Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Holmes on the RangeHolmes on the Range by Steve Hockensmith

My rating: 4 of 5 starsThe first of a series, about Gustav "Old Red" Amlingmeyer, a cowboy in 1890s Montana who decides to take up "deducifyin'" after discovering Sherlock Holmes, told by his brother, Otto (aka "Big Red"), who's drafted into the role of his Watson, partially because he's the only one of the two who can read and write. The brothers get their first shot at cracking a real-life case when folks start turning up dead on the ranch they're working on. The book shows a considerable amount of charm, with well-drawn characters and some nicely-observed period detail. I look forward to reading other novels in this series.
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Monday, May 03, 2010

Occult America: The Secret History of How Mysticism Shaped Our Nation Occult America: The Secret History of How Mysticism Shaped Our Nation by Mitch Horowitz

My rating: 4 of 5 stars A highly readable and very interesting, if somewhat scattershot, examination of the esoteric tradition in America, from the Shakers, Quakers, Masons, and the like that played a part in the founding of this country, to the increasingly nutty offshoots that are with us even today as the foundations of the Self-Help movement, Horowitz makes a lively and occasionally compelling case for the idea that America is not so much a Christian nation as so many would claim, but and "occult" one, at least if one defines "occult" as as ragbag of assorted beliefs, ranging from the delusional to the scholarly to the outright fraudulent, with many stops on the road between. View all my reviews >>

Severance Package Severance Package by Duane Swierczynski

My rating: 3 of 5 stars Slick and well-paced, but not exactly deep. It's more like a comic book or a B-movie in novel form than an actual novel, which is hardly surprising, given that the author is a Marvel Comics writer. I'd recently read his most recent novel, EXPIRATION DATE, which struck me as more ambitious overall, so I'm willing to cut this one some slack as being a warm-up exercise for what I hope will be an interesting career. View all my reviews >>