Monday, June 3, 2019

May's Favorite Reads

A Man on the Moon, Andrew Chaikin. The Beloved Spouse™ and I watched the 90s HBO series To the Moon and Back a while back (in large part to get the taste of First Man out of our mouths) and that put me into the 50th anniversary spirit. A Man on the Moon is the book that provides much of the source material for the mini-series; the producers chose well. What looked to us (or at least to a twelve-to-fifteen-year-old at the time) to be flawless missions with minor inconveniences (Apollo 13 the notable exception) were all way more dangerous and exciting than NASA let on, up through about Apollo 15, by which time they pretty well had things figured out. Chaiken conducted exhaustive interviews with astronauts, ground crews, and wives to piece together a definitive history of mankind’s greatest exploration to date.

A Drink Before the War, Dennis Lehane. I’d been meaning to get back to Lehane’s PI stories for quite a while, wondering how well they’d hold up after reading so much of his recent stuff. A Drink Before the War is the first Kenzie-Gennaro book, and it deserved all the fuss. Lehane observes the usual tropes in PI stories—more to the case than the PI expects when he takes it, psycho sidekick who’s available as needed, untrustworthy client—yet puts his own spin on them. If you’ve never read the books that put him on the map, this first one is a good place to start.

That’ll be the Day*, S. W. Lauden. Lauden falls into a category I call “People Whose Books I Ran Into Once in a While Before I Finally Realized I Should Read Everything They Write.” (I didn’t say the category title came trippingly to the tongue.) This novelette pulls off the estimable of writing a book in a musical universe I know nothing about and, frankly, care nothing about, and kept my aging ass up till 12:30 on a work night to finish it in one sitting. The characters are multi-tiered and believable and the action moves along without become too breakneck to be believable. Highly recommended.

(*--I read an ARC. Be ready for this one when it drops later this month.)

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