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April 26, 2019

Book: Die Trying by Lee Child

Filed under: Books — Tags: , , , , — krishnafromtoronto @ 10:35 pm

imageAnother thriller from the Jack Reacher series.

 

Nathan Rubin tried to stop three people taking his car and was beaten to a pulp. He died later.

 

Jack reacher was helping a woman out who was stumbling but once they turn the corner, he is confronted by two men with guns pointing at them both. When they are carried in a van, Jack Reacher realizes that she is no ordinary woman by the fearlessness of her, even when handcuffed to Jack.

 

He guesses correctly that she, Holly Johnson,  is a government agent, new, and dedicated. He also realizes that she was the target of kidnapping but he happened to be there so they had to take him .

 

Now we learn that Holly is a FBI wizard who can uncover cleverly hidden financial improprieties in companies. When she does not turn up for the 5 PM meeting, her boss knows something is seriously wrong.

 

We learn that she is greatly intelligent, chose FBI work over investment banking which she was doing, and also the Defence Secretary’s daughter to boot.

 

The ‘Builder’ a fat man, is constructing a secret facility, and slowly killing all those whom he hired to build it so that he can keep this one a secret.

 

The FBI gets to see Holly abducted in the CC TV camera and they know three people kidnapped her. (One of them is Jack Reacher but they do not know him from Adam).

 

In a typically Lee Child move, Jack subdues and kills one of the kidnappers who came alone,unarmed, When he was chained to the wall and the kidnapper was trying to rape Holly.

 

The General is terribly anxious about his daughter. Meanwhile Jack realizes that Holly has been kidnapped not because she is FBI but because of her father.

 

When finally Reacher and Holly have reached a cabin in Montana, Holly is separated and . locked up in a room. The leader who comes in is assured but chains Loder (“He made five mistakes”)

 

We learn about the leader Beau Borken who has a grudge against US and wants to create a new nation in a well defended wilderness and twenty million dollars to back him up – got from a heist. There is a mole in there, Jackson, but Reacher deduces that there is one in FBI too. So Jackson is in danger of being exposed.

 

The story seems to sag a little bit before exploding into a typical Lee Child pace of frenetic action. First, Beau finds out what happened to the ‘missing’ kidnapper (presumably from the mole since FBI found out about all that – they in turn think that Jack is one of the kidnappers of Holly as they saw him in a CC TV footage in front of the laundry where Holly was abducted). He chains Jack and Holly, meanwhile, manages to remove one of the legs of the cot and kill the maid who came to give her food and gloated about how Reacher is going to die.

 

Reacher is chained to a tree and Holly finds the girl’s semi automatic outside the room and goes in search of Reacher. She threatens to kill herself and a panicked Borken offers him life (but not freedom)  if Reacher can beat Borken in a long range shooting match.

 

Borken manages to have somone shoot down a helicoptor and also gets to FBI on the edge of the forest.

 

Reacher manages to walk out and explore the place and learns of the missiles and also the plans to ‘the other place’. When he walks back, he walks smack into Borken who chains him to a chair and leaves him with three of his people with guns. In a true Lee Child fashion, Reacher gets out and also saves one of the FBI agents who was captured (McGrath) and was about to be crucified. There is a great scene where McGrath turns the guns against Reacher, his saviour and how Jack convinces him that he is on the good side.

 

Who is the mole who has been giving information to Borken, our suspicions are adroitly moved among the two remaining FBI deputies and finally the twist is good.

 

The end is amazing on how they overcome Borken, only to learn that there is an even bigger plot afoot and how they guess and foil it.

 

True Lee Child story. My only complaint is that it sags a lot in the middle with Holly and Jack being passively captive for most of the book before erupting in spectacular fashion. Yes, I get it. You have to build up the story but you have to have a bit of patience to wade through it to the good ending.

 

6/10

– – Krishna

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March 30, 2019

Book: Killing Floor by Lee Child

Filed under: Books — Tags: , , , , , — krishnafromtoronto @ 1:21 pm

imageHere is the new master of thriller for these times. Very vivid, crisp descriptions – an action thriller with a brain. The pace is unrelenting and you meet a new action hero who is now justly famous.

Jack Reacher is arrested by police at gunpoint. He is a man who was in a new city and prime suspect in a murder case, though Jack knows he is innocent of the crime. That he has had no identification and the fact that he was walking in the street and what’s more, fit the description of a man seen near the murder spot by witnesses makes the police very suspicious of him.

 

He convinces the detectives that he is innocent but they are in a quandary because the chief himself reports having seen him earlier and so he is in lock up. When they discover that the phone number in the boot belongs to a yuppie called Hubble, they bring him in and he confesses to the murder. And yet, the police (with Jack’s assistance) realize that neither Jack nor Hubble could have committed the murder but are forced to keep them in jail for they were still suspects. Hubble turns out to be a close relative of the police chief, which throws further sand in the works of police duty.

 

A brilliant scene where Jack teaches goons who try to ‘appropriate him’ a thing or two in bravery and gains a reputation for toughness. He learns that his cellmate is being blackmailed into even admitting to the murder he did not commit.

 

There is another attack on his life which he thwarts ruthlessly. Brilliant descriptions of the fight.

 

He realizes that Spvy, the prison superintendent, wanted him killed. Finally they let him go and his companion walks off. He wants to have a final dinner with the cute female officer who took a shine to him and then leave the town forever. He has had enough of an adventure.

 

He learns about Kilner’s an influential family whom no one wants to talk about. When another body turns up near the first one, he seems to be drawn in against his will to investigate. Hubble seems to have disappeared.

 

Chief Morrison and his wife are murdered brutally, his having been nailed to the wall and his testicles missing (presumably stuffed into his wife who was murdered) – the exact threat that Hubble received. Since Jack knows that it is the work of a gang for Morrison slipping up, they watch the next guy taking charge of the police, knowing that he is one of the guys. It turns out to be Mayor Teasle.

 

Convinced that Hubble is murdered, he gets his wife and kids into the unofficial protection of an FBI agent, a friend of Finlay. Roscoe and he go off to a trip across the border, only to come back and find her house broken into. The overshoe patterns tell Jack that if they had been in the house, they would have been murdered in an identical way to Morrison.

 

You know what’s so great? All the inferences in the story. Why is the new guy not the head of the gang? Because Morrison’s death was a warning to whoever takes charge (one of the gang) next and the Mayor would not set up a warning for himself. Right? Lovely logic keeps you absorbed and reading.

 

When Joe’s fiancee comes to help them, where she almost finds him in an airport in a tense setting, she is murdered unexpectedly, and dies in Jack’s arms.

 

They nevertheless figure out what the racket is about, thanks to a clue from Roscoe’s ex boyfriend, a cop, who had given a ‘gun’ in a box for her to keep safe. The gig is fake currency that is brought in from abroad and distributed all over the country.

 

They finally figure that the stuff is coming in and not out. And having figured out that Blake is a plant in the police operation, Jack feeds him false information and kills all five of the goons who come to kill him in a surprise ambush. You see another twist coming, slowly taking shape.

 

Also, he finally figures out how they get the paper for the currency counterfeiting, in a phenomenal feature of thinking it through. The press, the ink are easy to get but the paper? It is the hardest. One of the clues is that the US currency are all the same size. Unique in the world.

 

When he waits for Picard to come with Roscoe, he finds out that Picard is one of the bad guys and that his life is in threat with Teale the Mayor, the papa Kilner crowding in. Roscoe pleads with him via tape that her life is in danger unless Jack does what these guys are asking her to do.

 

Finlay and Roscoe are held as hostages while Jack goes with Picard and two goons following in another car behind. What happens next is pure adrenaline filled action of the Lee Child variety. By this time you are addicted to his style of writing and want more.

 

The book gets better with action against impossible odds and the last few pages would do any Mission Impossible or a James Bond movie proud.

It is meant to take you on a ride (fairly improbable but very good to hear) and it does it so well.

 

8/10

– – Krishna

 

Book: Bloodline by Sidney Sheldon

Filed under: Books — Tags: , , , — krishnafromtoronto @ 1:14 pm

imageThis is as good a book as it gets from this author. We have also reviewed many books from the author earlier :  Rage of Angels, Master of the Game or The Sky Is Falling to name but three.

 

Rhys Williams is a rags to riches boy, rather in the style of Jamie McGregor in Master of the Game. He rises in fortune through hard work from a miner’s son to a senior executive in a pharma company under the tutelage of Sam Rolfe, the owner of the behemoth. When Sam suddenly dies young in an accident, he is left stunned.

 

Anna Rolfie, a pale and sickly child, meets Walther Gassner, who is clearly a gold digger and marries him. When her kids are born she starts blacking out frequently and also realizes that Walther, incredibly, is jealous of her love for his own children. He wants to leave them forever and go off with Anna. She realizes that he is mad. At this time, he gets a telegram about Sam dying.

 

Ivo Palazzi, the cheating and playboy husband of Simone Rolfe is having a bruising encounter with drug addicted but spectacular Donatella. He manages to keep them both separate for years but then gets exposed and humiliated by Donatella who blackmails me for a million dollars. As if on cue, he gets news of Sam’s death. She makes life increasingly difficult for him and pushes him into a desperate corner for money, which he will get only if he can persuade Rolfe to be sold.

 

Helene, another daughter of Sam is a daredevil who snared and married the unassuming Charles Martel and dominates him completely. She is a race car driver among other things. Charles invests in a vineyard with jewels stolen from Helene (replaced with a fake) and loses everything. And she discovers his theft and his cheating and he is even more under her thumb.

 

Sir Alec Nichols is an heir but is in love with Vivian a great beauty but a tramp, marries her  and is also being blackmailed by Jon Swinton because of Vivian’s gambling problems. When he ignores his gambling abductors, he finds that Vivian has been crippled in revenge.

 

Elizabeth was born to Sam and Patricia. Though the gorgeous looking Patricia married Sam for love and not his money, she finds out that Sam has no interests other than the company, not even her. When Elizabeth is born, she dies in childbirth and Elizabeth is a great disappointment to Sam, who wanted a son to extend his lineage. She finds out about her great grandfather, Samuel Roffe, who started from nothing in a Jewish ghetto to found the empire inherited by Sam.

 

If you notice, Sydney Sheldon is fond of the rags to riches story against all odds and has recycled this theme in many of his books. In this book itself, it is used twice, once for Samuel and once for Rhys. The author seems to think that with determination and sheer passion, you can rise to the top just by circumstances and impressing people with your talk and determination. This is the inspirational theme that comes again and again in stories of Sidney.

 

The other thing he uses is repeat scenarios in every book. Here Elizabeth dreams of different scenarios where her father chooses her over her work. In Rage of the angels, different scenarios where the protagonist could have avoided wrecking her legal career right at the start and so on.

 

There are some moments where Elizabeth feels close to Sam, when she takes over the dance recital and upsets the school but finds that her father, who came to watch it (a rarity in itself) was proud of it.

 

Samuel aspires to marry a rich man’s daughter (also a Jew also in ghetto) but has to prove himself first. He does so by inventing a serum to cure diseases and sets up a chemist shop that first makes him famous and later, when Jews are allowed to go elsewhere, makes him rich.

 

Elizabeth is in love with Rhys but he hardly seems to notice her. He treats her to a dinner on her 21 birthday. She inherits her father’s company.  When they pressure her into signing off the company, she resists.

 

When she uncovers a plot to sabotage the company and knows that someone high up is involved, she is now determined to fight but nearly dies when her jeep loses its brake to sabotage which she discovers while driving downhill. When she comes to, the brake seems miraculously OK, making her doubt her own sanity. Alec seems kindness itself and visits her on her own invite.

 

She refuses to sell and declares herself President of the company on the strength of her majority shares.

 

When she investigates, she finds that Sam was on the verge of a great discovery that would make millions. She also learns that the bankers are circling like vultures for their money. She manages to put them off for a month.

 

When pressures increase on the other Roffe’s heirs, Elizabeth has an elevator accident and a smart genius detective, Max Hornung, enters the picture.

 

One thing you notice in all Sydney’s books is that he does not waste time developing a theme, favouring twists and shocking turns to immersive experience. For instance, here, in one meeting lasting perhaps 20 seconds Max decides that he likes Elizabeth immensely as she ‘sees him as a capable human being’ unlike others who are put off by his physical appearance. Really? And wants to do his best to help her.

 

While he is unravelling the case in his typical thorough fashion (while appearing bumbling to everyone), the walls close in on Elizabeth. The bankers want to call in the loan, she mourns the death of her assistant in the elevator crash, and her only hope dissolves when the lab where the revolutionary medical test is in progress is destroyed, with her chief scientist apparently burned (while in reality murdered).

 

The scientist finds motive after motive for the murder on Sam and attempted murder of Elizabeth from all the contenders in the family tree while Elizabeth in desperation names Rhys as the CEO to ward off the circling bank vultures.

 

Finally, the maid realizes that Walter now has Anna imprisoned in a room and she is in hysterics, accusing him of murdering their children. When the police hears it, they realize that Walter is the murderer and go to his house, only to realize that the reality is completely different and that he is innocent of the murder and attempted murder. That is a classic Sydney stuff.

 

We also learn that Rhys was with Sam before he was killed and also that he had a fling with Helene once. She is now expecting him to leave Elizabeth or get rid of her and run the company with her. He realizes she would stop at nothing to get what she wants.

 

When she gets incontrovertible proof from his room Rhy’s room that he is the culprit (the stolen reports were there, locked up) she runs before Rhys returns and reaches her island villa. When the police turn up to receive her she is relieved but at the villa, she seems to get groggy after taking the coffee given by the police inspector.

 

The story then brilliantly reaches a climax and I don’t have to tell you that the ‘obvious’ suspect – in this case Rhys – is not the real killer. Then who?

 

Nice ending and you just cannot put this book down when you get to about three quarters of the way through it.

 

8/10

– – Krishna

February 1, 2019

Book: Tell Me Your Dreams by Sydney Sheldon

Filed under: Books — Tags: , , , — krishnafromtoronto @ 9:34 pm

image-5Another nice book from the master of thrillers of yesteryears. We have reviewed a few other books earlier of Sydney, including but not limited to Morning Noon and NightRage of Angels, and  Master of the Game.

 

Ashley Patterson feels someone is following her. Her father is a mean but famous heart surgeon who ruined her chance of happiness with her first love, a football hero of her school who adored her and wanted to marry her.

She is afraid of a stalker and also has sleazy Dennis Trible harassing her for a date. Toni Abbot is a British born colleague of Ashley. They both work in a Computer Graphics company. Mike is her sympathetic boss. After many years she goes to a school reunion where a friend tells her that James was killed one day after her father angrily rejected his plea for her hand and goes to pieces. So he did not stand her up when they wanted to elope.

Meanwhile an Italian girl Alette who seems to be manic depressive finds a nice man who is also interested in arts. The creepy man who bothered Ashley was found murdered as well, the same as her childood boyfriend. The link in both incidents? Ashley had confided in her wealthy but controlling father.

When Ashley, Toni  and Annette go to a computer convention in Quebec city, Ashley is relieved to know that the Christmas dinner with her father is not to be; Annette wants to just spend time in the museum thinking of her artist friend in California and Toni gets to meet the jeweller friend of hers who is falling in love with her. When he is also murdered, we get confused.

Ashley is suspected in all murders but she passes a polygraph with flying colours so the police have no clues at all.  When Annette’s boyfriend, Toni’s boyfriend and also the police who came to protect Ashley because she found threatening but unexplained changes in the house (A lipstick message, a cigarette butt though she does not smoke) are all brutally murdered in the same way, the mystery ‘deepens’. (Not really.)

The clues abound and right around half the book, you get to know what you always suspected. This is not the final twist so I will blurt it out here : Ashley, Toni and Annette are the same person. (Now think of the title).

The scene switches now to David Singer, who is in line for a partnership at a prestigious civil law firm. When Dr Patterson, who saved David’s mother’s life when he was penniless young aspiring law student requests that he, David, help Ashley who is in trouble, he finds it hard to refuse.

Under hypnosis, David meets all three identities. Ashley herself, and her alter egos Toni and Alette. He is astounded.  He is forced into taking the case by the insistence of Dr Patterson.

His friend Jesse gives him an office, research tools and his wife joins as the paralegal that she was before marriage.

The trial starts and the prosecuting attorney seems to tear David’s case to shreds and even the judge seems unsympathetic totally. David even offers to resign but the judge will not hear of it. He feels totally trapped, unable to help Ashley and seeing financial ruin and career destruction for himself.

When the jury seems to decide that Ashley is guilty, all seems lost but David makes one last ditch attempt to hypnotize Ashley. What he brings to the Judge’s view is astounding. Unbelievable how he turned the tables may be, but interesting it sure is.

The psychiatrist who tries to cure Ashley is both frustrated by lack of progress and also finds himself attracted to her. (In real life he would have been taken off the case instantly but in the story he is simply told to ‘watch it’).

Finally, the end plot unravels. Why is Ashley in this situation? The fact that she was molested by a relative who turned out to be a paedophile (as discovered later) is truly a red herring. When told in the background, the story makes sense. Mind you: I said makes sense and did not say it is logical. This is a highly fictionalized, almost Hollywood like narration of cause and effect but Sydney Sheldon’s aim is to entertain, not inform. In that he does succeed.

The ending is sort of sloppy and the twist at the very end is also weak by Sheldon’s standards. Overall, it is a good entertainer, not in the same class as his Rage of the Angels or Master of the Game but still good.

7/10

  – – Krishna

December 15, 2018

Book: Pharoah by Wilbur Smith

Filed under: Books — Tags: , , , , — krishnafromtoronto @ 3:21 pm

imageI have a quibble about the dust jacket. It claims that Stephen King said that Wilber Smith is the best historical novelist. Period.

 

Really? Don’t get me wrong, I like Wilbur Smith books, and have reviewed many here, including Assegai, Elephant Song, or the earlier Taita stories starting from the first one, River God. But the best historical novelist? Come on! He can be perhaps the best living historical novelist with the initials WS. Because if you include dead ones, even there William Shakespeare will beat him hollow with Henry VIII or King Lear. He has some history but mostly it is fluff, with no depth in it.

 

Interesting to see the book dedicated to his wife. He has dedicated all his books to his wife, but the name changes from time to time. I think this is the third name I have seen?

 

The Taita stories, though interesting, are insufferable in the all excelling God-like qualities of that man and in the first person, it looks like Wilbur is fondly imagining himself as a demi-God through Taita. If you consider the insufferable Seventh Scroll where Wilbur Smith, instead of the surrogate Taita, is the all knowing, and famous historian of the Egyptian history, you understand Wilbur’s urge to continue self praise through Taita. The pity is that the story stands by itself and is interesting in its own right without the self praise running through all Taita books. I will now get off my soap box and look at the book itself.

 

This is the next instalment in the widely popular Taita series. Two things about the story immediately stand out. One : It has a greater tie in to the original story than all the sequels so far. This brings us back to the Hyskos defeat and Pharoah Tamose, and the subsequent revenge of the Hyskos. Second: The story takes off almost from the first sentence.

 

Egypt is staring at annihilation and Tamose is old. Hyskos are kicking their butt repeatedly (my phrasing) in battles. Tamose is dying and his eldest son, Utteric Toro is to inherit the throne, such as it was. He is jealous of Taita and after sending him to defeat Hyksos, he then arrests Taita as a traitor.  The brother of the kind releases him and escapes with him to the sea. He meets up with his erstwhile friends.

 

He meets Bekhata and Tehuti from his earlier book and Tehuti’s brilliantly beautiful daughter falls in love with the younger brother who came with Taita. When a surprise attack is waged by a weasel-like  representative of Utter, Taita tries to put him to death but Serena saves him.

 

When they go hunting for a boar, King Hurotas, whose horse was gored by the beast loses consciousness, Queen Tehuti suffers a broken wrist and it is Serena who kills the mighty beast, cementing her reputation among everyone.

 

When she is kidnapped with Bekhata’s son being the victim, the story takes off again. When Taita and Rameses go to rescue her, the story takes off again, Wilbur style. The way they rescue Serena and how they free the prisoners in the dungeon are good.

 

Then Serena tries to create a rebellion right from inside Egypt. They collect an army and have Hurotas also come with an army.  There is a great reunion. They thwart an enemy attack as well as take charge of Utteric’s horses in a night raid. However a fish tile intrigues him and Taita finds part of the answer in one of the four islands at the mouth of the river.

 

When she faces a demon enemy called Terramesh who comes in a chariot drawn by unicorns (yes, don’t laugh) and with its axle adorned by sharp blades that tears through enemy army (which in this case is Taita’s) and seemingly impervious to arrows, Taita is confused. His pet goddess Inana tells him of a way to kill Terramesh. That involves stories like you would find in Brothers Grimm tales, where they travel to a concealed cave where there is one specific weapon to kill. They find it through magic and Inana’s guidance and then find another hidden and secret cave, protected by magic as well (I said, stop laughing) to lure and destroy Terramesh with some lude and raunchy display by Serena involved in the honey trap.

 

Then Taita explores the hidden passway below and finds a way to overcome Utteric, who is hidden behind three formidable walls. Also one of the people captured is a ‘good’ one and can even tell between Utteric and his myriad doubles.

 

You get the feeling that this is too easy for Taita. The last few Taita books have been totally one sided and the feeling that these are hastily crafted books to cash in on the fame of Taita deepens.

 

“One of the best historical novelists”, says Stephen King. In my opinion, Wilbur writes very well, that is undeniable, and bases it on history of both Africa and, now, Egypt specifically. But they are simply very thin backdrops to adventure stories. The research is not deep, the history is not even slightly emphasized but serves as a backdrop for gory killing and womanizing.

 

Engrossing? Yes. Historical? Even for his prior books, no. For this particular book, “Hell, no.”

 

Anyway, Taita solves the mystery of the tunnels. They go right inside the camp of Utteric, bypassing the walls. Easy, peasy, when you have the help of Goddesses like Inana to help out.

 

Typical but less complex fare from Wilbur. Entertaining but lacks his usual complexity.

 

5 /10
– – Krishna

November 25, 2018

Book: Honour Among Thieves by Jeffrey Archer

Filed under: Books — Tags: , , , — krishnafromtoronto @ 11:40 am

imageJeffrey Archer is one of those authors whose books you can buy (almost blindly, without even reading the blurb) knowing two things – a) it will entertain  and b) it would be an easy read without taxing your brain too much – ideal for those plane rides where you want to be entertained but without too much education!

 

This one will reward you for those beliefs. It falls neatly into that pattern. Let us look at the story.

 

Antonio Cavalli meets Hamid Al Obaydi, a deputy ambassador from the Middle East. The latter promises to pay 10 million by next day for a 100 million job. Scott Bradley is a lecturer. He gets a special mission. Hannah, a model like beauty joins Mossad because her whole family was killed by Scud missiles.

 

Al Obaydi delivers the advance in a secret meeting.

 

A small girl who is the daughter of a famed plastic surgeon is kidnapped and used as a pawn for him to perform a surgery on someone to look exactly like someone else. However, after the surgery, the daughter is killed.

 

Bill, known as Dollar Bill, is a master forger and is commissioned to make a fake of something mysterious, and is given everything he is asked for.

 

The President’s duplicate successfully passes muster in a public show and in the meanwhile Hannah is asked to go undercover as an Arab secretary in Paris.

 

Meanwhile Saddam reveals the plan to steal the Declaration of Independence, and burn it publicly on a July 4. The movie shot plan to hoodwink the duplicate into the museum is proceeding, not without some glitches. (A drunk counterfeiter, traffic jams etc). At this point you know who Al Obaydi is working for and who the plastic surgeon is blackmailed to work on.

 

They manage to extract the document after feigning the fake President’s heart attack.

 

Al Obaydi in the meanwhile traps Cavelli with pictures, insuring against a betrayal or failure since he has already paid a million dollars out of the hundred million. Meanwhile Hannah falls in love with Simon Rosenthal as the professor calls himself. Then she poisons him suspecting him to be a spy for Iraq and is devastated to learn the truth just before he collapses. She now has only one purpose: to assassinate Saddam by herself, as a revenge for her lover being killed.

 

The White House discovers the theft by the late vigilance of the Archivist who was duped by the duplicate President. Meanwhile, Al Obaydi realizes that for all the work he did, all the credit went to Saddam’s brother and he has been totally ignored. In addition, the CIA has got hold of the safe and takes it to Iraq as if they are the installers, Scott among them.

 

Hannah finally gets to meet Al Obaydi, the first step towards meeting and killing Saddam. The forger is now recruited by the American government to create yet another perfect replica of the Declaration of Independence.

 

Cavelli and his father grow suspicious when Dollar Bill disappears before they can get to him to fix him for good. Al Obaydi is arrested upon his triumphant return and charged with treason. When the Americans reach Baghdad, their treachery has already been discovered and they seem to walk straight into a trap, totally unsuspicious.

 

The cat and mouse games of ‘real’ and ‘fake’ declarations going in and out is a nice sequence of twists. Of course, if you put the reality filter the whole thing is quite absurd but you do not view books like this from that perspective. You go along for the ride. Remember our first discussion above?

 

They manage to get out with the death of everyone but Scott and Hannah and finally figure out that the ‘original ‘ declaration that they saved is also a fake!

 

The ending is cute with snippets of what happens. Nice book. Unbelievable story as all the stories from Jeffrey Archer are, but enjoyable.

 

7/10

 

J   – – Krishna

November 3, 2018

Book: Rules of Prey by John Sandford

Filed under: Books — Tags: , , , , — krishnafromtoronto @ 2:49 pm

imageI have been consistently reading the same authors, though from time to time try to find new authors (New for me). I was told to read John Sandford, and finally I got around to it. I am glad I did. I enjoyed the book. Let us look at the story.

 

Maddog (yes, that is right. No space between the two words you see in your mind) is a professional killer who is waiting for a lady artist who is illegally occupying a garage. He honed his killing skills by personal vendetta but now is a hired killer. He gets attacked with pepper spray but manages to escape, bruised, and since he was wearing a mask, also unidentified.

 

The detectives are watching Lucas in a parallel story. We learn that this is because there is a  link with one of maddog’s weapons to Lucas. But while they are watching him (and taking tips on a winning horse) maddog strikes and kills a real estate agent girl and then they know they are watching the wrong guy. They take him – he is a detective – and ask for help in catching the killer.

 

He talks to a victim who is Carla Ruis, and seems to have romantic interest with her. But he establishes a tenuous connection with the killer and the courthouse. They make out a link from the victims to a courthouse and suspect a gay clerk Smythe who works in that courthouse. They book him against Lucas Davenport’s best judgement.

 

When maddog himself calls anonymously and tells Lucas that they have got the wrong guy, they are forced to let Smythe go, much to the annoyance of the defence lawyer McGowan, who was hoping to make a career break with the wrongful confinement of a gay man called Smythe.

 

They release him quickly and Lucas plays with maddog’s emotion by feeding tidbits to Jennifer, a reporter to suggest variously that the maddog is gay, smelly, and a pig sty farmer.  The book is interesting with maddog choosing the victims carefully and each murder bringing some more clue about the unknown killer.

 

When Lucas sets up McGowan with fake news that is sure to provoke maddog, he keeps her under surveillance. Maddog instead murders a girl who is disabled. There he tries to find out where is the demarcation point where pain starts in her body.

 

He almost falls for the McGowan trap and just manages to escape. There is an exciting scene where he gets a bit mauled by dogs. The police chasing kill the dogs and the house owner kills a police officer. This is all due to an inexperienced cop squealing the tires before they get to maddog.

 

The chaos obliterates all clues and ideas on how to lure maddog back into the trap.

 

They find maddog by a signature on a document and put heavy surveillance on him but he realizes that he is watched and plans a daring attempt right under their noses. The way he fools them into thinking he is in an office when he goes and prepares for the next kill is lovely. Even more lovely is how he fools them into thinking that he has gone to bed and goes after his most daring attack. Whom he chooses is fascinating.

 

Nice book. I thought it starts slowly but it does pick up speed quickly. Nice. You will enjoy the thrill ride.

 

7/10

— Krishna

Book: Morning Noon and Night by Sydney Sheldon

Filed under: Books — Tags: , , , — krishnafromtoronto @ 2:27 pm

imageIf anyone has been following the reviews consistently, you would have surmised that I am now re-reading Sydney Sheldon books. Correctly, as it happens. I find him a bit simplistic for today’s times as novels seem to have evolved into complex plots even for thrillers. But it still holds your attention and is enjoyable.

 

See some of our earlier reviews of the books by the same author including Rage of Angels, Master of the Game or The Sky Is Falling.

 

This is another book along the same lines and of similar calibre. What is the story?

 

Harry Stanford, with a woman and his bodyguard Dmitri Kaminsky in a small town.  He is on the run.

When he goes back to US to settle an unspecified problem that is dogging him (which makes the international police in hot pursuit), he falls into the ocean and dies. His three children all hate him. He had a wife who was devoted to him but was unfaithful to her; he got the kids’ governess pregnant. She refuses to abort the child and leaves and the wife, overhearing him professing love to the governess, commits suicide. He seems to have been a very bad parent.

 

In spite of his father’s ridicule and insults, the eldest son Taylor becomes a strict judge. The middle one is a designer/ model who is self made (runs away from home). The youngest, Woody, marries an ugly waitress and then gets into an accident and drugs, which get him to change his personality completely and be cruel to the wife and family.

 

The children, Taylor, Katherine, Woody meet and find that the will has left everything to the children equally. It also mentions that an equal share should go to his child with the governess, should she ever turn up. On cue, the girl turns up. (Julia Stanford). It turns out that despite very convincing DNA evidence, she is a phony and Judge Tyler is the mastermind behind it. He also has the bodyguard of the dad Dmitri in his palm, once he finds that that man is a fugitive from both Russian police and Russian mafia. Dmitri has been feeding him information all along.

 

Tyler has finally managed to get his share and also convince others that Julia (his own person Margo whom he coached to impersonate Julia) has arrived. He gets a lion’s share and wants to share with Lee, a male hooker he is in love with but who is stringing him along.

 

The surprises keep coming, in true Sydney fashion. For example, Woody, the great polo player gets into drug habit after an accident and beats up his plain wife Penny. Jennifer is being blackmailed after an accident and against his boyfriend Marc Renault’s wish tries to give money whenever a letter arrives. Who sends the letter? A surprise.

 

Carefully laid plans of Tyler go to pieces when the real Jennifer turns up to meet him. She meets Steve, the attorney, who falls in love with her but considers her unreachable due to her billionaire status.

 

 

The twist in the will itself is a final bombshell.

 

Lovely book, 8/10

– – Krishna

October 1, 2018

Book: The Other Side of Midnight by Sidney Sheldon

Filed under: Books — Tags: , , , — krishnafromtoronto @ 10:01 pm

imageOne of the better books from the master of suspense of yesteryears, Sidney Sheldon. Ranks up there with Rage of Angels  and The Master of the Game

 

Armand Gautier the famous director, Dr Israel Katz the famous neurosurgeon all go to see the trial of Noelle Page. Also Philippe Sorel an actor, Auguste Launchon a weasel of a man and William Fraser hating her guts.

 

The story shifts focus to the other lady in the story, Catherine Alexander, wanting to be a model from a young age, and wondering if she is beautiful enough. She is considered cold or a lesbian because she does not encourage men and she did not even realize it. She has her eyes on the football star in her college and he does not even seem to know that she exists.

 

Noelle Page was the daughter of the owner of a fishing company in M         arseilles. Her parents were ordinary looking, ugly even, but she was an exquisite beauty – blond to boot. Daddy wants to set her up with a rich man as a mistress and is thrilled when he hears that she wants to be a model. He sets her up with Auguste Launchon , who owns a shop in Marseilles – as a shop assistant. Once she understands that she is to be a whore for him, she runs away to Paris, with money given by him to find an apartment in Marseilles and set herself up, ready for him whenever he needed her.

 

She meets Larry Douglas an American soldier fighting for Britain in World War II and falls in love with him heavily. She is led up the garden path until he suddenly disappears. Interesting how in all Sydney Sheldon novels the girls fall for a great man and are totally disappointed. (Remember the Rage of the Angels?). She falls sick and is taken to the hospital where she meets Dr Israel Katz.  She discovers she is pregnant and waits until the last moment and kills the child with great pleasure through a quack and nearly gets killed in the process.

 

She then climbs the ladder through series of liaisons, first to Pierre, a talented but not handsome actor and then moves on to a famous director , Armand Gautier, sleeping her way to the top. Since she is in Paris, and the story unfolds in the forties, there is the Nazi occupation in the backdrop. She meets ‘the cockroach’ who is Israel Katz. After saving him and getting into trouble with the German commandant who admires her, she still decides to evade her followers and help him.

 

Catherine in the meanwhile has fallen for Bill Fraser, her employer in Washington DC but finds the sex disappointing. She meets Bill’s parents but finds herself not fully engaged. She meets the selfsame Larry and marries him!

 

Exhilarating scenes where Noelle uses the German general to smuggle Israel Katz right under the noses of the Nazis.

 

The Larry who comes back to Katherine after WW II is not the same man she married – temperamentally. Not interested in work, fighting all the time, a savage thrust whenever he wants to make love, Katherine is confused. Fraser stays a true friend through all this.

 

Larry goes into a jealous rage whenever Fraser is mentioned and loses his job due to an anger issue. He loses many jobs mysteriously but goes to Greece to work for Demetris. Noelle is the puppet master in all this. She keeps insulting him. He has completely forgotten her and she wonders why.

 

When she pushes him too far, he violently beds her and she falls in love all over again with him and hides her affair from the mighty Demetris. When Larry asks for divorce, Katherine says ‘never’ and so Larry and Noelle plot to kill her. Larry is now remorseful and wants to take her to an island for a “vacation”. After several attempts, Catherine tries to escape him and Noelle by boat and drowns. The police arrest both and Demetris hires the best lawyer in town to save Noelle if she promises to get back to him and she does. The trial is fantastic and the final twist is breathtaking.

 

Another of Sheldon’s great books!

 

This is one of the top 3 early books from Sidney Sheldon as we said in the beginning  and I think it deserves a 8/10

– – Krishna

Movie: Searching (2018)

Filed under: Hollywood Movies — Tags: , , , , — krishnafromtoronto @ 9:44 pm

imageWhat an interesting movie! There are multiple things to tell you about this movie before we even get into the story. First, the hero : There seems to be a trend of all sitcom and comedy movie stars to move to serious roles.

First it was Bryan Cranston who made the switch memorably in Breaking Bad. Yes, before that Jim Carey tried to do the same switch with miserable results – maybe he was ahead of his time? No, because, in British Television, Patricia Routledge made the switch from the hilarious Hyacinth in Keeping Up Appearances to the equally appreciated serious detective role in Hetty Wainthrop Investigates. Not to mention  Ed O’Neill who successfully made the move to Law & Order, and later, to the West Wing. And yes, Bryan himself he made the transformation  through a small role in X files that showcased his serious side. Then recently, we mentioned John Krasinski making the move in a prominent fashion in A Quiet Place.

Now John Cho has made a similar transformation from the comedy film series of Harold and Kumar.  He too made the change via the role of Sulu in Star Trek but still the performance in this is impressive.

 

The second surprise is that this movie takes place completely on either a laptop, or a tablet or a cell phone. There is not a single scene that is shown outside of the frame. Which is a phenomenal feature. And everything is shown in detail. You know how they use all the social media, including how they recover a lost password, how to send money through Venmo etc. Nice. Except that the computers and other gadgets perform flawlessly and instantly, unlike mine which often buffers and behaves unpredictably.

Also in this movie is Debra Messing, of the Will and Grace fame. But the story is all about John Cho’s character, David Kim. He finds his daughter has gone missing and when he digs deep he finds that he did not know his daughter. A sympathetic investigator who comes to help him suggests that youngsters sometimes run away and he is devastated, saying ‘I don’t know my daughter’. Ever since his wife died of lymphoma, his daughter has withdrawn into a shell and he is surprised to find that she had no friends and struggled to fit in.

 

The anguish of the father comes through very well and there are touching and kind of funny moments where her friends shun her until she becomes a news item when they turn to be ‘her best friends’. There are also lots of twists and turns and how he slowly unravels the mystery is phenomenal. It is also real where he initially writes a flame email to his daughter when he ‘learns’ that she had gone camping without telling him and then reconsiders and rewrites it.

The fact that he never gives up and also the fact about his week smoking brother all come together in a nice way.

What happened to his daughter? It is an amazing twist and I do not want to reveal it. How he recognizes small clues about his brothers shirt, about the detective herself and how he gets to the bottom of it all are fantastic.

 

I know I am not saying much but the story is interesting and very well presented in a fashion that keeps the tension alive all the way through.

Worth seeing, for sure.

 

8/10

–  –  Krishna

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