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Reviews Written by
Simon Crowe (Greenville, SC United States)

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A Question of Attraction: A Novel
A Question of Attraction: A Novel
by David Nicholls
Edition: Hardcover
26 used & new from CDN$ 3.53

4.0 out of 5 stars throughly enjoyable, July 15 2004
A QUESTION OF ATTRACTION is the story of Brian, a somewhat ungainly youth going to university in England in the bleak mid-80s. Brian hopes redefine himself at school and eagerly (in appealingly 1st person) tells us all the thing he'd like to say to people in intellectual arguments ("define your terms")
The plot revolves around Brian's efforts to appear on the popular UNIVERSITY CHALLENGE quiz show and to have his beautiful teammate ALice fall in love with him. Alice, a sort of rich socialist, is somewhat idealized but still very appealing, and she leades Brian on through almost the books entire length. Meanwhile, Brian is coping with beer-making roommates, dealing with the friends and family he left behind, having no money, and his classes.
This book isn't an all-out romp, it movingly gets at that time in one's life when self-consciousness is replaced by maturity. My one complaint is that the resolution to BRian's romantic problems can be seen a mile away....this is a very British novel but there's enough here to appeal to American readers as well. Highly recommended .

Instruments of Darkness
Instruments of Darkness
by Robert Wilson
Edition: Paperback
47 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

3.0 out of 5 stars promising start to series, July 8 2004
Robert Wilson's INSTRUMENTS OF DARKNESS is the first in a series of mysteries set in Africa featuring a white British character named Bruce Medway. Medway does odd jobs for a collection of eccentric Africans operating on both sides of the law. The plot is so baroque as to be almost incomprehensible, but what's really going on is lots of atmosphere. Wilson knows Africa and he gets the details right....Much darker than the No. 1 Detective Agency books, will appeal to fans of Le Carre, Graham Greene, etc.....Funny and exciting, lively 1st person narration.....recommended....

How Soon Is Never?: A Novel
How Soon Is Never?: A Novel
by Marc Spitz
Edition: Paperback
21 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

3.0 out of 5 stars coming of age in the 80s, July 5 2004
Joe, the product of a divorced home in Long Island, just wants to fit in. He thinks he's found niche when he discovers punk rock, and a group of like minded friends at his new private school, but he really finds the love of his life when he hears the Smiths.
HOW SOON IS NEVER is the story of how Joe stumbles through life looking for something he thinks only the Smiths can give him. By the time he reaches 30, he's a hard drinking music writer who wants to reunite the Smiths with the help of Miki, the woman he loves.
The second half of the book is bit labored, including somewhat redundant cameos by 3/4 of the Smiths, and the life lesson can be seen a mile away, but there's enough funny, moving, and honest stuff here for me to recommend this - as well as great affection for the music. Anyone who has read Nick Hornby will enjoy this ....

Rules of Prey
Rules of Prey
by John Sandford
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
45 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

4.0 out of 5 stars 1st in a series - very promising, June 13 2004
RULES OF PREY introduces Minneapolis cop Lucas Davenport, on the trail of a brutal serial killer known as the "maddog". Davenport, like so many fictional detectives, is a driven lone wolf who's work puts strain on his personal relationships. He's also a creator of elaborate role-playing games and a lover of (many, in this book) women.
The case proceeds through the usual twists and turns, and the maddog (who gets some POV time in the narrative), is a frighteningly capapable adversary. Sandford never resorts to shock or violence, the narrative logic is impeccable, and this is, literally, a page turner. Sandford's been writing a long time, where have I been? I look forward to reading more. Recommended.

R.E.M.: Perfect Square
R.E.M.: Perfect Square
DVD ~ Peter Buck
Price: CDN$ 16.03
16 used & new from CDN$ 11.33

4.0 out of 5 stars blast from the past, June 1 2004
This review is from: R.E.M.: Perfect Square (DVD)
This DVD reminded me why I was an REM fan in the first place. Recorded in Germany in 2003, the concert features plenty of hits (Man on the Moon, One I Love), some obscurities (Begin the Begin, Maps & Legends) and some recent songs I hadn't paid enough attention to (Electrolite and Imitation of Life, which sounds like a lost classic)
All three band members look like they're enjoying themselves, but the real focus is of course Michael Stipe. Stipe's in good spirits , interacting warmly with the crowd, and making you wonder why you stopped listening to this band. REM is a band that has been nothing but themselves for over 20 years, and this DVD shows they're still capable of rocking hard and making great new music. The disc also includes a charming documentary about REM's concerts at Stirling Castle in Scotland in 1999. Recommended.

The Man Who Invented Florida
The Man Who Invented Florida
by Randy Wayne White
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
Price: CDN$ 9.48
44 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars elegy for a lost Florida, May 31 2004
This installment of the Doc Ford series takes a while to get going. Doc, the ex-NSA agent turned marine biologist, takes a supporting role here. The main character is Doc's eccentric Uncle Tucker, a lovable scoundrel who thinks he has discovered the Fountain of Youth on his property. Tucker is a sort of Florida Zelig, having been on hand for everything from presidential visits to the discovery of innovations in shrimp fishing.
The plot, which involves the state trying to take Tucker's land, is a contraption set up to occasion remembrances of a pre-developed Florida. Everyone except Doc and Tucker seems to be on the make, looking for an angle. Randy Wayne White clearly loves Florida, this and his other books resonate with a love of place. I recommend this funny, affectionate, labor of love. Not as much of a mystery as some of White's other books, but worth the time.

Judgment Calls
Judgment Calls
by Alafair Burke
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
25 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

3.0 out of 5 stars promising debut, May 22 2004
JUDGMENT CALLS marks the debut of Alafair Burke, daughter of famous crime writer James Lee Burke. The plot involves Samantha Kincaid, an assistant DA in Portland, who's prosecuting a brutal rape/attempted murder. The case looks airtight, but then a possible link to a serial killer arises, as does the possibility that Samantha's lover (a cop) may have put an innocent woman in jail.
Much of the book details the legal maneuverings around the rape case, and there's quite a bit of description of legal procedures that will be familiar to anyone who has seen a couple of episodes of Law & Order. At times I thought the book dragged, but I enjoyed being in the company of these characters and the final plot twist is genuinely exciting. I look forward to reading more from this author.

Resurrection Men
Resurrection Men
by Ian Rankin
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
27 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

4.0 out of 5 stars a dark, lively police procedural, May 14 2004
Inspector Rebus, the hero of this long running series, has been sent to a "police college" for rehab after an incident of insubordination. With four other detectives, he's assigned to work an old unsolved murder - ostensibly to relearn the value of teammwork. Meanwhile back in Edinburgh, Rebus' partner and friend Sibohan is working on a high profile investigation of her own. Of course, all is not as it seems...
John Rebus is a brooding, driven cop who relieves stress by listening to rock n roll and of course drinking. I think he's a close spiritual Scottish cousin to Michael Connelly's Harry Bosch, and I recommend Rankin to all Connelly fans. Rebus family life, his ability to trust, and his personal relationships are all affected by his job , yet he does it anyway. He's one of those fictional homicide cops who "speak for the dead", like Bosch or Frank Pembleton. All fans of police novels with atmosphere should like this series. An interesting subplot involves Sibohan, who worries she may be headed down the same road as Rebus. I highly recommend RESURRECTION MEN and this series.

Dancer Upstairs, the [Import]
Dancer Upstairs, the [Import]
DVD ~ Javier Bardem
Offered by Fulfillment Express CA
Price: CDN$ 15.81
38 used & new from CDN$ 0.67

4.0 out of 5 stars atmospheric thriller, May 9 2004
Javier Bardem is a detective leading a squad of cops in an unnamed Latin American country. His team is charged with catching a terrorist who is rallying the people to revolution and threatening the stability of the democratic government. The cops are afraid that the government will panic and impose martial law. Meanwhile, Bardem must deal with a growing attraction to his daughters ballet teacher. (Laura Morante)
How does one function as a cop in a place where the rule of law can vanish in an instant? That's the central question of this film, impressively directed by John Malkovich. Bardem (a very fine tightly wound performance), doesn't know whom he can trust, but is unable to articulate his inner conflict. He edges towards romance with the ballet teacher, but events catch up to them. I enjoyed the unfamiliar setting, which Malkovich uses like a native, and the mood of impending chaos that pervades much of the film. Some plot turns feel a bit hurried, but this is a very assured effort from all hands. The final scene is one of the most moving endings to a film I've ever seen. Recommended.

The Narrows
The Narrows
by Michael Connelly
Edition: Hardcover
80 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

5.0 out of 5 stars Harry Bosch turns a corner, May 8 2004
This review is from: The Narrows (Hardcover)
THE NARROWS finds Harry Bosch at a crossroads. The ex-cop turned private detective is commuting between LA and Vegas to see his daughter and elusive wife Eleanor. By books end he has made a life-changing decision and seems to have found a new sense of purpose.
This novel is Michael Connelly's lolapalooza, combining characters and plot lines from several previous books. The main thrust involves Bosch stumbling into an FBI investigation of the "Poet", the killer in Connelly's book of that name. Bosch teams up with FBI agent Rachel Walling to pursue the Poet through the Nevada desert. There are twists and false endings, all delivered with Connelly's impeccable narrative logic.
More than any other crime writer I can think of, Connelly deals with way law enforcement professionals are driven to right the wrongs they encounter and speak for the victims. Also, how work defines the lives of these men and women, sometimes curtailing their personal lives. This book marks a turning point in Connelly's work, and fans can only wonder in what direction this series will now head. Essential.

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