Olsson's Book Bits

by Greta Olsson

But I Trusted You and Other True Cases
Ann Rule's Crime Files; Vol. 14
Paperback 428 Pages
Copyright 2OO9
ISBN: 978-1-4165-4223-O

This book is dedicated to Ann Rule's grandfather, Chris Hansen, a sheriff whom, many years ago, Robert Ripley mentioned in "Believe It or Not" because Chris never had to fire his gun during his long career as a lawman. "The Hansen descendants are spread all over America now, and most of us chose to be police officers, lawyers, social workers, prosecutors, parole and probation officers, teachers, or writers. We all owe a lot to our grandfather, a Danish immigrant who settled in Michigan." Ann chose one of her best books in which to honor him.

The memorable stories are unusual. The first, the same title as the collection, is about Chuck Leonard, a popular middle-school counselor "who helped scores of children through their tough teenage problems. He had a wide circle of friends and many women were attracted to him." He fell in love and married Teresa Gaethe, who told lies and was not what she seemed to be. The first hint of a problem was her demand that they have body guards at their wedding reception. Teresa was not too friendly with any female in the party, and actually had the guards remove one of Chuck's former girlfriends. "You've made a mistake," one relative pointed out to him. "I know," he admitted rather cast down. Matters got far worse.

Another story is Death in Paradise; The Haunting Voyage of the Spellbound, about an upper middle class couple who devoted their time, money, and lives to sailing, finally building a large ship which eventually was worth $2OO,OOO. Gary Edwards joined his father, stepmother, half sister, and a friend on a dream trip to Papeete. The cruise proved to be horrifying. Since the couple built the large ship themselves, and had so much experience sailing, what happened is beyond belief and one is left wondering whether we have all the facts. A hard to forget tale.

A Thousand Splendid Suns, a novel by the author of The Kite Runner, Khaled Hosseini
627 Pages, Hard Cover, Large Print
Copyright 2OO7
ISBN: 978-0-7394-8236-0

To my disappointment, I did not find this book as fascinating as The Kite Runner. It is dedicated to the women of Afghanistan, and shows what a difficult life many of them have. Wives #1 and #2 of Rasheed eventually draw together in order to escape from his cruelty. Their experiences, which ring true, make any American woman grateful to be born in this country. Even so I preferred The Kite Runner.

Poor Litt1e Bitch Girl by Jackie Collins
737 PAGES, Hard Cover, Large Print
Copyright 2O1O
ISBN: 978-1-61664-125-2

Jackie Collins has 4OO million of her books in print. If you are keen on Hollywood magazines' sex and scandal, you will probably enjoy this book too. It's light reading and does make one turn the pages, but I'm at a loss as to why Jackie attracts so many readers. Is there a cartoon element or no challenge to the reader? Super simple? I don't find the two stories that I've read of hers memorable - not even the sexy parts.

The Lost Symbol by Dan Brown
7O7 Pages, Hard Cover, Large Print
Copyright 2OO9
ISBN: 978-O-37543452-5

Like the two books before this one, I find the book not up to par.

Rather cops and robbers boring and full of the typical cliches in action: girl needs a strong man to save her, or the good guy will overcome the bad one, etc., etc., etc. Not The Da Vinci Code interesting. Not for Mensa or Intertel in my opinion.

The Interpretation of Murder a novel by Jed Rubenfeld
367 Pages
Copyright 2006
ISBN-13: 978-O-8O5O-8O89-8

This author, a professor of Law at Yale University, "one of this country's foremost experts on constitutional law," wrote his senior thesis on Freud at Princeton, studied Shakespeare at the Juilliard School of drama, and writes with Intertel quality and imagination. I found his book the best of the five. He creates a murder at a time when Freud and Jung visit the U.S. They, along with other psychiatrists, analysis the people, behavior, and motives of those involved with the murder. The plot is certainly intriguing. Among these professionals some friendships and loyalties are tested. I highly recommend this book for an unusual read.

High Crimes, The Fate of Everest in an Age of Greed by Michael Kodas
348 pages, paperback
Copyright 2OO8
ISBN-13: 978-1-4O13-O274-3

I think that I may have been a mountain climber in a previous life. I adore reading about climbing adventures. In spite of my plethora of true crime books, mountain climbing is my favorite topic. You can't imagine my disappointment and sadness to read about the change in climbing and climbers of Everest.

Michael Kodas has done a serious, well-documented expose of the numerous crimes on that great mountain. Shylocks and shysters steal tents, bedding, clothes, food, stoves, oxygen bottles, and important high level gear - thefts that may endanger their victims lives. Some come with no money, gear, or mountain training, and will badly hurt others to get to the top, stepping over a dying man rather than stop and help him. Some wealthy types spend $6O,OOO to join a well run, comfortable team, and then figure every man for himself.

Nils Antezany was a doctor in his 6O's who dreamed of climbing Everest. He employed Gustavo Lisi to guide him to the top of Everest because Gustavo claimed to have been to the top already. Gustavo lied, and he was incompetent. He marched ahead of Nils to the extent that Nils lost him and complained about Gustavo's deserting him, "You're too slow," replied Gustavo. Nils not only paid Gustavo $1O,OOO and his trip from So. America to Everest, but had another $5OOO to give him as a tip. That money was stolen from Nils, and Gustavo left him to die in a cave at a high level.

There was no way that Nils could get down by himself. He grabbed the legs of a sherpa and begged, "Please don't leave me." The sherpa, who had been to the top of Everest more times than any other man, simply pulled away and left Nils to die. Gustavo didn't make it to the summit, and so he stole the photographs of a man who did. This man was wearing an oxygen mask and heavy clothing. It was almost impossible to tell who he really was in the photo.

The oxygen tanks cost $45O. Many of them malfunction only when they are tried at high altitude. "'All the summit oxygen bottles failed except for four,' reported a team from Valencia, Spain. Two of that team's climbers continued up with working cylinders, but two hours later an update on their web site reported, 'the four remaining O2 bottles have fai1ed as well.'

"Summit oxygen confirmed the problems on Mt. Everest reported that 25% of the oxygen bottles and 5O% of the delivery systems have failed as well."

"The Association of Mountain Guides of Peru, in which Gustavo claimed membership responded: 'G. L. is not a mountain guide, is not tenured in the Association of Mountain Guides of Peru and in as much, is not a member of the (UIMGA).'"

"Fortunately for most guides working on Mount Everest, the highest mountain in the world requires the lowest guiding certifications in the world - that is, none. The government of Nepal ... doesn't recognize anyone as a mountain guide. Consequently anyone, regardless of training, experience, or criminal record, can call themselves a mountain guide on Everest. The only requirement is a client willing to pay him for the service. Certainly the mountain draws some of the best-trained and most experienced guides in the business, but others show up with no knowledge of crevasse rescue, certification in avalanche safety, or even basic first aid training. And the Nepali and Chinese governments' lack of resources to monitor the mountains ensures that neither a lack of climbing experience, nor a history of irresponsible or illegal acts in the mountains is likely to preclude any guide or independent climber from returning to the Himalayas year after year."

A young man in Mensa asked for donations to his climbing of Everest March 2O1O. I sincerely hope that he has done his research and read this book. Had I read it earlier, I certainly would have sent it to him. If anyone knows him and how to reach him, do call his attention to this work.

It might save his life.

Correction: I believe that dear Kort and I are competing as to how many errors we can put into my writing. After mailing Kort my comments on The Kite Runner I had a very uncomfortable feeling that I had put a balloon into the article because I remember having to look up the spelling of "balloon." Although I was an English teacher for 41 years in Los Angeles, I can't spell. To my horror, there were at least a dozen balloons in place of the real objects: kites. When I called Kort about a correction, he said "Kites into balloons sounded like a translation thing. I trusted that you knew what you were doing."

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