The Affair

[Amazon Link]

It has been too long since I read my last Lee Child/Jack Reacher novel. As with a number of authors, I'm playing catchup with Mr. Child. As usual, I'm in awe of his skill in rendering a page-turner. (Well, I read it with the iOS Kindle app, so: screen-swiper.)

This is an origin tale of sorts, the sort of thing they do with superheroes. It's set in 1997, just before the events of Reacher #1, Killing Floor. Reacher is still in the Army, still (sort of) an MP, and he's sent undercover by his superiors to the small Mississippi town of Carter's Crossing, where the grisly murder of a beautiful young woman may be connected to the nearby Army base, inhabited by a secret team of Rangers flying in and out of Kosovo. (Why the secrecy? One of the Rangers is the son of a powerful US Senator.)

As always: Reacher has detective skills to rival Sherlock Holmes. He not only has to figure out the crime, he also has to deduce the motives of the various members of the military bureaucracy that sent him there. There's also a beautiful but mysterious lady cop who seems way out of place in Carter's Crossing. Eventually, rough justice is delivered. But as we know, it's life-changing for Reacher.

The Jungle Book

[4.5 stars] [IMDb Link] [Amazon Link]

By the time the animated version of The Jungle Book came out in 1967, I considered myself "too old" (16) to see Disney movies. Nearly 50 years later, they're must-see. It's a funny old world.

Even better, this was a free showing, put on at the Memorial Union Building at the University Near Here. The 3-D version was playing in the theatre next door, but we opted for the 2-D version. I think that may have been a slight mistake.

Anyway: it's the story of "man-cub" Mowgli, orphaned at a young age by the evil tiger Shere Khan, rescued by the good panther Bagheera, adopted by a pack of wolves. (Mowgli's one of those rare kids who, when asked if they were "raised by wolves", can answer "Yeah, you got a problem with that, bigot?")

Years later, Shere Khan puts Mowgli in his sights, a very dangerous place to be. It's decided to return Mowgli to civilization, but that plan goes awry when the good-hearted but lazy bear Baloo enters the picture, and decides to use Mowgli's man-resourcefulness for his own purposes.

The movie is fun, the kid playing Mowgli is fantastic, and the actors providing voices to the various animal heroes (Ben Kingsley, Bill Murray, Lupita Nyong'o, Giancarlo Esposito) and villains (Idris Elba, Scarlett Johansson, Christopher Walken) are outstanding.

There are also a lot of sly and subtle gags. Favorite: Mowgli finds an old cowbell, rings it, and… who does it summon but King Louie, voiced by Mr. Walken.