Tuesday, July 18, 2017

ROBERT B. PARKER'S THE HANGMAN'S SONNET by Reed Farrel Coleman

© by Gerald So | 6:30 a.m.

Thanks to publicist Erin Mitchell, I received an advance readers' copy of Reed Farrel Coleman's fourth Jesse Stone continuation novel, due out September 12. It throws Jesse, still grieving the death of his fiancee Diana Evans, into two cases: the search for a long-lost demo tape of reclusive recording artist Terry Jester, Boston's answer to Bob Dylan, and the seemingly unrelated death of an elderly Paradise resident during a robbery attempt.

Robert B. Parker's Jesse Stone novels, like many of his later works, were self-contained adventures. The only thing that clearly qualifies as a multi-book arc in Parker's work is Spenser's separation from and reunion with Susan Silverman in the mid-1980s. By contrast, Coleman's fourth continuation deliberately builds on characters and events from his first (Robert B. Parker's Blind Spot). Coleman invites readers to think of continuation not as imitation of the original author, but as true further exploration of the original's fascinating characters.

Yes, this particular case teams Jesse with Parker favorites Spenser and Vinnie Morris, but more compelling to me are Jesse's efforts to move on from his addictions and from his ex-wife Jenn, two staples of Parker's books that limited the series' scope on his watch.

Tuesday, July 04, 2017

Independence Day 2017

© by Gerald So | 6:30 a.m.

This Independence Day I'm particular reminded that the United States is so much more than its government representatives, whom we may or may not like. In the course of its 241 years, the U.S. hasn't always lived up to its ideals, but I'm grateful to live in a country that strives toward those noble ideals. Even when its citizens disagree, that conflict is how we come to better understand each other over time.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

I've Finally Seen: DOCTOR STRANGE (2016)

© by Gerald So | 9:00 a.m.

I'd been meaning to watch the Benedict Cumberbatch Doctor Strange movie since it premiered last November. One thing after another put it off until it fell into my lap on Netflix streaming this month.

I like the character of Strange from the comics, and I think the movie delivers him reasonably well. That's another way of saying there were no surprises. Cumberbatch was good, Ejiofor was good, Mikkelsen was good... The movie did the job of setting Strange in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but like many movies hoping to be franchises, it pulled its best punches for later. (Batman Begins, Guy Ritchie's Sherlock Holmes, Green Lantern...) This was Strange's training film, with Baron Mordo at his side. Maybe the sparks will really fly in Doctor Stranger.

Though it didn't affect my overall opinion of the movie, I did have a problem with Tilda Swinton cast as The Ancient One. I like Swinton's acting in general. My problem is the character was given a new backstory as a Celtic woman. I can't see the story advantage over keeping the character Asian and casting an Asian man or woman.