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Content by James E. Carroll
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Reviews Written by
James E. Carroll (Cape Cod, Massachusetts, United States)

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The Browning Version (Bilingual)
The Browning Version (Bilingual)
DVD ~ Albert Finney
Offered by M and N Media Canada
Price: CDN$ 80.73
10 used & new from CDN$ 24.99

4.0 out of 5 stars A Superb Film, Jan. 14 2004
Albert Finney's portrayal of retiring classics teacher, Andrew Crocker Harris, in "The Browning Version" is a marvelous and understated performance that you will not forget. While I rarely review movies on this site and I cannot fathom why I missed this film when it was released in 1994, I recommend that everyone see it. The title refers to a translation of Aeschylus' Agamemnon; a play that many students will recall from high school. A play that resounds within this story too.
Crocker Harris is mocked and ridiculed by the students as a classics teacher of Latin and Greek. His popularity pales when compared to a physical education teacher who is also departing the school. His position at the prestigious English boarding school is being eliminated for one that emphasizes the study of modern languages. His wife is unfaithful with Matthew Modine's character, an American chemistry teacher. The students often cite Crocker Harris' refrain about grading " You have obtained exactly what you deserve- no less and certainly no more." A line that unfortunately also describes Crocker Harris' teaching career and life.
In line with films like Dead Poets Society and The Emperor's Club, The Browning Version will keep your interest and not disappoint.

Invisible Eden: A Story of Love and Murder on Cape Cod
Invisible Eden: A Story of Love and Murder on Cape Cod
by Maria Flook
Edition: Hardcover
37 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

3.0 out of 5 stars It's not the Cape Cod of the Andrews Sisters!, Sept. 29 2003
Forget Chappaquiddick and the Kennedys, this is a tale of money, sex, politics, privilege and murder that will hold your attention no matter where you spend your summer vacation. Maria Flook's "Invisible Eden: A Story of Love and Murder on Cape Cod" grabs the reader out of the gate, leads them up and over the sand dune to the Truro cottage where fashion writer and heiress Christa Worthington was murdered and illuminates for those unfamiliar with Cape Cod's secrets the puzzle surrounding this unsolved crime.
The book is chock full of facts about Cape Cod and its inhabitants that make Gatsby's Newport seem like a department store knock-off. While Newport had its time with Claus von Bulow, Flook talks up Truro as where the action really happens when the summering rich and famous mix it up with the locals. Where else but in Truro would a "fashionista" like Worthington hook up with the off- the- rack shellfish warden and others. Truro is high society's pirates cove.
Flook's book has its limitations- she admits that only Worthingtons talk about Worthingtons. She probably places too much dependence on the District Attorney's "investigation" that went no where. The book suffers from poor editing as many facts are repeated and notables have their name misspelled-(it's former UMass President Bulger not Bolger!). I also had trouble trying to decide who Flook really was and what she was up to. Her penchant of revealing her private thoughts makes for good conversation about her at cocktail parties, but given the book's topic, the revelations and experiences of this thoroughly modern millie throw the reader off course. But I'll admit, Flook's digressions make her someone you want to get to know.
When you take that next vacation, pack a copy of "Invisible Eden". If you're on the Cape, you'll be sure to visit those landmarks and taverns described in the book; if you're somewhere else, you'll be calling your travel agent.

The King of Torts
The King of Torts
by John Grisham
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 34.00
137 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

4.0 out of 5 stars "No Fee, Unless Successful", Sept. 25 2003
This review is from: The King of Torts (Hardcover)
"The King of Torts" is a fast paced, enjoyable read of the meteoric career rise of Jarrett Clay Carter II, Attorney-at Law. Trained in criminal defense law at Washington DC's Office of the Public Defender, Carter stumbles into the world of high priced mass tort lawyers when a defendant's random street crime is attributed to a wonder drug's hidden side effects. Having had enough of low pay and indigent clients, Clay signs on for the ride with the "big boys", deposits the contingent fees and never looks back.
Grisham paints a good picture of the excesses associated with successful plaintiffs lawyers, but he does a disservice to the system whereby contingent fee services allow playing field equality for injured victims of corporate shenanigans. The system isn't perfect as Grisham shows us, but no one would ever believe for an instant that Clay Carter, ex-public defender would become the King of Torts in just six months.
In any event, Grisham can write. He moves you through the story with deftness and good characters. Of course, Carter's dad is a disbarred attorney living on a sail boat in the Bahamas; of course, Carter's love interests are the daughter of a wealthy DC scion and a Russian model; of course, Carter takes his staff to Paris for a celebration; of course, Carter buys a Gulfstream jet to visit his plaintiff lawyer pals for dinner; and of course, Carter gets himself into a heap of trouble.

Sandy Koufax: A Lefty's Legacy
Sandy Koufax: A Lefty's Legacy
by Jane Leavy
Edition: Paperback
26 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

4.0 out of 5 stars "Now Pitching for Los Angeles...", Sept. 8 2003
Jane Leavy's biography of Sandy Koufax is like that box of baseball cards in your garage, attic or basement that you have held on to for the last 25 years - something to be treasured. Although Koufax pitched in era far different from today's world of major league baseball, his brillant career sparkles throughout the pages of Leavy's writing. This is a well researched effort that rekindles the memories of a talented, classy, ball player who wore Dodger Blue, refused to pitch on the Jewish holy days, pitched 4 no-hitters, including the perfect game in 1965, staged a salary holdout with teammate Don Drysdale, retired at 30 and kept a private life that was important to him.
Baseball is just a game. Sometimes there are players who epitomize the purity of the game; players who master their position; players who are so good that everyone has at least heard of them. Everyone has heard of Sandy Koufax; some know he was a Dodger; some know he was a lefty; some know he was a Jew; some know he threw a perfect game. With Leavy's book, you will get to know just how good a player Koufax was; and you get to know about Koufax's life - a lot more than you could get by reading the back of his baseball card you keep in your box in the garage.

Barracuda 945
Barracuda 945
by Patrick Robinson
Edition: Hardcover
27 used & new from CDN$ 2.29

4.0 out of 5 stars "Now Hear This...All Hands On Deck...", Aug. 29 2003
This review is from: Barracuda 945 (Hardcover)
Patrick Robinson comes roaring back in his latest naval adventure, "Barracuda 945". After vacationing with last summer's "Slider"( a romp with the Cape Cod summer baseball league), Robinson returns to his roots with an action packed, page turning thriller about terrorism on the high seas after 9/11/01. Once again America's defenses are wide open to attact from a Middle Eastern terrorist with a proper British upbringing and training in the UK's special forces. The plot involves an attack on America's energy supplies with a plan to use a silent nuclear submarine's launch of off-shore missles.
Robinson creates believable scenarios and solid characters with his descriptive prose. The reader is propelled along the story line with swift moving scenes and a sense of urgency all Americans recognize after 9/11.
Robinson's latest isn't without fault. For some unknown reason other than to highlight his visit to Hollywood's Kodak theater, Robinson detours the thriller into an Oscar ceremony interrupted by the terrorist's attack on America's energy supply. Robinson must like to travel, but his editor should have suggested he write a scene about the havoc the attack could cause on an American military base instead of letting a good novel be lessened by a cheap thrill.
Robinson doesn't disappoint with this one. He reclaims his place among the best writers of military adventures.

Murder at Ford's Theatre
Murder at Ford's Theatre
by Margaret Truman
Edition: Hardcover
28 used & new from CDN$ 0.44

5.0 out of 5 stars An Inside the Beltway Thriller, April 15 2003
In her latest novel, Margaret Truman stages "Murder at Ford's Theatre" with a cast drawn from recent headlines and past novels in her Capital Crime Series. The murder of Senate intern Nadia Zarinski, romantically linked to her boss, outside the historic theatre now run by the senator's ex-wife and Hollywood producer, Clarisse Emerson, who is preparing for her confirmation hearing as the next chairperson of the National Endowment for the Arts sets off a media frenzy all too familar in the nation's capital. The case is so sensational that Truman's favorite Washington couple, George Washington University law professor Mackensie Smith and his wife Annabelle, are compelled to play leading roles once again. Supporting cast members and Lincoln buffs, detectives Klayman and Johnson, representing the Metropolitan Police Department, and Sydney Bancroft, aging British thespian and Ford Theatre artistic director, add colorful moments to this fast paced drama.
It is impossible for me to criticise Truman's work. Her attention to detail especially about local landmarks and legends in Washington, DC provides the reader with a sense of place that locals recognize and visitors remember. I don't doubt that Truman strolled the cafes and galleries of Dupont Circle sipping latte at Kramerbooks & Afterwoods researching the details about historic Ford's Theatre that she got correct right down to the spelling.
Above all, "Murder at Ford's Theatre" is first rate suspense. Whether you live inside the infamous beltway or not, add this book to your list right away.

Rumpole of the Bailey: The Complete First & Second Seasons (4 Discs)
Rumpole of the Bailey: The Complete First & Second Seasons (4 Discs)
DVD ~ Leo McKern
Offered by thebookcommunity_ca
Price: CDN$ 156.13
9 used & new from CDN$ 3.92

4.0 out of 5 stars "All Rise For This Honorable Court", March 3 2003
There must be a hallowed place in heaven for barristers the likes of Horace Rumpole. A creation of author John Mortimer, Rumpole plies his craft in London's Old Bailey Criminal Court as the barrister of choice for all sorts of wayward characters charged with a variety of sins. An original PBS series from the 1970's, Leo McKern plays the barrister with distinction. The supporting cast includes Rumpole's wife Hilda "affectionately" referred to as "She Who Must Be Obeyed." While Rumpole's firm, i.e. his Chambers, disdains criminal clients, Rumpole, the senior member who yearns for a good cross examination, has made a career for himself toiling away in the Old Bailey.
This boxed set includes the first two seasons of the series in the order in which they were shown making it easy to follow Rumpole's travails in court, in Chambers and in his personal life. There will be a big demand for the remainder of the series to be finally put on DVD after this success.

Rumpole is humorous, irreverent and traditional. Rumpole's character is a tribute to those defense lawyers both in the UK and in the colonies who stand between their clients and the government to ensure that justice is done. While Rumpole would disdain being a role model, this series was the catalyst for so many courtroom dramas on the tube today. I suspect that Rumpole's creator wanted to and did set the bar high for future performances for those who earn a living being and acting as trial lawyers.

The Christmas Train
The Christmas Train
by David Baldacci
Edition: Hardcover
45 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars All Aboard the Polar Express for Adults, Jan. 6 2003
This review is from: The Christmas Train (Hardcover)
It didn't take me long to purchase The Christmas Train at an airport bookstore of all places during my end of the year travels. I purchased it because I thought maybe it might be just what Dr. Baldacci prescribes for a bad case of the holiday-rush-arounds. I was right.
Baldacci knows that train travel appeals to all of us--if we had the time. He recognizes that weary travelers fantasize about relaxed travel during the holiday season;and he fashions a story that weaves the thoughts of going home for the holidays with an adventure.
When your busy schedule permits, pick up a copy of "The Christmas Train" and find yourself a little nook and cranny to read it in. You will enjoy the holiday a little more.

by Patrick Robinson
Edition: Hardcover
28 used & new from CDN$ 0.61

4.0 out of 5 stars As Good as a Ground Rule Double, Oct. 17 2002
This review is from: Slider (Hardcover)
Patrick Robinson's "Slider" is like a cool glass of lemonade on a warm summer's night. It satisfies. If you are looking for a baseball book, look someplace else. This is a summer story about a Louisiana farm boy who pitches summer ball in the Cape Marlin League. It is a story about his Farmer's Almanac dad struggling to make ends meet from the sugar cane harvest while waiting and praying for the drilling crews on the western end of the farm to find a natural gas strike. It is a story about his teammate, the catcher from Chicago, and his music teacher mother who detests that baseball is drawing her son away from law school and an escape from poverty.
The book is chock full of late inning heroics by collegians trying to get noticed by the major league scouts who camp out in the summer on Cape Marlin (Cape Cod) claiming to work for a living charting players and clocking the speed of pitches. The innings and games move quickly through the book, never lingering too long to be dissected by baseball purists.
I like Robinson's work. He doesn't overpower you with a fastball, but his "Slider" is good enough stuff to keep you reading and enjoying until the end.

The Rehnquist Choice: The Untold Story of the Nixon Appointment That Redefined the Supreme Court
The Rehnquist Choice: The Untold Story of the Nixon Appointment That Redefined the Supreme Court
by John W. Dean
Edition: Hardcover
34 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

4.0 out of 5 stars An Excellent Choice-- You Be the Judge!, June 30 2002
John Dean has written an insider's book that chronicles President Richard Nixon's appointment of William Rehnquist to the United States Supreme Court. It was without doubt a Presidency filled with history, and the appointment of William Rehnquist to the Supreme Court is an often forgotten part of that Presidency. The book is well researched and throughly documented with first hand material from the National Archives, including several verbatim passages transcribed from the infamous White House tapes that otherwise doomed the Nixon Presidency.
Dean brings us inside the "vetting" process used by the White House staff and Justice Department to select nominees to the Court. Dean floated the name of Rehnquist to several in the administration, including then Attorney General John Mitchell, as a possible conservative candidate for the Court as Dean had worked with Rehnquist in the Justice Department and learned of the Rehnquist's strict constructionist interpretation of the constitution. What was fascinating was that Rehnquist while toiling away at the Justice Department was tasked with "vetting' the other possible Court nominees chosen by the White House. Sounds much like the recent scenario of the selection of Dick Cheney as Vice President.
The book details the other nominees Rehnquist beat out for the coveted position. If anyone believes that politics plays no part in the selection of the members of the Court, then this is required reading. At times humorous and at times self-serving, this book is well worth the purchase. If you are not a Court watcher don't worry, you don't have to be to appreciate this book. Dean is a good writer and the text flows easily. Add "The Rehnquist Choice" to your summer reading list - you will gain an appreciation of the importance of Presidential nominations to the Court.

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