Tag Archives: douglas adams

Watch the Shows and Read the Books: Three Quirky Detective Series

22 Aug

Agatha Raisin, Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency, and Agatha Christie’s Criminal Games are three detective series which I had as much fun watching as I did reading.

Agatha Raisin
AgathaRaisin

I was curious to check out the Agatha Raisin series – since I am a fan of cozy mysteries – and I enjoyed several of M. C. Beaton’s novels, which the series is based on.  In the movie pilot The Quiche of Death, a London PR executive, Agatha Raisin, fulfills her lifelong dream of early retirement in a small village in the Cotswolds. When she enters the local quiche-baking competition in hopes of impressing her new neighbors she learns all is not as idyllic in the village as she expected. Raisin doesn’t so much solve crimes but rather comically stumbles into their solution. I recommend checking out the movie before the rest of the eight episode series since it sets up the relationship between the various characters.  You might also recognize star Ashley Jensen as the Scottish BFF/coworker, Christina, from Ugly Betty.  You can stream the first season on Hoopla which also offers audiobook versions of the novels.

Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency
DirkGently
Douglas Adams is best known as the author of the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy series which I had written about in a previous post, but his equally quirky Dirk Gently series about a holistic detective is also worth checking out. Serving as a follow up to the books, two seasons of the Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency have recently been created.  What makes Dirk a holistic detective is that he solves mysteries by following the interconnectedness of all things, so rather than seeking clues, he waits for the clues to come to him.  In both seasons the episodes start with confusing storylines that don’t seem in anyway cohesive, but by the end all is revealed and the mystery is solved.  I enjoyed the quirky way everything was wrapped up.  This is a good choice for those who like not only humor with their mystery, but also a bit of fantasy too.

Agatha Christie’s Criminal Games
AC_CriminalGames
Agatha Christie’s Criminal Games is a series of French Movies available to stream with subtitles from Hoopla or on DVD.  It takes classic Christie story plots and transports them to 1950’s France and inserts new crime solvers.  If you are a Christie fan who is open to new interpretations of her work than they are a treat.  I watched the adaption of Sparkling Cyanide (also published as Remembered Death) in which a movie star seems to have committed suicide but Inspector Laurence suspects murder.  He is reluctantly assisted by up and coming reporter Alice Avril and his always loyal secretary Marlène. There is a bit more humor infused in the movies than the original books which I enjoyed.  I also found it a lot of fun to see new faces solving old crimes.

Written By:
Aimee Harris
Head of Reference

Selections from the Hoboken Public Library’s Science Fiction and Fantasy Book Club

7 May

The Science Fiction and Fantasy Book Club meets monthly on third floor of the Hoboken Public Library.  Each meeting a different science fiction or fantasy book is discussed.  Many of the books we have picked so far have been considered classics of the genre.  Along with the selected works group members also often discuss other favorite books or recent reads.  The book selections are chosen by the group.  If you would like to be added to the mailing list to keep up to date about what is being read, email hplwriters@gmail.com.

The next book we will be reading will be the hilarious, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams on May 19 at 6 pm along with a bonus screening of an adaptation of the book on May 23 at 5:30 pm (call the library at 201-420-2347 for more details about the screening).  In June we will be reading Neil Gaiman’s American Gods.

Feed
by M.T. Anderson

feed
Though M.T. Anderson’s Feed is housed in our YA collection, adults also may find it interesting.  In the future people have computer feeds implanted in their heads.  This quick way to look things up means people’s education levels have declined.  Schools are sponsored by corporations and their main goal is to produce better consumers.  If you enjoyed the made-up slang from Anthony Burgess’s A Clockwork Orange, this book has an equally original language.  The group felt the book was heavily message driven and character development often takes a back seat to the advertising snippets.  The story centers around Titus, a typical teen who dreams of being more, and his love, Violet, a cynical teen whose feed becomes damaged.  Fans of dystopian fiction such as George Orwell’s 1984 and Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale may enjoy this work.

Stranger in a Strange Land
by Robert A. Heinlein

stranger-in-a-strange-land

This science fiction classic was inspired by Rudyard Kipling’s The Jungle Book and focuses on Valentine Michael Smith who was raised by Martians and then is brought back to earth as a young man.  This causes him to have a naive but insightful perspective on things like love, religion, and politics.  Most of the group read the expanded edition published after Heinlein’s death and found it may have been improved by some of the editing that was done in the original earlier edition to speed up the pacing, which occasionally gets bogged down in dialogue and description in this edition.  The group felt that its depiction of things like women’s roles and free love set it very firmly in the milieu of the 1960s even though the story is set in future.

I, Robot
by Isaac Asimov

i-robot

Despite the fact that the edition of I, Robot most of the group read featured a picture of Will Smith on the cover, the book shares very little with the 2004 movie adaptation.  The book is comprised of a series of short stories with several reoccurring characters, including Dr. Susan Calvin, a robopsychologist, who provides an overall narration of the events depicted.  The central focus of the stories is Asimov’s three laws or robotics which in a quick summation are that robots cannot harm humans, must follow human orders, and cannot destroy themselves or other robots.  Many of the stories show the difficulties that these laws may cause for example when a psychic robot lies in order to not “hurt” people’s feelings but causes more ill feelings instead or when a robot is stuck in a loop between following orders and doing something that will harm itself.  The group felt some of the stronger and more engaging stories in the book included “Robbie,” “Liar,” and “Escape!.”  And for fans of the Will Smith movie the story “Little Lost Robot” includes a few details also in the film.

The Last Unicorn
by Peter S. Beagle

last-unicorn

The Last Unicorn was the first fantasy work for the group.  The book is considered a classic and the group member who recommended it praised its subtle clever anachronistic humor and allegorical story.  You may remember The Last Unicorn from the cartoon adaptation released in the early 1980s.  The story centers around a unicorn who thinks she is the last of her kind and goes on a journey to find others of her species.  She gains several companions including Schmendrick, a wizard who for a time transforms the unicorn into human form.  It took me a bit to get involved in the work, but for me the ending was both symbolically moving and thought provoking.  This would be a wonderful book for parents to read along with their preteens and teens.

Hope you can join us in discussing The Hitchhiker’s Guide on May 19!

-Written by Aimee Harris, Head of Reference

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