Saturday, March 21, 2015

Epitaph by Mary Doria Russell

In this continuation of the story she began in Doc, Mary Doria Russell presents her richly detailed and meticulously researched presentation of the gunfight at the O.K. Corral, and the beginning of the mythology that surrounds it to this day.  Her characterization of these men and the times they lived in within her narrative is so rich that you feel like you are right in the middle of all the action.

It is a story of a divided nation, vicious politics, and a partisan media that rivals that of today.  America in 1881 is shown in all its gritty splendor and you can't tell the good guys and the bad guys from the color of the hat they wear.  To me, the character that really shines in this book (as well as the first book in this series "Doc") is Doc Holliday.  He is such a complex person with so many different sides to his personality and so many diverse talents that I find him quite fascinating.  And the dynamics at work within the Earp brothers and the women who loved them are so interesting as a backdrop for this historical event that we think we know so much about already.

And then there is Wyatt Earp.  A good man who is caught right in the middle of a great tragedy and yet still tries to remain a hero.  When I was growing up I loved watching the TV program, The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp starring Hugh O'Brien.  I can still sing the theme song..."the west it was lawless but one man was flawless..." 

Luminous and elegant; a compulsively good read.

Friday, March 13, 2015

The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

This book is full of unreliable narrators and not necessarily likable characters.  It is well written and the plot moves along fast enough so that the suspense is maintained, and yet it was ultimately a bit disappointing.  I can't really put my finger on just why, other than the fact that there weren't any characters in it that I could really relate to.  I think if there had been at least one or two it would have made for a better read.  If I was using a 5 star rating, I think I would give this one about a 3.5--interesting and worth reading, just not top of the line (but then again I am a tough reviewer, rarely giving a book 5 stars).

Synopsis:  Rachel takes the same commuter train every morning.  Every day she passes a stretch of cozy suburban homes.  Each day the train stops at a signal that allows her to watch the same couple breakfasting on their deck.   She starts to feel like she knows them, and even assigns them names in her head.  She sees their life as perfect, not unlike hers until just recently.  And then she sees something that shocks her.  As the train moves on from the stop, everything has changed and she is unable to keep it to herself.  She tells the police what she knows and becomes entwined in what happens next, as well as the lives of everyone involved.  Now she is wondering if she has done more harm than good.

So, pick it up and read it and see what you think.   

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