DUNKIRK


I was underwhelmed by Christopher Nolan’s Dunkirk. It feels more like a documentary than a war movie like Saving Private Ryan. Diane wanted to see Dunkirk because of the various stories about the movie on NPR. Several aspects of the movie annoyed me. First, almost 400,000 British troops were stranded on the beaches of Dunkirk. About 338,000 of them were saved by the brave flotilla of private British boats that Winston Churchill called for.

But, in Nolan’s movie, the beaches are nearly empty. Here and there lines of soldiers stand around–maybe a few hundred. There’s not much dialogue but what little there is was incomprehensible to me with the sounds of war drowning a lot of it out. Much is made of Nolan’s use of real planes–Spitfires, Messerschmidts, etc.–but the dogfights are surprisingly tame. All in all, Dunkirk is nothing special. What’s your favorite war movie? GRADE: B-

FORGOTTEN BOOKS #433: MARILYN K and THE HOUSE NEXT DOOR By Lionel White





Lionel White wrote over a dozen caper novels. STARK HOUSE collected two of Lionel White’s tales–one a bank heist and the other a “girl on the run” adventure–in a wonderful package from 2015. The House Next Door (1956) was first published in Cosmopolitan as “The Picture Window Murder.” A crooked ex-cop plans a perfect bank heist. Everything seems perfect, except for a couple random elements that cause the entire scheme to unravel.

In Marilyn K (1960) a beautiful young girl stands on the side of the road with a suitcase with $350,000 in it. Narrator Sam Russell falls for Marilyn Kelley (no relation!) hard and ends up in deep trouble as the gangsters who own the money send a team of thugs to find it. The story reads like a Travis McGee novel. Brian Greene’s “Lionel White and the Movies” puts this underrated writer into context. If you’re a fan of caper novels, you’ll enjoy this excellent STARK HOUSE volume.

WHAT THE #@&% IS THAT? Edited by John Joseph Adams & Douglas Cohen


I’m not a big fan of themed anthologies and What the #@&% is That?: The Saga Anthology of the Mounstrous and the Macadbre is a good example why. As Douglas Cohen explains in his “introduction,” he got the idea of a collection of stories where somewhere in each story a character would say, “What the #@&% is that?” Or words to that effect. Sadly, most of the stories in What the #@&% is That? concentrate too much on trying to build to that moment when someone actually says “What the #@&% is that” instead of telling an interesting story. Most of the stories in this anthology are gory. Gory is NOT macabre or monstrous. The only story in this book I can recommend is “The Sound of Her Laughter” by Simon R. Green. It’s about the quest for immortality. But the rest of the stories weren’t very good. GRADE: C-
TABLE OF CONTENTS:
Introduction by Douglas Cohen
MOBILITY by Laird Barron
FOSSIL HEART by Amanda Downum
THOSE GADDAM COOKIES by Scott Sigler
THE SOUND OF HER LAUGHTER by Simon R. Green
DOWN IN THE DEEP AND THE DARK by Desirina Boskovich
ONLY UNCLENCH YOUR HAND by Isabel Yap
LITTLE WIDOW by Maria Dahvana Headley
THE BAD HOUR by Christopher Golden
WHAT IS LOST, WHAT IS GIVEN AWAY by John Langan
NOW AND FOREVER by D. Thomas Minton
#CONNOLLYHOUSE #WESHOULDNTBEHERE by Seanan McGuire
THE HOUSE THAT LOVE BUILT by Grady Hendrix
WE ALL MAKE SACRIFICES by Jonathan Maberry
GHOST PRESSURE by Gemma Files
THE DAUGHTER OUT OF DARKNESS by Nancy Holder
FRAMING MORTENSEN by Adam-Troy Castro
THE CATCH by Terence Taylor
HUNTERS IN THE WOOD by Tim Pratt
WHOSE DROWNED FACE SLEEPS by An Owomoyela & Rachel Swirsky
CASTLEWEEP by Alan Dean Foster

THE PHYSICS OF EVERYDAY THINGS By James Kakalios


The Physics of Everyday Things: The Extraordinary Science Behind an Ordinary Day explains how the devices we take for granted–toasters, hairdryers, microwave ovens, TV remotes, etc.–work. James Kakalios takes us through a hypothetical day from morning to night and shows how the devices we use all the time use physics to operate. Now I understand how a laser pointer works (it’s more complicated than you think!). And Kakalios differentiates between LED, LCD, and OLED HDTVs. You’ll be astonished at the principles that keep our tech world operating. Kakalios writes in a clear style with plenty of examples. GRADE: B
TABLE OF CONTENTS:
1. Begin Your Day 1
2. You Drive into the City 29
3. You Go to the Doctor 57
4. You Go to the Airport 87
5. You Take a Flight 115
6. You Give a Business Presentation 141
7. You Go to a Hotel 177
Acknowledgemetns 207
Notes 211
Figure Captions 233
Index 237

BABY DRIVER


I was on the bubble about seeing Baby Driver until Patti Abbott said she liked it. Since this is CAPER/HEIST WEEK for FRIDAY’S FORGOTTEN BOOKS, Baby Driver fits right in with its bank robbery, armored car theft, and post office burglary.

The cast is great: Ansel Elgort, Kevin Spacey, Lily James, Eiza González, Jon Hamm, Jamie Foxx and Jon Bernthal. Edgar Wright wrote the script and directed the movie. If you’re in the mood for action, car chases, and explosions you’ll love Baby Driver. GRADE: B
SOUNDTRACK LIST:
1 Bellbottoms by The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion 5:18
2 Harlem Shuffle by Bob & Earl 2:48
3 Egyptian Reggae by Jonathan Richman & the Modern Lovers 2:37
4 Smokey Joe’s La La by Googie René 2:55
5 Let’s Go Away For Awhile by The Beach Boys 2:17
6 B-A-B-Y by Carla Thomas 2:54
7 Kashmere by Kashmere Stage Band 4:56
8 Unsquare Dance by The Dave Brubeck Quartet 2:02
9 Neat Neat Neat by The Damned 2:41
10 Easy by The Commodores 4:13
11 Debora by T. Rex 3:07
12 Debra by Beck 5:38
13 Bongolia by Incredible Bongo Band 2:12
14 Baby Let Me Take You (In My Arms) by The Detroit Emeralds 3:50
15 Early in the Morning by Alexis Korner’s Blues Incorporated 2:56
16 The Edge by David Mccallum 2:52
17 Nowhere To Run (Single Version) by Martha & The Vandellas 2:46
18 Tequila by Button Down Brass 3:30
19 When Something Is Wrong With My Baby by Sam & Dave 3:14
20 Every Little Bit Hurts by Brenda Holloway 2:54
21 Intermission by Blur 2:29
22 Hocus Pocus by Focus 3:12
23 Radar Love by Golden Earring 3:43
24 Never, Never Gonna Give Ya Up by Barry White 4:48
25 Know How by Young MC 4:01
26 Brighton Rock by Queen 5:10
27 Easy (Music From The Motion Picture Baby Driver) by Sky Ferreira 4:27
28 Baby Driver by Simon & Garfunkel 3:16
29 “Was He Slow?” (Music From The Motion Picture Baby Driver) by Kid Koala 1:46
30 Chase Me (Music From The Motion Picture Baby Driver) [Explicit] by Danger Mouse featuring Run The Jewels and Big Boi

COME FROM AWAY


Come From Away thrilled us when we saw the Broadway version last month. It’s the true story of what happened on September 11, 2001 when planes were diverted to Newfoundland, Canada when U.S. airspace was closed to incoming planes. Yes, 38 planes landed and over 6.000 passengers were stuck on the jets for hours. Finally, the Canadians decided to host the passengers until the crisis was resolved. Of course, problems abounded!

We enjoyed the story and the music. My favorite song was “Me and the Sky” sung by a female pilot of one of the planes. I liked the music so much, I ordered the soundtrack. Highly recommended! GRADE: A-
TRACK LIST:
1. Welcome to the Rock
2. 38 Planes
3. Blankets and Bedding
4. 28 Hours/Wherever We Are
5. Darkness and Trees
6. On The Bus
7. Darkness and Trees (Reprise)
8. Lead Us Out Of the Night
9. Phoning Home
10. Costume Party
11. I Am Here
12. Prayer
13. On The Edge
14. In The Bar/Heave Away
15. Screech In
16. Me and the Sky
17. The Dover Fault
18. Stop the World
19. 38 Planes (Reprise)/Somewhere in the Middle of Nowhere
20. Something’s Missing
21. Years Later
22. Finale
23. Bonus: Screech Out

17-LAYER CHOCOLATE CAKE


I took Diane to dinner at the Webster Bistro, our local restaurant that specializes in French cuisine. It was Diane’s Birthday so I wanted her to enjoy something special. Diane ordered the Mixed Green salad and the Chicken Cordon Bleu. I ordered the Chicken and Corn soup and the New York Strip Steak with rice. For dessert, Diane and I decided to share the restaurant’s signature dessert: the 17-Layer Chocolate Cake. Delicious cake alternating with scintillating Ganache topped with creamy frosting!

Yes, it was as yummy as it looks! What’s your favorite dessert?

THE BIG SICK


Comic actor Kumail Nanjiani plays a struggling stand-up comic (and UBER driver) in Chicago. He meets Zoe Kazan after one of his comedy shows and their relationship begins. But, of course, Life intrudes. Zoe gets sick…really really sick. Kumail has to sign a document that allows the doctors to put Zoe in a medically induced coma.

Yes, I know this doesn’t sound funny, but Zoe’s parents show up: Holly Hunter and Ray Romano. Kumail and Zoe’s parents “bond” because of the crisis. This isn’t your usual romantic comedy. Diane and I enjoyed The Big Sick and you would, too. Clever, funny, and heart-felt. GRADE: B+

FORGOTTEN BOOKS #432: THE WENCH IS WICKED/THE BLONDE/BLONDE VERDICT By “carter brown”







Once again STARK HOUSE delivers a fabulous omnibus edition. This time, the treat is three Al Wheeler mysteries by “carter brown” (the pen name of Alan Geoffrey Yates). I started reading “carter brown” books back in the early Sixties (and had numerous cashiers hassle me for buying books they deemed salacious).

This STARK HOUSE edition includes The Wench is Wicked (1955), the first Al Wheeler mystery. It has never been published in the United States. It introduces the wise-cracking Lieutenant who is like no other police detective. Wheeler chases women and murderers with equal enthusiasm. In this case, Wheeler investigates the murder of a writer with ties to a group shooting a Western movie.

Also included is The Blonde (1955), where a missing woman who suddenly comes out of hiding for a scheduled TV interview is murdered before she can tell her secrets.

Blonde Verdict (1956) was published in the U.S. by Signet in 1960 under the title, The Brazen. The U. S. edition was revised. This STARK HOUSE omnibus reprints the original Australian version.

Chris Yates provides a useful introduction to the prolific Alan Geoffrey Yates. There’s a nice Art Scott quote from his article on Carter Brown in Crime and Mystery Writers of the 20th Century. This book has it all!

I WAS TOLD TO COME ALONE: MY JOURNEY BEHIND THE LINES OF JIHAD By Souad Mekhennet



Several times in my reading of I Was Told To Come Alone I thought, “Souad Mekhen is going to be killed!” She meets with the Talban, ISIS leaders, and other very dangerous people. I could not do her job! Souad is relentless in the pursuit of an interview. This book tells her story growing up in Germany and Morocco. From the earliest years, she displays her fearlessness and independence. As Souad moves her way up the journalistic world, she takes increasing risks. Her imprisonment in Egypt was hair-raising! If you want to understand what’s happening in the shadow world of Jihad, this book explains everything. GRADE: A
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Prologue: Meeting with ISIS Turkey, 2014 1
1. Stranger in a Strange Land Germany and Morocco, 1978-1993 7
2. The Hamburg Cell Germany, 1994-2003 33
3. A Country With a Divided Soul Iraq, 2003-4 58
4. A Call from Khaled el-Masri Germany & Algeria, 2004-6 84
5. Even If I Die Today or Tomorrow Lebannon, 2007 101
6. The Lost Boys of Zarqa Jordan, 2007 123
7. The Value of Life Algeria, 2008 143
8. Guns and Roses Pakistan, 2009 156
9. Mukhabarat Egpypt, 2011 170
10. This Is Not an Arab Spring Germany & Tunisia, 2011 192
11. Threats Bahrain, Iran & Germany, 2011-2013 208
12. Boys for the Caliphate Germany, 2013 230
13. Brides for the Caliphate Germany and France, 2014-15 243
14. The Search for an Islamist Beatle, or Finding Jihadi John Britain, 2014-15 261
15. Terror Comes Home Austria, France & Belgium, 2015-2016 285
Epilogue: The Deepest Cut Germany & Morocco, 2016 305
Notes 321
Acknowledgements 340
Index 343