Review: The Girl who Played with Fire

The Girl who Played with Fire

The second book in the Millennium trilogy by the late Stieg Larsson is as good as There Girl with the dragon Tattoo. Dark secrets from Lisbeth Salander’s past cause her to be implicated in the murder of a young couple. Journalist Mikael Blomkvist is also connected to the case and in trying to prove Salander’s innocence uncovers things that powerful people do not wish brought to light.

Larsson has created in Lisbeth Salander a truly remarkable character and in this book has crafted yet another intelligent and gripping thriller around her.

Review: One Bullet Away

A very good military memoir written by Nathaniel Fick, former Captain, First Recon. USMC. Also it is a good companion piece to Generation Kill as Fick is the platoon leader of the US Marines that Evan Wright rode with during the Invasion of Iraq as part of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

However Fick’s time in Iraq only makes up the second half of the book first comes the story of how he became a Marine officer and the account of his first battlefield command in Afghanistan.

In addition we get at the end after First Recon.’s mission is done little moments that Evan Wright didn’t get to witness such as when Fick takes the platoon to the ancient city of Babylon for a bit of historical sightseeing. They meet a distinguished older gentleman who had been an archaeologist who gives them a guided tour of the site. The man’s first words to Fick which make him laugh are “Call me Ishmael”.

Colbert remarks that in only two years they’ve followed two of the campaigns of Alexander the Great – across Afghanistan and Iraq – but that he doubts they themselves will be remembered in the same way. Ishmael gets tipped probably what is to him a years wages by the platoon for his excellent tour.

Review: Dead Run

Dead Run

An accident occurs in an isolated small town in Wisconsin and someone wants to keep it secret at all cost.

Another taut thriller from the mother and daughter writing team that make up P.J. Tracy. I’m continually amazed at how they manage to retain the characters from their brilliant debut Want to Play? and use them in the sequels without it feeling unnatural.

Grace MacBride and Leo Magozzi are a wonderful unconventional couple and their relationship is at the core of this novel.

Signs of mass cannibalism in prehistoric Germany

Wired reports that anthropologists have discovered signs of mass cannibalism in prehistoric Germany.

I’m pretty sure that this very scenario is in Michael Marshall’s excellent book The Straw Men (or perhaps one of the other books of the trilogy) and is an indication of the early origins and activities of the murderous cult/family that The Upright Man is a part of.

Don’t talk to the police

Reading a passage in Homicide about how the detectives go about getting confessions from their suspects despite their right to remain silent brought to mind the following lecture given by Law professor James Duane on how you should never under any circumstance talk to the police.

The second half of the lecture was given over to Officer George Bruch who pretty much agreed with the professor but hoped that suspects wouldn’t take his advice. [via]

Review: Homicide – A Year on the Killing Streets

David Simon’s book Homicide: A Year on the Killing Streets is where it all started, it is the book that directly spawned two of the best TV shows of the past 15 years and influenced many others.

A brilliant piece of non-fiction following one of the shifts of the city of Baltimore’s homicide detectives for a whole year. A compelling year of stories of tragedy which paradoxically was unremarkable for all the detectives but for the rookie Tom Pellegrini, whose first case as primary was a the rape and murder of an 11-year old girl that was never solved and probably still haunts him to this day.

Simon takes what could be a quite dry subject because real life is nothing like as dramatic as like on TV, even in the cases of The Wire and Homicide: Life on the Streets, and creates an enormously readable book because he understands that at its core each and every murder is a story of human beings.

Nitpicking Angels and Demons

My stream of consciousness review/nitpick of the movie Angels and Demons based on the novel by Dan Brown.

Lab coats at CERN! Maybe, but not likely if they are doing all their science sat behind computers. I guess it’s a shortcut to indicate that these people are “scientists”.

Looks like it was really the LHC and the Vatican.

Apparently it wasn’t really the Vatican.

Father Marco Fibbi, a spokesman for the Diocese of Rome, said: “Normally we read the script but this time it was not necessary. The name Dan Brown was enough.”

The ambigram thing that is a significant plot point defies logic as they clearly have been created by the producers of the movie so naturally cannot have been nigh on impossible to create and believable as a thing of myth.

Vittoria upon discovering Silvano murdered says “my God!”. In situations like that surely people revert to their first language which would be Italian in this case so “Dio mio” is more correct.

Illuminati before they became violent were scientists who were driven underground.

– Are you anti-Catholic?
– No I’m anti-vandalism!

Extremely combustible material known as antimatter. Strictly speaking no it isn’t combustible, but how do you describe antimatter/matter annihilation and the resulting massive release of energy? The God particle is mentioned. Not in the book but makes more sense for this to be an issue for the Vatican and the questions over the creation of the universe that this raises. Two opposing forces will annihilate. Paralleling antimatter/matter annihilation with the Vatican/Science conflict.

Destruction of the Vatican through light is the ancient Illuminati threat.

Four fundamental elements of science. Fire, Earth, Air and Water.

1668 – Church kidnapped and branded four scientists.

Neat framing for a thriller in that they have until midnight to thwart the plan to destroy the Vatican.

Would the Camerlengo really be Irish?

Energy research! In reality in order to create antimatter you need to put in more energy than you would get out.

English is the language of radicals. Shakespeare and Chaucer! That is why Galileo used it for his secret path of illumination message.

Treasure hunt where they only work out the next destination just too late.

Better thriller than The Da Vinci Code even if it is based upon pseudoscience and religious myth and misrepresents the conflict between science and religion.

– Stem Cell research is murder.
– Condemning sick people to die.
– Man is not God.

There have been incidents in the past where the Vatican has tried to suppress science and scientists and many religious people nowadays feel under attack by those in the scientific community particular in regards to evolution. But the film really overhypes the situation. The conflict between science and religion isn’t really that extreme.

It’s a race against time to save the cardinals and yet Langdon still has time to wash himself and change his clothes. Plus they are being extremely slow in the switching off lights sector by sector in the Vatican city plan.

How does Vittoria, a physicist, have knowledge outside of her field of expertise and be able to describe the signs of a possible overdose of the Pope’s medicine?

Why would the Vatican archives not have a failsafe should power be lost? In this case it is obviously not an accident as it would mean having to turn of the backup as well as the primary power to the archives. This coupled with the theory that the pope was murdered indicates an inside job and hence a very limited number of suspects. However neither group knows at this point of the information the other has gathered.

Camerlengo arguing for a kind of Vatican III. End the brutal battle between science and religion. Science too young to understand.

The pacing of the film is wildly off. The second hour i.e. between murders 2&3 is much longer than the first and third hours. Between the third and fourth murder 14 minutes shrinks to 5 minutes in about 30 seconds.

Good misdirection with the mercenary, he’s in it for the money not for the cause, and then Commander Richter of the Swiss Guard acting strangely.

Why was Silvano conflicted? Is it only about the so called God particle? Surely he was pursuing this area of study to prove God’s part in creation not dismiss God as creator.

And again the Camerlengo must be lacking in faith if he believes that science was seeking to and could take away the power of creation.

Doesn’t matter whether you believe or not events can be interpreted both ways. God sent Langdon to save the church or perhaps he did not.

More factual errors made by Dan Brown in the novel Angels and Demons.

CERN’s response to the questions moviewatchers may have about them and the LHC following the movie.

Edit: More things occur to me regarding the film.

Why reveal the plan to kill the cardinals at the appointed hours? It only introduces more chnace for the plan to fail.

You can understand why the Swiss Guard might initially be distrustful of Langdon but why when he has proved himself as on the same side do they continue to hinder his efforts.

Also the film will further the confusion of laypeople between the creation of antimatter and the search for the so called God particle at CERN.