Book Reviews: Body Guitars and Midwest Murders

Was reminded of this on my last trip to the Huntington; much as I love the place, there’s a reason why the British is my fave.

Washington Irving, ART OF BOOKMAKING
One summer’s day loitering through the great saloons of the British Museum, with that listlessness with which one is apt to saunter about a museum in warm weather; sometimes lolling over the glass cases of minerals, sometimes studying the hieroglyphics on an Egyptian mummy, and sometimes trying, with nearly equal success, to comprehend the allegorical paintings on the lofty ceilings.


Uprise: Back Pain Liberation by Tuning Your Body Guitar
Quite a subtitle.
As with the previous books I’ve read on the subject, a lot of time and pages go into convincing the reader to try it and why other methods don’t work, as well as referrals from previous happy patients, before it finally explains what’s the new thing he’s pushing. Apparently endurance muscles are the key. You can’t see them, they don’t get bigger with exercise, so it’s hard to gauge improvement, but you have to keep it at for at least six months. You have to trust him that it’s working.
The illustrations are more artsy than helpful, difficult to make out what it’s supposed to be showing. Felt like it could have been done in 20 pages if it wasn’t for all the hard-sell.

In case you don’t know, Millennium was a TV show that was kind of a sequel to X Files, and Mulder does appear in this graphic novel, with cameos from Scully and the Lone Gunmen. However, for those who don’t know it or don’t remember it well, the exposition here is very clunky, even in the flashback; really hate it when one character tells the other everything they already know for the sake of cluing the audience in and no other reason.
Frank is hearing voices, like a serial killer that was just let out of jail whom Mulder was trying to keep in. I got that much; the rest is pretty confusing. Eventually his daughter shows up.
It takes most of the book for Frank to be brought back into Millennium—by his daughter—but that can’t possibly be the whole story. So many pages are wasted on his saying he wants nothing to do with them while they ignore him repeating that all he wants is get his daughter away from them. He’s too stubborn to realize she is one of them now. So it’s the pacing that sucks the most here.
While Frank is drawn pretty faithfully, the renditions of Mulder look nothing like him. And the daughter is done unevenly; I can’t tell if she’s the same one who killed the rapist, though in the flow of the story I can’t imagine it was anyone else.
Definitely do not read this if you haven’t seen the series; I barely remember this stuff.
So I’ve read an X-Files graphic novel and now a Millennium. Maybe there’s a Lone Gunmen upcoming. . .

Not that long ago I blogged a review about a book—and character—I really liked, an action-packed story about an actress who wants to join the FBI. In this book we get a female detective/martial arts expert who not only turns out to be even more awesome, but is in a story that I’m calling one of the best books I’ve read so far this year.
Mallory is a six-foot blonde blue-eyed woman whom even the ladies want; when I saw she had Sherlock Holmes and Sam Spade as her inspirations, I was officially just in love as everyone else. The story is told not only in first person but flashback, relating the murder of a past lover to her new lover. No doubt this has to do with another book in the series I haven’t read, but the story could have been fine without the framing device. . . just not as funny.
The writing is superb, quite enjoyable. I am really liking this character, especially her sense of humor, how she can be so hard-bitten yet still soft and sensitive, which is rare to see in even a real-life six foot gorgeous blonde (as a photographer who works with models, take my word for it). Her only downside is her ego, which forces her to do some stupid things, but that seems to be a prerequisite for going-it-alone detectives. The setting of Des Moines also works well, a bit of revelation; it seems to be a lot like any city on the coasts or anywhere in between, with a beautiful botanical garden and dangerous slums.
I liked this so much I immediately wanted to see the other book, but according to the author this is in publishing limbo right now.

Fatal Reaction
The murder of a cancer survivor in a cheap hotel is made to look like an OD. She’s the sister of the main protagonist, a female EMT who blunders into the scene before anyone can stop her, and continues to do so throughout the book.
The premise is intriguing; being no medical expert, I don’t know if uterine transplant is a reality, but it’s used here to show how arrogant and self-serving the main baddie is. The writing style is fine, the characters well-developed. But while the story is for the most part enjoyable, it has some serious flaws. Like the cops, we’re supposed to believe the big bad is the killer, but it’s obvious he’s being framed, and by the time the real murderer tries to add to the frame, thus revealing themselves, we’ve basically figured it out already. It also makes us think the cop would really have to be stupid to fall for that; that could have definitely been done better. Then the lead impetuously rushes off to confront the murderer, and of course is in way over her head and gets kidnapped. THEN her new lover does the same thing! Call the cops, people! Let the professionals handle it! Seriously, you never see people acting this dumb in real life, and real life is filled with idiots! It would have been much more believable to have the antagonist go after her; even though the baddie is rather batty, they’re a paragon of mental health compared to those blundering through this. The poorly executed plot toward the end downgrades it a point.