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Novelist Ace Atkins continues his remarkable string of winners with "The Fallen," the seventh book in his series of novels about former Army Ranger and current southern sheriff Quinn Colson. Set in fictional Tibbehah County, Mississippi, the Colson books have a kind of Elmore Leonard vibe to them while being wholly original; with each book, Atkins has expanded the canvas on which he is working and the palate of colors he is using to capture an ever-broadening range of characters. While Colson is the hero/protagonist of the books, he is surrounded by people who become deeper and more sharply defined with every new novel.

In "The Fallen," the crime to be solved is a series of bank robberies taking place in which the criminals are wearing Donald Trump masks. It isn't as simple as just that, though. There is a growing conspiracy behind the robberies, tied to a local madam and strip club operator, as well as drug dealers and human traffickers. And, the book - which is both very funny and sharply observant - continues to explore what has been a common theme of all the Colson novels - average people trying to get by and do the right thing, while people of greater power and influence work to manipulate them for their own benefit.

"The Fallen" is my definition of a page-turner. Go read it. I suspect that then, like me, you'll be impatient for the next one in the series.




I saw four movies while on vacation, the three of them are definitely worth recommending.

The Big Sick - probably my favorite of the summer so far, an unexpectedly moving romantic comedy of culture and manners. Based on a true story, it stars Pakistani comic Kumail Nanjiani, playing himself; he cowrote the screenplay with Emily V. Gordon. The story concerns what happens when Nanjiani, who comes from a traditional Muslim family that expects him to marry within the faith, meets and falls for a woman named Emily, who isn't. When she gets seriously ill, he comes into contact and conflict with her parents, played by Ray Romano and Holly Hunter (and they are both wonderful). I don't want to tell you more than that, other than to say that this was one of the most delightful surprises I've had in a movie theater in some time.

Dunkirk - the new Christopher Nolan movie about the evacuation of British soldiers from Dunkirk in May 1940 as the Germans were advancing and putting the entire and nascent British war effort at risk. Dunkirk cuts back and forth among three different stories - one in the air, one on the water, and one on the land - and uses a mixture of fresh-faced actors and some well-known stars (Tom Hardy, Mark Rylance, Kenneth Branagh) to weave a complicated and utterly compelling story that is something really unique - an intimate war movie.

War For The Planet of the Apes - the third in the rebooted series that has revitalized the franchise while posing serious questions about the nature of humanity. The new Apes movies are laden with metaphors, and that's what great science fiction does, and there's no question in my mind that this new series if films is science fiction at a high level. Plus, Andy Serkis is astonishing using motion-capture technology to play Caesar, leader of the ape revolution.

Spider-Man: Homecoming - another reboot of the series, this one focusing on Peter Parker/Spider-Man as a naive high schooler. It is fun, with Tom Holland in the title role. I can't get very excited about it, but I can't criticize it for what it is not. And if nothing else, Spider-Man: Homecoming is what it is.




I've never had Chiaretto before, or at least I don't think so ... but this summer I've discovered what apparently is a fairly well-known dry rosé from the Lake Garda region of Italy. It is an extremely pale rosé, but it has lots of flavor, and I love it served extremely cold. My favorite so far as been the Cà Maiol version... but I intend to keep exploring.

BTW...I had it with spaghetti al tonno, which essentially is pasta with red sauce and tuna ... a wonderful summer dish. Heaven....I'm in heaven...




I also had and loved a beer that was new to me - River Pig Lager, from Breakside Brewery, which has been perfect for the summer days I've been enjoying in Portland. Yum.




Finally, thanks to the MNB readers who stoped by Nel Centro in Portland last night to have a glass of wine or a beer, and just visit. It was fun, as always.



That's it for this week. Have a great weekend, and I'll see you Monday.

Sláinte!!
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