Thursday, May 28, 2020

Network Effect (The Murderbot Diaries, #5)Network Effect by Martha Wells
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Another solid story

I have loved Murderbot since the first novella and they just keep getting better. Part of it is watching the character develop throughout the series as it expands its knowledge of humans. The introduction of ART in an earlier book only increased my fondness for the character.

When Murderbot becomes involved in a hostage situation, involving his humans it quickly becomes obvious that there is a much more difficult issue taking place. Soon Murderbot and ART find themselves in a situation that could lead to the end of both of them.

Another great story that expands on the universe that Wells has created and promising further stories.

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Wednesday, May 06, 2020

The Case of the Sulky GirlThe Case of the Sulky Girl by Erle Stanley Gardner
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Although this is the second Perry Mason novel, it is the first one in which we actually see Mason in a court room. In the first he's almost more hard-boiled PI, than lawyer. This shows us the character in a situation much more familiar. Defending his client and revealing in a stunning surprise the actual culprit/murderer during the trial.

Frances Celene, is a wealthy heiress who initially comes to consult Perry about the terms of her father’s will. Her inheritance is being overseen by her Uncle, who she feels is too strict in his supervision. One of those being that if she marries prior to her twenty-fifth birthday, she will only be given a small annual income and the majority of the estate given to a number of charities already stipulated.

On an evening when she reveals to her uncle that she has already married, Frances and her new husband argue with the man. Within hours he is found bludgeoned to death after making a call to police, apparently about a stolen automobile. It's up to Perry, along with PI Paul Drake, to discover the actual facts of the murder and clear both young people of the crime.

One thing I found confusing is that in this novel we have an Asst. DA Claude Drumm, whereas in the first novel there is a police detective with that last name who even takes a few bucks on the side from Mason to help him with some questions. In the TV series, Detective Steve Drumm is a member of the police, and the Claude Drumm character replaced by Hamilton Burger, who is known by most fans. He was introduced in later novels.

As usual the actual murderer seems to come out of left field, as it often did in the TV series, where a secondary character always breaks down in court to confess. As much fun as the first novel was, it was great actually seeing Perry in action in court.

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Saturday, May 02, 2020

The Case of the Velvet ClawsThe Case of the Velvet Claws by Erle Stanley Gardner
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

While I grew up watching the Perry Mason TV series, featuring Raymond Burr in the title role, I'd never seen the earlier Mason films of the 1930's or read any of the novels by Gardner. The Burr version was the one I recognized and thought to be how the character was to be portrayed.

The Mason introduced in Gardner's original novel, never even appears in court. He is much more hard-boiled than I expected, having more of the attributes of detectives like Marlowe and Spade. He's not afraid to get physical at times, not even hesitating in grabbing the arm or shoving aside a woman if she angers him. His relationship with his secretary, Della Street, has a more sexual undertone than it ever did in the TV series. The earlier film series went with a more "Thin Man" vibe between the characters and had them married.

Perry is approached by a married woman who is afraid that her relationship with a political figure may become public, through possible pressure from a tabloid paper. The publication is not above 'selling advertising space' to individuals as cover for halting the release of stories that could injure the reputations of celebrities or the well-to-do. Mason takes the case, despite warnings from Della, and things become more complicated when the husband of the woman is killed and it appears the wife is the murderer. When she then fingers Perry as the possible shooter Mason, with the aid of P.I. Paul Drake must clear himself and his client if possible.

Well written, if dated, story that nicely introduced the characters. From trailers, it looks as if the Robert Downey, Jr. produced Mason limited series on HBO, will be sticking closer to the original books than the portrayal most of us know.

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Spider-Man: Miles Morales Vol. 1Spider-Man: Miles Morales Vol. 1 by Brian Michael Bendis
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Miles is a wonderful character, originally introduced in Marvel's Ultimate Universe following the death of that world's Peter Parker. Now he is a regular part of the current Marvel universe, often interacting with this world's Peter Parker, along with alternate versions from other worlds/dimensions.

Miles is a teenager, with the usual problems dealing with family, friends and getting good grades. Add to that powers equal to those of the original Spider-Man and a few more. Like Peter Parker, in his early adventures, Miles is having a difficult time balancing his life of normalcy and heroism. This volume introduces the occurring characters of Miles family, faculty and fellow students.

Nice done, as Bendis continues to be one of the better writers in comics.

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Saturday, April 25, 2020

Harley Quinn and the Gotham GirlsHarley Quinn and the Gotham Girls by Paul D. Storrie
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Full disclosure, I've known Paul Storrie for over twenty years and consider him a friend. I'm also glad to say that he's a heck of a writer and successfully captures the spirit of the five main characters in this series. Originally published as a five-issue miniseries back in 2002, DC has wisely collected it as a TPB taking advantage of Harley's current popularity.

Catwoman is hired to steal a plant growth formula that Ivy created prior to her turning to crime. When Ivy learns of this she and BFF Harley decide to steal it back, before it can do the harm that Ivy knows will happen if the formula is used. With this threesome wrecking havoc, it's not long before Batgirl and GCPD's Detective Renee Montoya find themselves trying to get the formula as well.

There are currently so many interpretations of Harley Q, in comics, animation and live-action that it can be confusing. Storrie, along with artists Jennifer Graves (pencils) & J. Bone (inks) bring us one closer to her initial persona from the Batman Animated series. She closely resembles (in attitude and costume) the original Paul Dini/Bruce Timm creation.

All the characters are nicely written, with cameo appearances of several other DC characters along the way. I would say the book would be fine for YA readers and adults. It really is a lot of fun.

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