LET THE WARS RAGE ON!!!! --- 5 OF 5 STARS
If you've read my last few reviews, you'll already know that I am on a quest to read only great books for the rest of this year. I'm not looking for mediocre; I'm not looking for good; I'm looking for flat out great books. I've been right on target with many of my recent reads....Cutting For Stone, The Help, That Old Cape Magic...and now it was time for Philippa Gregory's newest, The White Queen. Before I start reading a book, I usually come to Amazon and glance at the reviews. And I do mean "glance" when I say it because many of the reviews here give too much away. Needless to say, when I saw all of the three and four star ratings, I thought that perhaps I should pass on this one for fear of ruining my "great book run." But I had loved so many of Gregory's other books in the past that I decided to go for it.
Her Boleyn series gave us a look at the Tudor dynasty courtesy of King Henry VIII. This newest book is apparently part of a trilogy which will take us through the Plantagenet reign. The "Plantagenet" reign?? This was one I knew nothing about although, once I started reading and found out it was about the War of the Roses and the Lancasters versus the Yorks, some old history classes started coming back to me. The best part of reading a historical fiction book, about a time in history of which you are ignorant, is that some of it reads like a thriller. Since this book covers the kingdoms of Henry VI, Edward IV and Richard III, I had no idea when one would end and another would begin. Each time Edward IV went off to war, I waited with bated breath to see if he would return. I read many of these pages as if I was a graduate of the Evelyn Woods' School of Speedreading making my way through them as quickly as I could because I couldn't wait to see what was going to happen. As I already mentioned, since I had no recollection of this time in history, I was not sure if Edward was King for a long time or if his reign was short-lived. I didn't know if he died in battle, died of some illness or lived until old age. His death came as a shock to me and what ensued thereafter was even more shocking.
Since this book is mostly about King Edward IV of the York dynasty, it details the battles he fought with cousins and even his own brothers to attain power and then keep it. It is also a story of a King and Queen who actually loved each other and struggled to maintain power and peace so as to pass the reign on to their son Edward V. Unfortunately, it is also a story of a family with a curse and that is the curse of ambition. While Edward's family is fighting amongst themselves as to which brother should really be on the throne, it is his wife Elizabeth Woodville's family who is causing most of the problems. When King Edward IV married Elizabeth Woodville (in secret), she was a commoner. So her family's rise to prominence is not taken too kindly by England's nobility. In the end, this is the story of how the great Plantagenet family finally destroyed themselves in a bloody struggle known as the War of the Roses.
Midway through the book, I was still wondering what all of these reviewers were complaining about because I really thought this book was so darn good. It has everything I'm looking for in historical fiction....intrigue, betrayal, adventure, deceit, death and, of course, love, And while Edward and Elizabeth were hoping to continue a dynasty with their son Edward V, it is their daughter Elizabeth who will create her own dynasty when she marries Henry VII of the Tudor family. She will become the mother of Henry VIII and will also be the subject of the third book in this trilogy called The White Princess. But first we'll get to see the real power behind Henry VII in Gregory's next book, The Red Queen, which covers Henry's mother, Margaret Beaufort.
So while historically this period in history is mostly remembered for its wars, Gregory brings to light what went on beyond the battles and I found this family every bit as fascinating as the Tudors. Let the wars rage on until the next book comes out.
BOTTOM OF THE NINTH, HARRY BOSCH IN FOR THE CLOSE -- 5 OF 5 STARS
In starting The Closers, once again, I had no idea what closers were. I knew what it was in baseball but had no idea what it was in "Harry Bosch Land". The explanation comes pretty quickly in the book when Connelly explains that it's very much like the pitchers who come in for the ninth inning to win or lose the game. But in this case, it's the homicide detectives who come in after many year have gone by and try to close out a case. What they do is apply new techniques and technology to old cases that have gone unsolved. Right now you're probably thinking that it sounds like the TV show Cold Case and you would be right. And, in The Closers, Bosch has come out of retirement and is back at the LAPD working those unsolved cases. In the Los Angeles police department, they say it's the noblest place to work because "a city that forgets its murder victims is a city lost." Harry Bosch will now become the voice of all of these murder victims and, one by one, he will give them and their families what rightfully belongs to them.....their killers.
I sometimes think that no one writes a police procedural better than Michael Connelly. This author knows that while Bosch is trying to solve the crime, so are his readers. He makes sure that Bosch covers every angle and does it in such a way that the reader isn't scratching his/her head wondering why he did what he did. Because when Connelly writes a book, it all just makes sense. There is no confusion when you get to the end of the book. You know how you got there and why you got there.
In The Closers, there was never a moment where I was bored and never a page I didn't find interesting. The case Harry is following is one that took place in 1988 when racial relations between the police department and the community were at a simmer getting ready to boil over. A sixteen year old bi-racial girl had been taken from her home and shot in the chest. Autopsy reports will reveal things her parents and friends didn't know. Harry will uncover things he feels the department pushed under the rug. New DNA technology will lead him to a suspect. While all this is going on, fingers will point to Harry's nemesis Chief Irvin Irving. There's not a fan out there who wouldn't love to see Harry take this guy down. And one of the best things is that Harry is partnered once again with Kiz Rider....a definite fan favorite relationship.
Readers will find that Harry is the perfect detective for this job because he just doesn't give up and, since the crime is so old, there's no one breathing down his neck to get it solved. His only problem will come when he tries to resurrect the old records better known as "the murder book." Many things have been lost, some things have been intentionally removed and other things have been filed in the wrong place. But since Harry is so great at reading between the lines and analyzing each case to the bone, the freedom for these killers will be short-lived. One by one he is going to find them and is going to give one last voice to the victims. That voice is going to be saying, "I can finally rest."
Let's put it this way, Harry could pitch for my team in the 9th inning any day he wants.