Books and Book Reviews: May 2005 Archives

The Amber Room


Even for a light thriller, this was a disappointment. Although author Steve Berry sets up and interesting scenario, the denouement was a bloodbath of unparalleled and utterly unforecast and unnecessary violence. The plot and characters reeked of Ubermensch and the storyline nearly fell apart about midway through. Utterly unconvincing.

While the book has been compared to The DaVinci Code there are few, if any similarities. The puzzle is not so neatly constructed and the writing might, if anything, be a step below that of DaVinci. Yes, I know the Catholic community reserves its special animus for Mr. Brown's magnum opus--but the writing is not nearly so bad as that of at least two Catholic writers I can think of off-hand, and for thriller stuff, not nearly as bad as a good many I have read--Mr. Berry's opus among them. On the other hand, this was a first novel, and there are glimmers here and there of real ability, so it is with something like anticipation that I look forward to reading The Romanov Legacy although another work by a Spanish author will intervene.

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When the diocese of Orlando drove Fr. John O'Holohan out on the specious requirement of retirement age (although there were many others who were equally entitled to the privilege and yet remained in place) my heart sank, and I quickly stopped attending the Church at which he served as Priest.

Mr. Luse directed me to a press whereat I could acquire one of Fr. O'Holohan's books. What a blessing. Look for Shalom 2000. I already have several copies but if you're looking for a prayer book that is not overwhelming, this is a nice gift.

My thanks to Mr. Luse.

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Author: Randy Wayne White

If you like mysteries that are more of the invesigative sort without any really possibility of "solving" them, AND you like local color, this is the kind of book for you. White does for Southwest Florida what McDoncald did in the 60s, 70s, and 80s for Fort Lauderdale. I don't know if John D. MacDonald's books are still in print, but I suspect that if they are they will breathe a certain air of nostalgia that might be a bit musty. Travis McGee was a product of his time with all the "love child" of the sixties certainty of "sexual healing." White's detective is mercifully bereft of such illusions and has grown up with the idea of an endless bounty of sexual possibilities. Fortunately, while this current is understood it isn't tremendously emphasized and one can finish the book relatively unscathed by modern sexual morality.

Our hero and investigator, Doc Ford, runs a marine biological supply company out of his two story tin shack built on a whart out in a bay of Sanibel Island. For those who don't know, Sanibel and Captiva comprise and odd east-west oriented barrier island off the south-west coast of Florida. We tend to hear a great deal about the Southeast part of Florida (Miami and Ft. Lauderdale) but the Southwest coast mercifully remains a bastion of old Florida. Attitudes there are changing gradually and with the increase in the size and complexity of Naples, Fort Meyers, and other cities, we can expect the swamp-ridden Southwest to join the Southeast in what passes for fame in this world. For the moment, however, we have the southwest preserved in this book. You will meet Florida Crackers--in some cases not the most pleasant of personalities, and other people who inhabit the southwest coast. In addition, by the time you are through, you'll have a pretty fair understanding of a small section of the Florida coastline.

The story? Well now, that's really hard to say without saying everything. Let's leave it with a bomb goes off near the boats of a group of Sanibel Island Fishermen. It is thought to be part of an endless roiling controversy about net fishing that is threatening to destroy a large portion of the fishing population of the region. As it is so close to home Doc Ford helps with the investigation.

The book jogs along nicely and doesn't introduce too much nonsense to hurt your brain. You will learn some things about the schooling habits of tarpon and other tidbits of the natural life of Florida--but don't expect either great literature or anything that will weigh you down too much.

With this start I plan to read about three other White books before my vacation to Southwest Florida. He has books titled Sanibel Flats (again set on Sanibel), Ten Thousand Islands referring to an area south of Naples that consists of a estuarine enviroment with large stands of salt tolerant mangrove that make up tiny islands, and Everglades (don't suppose that reference needs any clarification.) Anyway, if the quality continues White may ascend to a place just below James Lee Burke in my estimation of modern mystery writers.


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In the same ill-fated expedition described below, I also purchased a few other items of interest.

Because of a post some days back by TSO and a recollection of a statue/shrine to her in a Church I used to attend for Carmelite meetings in Columbus, I purchased a biography of Blessed Margaret of Castello. She sounded interesting enough to know in more detail.

Because of my devotion of the English and Welsh Saints and Martyrs of Elizabeth's time, I also picked up a slender volume on St. Margaret Clitherow. I hope to get to both of these soon and share with you some of my findings.

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My Way of Life


I have seen a lilttle book of this title ten thousand times when I go to the Shrine Bookstore. I always pass it by because it is incongruously placed with all those little prayer books and Novena books (against which I hold no animus, but I already have so many of them that the side of the house where they are stored lists). So, as a result, I have never picked it up.

Samuel has been taking an interest in books of late--mostly of the "Captain Underpants" variety, but any time we go to a store, like any child, he wants us to buy him something. Today he decided that this little book was just the right size for him and picked it up.

I initially had him put it back, but then I looked at it and saw that it was published by the Confraternity of the Precious Blood, a group for whom my admiration has increased without bounds since encounter Father Keyes at The New Gasparian. This interest caused me to look further and I discovered that it was written by Father Walter Farrell, who also wrote a multivolume commentary on the Summa that I was lucky enough to purchase a few years back. And as I looked further, the book purported to be a condensation of the thought of the Summa. Indeed, it is subtitled, The Summa for Everyone. Well, that provoked me enough to buy it.

I've dipped in here and there and all I can say is that while the whole Church should follow the teachings the Church has approved of St. Thomas, not everyone is up to reading the Summa. For those who are not, I'll let you know, but this seems to be an excellent remedy to that one failing.

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About this Archive

This page is a archive of entries in the Books and Book Reviews category from May 2005.

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