The Forgotten Man

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Another book down on my reread-Crais project. This one puts our hero, the World's Greatest Detective Elvis Cole through a lot of mental and (eventually) physical anguish. A man has been murdered, left to die in a slimy downtown LA alley. But not before claiming that he's Elvis's long-lost father. Elvis is semi-officially recruited to work the case by the LA cops.

As it turns out, Elvis as a young lad was obsessed with tracking down his dad. Mom was no help with this. Being frivolous and delusional, she once claimed that dad was a "human cannonball", causing Elvis to embed himself into many travelling carnivals, trying to find out if their human cannonball was the one.

Ex-bomb squad detective Carol Starkey plays a major role here, and she's got her own problems. She's helplessly in love with Elvis, who is totally oblivious to her feelings. Which are complicated when Lucy Chenier, Elvis's own true love, reappears. Carol is devastated, but not devastated enough to preclude providing the insight that lets Elvis solve the case.

Eventually the truth of the devilishly complex (and, let's face it, somewhat absurd) plot is revealed, and a page-turning, stomach-churning climax ensues.

Last Modified 2024-02-14 9:12 AM EDT

The Rolling Stones

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Another Heinlein juvenile crossed off the list of my reread-Heinlein project. This one is very enjoyable, although (of course) a tad dated. Spaceships routinely travel between planets, but everyone still uses slide rules.

The story centers on the Stone family, with the main characters twin teens Castor and Pollux. (Wikipedia says the novel was originally serialized in Boy's Life, which makes sense.) They are citizens of Luna. Dad's a writer, Mom's a doctor, Grandma is an irascible coot who was once involved in Luna's independence from Earth, and there's also a little brother and a big sister, relatively minor characters.

Castor and Pollux, bored with school, have big dreams of buying a spaceship and going mining in the asteroid belt. Dad eventually points out that they would have little hope of competing successfully with the established, experienced miners already involved in the trade. But the idea inspires the family to buy a used spaceship, and refurbish it for an interplanetary trek. Obstacles abound, colorful characters proliferate.

At one point, a Martian creature known as a "flat cat" appears. It's affectionate, voracious, and self-reproducing. If that reminds you of an episode of an old TV show… well, it occurred to the show's producers as well. Read the Wikipedia article, but don't worry, everything was resolved amicably.

I think Heinlein had a very soft spot for this book; a number of characters here show up in some of his later works. (Again, see Wikipedia.)

Last Modified 2024-01-12 6:03 AM EDT