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Mystery, vampires, and movies

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This week at Gilpin Library

by Larry Grieco

Pulitzer Prize winner John Sandford is back with his twenty-third “Prey” novel. This one is called Silken Prey, and features, as usual, Minnesota investigator Lucas Davenport. The governor calls Lucas in to set him on a case involving a conservative Republican politician who is embroiled in child pornography charges, which could be trumped up for political gains. In the midst of his investigation another politico goes missing, and suddenly we’re on the road to murder, scandal, espionage, and “an extremely dangerous woman.” Reading Sandford is a lot like riding a roller coaster, with twists and turns, and at some point something resembling freefall. Stephen King writes: “If you haven’t read Sandford yet, you have been missing one of the great summer-read novelists of all time.”

Does the name Sookie Stackhouse mean anything to you? If so, you’ve either been watching the HBO series, TrueBlood, or reading the series in print by Charlaine Harris, or maybe both. Harris is ending her series of books with Dead Ever After, the thirteenth installment of Sookie’s adventures with vampires, werewolves, shape shifters, fairies, and assorted other (mostly) malevolent beings. Bon Temps is a town like no other, and likewise Merlotte’s Bar & Grill is singular in its atmosphere and the surrounding aura. Ex-barmaid Arlene wants her job back, but Sookie hasn’t forgiven Arlene for trying to have Sookie killed, so it’s no on the re-hiring. Eric Northman and his slew of vampires have been oddly missing as well. When Arlene turns up murdered, and Sookie is arrested and charged with the crime, it takes her circle of friends, both living and undead, to bail her out. Now she must find out who killed Arlene in order to clear herself of the murder charge. This will be the last novel in this long series, and it contains all of the “sensuality, violence, and humor” of its predecessors. If this is your literary cup of tea, then brew it up. The Sookie Stackhouse novels are among the most innocent “guilty pleasures” you can indulge in.

We’ve just added two outstanding contemporary movies. The first is the exciting musical adaptation of Les Miserables, starring Hugh Jackman, Russell Crowe, Anne Hathaway, and Amanda Seyfried. This film garnered eight Academy Award nominations, including Best Picture. Set in 19th-century France, it is the classic tale of ex-prisoner Jean Valjean, who is hunted for decades by policeman Javert, after breaking parole. Enter factory worker Fantine and her young daughter, and the story plays out in breathtaking song and dance numbers. The New York Post called it “the best film of the year.”

The other new film is Django Unchained, written and directed by Quentin Tarantino. This one sports Jamie Foxx in the title role, and Leonardo DiCaprio, Kerry Washington, and Samuel L. Jackson in supporting roles. Django, to win his freedom from slavery in the old south, is forced to team up with bounty hunter Dr. King Schultz. Together they go after the South’s most wanted criminals. Django longs to find his wife, who he lost to the slave trade long ago. And all roads seem to lead to Calvin Candie (DiCaprio), the “infamous and brutal proprietor of a plantation called Candyland.” Renowned filmmaker Spike Lee strongly objected to this movie on the grounds that “the history of slavery in America is not a spaghetti western.” But in the eccentric and capable hands of Tarantino, yes it is indeed. Bigger issues aside, if you are simply a fan of Tarantino, you will be anxious to see his latest masterpiece.

Time is running out for coming in to see the photo exhibit on the library’s Art Wall. John and Julie Black’s superb photography will be on display until the end of May. Later this summer, you may want to check out the workshops on digital photography offered by the Blacks, as co-artists-in-residence in June, July, and August. Watch this newspaper, or stop by the library, for schedules and topics.

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