Saturday, June 12, 2004

A Monstrous Regiment of Women (A Mary Russell Mystery)
Laurie R. King

A Monstrous Regiment of Women continues Mary Russell's adventures as a worthy student of the famous detective Sherlock Holmes and as an ever more skilled sleuth in her own right. Looking for respite in London after a stupefying visit from relatives, Mary encounters a friend from Oxford. The young woman introduces Mary to her current enthusiasm, a strange and enigmatic woman named Margery Childe, who leads something called "The New Temple of God." It seems to be a charismatic sect involved in the post-World War I suffrage movement, with a feminist slant on Christianity.

This is another very enjoyable excursion into the world of Sherlock Holmes, and combines so many interesting ideas and issues: Feminism, post WWI Britain, Talmudic studies, the nature of faith and belief, drug addiction, are just the start of the list. Mary Russell and Holmes present a remarkable combination, and yes, their romance is part of the story - though handled with great restraint and without (IMHO) straining the existing fabric of the Holmes canon.

Yes, I've already moved on to book 3, A Letter from Mary, which looks like it has aspects of the Da Vinci Code about it.... though I expect done better (no, I've not yet read that one - maybe in a while).

Wednesday, June 09, 2004

The Beekeeper's Apprentice (A Mary Russell Mystery)
Laurie R. King

Long retired, Sherlock Holmes quietly pursues his study of honeybee behavior on the Sussex Downs. He never imagines he would encounter anyone whose intellect matched his own, much less an audacious teenage girl with a penchant for detection. Miss Mary Russell becomes Holmes' pupil and quickly hones her talent for deduction, disguises and danger.

I really enjoyed this - it yet another "real story" account of Sherlock Holmes where the author relates getting a mysterious manuscript, usually a lost Watson opus, though not in this case. In this book the mysterious manuscript is apparently from the woman who met the retired Holmes when she was a 15 year-old girl and becomes his apprentice - later books have her growing up and marrying him. This sounds cheesier than it is (IMHO).

As a reader of many Holmes retreads (Larry Millet, et al), I'd say this author is very good at weaving in the canon with her retelling. And the writing is (I think) very good - I especially liked a description of some shepherds's dogs
"as alert as so many pessimistic evangelists to snatch back a straying charge".

Sunday, June 06, 2004

Star Wars The New Jedi Order: Dark Tide #2: Ruin, Vol. 2
Michael A. Stackpole

The Fog of (Star) Wars

I've been in a binge of SW books and more. Listening to the NPR radio plays of the original three movies (excellent!) and fooling around in my way with the Star Wars languages, plus trying to grapple with at least some of the complex, dark "New Jedi Order" books. Kind of depressing, and really complicated. Interesting in the way they try to collect all the various SW franchise fiction and make a coherent canon. Thanks to the fans who catalog this, it is possible to grasp some of it. This book is nicely done - I've enjoyed Stackpole's work before; he has a gamer's way of moving the action along. IF you've done any gaming (I've only done the Tie Fighter game) you can feel what the world of SW is like, and Stackpole fits in well.
The Case for a Creator: A Journalist Investigates Scientific Evidence That Points toward God
Lee Strobel

The Case for a Creator: A Journalist Investigates Scientific Evidence That Points toward God
Lee Strobel

Strobel provides a good review and survey of the "Intelligent Design" understanding of cosmology and biological origins. I found this weaker than his first two "Case" books ("..for Christ" "....For Faith," maybe because I was pretty familiar already with a lot of the information he provided. I recognize he IS making a case (i.e. selecting info that supports his aim), but I think he does a good job of actually having read and refer to "the other side".

I also think that Strobel, and the Intelligent Design movement in general, deserve a lot of credit for being serious about science, willing to engage it and take it seriously. Nobody here believes in a young earth or denies facts of biology and astronomy. The ID movment gives anyone interested in science and exciting way of looking and thinking about it. If they've got an open mind, anyway.