Death with a Double Edge, by Anne Perry. A Daniel Pitt Novel.
Anne Perry is a prolific writer and has three different series that I know about. A friend introduced me to the Thomas and Charlotte Pitt novels several years ago and I really enjoyed them. There is also a group of novels with the character of William Monk, a police sargent, both series are set in England in the late 19th century. This may be an awful admission from a writer who wants to be a published author (and have people buy her books) but often my fiction reading comes from the library, not the book store. That means I read what is available and not necessarily in order published. This novel, the fourth and most recent in the Daniel Pitt series was published this year. Daniel Pitt is the son of Thomas and Charlotte Pitt, so about 25 years after the original book.
Perry has also written a series of Christmas novels, and a series that are set in the time period of World War I. I have read fiction series in different genres, detective novels, amateur detective novels, Christian fiction, as well as many individual books. The ones I have read, the authors have done a good brief job of catching the reader up on the who’s who of characters.
I have never done a good job of skimming text books and try not to do that with fiction either. So I don’t know if I blinked while reading this, but it seems to me there are a few places with repetitious dialogue that do not move the plot forward. And one or two “announcements” related to “who done it, or might have done it” that seemed introduced as a “fait accomplice” that sent me reading back to see if I had missed something.
If I did fall asleep somewhere, it wasn’t the writing. I had a very good, but long morning on Sunday and managed to nod off about 5 or 6 times during a fairly close football game that evening. At least I was in my living room and not on the bleachers. Reading this book though reminded me that I do like her writing and characters and will probably look through her earlier work and see if I can pick up where I left off.
Klara and The Sun by Kazuo Ishiguro
Klara is a solar powered A.F., an artificial friend. It took me a while to catch on to the fact that this was science fiction, dealing with artificial intelligence, but more. Klara’s relationship with the sun is of necessity, but Klara herself seems the most human of the characters, and her relationship with the sun is close to spiritual. Let me interject by saying that I enjoy some sci-fi stories, though I haven’t read any. Star Trek (“Live long and prosper”) and Star Wars (“May the Force be with you”) are the beginning and ending of my sci-fi journeys. And in both cases, I d id not see all of the television versions or movies.
So barely recognizing the reading as being science fiction, I struggled a bit through what felt like stilted dialogue, and mysterious allusions beyond my ability to hazard a guess, until much later. Even then, I can only guess: For instance, they often referred to a child being “lifted” which I finally assumed to mean some type of genetic altering, which may or may not have unintended and deadly consequences on the child. Well into the story, there are some conversations about the value of life, the meaning of love, and a hinting and fear about a possible A.I. takeover. So there are also conversations that revolve around fear of the other, What constitutes prejudice, and the possibility of armed conflict between those who resist, and those who embrace the presence of artificial intelligent life to an extreme degree.
Part of Klara’s claim to fame in the storyline is her ability to observe and take in her surroundings, and the behavior of those around her, to evaluate their intentions, and make decisions accordingly. She does act independently in some surprising ways, perhaps ways that could cause her to be shut down permanently. Most interesting to me is Klara’s relationship with the sun, and her relationship to the Manager. I will admit, even at this stage, I am not clear if the Manager was a person, or an A.I. creation.
There were many times during reading this book, that I persisted in reading, like a child who grudgingly eats their spinach, or other vegetables, because they will be good for them. I simply did not want to leave it unfinished, or cast it aside. There were things I appreciated about the book, but had I understood up front what it was, I might have left it in the library. I am glad that I did not do that.
Promised Land by Barack Obama
I have been listening to this story as an Audible book over a long period of time. It is very long, and made more so by the fact that I had only snatches of time in which to listen. The truth is that although I enjoy some fiction work, I gravitate to non-fiction and biography. I enjoyed this book for a couple of reasons: it was narrated by the author and was auto-biography (not just because I listened to it in the car). Although I do vote, I do not consider myself a political animal and prefer to keep my opinions to myself. Writing about politics is not something I aim toward. That said, one reason I appreciated this book was hearing about his life, apart from many of the outlandish accusations and assumptions that characterized his run for President and were lobbed by the opposition.
I am embarrassed to say that I believed some of them, and was very wary of the man. I am as embarrassed by that admission, as I was wary of him. So, hearing from his own voice, stories about his background, growing up in Hawaii, visiting his father in Kenya, his mother who lived in Indonesia, put the accusations into perspective. I appreciated his frank discussion of the difficulties of living in the White House, for his family, and the tremendous benefit of having his mother-in-law living with them. His care for his family was evident, his love for his wife and daughters, his education at Harvard, his calling into public service were the parts of the book I liked the best.
While I am sure that he worked with carefully kept written records, his recall of detail, people’s names and roles, personalities, etc., are impressive, to me anyway. He is a good writer, and a smart, smart man. I admit that some of the details were tedious, and the book is quite lengthy. It only covered the first two years of his presidency, ending with the death of Osama bin Laden. I assume it is his intention to continue writing to chronicle all eight years of his presidency. I did gain some insight into current political events from the things he had to say. But, honestly, at this time I do not know if I would persist in reading three more volumes. Maybe, though.
I stopped reading on October 3rd, with too many tasks to complete in anticipation of a life-giving vacation. I have tried throughout to live in the present moment, with a cautious anticipation of things to come, of things present. The good thing was, all those tasks kept me focused and able to avoid over planning or assuming what the reality might be. Much better to live into the non-fiction of life and hold it close. And so I am.
Not holding back the tide,
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