Monday, November 26, 2012

Ten Letters: The Stories Americans Tell Their President - by Eli Saslow

In an effort to stay connected with his constituents, President Obama has his staff select ten letters for him to read that are representative of the enormous volumes of correspondence received by the White House each day.  For this book, Washington Post reporter Eli Saslow tracks down and profiles ten American letter writers whose letters were personally read and answered by the President.  Each of them had very personal reasons to engage their President with their views on an issue that deeply concerned them.

This book could certainly be considered by many to have a political bias.  It certainly covers letters about politically charged topics, as well as a reaction and response representing President Obama's perspective.  To me, however, this book was much less about the positions taken by the letter writers and/or our President and more about the personal stories of each of the letter writers that led them to actually share their viewpoint with the highest ranking elected official in their government.  These stories provided some examples of national issues having direct and personal impact on the lives of everyday citizens.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

In Harm's Way - by Ridley Pearson

This is the fourth book in Ridley Pearson's Sun Valley, Idaho, Sheriff Walt Fleming series.

The story opens with Fiona Kenshaw's heroic rescue of a child trapped under a tree limb in a swift-moving river. Fiona is Walt's photographer that he has developed romantic interest in. She asks him to try to keep her picture out of the press, and when he fails to do so, she is upset about it, but won't explain why.

Kira Tulivich is a 21-year-old girl recovering from the pyschological trauma of a violent assault two years earlier. Fiona has taken her under her wing and the two of them are house-sitting for a wealthy couple. When someone start's raiding homes in the area and trying to make it look like the work of a bear, Walt sees the crime for what it is and determines that a prowler is on the loose in Fiona's and Kira's neighborhood.

A football team owner, Marty Boatwright, and a famous sports agent, Vince Wynn, both have homes in Sun Valley. Walt responds to a call where Vince was shooting his gun to scare away retired professional linebacker Martel Gale. Not long afterwards, the large and imposing Gale is found dead from a strike to his head, near the side of the highway. Seattle homicide detective Lou Boldt, from another of Pearson's series, is working the murder of Caroline Vetta, a woman with a history of dating sports figures. The trail on his case intersects with Sun Valley, and ultimately Walt's investigation.

Fleming is a divorced father of two girls and his best deputy lives with his ex-wife. The woman who helps him with his girls (a friend) confides in Walt about her suspicions that her pregnant teenage neighbor is being sexually abused by her father.

Walt has crimes to solve with personal and emotional implications. Their solution is not predictable. This story provides many interesting and sometimes even suspenseful twists and turns. Much of the plot, however, involves Walt wrestling with his feelings, emotions, and morals. This adds depth to his character but may be a little "sappy" for some. Personally, I liked the book a lot, but not enough to rave about it. Certainly enough to recommend it, however.