Northwest Angle by William Kent Krueger

During a houseboat vacation on the remote Lake of the Woods, a violent gale sweeps through unexpectedly, stranding Cork and his daughter, Jenny, on a devastated island where the wind has ushered in a force far darker and more deadly than any storm.

Amid the wreckage, Cork and Jenny discover the body of a teenage girl. She wasn’t killed by the storm, however; she’d been bound and tortured before she died. Nearby, underneath a tangle of branches, they also find a baby boy, hungry and dehydrated, but still very much alive. Powerful forces intent on securing the child pursue them to the isolated Northwest Angle …

Amazon

The Northwest Angle is a small piece of the USA completely surrounded by Canada and Lake of the Woods.

The Madness of Crowds by Louise Penny

Quite good.

While the residents of the Québec village of Three Pines take advantage of the deep snow to ski and toboggan, to drink hot chocolate in the bistro and share meals together, the Chief Inspector finds his holiday with his family interrupted by a simple request.

He’s asked to provide security for what promises to be a non-event. A visiting Professor of Statistics will be giving a lecture at the nearby university.

While he is perplexed as to why the head of homicide for the Sûreté du Québec would be assigned this task, it sounds easy enough. That is until Gamache starts looking into Professor Abigail Robinson and discovers an agenda so repulsive he begs the university to cancel the lecture.

They refuse, citing academic freedom, and accuse Gamache of censorship and intellectual cowardice. …

fantasticfiction

All the Devils Are Here by Louise Penny

A very good book.

On their first night in Paris, the Gamaches gather for a family dinner with Armand’s godfather, the billionaire Stephen Horowitz.

But the evening ends in horror when Stephen is knocked down and critically injured in what Armand is convinced is no accident, but a deliberate attempt on an elderly man’s life.

When a strange key is found in Stephen’s possession it sends Armand on a desperate search for the truth that will take him from the top of the Tour Eiffel, to the bowels of the Paris Archives. …

fantasticfiction

Visiting London 2022

I couldn’t live in the EU. Europe still sucks.

BUT I would like to spend a month based out of London. It would take that long to visit all the attractions I’d like to see. And learn the city.

Whenever one of my international flights starts or lands in London (often) I try to add a layover. This time I stayed 3 nights.

London is expen$ive. No question. Double or triple the travel costs of Spain, for example.

But I spend most of my time walking. And in the free public museums.

This time I visited:

Both are excellent.

Darwin holds court over the Natural History Museum. A great scientist.

Over in a public park I watched a guy defend the Flat Earth theory. Even in 2022.

His arguments were silly. And hilarious. But he certainly sounded passionate.

It’s easy to prove the Earth is round. You can see if with your own eyes from an airplane.

Yet somehow folks delude themselves into anti-scientific thinking — that the Earth is only 5000 years old, for example.

My point here is that London is endlessly entertaining. There is so much to see and do.

East of Eden by John Steinbeck

East of Eden is a novel by American author and Nobel Prize winner John Steinbeck. Published in 1952, the work is regarded by many to be Steinbeck’s most ambitious novel  …

Steinbeck stated about East of Eden: “It has everything in it I have been able to learn about my craft or profession in all these years,” and later said: “I think everything else I have written has been, in a sense, practice for this.”  …

I liked it less well than the author, but am still pleased to have made it through the lengthy, rambling saga.

Steinbeck was born in Salinas, California in 1902. In fact, he appears as himself as a small boy in this novel.

Racism is a fact in this era. But one of the two smartest and best characters is Lee, an American born Chinese servant.

The other character you want to spend time with is Samuel Hamilton, the patriarch of one family.

Steinbeck books frequently explore the themes of fate and injustice, especially as applied to downtrodden or everyman protagonists. For example, Of Mice and Men.

The female characters are not nearly as important or well drawn as the men and boys.

The title comes from Genesis, Chapter 4, verse 16. The story of Cain and Abel.

Two sets of brothers are the main characters in this book. And one of the four is named Adam.

There are weird love triangles complicating both sets of brothers.

There’s something of a reimagining of the biblical story woven into a history of California’s Salinas Valley.

My two highlights reflecting back on this epic:

  • the STORY telling is memorable and entertaining
  • the philosophical discussions

James Dean played in one of the movie adaptations.

Click PLAY or watch it on YouTube.

Cycling the Camino de Santiago

There are many pilgrimage routes to Santiago de Compostela in Spain, the goal being the famous Cathedral.

About 10% arrive by bicycle.

Two of the most popular cycling routes are:

  • Porto, Portugal to Santiago
  • León, Spain to Santiago

I’d first tried to start in Porto — but couldn’t find a bike to rent on short notice.

In Santiago itself I found Cycling the Camino, a shop that pretty much NEVER runs out of rentals.

I took the train to León, picking up the rental there. They will deliver almost anywhere you want to start — charging additional shipping to mainland Spain (30€/bike), Portugal (37€/bike) and France (65€/bike).

The cost of the bike itself is around 30€/day.

Inexpensive, in my opinion. And WAY easier than flying your own bike.

I booked 7 days to make the 300+km return which I assumed would be EASY. I did make it in 6 days, finding the adventure more challenging than expected. I was on the bike about 6-7 hours each day.

My short video includes a LOT of drone footage as that’s the easiest way to show the landscape.

Click PLAY or watch it on YouTube.

Compared with most long distance cycling routes, this one is very civilized. Regular folks have been walking it for over 1000 years. The infrastructure very well developed.

It’s very social with both walkers and cyclists meeting up each evening.

Folks of all ages and fitness levels are pilgrims on The Way.

Though no book, map or app is needed, I did carry a paper copy of the newest Cicerone guidebook.

Devotion of Suspect X by Keigo Higashino

I’d never heard of Keigo Higashino before randomly trying this novel.

Devotion of Suspect X is fantastic.

Turns out almost twenty of his books have been turned into films and TV series. But not all have been translated to English.

The pacing is slower than a typical American or British whodunnit.

But mathematician Tetsuya Ishigami and Manabu Yukawa, a physicist who often consults with the police, are two of the best fictional characters I’ve read in a long time.

I highly recommend it.

Click PLAY or watch the trailer of the Chinese TV adaptation on YouTube.