Skimmings: Brief reviews of recently released books

2013-05-12T00:00:00Z Skimmings: Brief reviews of recently released books Arizona Daily Star
May 12, 2013 12:00 am

"Montaro Caine"

By Sidney Poitier

Oscar-winning actor Sidney Poitier's first novel, "Montaro Caine," is a corporate thriller that veers into science fiction as it follows a beleaguered New York CEO on an unexpected quest to secure two mysterious coins that may hold significant scientific and commercial value.

The coins first appeared in the hands of two newborn babies who grow up to marry each other. The impending birth of their first child, and its potentially cosmic importance, spurs corporate greed and brings together a diverse assortment of collectors, scientists, physicians and lawyers.

The story jets from New York City to Europe and to Poitier's native Bahamas. Poitier's narrative hinging on a Bahamian medicine man who sees the big picture in the supernatural events affecting CEO Montaro Caine is interesting.

Otherwise, "Montaro Caine" is a jumble of subplots, adverbs and twists that resolve in a "pay-it-forward" morality. There's a formality to Poitier's writing that perhaps is expected of an actor with such a prestigious filmography ("Lilies of the Field," "The Defiant Ones," "In the Heat of the Night").

Poitier's novel may carry a heartfelt message about the potential for good within each one of us, but "Montaro Caine" doesn't live up to its potential.

Jennifer Kay, The Associated Press

"Mary and Lou and Rhoda and Ted: And All the Brilliant Minds Who Made The Mary Tyler Moore Show a Classic"

By Jennifer Keishin Armstrong

Jennifer Keishin Armstrong examines the creation of television's "The Mary Tyler Moore Show," which defined a generation, in "Mary and Lou and Rhoda and Ted."

Using a "fly on the wall" approach into the minds of the people behind the scenes and the cast of the show, Armstrong has written the quintessential book on one of the best sitcoms to grace the airwaves.

"Mary and Lou and Rhoda and Ted" is really more of a history book than a companion book with an episode guide to the '70s show that starred Mary Tyler Moore, Ed Asner, Valerie Harper and Ted Knight.

Creators James L. Brooks and Allan Burns pitched a show about a divorced woman and ran into a brick wall. They were told American audiences wouldn't tolerate divorce or people who lived in New York City. In response, they made Mary single and moved her to Minneapolis.

The initial run-through of the pilot in front of a live audience was a disaster, and it took advice from a young girl to make one tiny switch that changed everything.

Women were encouraged to write for the series, and soon, other women were joining the writing staffs of other shows.

"Mary and Lou and Rhoda and Ted" is essential reading for fans of the show or readers curious about the production side of television.

Jeff Ayers, Associated Press

"The Ophelia Cut"

By John Lescroart

A young woman makes a bad decision and her father ends up a murder suspect in "The Ophelia Cut," John Lescroart's latest courtroom drama featuring defense attorney Dismas Hardy.

Brittany McGuire meets a man in a coffee shop and realizes he's a loser after one date. Rick Jessup starts harassing her, demanding another chance. She goes to his house to tell him to get lost, then passes out and wakes up in his bed. She realizes she's been drugged and raped.

Twenty-four hours later, Rick is dead and Brittany's father, Moses, becomes the prime suspect. Moses has been sober for quite some time, but he's found completely wasted on alcohol. Also, witnesses saw Moses attack Rick when he learned that Rick was stalking his daughter.

Friends become enemies and moral dilemmas abound in this tense and intricate tale. The story starts off a bit slow, but Lescroart is a master of legal suspense. Once the final page is turned, everything, including the title, makes sense.

"The Ophelia Cut" will be remembered more as a literary endeavor in the vein of Scott Turow than anything Lescroart has done.

Jeff Ayers, Associated Press

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