Aug 292010

Rosenblatt’s daughter Amy dies unexpectedly from a heart attack at age 40 leaving behind a husband, successful career, and three young children.  Roger Rosenblatt and his wife Ginny move from grandparenting into their dead daughter’s house, living now with her widower, to take up the role of parenting.  Rosenblatt is a well published author who uses this long essay to expunge his emotions.  Nothing can be worse than losing a child, but while the writing is exquisitely painful, it also feels self-indulgent and hagiographic.  In memory, Amy emerges as perfect.  Her friends and her father’s friends are all dreadfully famous.  Amy, the author, and the other characters peopling the book all seem out of reach to us mortals making this universal tragedy a little less universal.

Aug 232010

What’s not to like about a depressed, grumpy 50-year-old detective fed up with being overworked and being surrounded by nincompoops?  Let’s just say I could relate.  Written in the late 90s, this mystery encompasses the search for an evil computer genious intent on bringing down the global financial system.  Sure, it’s feasible but the evilness somehow seemed more comic-book than authentic.  The strength of the mystery is the way in which the author describes how a police force uncovers clues, distinguishing useful information and good intuition from dead ends and dry leads.  Unfortunately, the plot is dated and the character development is minimal.  Also, good mysteries teach about a particular time or location.  This one takes place in Sweden, but it could have been anywhere.