Soul Circus, By George P Pelecanos

soul.jpgMost people know how much I love HBO’s The Wire (watch it, love it, then watch it again), and Pelecanos wrote a few episodes for the show. I’ve never thought I would like hard-boiled crime fiction, but his stuff is fantastic. You find empathy for the characters, even the street-level bangers who are in a situation they just don’t know how to get out of (another theme of “The Wire”). His main character, private investigator Derek Strange, is a terrific, complicated character to build a series around. The themes of one book are similar to the next, but the characters are so well-written, and the urban setting is so descriptive and well-established, you feel like he’s writing pure poetry of the streets. I can’t wait to read more of his novels.

4 out of 4 Stars

Reviewed By: Erin Payton, Library Services

Lost Cosmonaut, By Daniel Kalder

lost-cosmo.jpgDaniel Kalder, a young travel author, takes comfort in the dilapidated state of the countries and republics that he visits throughout Lost Cosmonaut. He can be a bit abrasive, but it makes for interesting reading! For every time he offended my delicate sensibilities (not really, though) he also taught me something new about places I had never even heard of before picking up this book.

One thing I learned: The president of Kalmykia is the youngest president of a free republic in the world, he’s 30 years old. He spends a third of their national budget on their soccer team and posts billboards featuring pictures from his many photo-ops with international leaders and celebrities. Lucky for us, Kalder includes pictures of said billboards to prove it. Alongside his discussion of the current situation, Kalder also lays out the distant history of each country to give some perspective as to how it got that way.

Again, he has a penchant for making fun of the places he visits, but also takes the time to research them and bring to light how they got that way. I respect that and am glad he took the time to be a tourist in such unpopular places. I’d say this book is a keeper.

4 out of 4 Stars

Reviewed By: Steve Osler, Library Services