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review 2018-07-15 21:32
Here's Negan
The Walking Dead: Here's Negan! - Robert Kirkman

I liked this well enough, but it feels kind of unnecessary.  Negan the big bad got that way because reasons.  The reasons didn't strike me as particularly special for a zombie apocalypse.  He was kind of a jerk before the dead started to rise, and then he became a jerk who experienced loss and was able to get other people to follow him, to increase their chances of not dying.  And he obtained his signature barbed-wire bat.

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text 2018-07-11 18:56
Reading progress update: I've read 1%.
Little Boy Dead: A Boystown Prequel - Marshall Thornton

They say nice guys finish last. I think that’s crap. Nice guys don’t even get to finish.

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review 2018-07-11 11:22
Review: “Little Boy Dead: A Boystown Prequel” (Boystown Mysteries, #0) by Marshall Thornton
Little Boy Dead: A Boystown Prequel - Marshall Thornton

 

~ 3.5 stars ~

 

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review 2018-07-10 03:30
Rebus and Clarke find themselves in (well, next to) the middle of Global Politics.
The Naming of the Dead - Ian Rankin

“Know what I think? I think all of this is because there’s a bit of the anarchist in you. You're on their side, and it annoys you that you've somehow ended up working for The Man."

 

Rebus snorted a laugh. “Where did you get that from?"

 

She laughed with him. “I’m right though, aren’t I? You’ve always seen yourself as being on the outside--" She broke off as their coffees arrived, dug her spoon into her cappuccino and scooped foam into her mouth.

 

"I do my best work on the margins," Rebus said thoughtfully.


Rebus is on the verge of retirement -- really, he's about to be forced out, he's at the stage of his career where many detectives would be just coming into the office and doing nothing -- if not outright retiring already. And, truth be told, that's precisely what everyone in the force seems to want (except for a few allies/friends), particularly the top brass. None of which Rebus has an interest in. He's going to have to be pulled out, kicking and screaming -- probably with someone barring the door after he's out.

 

So when the G8 comes to Edinburgh in 2005, the police have their hands full with security, protests, riot preparations, and whatnot. They're importing help from all over Scotland and even England. Everyone has plenty of assignments to deal with, everyone but John Rebus, that is. So when a clue comes up that might turn into something interesting on months-old murder case, he's ready and raring to go. That evidence seems to point at multiple victims, too -- so Siobhan Clarke is put in charge of that investigation, just please keep it quiet until all the important people have gone home (and yes, everyone is fully aware of the insult of putting the DS in charge of the DI on this one). Thankfully, there's a suspicious-looking suicide that's related to the G8 for Rebus to focus on.

 

At least one of the victims in Clarke's case has an obvious connection to Big Ger Cafferty, too. Because why not make this all interesting? Big Ger's the target of a local politician who happens to be making a lot of waves thanks to being in all the right places during the G8 protests, sticking up for his constituents and the cause of civility in the face of civil unrest. Rebus and Cafferty do their usual thing -- Cafferty wants information so he can get his form of justice taken out of the murderer, Rebus needs information from Cafferty so he can prevent that. But at the end of the day here, Siobhan spends more time with Cafferty, despite everything Rebus tries to do.

 

Which is the crux of this novel, really. Rebus is at his career's end, he knows it. The closest thing he has to a legacy is DS Clarke -- and he wants it to be a good legacy. He wants to keep her from Cafferty's clutches, from the dirt that's dogged him for years due to guilt-by-association -- as well as his actual influence. At the same time, he wants her to maintain that "work on the margins" attitude, while staying in good graces with TPTB. He wants Clarke to be everything he is, just without all the bad that comes from it. (I think she wants that, too, actually). Bringing me back to the point that this novel features Rebus fighting all involved for Siobhan's soul.

 

In an interesting parallel, Siobhan's actual parents are in town to take part in the G8 protests. There's a young woman hanging out with them, almost like a temporary daughter (which really gets under her skin). She's determined to spend some time with them, to show herself that she can have some sort of personal life -- a family -- and still be a good cop. To not be Rebus. At the same time, she so wants her parents to see her as a capable detective, not just someone in the midst of a defiant reaction to her parent's lifestyle and beliefs.

 

Eric Bains shows up in a light I don't think anyone expected, and I'm hoping that things turn around for him soon. I like the guy. He's not Brian Holmes, but he's a nice character to have around. There's a reporter, Marie Henderson, involved in all of this, too (that's her opining in the opening quotation) -- I really liked her, and hope we see her again.

Rebus seems to actually enjoy her company and intelligence -- at the same time, as the co-writer of Cafferty's biography, she represents everything that Rebus fears for Clarke.

 

I've not spent a lot of time talking about the cases -- which are interesting enough, and watching Rebus not be careful around Very Important People from all over the world is fun. But on the whole, the cases felt familiar. Like we've been down these roads before -- not exactly, and both held plenty of surprises, but they seemed like familiar Rebus/Clarke investigations. I might have been tempted to give his a 3-Star rating and move on.

 

BUT, Rankin won't let me -- because putting all of this right smack in the middle of the G8 conference -- and the hullabaloo surrounding it (protests, concerts, marches) -- the Bush bicycling incident, the London bombings, and the announcement of the Olympics coming to London -- added so much to the novel. It grounded it in reality, it presented so many obstacles to the investigations (as well as distractions from the investigations) -- as well as unexpected sources of help (police officers from other jurisdictions that had just the right kind of information). Plus all the "keep Siobhan from becoming Rebus" elements of the novel just captivated me.

 

Another winner. What else is there to say?


2018 Library Love Challenge

Source: irresponsiblereader.com/2018/07/09/the-naming-of-the-dead-by-ian-rankin-rebus-and-clarke-find-themselves-in-well-next-to-the-middle-of-global-politics
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review 2018-07-08 18:00
Echoes from the Dead Zone by Yiannis Papadakis
Echoes from the Dead Zone: Across the Cyprus Divide - Yiannis Papadakis

This is an excellent book, anthropology mixed with memoir, by an author from divided Cyprus. Coming to this book knowing virtually nothing about Cyprus, I learned a lot about the country. But this is such an insightful look into conflict generally and the ways groups of people become entrenched in and justify their own positions that I think anyone interested in the psychological side of political conflict would appreciate it.

Cyprus has long been inhabited by both ethnic Greek and ethnic Turkish populations, and belonged to both the Byzantine and Ottoman Empires. In the 20th century, it became a British possession, and groups that had historically lived well together grew more distant, both leaning on their historical motherlands for support. After independence, many Greek Cypriots wanted to become part of Greece, and unrest led to atrocities against Turkish Cypriots in the 1960s, with many of them relegated to ghettos. In 1974, a Greek-sponsored coup led to Turkey invading the country and carving out the northern part for Turkish Cypriots – leading to atrocities against Greek Cypriots who lived there and were killed or forced from their homes. Today, almost 50 years later, the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus continues to exist in fact but to be recognized only by Turkey and seen as occupied territory by everyone else. Negotiations to reunite the country have always broken down, and from this book it’s easy to see why.

Yiannis Papadakis is a Greek Cypriot, who after studying abroad returned home in 1990 to begin studying his country. One of the things that makes the book so interesting is that it is as much about his journey, being forced to confront his own indoctrination and biases, as about the people he meets. He visits Turkey to learn Turkish (after some serious initial misgivings about his safety there, he realizes Turks are regular people too), lives with Greek Cypriots near the border and then crosses over to the Turkish side. (I was initially thrown by the way he talks about the Turkish side, making reference to “pseudo-officials” wearing uniforms decorated with “pseudo-flags,” but this turns out to be representative of his opinions at the time the research began, not by the time he wrote the book.) Eventually he winds up living in a mixed village in the “dead zone” between the two sides, where everyone is suspected of being a traitor.

Cyprus’s history and politics are complicated, as is the author’s analysis, so anything I say here will no doubt oversimplify. But there’s an incredible amount of food for thought here. About the ways both sides manipulate history – not necessarily by lying, but by beginning the tale with their own flourishing empire that’s brought down through the wrongdoing of the others; by focusing only on their own side’s pain, emphasizing their own dead and refugees while refusing to acknowledge wrongs against the others; by paying attention to only the extremists on the other side, painting their views as everyone’s view’s; by both defining their own side as the threatened minority. About the ways people refuse to understand each other, about the ways propaganda is used, about the repercussions this conflict has in people’s lives. The author sees and hears some striking things, like the refugee family in Northern Cyprus that moved into a Greek Cypriot home, and kept all the furniture and family photos out in case of the prior owners’ return.

He’s also able to draw a lot of connections between the two sides: the two right wings have far more in common than either would ever admit, both invested in insisting upon the evil of the other while bringing their own side closer to the motherland. The two left wings are also similar and seem ready to reach out to each other and bring peace, though when the opportunity comes, they too choose political opportunism. In the end there’s plenty of blame to go around, and the author doesn’t absolve anyone.

At any rate, I found it an insightful and fascinating book. While the page count is short, there’s a lot of text on each page, so it isn’t necessarily a quick read. But it’s broken up into short sections, often just a couple pages long, and the writing is accessible. It was published by a small, academically-oriented publisher, but has a lot to offer the casual reader; if it had gone through a big publishing house I could see it as a well-known work of popular nonfiction. Only in a couple of places does the author go off on short tangents that seem to be pet interests of his (the myth and symbology of Aphrodite), and his narrative provides a detailed view of Cyprus and his own journey of discovery about his country and people. I would definitely recommend this one if you can get your hands on it.

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