Sunday, May 06, 2018

Fools and Mortals by Bernard Cornwell

Fools and Mortals CD: A Novel by Bernard Cornwell
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

In a clever imagining of the first presentation of William Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream, Bernard Cornwell's Fools and Mortals tells the story of The Lord Chamberlain's Men through the eyes of Richard Shakespeare, William's younger brother. Cornwell's story provides an excellent overview of the society of the day, including the Catholic/Protestant religious strife, Elizabethan manners, filthy environment, rampant disease, sexual perversions, and the ease with which one might find oneself being hanged.

Richard is a small player in the company run by William and has been relegated to playing women's roles. He's also a small-time thief. Playing only women's roles is starting to grate on Richard. He desires more substantial men's roles. However, William views his younger brother as an annoyance.

A new playhouse is being built south of the Thames and the financiers are managing to get their hands on everything that they need except plays to perform. They devise a plan to abscond with William's plays, A Midsummer's Night and William's new one about a pair of star-crossed lovers in Verona, Italy, and perform them before William has a chance to play them before a public audience. Their plans include Richard.

When Richard finds himself suspected by William and the rest of The Lord Chamberlain's Men of involvement in the plays' thefts, Richard sees that the only way he can get back into William's good graces is to recover them himself, and the dangers he faces in doing so are very real.

Fools and Mortals has romance, history, intrigue, and thrills. Cornwell's descriptions of English city life during Elizabethan times is well integrated into the narrative. His looks behind the curtain at theater practices is comprehensive, and the players characters are greatly revealed through how they deal with the management of the troupe, how they go about preparing for their parts, even to their individual superstition practices before going onstage.

If you like history, theater, or just a plain old thriller, Fools and Mortals should suffice nicely.

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Friday, November 17, 2017

Where Does the Time Go?

I've been busy with a bunch of different things over the past year, and as may be apparent, none of those have been blogging. I may have been doing a good bit of musing. I've just failed to write most of it down, and none of it here.

What have I been busy with? I've been reading quite a bit, going to lectures and theater any chance I could, working to keep up with the maintenance on a couple houses inside and out, and taking Marcie to dog training. So no lazy bones here. I guess I've also been disgustedly watching the antics of 45, waiting for him to hoist himself on his own petard, or should I say Tweetard.

But, what good is a blog if it's not blogged on, at least periodically? So blog we shall.

Hey, how about those Pittsburgh Steelers? They played one helluva game last night, throttling the Tennessee Titans 40 - 17 and taking a stranglehold on their division.

I love my sports, and in addition to football, I enjoy watching college basketball and the NHL. So I'll be keeping my eye on the Steelers, the Maryland Terps basketball teams, and the Capitals and Penguins in the NHL. That last one only gives me problems of allegiance when they're playing each other. Then I just want a good game.

Of course the main reason I started this blog was to muse about my current reading. This year it's been all over the place. I've tried to read a bit more outside of the crime fiction genre. Right now I'm reading Kazuo Ishiguro's Never Let Me Go. I didn't read the description of it, but I don't think I was expecting this great of a departure from Remains of the Day. I'm enjoying it and it's holding my interest, so we'll see what I think when I've finished it. I'm also listening to Since We Fell by Dennis Lehane, my car book, and my morning nonfiction, mind expansion book is The Intellectual Devotional, 365 daily one-page overviews of topics from history, literature, religion, mathematics and science, fine arts, philosophy, and music. My grey matter is just exploding all over the place.

Some of my other outside reads this year have been a short story collection by Flannery O'Conner called A Good Man Is Hard to Find and Other Stories, Gilead by Marilynne Robinson, The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion, and Born to Run, Bruce Springsteen's autobiography. One favorite is The Round House by Louise Erdrich. If I can figure out how to do it, I'll renew the Goodreads link onto the blog that shows the titles of all the books I've read this year.

So I've blogged and I feel good about myself. And just because every blog should have some other media in it, here's a photo of Marcie, and to start you thinking about the coming spring, some peonies and azaleas too.

Have a great weekend, everyone.

Sunday, October 02, 2016

RUM LUCK by Ryan Aldred

Rum LuckRum Luck by Ryan Aldred
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

RUM LUCK: A Bar on the Beach Mystery is the debut novel of Ryan Aldred. It is an accomplished effort, promising more to come from this Canadian native.

Ben Cooper’s wedding goes bust after he discovers his ex-fiance is obsessed with clowns, and not in a good way. Ben takes advantage of their pre-paid honeymoon arrangements in Costa Rica, taking along his buddy, Miguel.

He arrives in Tamarindo, Costa Rica, gets rum drunk, buys a bar on the beach using funds from a shared account with his ex-fiance, and gets himself arrested for murder. Things are not going as Ben expected in Costa Rica.

Arriving to the rescue from Toronto comes his friend and attorney, Victoria Holmes, freeing Ben from jail, and seeing if she can make sense of the fact that the man Ben’s accused of murdering is the former bar owner, Antonio.

Since Ben can’t go anywhere because the authorities have his passport, he decides to see if he can make a go of it with the bar. Ben finds that necessary repairs on the bar building and equipment will have him bankrupt in six weeks. He decides to try an idea he had of providing an amusement service to people who want to pretend to run a bar for a week. Miguel and Victoria throw in with him and their first client is Miguel’s Uncle Enrico, who takes to his “bar management” opportunity very seriously.

However, strange things are still occurring at the bar. Late-night visitors are searching for something, and accidents seem to be happening to Ben and Miguel with regularity. The police aren’t making any progress on finding another suspect, nor are they being very receptive to Ben trying to make a go of running Antonio’s.

What is Ben to do? He decides to do some investigating of his own, with Victoria and Miguel’s assistance, and Uncle Enrico’s enthusiastic meddling. Much danger and fun ensue.

Ryan Aldred has assembled an interesting cast of characters to populate his entertaining story. The bar environment allows him to introduce a host of varied personalities and situations that propel his story along. He does an excellent job creating the vibe of a tropical beachside bar scene, so much so that you’ll find yourself rocking to the ear-splitting music, enjoying the raucous conversations, and turning your nose up at the smells endemic to a busy bar.

When I finished reading this excellent debut from Ryan Aldred, I pulled up Google Maps and checked out the Tamarindo Diria where Ben and Miguel had stayed. It’s right there, a block away from the casino.

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