Book Briefs

By TERRY MATHEWS | News-Telegram Arts Editor

Leap of Faith: Memoirs of an Unexpected Life

Oct 23, 07 - After the tragic death of his third wife in a helicopter accident in 1977, no one expected Jordan’s King Hussein to marry an American girl,  especially 26-year old Lisa Halaby. 

Leap of Faith: Memoirs of an Unexpected Life
By Queen Noor
Miramax Paperbacks. $14.95. 496 pp.
4/5 Stars

A child of privilege and Arab ancestry, Halaby grew up with the world as her oyster. 

Her Syrian-born grandfather was a multi-millionaire oil broker who once operated an exclusive rug and home decor gallery in the same building as Dallas’ Neiman-Marcus. Her father was head of the Federal Aviation Administration and was the CEO of Trans World Airlines. She attended private schools, was in the first co-education class at Princeton and traveled the world working as an urban planner. 

Halaby had a chance encounter with King Hussein in 1976 on an airport tarmac while traveling with her father on business. She later moved to Jordan for work. Hussein asked her to dinner. Once the King set his sights on her, Halaby's life turned upside down. When they married in 1978, he was 41. She was 26. She changed her name to “Noor” (Light of Hussein). She became step-mother to the king’s grown children and “mama” to the youngest. Together, they had four children. Her work on social and educational issues has earned the respect and recognition of the world leaders and the United Nations.

She was by the king’s side when he died of cancer in 1999. Her royal life may have been unexpected, but she has made the most of it.  

Book of the Dead

So much for hoping that Cornwell would return to the great stories about Kay Scarpetta, America's top forensic pathologist, and her merry band of helpers. This book is beyond bad. It doesn’t deserve even half a star.

Book of the Dead
By Patricia Cornwell
$26.95. 416 pp. Penguin Books
0/5 Stars

Between pages 65, 66 and 67, Cornwell writes "...he's done the unthinkable." "...he might be capable of the unthinkable." "...not if he did the unthinkable." "He may have done the unthinkable." "...she hopes ... that the unthinkable hasn't happened." "Assuming he's done the unthinkable..."

Is there no editor brave enough to stand up and say, "Miss Cornwell, this won’t do. Bring it back when it's worthy to print or get a ghost writer."?

Lucy, Scarpetta's niece and incredibly wealthy computer genius, is really high maintenance and she just wears me out. Benton, Scarpetta’s lover, is a puffed up jealous toad. There's a smarmy Italian doctor after her affections, too. Marino, Scarpetta's investigator, really crosses the line and would be canned in a second by the the original Scarpetta – the brilliant pathologist who lept off the pages when Cornwell was at the top of her game.

The Iraq war figures into the killer’s fury. Iraqi sand, blue glue and a lot of missing body parts are supposed to provide intrigue. Not this time. Something’s wrong with this picture.

No amount of pre-release hype can save this mess. Once the reviews hit, and readers blog their thoughts and opinions on the Internet, the book will fall off the side of the world. Good riddance.

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