TREASURE CHEST - - - Short reviews of less recent books worth digging around for
LOST BOYS (1992)
by Orson Scott Card
This is an early work by the same author of the popular ENDER'S GAME science fiction series, and more recently famous for his anti-homosexuality statements. However, that has nothing to do with this book and really nothing to do with any of his writings. I'm not endorsing his personal values and beliefs. I'm just hoping to draw attention to a skilled writer who really develops characters and does so with compassion and understanding (in direct contradiction to his rigid opinions on sexual preference). This is the first horror novel written by Card, and has nothing to do with the 1980's teen vampire movie of the same name.
There is an element of dark sub-surface horror that runs throughout this book; but the action related to it only takes up about one-third of the book at best. However, the surface story - that of a family trying to make a new life and cope with the challenges and struggles - is so compelling that you won't care. Card is a master story-teller and really fleshes out his characters here and makes you care about them, right up to the tearful ending. Keep the tissues handy.
Knowing that Card is a Mormon and the family in this story is very involved in the Mormon faith - - I thought this might be his treatise-in-disguise on the Mormon way. Rather, it's only a little bit of an explanation. Card shows both sides and actually plants some seeds of doubt. However, it doesn't take away from the story - - it just enhances it. Don't be afraid to check this out.
THE BOURNE LEGACY (2004)
by Eric Van Lustbader
This is a nice follow-up to the Bourne trilogy by a different author. At this point, Eric Van Lustbader has written more novels featuring Jason Bourne than Robert Ludlum. I believe this was his first attempt. It's long, but true to form and worth the time you will invest in it.
I can almost imagine Robert Ludlum writing this. I don't want to spoil anything here. If you enjoy the original Bourne novels, you will surely love this. In case you were wondering, the recent BOURNE LEGACY movie with Jeremy Renner is only loosely based on this novel. The novel is much more intricate and complex. While I enjoyed the movie, the book is much better and more memorable.
A DARK MATTER (2009)
by Peter Straub
Peter Straub gets deeply into characters, even more so with this book. It is not terrifying (as some blurbs describe it) so much as it is disturbing.
An event occurs that changes the lives of everyone involved. The story re-visits the event from his character's viewpoint, tries to reconstruct it, and probes deeply into how lingering traces of what actually occurred have affected everyone involved. Straub is a master at this, and A DARK MATTER is the best example of this style. You should check it out.
YOUR FRIENDLY NEIGHBORHOOD CRIMINAL (2010)
by Michael Van Rooy
This is a delightful and amusing crime novel that will remind you of FLETCH the novel and BURN NOTICE the television series. Winnipeg writer Michael Van Rooy has created a classic character in Monty Haavik. He's an ex-con who just wants to go straight and raise a family but his past keeps interfering with his moving on.
He's witty, sharp, quick thinking, street smart and also a smart aleck. His comments and observations are funny, and the insights into criminal methods are very revealing. It's too bad that author Van Rooy passed away in late 2011, and we won't get to see where he planned to take this character. The book takes place in Canada and is the second novel to feature this character.