I really enjoyed Ron Hansen's "The Kid", a fictionalized account of the short, tragic life of Billy the Kid. I've always been fascinated by Billy the Kid, ever since I saw "Young Guns 2" when I was a teenager, and I've read everything I can get my hands on about him. Hansen's book was a great blend of fiction and nonfiction. I'd love to believe that Billy did escape Pat Garrett's bullet and lived a long life afterwards, but the older I get and the more I read the more I'm forced to admit Garrett probably did get him.
I think I'm the only person who hasn't seen the "Making of a Murderer" yet (although I have watched half of it), but I was interested to see what Griesbach had to say about what the documentary left out. It was very eye opening. I'll have to finish watching the show to see what I think, but the way it looks now Steven Avery did indeed kill Teresa Halbach. Very tragic situation all the way around.
A Janet Evanovich reread, "Four to Score". I've read this one a bunch, so I remembered it pretty well, but it was still good lighthearted entertainment. Stephanie is looking for Maxine, who skipped town after stealing her boyfriend's car. After meeting her boyfriend, Stephanie doesn't blame her much, but she still has a job to do. Maxine is taunting the boyfriend, leaving him clues that Stephanie has to get help deciphering. Enter Sally Sweets, a transvestite who is good at puzzles and all around a lot of fun. There are some great moments in this one.
And finally, a Cool and Lam mystery from the late great Erle Stanley Gardner, published for the first time by Hard Case Crime. I love Erle Stanley Gardner. I love Perry Mason. This one is a Cool and Lam mystery: private eyes Bertha Cool and her right hand man, Donald Lam. What starts out as a simple divorce case when a wife hires Bertha and Donald to trail her philandering husband quickly turns into more when Donald notices how many members of the police and fire department visit Mr. Cunner at his various apartments. Turns out Cunner has quite a racket going, selling supplies to help cheat on the civil service exams, and rather than bring him down Bertha wants a piece of the action. It was great fun. I had no idea there were so many Cool and Lam mysteries out there, I'm going to have to do some investigating to see if I can get my hands on some of the ones that were published back in the day.
Boy, here's hoping I snap out of this book slump soon. It took me nearly three weeks to read this one, and it was barely 150 pages and it wasn't a slog, either, it was pretty brisk. I enjoyed it. Cranmer was a simple man who was forced to become one of King Henry's advisers when he came up with the notion that Henry shouldn't have to answer to the Pope. That was exactly what the megalomaniac wanted to hear, and while Henry was alive Cranmer did well. After Edward died, Queen Mary went after him, since he'd after all declared her mother's marriage to her father null and void and her illegitimate. Mary tried to get Cranmer to recant and declare himself a Catholic before he was burned at the stake, but he refused, bravely thrusting his hand into the fire and watching it burn before the fire consumed the rest of him.
Boy, have I been in a book slump lately. I've only read four books this month, and two were these Janet Evanovich rereads. I have all these wonderful books I've put on hold and gotten from work, and then had to renew (and renew again) because I just haven't had the motivation to read them. Eventually I'll snap out of it, but in the meantime this is all I've read lately. "High Five" finds Stephanie looking for her missing Uncle Fred. He was having an argument with his garbage company, and disappeared. Honestly, no one is really too sad he's gone, including his long-suffering wife, who is planning a cruise and buying new cars and furniture.
I hadn't read "Two for the Dough" in a long time, the only thing I remembered was that Stiva's funeral parlor burned down in the end. Stephanie is trying to find Kenny Mancuso, who skipped bail after shooting his friend in the knee. Mancuso is Joe Morelli's cousin, and she and Morelli form an uneasy partnership to try to catch Kenny. Meanwhile, Spiro Stiva hires Stephanie to find out what happened to a bunch of surplus caskets he bought from the government that went missing out of his storage locker.
I do so enjoy Robert Wagner's memoirs. This one was a tender love letter to all the actresses he's admired over the years and what made them special. He said in the beginning there would be no dirt, and there wasn't, but that was fine by me. It was a fun, quick read.
I was very excited when I heard about "When Paris Sizzled". Paris in the 1920s seems like *the* place to be, which is obviously why so many famous Americans ended up there. I was hoping for some good Faulkner stories, but alas, all he got was one sentence :( Hemingway and Fitzgerald were mentioned a lot, but it was more about Chanel and her set. It was still fun and interesting.
I wasn't crazy about the cover of Jen Lancaster's new book, "By the Numbers", but the story itself was great fun, probably the best fiction title she's written so far. Penny Sinclair is an actuary: she crunches numbers for an insurance company to figure out things like life expectancy and accidents. She's very good at her job, and she's worked hard so her kids can have a good life and never want for anything. She and her recently divorced husband, Chris, are putting together a wedding for their daughter, Kelsey, and once that's over Penny is selling their Queen Anne home and moving on with her life. She's very excited about her fresh start. Then Kelsey comes back from her honeymoon and moves back in, fighting with her new husband. Her other daughter, Jessica, took too many risks in New York, is broke, and now she needs a place to stay. And then Chris has an accident while zip lining with his new much younger girlfriend, who promptly dumps him and *he* needs a place to stay. Just when Penny thought she was finally going to get out, she gets pulled back in. It was so charming and funny and my God, her daughters were horrible. I would have drowned them.
Needing something good related to football in my life right now (ugh) I picked up Jeff Pearlman's new bio of the legendary Brett Favre. Pearlman wasn't out to write a fluff piece, he talks about all of Brett's shortcomings, how he was unfaithful to Deanna, how he drank too much and almost killed himself in that car wreck back in college. There was just something so magical about watching Brett play, when he was good, on fire, making the impossible throws into triple coverage and his receivers would still somehow manage to pop up with the ball for the touchdown. I mean, words can't describe it. I miss that so much, I miss watching him. There isn't anyone else who plays like Brett did. He's one of a kind. Of course he did stupid things (all those interceptions!) but he deserved to go out better than he did. I won't ever forgive Mike McCarthy and Ted Thompson for forcing his hand about retirement and then not letting him come back and finish out his career as a Packer, like he should have. And if the Saints weren't a bunch of dirty players, then Brett could have gone on to a third Super Bowl and gotten his second ring like Peyton Manning did. I believe the Vikings could have done it, but the Saints set out to hurt him in that playoff game and by God, they did, it was painful to watch. Oh well. Brett's happy now, living the good life back home in Mississippi with his wife and girls and grandsons. I wish him a long and happy retirement.
Whenever I spend time at my parents' house, I tend to reread the Stephanie Plum books by Janet Evanovich. Mostly because my mother has them all and I don't :) So I reread the first one, which I hadn't read in quite some time, so I actually didn't remember how it ended. It was written in 1994, which was fun, it's almost like reading a historical fiction novel at this point. Having to find pay phones to make calls. An answering machine with actual tape plays a big role.
Then I read her latest, "Turbo Twenty-Three". It was pretty good. Ranger has agreed to look into the security shortfalls at Bogart's ice cream factory. He needs Stephanie to go undercover and see if she can sniff out any bad characters. Bogart thinks his rival, Mo Morris, is deliberately sabotaging him. Ice cream and an overnight trip to Disney World with Ranger equals a win.
I wasn't sure if I'd read Raymond Chandler's "The Lady in the Lake" before or not. I read a lot of noir books as a teen: Chandler and Cain and Hammett. This one didn't seem familiar, but again, I've read "One for the Money" at least three times within the last twenty years and didn't remember it. If I read "Lady in the Lake" it was close to twenty-five years ago, and only once. At any rate, it was really good. PI Philip Marlowe is hired by Derace Kingsley, a wealthy businessman whose wife ran off. Kingsley is fine with that, he doesn't want her back, he just wants to make sure she's okay. Crystal was last seen at their vacation cabin up in Crestline. There are a lot of different leads to follow, and Marlowe finds himself looking at the death of a doctor's wife that may or may not have been murder and may or may not tie into the disappearance of Crystal Kingsley, when another dead body turns up drowned in the lake by the Kingsley's vacation home. There was a heck of a lot going on in this book, but it was interesting.