Archive for the ‘mystery’ Category

Book Review: Stephen King’s ‘Mr. Mercedes’: Fill ‘Er Up

June 1, 2014

merc coverWith mass killings by estranged loners becoming scarily commonplace, Stephen King’s new novel, Mr. Mercedes (Scribner, 436 pages, $30, June 3), is as timely as an unearthed clue without a moment to spare. It’s also his most straightforward crime thriller ever — Joyland on steroids — with no supernatural elements but rather a compelling, page-turning case to solve.

That cold case gets a renewed attack by shrewd retired cop Hodges, who never caught “Mr. Mercedes,” the killer who slammed a stolen car into a parking-lot crowd of job-seekers. The killer’s identity is quickly revealed — this is as much his story as Hodges’ — and cat-and-mouse intrigue follows when he tauntingly contacts the ex-cop to goad him into suicidal despair.

What follows has violent moments, including flashbacks, but King seems to respect that this novel isn’t exclusively for horror devotees. Mr. Mercedes is more gripping than gruesome, building tension and excitement instead of resorting to grisly eruptions.

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‘Nancy Drew’: Britney and Lindsey should see this

March 13, 2008

We live in an era of bad examples, where shameful behaviour is celebrated for the simple fact that it draws attention. A guy who gets drunk at a party and puts a lampshade on his head? That used to be a sad thing — a fate to be avoided. Now it’s drawing hits on YouTube and the guy’s a star — sort of like former show-biz stars like Britney and Lindsey who wallow in misbehaviour and coast on being famous for being famous — or infamous.

Happily, one new entertainment on DVD inches the pendulum back a bit. And though I’m a happily married hetero guy with no daughters in the house, I make no apologies for watching it.

We’re talking Nancy Drew, a light and slight ‘tweens and teens frolic, with Emma Robers (Eric’s daugthter and Julia’s niece) playing the child-detective role from ancient books back when kids appreciated stories which could happen and didn’t live in clouds of Hogwartian magic.

The fun — and the good example — is that dutiful, dignified, dapper little Nancy is plopped in present time, but still dresses and acts much like she might have in the ’50s or ’60s. It’s kind of like those superb Brady Bunch movies, celebrating retro style and ‘tudes while blissfully enmeshing their anachronisms in a modern context as if no one truly notices.

The plot isn’t much — a Hollywood murder mystery — but the spirit is splendid. And oh, those clothes. Nancy couldn’t be much more cute and fetching and feminine, and without a hint of a tattoo, a piercing, Bride of Frankenstein hair streaks or a yapping arm-jewelry dog. She doesn’t have time for that — she’s too busy solving mysteries and feeding her head. Well, she does have time to ensure she looks good, but it’s worth the effort.

Some people have class, and some don’t. Meet class. And enjoy Nancy Drew, a good-example film for a time when we really need them.