by Sukey HowardOctober, 2008
Kill that story!
"Delicious" and "fun" are not adjectives usually used in describing a murder mystery, but they're right on for John Darnton's Black & White and Dead All Over, read by Phil Gigante. Darnton, a Pulitzer Prize winner who spent 40 years at the New York Times, obviously had a ball creating this classic whodunit that offers a good look at the inner workings of a world - class daily (I wonder which one?) and is chock - a - block with thinly veiled Times characters like Jimmy Pomegranate.
When the body of the much - feared and - hated assistant managing editor of the New York Globe is found impaled on an old - fashioned editor's spike that was once used to kill stories, there are suspects galore among the Globe's resentful reporters, ambitious editors, disgruntled board members and even the scheming media tycoon Lester Moloch. Darnton doesn't veil his affection for journalism and its dedicated perpetrators who yearn for the times of yore when there was no "style section." Underlying the clever plotting, clever names and mordant wit is a love letter to the glory days when "all the news fit to print" was really news.
Time in the shadows
The Dark Side, the title of Jane Mayer's brilliant, disturbing account of how the War on Terror turned into a war on American ideals, comes from a statement made by Dick Cheney a few days after 9/11 - "We'll have to sort of work the dark side, if you will." With scrupulous, mesmerizing detail, Mayer documents the Cheney charge into that "dark side" to vastly extend presidential power, circumventing laws, constitutional protections and American tradition as had never been done before. Taking full advantage of the fear, anxiety and panic engendered by the September attacks, Cheney and his principal, super - secretive, longtime legal advisor David Addington instigated a harsh legal regime, a "New Paradigm," based on dubious legal opinions, that sanctioned military tribunals, secret detentions, extraordinary rendition, "enhanced" interrogation (aka torture) and warrantless electronic surveillance. It's all documented, all laid out in this gripping narrative. We are living with the consequences in real time, watching, as Mayer points out, as our reputation as a leader in democracy and democratic ideals is whittled away, as the short - term benefits of this extralegal fight against terrorism erode the long - term benefits of the rule of law that this country was founded on. Read by Richard McGonagle, this should be required listening.
Detective Dave Robicheaux usually hangs out in New Iberia, Louisiana, but in Swan Peak, his 17th appearance in a novel by James Lee Burke, he and his larger - than - life, semper - combative cohort Clete Purcell have left the steamy bayous for a fishing vacation under the brilliant sky of Montana's Bitterroot Mountains. But trouble, in many guises, follows them north and neither one of them can turn away from a fight for right and justice. The air may be clean, but the thugs driving a van for the nasty oil billionaire who lives in the mansion on the hill with his severely scarred brother and his beautiful, country singer wife, are as dirty as they come and had ties to Clete's mob nemesis, Sally Dio. Add the vicious murders of two local college kids, and a toxic Texas gunbull here to track an escaped inmate who, with good reason, buried a shiv in his chest. Burke weaves these disparate threads together, taking you on a wild ride into the seamier side of the wild West and into Dave's demon - drenched need to set things right in a world gone mostly wrong. As before, Will Patton's finely nuanced reading is the perfect match for Burke's strong, lyrical prose. An A-plus audio!