The Scarecrow

imageAs soon as I’m done writing this post, I’m going to change all of the passwords in my life, take down my blog, get off of LinkedIn, and remove my faculty Insite page. The methodical cool with which the Scarecrow drills through his victim’s lives to discover the keys to their electronic existence is better than any scared straight intervention you may have seen. Now I just have to figure out a way to remember x35LJss3011zTU09…and oh yeah, never visit any web site that you find on Google.

In Connelly’s latest The Scarecrow, he brings back the unlikely team of reporter Jack McEvoy and FBI Agent Rachel Walling whom we last looked in on in The Poet. At the end of days at the dying LA Times, Jack decides to write one last front page story before his furlough. As he begins to assemble his notes, Jack finds the murder of a dancer being pinned on a banger from the projects is not all it seems. As it would for all of us, the research begins at the keyboard where the evil lies in wait.

The trail leads into the deserts of Nevada and Arizona and into the unseen world of the hardened data center. The denizens of the server farm are frightening in new way as you sit back to think about the digital trail you left this morning. Did you actually think that the things you were looking at and reading were secret? Do you look for the lock icon when you start to type in your credit card number? Do you really trust it? Piecing together the clues left all over like a messy desk, the criminal minds here are able to shut down an entire life. In Jack’s case, as he begins to nose around where he shouldn’t he finds his credit cards canceled, his phone turned off, and his bank account drained.

Here’s where the trouble starts with this book. Connelly lets McEvoy deal with these things far too casually. Where most of us would be apoplectic if any one these three events struck us, Jack just motors on as if they were a minor inconvenience and, the way his new cards appear the next day, they seemed to be. While the story and plot are good, too many things in this tale are convenient or just too simple. I won’t even touch on the knife fighting skills of the reporter when up against a remorseless, psychopathic murderer.

 

Connelly never disappoints in his story telling and The Scarecrow is the perfect summer read. The tease of Walling and McEvoy Investigations Inc. holds a lot of promise. Something to think about while we wait for Harry Bosch to reappear in the Fall.

Last Train to Clueville – The Failure of the Newspaper

imageOnce again I return in the darkness of the early morning in tow behind the dogs and reach down to pick up the newspaper on the driveway. When I lift the blue plastic bag and feel the lack of heft, I immediately begin to scan the ground for the rest of the paper. Nothing around so I slide the plastic back to reveal…what a pitiful end the Rocky Mountain News has come to. A daily newspaper in a major American city is reduced to 32 pages, front to back. What are they going to do when the Broncos find a coach and they can’t devote ten pages each day to that story?

The saga of the News is being played out across the country as once important journals fade away in an environment of the Interwebs and 24/7 cable channels on the television. By the time I get to the newspaper, I’ve already been brought up to speed on the computer and may have listened to a little radio as well. What are they going to offer me any more?

The newspaper/journalism used to be different. I could turn page after page and find depth to a story. Now, I’m bombarded by opinion pieces that pretend to be news stories. When the Rocky Mountain News was put up for sale, the staff went into full salvation mode appearing on local talk radio. What astonished me (or didn’t, I suppose, which made it worse) was their utter state of denial of these men and women as to the decrepit state of journalism. They loudly proclaimed their lack of bias and the fairness of their reporting when just the opposite is on display in each morning’s dwindling pages. The ‘journalists’ patted one another on the back for their stories and series and denied every attempt to point out their lack of objectivity. Some went so far as to attempt to blame a lack of sophistication in the readers for the state of news reporting.

Isn’t the first step in AA admitting you have a problem?

I’ll be saddened the day the RMN shuts down because the alternative, the Denver Post, is much, much worse. Do Wuzzles come in book form?