Ten Thousand Islands

[Amazon Link] If I wanted to be more than a little simplistic, I'd paint this entry in Randy Wayne White's Doc Ford series as about 80% Travis McGee, with 20% of Dave Robicheaux thrown in, for moodiness and supernaturalism. That's a little too easy, though. If coming up with books like this were that easy, a lot more people would be doing it.

The premise is that our as-ever-reluctant hero is dragged into investigating the desecration of the grave of a long-dead child. Doc would much prefer to be running his marine biology supply business, as usual. But, also as usual, events and character propel him ever forward.

I've been reading this series in order, and found this to be the best entry yet. Very little feels padded, and the suspense builds throughout. The final chapters are just about as thrilling as words on a page can get.

As always, White lets Ford's drug-fueled buddy Tomlinson have all the best lines. I've said this before, but I'm also impressed at how White allows Ford's first-person narration to reveal more about Ford than Ford himself knows. As writer's tricks go, that's a pretty good one.


Last Modified 2012-10-17 3:47 PM EST

Apocalypto

[Amazon Link] [4.0
stars] [IMDb Link]

The premise of this movie doesn't exactly scream "sure-fire boffo box office." Yet Mel Gibson got it made, so good on him. And the detail and atmosphere leave little doubt he made it the way he wanted: it's pretty much exactly as if we had a magical time-travelling eye that we could plunk down anywhere we wanted in the past, and we happened to catch onto a thrilling drama set in the late Mayan civilization. With a helpful auto-translator supplying subtitles at the bottom of the screen.

It's pretty brutal, although not unrelievedly so. I liked the opening scenes, which will make you realize, yes, despite wide differences in details, guys in all times and places share an important characteristic: the urge to execute elaborate sex-related practical jokes at the expense of their gullible buddies.

It's a Gibson movie, so our Gibsonian hero also is made to endure physical abuse that would send a normal person into a quivering mercy-begging fetal position. But our boy soldiers on, and the only question is: will he wind up like Jesus and William Wallace, or will he pull a Martin Riggs turnaround? No spoilers here!

It drags a bit in the middle, is all.


Last Modified 2012-10-19 5:38 AM EST