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review 2018-05-23 20:45
THE GREAT TRAIN ROBBERY by Michael Crichton
The Great Train Robbery - Michael Crichton

Takes the true story and uses literary license gives us a novel of how the robbery was committed.  I enjoyed the book.  The language was colorful and I needed the translations provided in the book.  I liked how history was interspersed in the book as well as the social history of that time so I could understand how the people of that time period thought and lived.  Pierce was cool and collected throughout the book. 

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review 2018-05-23 02:45
What's that joke about a gorilla and a typewriter?
The Murderer's Ape - Jakob Wegelius

I love a good Swedish to English translation (except for that one time I attempted Wallander) so I thought that The Murderer's Ape by Jakob Wegelius would be no exception. However, I cannot unequivocally state that I loved this book...or that I loathed it. The book is told from the standpoint of a gorilla who has been christened Sally Jones. She's been around humans her entire life and therefore not only understands what they are saying but can read as well. She's a gifted engineer who the reader discovers has the ability to figure out most mechanical devices be they accordions or airplanes. (This is integral to the storyline.) Her best friend is a (human) man she refers to as Chief and who took her on as a partner when he got his own ship. But all of this was before they ran into some trouble. Without giving too much away, the two are separated and Sally is forced to adapt in order to survive. At its heart, this is an adventure story with a lot of drama. What I enjoyed were the illustrations which were done by the author and accompanied the heading of each chapter as well as a gallery of character portraits at the very beginning. Some of the issues I had with this novel were in its dealings with race, religion, and ethnicity. It was hard for me to pinpoint if the problems I had could be explained by viewing it through the lens of the time in which the novel took place but I found them unsettling nonetheless. Overall, I wasn't totally blown away but I wouldn't throw it out of an airplane door either. 4/10

 

Source: American Library Association

 

Examples of the illustrations. [Source: Playing by the book]

 

 

What's Up Next: Golda Meir: A Strong, Determined Leader by David A. Adler

 

What I'm Currently Reading: The House With a Clock in Its Walls by John Bellairs

Source: readingfortheheckofit.blogspot.com
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text 2018-05-23 00:58
Reading progress update: I've read 168 out of 253 pages.
So Pretty a Problem - Francis Duncan

okay, well, it’s no classic, but I’m enjoying it enough that I’m going to try and finish the whole thing tonight (partly because I want to get to a Spy novel, now that there is some kind of Spy novel mania hitting BookLikes in my neck of the woods!).

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text 2018-05-22 22:30
Reading progress update: I've read 62%
The Road to Jonestown: Jim Jones and Peoples Temple - Jeff Guinn

I will never understand quite a few things, but today, ( or lately),  the main one on my mind is the cult mentality. This doesn't only apply to organized cults, but to some churches and/or religions as well.

 

The church cult of Scientology, for instance, has fascinated me for a long while. Same thing with Charles Manson, and now: Jim Jones. Is it the charisma of their leaders? Did they start out "good", (for lack of a better descriptor), and then turn "bad", or were they bad deep down at the core to start with? 

 

My interest doesn't just stop with these "leaders", but also the people attracted to them. What draws people in? Many of these folks are not stupid, in fact some, if not many of them, are well educated. Are they missing something in their lives? Are they  missing something in themselves?

 

I watch/listen/read to/or about people drawn into these types of things, but I still can't figure it out. Why can't they see when things start to go wrong, or when things don't make sense? Why don't they rebel when asked to kill someone, or asked to commit suicide? 

 

I guess the answers to these questions would be quite valuable if we could answer them, wouldn't they?

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review 2018-05-22 18:48
Forensics / Val McDermid
Forensics: An Anatomy of Crime - Val McDermid

The dead talk—to the right listener. They can tell us all about themselves: where they came from, how they lived, how they died, and, of course, who killed them. Forensic scientists can unlock the mysteries of the past and help serve justice using the messages left by a corpse, a crime scene, or the faintest of human traces. Forensics draws on interviews with some of these top-level professionals, ground-breaking research, and McDermid’s own original interviews and firsthand experience on scene with top forensic scientists.

Along the way, McDermid discovers how maggots collected from a corpse can help determine one’s time of death; how a DNA trace a millionth the size of a grain of salt can be used to convict a killer; and how a team of young Argentine scientists led by a maverick American anthropologist were able to uncover the victims of a genocide. It’s a journey that will take McDermid to war zones, fire scenes, and autopsy suites, and bring her into contact with both extraordinary bravery and wickedness, as she traces the history of forensics from its earliest beginnings to the cutting-edge science of the modern day.

 

I cancelled my cable TV years ago because I was making myself paranoid, watching way too many true crime stories. Plus, I had an unhealthy addiction to the show “Criminal Minds.” I’m pleased to report that I’m a much calmer person now that I’m not being inundated with this sort of entertainment. However, that former obsession with crime shows means that most of what McDermid writes in this non-fiction volume was not new to me, hence only a three star rating. If you are new to the world of forensic investigation, I think this would an excellent introduction.

McDermid has obviously had to research this field to make her mystery novels ring true. And what better way to make that research pay off again but to write a non-fiction book about the subject! It was good to get a British POV on these matters. Here in Canada, we tend to be bombarded with American material, both in books and television, so many of the case studies were new to me.

The author goes into just enough detail to make things comprehensible, without overloading the reader. The explanations are clear and easy to understand. I think it would make a good reference for jurors who are responsible for making decisions based on these methods.

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