Regarding my upcoming trip to Fort Worth to see Hal and Sylvia Harbuck
(remember him from the radio station, KSCB, and how great he was in the Chamber of Commerce? They don't make 'em like Mr. Harbuck anymore and he deserves my time and attention to go to his house and run his life for him! Odd how he groans when I walk in the door and I'm greeted with an affectionate "No, we don't want any", followed by "and we don't have any bedroom for you to sleep in--unless you got money!")anyway, Himself says that Sylvia and I can eat at a nearby convenience store before any movie or shopping (now, there's a word he hates--"shopping") and thank goodness her son, Craig, has a pool and ice water and three wonderful dogs, all for a delightful afternoon in Fort Worth's 102 degree heat! Because Sylvia still looks like a model (the older version, that is--said her best friend in all kindness!), I have to take some nice, fashionable clothes--the best Beall's has to offer, don'cha know--and I'm grateful, seriously, for some "time off" from the routine to just visit and enjoy Harbucks and their really delightful family.
Anyone remember the older boy, Hal J., and the middle son, Barry (he and Bonnie, my daughter, were classmates, I think) and I can assure you Hal J. is really well-known as a talk show host on the radio there (sorry, I forgot the call letters) and Syl and I keep a sharp eye on them--which I think they secretly appreciate, don't you? Sure they do.
Okay, you know how your eyes get tired, sometimes, after too much reading--oh, one more thing about Hal Senior, Syl's husband, some of you may not know, he's battling Macular Degeneration but can still read a computer screen for messages; contact me for his address, should you want it. Anyway, as we read more and/or get older (that is, you get older, not me!) A big help is Large Type books, and since Mysteries and Westerns are two prime destinations for readers wanting "escape", we try to order in a good selection of each, certainly in Fiction.
Let me tell you about one from an excellent writer of Westerns, Wilbur Smith (that sounds like a fake name, doesn't it?), who's written 30 of these novels! This one is, "Those in Peril", and it concerns a kidnapping, off a private yacht belonging to Hazel Bannock, owner of Bannock Oil, and she is not on board at the time, but her daughter, Cayla, is and the ransom asking price is 20 billion! Complications in political and diplomatic circles "make it impossible for the world's major powers to intervene, so when Hazel is given evidence that her daughter is being tortured, she calls on Hector Cross." Somehow, I began talking about a Western and have ended up on the high seas.
The inestimable Mr. Cross is the owner/operator of Cross Bow Security and he doesn't mind "taking the law into his own hands when it's clear what has to be done." The assasins/hijackers are very mean and bloodthirsty, the writing is very graphic over what is done to some of the participants, in torturing them, some violent deaths, and, finally a good end with some--not all--of the people still alive and a good beginning ahead. I really got interested in this book--I'm thinking that maybe he's not exactly a Western author, but he sure writes a good adventure story and has done his research for them "on his numerous expeditions." Impressive!
Another "read" to consider is "Through the Cracks", by Barbara Fister, and, for some reason, her picture on the back flyleaf and the caption under it amused me. I haven't heard of this author, and, indeed, she has written only one other novel, but it was well praised--anyway, here's a picture of a pleasant looking, smiling, middle-aged lady who's been, I can tell, to the hairdresser to get her hair "blonded up" (I made that phrase up, as you can tell!) and it says, "Barbara Fister lives in rural Minnesota where she works as a librarian at a small liberal arts college." Period. End of biography. They didn't even mention her other novel, set in my hometown of Chicago, she was married or single, no mention of a nice doggie, or where she got her haircolor done--nada.
Okay, so I've looked in her newest book, her Chicago P.I. is named Anni Koskimen, and her new client has her up against some bad odds. "After spending 20 years in prison, a black man convicted in a notorious rape case has had his sentence overturned--and the victim wants to know who was, then, really responsible for the crime that has scarred her life." However, even if Annie can find out who did the crime, a conviction won't be possible on the old charge--unless the rapist has done it to another woman--and the victim has put time and effort into finding out that there are, indeed, indications that someone is "attacking women with ferocious anger." Then, as Annie digs deeper, the state's attorney who prosecuted the original case insists the conviction was solid-no miscarriage of justice was committed--and that the man only got out on a technicality.
Meanwhile, Annie's friend, Dugan, has a case in which an undocumented Mexican gang member has been arrested for the murder of a missing woman and this case "has gripped the city and fueled anti-immigrant sentiment." This author has her characters believable, the plot seems to move right along--the print is rather small and that can be distracting (remember my earlier comment on people's eyesight sometimes being affected? This print wouldn't be a picnic to read!)
They mentioned "Avalon Park" and I sat up straighter--the park near our apartment, in Chicago, was called that and I really sat up when the characters went to an all-night diner called "Clarkes", which was my maiden name--things were getting spooky, I thought! You have to "stay with" this book--it's not some story you breeze through while waiting for your computer to sign on--once you've started, you keep on keeping on. Interesting story and pretty well written--a good Summer read!
One of the disadvantages of not being able to go into Liberal Memorial Library is not being able to find the book I want, check it out, put it on my desk, take it home after work and begin to read it. This is because I'm nine and a half hours away! And, let me tell you, Poppets, that the book "Untold Story", by Monica Ali, that you'll hear about next is one I'd grab off the shelf--now.
Have you heard Ms Ali's interesting theory--that Diana, yes, that Diana--did not die in that terrible car wreck, driven by a drunk chauffeur and chased by the press by car and motorcycle--Diana survived. Had she lived, she would have turned 50 years old July 1 of this year. "Adored by millions, she suffered rejection, heartbreak, and betrayal; surrounded by glamour and the constant attention of the world's press, she fought to carve a meaningful role for herself in helping the needy and dispossessed."
The book is based on the interesting supposition--suppose Diana had not died but lived, would she ever have found peace and happiness or would her fame have caught up with her again? This author fast forwards this "what if" scenario and the averted Paris tragedy to a small, not-a-town-you'd-notice in the Midwest and a lady named Lydia who works at an animal shelter "and swims a lot". She has close friends and a man who adores her but doesn't really know her. The question is about the cost of celebrity and the possibility--or not--of reinventing a life.
A man (a reporter) breaks into her house carrying a camera, and goes up to her bedroom, opens the door, and finds himself facing a revolver and a furious Lydia. Better get the book--I know I will. The cover is a picture of Diana, half-turned away from the camera but you'd know her anywhere. Enjoy and ponder the question asked in the book--i.e. what would have happened had Diana not died?
This thriller, "Pacific Heights", by Paul Harper, is actually the work of a man named David Lindsey, who lives in Austin, Tx., about an hour and a half from Kerrville and sometimes I wonder why authors use a fake name? Ah well, "ours is not to question why", dear readers. This title is the start of a new series, and a former intelligence officer headlines this "psychologically twisted novel" a man named Marten Fane--and the monster he has to capture is a man named Ryan Kroll, "known throughout the private sector as a man who can obtain information by any means, often using "creative" and violent tactics to get what he wants."
When Kroll finds material--and steals it--from a psychotherapist who is treating two wives of prominent San Francisco's powerful men whom Kroll is having affairs with, it becomes obvious that he is responsible for manipulating them to the point of their insanity and it becomes deadly. It becomes Fane's job to stop him and while Fane is known for his clear head and brains and he "might be the perfect person to foil Kroll's mental games and prevent him from committing what could possibly be a form of murder."
Okay, so I did my usual "stroll " through the book. The professional therapist learns the name of the man beginning to desperately worry both women--the same man but under different names--Ray Kern and Philip Krey--"and to see these two damaged women reverse their characters in the face of this man's manipulation of them was sobering to Vera (the therapist). It spoke to the power of this man's personality and influence over them and it was very frightening. What kind of a man could have such an effect on these two very different women? And why would he want to?"
That last question I found "the hook" in this story. Not only why would he want to but also he obviously had gotten a lot of information on the two women but for what purpose--hate? an old score to settle? Was the fact that the two women went to the same therapist central to Kroll's "plot"? Really a great ending--scary and believable. Get the book and plan to step up late at night--several nights--to finish it.
Okay, Poppets, Rufus Cooper wants his evening walk--we're down to 91 degrees at dinnertime and I'll need a sweater!--so, I hope you've got some idea of what, perhaps, to read. Go see the movie "The Help", keep reminding yourself that although it's hot, you're not watching a house float downstream of the river you've been living on, nor do you have to endure a tornado that has destroyed your home entirely, so fix an iced tea or pour a glass of chilled white wine, go out on your patio or deck or backyard tonight and be thankful that some bright boy invented air conditioning.
Do not forget fresh water for your dog or cat both in the morning and at night 'cause after it's been in the dish all day, it tastes "funny". Hang on, Fall is coming and I just know that when it's Sept. 1st, you'll feel it's Fall and feel cooler. By the way, my governor, Rick Perry, has declared for the presidency and while I can't understand why anyone in their right mind would want to be president, I wish him luck--and I do all of you. Bye!