Showing posts from September, 2011

"The Cut" by George Pelecanos.

I like to read mysteries and crime fiction.  I've read a lot of books in these categories.  A lot.

Some years ago I developed a hypothesis that if a character was killed in the first three pages of a book (and preferably on the first), then the book would be exciting.  If not, then the story would drag.  In testing this hypothesis over the years it has sometimes been proven wrong, but many times it is correct.  In the case of The Cut the hypothesis proved correct:   No one died on time and the book dragged for me.

The Cut begins with the protagonist, Washington D.C. investigator Spero Lucas, meeting with his occasional employer, criminal defense attorney Tom Peterson.  Peterson is defending a juvenile who is accused of stealing a car.  He hires Lucas to look into the matter and find an angle for the defense.  After Lucas successfully solves that problem, he subsequently accepts a job from the juvenile's dad.  The dad is a large-scale marijuana dealer named Anwan Hawkins.  Hawk…

Morning on Lake Monona


Cook Book Look: "Slow Cooker Revolution" from America's Test Kitchen.

What is the 'revolution' in Slow Cooker Revolution?  It is that, with effort, a variety of outstanding meals can be prepared using a slow cooker.  Surprised?  I was.

After owning a slow cooker for years, I had concluded that it is of limited utility in making good food.  Yes, it worked great for certain cuts of meat.  For example, in a slow cooker the large amount of collagen in a beef roast is slowly and perfectly broken down, allowing the meat to tenderize and develop delicious flavor.  I've also successfully used my slow cooker to prepare apples when making apple butter, and in cooking certain side dishes such as beans.  Experiments preparing meals in a slow cooker beyond these areas have resulted in unimpressive dishes.  As a friend once remarked, "Everything out of the slow cooker tastes the same." Yes.  And that sameness could be summed up in one way:  Meh.

Enter Slow Cooker Revolution, produced by the fastidious team at America's Test Kitchen.  This bo…

NYT's Marilyn Stasio Reviews "Black Diamond", a New Book by Martin Walker.

Author Martin Walker has a new book available in his mystery series set in the French countryside and featuring Police Chief Bruno Courreges.  The book, Black Diamond, received a brief review from Marilyn Stasio in her column for the New York Times Sunday Book Review.  Get the link to Ms. Stasio's column here.

I've read and enjoyed the first two books in this series, Bruno, Chief of Police and Dark Vineyard and will definitely check out Black Diamond.

Read "The Sisters Brothers" by Patrick Dewitt. It's dryly humorous, sad, and hopeful. Not bad for a Western!

Think you won't enjoy reading a Western?  Well, I think you'll like this one.  Although involving violent characters, The Sisters Brothers is dryly funny and has a contemporary vibe.  If you like the movie Fargo by Joel and Ethan Coen, you'll probably enjoy reading The Sisters Brothers.

The story takes place in 1851 and is narrated by Eli Sisters.  Eli and his older brother Charlie are widely renown for their murderous ways.  They work work for a rich man called the Commodore.  The Commodore has directed the brothers to travel from Oregon City to the northern California area to find a gold miner named Hermann Kermit Warm.  When they find Warm, the brothers are to extract from him details about his mysterious "formula" and then kill him.

Two elements make this murder-for-hire story offbeat and interesting.  First, author Patrick Dewitt populates the brutal California gold rush scene with interesting, and often sad, characters who are swept into and under the mania…

Sunday Poetry

Sunday morning is a good time to read and contemplate a poem.  Today I'm feeling a bit melancholy, thinking about ending-times, and the inevitability of loss and change.  Theodore Roethke's poem The Waking fits my mood.   It's a poem I like to read out loud:  "I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.  I learn by going where I have to go."

Here's the link to the poem.  What do you make of it?