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Archive for Monday, November 2, 2009

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The Edge

November 2, 2009

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‘9 Dragons’ (Books)

The epigram on the matchbook says, “Happy is the man who finds refuge in himself.”

Harry Bosch has been carrying it for 12 years, since he picked it up during a robbery investigation at John Li’s liquor store in South Los Angeles (“Angels Flight”).

Now, as Bosch stands over Li’s body at the beginning of “9 Dragons,” the matchbook is still in his jacket pocket. The detective has never been anything close to happy, but he has found a measure of comfort in the idea that his only refuge lies within.

“All his life,” Michael Connelly writes, “Harry Bosch believed he had a mission. And to carry out that mission he needed to be bulletproof. He needed to build himself and his life so that he was invulnerable, so that nothing and no one could ever get to him.”

Bosch had ventured out of his protective shell just once, marrying a former FBI agent named Eleanor Wish. But it didn’t last long. Later, in “Lost Light,” Bosch learned the union had produced a daughter, but Eleanor kept the child from him and the dangerous life he led, whisking her off to a new life in Hong Kong.

So Bosch remained a tortured loner — until now. In “9 Dragons,” the 15th book in this remarkably fine series of crime novels, the child comes back into his life, giving him all the unfamiliar concerns — and vulnerabilities — of a family man

‘Dracula: The Un-Dead’ (Books)

Long before Edward Cullen of the “Twilight” series and Bill Compton of HBO’s “True Blood,” there was the original vampire, Bram Stoker’s Prince Dracula, in the gothic horror novel “Dracula.”

Now, more than 100 years later, Dacre Stoker, the great-grandnephew of the famed Irish novelist, and Ian Holt, have written a sequel, “Dracula: The Un-Dead.”

The sequel begins in 1912, 24 years later, and it revisits original characters Mina and Jonathan Harker, Dr. Jack Seward, Arthur Holmwood and famed vampire hunter Dr. Abraham Van Helsing.

The Harkers’ marriage has been strained since Mina was seduced by the Dark Prince. Her youthful appearance and insatiable sexual appetite — conditions of the blood exchange — serve as a constant reminder of her betrayal. Concern mounts for the Harkers’ son, Quincey, as he pursues a career in the theater against his father’s wishes. He is mentored by a mysterious Romanian actor.

Seward, now a morphine addict, and Holmwood, who is stranded in a marriage of convenience, still pine for their lost love, Lucy Westenra.

Actual events and historical figures are woven into this work of fiction, which puts a new spin on ack the Ripper and incorporates Elizabeth Bathory, the 16th-century Hungarian countess accused of killing hundreds of women. It was said that Bathory bathed in the blood of virgins to retain her youth.

The Swell Season (Music)

Boy loses girl, boy meets new girl, boy and girl make lovely, love and pain-filled music.

That’s essentially the gist of “Once,” the Grammy and Oscar-winning 2007 movie that snagged audiences with its soundtrack featuring the film’s stars, Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova.

Irish singer-songwriter Hansard, frontman of the Frames, and Czech singer-pianist Irglova not only fell in love in real life but formed a band, the Swell Season.

Then the couple broke up. But that didn’t end their musical relationship.

The group’s new album, “Strict Joy,” while not as immediately ear-grabbing as the “Once” soundtrack, troves that sensitive, post break-up territory with beautiful, mostly subtle tunes in hushed acoustic tones. Recording started in August 2008, just after the split.

Produced by Peter Katis (Interpol), the album showcases Hansard’s impassioned voice and lyrics on numbers such as the soulful single “Low Rising,” layered with harmonies from Irglova.

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