George V. Reilly

Review: Graveyard Dust

Title: Graveyard Dust
Author: Barbara Hambly
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★
Publisher: Bantam
Copyright: 1999
Pages: 315
Keywords: historical mystery
Reading period: 21 February, 2016

New Orleans, 1834. Benjamin January is a free man of color and a Paris-trained surgeon who must support himself as a musician. His sister Olympe, a voodooi­enne, and another woman, Célie, are accused of murdering Célie’s husband, and Ben must save them from hanging. As a pro­fes­sion­al musician and a colored man, Ben moves between the high society of the old French in­hab­i­tants and the new American merchants, the poor white areas of town, the many slaves, and the small free black middle class. Hambly adeptly explores slavery, the uneasy crossover between French and American continue.

Review: Death In A Strange Country

Title: Death In A Strange Country
Author: Donna Leon
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★
Publisher: Arrow Books
Copyright: 1993
Pages: 373
Keywords: mystery
Reading period: 19–21 February, 2016

A body has washed up in the canals of Venice, that of an American soldier from the nearby US base at Vicenza. Com­mis­sario Guido Brunetti doesn’t believe that it’s a mugging gone wrong, especially when he sees the fear in the eyes of the female army doctor who’s sent to identify the body. He digs and finds corruption among the rich and powerful, in a toxic coverup.

Brunetti is a decent and honorable family man, whose sense of justice is undi­min­ished by working for an in­com­pe­tent func­tionary in continue.

Review: The Belfast Connection

Title: The Belfast Connection
Author: Milton Bass
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★
Publisher: New American Library
Copyright: 1988
Pages: 300
Keywords: thriller
Reading period: 14–17 February, 2016

San Diego cop Benny Freedman decides to meet his Belfast relatives for the first time. They disowned his Catholic mother decades ago when she married his Jewish father. It turns out that her siblings are still un­re­pen­tant bigots, but he finds himself drawn to two of his cousins, pretty young Catherine Callahan and Brendan O’Malley, a poet whose brother Sean has just been murdered. Cousin Benny finds himself drawn into in­ternecine feuding between the IRA and the INLA, as well as skirmishes against the British Army and continue.

Review: Mad Max: Fury Road

We saw Mad Max: Fury Road at the Cinerama tonight, as part of its Eight Days of OscarFury Road having being nominated for ten Oscars, including Best Picture and Best Director. I have no idea if it will win any awards from the Academy, but it’s no ordinary action movie.

Action there is aplenty, a kinetic feast of racing cars and roaring maniacs that rarely lets up. Imperator Furiosa and Max flee across the desert, taking Immortan Joe’s five nubile wives to a better place. They seek hope, Furiosa seeks redemption, and Max seeks mostly to survive. Furiosa sets the plot in motion; Max is a loner battered by fate, grudgingly coming to the continue.

Review: The Straw Men

Title: The Straw Men
Author: Paul Doherty
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★
Publisher: Severn House Digital
Copyright: 2013
Pages: 224
Keywords: historical mystery
Reading period: January 29–Feb­ru­ary 16 2016

London, January 1381. John of Gaunt‘s regency is in trouble, unrest abounds throughout the land, and uprisings are being plotted. Brother Athelstan and his friend the Coroner are invited to a per­for­mance by Gaunt’s players, the Straw Men, at the Tower of London. When a murder occurs during the play, Athelstan is required to in­ves­ti­gate. Several more murders happen before he finds the culprit.

Doherty pulls off both an intricate plot and a satisfying historical novel.

Shamrocks Have Three Leaves, Not Four

I visited a faux-Irish bar this evening where both three-leaved and four-leaved shamrocks were found in abundance.

The reason why shamrocks are associated with Ireland is that our patron saint, St. Patrick, used the three-leaved plant as a metaphor for the Divine Trinity, the three gods in one, God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost. (The Irish usually refer to the Holy Spirit as the Holy Ghost. I spent ages 7–18 at St. Mary’s College CSSp in Dublin, which is run by the Holy Ghost Fathers.)

A four-leaf clover is considered lucky because it is rare. It may be lucky but it is not a shamrock.

Sorting Python Dictionaries by Value

New post at the MetaBrite Dev Blog.

Review: Ashes By Now

Title: Ashes By Now
Author: Mark Timlin
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ½
Publisher: Vista
Copyright: 1993
Pages: 219
Keywords: crime
Reading period: 13–14 February, 2016

Nick Sharman is a washed up London PI, living with two strippers and drinking himself into oblivion. He used to be a promising Detective Constable, and a bad case from that time comes back to haunt him. The teenaged daughter of an inspector died after being raped twelve years ago. His sergeant fitted up a local flasher and Sharman re­luc­tant­ly went along. Now Sailor Grant is out and wants to clear his name. Sharman refuses to get involved; Grant is murdered; and Sharman’s former sergeant beats him half to continue.

Review: Counterstroke

Title: Coun­ter­stroke
Author: Andrew Garve
Rating: ★ ★ ★
Publisher: Penguin
Copyright: 1978
Pages: 178
Keywords: Suspense
Reading period: 13 February, 2016

The wife of a rich politician has been kidnapped by terrorists who want to exchange her in nine days’ time for one of their number who’s in prison. Actor Bob Farran thinks he can im­per­son­ate Tom Lacey well enough that Sally Morland will be freed and he can earn the £250,000 reward.

We spend three quarters of the book preparing for the im­per­son­ation, which gives Farran time to do it well. While the nine-day delay enabled the im­per­son­ation, it makes little sense for the terrorists to have asked for such a delay. The exchange and continue.

Review: Reversible Errors

Title: Reversible Errors
Author: Scott Turow
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ½
Publisher: Warner
Copyright: 2002
Pages: 553
Keywords: crime
Reading period: 7–13 February, 2016

Ten years ago, Rommy "Squirrel" Gan­dolph—­gen­er­al­ly regarded as a harmless thief not playing with a full deck­—­con­fessed to three murders. Now he’s about to be executed and Arthur Raven, his court-appointed attorney, believes his protes­ta­tions of innocence. The book follows Arthur, who finds an ally in Gillian Sullivan, the disgraced ex-judge who presided over Gandolph’s trial, and the prosecutor, Muriel Wynn, and the detective, Larry Starczek.

Turow digs deep into the characters of his four pro­tag­o­nists, as they struggle with each other and with the rev­e­la­tions of the case. They are all flawed, continue.

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