The Late Show – Michael Connelly

The Late Show (Renée Ballard, #1; Harry Bosch Universe, #29)
by Michael Connelly (Goodreads Author)
Edmond Gagnon‘s review Mar 24, 2021  


I really like Michael Connelly and the unique characters he’s created over the years to carry the stories in his crime novels. I wasn’t sure about his latest, Renee Ballard, at first, but grew to understand and eventually like the new crimefighter more as the plot unfolded.


LAPD Detective Ballard is no Harry Bosch, but she is a good cop with her own style, perhaps more representative of the newer breed of crime investigator. In ‘The Late Show’ Ballard is not only challenged by the serious cases that come her way, but she has to stand up for herself and fight to regain her good reputation that was sullied by a former boss.


The story is a bit slow at first, but the intrigue and action build at a good pace. The twist thrown in near the end completely took me by surprise.
I think Renee Ballard is a good addition to Connelly’s cast of characters.

Suspect – Michael Robotham

Suspect (Joseph O’Loughlin, #1)
by Michael Robotham (Goodreads Author)
Edmond Gagnon‘s review Feb 17, 2021  
I had never heard of author Michael Robotham, perhaps it’s because he’s from Sydney Australia.
Regardless, I found his book, Suspect, a very good read. The protagonist is a Psychiatrist, but not a character like Alex Delaware in John Kellerman’s novels, who assists police in their investigations.

Joseph O’Loughlin may be trying to get into his patients heads, but it seems more like he needs to examine himself. By trying to get to the truth he only incriminates himself and goes from helping the police to being their number one suspect.

I found the backstory a bit heavy at times but the plot was well written and fast paced enough to keep my attention. I would definitely read this author again.

The Snowman – Jo Nesbo

The Snowman (Harry Hole, #7)
by Jo Nesbø 
Edmond Gagnon‘s reviewFeb 07, 2021 


The Snowman is the first ‘Harry Hole’ Jo Nesbo novel that I’ve read. Although a Norwegian author, he can weave a crime fiction tale with the best of them.
I had some difficulty getting into this book, and keeping things straight as the story progressed, because of all the Norwegian names of places and characters. For me, it was hard to concentrate when I couldn’t pronounce or remember most of the proper nouns that were used.
Having said that, the plot was intricately pieced together, with enough twists and turns to keep any crime reader fully engrossed.
Nesbo’s police protagonist and sadistic antagonist were equally likable, especially once the latter was eventually discovered.

Les Miserables

Having seen the live stage version at least twice, and the previous movie musical with Russel Crowe and Hugh Jackman, I have to say that I enjoyed the latest BBC production of Les Miserables the best. The new version, which we were able to stream on CBC Gem, is not a musical. And it’s cast is not made up of A-listers, but you should recognize names like Dominic West (the Wire), David Oyelowo (Selma), and Olivia Colman (The Crown).

I found a new appreciation for this latest installment of the timeless classic because I got a better understanding of the story. Perhaps the music and lack of backstory in the stage versions left me with more questions than answers as to the overall plot. For the unaware, Les Miserables takes place in France after Napoleon and the French Revolution.

It’s a sad rags to riches to rags tale that is shown in eight parts, currently available for streaming or downloading. Cathryn and I loved the story and both give it a 9 out of 10.

News of the World – the Movie

For movie buffs like Cathryn and I, the year 2020 was painful. And because of of the worldwide pandemic with Covid 19, 2021 isn’t shaping up to be much better. Old movies in our DVD collection and streaming companies like Netflix and Crave have been our only saving grace. Even the producers of television shows had to take a hiatus in the name of safety.

After exhausting the list of decent movies to stream, and for a change from binge-watching our favorite TV shows, we’ve taken to searching for decent movies that have to be rented. Major motion picture studios seem to have caught on to our dilemma, and since they can’t release their new movies in theaters, they are making them available to rent.

Last night we rented the latest movie by Tom Hanks, News of the World. We were shocked that we had to pay $25 to watch the new release, but took into consideration that it would have cost us more to see it in a theater. And since we’re not allowed out of our house, what choice did we have. We were able to rent and download the movie through Apple TV.

News of the World is a western with a completely different story line that’s never been done before. It takes place after the American Civil war, when the country is trying to heal, and the south has suffered the most. Tom Hanks’ character travels from town to town, reading from the latest newspaper articles, apprising folk of what’s happening in their part of the world.

I found the movie a bit slow at times, typical of some westerns, but there was enough action and a great story line that kept me interested. We both loved the movie, with Cathryn giving it a big 10. I can’t say there was anything wrong with the flick but I’m giving it a conservative 8, just because I can.

Totally Under Control

Totally Under Control is a new documentary and not fake news that follows the Trump administration’s response to the Covid – 19 pandemic in the United States. I don’t usually get too involved in politics, especially those south of the Canadian border, but in considering current world events I’m posting my review of this film.

Having recently finished the book, ‘The Fifth Risk“, about the undoing of democracy in the U.S., I wasn’t too surprised by the Trump administration’s political mishandling of a pandemic, that had they had been warned about and planned for in advance.

We are all aware of Trump’s bold-faced lies and how he bullies his way through every conversation, on or off-camera. Like the book (written separately from the documentary and by a different author), Totally Under Control points out Trump’s basic flaw – that he doesn’t believe in science.

Case in point is global warming, but I won’t go there. When he took over for the Obama administration, he pretended he was back on his television show, and fired all kinds of scientists and experts who were in charge unimportant things like their nuclear arsenal and disease control. Then, for reasons only known to him, he replaced them with family members and rich buddies.

This documentary was secretly made while the pandemic was spreading around the world, and it includes interviews with disease experts and even some of Trump’s own staff. I think it was very well presented, and probably strategically released just before the election. Judge it for yourself.

I watched it on Prime and there are clips on YouTube.

Honest Thief

Do you remember the days, long ago, when you could go to a special place to see movies on a big screen? I’m not talking about your living room to watch Netflix on your sixty inch TV. I mean a real movie theatre with a screen as wide as your house, sound that vibrates your love handles, and freshly buttered popcorn that costs as much as your monthly cable bill.

Well, guess what? If you look up your local theatre you might just find they’ve dusted off their projectors and are actually playing some newly released films. Cathryn and I went to Lakeshore Cinemas last night to see Honest Thief, with Liam Neeson.

The movie is about what the title suggests…a bank robber who’s never hurt anyone, and decides to go straight when he meets a woman he wants to spend the rest of his life with. It’s an action movie but not like many of Neeson’s other flicks where the body count is higher than Covid.

Turning himself into the FBI doesn’t go exactly as planned and the retired bank robber has to fall back on his military skills to keep a couple of bad agents from cashing in on his windfall. It’s a thriller kind of love story that both Cathryn and I enjoyed. We both rate it 10 out of 10.

Our only complaint was with Lakeshore Cinemas who obviously didn’t clean or sanitize our seats before the show, popcorn and refuse left behind were big clues. Cathryn also complained the back of her recliner smelled of dirty hair. She complained to one of only two staff working, who did nothing. We will say more later in a written complaint to the company.

The Fifth Risk – Michael Lewis

The Fifth Risk: Undoing Democracy
by Michael Lewis
Edmond Gagnon‘s review Oct 07, 2020 


This is not the type of book I normally read but the author’s name caught my attention. Michael Lewis wrote Liar’s Poker, Moneyball, The Blind Side, and The Big Short, all stories that I’ve seen as movies. And being that the Fifth Risk is about Donald Trump, I figured it was worth a read.
The book caught my interest early, tempting me with how the Donald botched his transition into the White House. The author compares past presidents Obama and Bush and how they came to office prepared, and with experts who could fill the important top positions in various departments of government.
It was no surprise to me how the businessman turned president was totally unprepared for the massive undertaking and came in with only his family and a few friends to take over one of the most powerful countries in the world.
The story is about how the president took up to six months to fill some of those jobs for departments like energy where they control unimportant things like nuclear weapons. It goes on to tell how the Donald filled positions previously held by experienced scientists with wealthy buddies who had no idea what they were getting into and no interest it what the job was all about. Scary stuff.
Lewis talks about how the president has surrounded himself with yes men and how no one is allowed to tell him anything negative. They are fired if they do.
Much of this book was dry and boring…parts where the author went into all sorts of detail and backstory about the people who were replaced by the incoming president.
If you want a scary look inside the Trump administration, The Fifth Risk is worth a read.

The Fourth Horseman – David Hagberg

The Fourth Horseman (Kirk McGarvey, #19)
by David Hagberg
Edmond Gagnon‘s reviewSep 10, 2020 


This was my first novel by David Hagberg, and although I enjoyed the overall story, I feel it’s been done to death – secret agent saves the world from nuclear destruction.
I had some difficulty starting the book, probably because of way too many characters with military or political titles to remember, not to mention the many Arabic names.
Once the story unfolded I found it very predictable, even though it was apparent the author was shooting for mystery and suspense.
The plot evolved well but didn’t have to be so complicated.
The Fourth Horseman was an okay read but I’m not running right out to find another book by this author.

Cross – James Patterson

13128Cross (Alex Cross, #12)
by

James Patterson (Goodreads Author)
15204490

Edmond Gagnon‘s review

Jun 02, 2020


I love James Patterson’s Alex Cross character so it was hard not to like the book. I was a bit surprised at how fast I zipped through this and the last one I read, maybe it has something to do with the one and two page chapters.
The plot and overall story were good, as usual, but I was confused about the age of Alex’s kids and who their mother was. I had to Google the answers. It was also hard to keep track of his love interests and which job he was working, and when. Thank you Google, again.
I guess it’s my fault for not reading the series in order, I swap books with friends and read them on a whim, when I don’t feel like writing.
This book fell short of my fourth star because I thought the ending fell flat, and it was quickly laid out to tidy things up.