Archive for July, 2011
As Daniel Silva’s PORTRAIT OF A SPY opens, art restorer and master spy Gabriel Allon and his wife, Chiara, are living quietly in a cottage by the sea. Silva sets the stage with a series of events that are eerily familiar: Countries all over the world are “teetering on the brink of fiscal and monetary disaster;” Europe is having difficulty absorbing “an endless tide of Muslim immigrants;” and Bin Laden is dead, but others are scrambling to take his place. Government leaders in America and on the Continent are desperate to identify and thwart the new masterminds of terror.
July 25, 2011
Â· Judi Clark Â· No Comments
Tags: 21st-Century, Art, Daniel Silva, Job-centered, Political Â· Posted in: Denmark, France, New York City, Saudia Arabia, Sleuths Series, Thriller/Spy/Caper, United Kingdom, Washington, D.C.
In 1998, private investigators Patrick Kenzie and Angie Gennaro were hired to find a missing four-year-old girl named Amanda McCready. Even though she was raised by an unfit mother, Amanda has miraculously grown into a self-possessed, mature, and highly intelligent sixteen-year-old. However, suddenly Amanda disappears, and her Aunt Beatrice begs Patrick to find her again. He does not jump at the offer, partly because he has enough on his plate. Patrick and Angie, who are married and the doting parents of a precocious little girl, are deeply in debt. Angie isn’t working and Patrick desperately needs full-time employment with health benefits. However, the one position he has a chance of landing is with a company whose executives value the bottom line above morality; Patrick has done jobs for them that left him feeling tarnished.
Eternity is an unusual young woman and an effervescent storyteller. She shares her life story in short, action-packed episodes that are embedded in evocations of colourful West-African ambience, and, underlying these, insights into societal and political upheaval in the fictional West Cassavaland, realistically set in that part of Africa. Adopted at birth and raised by two white scientists, Stevedore and Juliet Frankenheimer, she symbolizes a self-confident, stunning beauty – “pitch black and shimmering like the purple outer space of the universe.” However, she carries a secret that, once she is aware of it, will fundamentally influence the course of her life.
Burmese politics, including their political prison system, is harrowing and vicious. Not a lot has changed in the past fifty years or so, other than changing the name to Myanmar. Until very recently, they were under military rule and they are still one of the least developed nations in the world. Karen Connelly has not only written a striking and engaging tour de force about this area, but she has brought a country’s atrocities into focus that needs attention badly, and help from developed nations. However, she hasn’t forgotten the novelist’s rule of thumb to entertain. It doesn’t read like a diatribe or soapbox, it reads like an exquisite, dramatic story of friendship, endurance, compassion, love, and faith in the human condition.
THE ASTOUNDING, THE AMAZING, THE UNKNOWN by Paul Malmont is a celebration of science fictionâ€™s golden years via the pulp magazine ethos. Taking place in 1943, it recounts a story partially based in fact about how the guiding lights of science fictionâ€™s heyday were brought together by the military and tasked with making science fiction real in order to defeat the Nazis. Virtually all the authors who were the mainstays of science fiction and fantasy from 1930â€™s through the 1960â€™s are there.
American author, Patricia Highsmith, who died in 1995, left behind a respectable body of work. Highsmith is known primarily for her psychological thrillers, so perhaps itâ€™s not too surprising that a number of her novels have been adapted for the big screen–including THE TALENTED MR. RIPLEY, RIPLEY’S GAME, RIPLEY UNDERGROUND, THE CRY OF THE OWL and THIS SWEET SICKNESS. Highsmithâ€™s first novel, STRANGERS ON A TRAIN, was made into a film directed by Alfred Hitchcock–a man with an uncanny ability to spot new talent. While STRANGERS ON A TRAIN is my all-time favourite Hitchcock film, it veers away from the darkest corners of Highsmithâ€™s tale. I like to think that even Hitchcock wasnâ€™t ready to wrestle with some of Highsmithâ€™s controversial and insidiously buried themes.