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« December, 2003 »
Courting Trouble

Scottoline always writes books with good plots and unlikable characters. I’m not sure if it’s just because I have different feelings about the legal profession or the law in general, or if we’re just diferent people, her and I. In any case, this book was no different. The plot was a somewhat interesting legal thriller. A lawyer’s stalker escpaes from prison and that same week the woman who she has housesitting for her gets killed in her house. The lady lawyer puts two and two together and goes underground -- since everyone thinks she’s dead -- to find the killer. The lady lawyer is, throughout the entire book, a complete pain in the ass. She ignores advice from friends, she obsesses about her footwear, she drives like a maniac and, of course, she comes out on top in the end. I spent too much time getting annoyed at the main character -- how many times was she told to stay put when she snuck out? -- to enjoy the rest of this book. Scottoline is a good writer but I am looking forward to her writing some better charactedrs.

Cruel & Unusual

Anotehr Kay Scarpetta mystery. Likable but not terribly gripping. I have a hard time remembering which of Cornwell’s books I’ve read because they all have these sort of flat titles that say very little about what the books are about. Thanks to our library catalog, I remembered that this one was about a killer on death row whose fingerprints kept showing up at murder sites when he was locked up and even after he was dead. Scarpetta is on the scene, also celebrating the holidays with her niece Lucy a “computer hacker” of sorts. Good for the airplane and not too gruesome, I enjoyed this, though found it forgettable.


I almost never write a review for books I don’t finish but I have this to say: the reason I haven’t read another book in three weeks is because I have been trying, and failing, to finish reading this book. I got bogged down in the history, I didn’t care about the characters and it always felt like heavy lifting to even pick the damned thing up after a while. When it was due at the library I returned it unfinished. I’m aware that after Cryptonomicon the bar may have been set unreasonably high, but this book just wasn’t any good to read.

This Cold Heaven: Seven Seasons in Greenland

Started reading this as the temperatures dipped into the teens here in Vermont and the windows weren’t plasticked and it felt damned cold. Then I read about these month long subsistence-hunting dogsled trips and I warmed right up thinking “well, at least I can feel my toes.” Ehrlich has a love affair with Greenland and some medical issue having to do with her heart that I couldn’t quite suss out was responsible for her going there once and then returning over and over for a period of seven years. This book is a collection of travelogues of that time.

Greenland is different from the US, and in fact different from most “civilized” places. People live more marginally, have very different social customs as a result and deal with strangers differently. Certain things that I know that I take for granted like private ownership of land, private property in general, and a cash economy are not givens there. Ehrlich discusses these issues in a very happenstance way, not in an “oh look how weird these people are” but also not in a “oh look how noble these people are” Her language is poetic and her observations are compelling. She intersperses her travelogues with those of Knud Rasmussen who had some of the earliest Western interactions with many of the indigenous peoples in the area. Like Rasmussen, Ehrlich respects and honors the cultures she interacts with while also knowing herself to be at some level not of their culture. This book will make you chilly to read it.