Sunday, November 4, 2012

3 Miscellaneous Reviews

Why would I call 3 reviews miscellaneous, you ask?  Well, one is Raymond Chandler's first Philip Marlowe detective novel, written in 1939; one is Peter's favorite book, Terrific, by Jon Agee, which is an adult book in the guise of a children's book; and the 3rd is the latest Dean Koontz.  I don't think you can get any more different than that.

I've had Chandler's The Big Sleep sitting in my someday-to-be-read stack for at least a couple of years now.  I got the book from Lauren's boyfriend, Joe, who is a big Chandler fan.  This is a hard-boiled detective novel.  I didn't enjoy it a lot but was glad I read it.  Although the plot is not that significant, I'll give you a thumbnail.  A dying millionaire hires Marlowe to deal with the blackmailer of one of his 2 daughters.  While he's working on that, he comes face-to-face with kidnapping, pornography, and murder.  I'll quote Robert B. Parker:  "Chandler seems to have created the culminating American hero:  wised up, hopeful, thoughtful, adventurous, sentimental, cynical, and rebellious."  The only thing I would add is that since the book was written in 1939, it definitely feels different from books that have been written in more recent times - not better or worse, just different.  On top of that, there's a lot of detective lingo that I had to get used to.  Reading The Big Sleep felt like watching Dragnet, the black and white version from the '50's.

John Agee's Terrific looks and feels like a children's book.  But there is a definite message to it.  Eugene wins a trip to Bermuda.  The ship he's on sinks, and everybody is picked up except for Eugene.  He ends up on a deserted island with a parrot who has a broken wing.  The Parrot draws a schematic of a boat in the sand and convinces Eugene to build the boat so that they can escape from the island.  Eugene builds the boat, and they set sail (using Eugene's coat as a sail).  They are capsized by a fishing trawler and taken to port.

Why is this Peter's favorite book?  And why is it called Terrific?  Eugene is extremely negative.  Everything that happens to Eugene leads him to say "Terrific," followed by whining.  For example, when he wins the trip, he says:  "Terrific, I'll probably get a really nasty sunburn."  And when he lands on the deserted island (deserted except for the parrot, of course), he says:  "Terrific, now I'll get eaten by cannibals."  This goes on all the way through the book - until the end when the trawler calls the parrot by name, Lenny, and says the parrot is dumb.  Then Eugene defends the parrot.  As the trawler heads back out to sea, Lenny stays behind to be with Eugene.  It's a darn good message.  It reminds me of Shel Silverstein's The Giving Tree.  That was the first children's book I ever bought - about 2 years before my oldest, Josh, was born (36 years ago!).  That book also had a message.  I'm definitely in favor of messages in the books I read.

Last, and certainly least, is Dean Koontz's latest Odd Thomas novel - Odd Apocalypse.  Koontz has written 62 books of fiction (and one non-fiction book about his dog - you know I didn't read that one!).  I have read 60 of them (I read the 1st 3 of his 5 books in his Frankenstein series and then gave up).  Many of them are very good, and some (Lightning, Strangers, Watchers) are really good.  In fact, Lightning is on one of my Fiction for the Non-Fiction Reader Lists (Volume II - February 18, 2012).   But I don't care much for the Odd Thomas series.  Odd Apocalypse is #5.  I don't know if I can do #6.  If you want to know what this series is about, you'll have to go to his website.  I just don't care enough to give it the time.  Sorry.


  1. Lloyd, thanks for checking out Chandler. I'm now 0 for 2 or 3 for recommending a book you like, but maybe it'll happen someday.

    I'm about to start the John Hart you gave me way back when. I'll let you know how I like it.

    And if you wouldn't mind hanging onto The Big Sleep, I'll pick it up next time I visit.

  2. I've already put the Chandler in a place that I can't accidentally get rid of it. And, you're right - one of these days/weeks/months/years we'll get in sync and agree on a book.

  3. I watched The Big Sleep on the big screen a few years ago and was..confused? I love old movies and Bogart but it didn't work for me. Looks like the book wouldn't do much to change that.
    I like Koontz too, although I haven't read nearly that many of his books. Maybe a dozen, 15? I did read the first Odd book and liked it. I have the second one and will eventually get to it. LOVED Watchers.

  4. If you loved Watchers, I feel pretty confident that you will really like Lightning and Strangers (in case you haven't read those). Most people I talk to think Strangers is the best. I vote for Lightning.