Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Squat & Murder on Marble Row

I'm rerunning my review of Squat by Taylor Field today for the Christian Fiction Bloggers Alliance. I really enjoyed this book, and I think that it's just amazing that Field wrote such a powerful work and is donating the proceeds to a great organization.

Squat by Taylor Field is the compelling story of 24 hours in the life of a homeless man. Squid lives in a squat (an abandoned tenement building) with his friend Unc. After Squid makes a bad deal with a drug dealer named Saw, he spends the next 24 hours running for his life and trying to make sense of the life he lives. Field writes almost cinematically; you can see the book unfolding like a movie in your mind. Some descriptions fall a little flat, but the dialogue (minus profanities) is realistic. As Squid searches for some safe place, the reader goes back and forth between empathy and disgust with him, as I'm sure is Field's intent; it makes the character seem very real. The book also raises some powerful questions about what is society’s responsibility to the poor, how much culpability do we have for their condition? Squid’s conversation with Rachel is life-changing, and the outcome while perhaps a bit unbelievable is not out of the question. All royalties from this book go to Graffiti Community Ministries Inc. There's also a movie about the book you can check out.

Murder on Marble Row by Victoria Thompson is the sixth installment in the Gaslight Mystery series starring midwife Sarah Brandt and Detective Sergeant Frank Malloy. While not as strong as the last entry, this is still a fascinating mystery. This time Malloy is ordered by Police Comissioner Teddy Roosevelt to look into the bombing of a wealthy industrialist, Gregory Van Dyke. Sarah, as usual, ends up helping with the investigation, and the two are pulled in two directions: towards the suspected anarchists and the tawdry family feuds that were hidden behind the marble facade of the victim's house. The last book focused heavily on the relationship between Frank and Sarah. This book introduces Frank to Sarah's family and the high society she came from. Thompson writes highly charged dialogue between the two that is realistic and on occasion humorous. This is currently one of my favorite series.

I'm still working my way through the Alexander Hamilton biography. It's written well, but at over 700 pages, it's taking me some time to get through it.


Bonnie Calhoun said...

My favorite Wednesday night show "Bones" was set in a 'squat' NYC...made tme think of the book.

I liked Flicker *sniff* As of 11:30PM tonight Squat was up to #6 on the Technorati Popular book list! Yahoo! almost to #1!