Thursday, June 17, 2010

Two for One

Here we go--two reviews for the price of one.

First up: The Sonnet Lover by Carol Goodman. I picked it up at the library book store because it was a scholarly mystery--my weakness. Meh. Not nearly as enchanting as I was led to believe by the book blurb. "Did Shakespeare pen a series of passionate sonnets, unknown to modern scholarship, ardently praising a mysterious dark-haired beauty?" The better question is: Do we care? Not so much. The best part of the book? The very first line: "The most thankless job on the planet may well be teaching Renaissance love poetry to a group of hormone-dazed adolescents on a beautiful spring day." If only the rest of the book had been as good. Predictable. Not nearly as exciting as anticipated. Not even a decent mystery to help out with the total lack of connection to the characters. I'm really torn on whether to keep this or not....anyone who knows me knows how hard it is for me to give up a book. AND it's got an academic setting and a scholar as the main character. But I think this one is destined to be re-donated to the library store. Two stars out of five.

Next: The Casino Murder Case by S. S. Van Dine. I can always count on Philo Vance to deliver the goods in his detectin' (his lack of "g," not mine). The saddest part about having found & read this very hard to find Golden Age story (one of the treasure trove from this week's book bonanza) is that I think I only have two more Philo Vance stories to read before I'll be all done. Another great series finished. I'll be in the same state as when I realized I'd read the very last Lord Peter Wimsey. "What do you mean there aren't any more???" The casino story has a whiz-bang finish (to keep in line with the American genre of the time), but knowing Vance, I wasn't nearly as surprised as his companions were at how things wound up. I will say this (without giving too much away, in case anyone out there is dying to try this one out)'s an interesting twist on the poison murder. Or at least an interesting twist on what the murderer wanted you to think had happened. I actually got the method before Vance did this time--unusual with these stories. Glad I had this one to read and take the bad taste of the sonnet book out of my mind. Three and a half stars out of five.

Oh, and by the way, updating the book-binge tally: 7 used bookstores and 30 books so far (in three days). Included in that book total is 7 pocket size editions!

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