[Amazon Link] [3.0
stars] [IMDb Link]

A decent thriller set in an exotic, mostly white, locale. Pretty much an anti-advertisement for anyone tempted to travel the Trans-Siberian Railway. While the scenery is picturesque, and your fellow travelers (heh) are colorful, the employees are surly, and you (still) don't want to run afoul of the authorities.

Woody Harrelson and Emily Mortimer play Roy and Jessie, an Iowa couple, returning from mission work in China via rail through Siberia to Moscow. They immediately befriend Abby and Carlos, a decision that bodes ill for them. Meanwhile, in Vladivostok, Russian law-enforcement agent Grinko (Ben Kingsley) peruses the frozen corpse of a drug smuggler, a knife protruding from the back of his neck. Will this impact Roy and Jessie? You betcha.

While I enjoyed it, it could have been tighter. Without spoiling it too much: a character goes missing at one point, just after we've seen another character act in what might be construed as a surreptitiously menacing manner. I was sure that portended something, but … it didn't, really.

Last Modified 2012-10-09 8:05 AM EST

O is for Outlaw

[Amazon Link]

I am also playing catchup with Sue Grafton's alphabetically-ordered series about the intrepid private investigator Kinsey Millhone. She's up to T, and (as you see) I'm only on O.

During a lull in her paid investigative work, a blast from the past confronts Kinsey: a storage unit rented by her ex-husband has gone into default, and the contents snapped up by a "scavenger" looking to make money off its contents. The scavenger tracks down Kinsey, and sells her one of the stored items: a box of her memorabilia. But one of the items therein is something Kinsey's never seen before: a letter from a barmaid revealing unknown facts about her ex-husband and the incident 14 years previous that had caused their divorce.

It's a pretty good yarn, although, via Ms. Grafton's word processor, Kinsey (as always) tends to tell us way too much about the mundane details of her day: her exercise regimen, her diet, driving routes, all irrelevant to plot or characterization. By now, I've learned to put up with this, like accepting a few bad habits of a loved one. (Although I can't seem to stop complaining about it. Here's an old Usenet rec.arts.mystery thread where I called Sue Grafton the "Queen of Pointless Description")

Last Modified 2012-10-09 8:16 AM EST