Back to Blood by Tom Wolfe

Book Description:

Published: October 23, 2012

Format: Audio

Based on the same sort of detailed, on-scene, high-energy reporting that powered Tom Wolfe’s previous bestselling novels, Back to Blood is another brilliant, spot-on, scrupulous, and often hilarious reckoning with our times.

As a police launch speeds across Miami’s Biscayne Bay – with officer Nestor Camacho on board – Tom Wolfe is off and running. Into the feverous landscape of the city, he introduces the Cuban mayor, the black police chief, a wanna-go-muckraking young journalist and his Yale-marinated editor; an Anglo sex-addiction psychiatrist and his Latina nurse by day, loin lock by night – until lately, the love of Nestor’s life; a refined, and oh-so-light-skinned young woman from Haiti and her Creole-spouting, black-gang-banger-stylin’ little brother; a billionaire porn addict, crack dealers in the ‘hoods, “de-skilled” conceptual artists at the Miami Art Basel Fair, “spectators” at the annual Biscayne Bay regatta looking only for that night’s orgy, yenta-heavy ex-New Yorkers at an “Active Adult” condo, and a nest of shady Russians.

Review –

“In Back to Blood, the octogenarian novelist has characters sporting the “double-stubble” of deliberate unshavenness; defriending one another on Facebook; wearing rasta-rap T-shirts that say UZ MUVVUZ; and filming a reality show called “Masters of Disaster,” on which ruined billionaires begin their public resurrection.

To this self-proclaimed devotee of Balzac, milieu has always been all: New York investment banking in the 1980s (“The Bonfire of the Vanities”); Atlanta real estate in the ’90s (“A Man in Full”); the hookup college campus of the early naughts (“I Am Charlotte Simmons”). Wolfe has now headed to Miami, not to retire but to watch the gaudy clash of that city’s different ethnic and financial populations. Nestor Camacho, an overbuilt, well-meaning Cuban-American cop, is his main character, the figure who gets tangled up in all the novel’s plotlines.

Nestor achieves instant local fame when he climbs the 70-foot mast of a schooner in Biscayne Bay to rescue, and arrest, a small, shadowy man seeking asylum from Castro’s regime. But the athletic bravery that makes him a hero on the pages of The Miami Herald turns Nestor into a pariah within his own Cuban-American enclave of Hialeah: “You arrest a guy 18 metros de libertad!” scolds his father.

The predicament is interesting, but Wolfe doesn’t fully develop its possibilities. Before long, he’s got Nestor arresting a “6-foot-5, 275-pound accused drug dealer who was in the process of choking a brother officer to death” — and then getting suspended from the force when a YouTube video of the incident, containing his partner’s nasty racial abuse of the suspect, puts Nestor in the middle of a power struggle between Miami’s black police chief and the city’s Cuban-­American mayor.

As if this weren’t enough woe, Wolfe also draws Nestor into an art-fraud investigation being conducted by John Smith, the Herald reporter who wrote up his Biscayne Bay heroics. Miami has just named a huge new museum for a Russian plutocrat, Sergei Korolyov, and it now seems that the modern paintings he’s donated are forgeries. This art plot gives Wolfe an opportunity to stage some boisterously venal scenes, but a lot of its action might be happening in any big American city, not just the Miami he’s otherwise so busy particularizing. Moreover, even with its contemporary dollop of Russian dressing, this portion of the novel feels a little tired: Wolfe has been banging the drum against modern art since “The Painted Word” appeared in 1975, back in his nonfiction days. He has admitted that an art-world story line had to be excised from a draft of the already overstuffed “Man in Full,” and the one here in “Back to Blood” might have been cut loose too.

Magdalena Otero, Nestor’s estranged girlfriend, also has more than enough on her plate, even before Wolfe mixes her up with Sergei Korolyov. Eager to transcend the blinkered world of Hialeah, she’s already gotten involved with her boss, Dr. Norman Lewis, a psychiatrist who puts wealthy clients seeking relief from porn addiction in thrall to himself instead. Magdalena’s position as Norman’s girlfriend and nurse forces her to wade into “the pustular oozing of complete freedom” and allows Wolfe to concoct some incidents as squalid as anything in the old Miami-set series “Nip/Tuck.”

But what remains most interesting about Magdalena is her hunger for assimilation and distinction — the great never-ending American status drama. Wolfe shows her listening to a roommate’s urging that she put on a sluttier outfit for a big evening with Norman: “Look, Magdalena, what do you want to look like, some cubana wannabe americanawearing a proper dress from the tag sale at the discount mall?” Wolfe’s title and theme may posit how “the bloodlines that course through our very bodies” are reasserting themselves and driving us toward an ever more volatile identity politics; but this new book really shows how much juice and complication remain in the great national drive to fit in and then rise. The greatest snob in the novel is a mixed-race, Haitian-born professor of French at Everglades Global University who is furious that he’s being made to teach Creole. Professor Lantier overspends to furnish his Art Deco house; invests all his hopes in his light-skinned daughter; and is revolted by his son’s desire to sound and look like one of his black classmates: “What a mess the two of them were!. . . jeans pulled down so low on their hips you couldn’t help but see their loud boxer shorts . . . obviously the lower and louder, the better. The pants of both boys ended in puddles of denim on the floor.”

The pacing of Back to Blood can be peculiarly slow: its individual sentences are as overstuffed with effects as one of Nestor’s muscle shirts, but the story unfolds with a lot of leisure and recap. Even so, Wolfe remains as skillful as ever in texturing the novel’s terrain, from the “prairie of concrete” formed by Hialeah’s front yards to a tired retirement complex up in Broward County where “the little iron balconettes and the aluminum frames for the sliding doors looked as if they were about to fall off and die in a pile.” Nestor’s grandmother wears exactly the right pair of white jeans, while the sunglasses he sports are “what every cool Cuban cop in Miami wore . . . $29.95 at CVS . . . gold bar, baby!”

Wolfe was one of the New Journalism’s pioneer appropriators of fiction’s “close-third-person” voice, which mimics a character’s patterns of thought and speech to a point where the technique often feels more like the first person. Wolfe’s vocal blendings are typically artful, though sometimes the reader will balk at a clumsy amalgamation. I doubt Nestor would know the word “aubergine” — or think of a woman’s “loamy loins.” NewYorkTimes

This was a joy to listen to because of the fantastic narration of Lou Diamond Phillips. His sound effects and accents were her the top but not a bad way!

Advertisements

The Other Woman(Jane Ryland #1) by Hank Phillippi Ryan

Book Description:

Published: September 4, 2012

Format: Audio/OverDrive

Jane Ryland was a rising star in television news…until she refused to reveal a source and lost everything. Now a disgraced newspaper reporter, Jane isn’t content to work on her assigned puff pieces, and finds herself tracking down a candidate’s secret mistress just days before a pivotal Senate election.
Detective Jake Brogan is investigating a possible serial killer. Twice, bodies of unidentified women have been found by a bridge, and Jake is plagued by a media swarm beginning to buzz about a “bridge killer” hunting the young women of Boston.
As the body count rises and election looms closer, it becomes clear to Jane and Jake that their cases are connected…and that they may be facing a ruthless killer who will stop at nothing to silence a scandal.
Dirty politics, dirty tricks, and a barrage of final twists, The Other Woman is the first in an explosive new series by Hank Phillippi Ryan. Seduction, betrayal, and murder—it’ll take a lot more than votes to win this election.

Review –

This was my first read by this  author and I’m fairly certain I’ll be reading more, of this series in particular.

The first in a series. Jane Ryland is a reporter. She gets fired from her TV job and gets a newspaper job. She is in love (or at least, has the potential to be) with Jake – a cop, but they can never be together because of their jobs.

I actually like that Jake and Jane don’t do anything sexual in the book. For one thing, I feel like they really are getting to know and love(?) each other as people instead of just lusting after each other. Too many books out there today have “insta-love” between the two main characters and it is just TOO unbelievable .

This book is about a political campaign and all the back-stabbing and scandal that goes along with it, however, it is a bit confusing and with tons of twists and turns it becomes a tangled mess.

Did I enjoy it? Yes, I did. Twists and turns, multiple plot lines and points of view don’t bother me.

If you like a good “whodunit” give this book a try.

C758484C9C9106E2B09FB2547B1149C8

13538878

Deadline by Sandra Brown

Book Description:

Published: September 24, 2013

Dawson Scott is a well-respected journalist recently returned from Afghanistan. Haunted by everything he experienced, he’s privately suffering from battle fatigue which is a threat to every aspect of his life. But then he gets a call from a source within the FBI. A new development has come to light in a story that began 40 years ago. It could be the BIG story of Dawson’s career–one in which he has a vested interest.

Soon, Dawson is covering the disappearance and presumed murder of former Marine Jeremy Wesson, the biological son of the pair of terrorists who remain on the FBI’s Most Wanted list. As Dawson delves into the story, he finds himself developing feelings for Wesson’s ex-wife, Amelia, and her two young sons. But when Amelia’s nanny turns up dead, the case takes a stunning new turn, with Dawson himself becoming a suspect. Haunted by his own demons, Dawson takes up the chase for the notorious outlaws. . .and the secret, startling truth about himself.

Review –

I found it very hard to become invested in this book because after the prologue it was very slow in most parts and it bogged down. It does have two serious twists that I did not see coming and that made up for the slowness but on the whole I rated it three out of five stars. I listened to it driving back and forth to another town about 100 miles away for several days in a row,(husband had surgery)so I was stuck listening or I would have pulled my hair out.

C758484C9C9106E2B09FB2547B1149C8

17333403