Professor Van Dusen, also known as the Great Thinking Machine, unravels puzzles that would stump a lesser man.
The “Problem of Cell 13” is rather famous as an ingenious locked room mystery. The Professor is challenged by two colleagues to escape from a real prison cell within a week.
The other eleven stories in the Great Thinking Machine are rather a mixed bag. Perhaps more of interest to a historian or doctoral candidate than a modern mystery reader. However, the “Problem of Cell 13” is alone worth the price of the book to locked room mystery fans. 3 stars.
Thanks to Dover Publications and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for an honest review.
Posted in Mystery & Thrillers Tagged with: Dec 18 2018, short stories
If there is a strange medical tale, it is recorded in the Mystery of the Exploding Teeth.
With section titles like Unfortunate Predicaments, Mysterious Illnesses, and Horrifying Operations, how could this book be anything but a rollicking ride through the pages of bad choices. In Unfortunate Predicaments, we meet young men who did many ill-conceived things to their nether regions. We also meet a man who ate four knives on a dare and didn’t go to a doctor when only three came out his other end. A lifetime of doing this trick eventually killed him. In Mysterious Illnesses, a woman makes herself a human pin cushion and a boy vomits up his own twin. Horrifying Operations makes the reader impressed by the fortitude of his or her forebears. Before anesthesia, a man held up a candle for the surgeon while his other arm was being amputated at the shoulder. Another used a knitting needle and a tiny file three times daily for weeks to break up his bladder stone.
Okay, you either like weird stuff like this or you don’t. As someone who used to gobble Ripley’s Believe It or Not books in my youth, I love it. If you do too, you’re in for a treat with the Mystery of the Exploding Teeth. 4 stars!
Thanks to Dutton Books and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for an honest review.
Posted in Non-fiction Tagged with: Dec 18 2018, Medical mistakes
Turned On: Science, Sex and Robots is literally about all three of those things but not necessarily all at one time.
The book begins with a look back at early sex toys. The most hard to forget is the sailor’s lady made of leather and fabric and shared around the ship, ahead of the Fleshlight by hundreds of years. It continues by covering automata, mechanical robots programmed to appear spontaneous. Eventually, it arrives at sex dolls, some of which can do robot appearing tricks but are closer to automata. The author explains the difficulty in even defining what a sex robot is. Does it have to appear human? Have at least some artificial intelligence?
I like books about new technology, which is why I decided to read this book. However, I learned more about the current status of sex robots on a one-hour premium cable after hours show. As the author states in the epilogue, it is difficult or impossible to write about a technology that is changing so quickly.
However, that is not to say this book doesn’t have some valuable information and insights. Who knew there are many sex doll brothels around the world? Sometime in 2018, the first “sex robot” brothel will open in Moscow. There are many ethical issues with the idea of sex robots. Should child-sized ones be banned? The UK has already banned childlike sex dolls. What would be the impact on women? Would it encourage objectification, or worse, rape? Would robot use in porn and prostitution result in less sex trafficking and exploitation?
Turned On: Science, Sex and Robots is very explicit and so is not recommended to sensitive readers. However, it is thought-provoking. 3.5 stars!
Thanks to Bloomsbury Sigma and NetGalley for an advance copy in exchange for an honest review.
Posted in Non-fiction Tagged with: Dec 18 2018, Robot, sex
Two Lucy Stone novels, Valentine Murder #5 originally published in 1998 and Chocolate Covered Murder #18 originally published in 2012, are combined in Valentine Candy Murder.
Two weeks before Valentine’s Day, Lucy is attending her first library board meeting. When she goes to the basement looking for Bitsy, the librarian, she finds her shot dead. The police suspect the board members and Lucy investigates to remove her own name from suspicion in Valentine Murder.
Nine years later in Chocolate Covered Murder, Lucy is once again thrust into a murder investigation. Max is found drowned in an iced over lake surrounded by fishing line. He has a head bruise but the coroner rules it an accident. Lucy disagrees and investigates.
Valentine Murder seems incredibly dated now. It spends a lot of time talking about a newfangled contraption called a computer. The book never mentions a time frame but I would assume early 1990s. The second book is set so much later that her pre-school age daughter in the first book in now in eighth grade. I think it would have better to add an introduction to each of the books to set the stage. However, both cozy mysteries are well worth the reader’s time. 4 stars!
Thanks to Kensington Books and NetGalley for an advance copy in exchange for an honest review.
Posted in Mystery & Thrillers Tagged with: cozy mystery, Dec 18 2018, Valentine
The Flash Vol 8: Flash War describes the human feelings driving some of the Flash Family to despair.
The holiday season is when you get together with your family and remember those who were taken too soon. The Flash Family is no different. Wally has the holiday blues and is missing his family especially his twin children, Jai and Irey. Hunter Zolomon, aka Zoom, exploits Wally’s feeling to his own ends. Like most, or at least my, family gatherings, the relatives begin to squabble. However, if you’re a superhero, that leads to a Flash War.
There isn’t much action in The Flash Vol 8: Flash War. It is solely about feelings and emotions. While I like the change of pace, I missed an obvious villain like Gorilla Grodd. However, the art is as bright and clear as always. This volume does set up some interesting things for the next volume, Heroes in Crisis. 4 stars!
Thanks to DC Comics and NetGalley for an advance copy in exchange for an honest review.
Posted in Graphic Novel Tagged with: Dec 18 2018, Flash