Friday, February 05, 2016

Sibelius Kullervo/Black or White

Minnesota Orchestra at full throttle and in great voice with this piece, plus Finlandia. Program opened with Migrations by Olli Kortekangas, for male chorus and orchestra. It was a powerful, well-imagined concert. The YL male voice choir from Finland was magnificent and Osmos outdid himself. A small morning audience received a great benefit.

BLACK OR WHITE
Based on a true case, attorney Elliot Anderson has to fight off an attempt by his bi-racial granddaughter's black grandmother to send Eloise to her father after Anderson's wife dies in an auto accident.  The film illuminates all sorts of social and racial cliches in a fairly predictable and obvious manner. The acting is pretty good throughout, as is the direction, but the plot plods along in obvious manner until the last courtroom scene. Still worth seeing.




Friday, January 15, 2016

BEETHOVEN CONCERT A WINNER

Thursday, January 11, had the great pleasure of a late morning concert by the Minnesota Orchestra. First we bussed from Rosedale to Orchestra Hall, an excellent convenience. Then, after coffee, juice and donuts, came  the pleasure of part of the symphonic Beethoven Marathon. First, Symphony No.4 in B-Flat major. It is a more modest work than some of Ludwig's bigger, but its lyricism and mood fit a brisk morning well.

Then Yevgeny Sudbin put his tall slender self at the Steinway keyboard for Piano Concerto No. 4 in G Major. Sudbin is a prodigious talent and meshes well with Conductor Osmo Vanska's up-tempo style.

Later , after an intermission, contemplating a cold bright January sun over Minneapolis, we sank into the happy rhythms of Beethoven's Symphony Number 6 in F Major. The Pastoral was enthusiastically performed and enthusiastically received by a well-filled house.

Thereafter we were taken by comfortable bus back to Rosedale. Compliments to all involved. A fine concert and performance of sundry servicdes.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

AN OUSTANDING THRILLER

The Guise of Another
by Alan Eskins
ISBN: 9781633880764
A 2015 release from
Seventh Street Books

Dark, intense, at times, unbearably tense. Carries all the hallmarks of a first class thrilller. The novel is,in addition, a first class police procedural. Alexander Rupert is a talented, honored Minneapolis cop. He worked for a very long time doin dangerous work undercover as part of a major task force aimed at bringing down the Minnesota drug trade. Now he faces an appearance before a Grand Jury examining illegal activities of the drug task force.
But the novel begins with a traffic accident that kills one James Putnam who turns out not to be James Putnam. Identity theft? Yes, but with nasty twists that set up readers and characters as well for many well-placed surprises all couched in seamless, powerful prose.
All the characters receive appropriate development and all fit their roles to a T. The language of the third person narration as well as the dialogue is almost perfect. For fans of procedurals and of crime thrillers here is a novel truly not to be missed. And while the conclusion is really inevitable, the ride from beginning to end is not to be dismissed.

Saturday, October 03, 2015



Heart of The Hunter                       
By Deon Meyer
Little, Brown, July, 2004,
385 pages, $23.95
ISBN 0316935492


A spare, stark and brutal portrayal of deceit, treason, and underhanded maneuvering in the modern intelligence services of South Africa.

This is a powerful, subtle, inside look at the realities of political strife in the modern Union of south Africa.  A former soldier in the Struggle, a black assassin recruited by the KGB, leaves that life when the Soviet Union collapses, works as a benign enforcer for a South African drug baron and ultimately finds a kind of peace for himself as an ordinary worker in a Johannesburg cycle shop.  Once the evils of apartheid were overthrown and Nelson Mandela’s  ANC became the ruling party, all of the secrets and the secret police were brought into the sun and the daylight and disposed of.  Right?

Unfortunately, not everybody fared well in the new South Africa.  Many soldiers who made significant contributions were simply cast aside and Thobela Mpayipheli, a legend in the Struggle, was one such soldier.  When the story opens, he has found a good woman and her young son and they have begun to forge a life for themselves.  And then out of Thobela’s past, comes the daughter an old friend.  The friend has been kidnapped and will be murdered unless Thobela delivers, far to the north, a computer disk encoded with secret data.

To accomplish his task, a reluctant Thobela must first “borrow” a powerful German motorcycle and make his way to a city across the northern border, through Botswana and into Zambia.  Soon, arrayed against him, are the forces of three military and intelligence services, a scattering of foreign agents, and his own efforts to fulfill his obligation to his old friend yet not slip back into the dark morass of undercover brutality.

This is a thriller of massive proportions.  The cast of interesting and conflicted characters are always easy to identify.  Within the structure of a conventional suspense novel, Deon Myer has inserted a twisty mystery that enhances and encourages the enjoyment readers will find here.  In translation the suspense and entwined convolutions of desperate intelligence agents, battling their own political circumstances and their moral constructs, are enhanced by unfamiliar rhythms of the language.  The “imperfect” translation adds to the texture of this fine novel, a subtle book, timely in its examination of the decay that misguided belief in justification of a moral certitude at any cost can bring.  Discerning readers will recognize interesting parallels to western nations in this cautionary tale.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

More hijinks, high society, high living and murder. Sean Sean, the short PI in Minneapolis is tasked wih finding who is trying to sabotage a family effort to locate a MIA from WWII in the Pacific Ocean. Will he have to fly off to Yap Island?  Not likely. Maybe a side trip to des Moines.  Watch Sean go toe to toe with some seriously bad dudes.

Sunday, August 02, 2015

NOVELS BACK IN PRINT

I've started a private effort to replace and re-energize my earlier adventure/sailing novels. They've been available right along as e-books but this move should widen their availability. They'll have new covers, new design some editing and small revisions. The first one out of the box is OLD SILVER.  The next is the most recent sailing adventure, RED SKY.  RED SKY has never been in print. If these two do all right, the rest will appear in due course, interspersed with the novels backed by my current publisher, the hard-working folks at North Star Press of Saint Cloud. I hope you'll enjoy reading them.

Friday, May 08, 2015

David Stout Denigrates a fine author



In spite of David Stout’s recent assertion in the New York Times in his otherwise fine eulogy to author Ruth Rendell, her body of work did not transcend the genre. Her work was truly of the genre, literature, fine and thoughtful writing, as was that of her contemporary, P.D. James. As is the crime writing of many others, from Arthur Conan Doyle to Harlan Coben. From Shakespeare to Michael Connelly, from Georges Simenon to Stieg Larsson. Obscurity and thoughtlessness are not valid criteria for “good literature,” just as cohesion, movement and character should not deny good writing from the lists of good literature.