Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Proof Positive

Proof Positive

Do you like that show CSI? All that forensic science keep you glued to the tube? If you do, then you'll like this book. It's CSI in book form.

The plot of the book is pretty simple, a forensic scientist fakes evidence. If we are still on the CSI theme, it would be like an episode called 'Grissom Goes Bad'...however, in this book it leads to an execution!

The book starts with the execution and its impact on the defending lawyer. It then jumps ahead a few years where a couple of new cases and lawyers are introduced. Characters are developed, a bit of the science and procedures behind the forensics are shared, and an overall picture of the city and crime atmosphere are developed. I was surprised how well Margolin did all that in the first hundred or so pages. Sometimes character development is dull or awkward, but, I was interested, engaged, and felt I knew who most of the main characters were and what motivated them. Then the main story breaks out.

There is one forensic scientist who has a different outlook on life. He does whatever it takes to put criminals behind bars. He has a deranged superhero complex that makes him believe fudging data or flat out lying in court is ok as long as it helps put the bad guys behind bars. However, when a coworker questions a piece of evidence from a previous case then forensic scientist turns into Murderman. The murder brings on more investigating, which brings on more murders...which are almost unsolvable because of the knowledge the forensic scientist has. He knows how to cover up evidence, plant evidence, or just lie while investigating his own crimes. Will he be stopped?

Of course he will, but, I will leave out how. That's what makes a book like this so good to read.


Agent 6


An interesting 'thriller' that kept me engaged right until the end. Then it faltered. The ending was a bit lackluster and felt too open ended. I guess I thought there would be more. However, the steps taken to get there more than made up for it.

I took this book out of the library b/c of my 'read books by Smith author's' challenge. It looked cool and sounded like a good spy novel so I gave it a whirl. The story starts with Leo, a secret police agent in communist Russia in the fifties. He has a chance encounter with this beautiful, intelligent lady and ends up marrying her. His life changes as he turns from a hardened agent into a family man of sorts. His wife and daughters makes a monumental trip to the US at the peak of the cold war on a goodwill soft-politics type mission and it all turns bad. The wife is murdered and there is a huge political incident. It is covered up and lies are told. From that point on in the book Leo's only mission in life is to find out how and who killed his wife.

We then find Leo in Afghanistan in the eighties, when Russia invaded. The problems they faced are the exact same one's reported by Nato forces today. From there he manages to defect and make his way to the US, closer to his goal of finding the killer.

In the US he uses some of his old undercover agent spy tricks to uncover what happened the night his wife was murdered. He manages to track down the exact person who was responsible for her death - Agent 6. He confronts him, almost kills him, then the book quickly wraps up with his return to Russia.

I really liked the progression of the story, it was a quick trip through a bit of communist Russia's history. I ended up liking Leo, even though he was a cold character. But, it was that ending that just left me hanging. Almost the entire book was Leo working towards a goal. Then when the goal was accomplished the book should have ended, but, it didn't. It dragged on for a bit too long; open ended, no goal, sad, a bit cliche?


Wednesday, February 22, 2012


Duct Tape Is Not Enough

If you follow the Canadian literary scene you will be well aware that CBC's Canada Reads just finished. This years winner: Something Fierce by Carmen Aguirre. The debate was about which books was more Canadian. Which got me thinking about Canadian literature and how I could add some more to my diet of books.

I was reading Duct Tape Is Not Enough at the time, coincidentally, which happens to be written by a Canadian. Although the book was not necessarily about Canada or Canadian culture it was funny...which I believe is a Canadian trait?

I found the format of this book great to read during a true Canadian winter. The short one page stories are wonderful to read while busy doing typical Canadian things:

-While waiting for snow tires to be put on your car at Canadian Tire. You know you are going to be interrupted many times because they'll find more things that need fixing and replacing

-While waiting in the Tim Horton's drive thru line on a Sunday morning just as the church next door lets it's worshippers out.

-While ice fishing

-While riding as a passenger on a snowmobile (in some case even the driver, like while crossing a frozen lake)

-While curling

-While playing goalie in your Sr Men's Rec league on Weds nights

This is an easy, Canadian, book that can fit into your life - especially if you are feeling you need to add a bit more Canadian content. I found it easy to relate to, which is of some concern to me, and very funny. This one did not contain the patented handyman humour/disaster stories. No, this book was more of a guide to life, midlife. There was a lot of 'old guy' jokes and just humourous commentary on getting on in life. There was a disturbing theme veiled under all fo these jokes though. A constant repetition about being a failure in life, amounting to nothing, not being able to follow simple social etiquette even at a ripe old age...but, it's ok b/c most men turn out this way. Haha, so true, which makes it all the more funny.

Another great installment by Steve Smith.


Tuesday, February 7, 2012

The Enchanted Wood


This book was a hit in our house! The five year old love it, and the thirty plus old couldn't put it down. The begs for 'just one more chapter' were frequently given into and reading would go late into the night...sometimes past 8pm! As I've eluded to, this book is so well written it appeals to everyone. Although aimed at kids the imaginative world that Blyton creates is just so interesting and magical that I found I was just excited for bedtime story time as my daughter.

The general story is about three children who find a gigantic magical tree in a small forest behind their house. At the top of the tree is a ladder that leads into the clouds and other lands. The lands change daily and you never know what will be up there. Being a children's book makes anything possible - there is no adult pretense that confines the imagination. The children find lands like 'take-what-you-want', 'birthday land', 'the land of topsy-turvy', and many more. Each one is extreme in some aspect which in most cases turns into a problem - an adventure as they refer to it in the book. Many times the children find themselves on the verge of being stuck in whatever strange land they are in forever, either by not following the obsure rules and laws they were ignorant of or just bad luck falling into the grasp of an evil wizard (or similar magical being). But, luckily they always seem to escape just in the knick of time.

The cast of characters is also unforgettable. You have Moon-face, a small man with a big head which looks like the moon. Silky, a soft spoken fairy with golden hair. Saucepan man, a ragtag fellow who wears pots and pans instead of clothing. Mr. Whatz-his-name, a strange guy who sleeps all the time and has no idea what his name is. Dame washalot, the local launderer who is constantly pouring her water down the tree and soaking unsuspecting climbers. And, a gaggle of other fairies, snowmen, wizards, goblins, animals...the list goes on.

Enid is able to create an almost believeable world by getting into the nitty-gritty details. She invents strange foods - pop-cakes & toffee shocks (both of which blow up in your mouth). She describes the tree in great detail it's texture and's almost like you are there. There is a lot of though put into describing the daily lives of the children and the strange fairy folk, which could sound boring and mundane, but Blyton makes it extremely interesting.

This book is the perfect blend of action/adventure and the building of a new imaginary world. The story is a constant up and down, which keeps things interesting, and makes for perfect places to stop reading - at least for the night. There is just so much packed into this book that a reread is just as enjoyable as the first time around.