Musings from Brian J. Noggle
Tuesday, October 27, 2009
Book Report: Missouri Deathwatch A Mack Bolan/The Executioner Book (1985)
I found this book at my first book fair in the Springfield area. The Friends of the Christian County Library book sale was laden with series pulp like The Executioner, so how could I not grab one entitled Missouri Deathwatch and set in St. Louis.

Sort of. Aside from the title and the character mentioning that the action takes place in St. Louis, there's no real sense of place. Descriptions of locations are stock. It could have been Philadelphia Deathwatch for all intents and purposes. On the other hand, it's better than getting details wrong so that you get a sense of misplace (see Blood on the Arch).

This book is somewhere in the 80s in the Mack Bolan series, and with any series like this run through a set of different authors pounding out a wordcount for a paycheck. This book falls toward the bottom of the range. The author pads it out with musings about Mack Bolan's purpose for the war on the Mob and repeating the arms he carries and whatnot. So it's not the best in the series, and it's not bad for what it is: a short pulp novel with some action and some explosions.

Books mentioned in this review:

Monday, October 26, 2009
Book Report: Lovelock by Orson Scott Card and Kathryn H. Kidd (1994)
I read this book after my experience with The Ruins, and I was pleased to remember how good fiction should roll. This is my first Orson Scott Card book (although it's a collaboration), so I didn't know what to expect. But it's a well-paced science fiction bit. The main character is a mute enhanced monkey who acts as a "witness" for an important scientist as she and her family join a one-way expedition to the stars on an extremely large vessel called The Ark.

The monkey becomes sentient, starts breaking his bonds and conditioning, and outwits most of the people in the book. Additionally, the family breaks down under the strains of the preliminary steps to space travel. And then the book sort of ends without any real resolution or major plot arc settlement, as this is the first of a trilogy. Still, the book was fresh enough and paced well enough that I did not mind.

I might have to pick up the others in the series to see what happens next; however, the book ended without a cliffhanger or anything, so I'm not driven.

Books mentioned in this review:

Sunday, October 25, 2009
Book Report: The Ruins by Scott Smith (2006)
This book puts Scott Smith into some mighty fine company. Along with the complete works of Algernon Blackwood, I put this book down with no intention of finishing it.

It is a slow mving, chapterless tale of some American students who go into the interior of Mexico and encounter something horrible. It's a horror book, blurbed by Stephen King for crying out loud. I meandered through almost a hundred pages of it, not pulled by the plot and not liking the characters much. I turned to find out how many pages the book was, and I caught a sentence beginning the last section of the book: The Greeks arrived three days later. And I knew then how the book ended, with all the characters dead.

So I read the Wikipedia entry for the book to see if I would have liked it. And you know what? It didn't get better from where I left off reading the book. The conceit behind the book doesn't lend itself to much scrutiny, ultimately: a strange vine takes over people. It's only at this one place, the ruins of the title. The local natives have salted a ring around a hilltop to keep the vine there, and they prevent anyone who crosses the threshold from leaving and carrying the eldritch vine with them.

Come on, that's a conceit for a screenplay, which no doubt is what Smith had in mind. But if the freaking vine kills everyone who comes there, how come people keep saying they're going there? How do the natives know to keep the vine at bay? I doubt the book answers anything; the plot on Wikipedia seems to be nothing but getting young, attractive Americans up to the Ruins to kill them.

I wasted a couple nights slogging through the first hundred pages. I'm glad I didn't waste many more finishing the book.

Books mentioned in this review:

To say Noggle, one first must be able to say the "Nah."