In the Woods

[Amazon Link]

Although I'm not much in the market for adopting new authors into my TBR system, sometimes it just happens. The weekly "editorial roundtable" episodes of the Reason podcast have a segment where the participants reveal which media they've been reading, watching, or playing with recently. And Peter Suderman was effusive in his praise of the "Dublin Murder Squad" series by Tana French. (And, by the way, Peter is not alone: this book won the 2007 Edgar Award for Best First Novel, and much mainstream critical praise was heaped thereon.)

Even better: This first book in the series was available at the UNH Library, so I decided to take a flyer.

The narrator is Rob Ryan; he and his partner, Cassie Maddox, are called to investigate the horrid, sordid murder of a twelve-year-old girl found in the woods of a Dublin suburb. The girl's family is weird. The murder scene is about to be obliterated by a new highway, and archeologists are frantically digging up whatever they artifacts they can find from long-ago inhabitants; the archeologists are weird too. And there's some shady stuff going on with corrupt city officials and crony developers.

But what's really bad is Rob's history: twenty years ago, he and two friends were playing in those very same woods. His friends vanished without a trace; Rob was found, near-catatonic and bloody, unable to remember what happened to them. Could the present day murder have links to that past horror? Yeah, maybe! Rob is already keeping his traumatic past a well-hidden secret from nearly everyone, but (even so) it's a poor choice for him to get enmeshed in the present crime. Unfortunately for Rob, it's just the first of many poor choices.

This is a combination police procedural and psychological thriller, and both parts work well. So, yeah, I'm up for reading more Tana French.

URLs du Jour

2018-10-08

[Amazon Link]

  • Elizabeth Nolan Brown has a long and thoughtful essay at Reason. Sample: Authenticity and Truth in the #MeToo Era.

    Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh has been accused of sexual misconduct ranging from flashing to attempted rape. Some of the accusations were the subject of widely televised testimony in the Senate last week. Conventional wisdom now holds that it was Kavanaugh's personal performance during this testimony—not the believable but unprovable allegations of his first accuser, Christine Blasey Ford—that tanked the judge's credibility among the persuadable.

    Those who have been swayed against Kavanaugh cite his vague and sometimes implausible answers about his high school and college life outside of the alleged assaults. They argue—in tweets, essays, explainers—that his shiftiness should serve as a mark against him, even if it's not necessarily evidence that he's guilty of sexual violence. That he may not have lied outright, but his evasive and emotional performance was still potentially disqualifying.

    Whatever more serious things Kavanaugh may or may not be guilty of, his antics inspired suspicion that the perfectionist public persona was but an exquisitely constructed mask. Kavanaugh's credibility crisis isn't about belief (or lack thereof) in any particular set of facts but a perceived absence of authenticity in the nominee overall.

    The perception of phoniness (aka "absence of authenticity") in political candidates has long been a Pun Salad specialty. Elizabeth's essay takes this issue seriously, and, in a daring narrative twist, makes the case for forgiveness.


  • Kevin D. Williamson briefly notes: Kavanaugh Was Pizzagate.

    A thing that has been not entirely appreciated about the Kavanaugh affair: This was the Left’s version of Pizzagate. And the Democrats’ Pizzagate wasn’t carried out by fringe nutters on obscure conspiracy sites: It was carried out by Senate Democrats and leading progressive activists on well-known conspiracy sites such as the New York Times opinion section.

    A fair number of putatively respectable thought-leaders and opinion-makers extended the cover of their reputations over a series of increasingly bizarre and unlikely allegations for which there was essentially no evidence. (Why was there no evidence? The most likely explanation is that the claims were not true; but, of course, conspiracy theorists always take a lack of evidence as evidence of the conspiracy. “That’s just what you’d expect to see!” etc.) Of course, there will be no reckoning for this, because there never is. That’s the nice thing about having your political and cultural allies in charge of institutions such as the New York Times and the Yale Law School.

    Also: the supplemental FBI investigation was obviously slipshod and incomplete, because it didn't produce the Left-desired results. QED.

    (If you're one of the folks who don't get the Pizzagate reference, the Wikipedia entry is here.)


  • The WSJ editorializes on The Political Distortion of Language.

    American political discourse gets worse by the day, a lesson we’ve seen first-hand again this weekend. The Twitter mob on the political left is claiming that our Saturday editorial headline, “Susan Collins Consents,” was intended as a sly “rape joke.”

    Of course, the Lefties (probably) knew about the Constitution's "advice and consent" language. That didn't stop them from writing that the WSJ headline "seems like a rape joke" or a "play on words… with rape".

    With no evidence whatsoever.

    You just want to ask these people… seriously… don't you realize how much of this crap is coming out of your own brain?

    As Michael Ramirez cartooned:


  • But while we were looking at the Kavanaugh circus, Hot Air's Taylor Millard notes: Meanwhile…The Republicans Grew Government…Again.

    President Donald Trump signed into law the FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018 – a law which regulates everything from airline seat sizes to whether people can make cell phone calls on flights (something Jazz wrote in favor of earlier today). The bill also defined exactly what a Lactation Area is (they can’t be in restrooms) and includes money for studies looking at the design specifics of aircraft oxygen and on allergic reactions on board airlines. There’s also a study on what infrastructure is needed for faster-growing airports because we all know the airports and airlines don’t have enough money to pay for the upgrades (note sarcasm). Let’s also not forget the studies on noise abatement and funding to put these abatements into place. Again, because there’s no way the airlines and airports can pony up the cash (again, sarcasm).

    The entire cost of this behemoth bill? A whopping $22.5B in FY 2018 to almost $76B in FY2023. The debt, just in case anyone cares about it, has gone from $14.434T in January 2017 to $15.757T on October 6, 2018.

    It was the usual Congressional shenanigans: a 1200-page doorstop of a bill, dropped into public view four days before the scheduled vote.


  • Alex Griswold, at the Washington Free Beacon debunks a cute story: No, Secret Russian Agents Probably Aren’t Behind ‘The Last Jedi’ Hate.

    Some people don't like Star Wars: The Last Jedi. This won't come as surprise to many of you: the film currently has a "Rotten" audience score on RottenTomatoes despite good critical reaction, indicating that at least 100,000 people went to site specifically to complain about a Star Wars movie. The Free Beacon‘s in-house critic didn't like the movie. But evidently, the loud and public backlash to the movie was actually a Russian plot!

    The Hollywood Reporter has a shocking piece out today: "‘Star Wars: The Last Jedi' Negative Buzz Amplified by Russian Trolls, Study Finds." The findings spread quickly after being picked up by the Drudge Report: "A Study Says About Half Of ‘The Last Jedi’ Haters Online Were Actually Russian Trolls," reports UpRoxx, Comic Book Resources writes that "Russian Bots May Have Derailed The Last Jedi," Business Insider writes that "A lot of the criticism of ‘Star Wars: The Last Jedi' actually came from Russian trolls and bots."

    We previously mentioned this gripping issue here; at the time, I found the "Russian troll" evidence the paper presented to be "very circumstantial and not particularly convincing." Alex's detailed dissection seems to back up that cursory impression.

    Our Amazon Product du Jour offers a Sad Porg, dismayed that he got stuck into a movie series where nobody likes the cute alien creatures. ("Why couldn't I be a tribble? Everybody loves tribbles!")


Last Modified 2018-10-11 12:50 PM EST