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Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Robert B. Parker Novels

Robert B. Parker is famous for creating the Spenser novels.  He also wrote the Jesse Stone (small town Police Chief) and Sunny Randall (female private investigator) series of novels.  During the writing of these series the storylines and characters overlapped and they became one integrated series of novels by the end.  I recently decided to read all of the 15 novels in the Jesse Stone/Sunny Randall series that were written by Parker before his death.  It was very helpful that we have several large used book stores in the Washington, DC metro area.  The novels deal with adult relationship issues and many of the characters have significant human flaws.  And there is a lot a action as well. 

Since Tom Selleck plays Jesse Stone on TV many of us have at least some feel for the Jesse Stone character.  The Jesse Stone character in the novels is much younger than Selleck was when he started playing Jesse Stone.  If you are looking for a diversion from your "heavier" reading you might find it fun to try the Jesse Stone/Sunny Randall series from the beginning.  The novels are:

Night Passage - Jesse Stone - 1997

Trouble in Paradise - Jesse Stone - 1998

Family Honor - Sunny Randall - 1999

Perish Twice - Sunny Randall - 2000

Death in Paradise - Jesse Stone - 2001

Shrink Rap - Sunny Randall - 2002

Stone Cold - Jesse Stone - 2003

Melancholy Baby - Sunny Randall - 2004

Sea Change - Jesse Stone - 2006

Blue Screen - Sunny Randall - 2006

High Profile - Jesse Stone - 2007

Spare Change - Sunny Randall - 2007

Stranger in Paradise - Jesse Stone - 2008

Night and Day - Jesse Stone - 2009

Split Image - Jesse Stone - 2010 

Since the characters eventually overlap between the two series and by the end it becomes essentially one continuing story, it is interesting to note that late in the Sunny Randall series there is a major inconsistency in a subplot that is never resolved properly.  The issue is simply ignored in the next book in the combined series.  The question is why Parker would create an obvious flaw in the continuing story.  Maybe the novel in question was written at a different time and held for later publication and Parker didn't bother to rewrite that subplot.  If you decide to read the novels in order maybe you will find the inconsistency as well. 

I hope everyone enjoys their summer reading list.


7:43 pm          Comments

Monday, May 1, 2017


During the past year I have discussed three of Ayn Rand's four novels on this blog.  Today I will discuss her fourth novel, Anthem.  Anthem isn't truly a novel.  One could call it a novelette, novella or an extended short story.  It doesn't compare in any way to Rand's other novels.  Anthem was written in 1937 during the time Rand was developing the plot for The Fountainhead

Anthem was originally published in England in book form in 1938.  Rand could not find a publisher in the US in the late 1930s.  Apparently, it was too anti-socialist for the Communist sympathizers running the publishing industry at the time.  The novel was finally published in pamphlet form in the US in 1946 by a conservative publisher.  It was finally published in hardback in the US in 1953.  I read a paperback edition that includes a marked up version of Rand's original British version of the novel.  Rand rewrote a significant amount of the book before the US publication.   The fundamental message of the book didn't change but Rand made numerous edits to the text. 

Anthem is set in the future.  A future where collectivism has taken control of society and completely subjugated the rights, desires and egos of individuals.  Every individual and all human activity is required to benefit the collective.  It is all about "We".  The word "I" cannot be spoken.  Unless a committee agrees to a establish something as fact, it is false by definition.  There is no such thing as individual freedom of anything. 

What kind of society do we want?  What role do we want the government to have in regulating our lives?  Where is the balance between social responsibility and individual freedoms?  These and many other questions are posed by the works of Ayn Rand.  Anthem is Rand's least important novel but it is part of her collective works.  Her message is clear - collectivism is the enemy of free people.


7:47 pm          Comments

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Road Trip 2017

Check out Road Trip 2017, my new article on my web site.  The article includes my observations from my recent road trip in Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, Mississippi and Louisiana, http://thepurplemuse.com/id63.html.  Many parts of the US are very different from the Boston to Washington Metroplex and the technology cities of the West Coast.  A lot of people lead a different life style and think differently than coasties.


10:14 am          Comments

Friday, April 28, 2017

David Baldacci's Will Robie Novels

If you are looking for a CIA operative as a lead character in a series of books I suggest you read David Baldacci's Will Robie novels.  Baldacci is a prolific writer that has written many novels with interesting characters in a series format.  As of this time Baldacci has written four Will Robie novels. 

The Innocent - 2012 - Introduces Will Robie, CIA operative, and other important series characters. Robie is a loner that is tired of being alone and his newly awakened emotions almost get him killed.

The Hit - 2013 - Introduces Jessica Reel, a "rogue" CIA operative that almost kills Robie before they team up.  They are two loners that have a hard time trusting other people.

The Target - 2014 - Robie and Reel save the day after political decisions involving North Korea go haywire. Reel deals with difficult issues from her past.

The Guilty - 2015 - Robie loses his "edge" as an operative.  He returns home to face his difficult past with Reel's help.

It is not clear if there will be any more books in this series.  The end of the fourth book leaves open the possibility for more but doesn't leave a major cliff hanger to be resolved.  We shall see how where Baldacci puts his effort going forward.  These are very interesting novels for those that like this genre. 


11:31 am          Comments

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

We The Living - Ayn Rand

After reading Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged and The Fountainhead I decided to read her first two novels.  Her first novel is We The Living.  Rand was 31 years old when We The Living was first published in 1936.  She emigrated to the US in 1926 at the age of 21.  I read the version of the book that was published in 1959 which includes a Forward that Rand wrote in October 1958. 

We The Living is set in St. Petersburg (Petrograd, Leningrad), USSR over several years in the early 1920s, just a few years after the Russian Revolution in 1917.  Ayn Rand was born and lived most of her early life in St. Petersburg and personally experienced the revolution and its aftermath with her family.  In the Forward of the book Rand states "We the Living is a near to an autobiography as I will ever write.  It is not an autobiography in the literal, but only in the intellectual, sense. The plot is invented; the background is not." 

This book was tough to read because the living and political conditions in St. Petersburg in the early Soviet era were almost impossible to endure.  Kira, the remarkable young woman that is the primary focus of the book, is put in incredibly challenging situations created by the environment in which she is forced to live.  In the Forward Rand states "We the Living is not a story about Soviet Russia in 1925.  It is a story about Dictatorship, any dictatorship, anywhere, at any time, whether it be Soviet Russia, Nazi Germany, or - which this novel might do its share in helping to prevent - a socialist America." 

Today the USA is a political battleground for the hearts and minds of its citizens.  A self described Socialist, Bernie Sanders, was a major candidate in the 2016 Presidential election.  The world is watching the country of Venezuela disintegrate economically as its Socialist leaders wreck what was once a reasonably prosperous nation.  Many may see it as a stretch to call We The Living a warning to all free people.  I feel it was timely for me to read it now.  My wife and I spent two days in St. Petersburg in the late summer of 2015 and we were physically in several places described by Rand, making the story more meaningful to me.  Earlier today I finished the book and reread the Forward.  It was very difficult reading about what it was like to survive in the wrecked economy of St. Petersburg and the USSR in the 1920s.  it was very difficult to continue reading the book as the major characters suffered under the boot of the Soviet system and had to make extremely difficult life choices.  Rand clearly explains how impossible it is to truly 'live" in a socialist dictatorship.  She knew first hand and she made her own personal choice, she emigrated to the United States and became a famous author continuing to impact the world decades after her death. 

This book doesn't deal very much with the fundamental causes of the Russian Revolution.  Rand was born into the upper class so her view would be very different from those people that were at the other end of the economic and political spectrum.  But she intimates that the fundamental principles of the revolution got hijacked along the way.  It wasn't supposed to end up the way it did.  But it did end up that way and continued on for decades until it collapsed on Christmas Day in 1991 when the Soviet flag was taken down from the Kremlin for the last time.  Now Russia operates under a different economic and political system - who knows how to describe it accurately. 

I hope we have all learned the lessons from the USSR period in world history.  Unfortunately, it appears that not everyone has learned those lessons.


11:50 pm          Comments

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