And Books

ANGELS OF DARKNESS is a collection of Cornel Woolrich shorts that leaves me feeling he’s much stronger at novel length (though I was tired enough when I read it that it may be my fault). The best of these has a librarian investigating a possible kidnapping in “The Book That Squealed,” a fun tale (very far removed from the noir tone of Woolrich’s novels) though very heavy on librarian stereotypes.
THE TERROR BEFORE TRAFALGAR: Nelson, Napoleon and the Secret War by Tom Pocock chronicles the transitional years between Britain’s tentative peace agreement with Napoleon in 1801 and Nelson’s victory at Trafalgar a few years later. The intervening years include political struggles in England, Napoleon fending off coup plotters and promoting himself from First Consul to Emperor, naval battles in the Caribbean and both sides preparing for Bonaparte’s anticipated invasion of England. Informative, but the writing didn’t have the spark that the best history books do.
THE HONORABLE SCHOOLBOY was the second installment in leCarre’s Karla Trilogy as Smiley, fresh from exposing Karla’s mole in the Circus, finds a way to turn the tables (“Was there any investigation he discouraged us from pursuing?”) and discovers a Soviet agent inside China’s equivalent of the Pentagon. Plans to snare the agent fall afoul of both rival players in British intelligence and “the Cousins” (CIA), to the point where the missteps of the title character (an aristocratic part-time agent) really don’t affect the outcome. Very good (this makes the political backstabbing in For Queen and Country look like grade school) but it drags in the middle as the agent goes off on a tour of Cambodia and Vietnam (leCarre’s showing off more of his research than he really needs to).
FEAR AGENT: Reignition by Rick Remender and Tony Moore is a by the numbers hybrid of pulp cliches with action movie cliches as a hard-drinking ex “fear agent” finds himself once again out to save the world with the help of a big-breasted female sidekick. I’m unimpressed.
BATWOMAN: Hydrology is a New52 TPB by J.H. Williams III and W. Haden Blackman, wherein Batwoman must deal with a child-killing ghost as well as launching a romance with GCPD detective Maggie Sawyer. Good, though I’m curious why Kate Kane has deadwhite skin in both identities (it wouldn’t seem that hard to realize who’s under the mask).
IRREDEEMABLE vol 2 by Mark Waid and Peter Krause has one of the creepiest bits in the series (my most recent reviews of other volumes are here), as the Plutonian proves that if you bad-mouth him, he can hear it, see you, see your children … This entry fills in a lot of backstory on what pushed the Plutonian over the edge, and sets up the collapse of the Paradigm in the following volume.

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One response to “And Books

  1. Pingback: Small-town Hitchcock, Evil Superman and some TV viewed | Fraser Sherman's Blog

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