Welcome to Murder by the Book's blog about what we've read recently. You can find our website at www.mbtb.com.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Flight of the Hornbill (hardcover, $24.95; trade, $14.95), by Eric Stone

This isn't so much about Flight of the Hornbill as it is about Eric Stone.

Stone and Portlander Bill Cameron appeared at Murder by the Book last night to talk about their books. Stone is also a professional photographer (among his many talents) and Cameron is also a graphic designer, so they decided to put on a slide show. It was not your shaky home movie of relatives' feet (oh, wait, there was the one shot of Cameron's daughter's feet as she posed for a "corpse shot"); it was a spectacular production.

Stone's slides were of Indonesia. His book is bursting with descriptions of life in Indonesia, a place for which he obviously has a great deal of affection. The good, the bad, the funky, the weird aspects of life in the humid, hopping, geographically diverse island-country were made alive with Stone's photographs. [Insert terms of great technical difficulty here] Stone did with ease. His photos teemed with color. His portraits brought his subjects to life. We know what his next book should be.

Stone's protagonist, Ray Sharp, ventures about Asia as an investigator for a "due diligence" firm, an organization that susses out feasibility for business investment. He is in Indonesia on a job when his wife, whom he'd like to tag an "ex" on, asks him to locate her boyfriend. He has gone missing while looking for gold.

While Sharp works, we readers are tourists. We meet people who sound like real people. We see sights that must be real. Sharp is patient and open wide to the experience of being in a different culture, unlike some of the other characters portrayed. In fact, a vast company compound has transplanted suburban America to the jungles of Indonesia. This, Stone says, is not far from the truth. Too bad. That's a long way to go to never leave home.

Cameron's slides were of Portland. He showed them to a room of Portlanders. Not so crazy, actually. We were thrilled to learn where in our backyard Cameron was tossing his bodies. Cameron showed us the inspiration for "Uncommon Ground," the coffee shop of his books. He showed us the lovely parks in which victims reposed. If his books become as famous as "The Sopranos," maybe there will be a tour of Portland similar to the ones that showcase mob hangouts in Jersey. This might be one step closer to fact, as one of his non-resident fans took his book, came to Portland, and tracked down various locations.

The tone of the evening was a surprise. Both Stone's and Cameron's books are hard-boiled, with Cameron's definitely leaning in the noir camp, if not outright collapsed there. But their presentations were humorous and beautiful, and a little quirky with the rock gamelon music providing the prelude.


1 comment:

  1. Thanks for hosting us. Bill and I always have a great time at your shop and you have a good group of interested and interesting customers. It's very nice to feel so appreciated and I'm looking forward to coming back with the new book next June or July.