Sunday, April 17, 2011

Locked Rooms by Laurie King

I so like this series!! Laurie King writes a continuation of the Sherlock Holmes series, with the wonderful addition of his partner (in every sense of the word), Mary Russell. I have really liked every book in this series (while at the same time really disliking Laurie King's other series starring the detective Kate Martinelli).

This book finds Mary Russell unraveling her past--the past that she's been running from for the past 15 or so years. She finally returns to San Francisco to deal with some pressing issues regarding her wealthy father's estate. What she finds there threatens to kill her, ends up totally shocking her and finally it frees her from demons she's been living with since her family died in an accident when she was just 14.

I loved reading about San Francisco in the time of the flappers--the jazz babies. I loved revisiting Laurie King's characters' memories of the great San Francisco earthquake. I, of course, love following the detective work of Sherlock Holmes and his irregulars. I also love getting to know these two characters, Holmes and Russell, a little bit more in each book.

This is a fat book, for more than a few hours of very good reading. I really enjoyed it.

The Overton Window by Glenn Beck

This was sort of a conspiracy book, sort of a wake-up America book, a patriotic book, a frightening book. It was very interesting. It essentially shows how a group of people can manipulate public opinion in order to further its own ends.

The "Overton Window" is a technique to force the public to accept events that normally would never be tolerated. Some examples of this technique in action: the modern trend to BUY bottled water--when our municipal water is often just as good. We have been convinced by some clever information spinning to pay for something that we can get for free. Also: our acceptance of the tight security at the airport. Something we would never, as a people, have tolerated (taking off our jackets and shoes, being patted down, being restricted as to what we can take with us, etc), we now tolerate without much complaint because of a major shift in perspective that happened when those airplanes rammed into the twin towers and the pentagon and changed our feelings forever. An even more serious pair of examples: Nazi Germany, the Rwandan massacre--both nurtured by misinformation and lies that the public was slowly fed until they finally totally accepted a twisted point of view and began persecuting and killing their neighbors. It is a technique that has been used forever and will continue to be used by those in power who inevitably become obsessed with their own visions. We are all vulnerable to this.

The book was fascinating and worth reading. Glenn Beck clearly states his agenda, which is essentially to wake the public into patriotic action, or at least to wake them to some of the things that are currently going on in our country. He includes a section at the back of the book with references for the reader to follow in order to investigate some of the true things that are in the story.

I'm glad I read this. But! It was, like so much of what Glenn Beck says, rather extreme. When I closed the book I felt that I hadn't liked it--it was frightening, it told of an America in which the "people" have no control. It presented a problem and offered no solutions beyond the general advice to wake up and look around at what's already happening. AND. The ending was not happy. And you know how addicted to happy endings I am. Having voiced those rather small objections, it was a book with a valuable idea to impart. Where do I go from here with this information? I'm not quite sure.