Overheard outside UCLA hospital: “She’d be good for transplants; she hasn’t rejected an organ since high school.”
Yucatán Is Murder
There’s an intriguing murder mystery inside this book, but it’s gonna take a huge amount of editing to carve it out.
As implied in the title, this takes place in southeastern Mexico, from Merida to the coast. A freelance scientist is helping his significant other with a sociological/medical project among the native Maya. The first murder takes place and the scientist finds the body because he likes birds, in this case vultures. The police don’t care, so he takes it upon himself to solve the crime, as he’s done in previous novels, I’m sure. As expected from this kind of story, he gets himself into trouble with the killers and not only becomes a target, but gets others killed too.
I am a very fast reader, but this took forever: far too long and plodding, with overly stretched philosophical rambles and discussions as well as tons of description and scientific explanations. The most clever moment was using Mayan glyphs for a hidden message, and there’s a lot to learn from the various scientific disciplines he knows, but it’s overdone and told in a style too matter-of-fact to enjoy.
A couple is tricked into the desert to be fodder for a sniper who’s done this before, a lot. Along with another group of three they have to survive the bad guy and his assistants.
It’s hard to believe such a story, which takes place in one day and half a night, could take up so many pages. This was far more interesting and enjoyable than I would have expected, in a way reminding me of a running battle between a destroyer and a sub. There’s also plenty of psychological fun, particularly between the sniper and the protagonist but among others as well. I think it’s silly of them to push this as “The Most Gripping Suspense Thriller You Will Ever Read!” and will ultimately work against them, but it is a damned good story despite those impossible expectations.
Joi Lansing—A Body to Die For
There are plenty of actresses famous for their looks who, despite having decent careers, are quickly forgotten. This is the partial biography of one of them, as told by her last lover and self-proclaimed love of her life.
As someone who’s read a lot on TV shows of the 60s and 70s, I can name plenty of actresses who had moderate success while trying to be the next Marilyn, but Joi Lansing was never one of those names. Looking her up on the internet, one can see why this book is given that subtitle. Though wary because this was written by someone who wants to make her look good, it seems she was one of those genuinely nice people in Hollywood who, while making some friends and contacts, was swallowed up by the movie-making machine that could turn saints into assholes. If this book is to be believed, she was not one of them, keeping her upbeat demeanor and vivacity to the end. And it’s that very end that is the center of this book, making it a tough read at times. By the last chapter I was glad it was over, both her suffering and the reading.
Even though it’s a biography, this can also serve as a cautionary tale of the kind of shit rich powerful men pull on gorgeous young ladies trying to get by in the business of making movies. One can only hope the situation has gotten better, though from some of the stuff described here it’s hard to believe it can get worse.
Aoleon, The Martian Girl
An action-packed science-fiction short likely made for pre-teens, it involves a young Martian girl who is the reason for those crop circles seen on farms all the time. When she’s not very careful about being discreet she runs into a farmboy, and together they get chased by a three-legged dog and a sleepy farmer that necessitates them escaping together in her flying saucer.
There’s a wry humor here that sneaks up on you; if you’re not paying attention you might miss it. Her telepathic abilities allow them to communicate easily, so of course he has to be careful what he thinks, leading to more comedy.
The second part of the story involves various military aircraft trying to shoot them down. While the action is well written and would have fit right in with an adult genre, this is ridiculous in a book meant for kids. From all the broken glass as they sonic-boom all over the country, to the panicky fishermen that jump into the frigid water to escape a crash, to a whole Ferris wheel rolling down the street in Paris. . . can you imagine how many people must have been killed in what is portrayed as a fun romp without any consequences?
I will say the artwork is well done. It doesn’t have a real ending, just a hook for the next part, allowing this to be a quick and easy read.