Tag Archives: sarcasm

Off Leash

Two from David Rosenfelt.

Unleashed: An Andy Carpenter Mystery (Minotaur Books, $25.99, 308 pages)

Unleashed (nook book)

Morristown Municipal Airport is a designated relief airport for the New York area. That means it was built to serve as a place for planes to go when JFK, LaGuardia or Newark become overcrowded. Since I have never been at these airports when they’re not overcrowded, I’m surprised that Morristown Airport is so empty.

Criminal defense attorney Andy Carpenter is back for another episode of irreverant irony and sarcasm all in the pursuit of justice. Author Rosenfelt just keeps getting better and better. In this, the tenth of his Andy Carpenter series, the reader is treated to a caper wherein Sam Willis – Andy’s ever reliable accountant – is a featured character. So much so that Andy’s main client, Denise Price, stays in the background of the story until nearly 200 pages into the book when she slyly offers up Sam in her place as the murderer of her financier husband, Barry Price!

Shifts between the main narrative by Andy and another voice fill in the second evil plot layer that is growing in the background led by a shadowy figure named Carter. Andy and his trusty team of Laurie, Maurice, Willie and Sondra circle the wagons to protect their buddy, Sam.

Highly recommended.

Airight: A Thriller by David Rosenfelt (Minotaur Books, $24.99, 295 pages; St. Martin’s Paperback, $7.99, 312 pages)

Airtight (nook book)

The day was already a month long, with no sign of ending any time soon.

Be ready for a tense and tightly crafted thriller. Airtight is clearly not an Andy Carpenter-type of story. The central character is Luke Somers, a police officer in a suburban town somewhere in New Jersey. Luke narrates the tale in the first person for many of the chapters while the remainder are presented through a third person narrator.

Underlying a terrific plot are the feelings of honor and duty held by Luke and his nemesis, Chris Gallagher. Each of them has a brother whom he holds dear to his heart. Luke’s brother, Bryan, is an investment banker married to a prosecuting attorney. Chris’ brother, Steven, is believed to have stabbed and killed a judge recently nominated to fill a federal appeals court seat.

Luke, acting in the line of duty, shoots Steven. In retaliation, Chris captures Bryan and holds him somewhere out of sight with just seven days worth of air to breathe and the ability to send text messages to Luke, who is frantically seeking to find him. Chris believes his brother – whom he raised himself – was not the prospective judge’s killer and demands that Luke find the real killer.

Rosenfelt provides many plot twists and a few red herrings to keep the reader involved and baffled as the action moves along toward a remarkable conclusion.

Highly recommended.

Ruta Arellano

Review copies were provided by the publisher.

David Rosenfelt is also the author of Leader of the Pack and Heart of a Killer.

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Positively 4th Street

Who Is That Man?: In Search of the Real Bob Dylan by David Dalton (Hyperion, $26.99, 383 pages)

“Hibbing, Minnesota, is the site of the biggest man-made hole in the world, an existential allegory if there ever was one…  Hibbing cannibalized itself…  If the biggest hole in the world had an effect on (Dylan), why hadn’t it shown up in any of his songs?   Or has it?   Is that what he’s been doing, filling it up?”  

David Dalton’s overly-psychedelic look at Bob Dylan never comes close to telling the reader who “the real” Dylan is.   There are a number of problems with this account, the chief one being that, instead of de-mythologizing the legend and presenting a human being, Dalton regurgitates every myth in circulation and then proceeds to create additional ones.   The all-too-clever Gonzo-journalism style, 45 years or so out-of-date, is often painful to read, as when Dalton writes about “…the hallucinatory negativity of Blonde on Blonde.”   Really?   (What album was he listening to?)

It gets worse, as when Dalton refers to Hank Williams, one of young Bob’s first idols, as “the hillbilly Shakespeare” (groan).   Although Dalton may now and then redeem himself (like when he notes that Dylan looks at America with an immigrant’s eye), the sometimes-fascinating portions of this work are fully overwhelmed by its dreadful aspects.   It may appeal to some – such as those who love middle-school style humor – but the writer tries much too hard to be as hip as Dylan’s old album liner notes.   Not recommended for hardcore Dylan fans, although some quirky readers who like humor and sarcasm presented in the guise of serious musical criticism may be inexplicably drawn to it.

All in all, this is Positively 4th Street.

Joseph Arellano

A review copy was provided by the publisher.

Note:  As an example of Dalton’s excessively strange style of covering Dylan’s recording career, he comes up with eight so-called reasons why Dylan’s two-record set Self-Portrait was relatively unsuccessful.   He cites as reason 5 the fact that someone failed to tell the Byrds that they were scheduled to play on the album, and so they “flew home.”   This is not factual nor is it funny.

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