Jul 142010
 

Hard to say if this book plays in Peoria, but Chabon prepares a perfect rendition of two genres: 1940s noir detective novels and Yiddish culture. A murder occurs in a sleazebag motel on the wrong side of the tracks in Sitka Alaska, home to Jews who were permitted to settle there after Palestine failed as a Jewish state following WWII. Arab – Israeli conflicts are replaced by Chasidic – Tlingit ones. The hard-drinking detective drinks slivovitz from the old country instead of whiskey; chasidic hoodlums hang in gangs on street corners discussing how to launder stolen money and what’s the talmudic way to kosher pots; and the detective has to follow his chief-of-police, ex-wife (he’s still in love with her) on his hands and knees through an escape tunnel, but all he can think about is how much he misses being able to bite her tushy. The parody holds for the entire book and the more you know about murder-mysteries and Yiddish culture, the more you’ll enjoy it. June 2007.

Jul 142010
 

What’s not to like about Hillerman. The man can wrte, he can educate, describe southwestern landscape and indian personalities, and he can write suspense without blood and gore. In this book he takes on Hopi legends and the historical conflict between Navajo and Hopi as well as taking a none too subtle jab at anglo preoccupation with unlimited wealth. November 2006.

Jul 142010
 

One of Hillerman’s better stories. I feel like he is wrapping up his characters as he wraps up his writing career so this book has an especially satisfying sense of closure.  Unfortunately I wrote this review before I was really keeping track of reviews so I don’t recall what this particular Hillerman is about.  Read this review of another Hillerman, Skeleton Man, for a better sense of Hillerman’s goals.

Jul 142010
 

About the three days before Mount Vesuvius blew its top and decimated the city of Pompeii as seen through the eyes of a conscientious aquarius in charge of trying to figure out why the Roman aqueducts have stopped flowing. An interesting novel since you know how it is going to end, but watching how the Romans begin to uncover the signs of the impending explosion is fascinating.