Thursday, January 24, 2013

2 Reviews - One Veteran and One Newbie - Extremely Different Books

David Baldacci’s last book, The Innocent, was excellent.  It made my top 11 for 2012.  His latest, The Forgotten, is not quite as good – but good, nonetheless.  Just like I recently said about Vince Flynn and Daniel Silva, Baldacci’s craft continues to improve.  Since I’m committed to reading all of his books (this one makes 25), I’m glad that he’s writing so well.  Unlike other #1 authors (hello Mr. Patterson), Baldacci doesn’t phone it in.  He actually tries to write a good story.  Mission accomplished.

To begin with, the hero of the story is John Puller, who is a U.S. Army investigator on vacation.  His aunt’s mysterious death, in Paradise, Florida, sends him down there.  He is not in any official capacity because it’s not an Army matter.  While he’s there, though, he connects with one of the local police officers, an attractive woman, that leads to some chemistry.  They work the case together.

If I said that Puller could be Jack Reacher’s brother, I wouldn’t be exaggerating.  They are almost identical in their demeanor, size, and competence.  I don’t mind if Baldacci starts a new series with this guy, especially since I stopped reading Lee Child’s Jack Reacher series after about 4 books – not because I didn’t like them but just because.  So, go ahead David; give me more John Puller, and The Camel Club, and the protagonists from The Innocent (sorry, forgot their names).  I can do without the ex-secret service guy and his girl.  Those books are just fair.

The Forgotten (did you think I had – get ready for it – forgotten?) actually has a pretty interesting story line.  The focus is on the procuring and selling of human labor.  The bad guys ensure that the affected people don’t complain or blow the whistle by threatening bodily harm to their families.  That does the trick. 

Besides the storyline being interesting, it’s also well-written, as I mentioned above.  I’m giving it a 3.0 – pretty good, I say.

The 2nd book in this blog is called The Snow Child, by Eowyn Ivey, who is an Alaskan native that worked as a reporter for the Frontiersman newspaper and is now a bookseller for an independent bookstore.  I read this only because it was the selection for the Books, Inc. February Book Club meeting (which we had 2 days ago – another fun and interesting evening).  Did I like it?  I did.  I gave it a 2.5 – not stellar but solid.  I’m certainly not sorry I read it.  Here’s what it’s about.

It’s 1920, and a long-time married couple, Jack and Mabel, that has lost the only child they ever conceived (right after birth), decide they need to move from the U.S. Midwest to Alaska and start a new life.  After they have been there for about a year, they decide one night to make a snow child (get it? – The Snow Child? – you guys are quick).  They make it as realistic as they can, including mittens, scarf, and coat.  The next morning, when they wake up, the snow child is gone, along with all of the clothing.  Hmmmm.  Shortly after that, a young girl, wearing these same clothes, starts showing up around the old homestead.  Is it a real girl?  Or not?  Add to this an old Russian fairy tale that Mabel read as a little girl, with the exact same scenario, and you can see why Jack and Mabel are constantly worried that the little girl, Faina, will soon disappear, never to return.

The book takes place over about a 10-year period.  Their neighbors, the Benson’s, add a fair amount of humor, and their youngest son, Garrett, becomes VERY involved in the lives of Jack, Mabel and Faina.  

This is a fairy tale couched in reality.  If you accept it for what it is, you will be fine.  If your expectations are too high, or if your stories need to make sense, then this probably isn’t for you (it wasn’t for Joni).  Be warned.  It’s not for everybody.       


  1. Jack Reacher's brother? Cool! Why aren't you reading more Reacher?
    I want to read The Snow Child at some point too.

  2. I think I stopped reading Lee Child when I started getting ARC's. I had to cut somewhere! As for The Snow Child, of the 16 people who were at the book club gathering, most everybody liked it a lot. A few of us thought it was just okay.