The First Rule

[Amazon Link]

I've long been a Robert Crais fan. I buy in hardcover, and incoming books automatically go to the top of the to-be-read pile. Actually, they don't make it to the to-be-read pile; I just start reading, and call in sick to work.

(In case anyone from the University is reading: just kidding about that call in sick thing.)

Anyway: this novel concentrates on one of Crais's continuing characters: Joe Pike. Crais introduced Pike years back as the sidekick to Elvis Cole, the World's Greatest Detective. (That's what he calls himself, but it's arguably true.) Pike was the stoic but deadly yang to Elvis's chatty, wise-cracking yin; he'd be called in when Elvis needed stealthy backup and massive amounts of well-aimed firepower. Recently, Pike has come into his own; in this novel, Elvis is the sidekick.

The premise is a truly horrific crime: a home invasion where (seemingly) all inhabitants are brutally murdered. Unfortunately for the bad guys, the head of household was once a member of Pike's "team": a semi-mercenary group of consultants tasked with security in various world hot spots. And (worse) one of the victims is a kid who had been named after Pike.

What follows is a pretty good detective novel, interlaced with episodes of quick action and a few dizzying plot twists. You don't want to mess with Pike.

Last Modified 2012-10-05 5:18 AM EST

Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs

stars] [IMDb Link] [Amazon Link]

This movie is based on a wonderful book we used to read to the kiddos when we were all much younger. And by "based on", I mean: it has the same title. And some of the book's fantastic images are echoed in the movie. Other than that, though, it's not very similar. But still not bad.

For one thing, the movie has a protagonist: inventor geek Flint Lockwood. He's aching to use his knack for gadgetry to come up with an invention that will earn him the popularity and honors denied him ever since back in grade school when he invented Spray-On Shoes. Which unfortunately, were impossible to remove.

"I wanted to run away," Flint reminisces. "But you can't run away from your own feet."

He finally thinks he's got it when he comes up with a machine that turns water into food. Launched into the clouds, it causes all imaginable food to rain from the sky onto the temporarily blessed town of Chewandswallow. But then things go wrong.

The movie is fast-paced and clever, and contains all kinds of small gags, many of which I'm sure I missed. There are also a host of colorful characters In addition to Flint (voiced by SNL's Bill Hader), there's Sam the weathergirl (Anna Faris), Flint's dad (James Caan), town bully "Baby" Brent (Andy Samberg, also from SNL), the Mayor (Bruce Campbell), and local hardnosed cop Earl (Mr. T!).

Last Modified 2012-10-05 5:21 AM EST