The Girl Who Took An Eye For An Eye is the fifth volume in Stieg Larsson’s Millennium series. Larsson planned to write 10 books about genius hacker Lisbeth Salander but died of a heart attack in 2004 after writing the first three books. David Lagercrantz wrote the fourth book, The Girl In the Spider’s Web (2015). You can read my review here. Lagercrantz is back writing this new Lisbeth Salander adventure. Salander is in a Swedish prison as a result of the events in The Girl In the Spider’s Web. The prison is ruled by a psychopathic inmate, Benito, who terrorizes both the staff and the other convicts. Salander, who can’t stand bullying, takes action. We also learn more about Salander’s past and how she got her dragon tattoo. Other themes like religious fundamentalism and the Russian mafia impact the plot. You’ll be thrilled by the dramatic conclusion! I don’t usually read books in a series after the original author has died, but I’m making an exception for this astonishing series. Are you a Lisbeth Salander fan? GRADE: B+
The 3-2 Buffalo Bills are coming off their Bye Week. The Bills are favored by 3 points over the Buccaneers. Tampa Bay quarterback Jameis Winston has some shoulder issues so his performance today might be affected. If Winston can’t play, former Buffalo Bill QB Ryan Fitzpatrick will enter the game. Last week, when Winston was hurt, Fitz threw for almost 300 yards! A usual October game would feature wind and cold at New Era Field. But today, the temperature is expected to be in the mid-70s! Ideal football conditions…for August! How will your favorite NFL team fare today?
Mark Felt was the Number Two guy at the F.B.I. under J. Edgar Hoover. When Hoover died, Mark Felt thought he would be promoted to the top job. He wasn’t. Instead, Richard Nixon selected L. Patrick Gray (played by the creepy Marton Csokas). About the same time, the Watergate break-in occurred. The F.B.I. began their investigation, but the White House was meddling daily. We see Mark Felt (aka, “Deep Throat”), admirably played by Liam Neeson, stand up to all the corruption and conniving. Mark Felt: The Man Who Brought Down the White House isn’t as good as the classic All the President’s Men. It shows how Government agencies work amid the tangles of politics in Washington. I liked Diane Lane as Mark Felt’s wife, but she isn’t given much to do. The sub-plot about Mark Felt’s daughter seemed like an add-on to me. But, all in all, Mark Felt captures the sleaziness of Watergate and the mechanisms that brought Richard Nixon down. GRADE: B
Generous Rick Robinson sent me the first five volumes of the SECRET AGENT “X” series published by Altus Press. I love pulp fiction and these wild adventures soar above many stories from that era. From 1934 to 1939, 41 issues of SECRET AGENT “X” were published. Altus Press is reprinting the entire series in nine deluxe volumes. Tom Johnson’s informative Introduction provides a clear history of the series. The text has been completely reset and all of the interior illustrations have been remastered. I’ve only read Volume One (542 pages!), but I can’t wait to read the rest of the series! If you’re looking for thrill-a-minute reading, SECRET AGENT “X” provides that in spades! GRADE: A-
TABLE OF CONTENTS:
Introduction By Tom Johnson i
The Torture Trust 1
The Spectral Strangler 117
The Death Torch Terror 255
Ambassador of Doom 399
At the Shaw Festival, Brian Friel’s play about an Irish family dealing with dysfunction and the Great Depression is a mixed bag. The family is made up of five sisters who squabble a lot. The “glue” that keeps the family together is Kate, a teacher at the local Catholic school. She provides most of the income for the family. Katie’s younger sister, Christina, had an illegitimate child (who functions as a narrator). Katie’s other younger sister, Rose, has mental issues. Their older brother, Father Jack, spent 20 years as a missionary priest in Africa, but is sent home to Ireland because he “went native” and is suffering from malaria. Maggie, the most energetic and fun-loving sister, provides the narrator with riddles and the audience with her spontaneous humor and dancing.
As you can see, this struggling family fights against difficult odds. A movie version of Dancing at Lughnasa featured Meryl Streep as Kate and Michael Gambon as Father Jack. Be prepared for sadness and tragedy if you decide to see Dancing at Lughnasa. GRADE: B+
Last night, Diane and I went to the Steely Dan concert at the sold-out Shea’s Performing Arts Center. Of course, we saw only half of Steely Dan because Walter Becker died on September 3, 2017. Mid-way through the concert, Donald Fagan (the surviving half of Steely Dan) did a tribute to his friend. Donald Fagan performed with the Steely Dan Band: eight musicians and three lovely backup singers. Not a lot of chit-chat (fine by me!). They just played the hits I grew up with. Do you have a favorite Steely Dan song? GRADE: A-
Fan It, Janet
Green Flower Street (Donald Fagen song)
New Frontier (Donald Fagen song)
Rikki Don’t Lose That Number
Time Out of Mind
Book of Liars (Walter Becker song)
I Want To (Do Everything for You) (Joe Tex cover)
My Old School
Reelin’ In The Years
Steve Oerkfitz recommended this 50th Anniversary Special Edition Blu-ray so I went out and bought it. Steve is right! This new edition is superior to the other DVD and Blu-ray versions I own of The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly (1966). It’s one of my favorite movies of all time. And, this package is full of great Special Features! Check them out. What’s your favorite Clint Eastwood movie? GRADE: A
– 4K transfer of the Original U.S. Theatrical Cut Available for the first time in HD
– New Audio Commentary by Film Historian Tim Lucas
– Trailers From Hell with Ernest Dickerson
– Newly Restored 2.0 Mono Audio
– Restored 1967 UA Logo
– Alternate Scene: The Optical Flip
– Deleted Scene 1: Skeletons in the Desert
– Deleted Scene 2: Extended Torture Scene
– GBU on the: animated behind-the-scenes image gallery
– Promoting GBU: Posters & Lobby Cards animated image gallery
– Sergio Leone Westerns: Original Theatrical Trailers
– Italian Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono
– English DTS-HD MA 5.1 Audio
– Reversible Art
– 4K transfer of the Extended Cut
– Newly Restored 2.0 Mono Audio
– Audio Commentary by Film Historian Richard Schickel
– Audio Commentary By Noted Cultural Historian Sir Christopher Frayling
– Leone’s West: Making Of Documentary (19:55)
– Il Maestro: Ennio Morricone and GBU Featurette Part 1 (7:48)
– Il Maestro: Ennio Morricone and GBU Featurette Part 2 (12:26)
– The Leone Style: On Sergio Leone Featurette (23:48)
– The Man Who Lost The Civil War: Civil War Documentary (14:24)
– Reconstruction GBU (11:09)
– Deleted Scene 1: Extended Tuco Torture scene (7:15)
– Deleted Scene 2: The Socorro Sequence – A Reconstruction (3:02)
– Vignette 1: Uno, Due, Tre (0:40)
– Vignette 2: Italian Lunch (0:43)
– Vignette 3: New York Accent (0:09)
– Vignette 4: Gun in Holster (0:58)
– Original U.S. Theatrical Trailer
– Original French Theatrical Trailer
– English DTS-HD MA 5.1 Audio
– Italian Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono
1. Getting hugged by Louise Penny!
2. Attending some great panels:
THURSDAY: 1:00 P.M. 2:00 P.M. Grand West Best Paperback Original Meet your Best PBO Anthony nominees Patricia Abbott, Eric Beetner, Matt Coyle (M), Jess Lourey, Jay Stringer, Jim Ziskin
2:30 P.M. 3:30 P.M. Sheraton B So Many Books, So Little Time How to determine what to read, what to read next, and shelving tips Robin Agnew (M), Bill Crider, Marvin Lachman, June Lorraine Roberts, Peter Sellers
5:30 P.M. 6:30 P.M Grand Centre Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine is Honoured Celebrating 75 years of Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine, featuring an interview with Janet Hutchings, and vignettes from many contributors. Host – Art Taylor Art Taylor, Janet Hutchings, Laura Benedict, Jill D. Block, Michael Bracken, Dana Cameron, Bill Crider, Brendan DuBois, Lee Goldberg, Richard Helms, Marvin Lachman, Josh Pachter, Twist Phelan, Naben Ruthnum, Jennifer Soosar, Steve Steinbock, Marilyn Todd
FRIDAY: 10:00 A.M. 11:00 A.M. Grand Centre Three Good Friends: Three classy women just having a chat Rhys Bowen, Deborah Crombie, Louise Penny
2:00 P.M. 3:00 P.M. Grand Centre Best Short Story Meet your Short Story Anthony nominees Megan Abbott, Alan Orloff (M), Johnny Shaw, Art Taylor, Holly West
5:00 P.M. 6:00 P.M. Grand Centre Megan Abbott Interview Our American Guest of Honour is interviewed by Laurie King
SATURDAY: 8:30 A.M. 9:30 A.M. Sheraton E The Experienced: Long writing careers make for great stories P.M.Carlson (M), Bill Crider, Howard Engel, Francine Mathews / Stephanie Barron, Sara Paretsky, Kathy Reichs
10:00 A.M. 11:00 A.M. Grand Centre Best Novel Meet your Best Novel Anthony nominees Megan Abbott, Reed Farrel Coleman, Chris Holm, Laura Lippman, Louise Penny, Hank Phillippi Ryan (M)
2:30 P.M. 3:30 P.M. Grand Centre Hidden Past Writing characters with secrets Debra H. Goldstein (M) , Laura McHugh, Louise Penny, Mark Pryor, Michael Stanley (Michael Sears), Heather Young
SUNDAY: 9:30 A.M. 10:30 A.M. Sheraton E Louise Penny Interview Our Canadian Guest of Honour is interviewed by Ann Cleeves
3. Scoring a ton of FREE books!
4. Spending time with Jeff & Jackie Meyerson, Bill & Angela Crider, Patti & Phil Abbott, Maggie Mason, George Easter, and many others. Jeff & Jackie snuck us into the Elite Lounge each night for great conversations.
1. Driving in Toronto where you can’t make LEFT HAND TURNS and are forced to make U-TURNS on busy streets in dense traffic. Nightmarish!
2. Maggie Mason falling off a hotel treadmill and ending up in the Emergency Room.
3. Skimpy refeshments (a few cookies) and few cans of soda between panels. Lame.
1. Jeff & Jackie & I all got our dinners in Shopsy’s restaurant, but Diane didn’t. We spoke to three waiters about the problem and they all went away, but nothing happened. Finally, Jackie told the Manager about the problem and Diane finally got her dinner…an hour after the rest of us finished! The Manager was apologetic and told us our meal was FREE and then gave us FREE desserts. That was nice, but the experience was a bummer.
2. The New Orleans BOUCHERCON innovated the free book process by allowing attendees to choose their own books. Toronto regressed by going back to shoving a bunch of random books in our backpacks.
The BOUCHERCON in Toronto was one of the Top 5 BOUCHERCONs I’ve attended (I’ve been to 20). It was great fun to hang out with friends and great writers!
Dame Judi Dench stars as a declining Queen Victoria who meets a clerk, Abdul Karim (played by Ali Fazal), and begins a decade long relationship. Abdul becomes Queen Victoria’s munshi (teacher) and instructs Victoria how to speak and write in Urdu. Of course, this friendship causes the royal family and staff to panic. They hate Abdul because he is a commoner and a Muslim. And a competitor to their influence and access to the Queen.
Comedian Eddie Izzard is terrific as Victoria’s greedy and apoplectic son, Bertie. Director Stephen Frears, who also directed Helen Mirren in The Queen, knows how power and privilege works in the Palace. As Steve Oerkfitz pointed out, Victoria and Abdul resembles a Masterpiece Theater episode. That’s a Good Thing. GRADE: A-