BOOK & BLOG
June 27, 2011
Books of the Week:
No Second Chance, Harlan Coben
I've been friendly acquaintances with Harlan Coben for many years, and I was a huge fan of his Myron Bolitar mysteries. I haven't kept as close tabs on his thrillers, but I was glad to get one out of my TBR pile. No Second Chance is a super high-concept book. Dr. Marc Seidman has been shot twice and left for dead. He wakes up in a hospital bed to find out his wife was murdered and his child abducted in the same incident. Then there's a ransom call, and his father-in-law provides the cash. But nothing goes right, and Seidman fears he will never see his daughter again. Furthermore, he is a suspect. Harlan Coben specializes in people on the brink, and he's in fine form in this tense novel.
I'm sure some of you watched the "Upstairs, Downstairs" series back in the day. It was based on Margaret Powell's book, Below Stairs. Powell was a domestic in London in the 1920s, and the story of how she came to such work and what she made of it is absolutely eye-opening. Far from "knowing her place," Powell was constantly asking herself why she should be invisible to her employers, why they should shrink from contact with her fingers, why she was considered sub-human. Yet Below Stairs is marvelous reading.
Since I recently reviewed Mira Grant's Feed with such enthusiasm, it's no surprise that when I found out its sequel was out I snapped it up. Deadline is just as interesting an immersion into an America that's hardly recognizable, America after the Kellis-Amberlee virus has come to rule every aspect of everyday life. Following the terrible events in Feed, Shaun Mason is suffering every day of his life, and his sister lives inside his head. He begins to uncover a conspiracy much larger – okay, much larger than the last conspiracy. So there is a huge, enormous conspiracy; but we're going to find out what it is in the next book, and I'll be standing in line for it.
When I read David Sedaris for the first time (When You Are Engulfed in Flames) I have to confess that though I found the book interesting, I didn't find it funny. But I was impressed enough to buy Me Talk Pretty One Day, and that's where I found the laugh-out-loud mother lode. I read this book on a plane, and the flight attendant gave me several strange looks while I tried to suppress my laughter. Sedaris's essays on his childhood, his work life, and his attempts to learn French are hysterically weird and wonderful.
As you know, bffPaula and I went out to Los Angeles last week to attend the premiere of "True Blood" Season Four. (Oddly, we stayed at the Four Seasons.)
Before the big night, we had a great dinner with writer Kam Miller and an equally fun breakfast with our very own web maven, Dawn Fratini. I also had a couple of business meetings with my west coast agents and another company. By the afternoon of the premiere, we were getting our hair and makeup done by the amazing Shellena Gonzalez. She did us proud. I had finally found the right outfit, and of course Paula always looks good.
Attending with me this year were my agent, Joshua Bilmes, and Del Howison, proprietor of Dark Delicacies in Burbank, the only horror bookstore in America. (I've signed at Dark Delicacies before.)
I walked the red carpet and grimaced at everyone – I stretch my smile way too wide. It looks like someone stepped on my toes. Anyway, I answered the same questions over and over and finally was able to go inside to take my seat.
Just in passing, while I was awaiting the signal to go inside, I realized I was standing beside Brandon Routh. Though I was not totally sure that was Brandon Routh, the word "Superman" popped into my head, and when I checked later, sure enough . . . it was the man himself.
The row we had been placed on was between Nathan Barr (who writes the music for the show) and the wonderful Dale Raoul, who plays Hoyt's mother with such delicious awfulness. I was right across the aisle from Rutina Wesley, who looked lovely. We listened to a brief address from Sue Naegle, HBO entertainment division president, and then to a longer address by Alan Ball.
When the lights went down we saw a wonderful synopsis of previous events on "True Blood," and then the first episode, followed by a great clip of things to come. I don't think you'll be disappointed. (Well, by now you've already seen it.) Alexander Woo wrote the first episode, and that guarantees it's memorable.
We left the theater and went to the after-party, held nearby. Though I am not much of a partygoer, we did stay long enough to meet and greet most of the people I wanted to see – several members of the regular cast, and newcomers Fiona Shaw and Lauren Bowles. Lauren's husband offered to take a picture of Paula, me, Lauren, and Kristin Bauer, and while he kindly did so I had that haunting feeling of familiarity. I should have. He's Patrick Fischler, and I've seen him in various shows for years.
The party was so large and crowded that there were some people I never got to talk to – Audrey Fisher, the head of costuming, for example. Alexander S., for another. I did get to chat with Alexander Woo and Nancy Oliver, co-producer and writer for "True Blood."
I'm sure the party rocked on long past our departure. It was a fun evening, and I think I feel asleep at our hotel in the middle of answering a question of Paula's! I don't think she was startled.
© 2011 Charlaine Harris