02 July 2010

So I've been reading from the popular collection ...

I went on a library kick a few weeks ago, and in the process read a number of the newest additions to our popular collection. They were all pretty fluffy (hey, it's summertime), but still a fun dip into what the collection has to offer.

She-Hulk, vol. 1: Single Green Female; She-Hulk, vol. 2: Superhuman Law by Dan Slott
Legal Elements: Mild-mannered attorney Jennifer Walters prefers her life as brassy She-Hulk, but when her increasingly raucous behavior gets her kicked out of the Avengers mansion and tossed from her high-powered firm job, her only option is to accept a new position: serving superhuman clients as Jennifer, not She-Hulk.

This is the first She-Hulk story I've read, but it was pretty obvious the legal aspects were incidental to most prior She-Hulk stories. Here, they're front and center. I most enjoyed the first volume, when the stories take place on Earth, in a normal courtroom. Spider-Man suing J. Jonah Jameson for libel? Yes, please. The second volume goes to outer space (and inter-galactic law), a fun idea that fizzled in execution.

Murder on Nob Hill by Shirley Tallman
Legal Elements: Sarah Woolson is one of the first female attorneys in the country, trying to be taken seriously in 1880 San Francisco. After some clever maneuvering gets her a place in a local firm, she sets out to defend a young widow accused of killing her rich, older husband.

A decent enough start to a new series, though the story is often lurid for what seems to be no other reason than to be lurid. And the constant "I am woman, hear me roar" litany got old.

Savor the Moment by Nora Roberts
Legal Elements: The hero is a lawyer. And he's nice to an older client in a brief scene, I think? I really couldn't be bothered to remember.

I'm not saying I was expecting this book to be all about the law, but I was at least hoping to, you know, root for the couple? Roberts put way more energy into the gal pal moments and the wedding planner bits than the rest, which made for a bland, forgettable read.

Solomon vs. Lord by Paul Levine
Legal Elements: Steve Solomon, a solo practice defense attorney, teams up with blue-blooded recent grad Victoria Lord to defend a young widow accused of killing her rich, older husband (waaaait....). Steve is also trying to gain custody of his young nephew.

I completely enjoyed this one. Light and breezy with good dialogue and local color. Levine, himself a former attorney, throws in all kinds of genuine Florida law (Fla. Stat. citations!) for an authentic feel. And the ending isn't your typical legal thriller ending, for which I give it extra points.

The Bront√ęs Went to Woolworths by Rachel Ferguson
Legal Elements: Three sisters and their mother create stories in which they know many famous (and real) people, including a High Court judge and his wife. When the eldest daughter actually meets the Toddingtons, no one is sure of how to reconcile the imagined with the actual.

I loved this book in places. I also wanted to throw it across the room in others. Then it would suddenly be charming again. It was often very difficult to know if what you were reading had actually happened or was part of an imagined history. And the family is disturbingly unsympathetic to those who do not buy into their fantasies. Hrm.

Why Shoot a Butler? by Georgette Heyer
Legal Elements: Frank Amberley, a barrister, comes upon a murder on an English country road and takes it upon himself to solve the crime (to say nothing of snarking on the attempts of the local police to do the same).

Wow, I finally found a Heyer book I really enjoyed. I keep trying to read her books (both the regencies and the mysteries) because everyone from my mother to Michael Dirda recommends them, but I'd yet to hit on one that really interested me. Mr. Amberley didn't really do any barrister-y things here, but he was excellent company along the way. Success!

So. You can see some definite themes to my recent selections: mysteries and feminism, oh my. Yet despite their similarities of theme, the books were each distinctly their own. Whoever started this popular collection is brilliant! Oh wait. Never mind.