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Vincent Croal (Woodland Hills, CA USA)
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Sucker Bet
Sucker Bet
by James Swain
Edition: Hardcover
27 used & new from CDN$ 0.03

4.0 out of 5 stars A "Soft Hand" not a "Hard Hand", Feb. 8 2004
This review is from: Sucker Bet (Hardcover)
In Blackjack terminology this novel is a "soft hand" not a "hard hand" and that's good..
Sucker Bet is not the best mystery novel ever written but it certainly is one of the most refreshing mysteries I've read in a long time.
Tony Valentine, a gaming consultant who uncovers casino crime, exposes us to a parade of characters, sub-plots and gambling realities.
The joy of this read is not in the details of plot but in the development and mix of characters.

Death of an Addict
Death of an Addict
by M. C. Beaton
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
Price: CDN$ 8.55
57 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

5.0 out of 5 stars A Grand Read, April 14 2003
Now, this was my twelfth experience with Hamish and I feel it was my best - better than my other favorites: Death of a Prankster and Death of a Macho Man. The romance and its complications with Olivia Chater and the sojourn to Amsterdam provided fresh air to the Hamish Macbeth series. It was enjoyable to see Hamish coupled with Rolex, Armani and Mercedes. Lochdubh is a wonderful place, but it's nice to get away. As Hamish Macbeth might say: "Death of an Addict was a grand read."

Prize Stories 2001: The O. Henry Awards
Prize Stories 2001: The O. Henry Awards
by Larry Dark
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 21.42
39 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

5.0 out of 5 stars A Terrific Collection, May 15 2002
The seventeen stories in this collection evidence that good writing in North America has not been forgotten. The story that I most enjoyed was David Schickler's enchanting "The Smoker" with its character evolvement and startling twist. The first prize winner, Mary Swan's "The Deep" holds magnificent writing that presents images that will remain with you for days. Stories of humor and fantasy are represented by Pinckney Benedict's "Zog-19: A Scientific Romance" and George Saunders's "Pastoralia". Alice Munro, T.C. Boyle, Joyce Carol Oates, Antonya Nelson, and Ron Carlson maintain their renown with their short fiction in this collection.

A Painted House
A Painted House
by John Grisham
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
200 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

4.0 out of 5 stars Worth the Read, March 11 2002
The Painted House by John Grisham
I read it because I was curious to see how well Grisham could pull off a "legalless" environment novel. I'm quite happy that I did because I really enjoyed it.
The story is told by a seven year old farm boy, Luke Chandler. Don't let this be a turnoff. Luke has the insight, thoughts and feelings of someone (Grisham, perhaps (?)) well beyond seven years.
I'm very relieved that I did not have to grow up in the early 1950's Arkansas cotton country. Grisham brings the reader very close to those hard times. Even the St. Louis Cardinal radio games were marred because the Cards were playing second fiddle to the Dodgers and Giants.

Suzanne's Diary for Nicholas
Suzanne's Diary for Nicholas
by James Patterson
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 29.51
116 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

3.0 out of 5 stars Bah Humbug!, Oct. 25 2001
I'm a cynical 54 year old man who has trouble believing that all of Patterson's characters in this book could exist. This was bizarre fantasy for me. Suzanne should be canonized tomorrow. I had trouble not laughing at the sincerity and sweetness in this book. Bah Humbug!... The most amazing thing is that James Patterson wrote this saccharine love story... Wow!

Lying Awake
Lying Awake
by Mark Salzman
Edition: Hardcover
45 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

2.0 out of 5 stars I Became Uncomfortable, July 5 2001
This review is from: Lying Awake (Hardcover)
I was really enjoying Lying Awake - the real world of cloistered life, the conflict of the solemn vows and the interluding poetry - until I reached page 139, about three fourths the way through the novel. Here we are told that the Miserere was an ancient poem written in honor of the Blessed Virgin. Lots of us (Catholic or not) know that Miserere, "have mercy on me", comes from the 51st Psalm (Vulgate Psalm 50) and has been the foundation of many noteworthy music arrangements throughout history. Fiction or not, I became uncomfortable in not knowing Salzman's further diligence and research.

White Teeth: A Novel
White Teeth: A Novel
by Zadie Smith
Edition: Hardcover
53 used & new from CDN$ 2.65

5.0 out of 5 stars Filled with Gems, Feb. 19 2001
This review is from: White Teeth: A Novel (Hardcover)
In the first chapter, Zadie Smith writes about a character, Clara Bowden, "She wore her sexuality with an older woman's ease, and not like an awkward purse, never knowing how to hold it, where to hang it, or when to just put it down." Because this line seemed familiar to me, I e-mailed it to a friend of mine and asked if I was experiencing some genuine deja vu or if he had read something similar somewhere before. He responded saying that maybe it's just one of those gems that are so good that you think you've heard it before. Well, White Teeth is filled with many more gems like this. It's the best novel that I have read in many years. And, yes, it's all the more remarkable when you consider that Zadie Smith finished it at 24 years of age.

Highland Christmas
Highland Christmas
by M.C Beaton
Edition: Hardcover
28 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

5.0 out of 5 stars In the Spirit of Christmas, Feb. 19 2001
This review is from: Highland Christmas (Hardcover)
I was very pleased to be able to fit A Highland Christmas into my own Christmas season. To all of us who know that a sudden sibilancy in Hamish McBeth's accent is because he is becoming angry: M.C. Beaton greets us with a wonderful highland holiday season. Yes, I am a fan. This is my sixth experience with Hamish (my favorites: Death of a Prankster and Death of a Macho Man) and I hope to read them all.

Pop Goes the Weasel
Pop Goes the Weasel
by James Patterson
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
Price: CDN$ 8.54
130 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

4.0 out of 5 stars It Succeeds, Feb. 11 2001
This was my first experience with James Patterson and Alex Cross except for the 1997 movie, Kiss the Girls with Morgan Freeman. The book succeeds as a fast paced, barn burning mystery/thriller and to keep the pages turning quickly the 423 page book is divided into 124 chapters where you are always beckoned to read the next chapter. It is fiction: Alex Cross and his family are just too good (saccharine) and there are loose ends; but, hey, it succeeds.

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