Framing the Dialogue

Book Reviews


Deadwood by Pete Dexter takes us back to the late 1800s sometime after the Civil War to the town named Deadwood in the Black Hills.  At first this seems like a book about legendary gunman Wild Bill Hickcock and his friend Charlie Utter, but there is so much more.  This is a glimpse of the “wild wild West” with all of the drinking, whoring, shooting and what not.  Wild Bill was the most interesting character, but his story is kind of sad and he is certainly not in his heyday, but there is a peek at what he may have been like beyond the character.

Stick a Fork in Me

“Me. Pete Wallace. The most persevering, glad-handing AD who ever worked in higher education. I have a voice recorder going, but whatever I say will be for my ears only. I want to preserve a bunch of fond and not-so-fond memories for the book I may write someday on what it’s like backstage in the world of big-time college sports.”

The Cuban Affair

Mac spent five years fighting for his country in Afghanistan and saw many terrible things.  He now scrapes by taking tourists on fishing expeditions out of Key West, Florida.  He seems to be at the point where he’ll listen to any reasonable offer as is the case when a secretive group offers him millions of dollars to travel to Cuba to pick up a package.  To make matters more tempting, his companion will be an attractive, young woman.


“Pierce had never been to Africa.  Even those friends who had gone there avoided the Luandian Delta.  It was, Bryce Martel had told him with a smile, ‘a place so paranoid that it makes Beirut look like Cincinnati.”

In Eclipse, by Richard North Patterson we meet fictional character, Bobby Okari, a peace-loving activist who wants to create a movement in his homeland for his Okari people.  His country is ravaged by a ruthless dictator and the world’s craving for oil.  It doesn’t take long for these worlds to collide.  Damon Pierce, an acquaintance of Okari is called by Okari’s wife when he is arrested and scheduled for a trail and subsequent execution.  The results of the trial seem preordained.

Enemy of the State

Author Kyle Mills has done more than an admirable job taking over the Mitch Rapp series after the unfortunate early death of one of my favorite authors, Vince Flynn.  I do think that the character of Mitch Rapp has changed slightly, but that is not a negative thing, just a bit different.  In Enemy of the State, Rapp is asked to go beyond “black opps” and take on the enemies of the United States, some of whom have been postured as friends.  While he was untethered, he also was without the help of his usual resources.  Rapp is forced to enlist the help of some former adversaries for this, perhaps his most dangerous mission.

Leviathan Wakes

Leviathan Wakes is the first novel in author James A. Corey’s The Expanse Series.  This futuristic setting shows the future of humanity once space is colonized.  The fragile peace between the Earth, Mars, and people who have grown up on asteroids (called Belters) is threatened when ships start being destroyed and a strange organism enters the universe.  The story is told through the eyes of a detective from the Earth (Miller) and a ship chief officer Belter (Holden).  Miller is a more realist and can feel comfortable stretching the rules while Holden seems above the frays and his willingness to share his truth no matter the consequences has the two at odds as the work together to solve the mystery of a missing girl and the strange goings-on in the universe.

The 7 Secrets of Awakening the Highly Effective Four-Hour Giant, Today

I have been a fan of the television show Always Sunny in Philadelphia though I have not seen it recently.  The show is extremely “non-PC” to the point of being offensive in many ways…though still funny as edgy comedy used to be.  I’m actually not sure how they get away with some of the stuff they do.  When I saw that the “cast” had written a self-help book, I thought that it had to be funny.  Eh…not so much even though the title is great; The 7 Secrets of Awakening the Highly Effective Four-Hour Giant, Today.

Law and Disorder: Absurdly Funny Moments from the Courts

Author Charles Sevilla has compiled a collection of humorous events from the courtroom in Law and Disorder: Absurdly Funny Moments from the Courts.  These snipits were submitted by members of the legal profession and each has a reference to where the action took place…in case, I guess, you’d want to verify.

As I read through the book I wondered whether use of the descriptive “absurdly funny” was apt.  While there are many funny moments, this is not an absurdly funny book.  Here are two of my favorites;

The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry

The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin is a wonderful story about a crotchety old widower who owns a book store on a small touristy island.  A series of events happens to Mr. Fikry and suddenly he’s not all that old and perhaps not so crotchety. 

“He wants to laugh out loud or punch a wall. He feels drunk or at least carbonated. Insane. At first, he thinks this is happiness, but then he determines it’s love. Fucking love, he thinks. What a bother. It’s completely gotten in the way of his plan to drink himself to death, to drive his business to ruin. The most annoying thing about it is that once a person gives a shit about one thing, he finds he has to start giving a shit about everything.”

Invitation To Murder

In Invitation to Murder a party is being held for current and former employees of a small television station.  As many of you may know when you spend a lot of time together, like eight hours or more a day – five days a week, you know a lot about each other and as the saying goes “familiarity breeds contempt.”  The celebration was planned by a co-worker who not many liked and her theme was murder mystery where the teams had to solve a murder.  I think that you see where this is going.