Fairstein, Linda

cvr-final_jeopardy Final Jeopardy
1996
Pocket Books Paperback

Available from Amazon.co.uk
Warner Paperback

New York sex crimes prosecutor Alexandra Cooper finds herself in the middle of an investigation of the death of a female acquaintance she had once helped in a stalking case. Killed on the doorstep of Alex’s Martha’s Vineyard home, Alex fears she may have been the target.

The author’s own experience in the New York D.A.’s office help makes this a realistic and frightening tale. The depth of field in terms of suspects makes it a great “whodunit”, a puzzler to the end. I found the main character to be likable.

This is the first in the author’s series featuring Alex Cooper. While I found the character to be likable, I think some of the other characters could have been developed better. Still, it was an enjoyable book and I will look for the two subsequent books:

Likely to Die

Cold Hit
Reviewed 1-9-00.


Faulkner, William

Sanctuary
See also author page.

Also by this author…


Ferrigno, Robert

Dead Silent,
The good noir page-turner.
Also by this author…


Fielding, Helen

cvr-bridgetBridget Jones’s Diary

In this hilarious novel covering one year, from Christmas to Christmas, thirty-ish and single Bridget measures the ups and downs of her life in small increments based on the “dos” and “don’ts” she’s written down for her New Year’s resolutions, and strives to improve despite the escapades and well-meaning efforts of friends and family.

Also by this author…

 

 

 

 


Fielding, Joy

cvr-first_timeThe First Time

2000
Literature/Fiction
U.S. Edition: Pocket Books Hardcover
U.K. Edition: Headlines Hardcover Click here to purchase from Amazon.co.uk

She was thinking of ways to kill her husband

So begins this opus by Fielding, an author with whom I was until this time unfamiliar, featuring Matty Hart, mother of a teenaged daughter and wife to a philandering husband. It’s a strong start but one I suspected the rest of the book might not match. I anticipated devolution into a boilerplate story of modern suburban angst.

I was surprised, however, to find a bold and sensitive story of a woman whose resolve to stand up for herself, at last, is foiled by an appearance of a fatal disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. Now, I’m sure you are thinking this is the “Disease of the Week” TV movie in book form, and I suppose in some ways you’d be right. In the way that the book is usually better than the movie, however, the way this story is told is engaging and realistic and the depth of the character development builds towards a satisfying if heartbreaking ending (which, of course, you know is coming).

It’s a story that starts with marital difficulties, to say the least. Just prior to Mattie’s diagnosis, husband Jake is moving out, into the home of his paramour. What follows is a rocky road for both Mattie and Jake as they sort out their lives together and try to determine what it all has meant. Will Mattie end her life alone?

At the same time, daughter Kim is going through teen travails. All the joys and woes of the family are meticulously interwoven.

Some authors spin prose that is simply delightful to read and Fielding here demonstrates that she is one of them. She keeps you fascinated with the internal dialogue, and the twists and turns of the characters’ lives, from the first line until the end. This is a great book to curl up with on a cool Fall or Winter evening.

Also by this author…


Flynn, Vince

cvr-transferTransfer of Power

Available from Amazon.co.uk
Thriller
2000
U.S. & U.K Editions: Pocket Books Paperback

It’s a cross between Tom Clancy’s books and “Die Hard,” with the action played out in an improbable setting: The White House.

If you like books by Tom Clancy, you’ll enjoy this one. If you are even the slightest bit intimidated by Clancy’s books, try this one anyway. Its somewhat narrower focus in terms of setting, the number of characters and complexity makes it an easier read, although it is a page-turner of the first rank.

A group of terrorists has captured the White House, along with around 100 hostages, with the exception of the main target: the U.S. President, who has whisked away to a newly completed underground bunker at the start of the attack.

After careful study of American methods of dealing with terrorist threats, the leader of the takeover tries to use those policies against those trying to save the hostages. This results in a power struggle within the U.S. government which may aid in the terrorist’s success.

The characters:

Mitch Rapp is a focused and independent CIA counterterrorism operative whose actions could possibly save the day.
Milt Adams, a retiree whose intimate knowledge of the construction of the White House may be the key to getting inside.
Anna Reilly, a reporter whose first day on the job as a White House correspondent turns out to be her first day as a hostage.
Sherman Baxter, the Vice President, whose dreams of the presidency may be fulfilled sooner than he ever suspected.
Rafique Aziz, an Iranian who wants the U.S. to pay for “crimes” against his countrymen.
A cast of other characters from both camps. The story is well-constructed, the action tense, and the plot believable. A great fast-paced tale of Washington and international intrigue.
…added 6/14/00

Also by this author…


Forrester. Anouchka Grose

cvr-ringingRinging for You
Contemporary Fiction
2000
Washington Square Press Paperback

Ever work in a temp job where your place was simply a kind of placeholder, where your body occupied a spot where it simply had to react to a stream of simple and irregular stimuli by performing easy to master actions? Maybe it was answering the phone, sorting mail when it came in, or waiting on customers during a slow shift or season.

The infrequency of demands was such that you, a young person, perhaps, whose days had previously been broken into much smaller parts and included many shifts of gears, such as between Math and Geography classes, or gym and lunch, found the new milieu of work to be a nearly featureless expanse of desert which needed to be crossed each day. “Monkeys could do this,” you may have said.

What did you do to fill the time? Gossip and speculation about co-workers and customers would be my guess. These days a computer game might fill some of the hours. Certainly, nothing to write home about–or write a book about, right?

I’d say you were right in that assertion if I had not just read this wildly funny account narrated by a young woman who took a receptionist’s job in a stodgy London firm and wrote this book on the job! Of course, her story might be more interesting than yours would be. She took the job when she couldn’t find anything suitably related to the arcane field of study in which she took a Master’s Degree. If you feel you are overqualified for your line of work, though, you’ll be able to identify with the character at once.

With a few artful false starts, the narrator recounts some early childhood memories, her thoughts on how books should begin, and some reflections on a new love interest, the “Man Who Mustn’t Be Mentioned”. It’s a fair muddle, this start of hers, and it vaguely threatens to capsize into a romantic vortex. The book doesn’t really set its hook until the 5th chapter when the focus broadens to encompass the goings on in the office. Her observations of and interactions with her co-workers and bosses are hilarious and perceptive.

At the bottom of the stack (even below me, if I was ever pretty enough to pull rank) is Heck. Heck is amazing. He really hates to work, and what he counts as work is 8<– very little. Moving an envelope two inches would be counted as work by Heck. Sitting in the same room as a box counts as work to Heck.

. . .

The office manager has a helper who detests her with an impressively violent passion, but who will probably never leave her as I’m sure he secretly fears his entire character would disintegrate if it lost its defining hate-object. Without the office manager to loathe he might only be a quarter of what he is now. I like to believe that, after a few weeks without her, he might be surprised to find the missing three-quarters growing back in new, improved form.

The 8<– symbol (scissors, just in case it doesn’t really look like what I mean it to be) is an example of how the narrator shows that her writing has just been (oh, drat) interrupted by work. The scissors, for whatever reason, were selected to show an interruption by someone in person. Other symbols are used to indicate telephone call interruptions and pause to sign for packages. Some variations of these are cleverly used at strategic points. Overall, the symbols are not overdone and help to keep the reader focused on the fact that the novel is being written by someone who is supposed to be doing something else.

Just as cab drivers in L.A. and New York are actors or writers, not cab drivers, the narrator here is “not a receptionist.”

The callers often fail to understand this, and sometimes even refer to the Academy as mine. The Academy is not mine, it’s someone else’s. I think it may even belong to the Queen. When people ring up and ask me when my Annual Dinner is, what my postcode is, what date my next publication is due out, or when my chief consultant is back from his holidays, I don’t know what to say. I don’t have an Annual Dinner. Why on earth would a complete stranger want my postcode? My next publication is supposed to be this one, but it might never come out.

The narrator, who remains nameless throughout the book, provides amusing observations regarding the pecking order in the office and how she feels she is perceived by the other members of the Academy. She eventually gets up the nerve to violate the unwritten rules regarding “who may eat lunch with whom” and ends up taking a chance by revealing that her Master’s was earned in the history of punishment, with surprising results.

The narrative is self-referential and experimental. The author uses devices, such as a chapter on the history of the telephone, and various footnotes, to round out the character of the narrator and offer diversion from her anxiety. The anxiety is developed not only from the work and love angles, but from thoughts about her relationships with others, and with herself.

The love story aspect of this book is interesting in its one-sidedness. A lot of it is about what goes on in our minds when we are interested in someone when there is an absence of much input from the other person. The author is able to evoke a kind of a raw attraction between two people and expose some of what goes into refining it. While taken in parts, the narrative with regard to the love story may seem trite. When putting together, though, the whole definitely becomes more than the sum of the parts.

There is a Chinese proverb that says every minute a person makes you wait is a minute you will spend thinking about their bad points. The Man Who Mustn’t Be Mentioned may have quite a few unfortunate character traits but hardly enough to fill the days and days I spend waiting for him to call.

On the whole, I believe this book will have more appeal for women than men although, if men want a good look at the complex mental gyrations a woman goes through at the start of a new romance, this is it. Women? You will identify with her, cheer her on, wish you could give her advice, then find out she’s really doing okay, just like you might with a best friend going through the same thing.

Conclusion

This is a very odd book, both in premise and construction. It’s a kind of a gritty fairy tale that works very well within the restraints of its two plot strands (work and love) and what’s basically a stream of consciousness style. The writing is intelligent, witty, warm and original, and the situations are realistic.

It’s an exercise in perceptions, contradictions, and resolutions that results in a picture of a person so real, you feel like you could call her up if only you knew her name. It’s definitely a great companion for a couple of lunch hours–or in between calls at work!

If you like this book, you would probably also enjoy “Bridget Jones’s Diary” by Helen Fielding.


Forster, R.A.

Keeping Counsel
Mismanaged attempt to wed romance, the law, a mentally disturbed person, evil politicians, etc., into a story worth reading.


Forsyth, Frederick

The Fourth Protocol
The Day of the Jackal
The Dogs of War
The Odessa File
Icon

Absorbing spy tale of efforts to prevent a well-masked devil from rising to the presidency in Russia.
Also by this author…


Guest Review

by Chace Anderson

COLD MOUNTAIN,
by Charles Frazier.
Hauntingly beautiful prose.

A friend loaned me Cold Mountain last month, and when I started the book, I initially thought the narrative a bit slow and heavy-handed. But once into it, Frazier’s hauntingly beautiful prose held me spellbound, and I fought for a time during the day when I could return to it. Like a difficult text, I sometimes found that I had to read and then reread passages, but with Frazier, it wasn’t so much to improve comprehension as it was to savor how wonderfully well he told his tale. Although forewarned the ending would disappoint me, it did not. I think it ended only as it could have; but for me, the story was secondary to the beauty of the language with which it was told.


Freedman, J.F.

Above the Law

0451202244.01.LZZZZZZZ
Buy from Amazon.com U.S.
Buy from Amazon.co.uk

This is a solid legal thriller with the main character, Luke Garrison, an underdog attorney taking on a case for which he has to travel far from home, and deep into his past.

Also by this author…