Tag Archives: Simple

Something’s Gotta Give

Simple (nook book)

Simple: A Mystery by Kathleen George (Minotaur Books, $24.99, 322 pages)

Simple is not only a really well-crafted police procedural mystery; it is also the story of a mother’s love and her son’s gentle nature. Cal, who has been a victim all his life, is accused of the brutal murder of Cassie, a newly-minted attorney who has bought a house in a less-than-desirable part of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Cal seems to be more than a bit simple; however, considering the battering he endured over the years by bullies, he is remarkably able to quietly work as a handyman on neighborhood homes including Cassie’s.

There are times when she studies the shoes and hair and clothing of the people who come to the Connolly house and tries to figure out what about these things costs so much money. The black dresses she will see tonight, the sundresses, the sandals with decorative knots or jewels, cost a month’s salary. But she’s not always sure these things are pretty, that’s what bothers her.

Elinor, a woman with mixed racial blood, works for a wealthy man with high political ambitions. She diligently runs the Connolly household year in and year out, first for the senior Mr. Connolly and then for his son. Her son Cal, who has passed for white all his life, is the center of her world. She has unwavering love for him even when he is considered the prime suspect in Cassie’s murder.

Cal’s being a victim may seem like a sure segue to anger and violence. Main police characters, Detective Colleen Greer and Commander Richard Christie are willing to look past the obvious and consider alternative scenarios. The racial issues that are a considerable factor in this tale are particularly relevant with 2012 having been an election year. The aspects in this tale are about mixed race folks (like President Obama) rather than black vs. white tension. There are strong contrasts presented in Simple and relationships aren’t what they appear to be on first glimpse.

Author Kathleen George peels back the twisted layers of her story to reveal an undercurrent that is full of evil. Her book is sort of like a John Grisham work, but not really. It has more of an old-fashioned Dragnet approach, not so dramatic, rather, simple.

How shallow life is, that because nature handed her physical beauty, she should have such power.

Highly recommended.

Ruta Arellano

A review copy was provided by the publisher. “If anyone’s writing better police thrillers than George, (we) don’t know who it is.” Entertainment Weekly

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A review of Simple: A Mystery by Kathleen George.

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Much Ado About Something

Too Big to Know: Rethinking Knowledge Now That the Facts Aren’t the Facts, Experts are Everywhere, and the Smartest Person in the Room is the Room by David Weinberger (Basic Books, $25.99, 231 pages)

What we have here is a situation that’s either really simple or overwhelmingly complex.   This reviewer isn’t so sure of what to make of David Weinberger’s history and background survey of the Internet.   Weinberger’s credentials are impeccable.   He is a senior researcher at the Harvard University Berkman Center for the Internet and Society.   Perhaps it’s his professional training that had led to a penchant for sequencing, numbering and setting forth the pros and cons of an issue.

The book begins with the background of how, over the past few centuries, man has considered knowledge to be facts gathered by elite scholars and used these facts as the basis of a broad acceptance of scientific principles and general information.   Prior to the ubiquity of the Internet, small numbers of experts who were organized into scholarly associations that, along with the publishing industry, controlled access to knowledge.   The limits of peer review and publishing kept this information under tight control.

We have given up the idea that there is a single, knowable organization of the Universe, a Book of Nature that we’ll ever be able to read together or that will settle bar fights like the Guinness Book of World Records.Too Big to Know (nook book)

Weinberger readily offers his own take on the new use of knowledge by everyone and his uncle.   We know that the growing number of online communities provides ample opportunities for anyone with an opinion to broadcast it all over the world.   He argues that specialized communities on the Internet are becoming insular in much the same way past experts operated within the walls of academia, literally echo chambers.   Of course there is a glaring difference between the past scholarly cliques and today’s echo chambers because anyone with a laptop and access to WiFi can appear to be an expert.

On the Net, everyone is potentially an expert in something – it all depends on the questions being asked.

Too Big to Know sometimes bends back on itself with examples.   The premise of the book may be a bit overworked.   The target audience for this book is not clear to this reviewer.   Perhaps it might be someone of an indeterminate age who is inquisitive about knowledge.

This survey book may be the answer to a question that no one was asking.

Ruta Arellano

A review copy was provided by the publisher.

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Hold On Hold Out

Hideout: A Mystery by Kathleen George (Minotaur Books, $15.99, 320 pages)

“But to live outside the law,  you must be honest…”   Bob Dylan, “Absolutely Sweet Marie”

In Kathleen George’s Hideout two hooligan brothers, Ryan and Jack Rutter, become entangled in a late night hit and run accident in Pittsburgh that results in the death of the victim.   Both have a tendency to abuse virtually any chemical substance ever invented, though throughout the story the younger brother Jack is portrayed as having some redeeming qualities and a semblance of conscience.   The same cannot be said for Ryan.Hideout (nook book)

Colleen Greer is the detective most involved in the search for justice.   At the beginning of the story, George attempts to create some depth in her that would bring a measure of human interest to the whodunit, but mostly falls short.   That’s the real problem with this book.   It can’t decide if it wants to be a story that grabs the reader because the character interests them; or if it simply wants to be your basic copy thriller.   For this reason, it falls short on both counts.

The action of the story spans the time from Saturday evening to Thursday of the following week.   As the brothers flee, they continue to commit various crimes from robbery to what might be construed as attempted murder.   Make no mistake about it, these two are stupid.   The most surprising part of the story just might be that it takes the police over five days to catch them.

The author attempts an interesting twist when the brothers are separated for the first time, but, they soon reunite.   The story continues on as they discover that the authorities are on to them.   They must try to find a way to avoid capture with less money and less of a plan.   In the end, Jack enjoys some compassion upon his capture, but the resolution as to what that might mean for his future is not explored.   (It seems that including this element at the closing of the book serves little purpose.)

Fans of the genre will probably enjoy this book the same as others, but the general reader might give something else a try.

Recommended for crime novel fans.

Dave Moyer

A review copy was provided by the publisher.   Hideout is also available as a Kindle Edition and Nook Book download.   Kathleen George’s latest novel is Simple.

Dave Moyer is the author of Life and Life Only: A Novel, and is a public school administrator in the Midwest.

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A review of Hideout: A Mystery by Kathleen George, author of The Odds and Simple.Hideout (300)

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