Friday, January 18, 2013


Some of you might know that I'm a TrekNerd (I avoid the whole Trekkie/Trekker fight). I don't take myself too seriously. One of my all time favorite movies is Galaxy Quest. I looked forward to reading Redshirts by John Scalzi from the moment I first heard about it. For the most part, I was not disappointed.

For those of you who are not Star Trek fans, the trope is that if any of the series cast go on an "away mission" with an ensign in a red shirt, the ensign will die. In the novel, the ship has extreme redshirtitis. There a lot of deaths. The story revolves around a bunch of new crewmembers who find out that there's more going on than meets the eye.

Redshirts is a very funny book. In fact, it's silly in places. You don't have to be a TrekNerd to get the jokes either. I loved the book right until the end of chapter 24. In some places the book has an addition to the title: "a novel and three codas".  As you can guess the codas come after chapter 24. I could have done without them.

Not that they are bad. On their own they're interesting and they are tied into the main story. I just didn't like them as much as I liked the main story. The codas were just additional words. I kind of wish I hadn't read them.  Yes, they did answer some questions about three characters who had bit parts in the main story. I just didn't have a burning need to have those answers. Each to his own.

I would recommend this book to any Trek fan and anyone who likes their science fiction on the silly side.

Friday, January 11, 2013

My First Murder

My First Murder by Leena Lehtolainen is another book I read in translation that left me feeling like it would have been better in the original language. The cover says it is supposed to be a "thriller" but I didn't find it that thrilling. It just seemed like a regular police procedural mystery.

A group of university students who sing in a choir are spending the weekend at a remote cabin to rehearse for and upcoming concert.  After a night of partying, one of them is found dead. The lead dectective, Maria Kallio, knows some of the students from her time at university.

It's a bit of a "locked door" mystery because the killer has to be one of the students in the cabin. There are sufficient red herrings for Kallio to chase down. The book is well written as expected since the author published her first book at age twelve.

The story is interesting. I just didn't care about any of the characters. Not the victim. Not the detective. Not even any of the suspects. I expected to have some kind of connection with some of the characters since I've done my time in various choirs. What happened was I felt that some of the characters were just a little bit cliched. The diva. The joker. The pacifier. Been there. Done that. Am I wrong to expect something new?

I received a review copy of this book.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Missing Rebecca

Missing Rebecca by John Worsley Simpson is a difficult book. If I hadn't promised to review it I would have ditched it after the first 30 pages or so. Which would have been a shame because the second half of the book is quite good.

The story begins with Liam Peters trying to get people to believe that his wife Rebecca has disappeared from a local mall. It turns out they haven't known each other long and have only been married a short while. Turns out he doesn't know much about her at all. It's a good start but soon I realized that I didn't like Peters and the more I learned about Rebecca the less I liked her. Hard to care about what happens to character you don't like.

Without going into to much detail there's a cliched subplot that involves a big drug company doing dirty deals. And the witness protection program. I think I could actually make a case for the protagonist of this book not being Peters or Rebecca but the G-man searching for Rebecca.

The one thing that really bothered me about this book was Peter's combat abilities. He's supposed to be this lazy, rich kid but when he gets kidnapped he breaks free and takes bad guys out. That's when we get a throw away line about him having spend six months in the Navy Seals. That bugged me a lot while I was reading. Turns out the rest of the book is unbelievable if you don't believe he's been trained by this elite group. I didn't. I did a little research and found out that nobody spends six months as a Navy Seals. According to what I found on their website there's 20 months of training before you go on your first mission. No lazy rich kid is going to spend that kind of time just to piss his dad off.

The second half of the book gets interesting. I still didn't like Peter's or Rebecca but at least the action was different. Rebecca's end was well deserved. It doesn't compensate for how bad the first half of the book is.

I received a review copy of this book.