In the Moon of Red Ponies

[Amazon Link] This is (as I type) the final entry in James Lee Burke's "Billy Bob Holland" series. In this episode, Billy Bob is a defense attorney, settled down near Missoula, Montana, and has married Temple Carrol, a private investigator. Life is good.

But not for long. An evildoer from the previous book, Wyatt Dixon, has been sprung from prison on a technicality. Since his previous exploits involved burying Temple alive, Billy Bob is concerned.

But in addition, there's Johnny American Horse, a Native American given to seeing things in his dreams that predict troubles ahead. Amber, daughter of a U. S. Senator, arrested on drunk and disorderly charges; she's sweet on Johnny. Darrell, a speed freak cop, who's dangerously infatuated with Amber. And above it all is a dark conspiracy involving a research facility robbed by persons unknown.

Burke's writing is colorful as always, and his characters undergo unusual amounts of physical and mental anguish.

Last Modified 2012-09-29 6:49 AM EST

The Lady Vanishes

stars] [IMDb Link] [Amazon Link]

An Alfred Hitchcock movie from 1938, and it seems even older than that. It's an oddball mixture of romantic comedy, mystery, and spy thriller.

Young Iris is off in a central-European ski resort with a couple girlfriends, a last fling before she gets married. The night before she's due to leave, she meets up with a seemingly ditzy but pleasant elderly woman, Miss Froy (played wonderfully by Dame May Whitty). She also encounters (in fact, meets-cute) Gilbert (Michael Redgrave, father to Vanessa and Lynn), an irritating musician.

After they all pile on a train, Miss Froy—you might have guessed—vanishes mysteriously. Even more mysterious, a number of passengers in the compartment insist that that Miss Froy was a figment of Iris's imagination. Iris begins to doubt herself, but Gilbert believes in her. Their investigation reveals that nothing is as it seems.

The movie has a number of other colorful characters: a pair of Brits that are anxious to get word of an important cricket match, frustrated at every turn. And there are a couple of scandal-shy lovers married to other people; he turns out to be a total weasel.

Things move slowly. Today, they could fit this plot into a 60-minute episode of Bones.

Consumer note: the cover art/link at the right goes to the Criterion Collection edition of the movie. Which is not what Netflix sent; instead we got a cheapie from a no-name publisher containing an intro by Tony Curtis, stumbling over his trite cue card lines. Bleah.

Last Modified 2012-09-29 6:49 AM EST