28 February 2007

Turn of the Last Century Psychological Thrillers

This past couple days i have finished two books: The Angel of Darkness by Caleb Carr and The Interpretation of Murder by Jed Rubenfeld. Both take place in New York City during the late 19th and early 20th century (1897 and 1909 respectively). Carr's book has a fictional psychologist running the investigation and an appearance of Theodore Roosevelt while Rubenfeld's has both Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung throughout but neither do much real detective work. Both have a lot of commentary on the police corruption of the time and the living conditions of the city's poorest citizens.

I definitely liked Angel better. NOT just because it was 640 pages. I felt the crimes and the process of discovering the criminal were far more interesting. Murder was rather confusing. Most thrillers/mysteries are told in either first person perspective following the investigator (Angel and Carr's earlier The Alienist use this) or a third person omniscient perspective following the investigators with occasional glimpses of the killer's actions (Silence of the Lambs, Michael Connelly's Harry Bosch novels). However, Murder uses third person omniscient and follows lots of characters: the coroner, a police lieutenant, Carl Jung, another psychologist who is the investigator, a suspect, a suspect's wife, the killer, a victim who survives, plus a couple other really minor characters who are only the focus for a few pages. I really feel limiting the focus would have improved the flow and tension of the story. I did learn a bit about Freud's theories from the book but i probably would have learned properly from a short overview book on psychoanalysis.

Highly recommend Angel of Darkness, slightly recommend Interpretation of Murder.

23 February 2007


Just read Drive by James Sallis. Short, dark, sad and heavy. I read it in less than a day at work and really enjoyed it. I need to read more noir because every time i do i absolutely love it. i am going to look up some more works from this author.

Joined a few of yahoo groups for books and, unrelatedly, atheism. I am getting way too many reading suggestions from these.

17 February 2007

Latest Read

Finished Cry to Heaven by Anne Rice again. I have read it a couple times before and i find it to be the most dreamlike of any of her novels. An interesting story dealing with the castrated soprano singers of Italy in the 18th century. There's sex because it's an Anne Rice novel. Probably about 80% story and 20% soft core porn. as opposed to her Sleeping Beauty series or Exit to Eden which are about 20% story.

I am working on a couple other books right now too so may have a few more to post soon.

12 February 2007

Another Book

Read Coroner's Journal: Forensics and the Art of Stalking Death by Louis Cataldie. I enjoyed it most because the author was the coroner in Baton Rouge from 1993-2003 and i recognized many of the locations. It also was a big dose of South Louisiana culture and environment. And when i was a student at LSU I took classes from Mary Manheim who had been involved in some of the cases. so it was a weird reminder of home in a way.

and no, i do not come from a dysfunctional family.

11 February 2007

so, a refresh

i feel bad. i used to write on here at a respectable rate. while i may not have posted everyday like BF, i did feel i updated at least regularly. There really were several reasons why i just stopped: i got out of the habit when i moved in May as I had so many other things to do at that time; i organized our trip to Portland, OR in late May and June; i got deep into World of Warcraft in July and thereafter; BF and i have been dealing with his health problems since October.

so i am trying to at least get back in the habit of getting on here on a semi regular basis. I read a lot, frequently i get through a book in 2 days at work when it is slow between calls. And i can never remember a year later what all i read unless i pick it up again and flip through and refresh my memory. so i am going to start really logging everything i read on here and while not exactly reviewing at least give a short appraisal of it.

so here goes.
Last week i read Birth: The Surprising History of How We Are Born. I enjoyed it. It described the role of midwives and later doctors during birth and really pointed out the ways in which the culture and time a woman lived in determined greatly what kind of experience she had during labor and delivery. One of the statistics that i was stunned by was the death rate of women before the 1900s, it was only about 1 in 100 as an average while some midwives had even better personal rates; in addition the death rate of infants was only another 1-2%. I had always heard about how horrible and dangerous childbirth was before doctors, anaesthesia and prenatal care. while it was awful to be in that 1-3%, i would have thought it was more like 15-25% of births had problems. Keep in mind as well that right now in the US we still have 9.3 babies die per 1000 at birth so we are hardly any better. We are a lot better on the mother side, as in 2000 the rate was 17 mother deaths for every 100,000 births.

I also reread The Alienist by Caleb Carr. I have read this one a couple times already. Good for someone who likes 19th Century detective stories and serial killer "profiling" works.

On the music side I also recently bought The Features: Exhibit A and Howlin' Wolf: His Best. Both excellent.