[Amazon Link] Number 7 in Lee Child's series involving ex-military policeman Jack Reacher. This one is set nearly in my backyard, with most of the action set on the rocky coast of Maine, south of Portland.

Reacher finds himself in trouble (as usual) from Chapter One on. He (seemingly) happens upon a kidnapping attempt against a kid headed home from college. The rescue involves him with the kid's father, a rug merchant with a remote mansion on the previously-mentioned rocky coast. But all is not as it seems: the rug merchant seems to have a different, more lucrative, and much less legal, sideline. There is an impressive array of evil henchmen hanging around, but it's unclear who their actual boss is. And (as it turns out) Reacher himself is there under false pretenses, looking to settle a grim score with a criminal mastermind he thought he had dealt with a decade previous.

As always: edge-of-your-seat suspense, gritty action, well-drawn characters, masterful detective work, and pretty good writing.

Just a quibble, with this and a lot of other books. A lot of stuff happens that depends on the reader understanding both the geography of the area and the physical layout of various scenes. Since the publisher is raking in millions, would it kill them to include some maps and floor plans?

Last Modified 2012-09-29 6:13 AM EST

Sherlock Holmes Faces Death

stars] [IMDb Link] [Amazon Link]

This is number 6 in the series of fourteen Sherlock Holmes movies starring Basil Rathbone as Holmes, and Nigel Bruce as his faithful sidekick, Dr. Watson. I wanted and expected to like it a bunch more than I did.

It's (very) loosely based on "The Musgrave Ritual." Watson is working at a spooky old manor, which has been thrown open as a convalescent center for the military. The owners are the Musgraves, and they are a contentious and resentful bunch. The mansion is filled with secret passages and chambers. The floor in one of the big rooms is meant to have been a giant chessboard. A sneaky butler seems to be up to no good, and the housekeeper is hostile. A tower clock strikes thirteen for unexplained reasons! And a raven down at the local pub enjoys human blood!

Suddenly, one of the other doctors gets stabbed (non-fatally) in the neck. That's quite enough for Watson; he travels down to London to enlist Holmes' aid. And, of course, he gets it.

It all seemed more than a little contrived. Holmes makes a weird little political speech at the end. I know this is sort of heretical, but I had a lot more fun watching the recent BBC miniseries Sherlock.

Last Modified 2012-09-29 6:14 AM EST