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Joseph Haschka (Glendale, CA USA)

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Secret London - an Unusual Guide (Jonglez Guides)
Secret London - an Unusual Guide (Jonglez Guides)
by Rachel Howard
Edition: Paperback
Price: 6.15

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars For the London tourist who's otherwise "been there, done that", 10 July 2013
"It's a serene, unpretentious little place with a real sense of community - a perfect spot to settle in with the Sunday papers while your kids make a beeline for the poisonous plants." - from SECRET LONDON, regarding Chumleigh Gardens

London is my favorite city of all those in the world I've visited. SECRET LONDON by Rachel Howard and Bill Nash (with photos by Stephanie Rivoal and Jorge Monedero) is for travelers like me who've been there more times than I can count and might foolishly wonder what there's left to see.

This "unusual guide," which can fit in a backpack, is divided into the city's geographic areas. They are, with the number of described points-of-interest in parenthesis: Westminster to Camden (35), Temple to Angel (38), Tower Bridge to Shoreditch (26), Marylebone to Shepherd's Bush (14), Westminster to Hammersmith (10), South Bank to Brixton (15), Whitechapel to Woolwich (19), Greater London - North (20), and Greater London - South (14). There's also a bonus section listing thirty-five Unusual Bars, Cafes, and Restaurants around town.

Each area is prefaced both with a color map showing major streets and a numerical listing of the points-of-interest for that area; the numbers are positioned on the map.

The majority of the points-of-interest are described by a single color photo and a half-page to a full page of text that includes address, website, phone number, hours, admission fee (if any), and nearest Tube station. On each page there may also be noted "Sights Nearby," which may or may not be included in the numbering scheme.

Of the 191 numbered listings, I'm ashamed to admit that I've seen only two: John Snow's Cholera Pump and the Thames Flood Barrier. Having admitted my disgrace, however, I must point out that most, if not all, points-of-interest would appeal to those whose interests are rather esoteric, and I likely wouldn't visit many of them anyway. The City of London Bowling Club? The Cherry Tree at the Mitre Tavern? The Fan Museum? The Handlebar (moustache) Club? The Twinings Tea Museum? The London Buddhist Centre? The Fetter Lane Moravian Burial Ground? The Bread Basket Boy? The West Reservoir? The Marylebone Cricket Club Museum? The Magpie Alley Crypt? The Brixton Windmill? The Traffic Light Tree? The Giant Scribble? Um, no to all and many more, I'm afraid.

But, I would attend to such as: the Westminster Abbey Undercroft, the Hyde Park Pet Cemetery, the Museum of Brands, Packaging and Advertising, the Materials Library, Nunhead Cemetery, Relics of the Elephant Man, the BFI Mediatheque, the Old Operating Theatre, and a few more. Perhaps even Chumleigh Gardens to watch the unsupervised kids make a beeline for the poisonous plants.

I'm awarding five stars to SECRET LONDON because it does beautifully what it was intended to do, i.e. provide guidance to London's unusual and alternative attractions. My only complaint is that the authors' dry humor is displayed only rarely.

A Loyal Spy
A Loyal Spy
by Simon Conway
Edition: Paperback
Price: 6.43

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Poster-boy for Stiff Upper Lip, 9 July 2013
This review is from: A Loyal Spy (Paperback)
When last we saw Jonah Said, the British Army officer seconded to an ultra-secret MI6 operations group, it was in Rage and Jonah was on a mission snooping in Iraq between the First and Second Gulf Wars.

As created by author Simon Conway, Said is pretty much the most curious fictional secret agent in Her Majesty's service that I can recall. Being born of a Black mother and Palestinian father is itself unusual. But Jonah also carries enormous psychological baggage from failed relationships, plus numerous physical scars, including loss of an eye, from the violence done to his person during his years on the world's gritty edges.

Here in A LOYAL SPY, neither Jonah's mental state nor his physical one are likely to improve much as his latest assignment is to determine if his oldest friend, Nur ed-Din, with whom he played as a boy, joined the Army, and spied in Afghanistan, has gone over to Al-Quaeda. He might even have to kill him.

The story is made complex, perhaps to excess, by chapters that bounce back and forth in a timeline that stretches from 1988 to 2005 from the perspective of two different characters, Said and Miranda, the latter being the former's latest go at a relationship.

Characterizing myself as a linear thinker, the chronological bouncing back and forth took some getting used to, though I eventually came to appreciate the novel's construction by which the author supplied the motives for actions after the acts occurred. Rather clever, really.

Persistence is seen as Said's strongpoint, even by his opponents. Indeed, the energized bunny in the battery commercials has nothing on our hero; the true Englishman, he plays up and plays the game.

My only minor quibble with A LOYAL SPY was that the nefarious plot around which the novel's ending revolved lacked subtlety. However, the WWII freighter SS Richard Montgomery IS sitting on the bottom off Sheerness. (Look it up on Wikipedia). So, why not?

Jonah is such a psychological and physical mess that I'll likely continue with any continuance of the series just to see how he fares. The fact that, to date, the plots of the two Said adventures have been gripping is almost a bonus.

The Guns at Last Light: The War in Western Europe, 1944-1945 (Liberation Trilogy)
The Guns at Last Light: The War in Western Europe, 1944-1945 (Liberation Trilogy)
by Rick Atkinson
Edition: Hardcover

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Soldiers of the Greatest Generation annealed, touched with fire, 29 Jun 2013
"'There must be a beginning of any great matter,' (Sir Francis) Drake had written, 'but the continuing unto the end until it is thoroughly finished yields the true glory.'" - from THE GUNS AT LAST LIGHT

"... Germans unable to find white flags surrendered by waving chickens." - from THE GUNS AT LAST LIGHT

"I cried for the joy of being there and the sadness of my father's death. I cried for all the times I needed a father and never had one. I cried for all the words I wanted to say and wanted to hear but had not. I cried and cried." - from THE GUNS AT LAST LIGHT, a daughter's memory of visiting her father's grave in the cemetery above Omaha beach

Having just finished THE GUNS AT LAST LIGHT, after having previously read Rick Atkinson's first two books in the Liberation Trilogy (An Army At Dawn: The War in North Africa, 1942-1943 (Liberation Trilogy) and The Day Of Battle: The War in Sicily and Italy 1943-44 (Liberation Trilogy)) about the Yanks' World War II fight against the Germans from 1942 to 1945, I stand amazed at the relative ease at which the author wrote so many elegant, eloquent, and thoroughly engaging volumes. Now, obviously, I don't mean to say it was an effortless task, but all three lengthy books were published over a relatively short period of time (2002-2013), and the research alone for any one of them might have well taken any other writer decades. Atkinson is amazing.

What makes THE GUNS AT LAST LIGHT, as well as the preceding two in the series, enormously readable is Rick's ability to describe the Western Allies' war both at the macro level - multiple armies advancing on a wide front - down to the micro level - an individual participant's involvement. Yet, the trilogy is a masterpiece of comprehensive narrative that doesn't get bogged down in either the wide or narrow view.

As an exceedingly casual student of the Second World War, over the decades I've become acquainted via my reading with the Normandy invasion, Operation Market Garden, and the Battle of the Bulge. (I mean, even full-length feature films have been made about them!) Yet, for the first time and because of this volume, I've picked up more than a little knowledge of the invasion of Southern France in August 1944 (Operation Dragoon), as well as the Falaise Pocket, the battles for Aachen and the Hürtgen Forest, the Colmar Pocket, and the encirclement of the Ruhr - none of which have received the same amount of press as the first three mentioned. So, I'm pathetically grateful when any book expands my knowledge base by even so much as a smidgen.

THE GUNS AT LAST LIGHT contains an eminently serviceable photo section and a wide selection of above-average battlefield maps. The Notes and Selected Sources sections are positively prodigious.

Finally, THE GUNS AT LAST LIGHT provides perhaps the best ever example of concise understatement, i.e. General Eisenhower's famous dispatch to his superiors reporting the victory of his Allied Expeditionary Force over Germany:

"The mission of this Allied force was fulfilled at 0241, local time, May 7, 1945. Eisenhower." It's so perfect it gives me chills.

Are We Nearly There Yet?: A Family's 8000 Mile Car Journey Around Britain
Are We Nearly There Yet?: A Family's 8000 Mile Car Journey Around Britain
by Ben Hatch
Edition: Paperback
Price: 6.99

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars On the road to Wadcrag. Or maybe not., 19 Jun 2013
"The road didn't go through Wadcrag, I'd said. 'If you've been through Wadcrag you must be close,' she'd said. 'Have you seen the sign? ...When you see the sign for Wadcrag, you'll be close' ... I said again the road we were on didn't go through Wadcrag. 'Just go to Wadcrag and ring again,' she'd said." - from ARE WE NEARLY THERE YET?, a phone conversation with a hotel receptionist seeking directions to the hotel

"But the kids ... kept mistaking falling leaves for bats and were scared of the free-roaming sheep and it was so freezing on the exposed ridge we left early." from ARE WE NEARLY THERE YET?, the visit to Housesteads Roman Fort on Hadrian's Wall

At an earnings low point and looking for a gig, Ben and Dinah Hatch are commissioned by Frommer's to research a guide on the taking of a family vacation in Great Britain. So, the couple jams a mountain of luggage and their two kids, the "under-fours" Charlie and Phoebe, into a Vauxhall Astra for a 5-month, 8023-mile circuit of England, Wales and Scotland that eventually results in Ben's book, Frommer's England with Your Family (Frommers With Your Family Series).

ARE WE NEARLY THERE YET? is the behind-the-scenes narrative of the epic journey - or ordeal, depending on your idea of a jolly outing.

One of my thoughts on completing this book was that perhaps Charlie and Phoebe, actually age two and almost-four respectively, were too young to represent the average family experience as they either couldn't appreciate much of what they saw and visited, or weren't allowed to do so due to tourist attractions' age and size restrictions. However, it was the Hatch Family Adventure for better or worse, so who am I to quibble? And in the end, it didn't matter because ...

ARE WE NEARLY THERE YET? isn't really about the sights seen and places visited. For that reason, I was initially disenchanted as I progressed through the chapters. However, I was ultimately won over as it became apparent that it's actually an essay on the relationships between parents and offspring spanning three generations and between husband and wife under sometimes acutely stressful conditions. Indeed, significant sections of the book record Ben's coping with the reality of his father's unsuccessful battle with cancer; Ben must occasionally leave his family in whatever corner of the island they'd reached by that point for a short visit by fast train back to his father's bedside.

By the final pages when Ben records the events of their first day back home in Brighton after months on the road, I liked this book and this family unit a lot especially because of the latter's vulnerabilities. Theirs was a very engaging human experience.

Ranger Confidential: Living, Working, and Dying in the National Parks
Ranger Confidential: Living, Working, and Dying in the National Parks
by Andrea Lankford
Edition: Paperback
Price: 10.38

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Getting to the bottom: OPTIONAL. Getting to the top: MANDATORY!, 10 Jun 2013
"... although the Grand Canyon is sixty miles from the nearest interstate, it remains a popular natural wonder for those planning to do themselves in." - from RANGER CONFIDENTIAL

"The ranger hat is nothing if not iconic, but it gives you a headache when worn longer than twenty minutes." - from RANGER CONFIDENTIAL

RANGER CONFIDENTIAL by ex-park ranger Andrea Lankford is nothing if not enormously enlightening. Andrea served with the National Park Service (NPS) at Zion, Yosemite, and Grand Canyon National Parks. At the peak of her career, she was the supervisor of ranger operations for the Grand Canyon Corridor, i.e. those heavily traveled trails (Bright Angel, South Kaibab and North Kaibob) between the North Rim and South Rim, including the three campgrounds and ranger stations at Indian Garden, Phantom Ranch, and Cottonwood Camp.

The book's narrative tells the tale of both the author's varied experiences while with the NPS and those of several other rangers of her acquaintance. All of the events recorded occurred in the 1990s. It's clear that whether a ranger is working a fee both at a park entrance or plucking an injured climber off the face of Yosemite's El Capitan, the job isn't for sissies. The most extensively qualified ranger can and must be a police officer, medic, horseman, rescuer, wilderness survivalist, and (sometimes) a coroner. Yet, if Andrea can be believed, the NPS treats these talented employees like dirt.

The paperback edition suffers from the absence of photographs and even the most rudimentary of park maps. Moreover, the story is haphazardly told in that the author skips around in time, place, and personalities. And the last couple of chapters ramble on as if she didn't quite know how to wrap it up.

My reservations aside, RANGER CONFIDENTIAL is a must-read for anyone who has or is planning to visit a national park. You will never regard a ranger in the same light again, and you cannot but sympathize with their duties which force them into contact with the idiots, fools, and downright criminals which infiltrate the parks each season with the millions of otherwise sensible and law abiding visitors.

As my wife and I have personally hiked Rocky Mountain, Zion, and Grand Canyon, and will likely hike Grand Canyon again, I hope and trust that we'll never be foolish enough to ignore the sign posted at 3-Mile House on the Bright Angel Trail, which reads, in part: "Getting to the bottom: OPTIONAL. Getting to the top: MANDATORY!" I'd be mortified if a ranger had to save my sorry butt after I'd done something stupid.

Perhaps the most engaging aspect of RANGER CONFIDENTIAL is Lankford's candidness:

"I may have been a decent park ranger, but I was never a great one ... My courage was always a bit shaky. Although my work ethic seemed boundless, my compassion fatigued. I had a smart mouth; but when it came to office politics, I played the fool. I drank too much tequila and picked too many fights. I lost my patience. I lost my temper. I lost my faith. If there are people who can be park rangers in big parks and come out of it unscathed, I'm not one of them."

Andrea, thank you for serving. Honor is due.

Black Cherry Blues (Dave Robicheaux Book 3)
Black Cherry Blues (Dave Robicheaux Book 3)
Price: 3.49

5.0 out of 5 stars My first Robicheaux, 2 Jun 2013
"... then her eyes looked at my face with both expectation and perhaps a moment's fear. I suspected she was one of those whose heart could be easily hurt, one to whom a casual expression of affection would probably be interpreted as a large personal commitment. The moon was up now. The window was open and I could smell the wet mint against the brick wall and the thick, cool odor of lawn grass that had been flooded by a soak hose. It was the kind of soft moment that you could slip into as easily as you could believe that you were indeed able to regain the innocence of your youth. So I squeezed her hand and said good night, and I saw the flick of disappointment in her eyes..."

Life is a series of firsts. In my world and my time, it generally includes First Word, First Steps, First Taste of Chocolate, First School, First Pet, First Kiss, First Sex Partner, First Love, First Heartbreak, First Car, and First Job. First Double-Cheese Double-Bacon Double-Burger. Then, perhaps, First Marriage, First Child, First Divorce, and First Death of a Friend. And, finally, First Diagnosis of the Disease-That-Will-Kill-You and First Own Death - perhaps from a lifetime of those bacon cheeseburgers!

As the frequency of enjoyable Firsts decreases, so too the zest for life, I think.

In any case, BLACK CHERRY BLUES is my first Dave Robicheaux novel - received as a gift on my sixty-fourth birthday from a kind and generous lady - and it has added zest. Thank you, AC!

At this point in the Robicheaux series by James Lee Burke, Dave is an ex-Vietnam vet and ex-cop providing fishing boat rentals down on a Louisiana bayou. Dave is a Cajun. Here, our hero is framed for a vicious murder and, out on bail, must travel out of his element to the mountains of Montana if he's to correct the injustice and allow him to avoid being sent to the Louisiana State Penitentiary, a.k.a. "Angola."

Montana is a long way from the bayous and the trial is only weeks, then days, away.

What makes Robicheaux extraordinary when compared to other literary Tough Guys of recent acquaintance, e.g. Jack Reacher, Dan "Spider" Shepherd, or John Wells, is the extent to which he's tormented by inner demons. Dave needs some serious counseling.

But, best of all, is the talent that the author displays for descriptive prose that can occasionally break your heart. That, by itself, compels me to continue with other installments in the series. The trouble is, there are at least seventeen of them, and who's got the time? Especially if one has twenty other volumes lined up on the to-be-read shelf and twenty-one more on the Wish List. Well, we'll see. I suspect Robicheaux will be impossible to set aside cold turkey.

The Secret Olympian: The Inside Story of the Olympic Experience
The Secret Olympian: The Inside Story of the Olympic Experience
Edition: Paperback
Price: 7.19

4.0 out of 5 stars "Aeint what did you dooo?", 26 May 2013
"For over a thousand years Roman conquerors returning from the wars enjoyed the honor of triumph, a tumultuous parade. In the procession came trumpeteers, musicians and strange animals from conquered territories, together with carts laden with treasure and captured armaments. The conquerors rode in a triumphal chariot, the dazed prisoners walking in chains before him. Sometimes his children robed in white stood with him in the chariot or rode the trace horses. A slave stood behind the conqueror holding a golden crown and whispering in his ear a warning: that all glory is fleeting." - Gen. George C. Patton

"'Aeint what did you dooo?' she asks politely, not looking that interested." - Anon in THE SECRET OLYMPIAN, quoting Queen Elizabeth's question to him during Her Majesty's post-Games audience with Team Great Britain

THE SECRET OLYMPIAN, written anonymously by a male member of Great Britain's national team in the 2004 Olympics in Athens, is a comprehensive account of what it's like to compete in the Games based on his own experience and that of many other former and current Olympians. Anon was, evidently, one of the runners in the track and field category. He didn't win a medal.

Anon takes the reader the full gamut of the Olympic experience from selection for the national team to the homecoming and ultimately de rigueur post-competition deflation. The author leaves no subject unaddressed, even if only superficially, and includes: in-country arrival, the Olympic village, the opening ceremonies, food, freebies, doping scandals, parties, sponsorships, skill practice, maintaining mental motivation, pre-event angst, event performance, uniform bartering for souvenirs, the closing ceremonies, the welcome home to a grateful nation, and much more.

And, of course, there's the topic driven by prurient interest that perhaps encourages many to crack the book at all:

"Having completed competition, the athletes need to do something else to burn off their boundless energy ... like thoroughbred racehorses which haven't had a run out for a while, they get frisky. You can almost smell a fine haze of testosterone and oestrogen wafting through the air ... No one need know about your indiscretions ... What does all this mean? Sex, and plenty of it, increasing exponentially through the Games as more and more athletes finishing competing."

The most interesting chapter for me was the last, "The Dark Side of the Moon", in which Anon describes the emotional, mental, and physical letdowns experienced by the athletes home once again, especially if they decide their Olympic days are over and lives must be refocused and redirected. The repercussions can be devastating.

My only quarrel with Anon's narrative is that it is told with very little humor, self-deprecatory or otherwise. The absence of that spark reduces THE SECRET OLYMPIAN from a must-read to just a very good one. In any case, I suspect the reader will never view another Olympiad in the same way ever again.

Love with a Chance of Drowning
Love with a Chance of Drowning
by Torre DeRoche
Edition: Paperback

5.0 out of 5 stars Landlubber girl gets her sea legs aboard a little boat on a big ocean, 18 May 2013
(This review is of the book as it was originally released and entitled SWEPT.)

"... if someone were to ask me which direction the wind was coming from, I would lick my finger, point it into the air, and then declare I have no idea whatsoever." - Torre DeRoche, before leaving the dock

"I suck in the air and slowly roll the scents over my taste buds. Wet soil, flowers, and the sweet, pungent odor of nature's decay: that is the smell of land." - Torre DeRoche, after 26 days at sea

Herein this amiable travel narrative, 26-year old Aussie Torre DeRoche gives an account of her months-long voyage to the fabled islands of the South Pacific made on the 32-foot sailboat "Amazing Grace" owned by the Argentinean man, Ivan, whom she met in a San Francisco bar and who subsequently swept her off her feet and off shore. It must have been love as Torre hated the ocean and sailing and was prone to seasickness.

Torre tells the salty tale with humor and charm, and she does a superb job hitting the high points of a voyage of self-discovery that must've been embedded in seemingly interminable time swaths of boredom; a small sailing vessel in the middle of the vast Pacific hasn't the distracting amenities of a cruise ship.

LOVE WITH A CHANCE OF DROWNING suffers from the lack of a route map or photos. However, the author steers the reader to a website where such can be found. So, since we're all computer-savvy adults here, I won't knock off a star for the omission. Indeed, it's a smart move on Torre's part; I'd add a sixth star if I could. The website has color photos, no less. And, when seen, the "Amazing Grace" seems really small for such a passage.

For the older reader such as myself, a large chunk of this travel essay's charm is the bittersweet memory of the relative freedom and opportunities of youth - perhaps my own youth - for adventures never to be forgotten.

NIGHTSHADE (The 4th Jack Nightingale Supernatural Thriller)
NIGHTSHADE (The 4th Jack Nightingale Supernatural Thriller)
by Stephen Leather
Edition: Hardcover
Price: 16.26

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Come close and let me whisper sweet nothings in your ear, 17 May 2013
"(The little girl) was lying on her back, her blonde hair spreading out across the pillow like a golden halo, breathing slowly and evenly. Nightingale closed the door quietly, wincing as the wood brushed against the carpet. When he turned back to the bed, her eyes were open and she was staring right at him. 'You're Jack Nightingale, aren't you?' she said...`You've come to kill me, haven't you?'" - from NIGHTSHADE

NIGHTSHADE, the fourth installment in Stephen Leather's Jack Nightingale saga, starts out with a clever piece of misdirection as a heretofore solid and respectable farmer in Berwick loads up his shotgun, strolls into the local primary school, and starts blowing away the children before committing suicide. The Borders region has historically been blood-drenched, but this seems too much like America. In any case, private investigator Nightingale is hired by the killer's brother to determine motive.

It isn't until fully a third into the book that what had seemingly been a secondary plot begins to take precedence, much as a gas-bloated corpse becomes visible as it slowly rises to the surface of a dark lake. From that point on, the reader will strive to discern a connection between the two. Perhaps something whispered in the ear will set it all straight.

In my review of Nightmare (The Third Jack Nightingale Supernatural Thriller), I`d fussed that the author had spent too much text space revisiting the first two in order, presumably, to bring the new reader up to date. In NIGHTSHADE, Stephen perhaps swings too far to the other extreme. While it may be unnecessary for one only now being introduced to Jack's tangles with the occult to be conversant with why he left London's Metropolitan Police under a cloud, it would be useful to know his relationship with Robbie Hoyle, who here appears out of nowhere without explanation. And, for those of us who've been Nightingale fans since the beginning, what became of Gosling Manor, that old pile inherited under bizarre circumstances in Nightfall (The First Jack Nightingale Supernatural Thriller)? Did he repair the fire and water damage and donate it to the National Trust, or is he just holding onto it until the real estate market turns around?

The character in the series I find most fascinating is the demon Proserpine. While I wouldn't expect her and Jack to become pub-crawling mates, her occasional and fraught-with-tension interaction with our hero makes her an edgier accomplice to the evolving storyline than Jenny, Nightingale's assistant, who is, in my mind, completely disposable in the long term. Indeed, it is Proserpine's smug warning to Jack concerning his Wicca consultant, Mrs. Steadman, that will compel me to read the next in the series.

High Crimes
High Crimes
by Joseph Finder
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
Price: 6.14

4.0 out of 5 stars "Betrayal is the only truth that sticks" - Arthur Miller, 12 May 2013
"You can't handle the truth!" - Colonel Jessup, in the film A FEW GOOD MEN

HIGH CRIMES by Joseph Finder is an above average legal thriller that's been compared favorably with the 1992 courtroom drama, A Few Good Men [DVD].

In HIGH CRIMES, high-octane defense attorney and Harvard Law professor Claire Chapman finds herself defending Tom, her husband of four years, against a government charge of mass murder for allegedly slaughtering eighty-seven unarmed El Salvadorian villagers thirteen years earlier when Tom, then known as Sergeant Ron Kubik, was a member of a black-ops Army Special Forces unit on a mission to eliminate the leftist guerrillas who'd recently killed seven Americans. Then Kubik deserted and disappeared from the Fed's radar. Until now.

Of course, Claire had no knowledge of her husband's previous life. And don't those super-secret guv'mint goon squads just leave behind the peskiest loose ends?

This novel, published in 1998 and one of the author's earliest, is, in retrospect, a courtroom potboiler that might otherwise get lost in the multitude of legal thrillers published before and since if it wasn't for a particularly unexpected ending that would seem to, and did, lend the story to a Big Screen adaptation (High Crimes [DVD] [2002]). Nothing like a lucrative film deal, eh Joe?

My admiration for the book's concluding plot twist does not, however, negate the fact that it positively screamed reminder of the Music Box [DVD], an excellent and powerful 1989 film starring Jessica Lange as a Chicago lawyer compelled by familial love and devotion to defend her aging father from a government charge of war crimes committed during World War II when he was ostensibly commander of a Hungarian fascist death squad that murdered Jews and Gypsies. Indeed, HIGH CRIMES reminded me so much of MUSIC BOX in broad outline that I feel compelled to knock a star off the former by a niggling sense of a lack of originality. But, it's still a pretty good read.

Fifteen years after HIGH CRIMES first appeared, there's a certain technological quaintness about it that's endearing. Claire might have found Google to be enormously handy, if it had existed back then. And she has a cell phone with an extendable antenna. Cool! Where can I get one of those?

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