Sunday, May 30, 2010

Two Quick Book Reviews

I'm not sure if I've ever read Jeffery Deaver before, so officially, let's count "The Burning Wire" as my introduction to the author. I wasn't blown away, especially by a silly comic book plot masked by a ton of research material, but it was enjoyable for a summer beach read.

Frankly, a large problem I had with the book was the main character of Lincoln Rhyme. I know he's a genius, I know he's a quadriplegic, I know he's beloved by readers. I also know the guy seems like an insufferable ass, and just about every scene where he held center stage was one I regretted. I don't think I'll return to this series.

Still, to be fair, it was a good read and I won't let my personality clash with the lead character influence my rating: B.

Columbine by Dave Cullen is the non-fiction account of the horrific school shooting in April 1999. The book dispels many of the media-driven myths that arose from the carnage (the idea that they were unpopular, bullied outcasts for one) and devotes much of the text to trying to understand the minds of the killers.

I thought this was a great book, start to finish. If there is one flaw it's a misplaced empathy for the second killer (D.K.)*. Yes, he was a depressive and overly sensitive. Yes, he was a follower and easily influenced. He was certainly not the mastermind of the attack. Cullen, like so many others, seems to think that buys him a small shred of sympathy. To me, the opposite is true; unlike E.H, who seemed programmed to kill, D.K. chose his own path.

At any point he could have stopped the attack, simply by speaking out. He could have told E.H. 'no', he could have . . . he could have done everything differently. He didn't. He made a conscious decision to join the plan, unburdened by the madness that was boiling in E.H's head. For me, he may be more liable, morally, than his partner.


* I've always said that tossing the names of killers around gives them the immortality they so often seek. Screw that; the initials will do here.


Bucko (a.k.a., Ken) said...

I like Deaver, his books are a great escape, easy to get into, but not a hard read.

Dave Cullen said...

Thanks for the really kind review of my book, slapinions.

There's lots more info at my Columbine site.

I just created a Students Page, and a Discussion Board. For book clubs, I'm going to offer to skype in for 20-30 minutes this summer.


Bridgett said...

I've read a Deaver book before too...and like you, wasn't overly impressed.

I think I might pick up Columbine at the library. Sounds interesting.

And how cool is it that Dave Cullen left you a comment? Awesome!

Dave Cullen said...

Thanks, Bridgett. I hope you like it.

I've been amazed to discover how vital libraries still are. I'd bought into the idea that they were a dying breed, until I published a book and started hearing from all the people who found it there. I'm all for that.

BTW, I just shot my first video for youtube last night. I'm very unsure about it--I blab too much, and damn, the camera is unforgiving--but hopefully I'll learn over time. I'd love to hear any feedback.

Slapinions said...

Dave -

Thanks for stopping by and leaving your comments. Your book deserved a full write-up, and not the few paragraphs I gave it in this last minute post. It was excellent.

I visited your Columbine site while reading the book, but I'll head over and take a look at the discussion boards.

BTW, while I understand you may not have time to address it here, I hold to my belief that writers/commentators are too willing to paint EH as the devil and DK as a tragic figure that fell from grace under his influence. He's certainly the more sympathetic of the two, but I think most accounts give him too much credit - perhaps (in part) because his parents are more public in their sorrow/reget?

Thanks again


Slapinions said...

Bridgett -

Did you see my post about 'your' Alten book? It's available to pre-order on

The Lam said...

I'm gonna check out that Columbine book. Piqued my interest! Good short review!

Dave Cullen said...

Your welks, Dan.

I don't know about the devil incarnate, but I think there are various reasons for why, over time, Eric was painted as the mastermind. Their friends saw him as the dominant one, but the two journals really illustrate what was going on in their heads, and it was clearly Eric's plan. Dylan was planning to kill himself, and not even go through with it.

From the various charts and schedules and so forth, we can also see that Eric seemed to be doing the vast amount of the planning, paying, and building.

I don't think it had anything to do with the parents' responses. That's just where the evidence leads.

Dave Cullen said...

BTW, I came back and saw your comment after The Lam cited your review: