David Foster, and culminating in the murder of Carella’s own partner Hank Bush. Who is the cop hater that’s killing off the 87th? Is it members of the gang known as The Grovers? Is it an old con, just released from prison after having been put away by one or more of the dead cops? Is it a recently released headcase? Or just a lunatic who has it out for cops?

This gem, besides introducing us to Carella and Lt. Byrnes, also provides some of the back story for Carella’s relationship with his wife, Teddy—a character who provides some relief from the mundane daily grind of police detection for both Carella and the reader. Again I highly recommend this installment from the 87th. Five reading glasses.

—Benjamin Potter, October 26, 2009

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Golden Girl – Henry Melton

©2009 Wire Rim Books, Hutto, Texas

Henry does it again! Golden Girl is excellent Young Adult Science Fiction. This episode of “Small Towns, Big Ideas” is inspired by Oquawka, Illinois (and being a transplanted Illinoisan, this is exciting to me). Plus, tucked away in the pages is a nod to my old home for three years--Louisiana, MO!

Debra Barr loves her small town, and she’s trying to convince her possible boyfriend, Cliff, that it can be just exciting as his native Chicago. Trouble starts when she wakes up and finds herself in the dreary, dark future and is told it is up to her to save the world.

Golden Girl offers a wide assortment of genres for the avid reader: time travel, end of the world space fiction, with a little romance on the side. Get ready for a twist or two that you didn’t see coming before the story is over.

As with all of Melton’s books so far, you can’t go wrong when you pick this one up.

Four out of five reading glasses.

—Benjamin Potter, October 8, 2009

Note: Some of you will notice the new disclaimer in the sidebar. Thanks to Henry for his research that keeps us honest.

Beyond Me: Living a You-First Life in a Me-First World – Kathi Macias

© 2008 New Hope Publishers, Birmingham

Kathi Macias’s biography lists mainly devotional and mystery novels in her list of works. Now she is spreading her wings, digging deeper, and challenging her readers.

Beyond Me takes a hard look at how Christ followers live in the self-centered society that permeates the world today. Each chapter tackles another facet of the selfish lifestyle that the world – and most Christians practice in the modern world. She includes a variety of meaningful illustrations straight from her own life, from her conversion experience, to opportunities she encountered in areas of ministry that she found herself as she grew in her faith. In addition she uses Scriptural bases to form her ideas about what believers should be about.

One of the helpful inclusions in the book are the end-of-chapter, think-deeper questions. These are designed to help the reader to evaluate their own place in the Christian walk, internalize the previous few pages’ material, and challenge the reader to apply the truths to their life.

Especially enjoyable was the treatment of familiar biblical passages such as the stories of the Prodigal Son, and the Good Samaritan. I would highly recommend this challenging read for anyone who is tired of living a mediocre Christianity. Others will want to avoid this book until they are ready to be convicted of their selfishness.

Four and one-half out of five reading glasses

Benjamin Potter, October 8, 2009

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Bread – Ed McBain

© 1974, Avon Books, New York (1st Avon printing July 1987)

At least part of the boys from the 87th Precinct are at it again. Bread is set in August just after Steve Carella has returned from vacation, and it seems that almost everyone else has left for theirs. In the heat of late summer, Roger Grimm has stopped by to see what progress has been made on the arson investigation that started before the lead detective went on vacation. Carella agrees to look into it (even though it’s not his case) and inherits the case when the crime becomes the murder of the “inside” man.

McBain has another police procedural winner on his hand with Bread. This one includes two fires, two murders, a beating, and a look at racism from the policeman’s side of the equation.

is a good summer diversion—or any other time for that matter. Four reading glasses.

—Benjamin Potter, September 30, 2009

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