Reader's Link - July 2010 Staff Picks Archive

Looking Back, Youth

The Price of Love and Other Stories

Title: The Price of Love and Other Stories
By: Peter Robinson

Inspector Alan Banks is a familiar character to many of Peter Robinson’s readers. He is mostly known as an experienced, persistent but sometimes lone detective. We can see his career growing from Gallows View (1987) to All the Colors of Darkness (2009). However, what was he like before joining the force? Was there any family resistance against his career choice? What was his family background? How were his relationships with his parents and brother? Who was his first love? Answers to those questions might be scattered here and there in Robinson’s previous eighteen novels. But never before has he concentrated so intensely as in Going Back, an Inspector Banks novella, one of twelve stories collected in the Price of Love and Other Stories. It reminds us strongly of Henning Mankell’s The Pyramid and Four Other Kurt Wallander Mysteries (2008) which looks back to examine Wallander’s early police career and how he grew from an ordinary police officer to a stubborn, energetic and very good detective under the mentorship of an old detective.

Unlike Mankell’s The Pyramid, Robinson’s other eleven stories, collectively, do not necessarily concentrate on Alan Banks. Cornelius Jubb, for instance, presents the wrongful accusation of a murder charge against a Private First Class, the first colored person the patrons of the Nag’s Head, a local pub, had ever seen in 1943’s Yorkshire. The Ferryman’s Beautiful Daughter is another wrongful case against newcomers from San Francisco in 1969, when a ferryman’s daughter was murdered. In spite of the above variations in characters and subject matter, both Robinson and Mankell share a lot in common: the same baby-boomer generation with many impressionable memories about the 1960s, especially the year 1969. Their early lives were embedded with the seeds of doomed marriages, parental resistance against their career choices, but rewarding understanding and companionship from their children. The process of looking back is, as P.D. James writes in her Talking about Detective Fiction, “One of the most interesting aspects of Appleby (a character created by John Innes Mackintosh Stewart (1906-1994)) is the way in which he ages and matures so that readers who fall under his spell can have the satisfaction of vicariously living his life (p. 55).”

View similarly tagged posts: short stories,fiction,mystery
Posted on July 29, 2010 at 3:48 a.m.

Mountain skills

Homeowner's Complete Guide to the Chainsaw

Title: Homeowner's Complete Guide to the Chainsaw
By: Brian Ruth

For the weekend lumberjack, details all the common uses of the chainsaw: cutting firewood, felling, limbing downed trees, even turning logs to lumber with chainsaw milling attachments. A chapter on splitting and stacking firewood is a bonus. Every procedure is amply illustrated, step by step – everything is there in pictures and words. All the many dangers are clearly described, and the authors are not shy about labeling situations best left to a professional. Chainsaw sharpening, maintenance and purchase are also covered. A very nicely done how-to book, certainly the best I’ve seen on this topic. Chainsaws are commonplace in the mountains around here, and I notice our copies of this book are seeing constant use.

View similarly tagged posts: non-fiction
Posted on July 22, 2010 at 8:28 a.m.

Jeepers Creepers It's Everywhere


Title: Creepers
By: Joanne Dahme

Ivy is everywhere. It seems to want to overtake the whole house. And no matter how much they try to pull it out and tear it off the walls it won't be eradicated. Courtney and her family move to their new home in remote Murmur, Massachusetts and the spookiness begins. this is a young adult novel that will appeal to anyone who likes a book with chills, mysterious sounds and movements, and a bit of eco-political activism.

View similarly tagged posts: fiction,mystery,teen fiction
Posted on July 15, 2010 at 8:02 a.m.

Let the forces be with you

What it feels like to be a building

Title: What it feels like to be a building
By: Forrest Wilson

What does it feel like to be a load-bearing wall? A pitched roof? A door? Forrest Wilson's figures hunch (I am compacted; I am strong), stretch (be careful what you dump on top of that skinny guy), twist (ouch! torque hurts), and cluster (it takes a village to keep a building standing). Pictures worth a passel of words; and a cogent text, as well. Marketed as a children's book, but a terrific primer on architecture, physics, and engineering for all ages.

View similarly tagged posts: non-fiction
Posted on July 8, 2010 at 4:50 a.m.

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