Archive for Monday, April 13, 2009

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The Edge

April 13, 2009

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‘Long Lost’ (books)

Myron Bolitar, sports agent and accidental detective, has returned in what is perhaps Harlan Coben’s best-written and most suspenseful thriller yet. The story begins when Myron gets a call from Terese Collins, a long-lost love. “Come to Paris,” she says. She needs him, but she won’t say why.

Shortly after Myron arrives, Terese’s ex-husband turns up dead, and she is suspected of killing him. Then, for no apparent reason, several men try to abduct Myron from a sidewalk cafe; he trades bullets with them, much to the dismay of Captain Berland of the Paris police.

As Myron investigates the murder, the trail takes him from Paris and London to New York and Angola.

Myron and his dangerous sidekick, Win, who fans will remember from earlier books in the series, eventually discover that they are in over their heads. Before it’s over, they end up entangled with the Mossad, secret CIA prisons, frozen embryos, Homeland Security, torture, Arab terrorists, a 10-year-old drunken-driving fatality, Interpol and a threat to America that is as plausible as it is diabolical.

The action unfolds with the intensity of TV’s “24.” The prose is vivid and taut. The dialogue is laced with humor. And you’ll love the fight scenes. Nobody writes them better than Coben.

‘Tell No One’ (DVD)The last time Alexandre (Francois Cluzet) saw his wife (Marie-Josee Croze), she was walking away from an argument they had. The last time he heard her, she was screaming for his help. And for the eight years that followed, Alexandre mourned his dead wife while fighting the glares of authorities who don’t understand how he survived being knocked into the water, unconscious, by the supposed killer. Then — and this is the crazy part — his wife e-mails him. Maybe. “Tell No One” would be a better ride if you didn’t know that last part in advance.

But Music Box wants to sell some DVDs, so there it is, laid bare on the cover. Fortunately, it ultimately matters little. “TNO’s” first hour basically leads up to what the box told you first, but it does so with a compelling setting and characters interesting enough to make even the spoiled bits engrossing. Then, the second hour happens, and things just get good. The e-mail brings with it additional skeletons, with those skeletons bring complications even the box art can’t predict.

“TNO” takes the suspense thriller playbook and generally follows its blueprints, but the simple combination of that good first hour, a unique twist and the fallout that results is all the film needs to melt the minutes away. In French with English subtitles (decent English dub available).

‘Henry Hatsworth in the Puzzling Adventure’ (game)

At first sight and first play, “Henry Hatsworth in the Puzzling Adventure” is a game that dares you not to love it. It’s immensely pleasing on the eyes, and the storyline — fronted by the charming, monocle-clad title character whose life is in your hands — is adorably but sharply amusing.

Also, the Nintendo DS game’s premise — a “Mega Man”-style sidescroller on the top screen working in tandem with a “Tetris Attack” clone on the bottom — is uniquely, expertly executed. Enemies you topple and power-ups you find as Henry become blocks on the puzzle game below, and clearing those blocks away both prevents those enemies from returning and activates those power-ups. The two games influence each other in other clever ways, and you can switch between them at will with one button press.

If it sounds rather unwieldy, a little acclimation proves otherwise. Henry’s adventures use the DS’ buttons, while the puzzle portion works multiple ways but plays best with the stylus. Once you develop a system for keeping the stylus handy while focusing on the top screen, switching becomes second nature.

The game is rated E for everyone.

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