Lunchtime Music: Song of Bangladesh – Joan Baez

National Martyrs Memorial

National Martyrs Memorial, Savar, Bangladesh ( In memory of the three million peoples who sacrificed their life during Liberation War in 1971 )

So you know I have following the activities surrounding the recent collapse of the building in Bangladesh. So this morning when I opened an old Circus magazine dated May 1972 I saw an article about Joan Baez, I started reading it. The article talks about her hesitance to write songs but how she over came that and started writing great songs. The article also mentions her song “Song of Bangladesh” about the struggle for freedom and their homeland that began in 1971. I thought it must be fate to read that today so here is some of the history of Bangladesh, followed by Joan’s song!

From Wikipedia:

The history of Bangladesh as a nation state began in 1971, when it seceded from Pakistan. Prior to the creation of Pakistan in 1947, modern-day Bangladesh was part of ancient, classical, medieval and colonial India.

The area’s early history featured a succession of Indian empires, internal squabbling, and a tussle between Hinduism and Buddhism for dominance. Islam made its first appearance between the 8th-10th centuries when Muslim missionaries arrived. Later, Muslim rulers reinforced the process of conversion by building mosques, madrassas and Sufi Khanqah.

The borders of present-day Bangladesh were established with the partition of Bengal and India in 1947, when the region became East Pakistan, part of the newly formed Islamic State of Pakistan. However, it was separated from the western wing by 1,600 km (994 mi) of Indian territory. Due to political exclusion, ethnic and linguistic discrimination, as well as economic neglect by the politically dominant West Pakistan, popular agitation led by Sheikh Mujibur Rahman grew against West Pakistan, resulting in the Bangladesh Liberation War of 1971, which the Bengali people won with the support of India. After independence, the new state endured famine, natural disasters and widespread poverty, as well as political turmoil and military coups. The restoration of democracy in 1991 has been followed by relative calm and economic progress. Continue Reading

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Book 9 – Loren D Estleman – The Left Handed Dollar

So like I wrote earlier, it’s been over twelve years since I visited the streets and neighborhoods of Detroit with Loren D. Estleman‘s PI Amos Walker. But last week I decided to re-pickup the series within Book 20 of the series, and Book 20, The Left Handed Dollar became Book 9 for 2o12. In this installment Amos is hired by an attorney Lucille Lettermore to prove that Mob member Joey Ballista did not commit a crime , an attempted murder of a reporter that Ballista tried to kill with a car bomb. Lettermore is trying to get the conviction reversed ,so that Ballista can be charged as a once time offender on a new charge, rather than as a multiple offender! Amos has a link to the case because the reporter Barry Stackpole is Amos’s only friend! Stakepole survived the car bomb but lost a leg and some fingers.  Soon Walker starts his investigation key persons in the case begin showing by dead,  and the case becomes more confusing.

I must say that even with the passing of the years Amos has not lost is wit and I still enjoy his character. I vaguely remember the homicide detective John Alderdyce, whose character I also enjoy! The book was a quick read and I don;t think that you have to know a lot about Amos’ past to enjoy the book! I don’t think it will be long before I check out the next book in the series or perhaps go down to the basement and pick up the Poison Blonde!

I’m not the only Estleman fan. Here’s some quotes:

“Loren Estleman is my hero.
Harlan Coben, author of the
instant #1 New York Times bestseller
Hold Tight

“Loren Estleman is the Stravinsky of hard-boiled prose–he never hits a wrong note.”
John Lescroart, author of The First Law: A Novel

Up next is The Chalk Girl by Carol O’Connell, which is number 10 in her series featuring Kathleen Mallory. I think I left off at about Book 6…….

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Book 37 – The Devil Colony – James Rollins

Let’s see what do the following have in common: Mormonism, Chief Canasatego,Thomas Jefferson, the Super-Kamiokande detector, nontechnology,the Anasazi, the children of Lehi, Iceland and the Laki eruption and Merriweather Lewis! Don’t know, how about if I add the Sigma Force, still don’t know. Well, they all make an appearance in Book number 37 of 2011 James Rollins great new novel The Devil Colony. I agree with Lee Child who says : “Nobody-and I mean nobody-does this stuff better than Rollins“. And this stuff is a great adventure tale with lots of history thrown in!

Shortly after two young Native Americans exploring a forbidden cave find hundreds of mummified Native Americans, the grandfather of one of the boys enters the cave, kills his grandson and then himself. The other boy escapes and soon brings scores of people back to the cave. Relics are quickly being taken from the cave including a mastodon skull lined with gold, as the skull is being lifted a Native American terrorist whose job it was to destroy the cave comes running out of the cave, she drops her backpack, which had C4 in it , as the skull is dropped, an explosion occurs a scientist is instantly killed and the world starts dissolving around her. The terrorist is the prime suspect. While she is on the run she calls a distant relative Uncle Painter Crowe, director of the Sigma Force. Soon Painter and the Sigma Force crew drawn into a mystery that goes back to the Founding Fathers and beyond! The explosion, in turn, sets off neutrino activity throughout the world that threatens the survival of mankind!

From there Rollins weaves historic facts into this 9th heart pounding, fast paced  Sigma Force novel! All my favorite characters are there from Seichen, Kowalski, Monk and Kat to Gray Pierce and of course the bad guys are tied to the Guild! archenemies of the Sigma Force. The action not only effects the team professionally but also personally. While it may be good to have read all the other novels especially to figure out Seichen’s relationship to everyone and also some of the background of other characters lie Monk and Kat, I do think the novel can be enjoyed by itself. So go find it and enjoy!

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Book 36 – The Wrecking Crew – Thomas Frank

Mother Jones: Kevin Drum: Republicans Don’t Care About the Deficit

As Drum and Krugman point out the Republicans don’t care squat about the deficit and why should they they created most of it and since it makes government look bad  and they hate government why is it a bad thing!

Book 36 for the year was Thomas Frank’s The Wrecking Crew: How Conservative Ruined Government, Enriched Themselves and Beggered the Nation kinda sum it all up doesn’t it!!The book does sum it all up and tells the tale of how the Republicans have destroyed our functioning government. It’s quotes like these that caught my eyes over the last few chapters:

the main reason that conservative administrations immediately run up as large a deficit as possible is that it defunds the left

or

with their beloved government brought to the brink of fiscal collapse by repeated doses of supply side, the liberals would either have to acquiesce in the reconfiguration of the state or see the country destroyed.

from David Stockman and the Reagen administration: Deficits were a way to smash a liberal state that voters could not be persuaded to part with otherwise

from Robert Reich: “If the public thinks government is wasteful, that’s fine. That reduces public faith in government which is precisely what the Republicans want”

It’s a win-win for the Republicans!

from Louis Brandeis (Supreme Court justice 1916-1939)

“We can have democracy in this country or we can have concentrated wealth in the hands of a few, but we can’t have both”

So if you want a good primer on the Republican’s tactics for bringing down the government read this book!

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Book 35 – Hotwire – Alex Kava

So the first Maggie O’Dell book by Alex Kava A Perfect Evil ($3.42 for the Kindle edition, well worth it!) was terrific, Book 35 for 2011 Hotwire is the 9th in the series, and the series is still going strong! Maggie an FBI profiler has been involved in cases that have included, the Ebola virus, a serial killer, a terrorist bombing at the Mall of America and a Category 5 hurricane!  In this latest adventure Maggie is on her way to a conference in Denver and is asked to stop in Nebraska to investigate some cattle mutilations. While she’s there a group of high school students are out in the woods ready to film a drug induced party for Youtube when they are attacked by something that appears to be alien. Two are left dead and the others are wounded (one was found wrapped in barbed wire). With the help of local and state law enforcement Maggie sets out to find out what happened  and who or what is out to eliminate those who survived! In a seemingly separate case Maggie’s former and potential love interest Army Colonel Benjamin Platt is contacted by the head of CDC to help solve a case involving many students in distant schools becoming violently ill after eating in their school cafeterias.

I really enjoy this series some of the books have not been as good as others but they’ve all been ok. I like the characters and they are always fast paced and you can’t wait to get to the end! It’s always disappointing when a character doesn’t appear in a book and in this case it’s Maggie best friend Dr. Gwen Patterson, who is mentioned but doesn’t make an appearance!

So if you’ve never meet Maggie pick up either HotwireA Perfect Evil or any of the other books. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed!

Here’s Alex Kava talking about her previous book Damaged and visiting the forensic house a Nebraska Wesleyan University,

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Book 34 – Iron House – John Hart

From the first John Hart book I read Down River I was a fan and so are lots of others.  Hart is the only author in history to win the best novel Edgar Award for consecutive novels. (Down River and The Last Child) He has also won the Barry Award and England’s Steel Dagger Award for best thriller of the year. So I was excited when I found his new book Iron House in the library last week and Book 34 for 2011 Iron House did not disappoint! Here’s a quote from Bill Ott’s Booklist Review:

 

 

It isn’t as if Hart’s career needed jump-starting. His first three stand-alone thrillers have been greeted by an ever-growing crescendo of praise, including two Edgar Awards. Definitely not the kind of writer who needs a breakthrough book. And, yet, Iron House lifts Hart to an altogether new level of excellence

Julian and Michael are brothers growing up in an orphanage Iron House. Michael is the strong one, Julian the weak. Julian is constantly abused by a gang of thugs. When Julian strikes back Michael comes to his rescue and then runs from the orphanage on the night a rich woman Abigail Vane comes to adopt them. Michael’s run takes him to the streets of New York where he becomes a fixer for a mob boss and Julian becomes a successful children’s author living with his adopted parents Senator Randall Vane and wife Abigail. When Michael wants to leave “the life” to start a new life with his love Elena, problems arise and soon Michael is on a run for his life. A run that leads him back to his brother and Iron House. Soon Michael is embroiled in another mystery at the Vane Mansion where bodies of the gang of thugs are being found! The answer to all his questions that will save his and Julian’s lives lies you guessed it at Iron House!

The writing is impeccable, the characters are all flawed and well drawn. From Michael, Julian, Abigail and her bodyguard Jessup and the Senator. Even the secondary characters are fantastic from the mobsters to the residents of the North Carolina hills. The pages fly by and the tension builds until the last pages and all you can say is Wow!  If it’s not my favorite of the year it’s damn close so in the words of Patricia Cornwell:

If you crave thrillers that are vividly beautiful, graphic and will make you bleed, try John Hart.

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Book 33 – Lassiter – Paul Levine

By Paul Levine

So a couple of years ago after reading Paul Levine‘s book Illegal I sent him a message on Facebook and told him that I liked the book but sill missed Jake Lassiter! He emailed me back and told me that his next book was going to be a Lassiter novel. Well, that book, appropriately named Lassiter is Book 33 for 2011.Jake Lassiter is a “low-rent”  Miami attorney, whose clients are usually not from the upper echelon of the Miami social scene. Lassiter also previously played for the Miami Dolphins and was featured in a series of seven books that started with To Speak for the Dead in 1990 and ended with Flesh & Bones in 1997. I’ve read six out of the seven – Number 1 is the only one I haven’t read. And now thanks to reissusing of the books as e-books  for the Kindle, that can be read for only $2.99!

But now back to the current book Lassiter. For his return Levine has crafted a story that starts in Lassiter’s past, from his website:

Eighteen years ago, Jake Lassiter crossed paths with a teenage runaway who disappeared into South Florida’s sex trade. Now he retraces her steps and runs head-on into a conspiracy of Miami’s rich and powerful who would do anything to keep the past as dark as night and silent as the grave. It’s a tale of redemption and revenge for the troubled Jake.

After a fourteen year lay-off Lassiter has lost none of his snap. Booklist one described him this way

 “Lassiter is smart, tough, funny, and very human. He’s coming on fast as one of the most entertaining series characters in contemporary crime fiction.”

I have enjoyed all the Lassiter books that I’ve read. The characters are always well drawn and the stories always entertaining. In between the Lassiter books Levine has written several standalone books along with another series (almost as good and in some ways better than Lassiter) featuring two other attorneys Steve Soloman and Victoria Lord. There are four  books in that series and like I said they’re all highly entertaining! So check out any of Levine’s books sit back and enjoy the ride!

Now I was all set with my next book. I went to the library the other night to pick up a book for my wife and came back with two books. The new John Hart book Iron House and  Collusion the followup book to Stuart Neville’s fine debut novel The Ghosts of Belfast. I figured I’d start with the Hart book and then the Neville novel. So what happens tonight, I get an email that the new Alex Kava Maggie O’Dell novel Hotwire is now available for digital download to my Kindle!! So I guess I”ll check that one out too, start both books and see which one I like the most and finish that one first! Hum, too many books, too little time!!

 

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Book 32 – Preston and Child – Still Life with Crows

So the right sidebar says that I am currently reading Lassiter by PaulLevine, which I was, but then I started Preston & ChildsStill Life with Crows, and well Book 32 for 2011 is Still Life with Crows.  Still Life with Crows is the fourth book in the Pendergrast series. Now I read the first Pendergrast book Relic way back in 1997 but I didn’t remember the character of Aloysius Pendergast, who is featured in Still Life with Crows. In reading about Relic, to refresh my memory of the book, I see that the Pendergrast character that was featured in that book and the sequel Reliquary was Frank Pendergrast and that Aloysius made a supporting appearance in both books. He became the main character in book three  The Cabinet of Curiosities which I haven’t read yet, but will soon read!

The novel is set in the small town of Medicine Creek, Kansas, a small dying town amidst acres of corn. The town is on the short list of communities to be the site of an experimental field of genetically modified corn, but a series of grissly murders has the town in an uproar and given Kansas State University second thoughts about the town as the site for their experimental field. Is the murder a local serial killer, or something more sinister? Are the murders connected to the curse upon the land resulting from an Indian massacre?  While on vacation Pendergrast visits the town to help find the answers.

I really liked the book and thought both the characters and the plot were well crafted and exciting. Here’s some press about the book

 “THESE GUYS ARE MASTERS AT SCARING THE HELL OUT OF PEOPLE.”
Tampa Tribune

 ”Smart, skillful writers who have fun spinning their tall tale, and if you enjoy things-that-go-bump-in-the-night thrillers, you’ll have fun reading it.” – Washington Post Book World

One of my reasons for picking up the book, aside from the fact that I enjoy Preston and Child’s work, was that I have books 5 Brimstone  6 Dance of Death and 7 Book of the Dead on my To Be Read shelves but I wanted to read the books in order…. so I guess before I start Brimstone I need to go back and read The Cabinet of Curiosities. But wait first I need to finish Lassiter. Oh my once again too many books, too little time!!

 

 

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Book 31 – The Jefferson Key – Steve Berry

So you know I like books that combine action with historical information, so in that respect I loved Book 31 of the year Steve Berry‘s latest The Jefferson Key. In the book Steve Berry combines the attempted assassination  of the current president to the failed attempt on the life of Andrew Jackson. Along the way Berry taught me about pirates and privateers, who helped and may have been one of the main reasons America won it’s independence! A crucial aspect of the story revolves around Thomas Jefferson’s love of ciphers and a note Jackson wrote using the code to the conspirators who planned his assassination! So from the prospective of adding history into the novel the book was great.

 The Jefferson Key is the seventh book in the Cotton Malone series  and is a slight departure from the other books. This is the first book set completely in the United States! So I guess the fact that I haven’t read the other books might be the reason that I don’t know much about Cotton. But one of the complaints that I have about the book is that I didn’t learn much in this book! Malone  and his current love Cassiopeia Vitt are okay but I felt the villain Quinton Hale was more developed in the book. But the major complaint that I had about the book was that it jumped around too much it zoomed from one location and one set of characters to another sometimes only resting at one place for a couple of paragraphs!! It was also very hard to tell the good guys from the bad, especially at the beginning of the book!

But overall the action in the books was good and like I said the interesting historical tidbits were excellent, except for some of the liberties Berry took concerning other presidential assassinations!  So I guess if I want to learn more about Cotton Malone I have to go back and start at the beginning with The Templar Legacy!

Here’s an interview with Steve Berry from North Carolina Pubic TV talking about pirates and privateers and North Carolina

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Book 30 – Northwest Angle – William Kent Krueger

So you know I love books that take mw to places I’ll never see or teach me things I didn’t know and Book 30 of 2011 Northwest Angle is one of them. Author William Kent Krueger set this book the 11th in the Cork O’Connor series in the area of Minnesota known as the Northwest Angle. This pennisula juts into the Lake of the Woods and is the farthest point north in the lower 48 states. You can not reach this piece of the United States by land without going through Canada! It can of course be reach by air or water, and by by water is how the O’Connor clan got there. As the novel begins Cork O’Connor has brought his family together daughters Jenny and Anne and son Stephen and his sister-in-law Rose and husband Mal to the Lake of the Woods on a houseboat for a restful family vacation. On the day Jenny’s boyfriend Aaron is set to arrive, Cork takes Jenny on a side trip to an island he once visited with his spiritual guide Henry Meloux. The island has pictographs of Ojibwe children on the cliffs of the island. But soon the day turns tragic as an unexpexted “Derecho” hits the area. A derecho is another thing that I didn’t know about. It is a powerful storm a bowed line of thunderstorms with wind speeds of a hurricane and causes massive destruction. A derecho hit the Northwest Angle area in July of 1999 you can read about it here. Soon Cork and Jenny are seperated and Jenny lands on an island and finds shelter after the storm she finds a cabin that has been mostly destroyed by the storm a young mother lies dead in the cabin a search of the cabin reveals

diapers and formula all neatly arranged and soon Jenny finds a baby. Soon someone else comes looking for the baby and Jenny must flee the area of the cabin.  But where is her father and are Rose, Mal and her sister and brother safe and who is the man returning to the cabin? Is he the killer or someone who has been helping the dead mother? All these questions and many others are answered as the story unravels.

Like all of William Kent Krueger’s books “the sense of place is great” as are the characters and the book addresses many other issues outside of the murder, including religion and spirituality and the presence of good and evil. I’ve loved each and every one of Krueger’s books, since the first one I read Purgatory Ridge, for just that reason. So give his work a try!

Here’s William Kent Krueger, who can tell you more about the book then I can

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