You’ve done it. You’ve arrived at my website. Poke around. I’m sure you’ll find something interesting. Most of the fiction and non-fiction can be downloaded from their respective pages. The chocolate/cocoa blog is dormant and has been that way for the past two years. The mystery and writing blogs get updated when I feel up to it. Cheers.
I just closed my Google account. It was easy. Log in, choose ‘My Account,’ select ‘Delete Account,’ ignore dire warnings of your life as you know it ending, done.
Getting to this point took over a month. I signed up with Gmail in 2007. I was about to quit my job and needed a personal email address. Google was the cool new service on the block, so I signed up. Then came GrandCentral (which eventually became Google Voice), YouTube, Docs, Picasa, Maps, Analytics and probably more, all tied to my Gmail address. It took a while to disentangle my digital life from Google. I even had to pay three bucks to get my Google Voice number ported to my cell phone.
Why leave Google now? The NSA information released by Edward Snowden was the precipitating incident. Knowing that the US spooks were targeting Google both via FISC orders and by tapping into Google’s internal networks was disturbing enough. But it wasn’t the primary reason. I make regular phone calls to Germany and have know for a long time that these were subject to NSA interception. Yeah, yeah, they weren’t supposed to since I am a US person, but I wasn’t having any illusions about that. I also don’t believe that my current email address via my hosting company is any more secure. I might figure out how to do encryption but don’t hold your breath.
This novel was my first introduction to the inspector Lynley mysteries. I may have seen one episode on PBs, but I had never read a novel featuring him. It was a long novel, very long, but, to its credit, I have to say the story kept me engaged.
George takes her time. The novel starts in media res, a lone hiker along the Cornwall coast finds a dead body at the bottom of a cliff. The young climber had obviously fallen from the cliff. The hiker finds the closest inhabited place, a weekend cottage owned by a vet. When she arrives up, she’s startled to find the stranger waiting in her house. He takes her to the body, she recognizes the teenager, they go off to the local inn to call the police.
That starts a long, meandering story as involved as a Russian novel with almost as many characters. The hiker turns out to be Lynley, who’s ran away from his life after his wife was killed by a mugger on the street in front of their house. The vet, Daidre Trahair, isn’t as uninvolved as she leads on. The local cops aren’t of much use. DI Bea Hannafort takes over the case. She has her own problems with shuffling her teenage son to her ex-husband so she can focus on the case.
Jack Reacher has finally made it back to Virginia. Except what he finds isn’t what he was looking for. If you recall, Reacher was stuck in North Dakota four books ago (62 Hours). While helping the local police department to keep a witness alive, he ended up talking to the commanding officer of his old MP unit, Major Susan Turner. He liked her voice and decided to go to Virginia to meet her. It took him a while to get there (Worth Dying For and A Wanted Man) were stations along the way.
In any case, when he gets to the 110th, everything is upside down. Major Turner isn’t there. Instead a Lt. Colonel tells him that he’s accused of a crime Reacher was supposed to have committed sixteen years ago. In addition, a paternity claim has been laid against him. And he informs Reacher that, by the way, he’s recalled to active duty. He is brought to a nearby hotel where two thugs, obviously military in mufti tell him to disappear or else.
And, with that, we’re off. The book is very fast paced and full of tension. Whenever you think Reacher has beat his pursuers, they have another trick up their sleeve. The hunt takes them from Virginia to Pittsburgh to Los Angeles. Once in L.A., the book starts dragging a little. By that time, the MPs, the FBI, the DC Metro Police and the bad guys are after him and Turner. I was disappointed by the ending. SPOILER ALERT! The suicide at the end seems like a copout. That notwithstanding, I found the book hard to put down.
Kay Scarpetta is on her way to the Georgia Women’s prison, somewhere between Savannah and the coast. There she meets the mother of the woman who tried to kill her in some previous novel. The mother had abused Kay’s assistant when he was a young boy. The offspring of that affair is the woman who tried to kill Kay. Confused enough? The novel doesn’t really try to untangle all those messy relationships. Reading it was like watching the second to last show of a TV miniseries without the benefit having seen any of the preceding shows.
The first part of the novel needed some serious editing. It slogs along, slowly, painfully. We live in Kay’s head and it’s not an interesting place to be. There are endless conversations that don’t advance the plot one bit nor do they reveal much about the character, except that Kay is full of herself.
The pace picks up in the last hundred and fifty pages. Finally, there’s some tension and you actually look forward to turning the page. The finale turns out the worst possible way to end a novel. The evil sister of the evil daughter did it. Huh? You read right, the killer never once appeared in the entire novel. She just popped into the plot in the last chapter. Anyone taking mystery writing 101 knows that that’s total cop out. It cheats the reader.
I think part of the problem is that once a writer becomes a superstar like Cornwell, the publishers don’t bother to properly edit their books anymore. Who’s going to tell Cornwell to change this or that, to cut the beginning, or come up with a decent ending? Some poor copy editor who’s paid by the word? That’s not going to happen. The result is something like Red Mist.