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3 thumbs up, 2 down – Lowell Sun Pink Floyd – Pink Floyd
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Here are reviews of the last five books I’ve read. I still have them if anyone wants them. Hit the email address at the bottom. You have to disinfect them, though.

“Run Away” by Harlan Coben

You really can’t miss with Coben if you like fast-moving mystery thrillers. With “Run Away,” his 2019 entry, I’ve read all of his (except for “The Boy from the Woods,” which just came out a couple weeks ago), and while this isn’t his best, it’s not his worst either. (That would probably be “The Stranger,” which was made into a British miniseries that you can stream on Netflix and which actually might be better than the book.)

“Run Away” involves Simon Greene’s search for his daughter, a bright college student who seemed to have everything going for her but dropped everything and became a heroin addict and then … well, ran away.

This is Coben, so rest assured very little is actually what it seems.

His books are all page-turners and usually involve families torn apart by some tragedy or other. They can also be quite humorous, which is a welcome respite from the suspense.

“Stranger” by Simon Clark

ROBERT HALE LTD.

I’m a horror fan. So sue me. But as much as I like Stephen King, I try to go beyond him to other, more underground horror writers. Clark is a British writer, although this one take place in the good ol’ U.S. of A.

Published about 15 years ago, “Stranger” is about a deadly plague that turns those infected into bloodthirsty killers. So, yeah, good book to pick up just as coronavirus was starting to pick up steam.

I had read a couple other Clark books, and while they were OK, I have officially decided that this is an author I can skip. I have a couple other of his books on my shelf, but after reading “Stranger,” I think I’ll donate them. Let me know if you want them.

“A Stranger in the House” by Shari LaPena

PENGUIN BOOKS

LaPena is among the increasingly crowded (and for good reason) field of woman mystery authors whose works are automatically touted as “the best book since ‘Gone Girl’” or ‘The Girl on the Train” (neither of which I thought was as good as the hype, but that’s beside the point).

I liked the one before this one, “The Couple Next Door,” which was the author’s third book. It kept you guessing and was just trashy enough to keep your fingers busy turning pages. That’s likely the reason “A Stranger in the House” fell flat for me. It felt amateurish and slapped together in comparison. Yes, of course, the final little twist was surprising. But for the most part, there was not much new.

She has written a few more since these first two, and I’ll give her another chance. But this one gets a thumbs-down.

“Comfortably Numb” by Mark Blake

DA CAPO PRESS

Those who know me know I am the biggest Pink Floyd fan in the world. Yes, the entire world. And with a title that comes from one of the top 3 songs of all time (and that includes two of the greatest guitar solos ever committed to vinyl), I had to pick this up at Bull Moose in Salem, N.H., even though I figured there was nothing new in there for me.

I was, for the most part, right. I pretty much know the Floyd story, from 1967’s “Piper at the Gates of Dawn” (by the way, one of the greatest album titles ever) to 2014’s “The Endless River” and everything that came before and after as well. But Blake’s writing style invites readers in and practically sits them at the table with Syd Barrett, Roger Waters, David Gilmour, Richard Wright, Nick Mason and their many hangers-on.

Books have been written about the Floyd before, but not many were published after their reunion for the Live 8 benefit concert, at which bitter enemies Waters and Gilmour agreed to put their animosity aside and get back together with Wright and Mason for a good cause. Blake provides behind-the-scenes interviews from that period that place this Floyd bio above others that came before it.

It’s a great read whether you’re a true fan of Floyd or if you think 1973’s “Dark Side of the Moon” was the first the world ever heard of them.

“Worth Dying For” by Lee Child

DELACORTE PRESS

This is the 15th book in Child’s Jack Reacher series. (True confession: I had to look that up. I lost track.) If you watched and liked either of the Reacher films starring Tom Cruise … why? Reacher, as described by Child in each installment in this series, stands 6-feet-5 and weighs 240. In other words, he could eat Cruise for lunch.

For the uninitiated, Reacher is a former Army M.P. who lives “off the grid,” wandering from place to place across the country and finding trouble at every stop. “Worth Dying For” finds him in rural Nebraska, where he comes up against the Duncans, a family that pretty much owns the county and has all its residents under their thumb. In his first contact with the family, he breaks Seth Duncan’s nose, and things go south from there.

The Reacher series is occasionally repetitive — Reacher arrives in town, finds out something is amiss, falls for the local lovely lady and kicks some serious behind — but it’s action fiction at its best. And in this one, he solves a 25-year-old crime to boot.

Dan Phelps’ email address is dphelps@lowellsun.com.



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