Recreational Reading Review: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

Review by Reference Librarian Kerry Fitz-Gerald.

I’m so glad I finally picked this up to read. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is definitely one of the best books I’ve read this year, a dark mystery with intelligent and unusual characters, a sophisticated plot line, a seriously dysfunctional family, and a complicated financial tangle. The book was originally titled Men Who Hate Women, and misogyny, in forms both subtle and physically brutal, is a major theme of the book. The opening is perhaps a bit slow, but bear with the set up that takes reporter Mikael Blomkvist from a conviction for libel to the village home of the wealthy Vanger family, hired to discover what happened to a daughter who disappeared 40 years earlier. Through various twists, he comes to be assisted in his search by the bizarre Lisbeth Salander—the girl with the dragon tattoo. The main character of the book is ostensibly Mikael Blomkvist, but it is Lisbeth who completely captures the imagination, at once compelling, twisted, powerless and powerful. She will stick in your mind long after you finish the book, and drive you, as she has done me, to eagerly picking up the sequel, The Girl Who Plays with Fire.

Check it out from the Law Library!


Recreational Reading Review: Going to See the Elephant

This first novel by Rodes Fishburne tells the story of 25 year old Slater Brown, determined to go to San Francisco and become the greatest writer ever. In fact, by his calculation, he is already the best writer in the world, “he just hadn’t gone through the irksome task of writing it down yet.”  It soon dawns on Slater that striving for greatness doesn’t put food on the table, and he, like many starving artists before him, must get a job. This sets in motion a crazy story of newspaper reporting, bus rides, chess masters, and genius inventors determined to control the weather. I confess that I didn’t find Slater to be a particularly enjoyable character, but I did enjoy this exuberant novel. At its heart, I’d call it a romance, but not in the traditional girl-meets-boy style (though that does happen too). Rather, it is a story of romance and passion for San Francisco, for writing, for invention, and for the sheer joy of engagement with the world. Definitely a fine first novel and a writer to watch.

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Recreational Reading Review: Finger Lickin’ Fifteen

Janet Evanovich’s latest installment in the adventures of bounty hunter Stephanie Plum is here. Stephanie is on the outs with Morelli (something about peanut butter), Lula witnesses the murder of a star chef and becomes a target herself, and Stephanie is back to wearing Rangeman black as she helps Ranger track a problem with his security business. Like other recent Plum novels, the plots don’t really hang together and you can’t help but wish that Stephanie would somehow mature as a character. But the slapstick goofiness that made the series popular remains and you’ll still find yourself laughing aloud at the sheer absurdity of it all.

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Recreational Reading Review: Land of Marvels by Barry Unsworth

Review by Reference Librarian Kerry Fitz-Gerald.

Booker prize winner Barry Unsworth’s most recent novel takes place in a far corner of Mesopotamia in 1914.  The slow pacing, the evocative historical detail and the internal struggles of the female characters (secondary to the rather dramatic plot) make this a book worth reading. Critics have complained that the characters are uneven—true—and that the pacing is too slow—also true—but I’d still recommend the novel for its absorbing snapshot of the Ottoman Empire on the brink of its dissection by European powers.  Seeds of the modern turmoil in Iraq are clear in the conflicts between the British archaeologist hurrying to uncover an Assyrian palace before his excavations are destroyed by a new railway to Baghdad, the American hunting for oil, and the mysterious and powerful Lord Rampling, who manipulates spies and assassins in a bid to keep the assets of the Ottoman Empire firmly in British hands.

Check it out from the law library!