Update Saturday, Nov. 18 - Nov. 24, 2017
New Lee Child novel
is bold and mysterious
Author Lee Child
delivers another classic Jack Reacher tale with “The Midnight Line.”
is piqued when he gets off a bus and wanders into a pawnshop. Inside
the shop he spots a small class ring from West Point stamped with the
year 2005 and engraved with the initials S.R.S. He immediately
questions what could have happened to the owner of the ring to force her
to sell it. Reacher assumes the owner was female because of the look
and size of the ring. He purchases it and asks the pawnshop owner who
brought it in to sell. The answer sends him on his journey.
The first name
leads him to a town, and that person leads him to another somewhere
else. In usual Reacher style, he never gives up or wavers, this time
not to see justice being served, but to simply answer the question of
what circumstances could possibly force a cadet who rightfully earned
the ring to give it up.
discovers isn’t quite what he was expecting. The ring is just a tiny
part of a vast criminal enterprise that crosses state lines.
Child has written
another compelling and moving novel featuring the iconic American hero
who never stops until he’s satisfied with the results. While the story
is bold and mysterious, the empty landscape with few individuals living
in the area spotlights Reacher’s loneliness. They were choices he made
a long time ago, but he might come to regret not settling down and
establishing a lack of roaming life.
Update Saturday, Nov. 11 - Nov. 17, 2017
John Grisham explores student loan debt in latest novel
John Grisham explores student loan
debt and the sharks that profit from it in his latest novel, “The
Mark, Todd, Zola and Gordy are
students at a mediocre law school that doesn’t produce many successful
lawyers. Most fail the bar exam, and even more find menial jobs at
best. Gordy uncovers a sinister truth about the university when he
learns that the students aren’t accepted based on grades, but rather to
supply money. The school is one of several owned by a New York hedge
fund that also owns the banks that finance the student loans. It’s a
gigantic scheme and the scam is generating millions of dollars.
Gordy snaps and commits suicide
rather than face the problems associated with what he learned. His
three friends decide to fight back, and rather than succumb to the
payment schedules and graduate to less-than-stellar positions in various
agencies, they change their names and create their own fictitious law
firm. Soon they are hanging out at the courthouse and sweet-talking
their way into taking on clients who pay cash for their services. They
have to stay one step ahead of the authorities so they aren’t
discovered, and by quitting school, they can work on exposing the scam
and try to save people from crushing debt.
Grisham knows how to tell a story,
and he also enjoys showcasing the shady side of the law profession.
Mark, Todd and Zola are hard to like at times due to the methods they
utilize as they try to defeat the system. Their motives are sound, but
it sometimes comes with a cost as they end up not really helping the
clients after they take the cash and supposedly the court case. Even
with that in mind, readers will still make this another blockbuster
best-seller from the master of the legal thriller. (AP)
Update Saturday, Nov. 4 - Nov. 10, 2017
Author tells story of female
codebreaker in ‘Smashed Codes’
Her story is so surprising it’s not
only hard to understand why most people have never heard of her, but it’s
somewhat of a challenge to believe it at all.
In “The Woman Who Smashed Codes: A True
Story of Love, Spies, and the Unlikely Heroine Who Outwitted America’s
Enemies,” journalist Jason Fagone recreates a world and a cast of characters
so utterly fascinating they will inhabit the psyches of its readers long
after the book has been read.
Elizebeth Smith, a Quaker girl from a
small town in Indiana, first fought against societal norms by earning a
college degree against her father’s will. When she was 23, she railed
against a presumed lifetime of teaching, followed by marriage and children
and headed to Chicago. Through happenstance, she met George Fabyan, a
wealthy and eccentric businessman who owned a compound named Riverbank.
There, scientists, inventors and intellectuals holed up to study and learn,
experiment and discover — all funded by Fabyan’s inherited fortune. Fabyan
hired Smith as his assistant. “Will you come to Riverbank and spend the
night with me,” he asked upon first meeting her. Stunned and confused, yet
intrigued, Smith agreed. It was 1916.
And so it begins.
During her four years at Riverbank,
Smith met and married William Friedman. Initially, they were assigned to
seeking encoded messages that Francis Bacon supposedly embedded in the works
of William Shakespeare. Their work quickly expanded when they learned they
had unprecedented and unmatched codebreaking skills.
Fagone chronicles the couple’s lives
and accomplishments against the backdrop of the birth and growth of the
modern intelligence community. His research is exhaustive and his
Much like Margot Lee Shetterly’s
“Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women
Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race” or “The Girls of Atomic City:
The Untold Story of the Women Who Helped Win World War II” by Denise
Kiernan, Fagone sheds light on a too-long-overlooked story of a remarkable
woman and her accomplishments. (AP)
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