Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Wednesday Update

I've been meaning to update for a couple of days, but I've been getting ready to go out of town and I just keep not getting around to it.

I'm reading two books right now. First of all, I finally found something on the fiction shelves at the library that looked like it might be fun, and so I'm reading Dexter is Delicious (Doubleday, 2010; 350 pages), by Jeff Lindsay. This is the fifth novel in the series by Lindsay and the inspration for the Showtime TV series, "Dexter". In case you aren't familiar, it follows the adventures of Dexter Morgan, a blood-spatter analyst for the Miami-Dade Police Department, who also happens to be a serial murderer. The hitch is, he only murders people who "deserve" it, bad people that society is better off without. I've read the first three books (the fourth wasn't available and this one was, and so far it doesn't seem to matter that I haven't read the fourth yet) and seen the first two seasons of the television series, and I honestly think it is remarkable that Lindsay has been able to take what should be an abhorrent character and make him a likeable, sympathetic character. I think much of this has to do that, both in the books and in the shows, we get to hear Dexter's inner monologue and learn exactly how he ticks.

In this book, Dexter has just become a father, an event that has him very surprised to be feeling what seem to be genuine emotions for the first time in his life. He is even considering giving up his extracurricular murderous activities, based on this new part of himself he has discovered. On the other hand, his brother, also a serial killer (but one who doesn't confine his urges to kill to the bad guys of the world) and presumed dead at the end of the first novel, shows up, likely with evil intent. There's also a crime to solve at work. I'm only about 90 pages in at the moment, but I'm enjoying the book very much so far.

The other book I'm currently reading is Claim of Privilege: A Mysterious Plane Crash, A Landmark Supreme Court Case, and the Rise of State Secrets (HarperCollins, 2008; 384 pages), by Barry Siegel. Much more serious reading than the "Dexter" novel, of course, and fairly interesting reading so far. It tells the story of the long quest by the families of some men killed in a military plane crash in 1948 in Waycross, Georgia. The families, of course, wanted to know what had happened to their family members, but the government wouldn't tell them anything, saying that the flight was classified. The families took the issue all the way up to the US Supreme Court, which ruled that the information about the flight was, indeed, classified, a ruling which recognized the state secrets privilge formally for the first time in US history. But, I've gleaned from the flyleaf that the papers related to the crash were eventually made public, revealing that the crash was actually was a result of negligence on the part of military personnel, and the claim of secrecy was made to cover up the mistakes that were made that cost all but four of the flight's crew memberrs their lives.

The interest in reading this book, for me, will be to see how the legal issues involved unfolded and resolved. Knowing the general outcome won't, I don't think, detract from the journey of the story. That this is often the case, espeically in reading non-fiction, is something I've learned over the years, and I think it is an important point. Yes, it's cheating to look ahead to the last chapter or last page of a novel, but in non-fiction, the reader often knows the general outcome of the story the writer is telling in the book and it is how the author gets the reader from the beginning to the end of that story is the real issue.

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