Thursday, June 13, 2013
Monday, June 10, 2013
Tuesday, May 28, 2013
A teenage boy has been murdered in a quiet comfortable Massachusetts town outside Boston. The stabbing sets the town on edge. Andy Barber, the town's assistant district attorney is thrust into the investigation, but Barber himself is soon under a cloud of suspicion when his son Jacob is arrested for the murder. Did Barber misdirect the investigation to protect his son? Barber fervently pursues clues to exonerate his innocent son, but the outlook is very bleak.
The unfolding of the case is intermingled with courtroom events. Throughout runs the intimate detail of the Barber family in crisis and the shifting relationships as information unfolds about both father and son.
Reading this book is like looking in a fun house mirror. Images shift and fade, and good and evil morph into each other. A thoroughly engrossing read.
Reading Defending Jacob whetted my appetite for another Landay book, and I chose an earlier book, The Strangler.
This is another book where evil and good shift back and forth. At the centre of this are three totally disparate characters, the Daley brothers: Joe the cop, Ricky the thief and Michael the lawyer. Once again, Landay's characterization is deft and incisive; as events unfold more is revealed about these three characters.
With these strong characters in the foreground, the background is richly filled in by the mother Margaret Daley, the looming presence of Joe Senior, a policeman recently killed on the job, and family friend and Daley Senior's former partner Brendan Connor. Which of these people are good and which are evil? Is the answer as obvious as it looks at first? The mystery of the Boston strangler is just the backdrop to the unfolding of character.
In a way, another character in the book is the city of Boston itself. And it's an evil city for sure, filled with violent ambitious criminals and complicit conniving public officials.
This is another great read, and I am a confirmed William Landay fan.
Wednesday, May 15, 2013
Tait was a pioneering war reporter who covered the big stories of the 20th century. Franco just before he took power. On the beach at Normandy. Korea. She's seen it all, including accompanying the first troops to enter the concentration camps in Europe, an experience still haunts her.
Tait's book, a collection of some of her great stories, is about to be released, a collection of some of her best reportage. And her publishers have overcome her desire for privacy and agreed to an interview with the Monitor newspaper.
Tamara Sim can't believe she's been selected for this interview. And frankly neither can we. Her speciality for the tabloids are Top Ten lists, such as Top Ten Celebrity Bad Hair Days. Tamara has a part-time job but is always scrabbling to find freelance opportunities to make ends meet, so she sees this assignment as her big chance to move upmarket - and upstairs).
Tamara is determined to do well. Well, not determined enough to read the provided background material, or Tait's book, which she considers a boring recital of events she knows nothing about. (Her acquaintance with T. S. Eliot is based solely on the musical Cats, and she rather thinks the Cultural Revolution was part of the Viet Nam war). But she is determined to discover the important stuff about Tait, namely what Hollywood celebrity she slept with. Someone the public (and Tamara) would care about more than a boring, brittle, old woman.
The pleasure of this book rests less on a plausible plot than on biting satire about how journalism has been watered down in recent years. Beset by economic travails brought on the Internet, papers broaden their appeal to scramble for every possible reader. As I was reading this book, The Globe and Mail, arguably the thinking (wo)man's newspaper in Canada, had a piece on the 7 Worst Moms in TV History. Sigh. Maybe Tamara Sim wrote that one. (Although she would undoubtedly have spelled it Mum rather than the American-style Mom!)