Review of “Death of Stalin”

This was a truly strange but very innovative and unusual movie.

It was marketed as a comedy, and succeeded at generating a good number of laughs. It is a strange feeling to find yourself laughing at mass murder and the sheer terror of the Stalin and post-Stalin eras in Russia. It was not really a very funny time in Russia. This movie was set after Stalin died and  Stalin’s close associates jockeying for power and even survival. Most of Stalin’s underlings are not particularly lovable characters, especially my favorite in the movie, Beria. We know the final outcome, but the maneuvering among an assortment of characters demonstrating varying levels of villainy, cowardice, and incompetency is actually a lot of fun to watch.

I enjoyed the movie, but was left with a very disconcerting feeling about laughing at murder, terror, imprisonment, and even child rape. There were times when I felt very ashamed to have laughed at this at all.

My hat goes off to those who produced this extremely innovative and thought-provoking movie. The sick feeling I had as I walked back to retrieve my car was due to the fact that the events depicted in this movie were probably all too real, and this darned movie actually made me laugh at them.


Review of “In Plain Sight” by C.J. Box

Box’s main protagonist, Joe Pickett, a game warden in a small rural town in Wyoming. He is in the middle of a feud between two brothers who own a ranch in the town and are important local political players. Their mother has disappeared without explanation. At the same time, a relative of someone Joe has killed, is coming to avenge his death. Pickett’s daughters become kidnapped, and Pickett is involved in their rescue.

I enjoyed this book. Box is a very good writer and tells a well-paced story. He excels at maintaining suspense. Box is superb with his setting, rural Wyoming. His characters are well-drawn, and his story moves along at a quick pace. His main character is a good man, but has a bit of an attitude and a tendency to “go Western” on his enemies.

I found the protagonist likable, but I didn’t quite understand him.  The antagonist comes to avenge something done in an earlier novel. If I had read his earlier books, this would not have been too much of a problem, but I felt I did not know the characters as well as I should. I also did not like his cliff-hanger ending. I felt it ended abruptly. The reader has to wait for the next novel to read the denouement. I didn’t like that marketing ploy, but I can’t argue with Box’s commercial success. He knows how to do it!

This was probably not a good book to begin reading his Joe Pickett series, at least not for me. There was a lot of relevant backstory about the main character and one of his friends who came to Joe’s aid.  I felt the details revealed about this character were insufficient for me to understand his motivation for helping Joe Pickett. I have a feeling that if I had read some of Box’s earlier novels in his Joe Pickett series I would have understood this character a little better.

I borrowed this book from the Delaware County Library System’s electronic lending collection and read it on my Kindle.