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The Runaway Jury
The Runaway Jury
by John Grisham
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 28.22
182 used & new from CDN$ 0.49

5.0 out of 5 stars Quite Possibly Grisham's best, Aug. 25 2000
This review is from: The Runaway Jury (Hardcover)
Runaway Jury was an extremely good novel, engaging and intriguing from the very first page to the last. Nicholas Easter portrays a juror whose past is shrouded in mystery, with no traceable history whatsoever. Centering on a trial that pits the widow of a man who died of lung cancer versus the tobacco industry, Grisham weaves a tale of suspense and guile, a modern-day David and Goliath with a twist.
Easter has a hidden agenda for sitting in the jury box, and his mysterious past (or absence thereof) frustrates and puzzles the tobacco companies' jury analysts. As they dig further, it becomes apparent that Nicholas' presence on the jury is intended to sway the verdict, one way or another. His accomplice, Claire, is his contact on the outside, and together they play the game so very well...convincing Fitch that they will, for a fee, buy him the verdict for the Big Four's case.
You could say that the core issue of this novel was ripped from the headlines, wonderfully embellished upon. And, in my opinion, given a wonderful shove in the right direction (hey, who doesn't dream of going up against a big corporation, and be able to walk away victorious, thumbing one's nose at them?).
The scenarios and schemes that Nicholas and Claire have invented, and put into effect are at times humorous, risky, and absolutely thrilling. The final twist of the knife at the end is poetic justice, as Nicholas and Claire's motives are finally revealed.
I was really pleased with this book, reading at a near-nonstop pace. On a personal note, the details about the dangers of smoking concerned me greatly, as I too, am a smoker...made me think twice about picking up that next cigarette. I still did, but with a greater knowledge about what I was doing.
Runaway Jury is a great read, better than some of his books.
Peace Out

1977-1990: Past To Present
1977-1990: Past To Present
Offered by Vanderbilt CA
Price: CDN$ 14.98
24 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Example of Studio Wizardry, Aug. 21 2000
Toto's history as premier studio musicians lives on in this representation of their hits, as well as some not-so-well-known songs. Although never having had the opportunity to see Toto live, when they were still touring (I missed a golden opportunity when they came to Arizona and played at ASU my sophomore year), I don't know how they compared on stage to their stellar studio work.
Of all the vocalists that have sung for Toto, after Bobby Kimball left the group, I think I prefer Joseph Williams the best; not counting vocalists in Toto, that is. Steve Lukather's voice is exceptionally suited for Toto's style of music, as is David Paich's. I don't particularly care for Jean-Michel Byron's voice. This is the only album on which he is featured (Thank God!). I've also seen the VHS-format video of Past to Present, which I think also demonstrates Toto's lack of out-front personae - their videos aren't all that special, when you look at the top videos of the decades in which their music was on the charts.
Past to Present I think includes most of their gems, popular on the charts songs as well as tunes that never quite made it into the top 40. A good CD to have if you don't ever buy any of their other CDs.
Peace Out

The Brethren
The Brethren
by John Grisham
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 25.20
197 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

3.0 out of 5 stars Also known as The Three Stooges, Aug. 21 2000
This review is from: The Brethren (Hardcover)
I thought this story was somewhat implausible, but it was entertaining nonetheless. The idea that three busted judges sitting in a minimum-security federal penitentiary (better known as a Club Fed facility) could devise, perfect, and carry out this scam undetected requires a heavy dose of "Belief (in suspension)". I kept expecting some sort of humorous scene with the three judges doing a Three Stooges routine, as the Brethren conducted their gay pen-pal scheme behind the scenes of a silly trial (and error) system the other inmates used to settle minor disputes among themselves.
Assuming that one took that dose of "Belief", this story was indeed very good. It exposed the greed, and various shades of darkness in the human soul...with every Grisham book that I read now, it becomes evident to me that there are no "pure" heroes (or protagonists, for lack of a better word) in his novels. Every person in Grisham's books has a seamy side to them, no matter who they are. Aaron Lake has a nasty little secret, granted it is not as bad as say, Quince Garbe's, for example. Grisham also has fun with poking at lawyers with his shabby depiction of the Brethren's attorney, Trevor Carson.
Wes & Chap, the two CIA operatives assigned to do the close-up work on the Brethren's attorney, and some of the victims, remind me of the Thompson Twins (the British comic-strip detective duo, not the pop band of the 80s). I can even imagine how some of the humor that lives under the surface of this novel might be brought to life if it ever becomes a movie. (Note to readers: Grisham always read better if you imagine yourself watching a movie version of his book.)
I prefer John Grisham to say, Scott Turow, but that doesn't mean I have to rubber-stamp everything he writes. "The Brethren" is an enjoyable read, but is not at the same level as "A Time to Kill" is. I hope that future books by Grisham do not become formulaic and predictable...a sad comment on too many other authors who have written great books and become successful in their genre.
Check this out from the library, and save your hard-earned cash.
Peace Out.

Atlantis Found A Dirk Pitt Adventure
Atlantis Found A Dirk Pitt Adventure
by Clive Cussler
Edition: Hardcover
59 used & new from CDN$ 1.14

5.0 out of 5 stars Find this Book...FAST!!!, Aug. 21 2000
Clive Cussler is at it again, with his duo of Pitt and Giordino romping through another save-the-world tale of derring-do. Cussler's stories are so thoroughly researched, that half the time the novels read as though they were fact! I'm sure that in most instances, his novels are indeed factual, with a mysterious quality of fiction woven so tightly around it that one cannot help but accept as 100% truth. It is extremely easy to enter into a state of suspended belief in all of Cussler's books, as his writing stems from his own personal experience and the experiences of those with whom he consults for research.
Atlantis Found was an exhilarating ride, from one corner of the globe to the other. I found myself feeling chilled and frozen, along with Pitt and Giordino, as they crossed the Ross Ice Shelf on the Antarctic...and had to step outside into the hot summer sun of Arizona to warm up. Their exploits seem to know no boundaries, as they overcome endless situations that have the odds severely stacked against them. One wonders if these guys (Pitt & Giordino) are human! They have bottomless sources of energy and determination; they always come out on top, regardless of how many opponents they face; they have a knack for always making the right choice when faced with the unknown.
I love how Cussler always works himself into his books; this time, he shows up as "Dad Cussler"; Pitt & Giordino, I think, by now should recognize Cussler whenever they meet him. With all their travels and wild adventures - they always seem to run into Cussler. Pitt & Giordino are no slouches when it comes to remembering names & faces - so why then, is it, that they vaguely recognize him, but can't figure out who the heck he is?
Petty observations aside, Atlantis Found is a thrilling story, from start to finish. I love the way Cussler begins this novel, with a historical perspective that lays the foundation thread that weaves its way through the fabric of the book. I was fascinated by the idea that a culture like the Amenes might possibly have existed, and the treasures and knowledge that their society could reveal about our world today.
I could not put this book down for three days (aside from the usual disturbances of life, that is). Definitely one of Cussler's best works to date!
Peace Out.

Avengers 67 Set #4
Avengers 67 Set #4
VHS
2 used & new from CDN$ 47.50

4.0 out of 5 stars Give Me Emma Peel! (Or should I say, Diana Rigg?), Aug. 15 2000
This review is from: Avengers 67 Set #4 (VHS Tape)
Oh to have been an adult in the 60's! Diana Rigg in color as Emma Peel is a beauty to be reckoned with. Okay - aside from the hokey self-defense techniques with which Emma dispatches her antagonists with (how sad that we have grown accustomed to the real thing that anything less disappoints us - see the Matrix), Diana Rigg is unquestionably the prettiest secret agent to have graced the Small Screen (aside from perhaps Agent 99?).
This box-set of The Avengers was a treasure to find, as I grew up remembering the black and white TV series. A&E has done a wonderful job in compiling and arranging these tapes in collections that make sense, chronologically as well as "historically". Although I must admit that I am spoiled by the kind of theatrics and special effects that present more of a "believable" suspension of disbelief, these videotapes provide more than just tongue-in-cheek humor. It is also comical to view them as an historical comment as to what TV viewers found "racy" or "tough". Bring Steed & Mrs. Peel back! We need classy characters who know how to bring down the bad guys!
Enjoy these tapes...
Peace out.

PIANO CONCERTOS NOS. 2 - 4
PIANO CONCERTOS NOS. 2 - 4
Price: CDN$ 25.16
24 used & new from CDN$ 13.00

3.0 out of 5 stars Bland recording of really pretty music, Aug. 15 2000
This recording of Bach's multiple-piano concertos is not as good as the harpsichord recordings of the same music. Although the performers are all very talented men in their own rights, this recording comes across as very mechanical and stilted. There doesn't seem to be any joy or life in their playing at all. I was rather disappointed, hoping that this CD would be as pleasurable to listen to as the harpsichord versions that I have heard.
Borrow it, lisen to it, but DON'T buy it.
Peace Out.

Celebrates Segovia
Celebrates Segovia
Price: CDN$ 17.92
24 used & new from CDN$ 0.03

4.0 out of 5 stars A worthy heir to Segovia, Aug. 15 2000
This review is from: Celebrates Segovia (Audio CD)
Parkening remains one of the few classical guitarists that I enjoy listening to. Unfortunately, I have not had the joy and opportunity to see him perform live, so my impression of his artistry is relegated to recordings only. This particular recording is superb, sublime, and sweetly performed. The emotion and intensity that Parkening embodies in his playing is noted in every nuance and expression as he plays, from pianissimo to forte'. Although I am not familiar with all of the pieces on this CD, I enjoy hearing them repeatedly. It would be quite interesting to put Parkening's recordings of these pieces alongside Segovia's, to compare and contrast the Teacher with the Student to see how they differ, if at all.
I would recommend this as CD as a must-have for those who like Parkening's works, but I would not recommend it for the average classical guitar enthusiast, as I think there are probably better recordings of these pieces (certainly those of Segovia's).
Peace Out.

Blue Gold: A Novel from the NUMA Files
Blue Gold: A Novel from the NUMA Files
by Clive Cussler
Edition: Paperback
73 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

5.0 out of 5 stars Cussler Strikes Gold - AGAIN!, Aug. 8 2000
Clive Cussler's knack for writing tales that seem beyond belief astounds me. In Blue Gold, he weaves such a fantastic tale that one wonders if it might possibly be true - were there trans-Atlantic ocean crossings that brought many different ethnicities together? How can one explain the different facial features in the rock carvings around the world, representing cultures that have never been found to exist in places like Mexico? Fantastic story, completely believable!
Cussler's new tag-team of agents smoothly take over where Dirk Pitts and Al Giordino leave off. In fact, in a humorous way, Cussler works Pitts & Giordino into the storyline throughout; Joe Zavala and Kurt Austin are strongly written characters with all the zeal and gusto that we have grown to love about Pitts & Giordino. This is not a tale about the new guard replacing the old at NUMA, but rather a fascinating new wrinkle that makes me hope that eventually Zavala and Austin will team up with Pitts & Giordino in some lavishly written novel that requires each man's special talents (more so than the brief involvement that Cussler has allowed Dirk and Al in Blue Gold).
I read this book way too quickly - and was disappointed that I had finished it so fast instead of savoring every page like a delicious dessert. I sincerely hope that soon Cussler will have the opportunity to see his works developed as motion pictures, as I thoroughly enjoy how his books play out in my imagination!
Peace Out.

A Time to Kill
A Time to Kill
by John Grisham
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
183 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

4.0 out of 5 stars Way Better than Killing Time Watching TV, Aug. 7 2000
Jake Brigance is a small-town lawyer with a small-town law practice, taking nickel & dime cases to make ends meet. A young attorney in Clanton, Mississippi, Jake's future as a big-time criminal defense lawyer is incredibly turned down a frightening path in which he encounters the desperate and grim face of racism at its worst. Because of his skill in defending Lester Hailey, Jake is hired to defend Carl Lee Hailey in hopes of obtaining Carl Lee's freedom, despite Carl Lee's admittedly pre-meditated murder of two white men, Billy Ray Cobb and Ernest "Pete" Willard.
The rape of ten year old Tanya, Carl Lee's daughter, by Billy Ray and Pete, has to be one of the most torturous events in fiction that Grisham has written; to even imagine that two men could perpetrate such an act on so young a child is absolutely horrific and incredible. Throughout, Grisham plays strongly on the premise that people who have children know exactly what they would do, were they in Carl Lee's shoes - to avenge the horror of such despicable actions in the only way such men would understand - violent death.
When I first read this novel, I was angered and irritated by the depth of hatred that exists within racism. I was angered that had Carl Lee been a white man bent on avenging his daughter's suffering, he would never have had to face trial. Grisham in fact, points this out several times throughout the novel, and this becomes a rallying point for Carl Lee's supporters. Whereas vigilante justice is not acceptable by any stretch of the imagination, Grisham appeals to the emotions of parents - black or white - and succeeds in winning us over. In fact, this is exactly how the jury decides Carl Lee's fate, rejecting the pressure of the Klan, as well as the black community who thronged the courthouse chanting, "Free Carl Lee!".
A Time to Kill is a disturbing novel, aside from the raping and killing that opens the tale. It is not possible to look at our justice system the same way, especially from the viewpoint of the black community in the South - even today. It seems that although we have come far since the 1960's and Dr. King, Grisham would have us believe that not much has changed for the better.
Peace Out.

The Partner
The Partner
by John Grisham
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
172 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

5.0 out of 5 stars With Friends Like These, Who Needs Enemas?, July 31 2000
Grisham's work keeps getting better and better. As lawyers-turned-authors go (and you could name any "professional" who leaves their former careers to write fiction), Grisham is in my opinion, THE best of the lot. The Partner focuses on Patrick Lanigan, an attorney in a small partnership in the South. Patrick builds a house of cards with deft sleight of hand, absconding with $90 million of the firm's money that he knows the firm was going to collect for a fraudulent case.
Patrick disappears for four years, while the firm hunts him down, never seeming to get any closer to him or leave any trace of where he has gone to next. Strangely enough, as clever as he has been, his pursuers finally manage to find him in a small Brazilian town, and after capturing him, begin to torture him slowly to make him reveal where the money went. Patrick safeguards himself through his attorney and lover, leaving the details of the money's whereabouts and transfers to her.
Despite his legal acumen and planning/foresight, this proves to be Patrick's undoing in the end, but I won't spoil your reading by giving away much more than that...
All in all, this is one of Grisham's best novels, a very intense and gripping tale of dishonesty at many levels. Grisham subtly suggests that although a person may "win", crime does NOT pay, even if what you do is significantly more righteous (or less dishonest, as the case may be) than someone else.
Be prepared to burn the midnight oil on this one!
Peace out.

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