Category Archives: Durham

Durham

Lights, Camera, Novel: James Patterson’s Kiss the Girls.

Kiss the Girls Movie PosterJames Patterson’s Alex Cross series was perfectly timed for moviegoers of the nineties who were primed for psychological thrillers after a number of popular hits. Reviewers drew comparisons between Kiss the Girls and other releases like Silence of the Lambs and Se7en. However, the comparisons between the films were not entirely favorable. Kiss the Girls starred Morgan Freeman and Ashley Judd, whose career was just beginning to accelerate.

The novel follows forensic psychologist Alex Cross as he learns that his niece Naomi, a law student at Duke, was kidnapped by a lascivious serial killer who masquerades under the pseudonym, Casanova. Cross abandons DC for Durham. His emotions are high and he is focused on finding Naomi before it’s too late. Meanwhile, medical intern Kate McTiernan is Casanova’s latest victim, but not for long. McTiernan manages to escape, which makes her the anomalous sole survivor. She and Cross team up to uncover Casanova’s true identity and rescue the other victims still languishing in Casanova’s “harem.”

Kiss the Girls is Patterson’s only novel that features a North Carolina setting. But Patterson layered plenty of authenticating detail in his book to evoke the Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill area. Filming locations for the movie adaptation were largely limited to Durham, and of course, Los Angeles. The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill did not to approve the film’s request to use the university’s campus during shooting.

In the past, the University has a mixed record of accepting some requests to film on campus, but rejecting others. According to a Daily Tarheel article from 2001, UNC’s major ruling factor is maintaining the University’s image. The University also considers how the project might provide opportunities or disruptions to campus life. Ultimately, the University decided against Kiss the Girls due to its graphic content. Chapel Hill officials did not consent to give the producers permission to shut down Franklin Street for filming.

Although Kiss the Girls is second in the Cross series it was adapted first. Along Came a Spider, the first novel in the series, was a follow-up in 2001. While Kiss the Girls performed well at the box office, critics panned the film for pacing issues and a lack of uniqueness. Both Freeman and Judd were commended for their performances however. In 2012, Tyler Perry starred in an Alex Cross reboot. There are plans for a sequel reportedly.

The clip below, from Movie Clips, shows a scene following Kate’s escape where she delivers a statement to the press:

The movie version is a bit more solemn than the novel. In the book, Kate’s introductory remarks are self-deprecating and elicit a few smiles. More or less, the monologues match up.  But both versions represent Kate as a strong and intelligent character, in spite of her ordeal.

Patterson’s novel is available through the UNC-Chapel Hill Library catalog. There are copies at Davis Library and Wilson Library. The film adaptation is available through the UNC-Chapel Hill Library catalog as well. Copies can be found at the Media Resources Center in the Undergraduate Library and Wilson Library. The original blog post for the novel is here.

Sources consulted here: The Baltimore Sun, The Daily Tarheel (two different articles), Film Journal InternationalIMDb, Movie Clips, The New York Times, The San Francisco Chronicle, Roger Ebert, The Washington Post (two different reviews), Wikipedia

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Filed under 1990-1999, 1997, Durham, Orange, Patterson, James, Piedmont, Suspense/Thriller

Summer Kinard. Can’t Buy Me Love. United States: Light Messages Publishing, 2013.

Can't Buy Me LoveDoes love at first sight count when only one person is looking? After Vanessa Fauchon digs three scrapbooks out of a dumpster, she falls in love with an attractive Latino man who appears in the photos. For Vanessa happening upon the scrapbooks was part luck and part routine. Vanessa is a freegan. Freegans, essentially, do not believe in purchasing any consumer products, even for basic needs like food and clothes. Instead, they rely on thrifty thinking and dumpster-diving to make ends meet in a sustainable lifestyle.

Shortly after Vanessa discovers the scrapbooks she breaks up with her deadbeat boyfriend and dumpster-diving partner, Bradley. Although Vanessa and Bradley share physical compatibility, they lack the same long-term desires. In the near future Vanessa hopes for children, while Bradley believes she should get sterilized for the good of population control. Bradley is a vigilant freegan and wields his ideology to shirk responsibility. Vanessa suspects that Bradley is lazy and masquerades that fact behind his tenet of simplicity. If he does not receive something free out of an encounter, then Bradley has no interest in exerting any effort.

Fortunately, Vanessa is a member of Fructus, a women’s group that meets to socialize, crochet, and support one another. Fructus has a range of strong, unconventional female members, from a luchadora to an ethics professor. The women of Fructus help Vanessa during her weakest times and implore her to seek out a more fulfilling relationship. Bradley is a leech of a character and Vanessa struggles to remove him from her life. By contrast to Bradley, Vanessa is a hard worker who tends bar at a local brewery. One night, in a moment of complete serendipity, she recognizes a familiar face from across the bar–a face that bears an uncanny resemblance the handsome visage of the Latino man in the foraged scrapbooks. Although Can’t Buy Me Love revolves around a peculiar love story, the friendships between the female characters are the crux of the novel.

Summer Kinard, a first-time novelist, has an educational background in religion. She earned her M.Div and Th. M. from Duke Divinity School and elements of her interest in religion emerge throughout the book. Moreover, her knowledge of Durham is evident. She references several local attractions and businesses around the city such as Duke Gardens, the Carolina Theatre, and Locopops. Readers acquainted with the Triangle area may delight in the recognizable portrait of Durham that Kinard has rendered in her novel. All readers can enjoy Kinard’s magical and seemingly improbable love story.

Check this title’s availability in the UNC-Chapel Hill Library catalog.

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Filed under 2010-2019, 2013, Durham, Kinard, Summer, Piedmont, Romance/Relationship

Stuart Albright. Bull City. Durham, NC: McKinnon Press, 2012.

It was North Carolina’s most famous novelist, Thomas Wolfe, who said “you can’t go home again.”  But sometimes you have to.  Sid Ellison, a twenty-something, has built a nice life for himself in Asheville, North Carolina.  He has a good job, a loving wife, and a baby on the way.  But when his older brother, Tyrell, is arrested for a murder, Sid must return to his hometown of Durham to try to clear his brother.

Sid is not the only one who has to return to Durham because of the murder.  The victim’s sister, Malika Latif, an award-winning journalist, is now a faculty member at Columbia University in New York City.  Columbia is her alma mater, the place where she refashioned herself after she fled from her stifling family in Durham.  But she is indebted to her older sister Meena who first took her in when she left home, and Meena was the only person who understood about her high school romance with Sid Ellison.  When Malika’s mother asks her to come to Durham to mourn Meena, Malika knows she must go.

Malika and Sid’s high school relationship haunts them both, but those high school years also left Sid with friends who he can call on to help him clear his brother.  In a mix of past history and present day action, Sid and his friend Spencer work out what happened to Meena.  Character development is one of the strengths of this novel, but many readers will also enjoy the rich presentation of Durham–its history, its landmarks, its neighborhoods.

Check this title’s availability in the UNC-Chapel Hill Library catalog.

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Filed under 2010-2019, 2012, Albright, Stuart, Durham, Mystery, Piedmont

James Bailey. The Greatest Show on Dirt. United States: Publisher unknown, 2012.

The main character in this novel, Lane Hamilton, is a twenty-something escapee from corporate banking.  A high school buddy, Rich, gets Lane a job with the Durham Bulls.  Rich is a bit of a bad boy, and while he shows Lane the ins-and-outs of his new job, he also clues in Lane about the fun to be had at the ballpark.  Readers are introduced to the world of minor league baseball: the stat sheets that are prepared for reporters who cover games, the difficult job of removing the tarp that protects the infield, grooming the pitcher’s mound, who hangs out with whom after the games.  A series of clubhouse thefts add an element of mystery to the novel, but the focus is on Lane–how he balances fun with work, extricates himself from one romance and finds another, learns to work with a variety of people, and figures out what success means for him.  James Bailey has written a book that is rich with insider information on the day-to-day operations of minor league baseball and the quirks and concerns of players and other ballpark employees. Readers who attended games at the Durham Athletic Park, or who lived in Durham before 2000, will particularly enjoy the details and local color that enrich this book.

Check this title’s availability in the UNC-Chapel Hill Library catalog.

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Filed under 2010-2019, 2012, Bailey, James, Durham, Piedmont

Victor L. Martin. The Game of Deception. East Orange, NJ: Wahida Clark Presents Publishing, 2010.

At twenty-six Ghetti is beginning to tire of his life as a drug hustler in Durham, North Carolina.  It’s a dangerous life and it has been getting harder and harder to know who to trust. Still, Ghetti is surprised when a deal with two new customers–Arabs looking to make a big purchase–turns out to be a near-deadly setup.  Can it be that his young buddy Poo-Man has turned on him?

After Ghetti settles the score with his two dangerous customers, he hightails it to Goldsboro, North Carolina where he hides away with his cousin Mance.  There he plots his revenge against Poo-Man.  Back in Durham police detectives Amanda Hartford and Volanda Carter investigate the murder of two Arab men. A nosy neighbor leads them to Poo Man’s girlfriend, Maria.  Maria become one–but not the only–point where the officers’ professional–and personal–lives intersect with Ghetti’s.  The mistaken identities and hidden connections that fuel the plot of this book may remind readers of Elizabethan comedies, but Shakespeare and his contemporaries never wrote anything as X-rated as The Game of Deception.

Check this title’s availability in the UNC-Chapel Hill Library catalog.

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Filed under 2010, 2010-2019, Durham, Martin, Victor L., Piedmont, Urban Fiction, Wayne

Katy Munger. Better Off Dead. New York: Avon Books, 2001.

Casey Jones, Triangle-based Private Investigator and (contrarily) ex-convict, is enjoying a quiet evening at home watching NC State trounce Duke at basketball. That is, until her boyfriend Burly starts haranguing the disconsolate Blue Devils fans from their Durham apartment window. With all the ruckus, Casey almost misses the knock on her door- and may come to wish she had. Her visitor is a terrified cleaning lady, who isn’t worried for herself, but for her employer- the infamous Helen Pugh McInnes. Casey knows a little about Helen: a graduate student who accused a well-respected Duke professor of rape, she lost her case and became a community pariah. Casey comes to learn that the gentle Helen has spent the year since her day in court too afraid to leave her quiet country home, terrorized by perverse phone calls and letters from her rapist, who is clearly still at large. Even venturing onto her front porch leaves her in the throes of a major panic attack. Casey knows right away that she has to help Helen, but since Helen is viewed as a liar and a loose woman, Detective Jones must tread carefully.

Her first move is to protect Helen: Casey’s boyfriend Burly, her lovable yet flabby boss, Bobby, and Bobby’s voluptuous girlfriend and paragon of Southern charm, Fanny, as well as a host of others all take up residence in Helen’s spacious, self-induced prison. Meanwhile, the thirty-something Casey applies a liberal amount of concealer and eyeshadow in order to infiltrate Duke University itself, going undercover as a non-traditional coed. But she isn’t entirely prepared for what she finds. As usual, the case is complicated by unforeseen circumstances: a wide-eyed college boy develops a crush on the gruff Casey, and for some reason it’s more difficult than usual to determine who the rapist really is. But Casey Jones always gets her man…unless this time, he gets to her first.

Readers will be glad to know that this tightly wound narrative deals sensitively with a difficult topic while still maintaining the series’ usual sense of humor. Katy Munger’s cast of misfits, cops, and strange birds is back, with some entertaining new additions. The Duke community will be pleased to note that the author issues a strong statement in the beginning as to the very fictional content of this novel. The UNC and NC State communities will be more satisfied with Duke’s (inevitable?) loss in the opening game.

Check the availability of this title in the UNC-Chapel Hill Library’s catalog.

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Filed under 2000-2009, 2001, Durham, Munger, Katy, Mystery, Novels in Series, Piedmont

Katy Munger. Bad to the Bone. New York: Avon Books, 2000.

Casey Jones is doing well: despite being an (unfairly convicted) ex-con, she has established herself as one of the Triangle’s premiere, if unofficial, private investigators. But when Tawny Bledsoe walks through her door, she gets a bad feeling. At first, Casey attributes this to the fact that the pale, fragile-looking Tawny is black and blue all over, and claims that her ex-husband first beat her, then stole their four-year-old daughter. Ms. Bledsoe begs Casey to get her child back, and with her special interest in wronged women, Raleigh’s toughest cookie is on the case. However, Tawny’s story begins to look suspicious after Casey easily tracks down the ex, and instead of a wife-beating kidnapper, finds a reputable Wake County Commissioner and devoted father who is a respected member of the African-American community. When Tawny’s $1,000 check bounces, Casey is convinced she’s been had in a spiteful divorcée’s spat. But then Tawny’s current beau (a scummy car mechanic named Boomer) turns up murdered, and Casey knows there’s more to the situation than simple fraud. As the P.I. snoops around, she uncovers several unsavory parts of Tawny: the cocaine addict, the blackmailer, and the abusive parent. When Casey’s no-good ex-husband Jeff gets involved, things quickly move from bad to worse, and the gloves come off as Casey goes to all lengths to put Tawny behind bars where she belongs.

Fans of the feisty, self-starting Casey Jones will enjoy this adventure, in which the fallible but lovable heroine faces a type of villain she hasn’t encountered  before, as well as turmoil in her romantic life,  but also puts some old troubles to rest.

Check this title’s availability in the UNC-Chapel Hill Library catalog.

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Filed under 2000, 2000-2009, Chatham, Durham, Munger, Katy, Mystery, Novels in Series, Piedmont, Wake

Suzetta Perkins. Betrayed. Silver Spring, MD: Strebor Books, 2011.

When her daughter Afrika insists on attending North Carolina Central University, Mimi Bailey feels she has no choice but to move back to Durham, North Carolina to support her daughter. Mimi also attended NCCU, but only for her freshman year, before she abruptly transferred away. The cause of this was her best friend Brenda’s vicious, controlling boyfriend, Victor, who raped Mimi right before becoming engaged to Brenda. Mimi quickly married her next boyfriend,  military man Raphael Bailey, and together they raised Afrika in a happy family in far-off Kansas. But then Raphael is deployed overseas, and Afrika enrolls as a freshman at Mimi’s old school.

Now Mimi is back where she hoped never to return, and by freak coincidence, her Afrika has befriended another NCCU freshman who could almost be her twin…a young lady named Asia Christianson. The two are inseparable, and often mistaken for sisters by those who don’t know them. Mimi is horrified to find out that Asia’s parents Victor and Brenda Christianson, whom she hoped to never see again, are living and working in the Triangle. Worst of all, Victor is the Director of Admissions at NCCU. He quickly discovers Afrika’s existence and true identity, which leads him to Mimi. He is extremely anxious that his true nature, that of a repeat adulterer, remain a secret. Mimi’s presence endangers this, so he threatens her with drastic consequences if she and her daughter remain in Durham.

But Mimi is done running, and finished keeping secrets. Unfortunately, the secrets she holds, combined with Victor’s violent nature, mean that many lives could be lost or ruined once Mimi tells. As is often the case, the children are the ones who will suffer the consequences of their parents’ actions.

Check the availability of this title in the UNC-Chapel Hill Library catalog.

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Filed under 2010-2019, 2011, Durham, Perkins, Suzetta, Piedmont, Suspense/Thriller

Shelia P. Moses. Joseph’s Grace. New York: Margaret K. McElderry Books, 2011.

Compared to his life a few years ago when Joseph and his drug-addicted mother lived in a homeless shelter, things have gotten much better for the teenager. Now Joseph lives with his Aunt Shirley, Uncle Todd, and beloved cousin Jasmine in a nice neighborhood in Durham. He is enjoying his summer break by perfecting his tennis game, working at Target, and getting to know his co-worker, Valerie, a little better. In a few months, Joseph’s father will return from service in Iraq.

However, not all is well with his mother, Betty. She is still abusing drugs and dating Bow, a dangerous thug. No one grasps how scary Bow is until the day that he breaks into Shirley and Todd’s house looking for Betty. Frustrated with the answers that Joseph and Jasmine give him for her absence, Bow shoots his gun into a wall. A stray bullet hits Jasmine in the head, killing her instantly.

Joseph’s family is devastated by their tragic loss. When Betty returns to her old ways just two weeks after Jasmine’s death, though, Joseph realizes how selfish – and embarrassing – his mother truly is. Aunt Shirley suggests forcing her to go to rehab, and Joseph finally accepts that it will be the only way to save his mother and to help everyone cope.

Check this title’s availability in the UNC-Chapel Hill Library catalog.

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Filed under 2010-2019, 2011, Children & Young Adults, Durham, Moses, Shelia P., Piedmont

Carl Kenney. Backslide.Victoria, BC: Trafford Publishing, 2010.

Backslide picks up where Kenney’s earlier novel, Preacha’ Man left off.  Simon Edwards is living in Dallas with his love, Jamaica, and teaching at a seminary.  Simon should be happy, but he feels uneasy with his decision to leave the ministry.  He knows that he is succeeding at the seminary, but he senses that this is not what God wants him to do.  When a phone call comes from Calvin, a former member of Simon’s church, asking Simon to come start a new church, Simon returns to Durham, North Carolina.

Simon throws himself into creating the new church, but success is not a sure thing.  Many of the same forces and individuals who fought Simon in his earlier ministry are still around, and Simon has to learn to move beyond bitterness and earlier definitions of success.  He also has to reconsider his feelings for some of the women in the church.  Simon is without Jamaica, who has stayed in Dallas for her work, and some of the tension in the book comes from Simon’s struggle with their relationship.

This is a slower-paced, more introspective book than Preacha’ Man.  As Simon reflects on his situation, he considers insights from modern theology as well as the Bible, adding depth to the story.

Check this title’s availability in the UNC-Chapel Hill Library catalog.

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Filed under 2010, 2010-2019, Durham, Kenney, Carl, Piedmont