Tag Archives: The Letter

We’re All Alone

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Delta Lady: A Memoir by Rita Coolidge with Michael Walker (Harper, $25.99, 225 pages)

In the Acknowledgments, Rita Coolidge states that from the age of four she “dreamed of writing a book.” Sadly, this memoir does not read as if it was written. It reads as if it was dictated onto audio cassettes and transcribed by the writer whose name is found beneath hers in small letters. There’s simply no voice, no style present that gives it personality; thus, one never feels like time has been spent with the singer-musician.

Coolidge concedes that people usually think of her as the woman who was once married to Kris Kristofferson. Those wishing to find out something about that marriage may be satisfied with what they read in these 219 pages. But those wishing to learn more about her life in or out of the music trade may be left wanting.

One frustrating thing is that Coolidge makes bold statements before walking them back. For example, she’ll state that musician Joe Blow used too much cocaine, and then retract that by saying it’s not for her to say what too much is. Tentativeness in a “tell all” is so unsatisfying.

It seems like Coolidge waited decades to tell her story and then hedged in the telling.

Delta Lady back cover

Note:

Delta Lady could have used assistance from a strong editor. There are awkward statements and content throughout. For example, at one point we read this about Janis Joplin: “She drank too much than was good for her…” And Coolidge tells us that after her mother died, “I had a gig on the eighteenth and knew she wouldn’t want me to not do that gig.” Ouch!

There’s also noticeable repetition in the account. For example, one particular background singer did some work with the Rolling Stones. So every time her name is mentioned, we’re told – with but one exception – that this woman once sang with the Rolling Stones. These may seem like small points, but they’re not so small when you’ve shelled out $26.00 for a finished work.

Finally, there may be some issues with factual accuracy. Coolidge states that the Mad Dogs and Englishmen tour left Joe Cocker physically and financially impoverished. Other accounts note that Cocker’s poor physical state was due to alcoholism. And the Mad Dogs and Englishmen double-album made Cocker rich. It was the second-best selling album in the U.S. when it was released, and was very likely the best selling recording on college campuses. A&M Records co-founder Jerry Moss stated, “‘The Letter’ (from the Mad Dogs album) was the first hit for Joe… The record went (Top 10) platinum and sold well… That whole group was incredible, and it was an amazing experience – what they did live and on record was magnificent. After that success, we were able to get Joe back in the studio to make more great records.”

Joseph Arellano

A review copy was provided by the publisher.

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The Letter

Every Hidden Fear (nook book)

Every Hidden Fear: A Skeet Bannion Mystery by Linda Rodriguez (Minotaur Books, $26.99, 292 pages)

Linda Rodriguez is serving up her third installment in the Skeet Bannion mystery series set in the fictitious town of Brewster, Missouri located 12 miles outside of Kansas City. Rodriguez provides a smooth segue from her prior book. The narrator, Skeet Bannion, is chief of police at a local college after a distinguished career with the Kansas City Police Department. As in the past, Skeet is somewhat entangled with her former husband, Sam. Together they care for Skeet’s dad who is an aging ex-cop.

Brewster is changing as outsiders are pushing for the development of a shopping mall. The prospect of an invasion of the big box stores is terrifying to the local shop owners in the provincial town square. The charm and quaint atmosphere of Brewster is its main draw.

The plot of Every Hidden Fear is fine; however, the author becomes a bit repetitive with background information already provided within the text. Some editing would have made for a smoother read. Moreover, the anger seething inside Skeet is present almost too often. The lack of comic relief or a few warm and fuzzy moments makes this a lesser in entry in Rodriguez’ ongoing saga of Middle America.

Recommended.

Moriarty Returns a Letter (nook book)

Moriarty Returns a Letter: A Baker Street Mystery by Michael Robertson (Minotaur Books, $24.99, 263 pagesl $14.99, 272 pages)

Moriarty Returns a Letter (alt. cover)

Across the Atlantic Ocean in England the reader is treated to the fourth installment of the charming Baker Street series. The series features Crown Barrister Council Reggie Heath whose office is located at the historic 221B Baker Street address made famous by the Sherlock Holmes stories.

Heath is drawn into a murder mystery that ties to the abduction of his soon-to-be bride, movie star Laura Rankin. Laura is beautiful and clearly knows the value of a trustworthy and loyal man. She has chosen Reggie over the pompous publisher of a sensationalist news corporation – think Rupert Murdoch. Together, Reggie and Laura set out to the countryside for a quiet weekend.

The dialogue is clever and the scenes are cinematic. The reader is happily riding along on their adventure when mayhem, madness and trickery insinuate themselves into the picture. This tale moves along smoothly despite a few mishaps.

The real question for fans of Reggie and Laura is – will this be a case of “and they lived happily ever after”?

Well recommended.

Ruta Arellano

Review copies were provided by the publisher.

Moriarty Returns a Letter is available in both hardbound and trade paper versions.

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