Monday, July 31, 2006

Muzzled & A Grave Talent

Yes, it's after 2 am, which means insomnia again. I'm trying to use it to beat the heat. Chores that are too hot to do during the day get done at night, at least then I'm being productive.

Muzzled: From T-Ball to Terrorism-True Stories That Should Be Fiction by Michael Smerconish is another one of those fun to read right wing books that is full of stories about how the world is going to hell in a handbasket. Lots of anecdotes that seem impossible to believe, but of course are true. Teachers aren't using red ink anymore to correct papers; it was too traumatizing to the students. Purple is the new, friendlier red. Political correctness has gone crazy in this country and Smerconish, a radio talk show host from Philadelphia, wants to expose how deep its roots are going into our daily lives. The stories are well-written and researched, and honestly Smerconish is enjoyable to listen to. He seems like the guy who you could kick back with and listen to him talk all day. His style is very conversational and rarely in your face, a nice relief from so many publishing books and on the radio today. I don't necessarily agree with him on all his points, but he makes good ones, and this book makes for entertaining reading.

A Grave Talent by Laurie R. King is the first book in the Kate Martinelli series. I was a bit hesitant to read this book. Although I love King's Mary Russell series, I'm not a big fan of police procedural murder mysteries, but respect for King's writing won out, and I'm glad for it. Three little girls have been kidnapped and murdered in San Francisco and all of their bodies dumped on land near an unusual community. Living in that community is Vaughn Adams, an artist who was arrested and convicted of killing a little girl 18 years ago. Kate and her new partner are assigned to the case. From that description the book could be written by just about any of the famous authors of this genre: Kellerman, Cornwell, even Grafton, but King writes her characters with such care and sets the mood so carefully it's impossible not to become wrapped within the story. Her elegant writing allows the reader to know the characters intimately and yet still view them as intriguing and enigmatic (this is also true in the Mary Russell series). For every secret revealed, you know there are several yet to come. There are several turns of phrase that are almost poetic and not often found in this style of writing. King's writing takes the reader into dark places that you wouldn't normally want to go, but when you return, you feel better for having taken the trip. This is a writer with an amazing intensity.

I'm currently reading Donkey Cons about scandals in the Democratic party, and I'm almost finished with the Purpose Driven Life and The Story We Find Ourselves In. Now if I could just get some sleep...