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review SPOILER ALERT! 2018-10-25 04:51
Dark Economy
Dark Economy - M.J. Keedwell

This was the book that would never end. I should have DNF at 50% like I planned to, but I thought that adjusting (and lowering) my expectations would suffice. And it did get better for awhile. But then it started dragging again and I had to skim the last 5% or so to get through this because I wanted it finished tonight.

 

Maybe it was reading this while also listening to What Angels Fear, since they're roughly in the same time period (this one takes place 17 years after Angels) and they both feature amateur sleuths who pursue murders that will ultimately never see true justice done for them, but I found this book lacking. Where Angels had a protag who was interesting, versatile and charismatic, Dark Economy's MC is kind of an obnoxious git. Where Angels has an intriguing mystery within the mystery - French spies in wartime England - Dark Economy has privileged boys who couldn't wait for their allowances to buy things. 

 

You've got Cadell Meredith, the obnoxious git, whose constant back-patting made my hand itch to smack him. He's supposed to be a conscientious, top-rate medical student but he's barely in class. He decided to take it upon himself to solve the murder of a man whose body he stole from the graveyard because he obviously couldn't go to the cops with the info. He also clearly didn't know what he's doing, though he did a decent job of faking it, and I was scratching my head what he planned to do with any of the information he was digging up. Even an anonymous letter to the copper who's supposedly dogging his every step yet missing 95% of his antics wouldn't do much good since Cadell messed with most of the evidence he found. Then again, who needs evidence in Ye Olden Tymes? He kept running into one dead-end after another only to find out that it's exactly who you thought it was right from the start.

 

Then there's the "love interest," or shall I say love interests. He lusted after every other guy he came into contact with and even got a mutual hand job from one of them, but it's the copper who he really wanted. Why? I have no clue, actually. Their first interaction, Breton had broken into his home, cooked him dinner (why? IDK!) and interrogated him, threatened him, was an overall jerk and then manhandled him against the wall. I guess it was sexy manhandling??? And from this encounter on, Cadell's supposedly in lust with the guy but since he was lusting after every other guy, it was hard to see why Breton was so special. They did finally get some real interaction after the 50% mark, but most of that was so nonsensical I couldn't buy into it. They didn't actually get together until 98%.

 

The author did well in portraying what it must have been like being a medical student at a time when grave-robbing, even for medical purposes, could get you sent to the gallows, and there's a good sense of atmosphere for the time period. Unfortunately, that atmosphere was often lost by Cadell's inner-thoughts, which made him come across more like a modern-age brat than a mature medical student of the early 1800s.

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review 2017-10-10 18:55
Down and Out in the New Economy / Ilana Gershon
Down and Out in the New Economy: How People Find (or Don’t Find) Work Today - Ilana Gershon

Finding a job used to be simple. You’d show up at an office and ask for an application. A friend would mention a job in their department. Or you’d see an ad in a newspaper and send in your cover letter. Maybe you’d call the company a week later to check in, but the basic approach was easy. And once you got a job, you would stay—often for decades.
 
Now . . . well, it’s complicated. If you want to have a shot at a good job, you need to have a robust profile on LinkdIn. And an enticing personal brand. Or something like that—contemporary how-to books tend to offer contradictory advice. But they agree on one thing: in today’s economy, you can’t just be an employee looking to get hired—you have to market yourself as a business, one that can help another business achieve its goals.

 

An anthropologist’s view of the job seeking/hiring process. It makes me extremely happy that I am close to retirement. There’s been a sea-change in how people look at the process:

…in the mid-twentieth century, corporations believed that shareholder value depended on the ways in which a company contributed to stable careers and stable communities. Since then, corporations have changed their philosophies—their present concern is with keeping their stock prices as high as possible.

 

With this change in orientation, companies have encouraged job seekers to change their self-view as well. Instead of the “renting your time to your employer” model that has held sway since the Industrial Revolution, job hunters are now encouraged to think of themselves as their own businesses, “Me, Inc.” They must now seek to show that they are the “best fit” business-wise for a potential “partner.”

This basically means that each of us is an independent contractor, responsible for our own health care and retirement costs. The unequal nature of the relationship renders employment unstable at best, temporary at worst.

For the most part, consideration and respect for job seekers was thin on the ground, and having a thick skin for being treated shabbily is a necessity for people actively looking for work these days.



After reading this volume, I am quite skeptical of LinkedIn as a venue to find employment. All I can do is repeat what I said above: Thank goodness that I’m only a few years from retirement!

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review 2016-07-31 00:00
Dark Economy
Dark Economy - M.J. Keedwell Like other reviewers have already pointed out, Dark Economy is a historical murder mystery with little romance and even less sex getting in the way. Which was much appreciated.

The mystery is not the most gripping one: There are a lot of possible culprits, but it's not one of those books that keeps you guessing; there aren't enough clues for you to guess. Instead, you follow medical student Cadell playing the amateur sleuth and watch him solving the puzzle, in classic procedural style.
Cadell's not an instantly likeable character – thank heavens, instantly likeable characters are boring as hell. He's arrogant, a bit too full of himself, and judgemental. But he has his head on right, his heart is in the right place, and he has a fierce sense of justice. Because the story is told from Cadell's POV, police constable and love-interest Breton remains more of an enigma; which is fine, because he's kind of a mystery to Cadell, too. The secondary characters where well fleshed-out, the author created a nice, seemingly authentic atmosphere – although she might have overdone it a bit with the Briticisms.

The romance really takes a backseat here, and while this is completely fine with me, what little romance there is felt quite forced. The author noticeably wanted to create sexual tension, but maybe she wanted it a bit too much. It felt artificial. And Breton throwing Cadell against walls or on beds in outbursts of uncharacteristic passion (I assume it should signify passion) got old quite fast.

There were some unanswered questions: What did Dylan want to tell Cadell on that ball, before Dylan's dick got in the way? Why was Beth so positive about her brother hooking up with Cadell, when she couldn't even know for sure if Cadell was gay? And how on earth did Breton know that the culprits attacking Beth were the same who did... the spoilery stuff?

All in all, not bad for a début, and I actually wouldn't mind a sequel. Or a bit more about Dan; Dan was a cutie.
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