R is for Ricochet

[Amazon Link]

My Perl script for picking a book from my virtual to-be-read pile assigned me this Sue Grafton novel less than two weeks after I'd read the previous one; such are the whims of the underlying random number generator. That's OK, they're fun reads, especially for the summer.

Here, Ms. Grafton's hard-working female private eye, Kinsey Millhone, is hired by a rich old dude. His daughter Reba (slightly younger than Kinsey herself) is getting out of the state pen, where she's been serving time for embezzlement. Kinsey's job is to return her home, and perhaps look for signs of Reba's backsliding into bad old habits of drink, drugs, sluttishness, gambling, and even less legal activities.

Surprising herself somewhat, Kinsey develops an attachment to Reba, perhaps seeing a but-for-the-grace-of-God version of herself. And it develops that Reba may have been the fall gal for a nefarious scheme, duped by a smooth talking guy. Both Reba and Kinsey get roped into an ongoing investigation of shady dealings; but, amusingly, Reba has many fewer compunctions in hatching freelance schemes, and Kinsey finds herself along for the ride.

The soap-opera content is pretty high here: Kinsey's ancient landlord, Henry, is trying to begin a relationship with a younger woman he met on a cruise. Complication: his brothers horn in, threatening disaster. And, after a long dry spell, Kinsey gets some major romantic action on her own.

Quibble: if there actually was a "ricochet" in this book, I missed it. More appropiate titles would be R is for Revenge, or maybe R is for Recidivism.

Last Modified 2018-07-03 3:48 PM EST

The Man in the White Suit

stars] [IMDb Link] [Amazon Link]

Yet another movie that I didn't like quite as much as I probably should have. But it's interesting as a picture of early-1950's England, and what they thought was funny back then.

Sir Alec Guiness plays amateur inventor Sidney Stratton; he is enraptured by his vision of using long-chain molecules to create indestructible and stainproof fabric. Unfortunately, he finances his research by surreptitiously diverting funds from his textile-mill employers. Unsurprisingly, he keeps getting sacked. Eventually, he acquires a champion in the headstrong daughter (Joan Greenwood) of a local mill-owner (Cecil Parker). Despite enough lab safety violations to keep a team of OSHA inspectors fully employed for years, Sid finally comes up with the miracle cloth.

Just in time for both the capitalistic mill-owners and their devoutly unionized employees to realize that their future prosperity depends on keeping Sid's invention suppressed. Hijinx ensue, but they're very British old-school hijinx, by which I mean they're not very funny.

Lileks likes to find Star Trek connections in the old movies he watches. I'm no Lileks, but I'll note the guy on the left in this picture (no, your left), puzzling over Sid's apparatus:

[Young Colin Gordon]

… turned into a prissy, but ultimately befuddled, Number 2 in The Prisoner a few years later:

[Older Colin Gordon]

That's Colin Gordon, veteran British scene-stealing actor.

Bottom line: a number of funny bits, Sir Alec is (of course) an extremely talented actor, but it didn't quite pull together for me.

Last Modified 2012-10-03 9:03 AM EST