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Leisure Reading
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I recently listened to a good chunk of Spin by Robert Charles Wilson on audiobook, but eventually abandoned it. The premise was interesting: That one night the stars all blink out and all satellites are destroyed. Humanity later finds out that someone or some thing has placed a shield around the Earth. It artificially replicates the energy of our sun, but is otherwise some kind of cloak. Oh, and time is passing at an enormously faster rate outside the shield, so that our sun will consume the earth within 40-50 years.

The story is told from the perspective of a genius brother and sister and their best friend. The problem is, the book is amazingly slow, and far too coy. The narrator always knows much more than he's telling (the story is told in flashbacks), and the dribbling out of facts is supposed to drive our curiosity for more, but I just got tired of it. And the characters, despite huge amounts of text on their personal lives, were flatter than pancakes. So despite the neat hook, I wouldn't recommend the book (even though it won the Hugo in 2006).

I did finish Sacred by Dennis Lehane. I had just seen the movie Gone Baby Gone, which is based on one of his books, and was at the library. Sacred looked interesting, though I didn't know it was in a series with the recurring characters of the male/female detective pair. Just as in Gone Baby Gone, the plotting often stretched believability. What made the book so good was just the sheer good writing. He's got a great ear for dialog, and the pacing is brilliant. There are five books with those characters, so if you're going to read them, you might want to start with the first, A Drink Before the War.

Mystic River was also one of his novels, though I wasn't that crazy about the movie. I did find out from the Wikipedia entry on Lehane that he wrote a few episodes for The Wire. I'm just finishing the third season of that show, which is great (though I wasn't that crazy about the 2nd season). The fifth and final season ended this year, so I'm looking forward to watching the last two seasons. I occasionally get weary of cop, doctor, and lawyer shows, but I never get tired of smart, well-written characters. If you haven't checked out Lehane's writing or The Wire, you should.

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