Sunday, April 19, 2009

Recent reading

Ok, so. I have been reading a thing or two.
Like this week I read Streams of Babel, by Carol Plum-Ucci. You know Carol Plum-Ucci. Her first book, The Body of Christopher Creed, got a bunch of attention and big awards. It was a sort of maybe supernatural, maybe not mystery-ish novel about a bullied, socially awkward nerd who disappears one day and is or isn't murdered/suicided/alive. And then she wrote several other supernatural / rational-explanation-for-the-unexplained books that weren't quite as good (at least to me). And then she wrote this one, which is refreshingly different.

Streams of Babel
is about a town a few hours outside of NYC where a couple of people die from unexplained aneurysms that turn out to be caused by middle eastern extremists who've poisoned a small part of the water supply in the town. Part of the story is narrated by the teenage daughter of the first victim who's become sick herself, and part is narrated by a teenage Pakistani internet spy who's enough of a legend in the field to be employed by the CIA and brought to the US to do some spying in the internet cafes where some of the terrorist chatter is coming from. It starts off pretty good and was a bit of a page turner, and then it gets sort of silly. The mystery-solving goes flat. Or at least it seemed that way to me, although maybe terrorists would in fact go into chat rooms and discuss in detail the exact ingredients that go into their mutated poisons using screennames made up of their real first names and the last four digits of their real phone numbers, and maybe they would care enough that people die to actually send assassins to hospitals to finish off victims who aren't dying fast enough. Maybe? I don't know, but I was getting into the first part enough that I know I bored people talking about it, and I haven't read anything in awhile that's made me do that.

I also read Flygirl by Sherri L. Smith, by and Slot Machine by Chris Lynch. And one other skinny paperback that I don't remember the name of.

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