Monday, January 13, 2014

Some good books

1. The Shining Girls by Lauren Beukes (who has a great Twitter feed): A drifter stumbles upon a malignant home in Chicago and discovers that he can use it to travel through time and commit serial killings. Meanwhile, one of his victims survives and tries to investigate her own near-murder. Beukes's Zoo City was good. This is tremendous and would make a great television series. Currently $6 at Amazon.

2. The Color of Magic by Terry Pratchett: An insurance salesman/actuary on holiday, a wizard who only knows one spell he dare not use, a barbarian with a sentient sword, an unstoppable piece of luggage, and the coolest instant camera ever have one thrilling, comedic adventure after another. Like Dune and Lord of the Rings, this is a true fantasy classic. I'm sorry I waited so long to read it. Currently $5 at Amazon. (Somehow the official Amazon summary mispells the main character's name!)

3. Drug of Choice by Michael Crichton: My favorite of the eight newly-issued novels Crichton wrote under the pen name John Lange. Originally completed in 1970, Drug of Choice features a fateful trip to a mysterious island resort where mind control experiments are being conducted. Currently $8 at Amazon.

4. S. by JJ Abrams and Doug Dorst: A book within a book within a book where packaging is the star. S. comes in a slipcase that contains an apparent hardcover library book titled Ship of Theseus and written by VM Straka. Ship of Theseus is a surreal thriller about an amnesiac who dedicates his life to resisting the world-conquering efforts of an immoral arms dealer. But Ship of Theseus is also a coded discussion of real antagonistic groups. And the "library book" is full of the margin notes of two people trying to decode the book's mysteries, finding themselves in mortal danger, and falling in love along the way. A+ for the creative presentation and ambition, B- for story. Currently $21 at Amazon.

5. The Wrong Quarry by Max Allen Collins: When a small town homecoming queen goes missing, the chief suspects are her dance instructor, the town's richest man, and the high school football star. Fast-paced and full of sex and murder. Think Twin Peaks without the supernatural. Currently $8 at Amazon.