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Friday, July 31, 2009

William Tapply - Will be Missed

William G. Tapply died July 28, 2009 at his home in Hancock, NH, after a courageous battle with leukemia. Please check back to this website over the coming weeks for thoughts and memories from loved ones, as well as information about his upcoming publications. Obituaries have been published in The Boston Globe and Boston Herald.

Our Mystery Book Club was honored with a visit from Bill Tapply last year. And his books are extremely well regarded by our members.

Highest Rated in Our Group This Year

Our Mystery Book Club -the one that meets in the town Library- uses a score sheet to "rate" or "grade" the books we read each month. You can download a copy from the link on the right. Anyway, this month's selection was Run Before the Wind by Stuart Woods. The book was placed on the schedule because we had such a collectively high regard for Chiefs, Woods' first book, when we read it last year (my review). Like last year, this book was rated very high by everyone - the average score was 94 ! Eight of nine people rated it 90 or above.

Run Before the Wind picks up in the early 1970s with the next generation of the Lee family in Georgia. Young Will Lee is an unfocused law school student who finds himself forced to take a year off. He sets out to travel around Europe, but a chance act of daring in which he rescues a yacht adrift in a harbor, changes everything. He accepts a proposal to help build a competitive sailing yacht in a small Irish village alongside a former British marine and his wife. It happens that the Brit is targeted by IRA extremists, and Will finds himself caught up in the cross hairs.

Many in our group loved the nautical scenes and descriptions: boat building, sailing, harborside activities, and so on.

Others were fascinated by the issues of ideological extremists in general and Irish nationalists in particular: how can people get so caught up in their view of life that they would kill the people they are defending ... to defend them?

We all felt the book was a page turner aided by extremely good writing: new elements of plot, lots of foreshadowing, excellent characterizations throughout the book.

Quite a few said it was the best book they had read all year. NOTE: see our list at bottom of this post. But two of us like Chiefs better than this second book.

I was the only one giving an under-90 rating, namely 87. Still nothing to sneeze at. (My avergae of 11 books was 81.)

My problems with the book: 1) Some unrealistic scenes / or scenes that didn't really make sense: **SPOILER** Example, when the "Bishop" tries to kill the "Nun" in the trailer, why did he wait until then? It made no sense, especially since he opposed the Nun's desire to kill Lee all along anyway. 2) A lot of questions about characters left up in the air, especially the millionaire Thresher. 3) A central character (Lee) with whom I did not identify as well as I did two of the chiefs in Chiefs.

Interesting observation though, several participants who do not like the Stone Barrington character (a PI featured in a number of Woods' later books), felt drawn to Will Lee as someone who learned and matured. Well, I hope so. In the continuing Lee family saga, Will runs for President of the US.


Books read during the last 11 months listed in the order of how I personally rated them:

Hold Tight - Coben - 95
Undue Influence - Martini - 93
Brass Verdict - Connelly - 90
Winter Prey - Sandford - 89
Indemnity Only - Paretsky - 88
Run Before the Wind - Woods - 87
The Shape Shifter - Hillerman - 87
Power Play - Finder - 85
Christine Falls - Black - 76
Skin Deep - Braver - 54
Rumpole and the Penge Bungalow Murders - Mortimer - 45
NPR is doing a series on crime novelists using various "urban" locales. (Not sure I'd call P-Town urban.) Anyway it's a great introduction to a few authors that I am not familiar with.

Have to say I enjoyed the interview with John Camp aka John Sandford. Our book club read a Sandford book this past year - Winter Prey. I believe I've read about 90% of the Sandford books.

Listen to the interview here:

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

I noticed this on Michael Connelly's site:

September 21, 2009. ABC TV Show Appearance
"Castle" is a 1 hour witty drama about a famous crime and horror novelist, Rick Castle, who helps the NYPD homicide department solve crimes. Michael Connelly will appear as himself in the season premiere, which airs September 21st at 10pm (EST). Check your local listings for time in your area.

I wonder if the show can maintain the same success that "Murder She Wrote" did years ago. Imagine, an author as detective! Jessica Fletcher, revived? I wonder.

I'll be watching, if for no other reason than to see the Connelly cameo. Hopefully for the series it can suck me in. I don't watch TV anymore, so it would be a hard sell.

2009 POLL #2--Do Mystery Stories and Political Bias Mix? What is closest to your view?