Thursday, June 21, 2018

BOOK REVIEW: Silent Scream (DI Kim Stone, #1) by Angela Marsons


This is the first book I have read that was written by Angela Marsons featuring Detective Inspector Kim Stone. 

I am a big fan of the police procedurals, and recently seem to be discovering a new niche category: the British police procedural featuring psychologically damaged female protagonists. Could this be a reaction to PBS’ Prime Suspect series (based in the work by Lynda La Plante)? Examples of books that fit into the category I’m talking about include the work of Robert Bryndza (featuring DCI Erika Foster), Angela Marsons (featuring DI Kim Stone) and to a lesser extent Stuart MacBride’s DI Roberta Steel.

That being said, there are a lot of male protagonists of murder-mysteries that have checkered pasts: Agent Will Trent (by Karin Slaughter), DI Tom Thorne (by Mark Billingham), Sean Duffy by Adrian McKinty and (of course) DI John Rebus by Ian Rankin.

This phenomenon can also be explained by the observation that it’s obviously hard to sustain a multi-book series centered around a specific protagonist if they don’t have vast wells of character development and/or psychological angst to plumb and explore through multiple volumes.

Clearly DI Kim Stone has a lot of this drama which we will learn more about as the series continues. What we already know from the first book Silent Scream is that she was in “care” (equivalent of child protective services) from around age 6 and that she had a twin brother who died due to some misbehavior by her biological mother, who is still alive but that Kim clearly despises.

So of course it turns out that the first mystery where we meet Kim Stone involves the murder/disappearance of three girls at a care facility for teenage girls a few decades ago as well as the contemporary murder of 3 staff members who used to work at the facility.

In my opinion, an important component of a successful series is the quality or complexity of the sidekicks or secondary characters. In the case of Kim Stone the side characters are not that interesting but she more than makes up for it by being such a strong-willed and complicated character all by herself

Overall, Silent Scream  is an intricately plotted mystery and quite suspenseful thriller. I look forward to reading others in the DI Kim Stone series.

3.5 Stars.

Title: Silent Scream (DI Kim Stone, #1).
Author: 
Angela Marsons.
Paperback: 390 pages.
Publisher:
 Bookouture.
Date Published: February 20, 2015.
Date Read: June 16, 2018.


GOODREADS RATING: 
★★½☆  (3.5/5.0).

OVERALL GRADE: B+ (3.67/4.0).

PLOT: A-.
IMAGERY: B.
IMPACT: A-.
WRITING: B.

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

TENNIS TUESDAY: Federer Returns To #1; Venus Turns 38, Murray Is Back; Bartoli Retires (Again)


FEDERER RETURNS TO #1 WHILE WINNING 98TH CAREER TITLE
Roger Federer won his 98th career ATP tour title in Stuttgart by defeating Milos Raonic in straight sets. Federer is now the oldest player in the Top 100 on the ATP tour, and he is at #1! However, he has to win Halley for a record 10th time (defending his 2017 title win here) in order to remain #1 although one would think that Federer with his 8 titles will be seeded #1 at Wimbledon over Nadal with his 2 titles despite whatever the ranking order is at the time.

MURRAY RETURNS TO ATP TOUR IN QUEEN CLUB TO FACE KYRGIOS ROUND ONE
Former World #1 Andy Murray makes his return to the ATP tour after a 342-day absence in which he had hip surgery and approximately 6 months of rehab. His last match was a quarterfinal loss at Wimbledon to Sam Querrey; his first match back will also be on grass. It is at Queen's Club where he is a 5-time champion. UPDATE: Murray lost to Nick Kyrgios in a tough 3-set match 2-6 7-6(4) 7-5 and to my eyes looked like he was limping for part of the match.

VENUS TURNED 38 ON JUNE  17
7-time major champion Venus Williams turned 38 on Sunday. The current World #9 has not indicated that she intends to leave the WTA tour any time soon even though she has been playing tennis professionally since age 14(!)

BARTOLI GIVES UP ON RETURN TO WTA TOUR
The 2013 Wimbledon champion Marion Bartoli has retired from the WTA Tour for the second time. After returning a few weeks after winning her first and only major title in 2013, Bartoli attempted a comeback to the tour last year, but struggled with injuries almost immediately and did not make into the main draw of any of the major tournaments.

Monday, June 18, 2018

EYE CANDY: Roly Vizcay (reprise)





Roly Vizcay is an underwear model with a large (45k) following on Instagram (@rolyvizcayofficial) who has appeared as Eye Candy here once before (April 23, 2018). As you can see, it's clear he looks good wearing underwear or even less!

Sunday, June 17, 2018

2018 STUTTGART: Federer Wins 98th Title (Defeating Raonic), Will Return To World #1


Roger Federer resumed his presence on the ATP tour as the grass season began with a first-ever title in Stuttgart. In two consecutive rounds, Federer defeated Nick Kyrgios (in the semifinal) and Milos Raonic (in the final).

Both of these matches were quite significant. The 6-7(2) 6-2 7-6(5) win over Kyrgios resulted in a return to the top of the ATP rankings by Federer. For the third time in three meetings their match was decided by a 3rd set tiebreak, this time won by Federer; he now leads the head-to-head 2-1.

The final was also significant, and was a 6-4 7-6(3) win, extending Federer's win streak on grass to 16 (including wins at Halle and Wimbledon in 2017). It was Federer's 148th ATP tour final, and he now has a 98-50 record, with an 18-6 record in grass finals. This was Federer's 98th final win (65 of which he won in straight sets) and 3rd title of the year. The all-time record is held by Jimmy Connors at 109. Can Federer reach or exceed this number? It's more likely now than it was last week.

Friday, June 15, 2018

CELEBRITY FRIDAY: London Breed Elected First Black Female Mayor of San Francisco


London Breed will become the first African-American female mayor of San Francisco when her main rival for the position, openly gay former State Senator Mark Leno conceded defeat. San Francisco is California's 4th largest city (behind Los Angeles, San Diego and San Jose) and the nation's 13th largest. Breed, 43, is the President of the Board of Supervisors and will become the only women of color to currently lead a major American city.

Breed will serve out the rest of Mayor Ed Lee's term (until January 2020) and has not said whether she will run for re-election in November 2019. It is worth noting that te next Governor of California is likely to be Gavin Newsom, who became known to voters as the Mayor of San Francisco. Breed will be the second woman to serve as Mayor; the first is Dianne Feinstein, who is now California's senior U.S. Senator.

Thursday, June 14, 2018

QUEER QUOTE: Heterosexual Supremacist Orrin Hatch (R-UT) Says Something Nice About #LGBT Youth For #Pride


Today's Queer Quote is from Senator Orrin Hatch, who has announced his retirement (after 42 years!) and will not be seeking re-election to the United States Senate. His seat is likely to be filled by Mitt Romney (2012 GOP nominee for President).

On Thursday, in celebration(!) of LGBT pride month, Sen. Hatch tried to support LGBT youth by saying on the Senate floor:
“No one should ever feel less because of their gender identity or sexual orientation. LGBT youth deserve our unwavering love and support. They deserve our validation and the assurance that not only is there a place for them in this society, but that it is far better off because of them. These young people need us—and we desperately need them. We need their light to illuminate the richness and diversity of God’s creations. We need the grace, beauty and brilliance they bring to the world.”
This is the same guy who said (in 1977):
“I wouldn't want to see homosexuals teaching school anymore than I'd want to see members of the American Nazi Party teaching school."
As the Washington Post put it. "The Times, they are a changin'"!

BOOK REVIEW: The Night Stalker (DCI Erika Foster #2) by Robert Bryndza



The Night Stalker is the second book in Robert Bryndza‘s DCI Erika Foster series. Although the central plot of The Night Stalker is very different from The Girl in the Ice there are several common elements between the two books. First among these is Erika herself, of course. There are multiple other characters that reappear as well.

I don’t really have a problem that Erika is an intriguingly damaged character (her husband was also a police officer and he was killed in the line of duty on a drug raid that Erika was leading). The main problem I have with Erika is that she’s literally a vigilante and she doesn’t respect the chain of authority of the British Constabulary. This was my main drawback of the first book because I believed that it strained credulity to believe someone as “half-cocked” as Erika would still have a job as a police officer.

But in the second book, again Erika gets suspended from the investigation that she was leading by her boss and ignores direct orders not to continue specific theories of the case in her investigation. But she does this even though the perpetrator contacts her directly, violates her personal space and threatens her life. In both books, Erika downplays the seriousness of these events and eventually ends up in a 1-on-1 dangerous confrontation with a multiple murderer. This situation is a direct result of her unwillingness to follow orders and her eagerness to solve the case “by whatever means necessary.” The fact that it happened twice in the first two books greatly diminishes the verisimilitude of these books as police procedurals, in my humble opinion.

But, overall, I enjoyed this book and the series as a whole. I love Erika's sidekicks, DI Moss (pudgy lesbian with a tart sense of humor), DI Peterson (handsome straight Black guy with excellent interpersonal skills) and Dr. Strong (openly gay, tall white forensic pathologist). I look forwarding to reading the next books in the series and hope that Bryndza switches things up so Erika becomes more professional.

3.5 Stars.

Title: The Night Stalker.
Author: 
Robert Bryndza.
Paperback: 382 pages.
Publisher:
 Bookouture.
Date Published: June 2, 2016.
Date Read: May 30, 2018.


GOODREADS RATING: 
★★½☆  (3.5/5.0).

OVERALL GRADE: A- (3.4/4.0).

PLOT: A-.
IMAGERY: A-.
IMPACT: B.
WRITING: B.

Sunday, June 10, 2018

2018 FRENCH OPEN: Nadal Wins 17th Major (11th French Open) By Beating Dominic Thiem






As I predicted, Spaniard Rafael Nadal won his 11th French Open title in Paris on Sunday, his 17th major overall by defeating Dominic Thiem of Austria by the score of 6-4 6-3 6-2. Nadal won the tournament by only dropping a single set (in the quarterfinals of Diego Schwartzman of Argentina).

HOW THE FINAL WAS WON
Thiem started off the match very badly, losing the first 6 points in a row and was broken immediately. However, quite surprisingly he was able to break back and even the score at 2-all. Games went on sere until Thiem was serving at 4-5 when suddenly he payed a horrible game, going down 0-40 (triple set point for Nadal) and lost the next point to lose the first set. He also got broken almost immediately in the second set ad it was basically all down hill from there, with another straight sets win for Nadal.

ANALYSIS OF THE RESULT
Amazingly, Federer and Nadal have won the last 6 major titles, both over the age of 30. It means that Nadal, 32, is still only 3 major titles behind Federer's 20, and is 5 years younger (Federer tuns 37 in August). Today's win also means Nadal maintains the possibility (perhaps even the likelihood) of eventually evening and perhaps surpassing Federer's total of major singles titles. I would argue that the fact that Nadal is clearly the best on clay ever and has won 11 of his 17 titles on clay actually is an argument AGAINST the claim that Nadal is te G.O.A.T. It demonstrates that the source of his greatness is his dominance of clay (which is amazing) but the same cannot be said for either Grass (where he has 2 Wimbledon titles to Federer's 8) or hardcourts (where he has 4 major titles: 3 US Open and 1 Australian to Federer's 11: 5 US Open and 6 Australian).

The baton now switches to Federer to see if he can raise the G.O.A.T stakes again by winning Wimbledon, like he did last year. Only time will tell.

2018 FRENCH OPEN: Men's Final Preview (and Semifinals Review)

Rafael Nadal (ESP) [4] vs. Dominic Thiem (AUT) [7].
Here are my predictions for the men's final at the 2018 French Open. Last year I correctly predicted Rafael Nadal would defeat Stan Wawrinka in the 2017 final. This year I correctly predicted 4 of 4 women's quarterfinals2 of 2 women's semifinals, 2 of 2 men's seminfinals and 3 of 4 men's quarterfinals.


MEN'S FINAL PREVIEW

Rafael Nadal (ESP) [1] d. Juan Martin del Potro (ARG) [5] 6-4 6-1 6-2.  Surprisingly, this match was less competitive than the match Nadal played against a different Argentine, the diminutive Diego Schwartzman, in the previous round. Del Potro apparently suffered a hip injury midway through the first set and the ruthless Spaniard took advantage of the diminished mobility to punish and pummel Del Potro into submission.


Dominic Thiem (AUT) [7] d. Marco Cecchinato (ITA) 7-5 7-6(10) 6-1. nThis was a surprisingly competitive match between the #8 player in the world and someone barely into the Top 100. That is a strong statement in support of the play of the Italian, who had an almost magical run here in Paris which was just barely stopped before he could reach the final, but not before he has won several hundred thousamd Euros as an unseeded 2018 Roland Garros finalist.

MEN'S FINAL PREVIEW

Thiem is the only player to have won 2 sets on clay against Nadal in the same match in the last three years. He did it twice (2018 Madrid quarterfinals and 2017 Rome quarterfinal) and is clearly the second best clay court player in the world. However, the distance between the best player and the second best is huge, as Nadal has demonstrated time and time again. Nadal joins his nemesis/frenemy Roger Federer in the record books as the second man to play in 11 major finals on the same surface. (Federer has done it at Wimbledon, of course and is 8-3 with 1 loss to Nadal in 2008 and 2 losses to Novak Djkokovic in 2015 and 2016). Nadal is 11-0 in finals (and semifinals!) at Roland Garros and has only ever lost two matches there: 4th round to Robin Soderling in 2009 and in the quarterfinal of 2015.) It's hard to imagine  a more prohibitive favorite than Nadal. Amazingly, it would mean that for the second year n a row Federer and Nadal would have split the first two majors of the year between them.

MadProfessah's pick: Nadal.

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