The New Audiobook is Here

At last! Gary Crane and I have finally given birth to the audiobook version of Seal of Secrets. It’s been an enlightening and engaging experience, to say the least. I am so curious to see what happens next. Will people like it enough to buy it? Although I will be simply delighted to earn back my initial investment, I have to confess that I have my own personal “winning the lottery” scenario: that phone call or email that says, “Mr. Cook, we’re interested in optioning your property for a screenplay…” Oh, yeah! But I haven’t even been struck by lightning, so I’m not sure of the odds of that happening. I guess you can’t blame an old guy for dreaming!

 

Upcoming Audiobook

Those of you who follow me on Facebook have heard the news that Seal of Secrets is being made into an audiobook that will be available on Amazon, Audible, and iTunes by mid-to late June. It will be narrated by Gary Crane. Here’s his website. My cover designer, Roslyn McFarland, of Far Lands Publishing, (farlandspub@gmail.com) has taken Margaret S. Tsang’s original painting, “Yaquina Sunrise”) and made it into the cover for the new version. Yes, it takes a village to make a book!

 

Review: True Detective Season 3

I’ve just finished watching True Detective Season 3 a second time, and I enjoyed it every bit as much, if not a little more, than my first viewing. This 8-episode miniseries has a stellar cast: Mahershala Ali as Wayne Hays, State Police Detective and Vietnam War veteran; Stephen Dorff as his detective partner, Roland West; and Carmen Ejogo as Amelia Reardon, who becomes Hays’s wife during the story. The writing by Nic Pizzolatto is extraordinary—in fact, after I watched the show for the first time, I experienced the same pleasure I get when I’ve just finished reading a great novel.

Unlike so many cable productions, this one doesn’t underestimate the intelligence of its audience. Too often HBO, Netflix, and others resort to ultra-dark or ultra-raunchy material out of a misguided fear that viewers won’t be lured in otherwise. Enter TD3, a smart, literate drama that is wholly mesmerizing and would probably be rated as a hard PG-13. I couldn’t take my eyes from the screen for a single minute.

The story is a complex one, taking place in 1980, 1990, and 2015. It’s about the events surrounding a horrific crime–the murder of a little boy and the abduction of his sister (done off-screen—nothing graphic depicted). This crime is the defining moment for each character’s life. Marriage, friendships, careers—all revolve around a crime that refuses to be solved. Amelia writes a best-selling book about the case, jeopardizing her husband’s career in law enforcement. Later in his life, as Wayne begins to struggle with the initial stages of Alzheimer’s Disease, a television film crew invades his home, reopening old wounds and stirring up theories of conspiracy and cover-up. The narrative slips effortlessly back and forth between time periods, slowly weaving the threads of the story together. Plot twists and turns, false leads, and ambiguities abound.

If you haven’t caught up with this show  yet, you’re in for a wonderful surprise. The only greater surprise would be if it’s not nominated for an arm-long list of Emmy Awards.

Book Review: Jonathan Eaton’s Outlaws and Worse

Outlaws and Worse, Jonathan Eaton’s followup to A Good Man for an Outlaw, is everything we hope for in a sequel and much more. While continuing the story of Deputy Hayes, the pharmacist Fowler, and the outlaw Mathew Mulkey, it weaves a new tale with outrageous characters. It’s a story both droll and dark, told in chapters that deceptively head out into strange and unexpected territory, only to come gliding back to the main narrative like a flock of vultures circling in the Texas sky, awaiting the call to dinner.

Make no mistake–Eaton is serving us another helping of “Western noir,” dark as a cup of black coffee, but sweetened with a cream of Coenesque humor. The characters are deliciously weird, their personal stories, funny and shocking. The novel is well-edited and the writing is crisp and clear. My only quibble is that one minor character in a short chapter speaks in a phonetically-rendered dialect, which I found somewhat difficult. But no harm done. The book remains a solid five stars. I highly recommend it.

Book Sale

mybook.to/WomanintheWaves

mybook.to/CatchDay

mybook.to/SealSecrets

Big Sale this weekend, January 18th through January 20th. Get the Kindle version of all three Driftwood Mysteries for only $0.99 (a total savings of $9.98).  Use the links above.

Seal of Secrets – free. The novel where it all began. Meet Chloe and Kaitlynn, Charley

Whitehorse and Tony Esperanza. A story critics describe as “an outstanding mystery novel…relentless in its suspense.”

Catch of the Day – free. The collection of short stories that includes “Eye of Newt,” the second Driftwood Mystery. One critic says, “Never hesitate to buy these – the man is a master of short fiction.”

Woman in the Waves – $0.99. As one critic said, “I could not put it down, read through the night to finish it…I am a big mystery novel reader, and William Cook is my new favorite mystery novel writer.”

After you read these, you may think twice about your visits to the Oregon coast…

Movie Reviews: The Favourite and Vice

I hate the overly negative reviews I sometimes see on Rotten Tomatoes, in which the writer is only looking for an excuse to regale us with clever puns at the expense of the film. So it is with trepidation that I approach The Favourite, a movie which I wanted to enjoy and so thoroughly disliked. Perhaps my movie-going friend best summed it up as we left the theater: “I don’t mind if a film isn’t particularly entertaining, if it’s provocative. This film was neither.”

Can I say anything positive about it? The closest I can get is this: it’s a very well-acted, very bad movie. There. The problem with that is, you may decide to see it anyway to prove me wrong. (It can’t be that bad, can it? After all, Rotten Tomatoes gave it a whopping 94%. Olivia Colman just won the Golden Globe for her portrayal of Queen Anne. Cook must have been in a bad mood.) Oh, well.

The movie can be summed up in one sentence: two rivalrous women seek to gain the attention (and power) of the Queen of England by enticing her with flattery and sexual favors. There’s barely a nod to character development or plot. Although there is a chuckle or two along the way, it’s mostly grim going as these three unlikable women strategize against each other for two hours. Keep in mind, these are three consummate actresses at the top of their game, (Olivia Colman, Emma Stone, and Rachel Weisz), but this movie squanders their talents. And then the movie just stops–it doesn’t really end, the credits just start to roll. It was actually startling.

So see it if you must, but you have been warned. The money you pay for the ticket might better be put toward the co-pay of your next dental visit.

Now Vice is another thing altogether. It only got 62% on Rotten Tomatoes, but I thought it was a far better movie. Done by Adam McKay, the same writer and director who did The Big Short, it is a scathing satire on the rise and fall of Bush’s Vice President, Dick Cheney. While it may not be quite so funny as its predecessor, there are still many chuckles to be had, not only at the expense of Cheney, but also at the expense of George W. and Donald Rumsfeld, brilliantly played by Sam Rockwell and Steve Carell, respectively. Of course, the transformation undergone by Christian Bale to play the part is nothing short of extraordinary. Between his gaining 40 lbs. and the work of stellar makeup artists, it’s quite uncanny. But beware: if you are at all of the conservative or Republican persuasion, you may be very offended by this politically incorrect, savage film.

For me, three scenes alone made it worth the price of admission: the restaurant sequence as the waiter reads from the menu, the bedroom scene when Cheney and his wife (played by Amy Adams) lapse into Shakespearean dialogue, and the roll of the credits. I’ll say no more so as not to spoil it.

I’ve overheard some liberal friends say, only half-facetiously, that they yearn for the simpler days of the Bush Presidency. This movie is the antidote to that sentiment.

Movie Review: Mary Poppins Returns

Personally, I think it’s time we recognize Emily Blunt as a national treasure. To go from portraying the pregnant heroine in the scariest monster movie ever, to becoming Mary Poppins in the same year, is no mean feat. And who knew she could sing like that! I confess, I had strong misgivings when I heard Disney was doing a sequel to one of my favorite movies. It sounded sacrilegious.  I anticipated a disaster.

Not so. The movie is a wonder, and to say I was pleasantly surprised is an understatement. I was transported. Yes, it is a reverent homage to the original Julie Andrews/Dick Van Dyke vehicle, but it is also a great film in its own right. From the impressionistic credits at the beginning, to its heartfelt conclusion, I was enthralled. Truth be told, watching Mary come back down to earth with her umbrella held just so made me choke back a tear.

From cannons to kites, I enjoyed seeing the parallelisms between the two films. In the original, Ed Wynn plays Uncle Albert, whose infectious laughter makes the children float to the ceiling. In the new film, the children are introduced to Cousin Topsy (Meryl Streep), whose house turns upside down every second Wednesday–and yes, the children wind up on the ceiling. In MP, the cast jumps into a chalk drawing done by Bert, the chimney sweep, (Dick Van Dyke) and have an animated adventure. In MPR, they leap/fall into the illustration on an antique vase to mingle with animated characters. The first film has a marvelous sequence with Bert and his gang doing an elaborate choreography number. The sequel has Jack, the lamp lighter, (Lin-Manuel Miranda) with his own crew doing their dance. MP concludes with flying a kite and MPR flies balloons. The one sequence without parallel in the original is the bathtub scene, and it is a delight to behold.

Mary Poppins Returns is a feast for the eyes and the ears, worth every penny of the price of admission to the big screen. The sights are eye-popping, the songs are superb. It is aimed at the child in all of us, in the best possible meaning of that term. (My ten-year-old granddaughter gave it two enthusiastic thumbs up.) I intend to see it many more times.

Mary Poppins Returns is as magical as movies get.