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An Olympic Death (Five Star Paperback)
An Olympic Death (Five Star Paperback)
by Manuel Vázquez Montalbán
Edition: Paperback

5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars labyrinth, 7 Mar 2006
First published 1991 in Barcelona as El laberinto griego. Translated by Ed Emery.
Cocaine deals, heroin overdoses -- they're all in a good cause, as Barcelona detective Pepe Carvalho discovers as he juggles two women and two cases. It's a few months before the Olympics start in his home town and everyone is gearing up for them. Capitalism is triumphant, Communism a fond memory.
An Olympic aerialist has tumbled to earth; he hauls his wheelchaired body around the gym his lover now bosses. She has left her husband, the publishing magnate Brando. Beba, the young Brando girl, gives her father nightmares. While he sleeps she is cruising the mean streets where the pushers live, going God knows where, returning only to present him at breakfast with a series of overnight lovers his own age. Carvalho's job is to find out what she's doing and stop her. Brando fils doubles his father's fee. That's the simple case.
Carvalho assigns his assistant Biscuter, a dwarfish Archie/Bunter, to trail Beba. Meanwhile he leads the beautiful Claire and her companion Lebrun in search of the Greek husband who left her in Paris. He taps an old comrade, turned Olympic official, for information. A painter friend gives them entrée into the maze of midnight streets and fashionable dissolution. Artists and models guide them to a warehouse mausoleum of abandoned industrialism. Another Greek, the young Dimitrios, is to be found at the same time.
For its thorough exploration of the netherworld of sunny Barcelona, for its strange humor and pungent characterizations, for the way the detective finally shows he lives by a code and not by whim or a desire to settle old scores, this novel -- and the rest of the Pepe Carvalho series -- become highly recommended. Stack alongside your classics from around the world.

Murder in the Central Committee
Murder in the Central Committee
by Manuel Vázquez Montalbán
Edition: Hardcover

4.0 out of 5 stars the revolution will not be catered, 5 Mar 2006
Originally published in Spanish in 1981
Translated by Patrick Camiller
The fourth Pepe Carvalho mystery begins with a stab in the dark: as the members of the central committee of the Communist Party of Spain assemble, their leader joshes about wanting a cigarette. The lights go off for three seconds and when they return, he has slumped over the table dead.
Leaders call in ex-communist Pepe Carvalho, now a noted Barcelona private investigator. He finds the Madrid, and the Communist Party, of his youth, have recognizable features but have ineluctably changed. In the case of the Party, the arrival of legalization has left some yearning for the good old days of the barricades, like the old revolutionary in Flaubert's Sentimental Education (though none of them has so much trouble deciding what to order in a restaurant). There is enough Marxist history here to fill chapters with impressionistic details and the reminiscences of sad old men.
The official investigation is also proceeding, led by a notorious anti-communist from Franco days. And yet the police, and the party, and spooks from Moscow or Washington, allow Carvalho full freedom of movement.
Pepe has his own way of working. He seems to need to get himself into the soup - he dallies with a welcoming comrade then jumps right in with a blatant seductress a la Brigid O'Shaughnessy. Gourmandizing occupies his free time - and some of his work hours. Then at page 100 or so he gets around to the main course, interviewing the six chief suspects. He is fatigued enough --surfeited with sex, politics, and food -- to catch forty winks during some of the interviews. And then he closes in. Occam's razor never cut so sharp.
Within the framework of a detective story, Vázquez Montalbán presents a pretty picture of an era not so distant, and not so over. Asides compare an arbitrary fellow to "an Iranian deciding whether to give, withhold, or raise the price of his oil". The new Europe is built on the foibles of the old....

Forward to Freedom: From Exodus to Easter
Forward to Freedom: From Exodus to Easter
by David Adam
Edition: Paperback

5.0 out of 5 stars a good guide for lenten reading, 17 Feb 2006
From the website of Darton Longman Todd, the original UK publisher:
The author says: ‘In looking at the story of Exodus, I want to look at it from where we are today and what it asks of us. I am interested in history, but I am more interested in what, today, leads us into the ways of peace, what helps us to behold the glory of God. Let us see the Exodus as God’s call to us to move from where we are and nearer to the Promised Lane.’
In a series of forty meditations, one for each day of Lent, best-selling author David Adam reflects on the life of Moses in the book of Exodus. The story of this great leader provides inspiration for us to follow the Israelites’ example – to launch out into new adventures, freeing others and ourselves from slavery and seeking God’s Promised Land. David Adam describes the occasion when a child listening to a story from the Bible repeatedly asked him, ‘Am I in that story?’.
Forward to Freedom addresses this question, showing how the Book of Exodus is relevant to our lives, and how we are all part of the story it tells. We are encouraged to step out of the familiar and to risk the desert: to leave that which captivates us and to move forward. We are assured that we are not alone on this journey. There are many other travellers, and our God is with us.
Containing a Scripture reading, a short meditation, and a prayer for each day of Lent, this is a book to challenge our relationships to the world, to each other and to our God. It will stretch our vision and ourselves so that we may positively reach forward to freedom.
At the time he wrote this book, and when I met him, the author was vicar of the parish church of Saint Mary the Virgin on Holy Island, Lindisfarne, Northumberland, and author of many best-selling books.

The Carol Album, Vol.1
The Carol Album, Vol.1
Offered by ukdiscs
Price: £11.80

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars accessible and effective, 3 Nov 2005
This review is from: The Carol Album, Vol.1 (Audio CD)
This centuries-spanning collection provides clear renditions of favorite carols that amateurs can follow, or better yet sit back and enjoy. My most frequently played Christmas album, from the co-editor of the Oxford Book of Carols and the Shorter Oxford Book of Carols. With this in hand and the egg-nog in the jug, I'm ready for Advent....

Resurrection Men
Resurrection Men
by Ian Rankin
Edition: Paperback

1 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Rebus Redux, 3 Nov 2005
This review is from: Resurrection Men (Paperback)
The Rebus Seminar votes .82 red -- John Rebus lives! You only live twice - and Rebus here follows Commander Bond into the deepest cover, as reports of his death prove ...expedient. There is something rotting in the royal Scottish city, and it takes a maverick bloodhound like JR to stay on the trail, and sniff out the quarry. Big Ger makes his appearance, of course -- the question is, what is a retired, hot-tubbing crime kingpin have to do with this affair?

The Falls: An Inspector Rebus Novel 12
The Falls: An Inspector Rebus Novel 12
by Ian Rankin
Edition: Paperback

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Roslyn Chapel cameo, 3 Nov 2005
Roslyn Chapel makes a cameo appearance in this John Rebus detective story, as does the land around it, once favored by Sir Walter Scott and Romantic artists (see recent exhibit at National Museum of Art, Edinburgh). Here the falls are a forgotten spot where an effigy of a corpse is found -- reminiscent of Jekyll-and-Hyde era crimes... Rebus partners up with a woman who knows of such things. The trail is long but he finds his way.... as usual.

Barchester Chronicles [DVD] [1982] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
Barchester Chronicles [DVD] [1982] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
Dvd ~ Donald Pleasence
Price: £14.02

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Donald Pleasance is uncanny, 9 Mar 2005
Donald Pleasance is uncanny - in a new, good way - in this fair adaptation of the beloved Barchester Chronicles' first two stories. It became imprinted on my mind decades ago when I first saw it - on WGBH/PBS Masterpiece Theatre in the USA - and I have not forgotten it. The emotionally satisfying & very subtle resolution to a love affair is presented carefully enough for the Victorian reticence & sentimentality to shine through. Anthony Trollope was very good at exploring the question, "What is a gentleman?" for his mid-Victorian compatriots - and in illumining what is now for us a forgotten & foreign society.
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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Disillusioned in 1537 England, 23 Feb 2005
When you read this book, it wouldn't hurt to have handy your copy of the Oxford
Dictionary of the Christian Church, Henry VIII by J. J. Scarisbricke, Thomas
Cranmer by Diarmaid McCullough, ... all the reference shelf of a seminarian.
Alternatively, you could consult a lawyer, a reformer, and a secret policeman -
or you could consult a monk, a liturgist, and a midwife; in other words, the
hero of this book - or his nemeses. Or you could just wade right in.
A couple of years ago I stood amongst the bare ruined choirs of an ancient
British monastic foundation, and said to myself, what a waste. Five centuries
before me, someone else had probably stood in the same spot, looked at the empty
echoing chambers, with the few last cenobites clustered in a small corner of the
once-grand house, and said, what a waste. And not too many years later another
visitor might have stood there, looked at all the lead in the roof that could be
melted into perfectly good bullets, and said, what a waste.
We would all have been looking at, and contemplating, the same historical
events, whether in retrospection, anticipation, or execution: the dissolution of
the monasteries of England by Henry VIII in 1536 and 1539, and the transfer of
their wealth to the Defender of the Faith, himself. "The wealth of the English
monasteries, a certain moral laxity, and what many regarded as their undue
stress on the contemplative aspect of the religious life, had made them in the
later Middle Ages an object of criticism." (ODCC, ed. 1., 407) ...not to mention
Our hero, Commissioner Shardlake, is a man of his time, a Reformer on a mission.
His charge is to obtain the consent of the abbot of Scarnsea to the dissolution
of his own establishment, the Benedictine monastery of Saint Donatus. (The
historical Donatus, a 4th century North African, gained notoriety by shunning
clergy who'd surrendered banned books - Bibles - to the pyres of Diocletian.)
The good doctor encounters an obstacle in his path: a dead body. His master,
the king's vicar-general Thomas Cromwell, charges him to solve the murder, get
the abbot's signature, and return to London forthwith bearing good news. It's
not so easy. Late medieval England, with its almost Byzantine intrigue, has not
yet given way. (And, as Dr. Shardlake slowly discovers, new presbyter is but old
priest writ large. The new boss is just like the old boss, the cloth of his
coat just a new cut of the same old black.)
There are good people everywhere. Shardlake discovers some in the monastery.
(But the good coexists with the evil he seeks to uproot.) From his hometown of
Lichfield, the doctor has brought young Mark, who quickly bonds with able Alice,
the abbey physician's assistant. These four form the core of the detective team.
Yet Shardlake does not quite trust even those who live under his own roof. And
that is well. The solution, or in this case the dissolution, at the dénouement
of the investigation, comes as a surprise (if you've just been reading along as
I did) and reveals depths to human nature the doctor has not thought to plumb.
The course of the investigation does not run to form, or schedule, of any kind I
anticipated. Exigencies of weather, divine office hours, physical limitations,
and political niceties (within and beyond the monastic enclosure) keep Shardlake
limping toward a solution long after disaster re-gathers itself for a second
We meet late-medieval men who argue over restoration hardware while the
foundations crumble, new men who anticipate their just rewards, and women who
try to maintain the course of life through interesting times. And then there are
the marginalized, the people pushed aside by progress-or just decay.
Once Shardlake finds out who lies in the middle of the road, who can blame him
if he's headed for the ditch?
Sequel, "Dark Fire", to follow.

The Politics of Jesus
The Politics of Jesus
by John H. Yoder
Edition: Paperback
Price: £16.99

6 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars influential guide to nonviolence in the words & works of JC, 23 Feb 2005
This review is from: The Politics of Jesus (Paperback)
Since reading this book in university thirty years ago I have not forgotten it and its impact is undimmed. With clarity and simplicity the author lays out the case for a nonviolent/ahimsa understanding of the political implications of the teachings and actions of Jesus. Walter Wink readers will know it; others should.

Anglican Identities
Anglican Identities
by Rowan Williams
Edition: Paperback

23 of 23 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars cogent essays illuminate anglican ethos, 15 May 2004
This review is from: Anglican Identities (Paperback)
One would have thought that a collection of essays and academic lectures presented on a variety of occasions to specific scholarly audiences would have little broad appeal - but that would be to reckon without the Anglican spirit. Outside academy groves these essays hold up well, revealing the broad themes and great unifying factors that create and sustain that loose amalgamation of beliefs and practices we call, and hold dear, as the Anglican ethos. Here are essays on William Tyndale (upheld as a hero of Reform and an exemplar of nascent Anglican catholicism), Richard Hooker (permeating influence throughout), and later writers.

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