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Tipping Point: Our picks and pans ("The Queen's Gambit," "The Man Who Wasn't All There," "The Book of Accidents")

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MUSIC TIP

The Queen's Gambit

Carlos Rafael Rivera

Yes, the TV series is excellent but, as I watched, my focus was continually distracted by how insanely excellent Rivera's soundtrack is. Director: "Can't use this, Carlos. Your music is TOO good." "Don't fire me! I can make it worse!" In any case, the score, mostly lovely and minimalist piano lines with orchetral flourishes, stands alone brilliantly. It's as though Erik Satie and Claude Debussy, mildly drunk in a pub, had a back-and-forth competition to see who could write the most beautiful melodic sketches over the course of an hour. But out of nowhere, Rivera appeared, badgered his way into the contest, and kicked their asses.

— Rick Koster  

BOOK TIP

The Man Who Wasn’t All There

David Handler

It’s true that it’s fun to spot all the local references — which range from the Old Lyme A&P to the Monkey Farm to the Rustic Cafe — but the real reason you should read this mystery novel is that it’s just so enjoyable. The plot sprints along, and the quips (especially the sarcastic one-liners from the main character) are clever. This is the latest in the Stewart Hoag series from Old Lyme resident Handler. Author Hoag is out at his ex (and future?) wife’s house in Lyme when a disturbed man roars up in a faux cop car, looking for that ex, movie star Merilee Nash. The crazed man also happens to be the second richest person in Connecticut. He eventually takes Hoagy and his beloved dog Lulu hostage. A murder happens, and Hoagy, of course, tries to figure it all out. A great summer read.

— Kristina Dorsey 

BOOK TIP

The Book of Accidents

Chuck Wendig

Wendig is a prolific writer whose work spans comics, novels, games, film and, presumably, the family grocery list. "The Book of Accidents" follows his New York Times bestselling novel "Wanderers" as an exercise in creative horror. Ex-cop Nate, his sculptor wife Maddie and their empath teenage son Olly leave Philadelphia for a calmer pace in the woods of northern Pennsylvania. Nothing particularly new about an urban-to-country premise turning out to be a Truly Bad Idea. But Wendig — an outstanding craftsman with clever turns-of-phrase, a sharp descriptive eye, similes-as-miniature-works-of-art and a casually complex ease with character development — throws a variety of sci-fi and folkloric  elements into the standard "Is there really Evil personified?" recipe. I wouldn't say it's a bonus because his characters ARE so well drawn, but there's a lot of observational wisdom in here that applies to our sad times.

— Rick Koster

 

 

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