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Bookends: Celebrating the power of Words January 17, 2017

Posted by klondykewriter in Bookends, mystery, Whitehorse Star.
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the-typewriter

Bookends: Celebrating the power of Words

By Dan Davidson

March 9, 2016

– 801 words –

 

The Typewriter

By Bill Thomson

39 pages

Two Lions

$17.99 (more in Canada)

 

Long after I moved entirely to using desktop and laptop computers, I still had an old manual Brother machine at the back of my classroom and the junior high grades tended to be fascinated by it – the noise, the force required to work the keyboard, the sheer mechanicalness of it.

So when the three youngsters in this largely pantomimed story find an old typewriter sitting on top of a bee on an abandoned roundabout on a snow covered day at the end of a snow ploughed paved lane, I wasn’t surprised when they took it down, popped the cover off, and decided to take it for a test drive.

The girl whipped some paper out of her backpack, figured out where it went, and typed a word: beach. And suddenly the pavement was gone, the snow had vanished and the kids shed their puffy winter jackets to romp on a beach.

And while two of them are running in the water, the third decides to use the magic typewriter (because it is) to conjure up a ball. The other boy types for ice cream and that’s all going well until the girl types “crab” and the small crab we have already seen becomes a monster crab that can only be washed away by a “big wave”.

With that the adventure comes to “the end”. They put the Spelling Bee typewriter back where they found it, and leave their list of words taped to the sides of the bee. The world goes back to late winter or early spring, and they ride off on their bicycles.

Thomson has told a simple but magical story with an absolute minimum of words. His hyper-realistic paintings were created by hand. They borrow techniques of panel display and shot angles from both comic books and the movies, and do a fantastic job of putting the story across. The kids’ expressive faces and body language are just incredible.

From a parent’s point of view, there’s a lot that can be done while sharing this book with a young reader. Great job.

 

Storm Surge

storm-surgeBy “Richard Castle”

Narrated by Johnny Heller

Unabridged Audiobook

Hyperion

Length: 8 hrs and 4 mins

 

Richard Castle is, of course the imaginary mystery/thriller writer from the television series of that name, and Derrick Storm is the James Bondish character with whom he made his considerable fortune, before he was inspired to create the Nikki Heat series by his work with Kate Beckett.

Like Conan Doyle did with Holmes, he tired of Storm and bumped him off – or did he? Where there’s no body in fiction there’s always the chance of resurrection.

This book is what is sometimes called a “fix-up” novel, comprised of three shorter works linked by some characters and plot lines. The first two parts were short stories that ran to 25 pages as e-books only. The final segment needed 100 pages to tie everything up.

In Brewing Storm we enter the life of Derrick Storm four years after his “death”. He was badly hurt on assignment in Tangiers and given the option of vanishing. Since then he’s been living a quiet rural life in the Midwest, and he’s fishing in a mountain stream when Jedediah Jones calls in a marker to send him back to work. There’s been a high profile kidnapping and, though the CIA isn’t supposed to work in the domestic USA, Jones needs Storm’s talents (he started out as a private eye) to solve the case. He is paired with a young FBI agent with the very Bondish name of April Showers (her parents were hippies) and they soon find that nothing about this case is at all simple.

Raging Storm takes the pair to London, to try and solve the riddle of why an exiled Russian oligarch might have had anything to do with the kidnapping and death of a senators’ son and the assassination of the senator. At this point we start getting some chapters from the viewpoints of the megalomaniacal Russian president (not Putin) and his aides. The oligarch is killed, while Storm and Showers barely get away with their lives.

It turns out there’s a large and mysterious cache of gold involved, and Bloody Storm takes Storm with a hand picked trio of former agents, into the mountains of a state that used to be behind the Iron Curtain. Showers, who was badly wounded in part two, has been kidnapped by people who believe she knows the location of the gold.

The adventure becomes a blend of rescue mission, treasure hunt and something else, because when Jones assigns a mission there’s always something else.

I can’t say this was a fantastic novel, but Johnny Heller reads this kind of thing capably (he’s narrated the Heat novels as well) and it was good company on the road from Whitehorse to Dawson.

 

-30-

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