Saturday, June 03, 2006

Dying Declaration, Pale as the Dead, The Husband & More

Insomnia strikes again. If I had a mortal foe, that would be it! Today was one of those do nothing days. We all hung around the house and got on each other's nerves. Even Mia was a little cranky today. So I read!

Dying Declaration by Randy Singer is another fast paced legal thriller. Singer writes with such authority about the law, he seems to be the Christian John Grisham. In this controversial novel, Thomas and Theresa Hammond, guided by their religion, put off taking their son Joshua to the doctor until it's too late. An ambitious attorney gets her teeth into the case and charges them with murder. Charles Arnold, a law professor, takes on their case and battles the system. Nikki Moreno from Singer's previous two novels is also one of the main characters here, and she seems to be ready to settle down, just a bit. While I was reading this book, I was completely hooked and ready to give it five stars. However, after finishing it, I see several holes in the plot and a few loose threads, so I'd put it more at four stars. We'll split the difference and give it 4-1/2 stars.

Pale as the Dead by Fiona Mountain is the first book in the Natasha Blake series. Natasha is a professional genealogist who is contacted by a mysterious young women's boyfriend after the girl's disappearance. The only clue to her identity is an old diary that Natasha uses to find out who she really is and why she's gone. At first I was a bit put off by the distant writing style Mountain uses throughout the book, but as I continued reading, I could see that it is merely Natasha's way of looking at the world and that Mountain's writing is brilliant at portraying that. I was hoping for more in the way of actual family tree investigation, but I can see that Mountain is really setting up Natasha with a series of minor characters who will make appearances in future novels, and perhaps there will be a bit more depth to everyone in those. (The next book Bloodline is already at the top of my stack).

The Husband by Dean Koontz is a standard Koontz thriller. Mitchell Rafferty gets a phone call demanding $2 million for the return of his wife. Mitch doesn't have anywhere near that kind of money, and when the kidnappers don't care, his life is turned upside down. Koontz seems to have a couple of themes in his most recent novels: true love and what will a person do when pushed to extremes. This novel exemplifies both of those themes. The book takes off at a breakneck pace, and Koontz knows just how much description to add to make things seem real, and just enough to make them seem unreal. There were a few characters that seemed weird, even for a Koontz novel (Null, Daniel, and Kathy), and I'm wondering if we will learn more about them in the future. I really like reading Dean Koontz novels; they satisfy in all the right ways. I feel entertained, and I feel like the good guy won.

His are books that I would give to Doogie to read. They are PG-13 to Stephen King's R. Little swearing, little gore, virtually no sex or drugs, and there's a strong moral at the end. I don't mean to imply that Koontz's writing is less mature than King's. On the contrary, I think that Koontz explores deeper, richer themes and does it well. I've even noticed some spiritual themes sneaking into his books.

I'm finished reading God's Politics by Jim Wallis, and by that I don't mean that I finished the 400 page tome; I mean that I'm done with the book. Based upon's's description and the book jacket, I thought that I was going to read a well-balanced look at how both the Republicans and the Democrats are getting it wrong about religion and God. Instead I read Wallis blasting President Bush and lionizing U2's Bono. I don't know about President Bush or John Kerry's faith, but I do know that when Kerry testified before Congress after his return from Viet Nam it was not as Wallis puts it "his finest political hour." Or maybe considering how he performed in the polls it was.

One more night of Mere Christianity and then I move on to My Utmost for His Highest (at Dad's request, and a rather firm request at that!) I'm also reading Walking Zero by Chet Raymo which so far is loads of fun. Have a good Sunday, and pray for me to sleep!