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THE BATTLE OF ARGINUSAE :
VICTORY AT SEA AND ITS TRAGIC AFTERMATH IN THE FINAL YEARS OF THE PELOPONNESIAN WAR
By Debra Hamel


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KILLING ERATOSTHENES:
A TRUE CRIME STORY
FROM ANCIENT ATHENS
By Debra Hamel


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READING HERODOTUS:
A GUIDED TOUR THROUGH THE WILD BOARS, DANCING SUITORS, AND CRAZY TYRANTS OF THE HISTORY
By Debra Hamel


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THE MUTILATION OF THE HERMS:
UNPACKING AN ANCIENT MYSTERY
By Debra Hamel


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TRYING NEAIRA:
THE TRUE STORY OF A COURTESAN'S SCANDALOUS LIFE IN ANCIENT GREECE
By Debra Hamel


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PRISONERS OF THE PELOPONNESIAN WAR
By Debra Hamel


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SOCRATES AT WAR:
THE MILITARY HEROICS OF AN ICONIC INTELLECTUAL
By Debra Hamel


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ANCIENT GREEKS IN DRAG:
THE LIBERATION OF THEBES AND OTHER ACTS OF HEROIC TRANSVESTISM
By Debra Hamel


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IT WAS A DARK AND STORMY TWEET:
FIVE HUNDRED 1ST LINES IN 140 CHARACTERS OR LESS
By Debra Hamel


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I've decided to stop accepting review copies. The downside of getting buried in free books is that reading increasingly becomes an obligatory act. After some seven years of blogging books, it's time for me to return to the simple pleasure of reading only the books I want to read, when I want to read them.



  
From a random review:

  

« Rehak, Melanie: Girl Sleuth: Nancy Drew and the Women Who Created Her | Main | Book-blog's best reads of 2006 »

Kellerman, Jesse: Trouble

  

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Putnam © 2007, 320 pages [amazon]
3.5 stars

Third-year medical student Jonah Stem, finally escaped from the hospital after some 18 hours on the floor, forgoes going home to sleep in order to buy himself a new pair of shoes. Three A.M. finds him squishing wetly through Times Square on his quest, his sodden Rockport Walkers irretrievably soiled by spillage from a patient's burst peritoneum. And so it is that he finds himself in the right place to hear a young woman screaming. He bursts on the scene to save her from a knife-wielding attacker, surprising himself, surprising her even more.

Three A.M. finds him squishing wetly through Times Square on his quest, his sodden Rockport Walkers irretrievably soiled by spillage from a patient's burst peritoneum.Jonah is a good guy suffering under considerable stress at the outset of Jesse Kellerman's Trouble. The demands of med school--sleep deprivation, malevolent residents poised to humiliate him--are coupled with the obligation he feels toward his former fiancée, now chronically ill. Saving the life of a pretty woman in the middle of the night, it turns out, makes things much, much worse for him.

The storyline of Kellerman's book is a good one: what happens when a good Samaritan finds that the damsel in distress for whom he acted as hero isn't quite what she seemed? And Kellerman does a decent job of making us worry about Jonah as the danger into which he's stumbled slowly manifests itself. His story leads inexorably toward a denouement which, if predictable (Kellerman would in fact have been remiss if he hadn't brought his characters together as he did for a final showdown), is yet satisfyingly tense. Also, his principal characters are interesting: Jonah himself is likeable and more than two-dimensional; Eve Gones--the would-be victim--and Jonah's roommate are both defined by their unusual dialogue; and George, the father of Jonah's former fiancée, is an interesting, multi-dimensional character, despite that he only plays a small role in the story.

There are a couple of problems with the book, however: a Yale connection doesn't fulfill its promise, and the occasional scene doesn't quite make sense. (Why did Jonah punch his roommate in the stomach?) But the big problem is one of credibility. Two pivotal scenes--in chapters 14 and 25--are so ridiculous that one simply cannot suspend disbelief. Which is disappointing, because Kellerman's Trouble has a lot going for it.

Review summary: Third-year medical student Jonah Stem finds himself playing good Samaritan in the middle of the night near New York's Times Square: he hears a woman screaming and winds up saving her from a knife-wielding attacker. Jonah is a good guy suffering under considerable stress at the book's outset: the demands of med school are coupled with the obligation he feels toward his former fiancée, now chronically ill. But saving the life of a pretty woman in the middle of the night, it turns out, makes things much, much worse for him. Kellerman does a decent job of making us worry about Jonah as the danger into which he's stumbled slowly manifests itself. But the book has a big problem with credibility. Two pivotal scenes--in chapters 14 and 25--are so ridiculous that one simply cannot suspend disbelief. Which is disappointing, because Kellerman's Trouble has a lot going for it.

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Comments

1.

I received 2 copies of this one. Hated it. In fact, I tried two or three times and couldn't make it past the first few chapters. The medical stuff seemed contrived, awkward, and more distracting than anything else. Maybe I should have tried harder, but my gut reaction was antagonism.

2.

The medical stuff wasn't a problem for me, but maybe you have more familiarity with that than I. I think his wife may be a doctor--if I remember right from the acknowledgments--and so the likely source of details. I was just bothered by those incredible scenes I mentioned. I can actually seeing it make a decent movie, assuming the credibility problems are dealt with.

3.

I finally finished it!

I thought it was really quite good. I liked the story & the characters a lot. And I most emphatically agree with you about the scenes in chapters 14 & 25. I'm glad I wasn't alone on that.

All in all, I'd say it did a pretty decent job of holding my interest and keeping me in suspense, but for the record, it's no Hitchcock;-)

4.

No, no Hitchcock. But it's amazing to me that those scenes were allowed to stay in. Because the book really does have some good points, for one thing; and because the author is surrounded by people who know how to write, not least of which are his editors. Couldn't anyone else have noticed that those scenes were completely ludicrous?

5.

Yes, you would think someone would have noticed.

Other than that, I enjoyed reading it. Thanks again!




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About the blogger: Debra is the mother of two preternaturally attractive girls and the author of a number of books about ancient Greece, including Trying Neaira: The True Story of a Courtesan's Scandalous Life in Ancient Greece. She writes and blogs from her subterranean lair in North Haven, CT. Read more.

  
  
  
  
  
  
  
  






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Book-blog.com by Debra Hamel is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution - Noncommercial - No Derivative Works 3.0 License.