THE BOOK OF THE DEAD, by Patricia Cornwell (2007)

The “Book of the Dead” is an old expression which comes from Ancient Egyptian funerary texts. It is the morgue logbook, a sort of ledger in which all cases are entered by hand. After reading this book, however, it will take on a new meaning…

Bestseller Cornwell’s 15th novel depicts a new Kay Scarpetta adventure. In this occasion, the pathologist forensic has just opened a modern lab in the apparently peaceful city of Charleston, offering expert crime scene investigation and autopsies. Soon, she is asked to consult the murder of a famous American tennis champ in Rome. At the same time, she has to deal with other violent deaths, facing a killer as deadly as any she has ever encountered.

Once again, Cornwell presents characters from previous Scarpetta books. For this reason, they are not well drawn, since we are supposed to know them. The main character is Kay Scarpetta, a strong, perfectionist and intelligent woman holding her own in a profession dominated by men. Besides her, we can find her usual colleagues and their tumultuous and tangled relations. They are Benton Wesley, an FBI profiler and former boyfriend; Lucy, her beautiful and brilliant niece and Peter Marino, an excellent detective but tortured because he is secretly in love with Kay.

Besides its rather one-dimensional characters, the story has loads of commonplaces, clichés and awful stereotypes, such as the arrogant and ladies’ man Italian carabiniere Captain Poma. Written in a style immediately accessible to any reader, it delivers Cornwell’s trademark grisly crime scenes, but lacks coherence and emotional feelings. In addition, sometimes the reader flounders in excessive forensic details.

To sum up, this is another whodunit full of twist bestseller, which I recognize its ability to entertain and enthrall, but only for diehard Cornwell fans.

Conchi Olea.

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THE QUEEN ELIZABETH II GREAT COURT (BRITISH MUSEUM)

Last summer, I spent some days in London and visited the British Museum. I had been told about its magnificent collection and I was aware of the fact that it would be completely impossible to see everything in a day.  Besides, British Museum’s visitors often suffer from a kind of Stendhal syndrome because of the incredible large amount of art, feeling dizzy or even faint after some hours. Therefore, I hoped to live an unforgettable experience.

However, what made me feel most astonished, was not a masterpiece, but the Great Court. As soon as I entered the Museum and found myself into that vast space full of light, I was speechless and amazed. I didn’t expect at all that innovative hall in such an ancient building.

In fact, opening in December 2000, this new heart of the British Museum was built by the architect Norman Foster to commemorate the new millennium. Its most remarkable element is the web-like roof built from steel and glass. It was thought to solve problem of access, circulation and congestion and it has become a sort of urban covered square where the exhausted visitors can rest for a while.

And so did I! When I was completely worn out, I sat there for more than an hour, looking first at the stressed people who tried to see everything and then looking up to see some doves that were walking in a funny way over the glass roof. I felt completely relaxed and inspired. I had been able to avoid the Stendhal syndrome.

Conchi Olea.

A HAPPY ENDING STORY

I’ll never forget that thrilling adventure which changed the boring life I used to have.

It was a rainy evening. I was working at home with my computer in order to finish a horrible essay for my boss. Suddenly, the light went out and the computer stopped working. As soon as the light returned, the computer switched on by its own. I tried to recover my essay, but the computer didn’t recognize my orders. I seemed as if it had its own life!

A website appeared on the screen. I wanted to close it, but I couldn’t. Finally, I read it. It was a wizard’s website which promised a wonderful treasure to the first ten e-mails sent to him. I thought he was a cheater, a fool, or both. But I was so upset because of my lost essay that I decided to write it. I still don’t know whether I did it to kill time or just for fun.

Next morning, a phone call woke me up. I was told that I had won one of the wizard’s treasures, but I had to take a flight to Bagdag that morning. Someone was waiting for me and all my expenses would be paid.

I knew I shouldn’t do it. I knew it could be dangerous! But I also knew my boss would fire me because I hadn’t finished my essay. So, I went to Ranon airport and a magic carpet was there waiting for me!

The rest of the story is too long to be told now. I only can assure you, from my wonderful palace near the sea, that the treasure and the wizard were real and I won’t need to write boring essays anymore.

09conchiolea

WHO FIRST RECORDED A ROCK AND ROLL?

FAMOUS FIRSTS: WHO FIRST RECORDED A ROCK AND ROLL SONG?

From more than fifty years, the question “Which is the first rock and roll song?” is one of the most arguable subjects.

It was commonly assumed that Bill Haley and his band, The Comets, recorded the first rock and roll in 1954. The song’s title was “Rock around the clock”. Nevertheless, that’s no true.

Certainly, “Rock around the clock” was the first rock and roll which reached the number one spot on the American charts and it was called first “rock and roll” on the radio. In addition, Bill Haley was a white man and, from my view, people at that time prefered him to go down in the History to a black man.

Nowadays, “Rocket 88” is widely claimed to be the first. This song was recorded in 1951 by the saxophonist Jackie Breston and Tina Turner’s former husband, Ike Turner.

Alternatively, others believed that the talented pianist Fat Domino was the first person who succeeded in rock and roll music. In fact, in 1949 his song “The Fat Man” sold over a million copies. In spite of the fact that this song might be considered pure Rhythm and Blues, Fat Domino said in the fifties: “what you people call now rock n’ roll, I have been playing in New Orleans for the past fifteen years”

To conclude, it is obvious that rock and roll roots stem from the first decades of the 20th century, when some people in the South of USA decided to put Country and Western together with Rhythm and Blues. As a result, the new musical genre was born in the middle of the last century to become the most influental and widespread kind of music.

For this reason, I’m afraid the question “Which is the first rock and roll song?” hasn’t got an answer.

However, I wanted to let you know three great songs. I recommend you to listen to them on You Tube.

Rock Around The Clock

Rocket 88

The Fat Man

By Conchi