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review 2017-02-25 15:11
giving up, but not putting on my DNF shelf
The Suicide Motor Club - Christopher Buehlman

Look, it's not a bad book.


But also totally not what I expected going in.


100 pages in, the story drags, even with a good half dozen or more gratuitous murders by three vampires (including one wearing a neck brace... maybe they explain that down the road).


I wanted high speed highway murder adventure.  Not confused loss and and oddly engaging murder.


Removing from my shelves entirely rather than shelving as a DNF.  Might work better for me at another time

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review 2016-04-03 20:04
Review: New Arabian Knights by Robert Louis Stevenson
New Arabian Nights - Robert Louis Stevenson

Wikipedia page: New Arabian Knights (1882)

Gutenberg link: New Arabian Knights


I've only read some of Stevenson's works (none of the longer novels yet) and this was one that'd been recommended somewhere for the stories about the Suicide Club, the premise of which sounds like something that could easily be transplanted in a modern piece of fiction. (Check out the adaptations listed on the wikipedia page for Suicide Club. One author transformed it into a Holmes tale.) All of these read very much like many magazine short stories of the time - think how Doyle's Sherlock Holmes stories read, heavy on action adventure first and characterization a bit later, in small doses if at all. It's mostly all about the action.


Aside: It's still kinda weird to have grown up reading Doyle's Holmes and to then bump into people who view them all as one complete thing with an indepth world instead of a world you only learn about in bits and pieces dropped in many stories. Because Holmes didn't hop into life having all that - Doyle was also churning out short stories in bits, like many other authors of the time, most of whom didn't foresee carrying on with the same characters for a series. Of course building a headcannon with Holmes isn't at all a modern thing - decades ago I bought my dad a book of the complete Holmes stories (hardback and insanely heavy) with intricate and detailed footnotes that indicated that whoever was writing them was treating Holmes as a historical figure that did actually exist. Never could tell if that was tongue in cheek or an author who genuinely believed. And yes, there are people that do believe Holmes was a real person - not just influenced by Joseph Bell, etc.


Anyway, if you've never read short stories and realized they were all written for separate publication, this is a kind of fun example. The Suicide Club series (really only 2 stories when combined) sort of work well together, even though the whole "I am framing this as written by an Arabian author who told me the story" doesn't really seem fleshed out. Even Stevenson agrees, as in the last tale he gives that up completely:

"As for [character in story], that sublime person, having now served his turn, may go, along with the Arabian Author, topsy-turvy into space."


So by the last couple of stories the Arabian Author framing is gone, as is the Suicide Club - so expect that part to be brief. I'll note that for some reason one of the later stories, the Pavilion on the Links, is one that shows up in multiple short story collections - it's action/adventure with an Italian gang in pursuit of revenge, and a love triangle in which you know who's the good guy, because obvious good guy is obvious. But I sort of enjoyed it anyway because Stevenson does have fun writing atmospheric locations.


So if the stories of this period interest you this is worth it, especially for the premise of the Suicide Club. You'll totally see why this is definite screenwriter fodder.


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text 2015-09-25 16:48
Reading progress update: I've read 5%.
The Santa Monica Suicide Club - Jeremy C. Thomas

I'm already thinking about tossing this.  In what world would the police department call a private detective to a murder scene before homicide even gets there to investigate it?  I can buy a lot of stuff but this makes no sense to me.

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text 2015-09-24 15:55
The Santa Monica Suicide Club
The Santa Monica Suicide Club - Jeremy C. Thomas

I hope the book lives up to the catchy title.

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review 2015-07-18 00:24
The Suicide Club - Robert Louis Stevenson

For my full review, please visit Casual Debris.


The Suicide Club is a triptych of individual narratives focusing on separate characters, while interlinking a single main plot. The concept is excellent, though Stevenson's aim is adventure rather than mystery or moral conundrum, both of which are serious potential avenues. To the modern reader this is unfortunate, since the strengths of each of these stories is the heightened suspense and mystery. Despite the emphasis on adventure, the three tales are nonetheless enjoyable and certainly well written.


Since each story has a stronger third, it might be interesting to re-visit this work and create a version that begins with the Hansom Cab, continues with the Cream Tarts, and finished with the Saratoga Trunk. Of course there would be no resolution to the main plot, but even Stevenson rushed his own resolution via an odd decision. The final conflict, a dual between our Bohemian prince and the president of the Suicide Club, is presented away from the action, with two minor characters waiting to know who comes up victorious. Potentially tense, the scene lacks suspense as it is brief, not to mention that it is obvious which party will come out victorious, and which will fall at the blade of the sword

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