stars] [IMDb Link] [Amazon Link]

You can learn things from movies. Here's what I learned from this one: if you encounter Angelina Jolie, you may be in peril. Try to avoid attracting her attention. Detour, if possible, giving her a wide berth. If she becomes aware of your presence, try to communicate via body language that you pose no threat. Avoid eye contact. Do not try to outrun her: this is futile. Pepper spray will just enrage her. If all else fails, try playing dead.

Anyway, Ms Jolie plays Evelyn Salt, CIA employee. After an unfortunate encounter years ago with North Koreans, she's just trying to settle down in blissful domestic life with her butterfly-expert husband. But a Russian defector shows up at her headquarters, and she gets assigned the initial interview. Unfortunately, he fingers her as a dangerous Russian sleeper agent who's about to be awakened for an assassination mission.

And we're off. The CIA must find out if Salt is a baddie; Salt, for her part, suspects (correctly) that her hubby is in danger, and must remain free. This pits her against (roughly) the entire counterintelligence, anti-terrorist, and law enforcement community on the eastern seaboard. (And also some bad guys.) She finds it necessary to outwit, outhit, and outshoot everyone, and looks fabulous all the way through!

One thing that gladdened my right-wing troglodyte heart: after years of politically-correct Hollywood villains, the bad guys here are, unambiguously, Russian Communists. About time.

Last Modified 2012-09-25 12:08 PM EDT

The Closers

[Amazon Link]

This 2005 novel is the eleventh in Michael Connelly's series with detective Hieronymus "Harry" Bosch. In this one, Harry's back with the LAPD, rehired by a new chief who seems to share Harry's vision of speaking for homicide victims, trying to solve murder cases that everyone else has given up on, and bringing the perpetrators to justice.

Harry is partnered with old colleague Kizmin Rider, and their case is reopened when DNA recovered from an old murder weapon is matched to a racist lowlife. The gun was used to kill a lovely young biracial girl back in 1988; the investigation was botched by the cops who initially thought it was a suicide.

But the DNA evidence all by itself is not enough to convict. Trying to come up with a complete picture, Harry and Kizmin re-interview the girl's family, friends, teachers, some of whom were irreparably changed by the crime. To complicate things, Harry's old nemesis, Irvin S. Irving, is rooting for Harry to fail spectacularly.

Kind of slow moving, compared to other of Connelly's books, but still a fine read. (I'd set aside a week to read it, but kept finding excuses to pick it up; finished it in a couple of days.)

Last Modified 2012-09-25 12:07 PM EDT