Showing posts with label Thriller > Mystery. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Thriller > Mystery. Show all posts

Don't Let Go by Harlan Coben

Don't Let Go by Harlan Coben

4.2  ·  Rating details ·  12,714 Ratings  ·  799 Reviews
Download or read online for free Don't Let Go by Harlan Coben
Don't Let Go by Harlan Coben
With unmatched suspense and emotional insight, Harlan Coben explores the big secrets and little lies that can destroy a relationship, a family, and even a town in this powerful new thriller.

Suburban New Jersey Detective Napoleon “Nap” Dumas hasn't been the same since senior year of high school, when his twin brother Leo and Leo’s girlfriend Diana were found dead on the railroad tracks—and Maura, the girl Nap considered the love of his life, broke up with him and disappeared without explanation. For fifteen years, Nap has been searching, both for Maura and for the real reason behind his brother's death. And now, it looks as though he may finally find what he's been looking for.

When Maura's fingerprints turn up in the rental car of a suspected murderer, Nap embarks on a quest for answers that only leads to more questions—about the woman he loved, about the childhood friends he thought he knew, about the abandoned military base near where he grew up, and mostly about Leo and Diana—whose deaths are darker and far more sinister than Nap ever dared imagine.

“Daisy wore a clingy black dress with a neckline so deep it could tutor philosophy.”

“My great-grandfather, Dad often told us, saved his best wines for special occasions. He was killed when the Nazis invaded Paris. The Nazis ended up drinking his wine. Lesson: you never wait. When I was growing up, we used only the good plates. We used the best linens. We drank out of Waterford crystal. When my father died, his wine cellar was nearly empty.”





Reviews


Ah yes, the ever faithful Coben novel. The comfort and confidence I feel in his work knows no bounds; whether I am on a string of enjoyable reads or stuck in a month long slump, his books are always devoured and relished. You could say I shove his books into the hands of strangers on a regular basis that I regularly recommend his novels in the most appropriate fashion, and with good reason- they are compulsive thrillers filled with dry humor and wit that anyone can relate to. As one of my top 3 favorite authors of all time, I think it's safe to say my review cannot be wholly unbiased, but if you'll stick with me I'm going to try and give you impartial facts as to why you may love this book too.

1- Coben based this book on true events that happened in his hometown. That's right, this story may be his most believable and realistic to date, if solely for the fact that it was inspired by two things that had taken place where he lives. I'm not going to tell you about it so that you can buy the book and read it for yourself, but it's all explained right in the prologue and naturally sets the tone for the entire read.

2- This book is downright hilarious. Ok, I know that sounds weird for a thriller that involves grisly murders and disturbing content to be funny, but you just have to read it to see what I mean. Anyone who has been a longtime fan of Coben is aware of his sense of dry humor and ability to infuse even the most tense situations with comic relief. This particular standalone was reminiscent of the same air of intelligent banter found in the author's Myron Bolitar series, which is a HUGE plus for me as it's one of my favorite series of all time. <--- Check out other reviews if you don't believe me; they'll agree on the MB reference as well.

3. The story isn't rigid and predictable. You know how sometimes you can read a string of thrillers in a row and wonder where one starts and the next ends because they all appear the same? Not so here; Coben has whipped up heaping piles of intrigue and suspense for sure, but also added in a dash of humor and romance for good measure. I love how I don't feel confined to thinking I'm in a single genre when I read these books; when I dive in it just feels like natural writing and remains uplifting no matter how dark the story turns.

These are just a few reasons why I found Don't Let Go to be such an excellent read; if you have enjoyed the author's previous novels you'll likely find this one just as refreshing and exciting as his past books. Highly recommended for those who enjoy a multitude of gut busters (those are my laughs when I snort at the same time) along with their serious stories. I'm once again in my dry spell of waiting for the next book to be written and published, but in the meantime I'll reminisce over all the feels of DLG. I can't wait to see what the majority thinks of this book!
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One of my all-time favorite authors has done it again! An absolutely superb, stand-alone thriller to add to his (and my) collection.

Nap is a police detective who has never fully recovered from the death of his twin brother Leo. Along with his girlfriend Diane, Leo died tragically when the couple were just teenagers.

Unbelievably, that same night, Nap lost his girlfriend Maura…only she went missing, and was never heard from again. 15 years later he is still the walking-wounded. Emotionally devastated and left to ponder “what if?” He also carries on a constant inner-dialogue with his deceased brother. A very unique and clever angle that took me a bit to get used to, but once I warmed up to it I completely enjoyed his inner conversations.

With a knock on the door, news comes that his long lost girlfriend Maura may have resurfaced. Only problem…it’s tied to the death of another childhood friend. Could this be related to why Leo died mysteriously so many years ago? As Nap starts digging into the past, there are others out there determined to keep the secrets of the past buried forever.

Absolutely outstanding! Loved everything about this book from start to finish! As good as his Myron Bolitar series, this one does not disappoint! There is even a cameo appearance! Yeah! Would highly recommend to all Harlan Coben fans!
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5 Brilliant Shining Stars.

"Don't Let Go" is the Best Standalone Harlan Coben has EVER written.  Hands Down.

Detective Napoleon Dumas, known as “Nap” lives and works in a small New Jersey town.  He has been searching for answers his whole life.  Or at least for the last fifteen years -since his senior year of high school to be exact.  That is when Nap lost his twin brother Leo.  When Leo and his girlfriend Diana were found dead – on the railroad tracks in their hometown.  No one ever determined the exact cause of death.  At that exact same time, Nap’s high school girlfriend Maura disappeared.  Vanished, almost into thin air as if she never existed.  It tore him apart, losing all three of them at once.  He has never been the same.

Now, fifteen years later, Nap is informed that Maura’s finger prints are found at the scene of a crime in a neighboring town (involving someone else from their high school).  Nap is astounded and he feel that this incident has to be linked to what happened to his brother.

In order to uncover the truth, Nap enlists help from his mentor Augie and his best friend Ellie, both of whom have been with him from the get go.  The ride it takes them all on is dangerous, twisted and full of surprises.

“Don’t Let Go” is one of the best books Harlan Coben has ever written.  It contains interesting, intriguing characters who you can't help but care about deeply, its brilliantly written and has an extremely well-developed plot.  The mystery is complex, compelling and completely exhilarating.  While I guessed the ending fairly early on, it did not spoil the book for me in any way whatever.

For those of you who have read Harlan Coben’s Myron Bolitar series, this book reminded me a lot of those.  Best friends Nap and Ellie’s friendship reminded me of Myron and Esperanza's (especially the in the earlier sports agent books).  I immediately loved Nap and Ellie's characters and this story - in fact, I adored it.  Nap’s past, his search for answers, the crime he decides to solve on his own – it all creates an incredible story – one that sucks you in and that won’t let go until you turn the final page.  Though I admit that the Myron Bolitar series is my favorite of Harlan Coben’s works, I would love to see more of Nap in the future.
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Harlan Coben has achieved another mic drop with his latest book, Don't Let Go.

Don't you hate it when "real life" gets in the way of your reading? If work hadn't gotten in the way, and we hadn't been without power due to a storm for more than 24 hours, I would have devoured this book in one sitting. But even spread out over a few days, this book knocked me out, and once again reminded me (after the fantastic Home last year) what a fantastic writer Coben is.

Napoleon "Nap" Dumas is a police detective in his suburban New Jersey hometown. Now in his mid-30s, living in his childhood home, he's never quite gotten over the death of his twin brother Leo during their senior year in high school. Leo and his girlfriend Diana were found dead on the local railroad tracks, believed to be either poor judgment due to drugs and alcohol, or some kind of double suicide. Nap never could understand how Leo could either make such a colossal mistake or how he could be so desperate, and this lack of closure has haunted him for years.

And if the shock of Leo and Diana's death wasn't enough for Nap to handle, his girlfriend Maura, also a friend of Leo and Diana's, disappeared that night. No matter how hard Nap tried to find her, he never could, and never understood why she left. Fifteen years later, Nap gets an alert that Maura's fingerprints have turned up in a rental car involved in the murder of a policeman, who, it turned out, was in the same high school class as Nap, Leo, and Maura. Suddenly Nap may be able to find answers to the two questions that have plagued him for years, and he is determined to do everything he can to uncover the truth, no matter how many people warn him simply to let it go.

But instead of finding answers, Nap keeps finding more questions, questions he might not want to know the answer to, questions which involve Leo and Maura and Diana and other high school classmates. And for some reason, right in the middle of all of the questions is a mystery surrounding an abandoned military base in their hometown, which some believed was far more nefarious than the story presented by the government.

What happened that fateful night which changed the course of so many lives? Was it government conspiracy, youthful folly gone wrong, or something even more sinister? Will finding the answers set Nap free to live his life, finally able to put the past behind him, or should he take the advice of those who tell him—and not all do it gently—to let it go? And will Nap even survive his hunt for the truth?

Much like Home, not only did Don't Let Go pack some punches, but it also contained a lot of raw emotional power as well. Nap, Maura, his best friend Ellie, and Diana's father (and Nap's mentor) Augie were fascinating characters, each with secrets of their own. Every time I thought I knew where the book was going Coben took the plot in a slightly different direction, and I was truly hooked from start to finish.

How many of us have wondered about whether we could have changed the course of a tragedy if we had only acted differently, or acted at all? That knowledge doesn't always help, and it creates a burden we must bear until we're ready to move on. That burden is so deeply felt in Don't Let Go, and Coben's mastery with the plot's twists and turns as well as its emotional intricacies makes this an excellent book.
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Harlan Coben, the king of literary suspense, is back at it again!

Coben is my go to author for when I need a sure thing - he just ripped me out of a month long book slump with this here little tale, and I am oh so grateful. You really can’t go wrong with his books, he is a master at this genre and always delivers. I love that I catch myself saying “What in the world is going on?!” at least once a chapter in his books. He constantly keeps you on your toes and wondering where the ride will take you.

I very much enjoyed the forward, where Coben explains his inspiration for this book - an actual location which existed in his hometown. He has woven a deeply intricate tale based on this locale, one that I won’t soon forget.

The characters are flawed and real, the dialogue is witty, and the story has suspense, intrigue and a dash of romance.

If you are a fan of this genre, you certainly can’t go wrong with this book!

4.5 stars
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Don’t Let Go by Harlan Coben is a 2017 Dutton publication.

An ingenious, potent, and disturbing thriller-

Napoleon ‘Nap’ Dumas’ was enjoying an active senior year in high school, where both he and his twin brother, Leo, were involved in serious romantic relationships, and were busy with extracurricular activities- Leo, with his conspiracy club, and Nap with his hockey team. But, Nap’s world stops on a dime, when Leo and his girlfriend, Diana, are found dead on the railroad tracks, and Nap’s girlfriend, Maura, suddenly leaves town, leaving no traces of her whereabouts for the next fifteen years.

Nap, who went on to become a cop, is still haunted by Maura’s sudden departure and has grieved every single day for his twin brother.

But, when a fellow officer is killed, Leo recognizes him as one of Leo’s buddies from the ‘The Conspiracy Club’, back in high school. But the real kicker is that Maura was with him when he was gunned down, but managed to escape.

This event seems to set off a domino effect, when another member of the ‘The Conspiracy Club’ disappears, and yet another goes completely off grid.

Nap begins to believe Leo and Diana did not die in a senseless drug and alcohol fueled accident, or a suicide pact. Determined to discover the truth about his brother’s death, Nap starts to look into why ‘The Conspiracy Club’ was so interested in an abandoned Nike Missile site. Is there a connection? After all these years, why has Maura suddenly reappeared and why are members of the conspiracy club being murdered?

At this point, I could just say- It’s Harlan Coben. Read it. You’ll like it, I promise.


But, if you need a push, here you go-

I think you will really like Nap. He is unconventional, has a tendency of taking the law into his own hands, has no qualms about breaking the rules from time to time, but is still a straight up guy, who feels things very deeply, and is loyal to a fault.

If you like conspiracy theories, (and who doesn’t like a good conspiracy theory), there’s a really good one woven into the plot, plus it’s quasi- factual. This story also has a cold case element to it, as well, which happens to be one of my favorite crime tropes.

Naturally, it wouldn’t be a HC novel without a couple of steep inclines, breath sucking free falls, a few dangerous hairpin curves, and maybe add in one or two gut punching revelations, for kicks and giggles.

The story is very absorbing, the characters are unique and surprising, and while I say this after nearly every Coben novel- the conclusion of this book is a real stunner. I sat staring into space for about five minutes after I finished the last chapter. Seriously, it was so shocking, it had a numbing effect.

So, back to where we started- It’s Harlan Coben. Read it. You’ll like it, I promise!

5 stars
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Traveling Sister Special Read Review by Brenda and Norma with Kaceey and Lindsay's thoughts.

Don't Let Go is an outstanding and solid new standalone thriller from the thriller master himself (in Brenda and Kaceey's opinion lol) Harlan Coben that we all were very excited to have received from Edelweiss.

We decided to read it as a special birthday read for Brenda's 50th birthday and thought it extremely fitting as this has been Brenda's all time favourite author for some time now. Brenda and Kaceey who are big time fans of Harlan Coben were very excited to read this along with Norma and Lindsay who have only read one or two of his books so far. Brenda only recently introduced Norma to a Harlan Coben novel not too long ago. Don’t Let Go lived up to all the hype created by Brenda and Kaceey for Norma and Lindsay. They are now fans and there will be more Harlan Coben books in the future for these Traveling Sisters.

Don't Let Go is a fast-paced story with big secrets and lies that reach back to 15 years ago. Harlan Coben does a great job revealing layers of deceit along with clues and throwing in a bit of red herrings along the way. He didn't have all of us guessing to the end, although Norma quickly became suspicious early on, she was still left surprised with a few twists as there were plenty of twists and secrets to reveal.

Harlan Coben takes a hometown legend and builds quite an interesting and creative story here that had all of us quickly turning those pages with Norma reading and finishing it mostly in one day. We left the very exciting, suspenseful and intense ending to read together so we could message our thoughts and suspicions to each other. Which makes it all that more of an interesting and enjoyable reading experience for us.

Don't Let Go started off with a bang and didn’t let go to the very end leaving all of us looking forward to our next read by Harlan Coben! We highly recommend adding this one to the top of your list and Don't Let Go till you read it!
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Harlan Coben delivers an intensely suspenseful, captivating, fast-paced thriller that kept me guessing from start to finish. I have read one other book by Coben (The Innocent) which was good, but didn’t “wow” me. With encouragement from my fantastic “sisters” Brenda, Norma and Kaceey, I jumped on board this Traveling Sister Read and tried out Coben’s latest book and it definitely lived up to the hype!

I loved the main character, Nap! He is a police detective who finds himself working a case that involves his personal life from fifteen years ago. I enjoyed following Nap on his journey to explore and expose lies and buried secrets to uncover the mystery that has long haunted him. Nap’s journey takes many unexpected twists and turns and keeps the suspense building as the pages fly by. His sarcastic and witty humour had me giggling throughout every chapter.

This novel was a great re-introduction for me to Coben’s writing. I am definitely hungry for more books from this author and will make sure I add some to my reading list in the near future.

A big thank you to Edelweiss, Penguin Publishing Group and Harlan Coben for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review!
Source: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/34001659-don-t-let-go

A Legacy of Spies by John le Carré

A Legacy of Spies (George Smiley) by John le Carré


4.08  ·  Rating details ·  4,265 Ratings  ·  541 Reviews
The undisputed master returns with a riveting new book--his first Smiley novel in more than twenty-five years

Download or read online for free A Legacy of Spies by John le Carré
A Legacy of Spies
by John le Carré
Peter Guillam, staunch colleague and disciple of George Smiley of the British Secret Service, otherwise known as the Circus, is living out his old age on the family farmstead on the south coast of Brittany when a letter from his old Service summons him to London. The reason? His Cold War past has come back to claim him. Intelligence operations that were once the toast of secret London, and involved such characters as Alec Leamas, Jim Prideaux, George Smiley and Peter Guillam himself, are to be scrutinized by a generation with no memory of the Cold War and no patience with its justifications.

Interweaving past with present so that each may tell its own intense story, John le Carre has spun a single plot as ingenious and thrilling as the two predecessors on which it looks back: The Spy Who Came in from the Cold and Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy. In a story resonating with tension, humor and moral ambivalence, le Carre and his narrator Peter Guillam present the reader with a legacy of unforgettable characters old and new.

“Did I fuck her? No, I bloody well didn’t. I made mute, frenzied love to her in pitch darkness for six life-altering hours, in an explosion of tension and lust between two bodies that had desired each other from birth and had only the night to live.”

“The classified cat watches from the kitchen window.”






 

Reviews


’We were wondering, you see,’ he said in a faraway voice, ‘whether you’d ever considered signing up with us on a more regular basis? People who have worked on the outside for us don’t always fit well on the inside. But in your case, we think you might. We don’t pay a lot, and careers tend to be interrupted. But we do feel it’s an important job, as long as one cares about the end, and not too much about the means.’
Peter Guillam has been long retired from the British Secret Service (the Circus) to his French estate. He is reasonably contented. He has peace and quiet and a beautiful, much younger, French girl, who is friendly enough to share his bed.

And then the letter from his former bosses arrives summoning him to London.

After all these years, it probably isn’t something pleasant they want to discuss, so the question is, does he make a run for it, or does he play nice and show up?

Curiosity wins out over his better judgement. Once a spy, always a spy; he hopes he is agile enough to stay one step ahead of them.

They ask the sphincter tightening questions. They ask the questions that make his stomach do flip flops. The question that Peter has is, where is his old boss, George Smiley? He is the only man with all the answers, but Peter, his #1, knows way more than what he can reveal.

I do believe in oversight, but I get nervous when people are parsing down a series of events that happened during WW2 or the Cold War (or any time in history) and deciding, with the benefit of the perceptions of history, if someone did the right thing, possibly under duress, without the benefit of foresight or hindsight, and wth just the slender facts at their disposal at the time.

People died. Two in particular were Alec Leamas (The Spy Who Came in From the Cold) and his girlfriend, Catherine Gold, at the base of the Berlin Wall. Could it have been avoided? ”The odious and corrupt counter-revolutionary agitator Leamas was a known degenerate, a drunken bourgeois opportunist, liar, womanizer, thug, obsessed by money and a hatred of progress.”

And a man who died in the service of his country. Not all patriots are choirboys.

It seems that some descendents of some of those who lost their lives in the service of The Circus are bringing a lawsuit, searching for who was responsible, or is it more about money? Squawk loud enough, and maybe the British government will pay them to go away. We are unduly fascinated with finding someone to blame when maybe we should blame circumstances, unpredictable events, and unreliable information.

Meanwhile, Guillam is on the hot seat.

Oh, and they seem unnaturally interesting in his sex life during the service. Did you fuck her!? Of course, the answer, as a gentleman and a gentleman who does not want to go to jail for screwing his subordinates, is always a polite no.

The circumstances that Peter finds himself in remind me of the Nathan D. Muir character played by Robert Redford in the movie Spy Game(2001). Delay, parse your words carefully, and never get trapped in lies. The best offense in these cases is a best defense. Stick to your story and force them to reveal what they know.
Where is George Smiley?

”’To walk, I assume. It’s where he goes.’

‘For how long?’

‘A few days. Maybe a week.’

‘And when he came back. Was he an altered man?’

‘George doesn’t alter. He just gets his composure back.’”


John Le Carre has exhumed the body of his greatest creation, George Smiley. As always, he has a surety about his writing that has not changed with age. Reading this book was like experiencing my own reading past. Did I believe the right thing then? Are the new conclusions anymore right? One thing I do know is I’m never going to bet against Smiley. I’m willing to give him the benefit of the doubt that f he did anything wrong, it was in the pursuit of the greater good. I always want Smiley on that wall.
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A reunion book, and quite a pleasurable one. Le Carré gets Smiley’s gang together one last time, knowing the reader will thrill at seeing them mashed against the modern world. It is particularly lovely to spend so much time in the head of the first-person lead Peter Guillam, who is as charming and caddish as ever, and whose misdoings are treated with great affection (there is even a clever wink at his gay retconning in the Oldman TINKER TAILOR film).

The best moments here come with the now aged Peter’s indignation at contemporary spy-craft (a highlight coming when he pretends to need hearing aids during an early interrogation scene), but alas the plot of the book does not live up to the fine character-work. It requires deep knowledge of THE SPY WHO CAME IN FROM THE COLD, which is not as good as the Karla novels, and spends way too much time filling in a minor back story from it. In fact, this review itself probably only makes sense if you know the characters already. The antagonist is somewhat disastrous – at one point he just develops an eidetic memory - and the late turns, save for the exceptional last one, are rushed. There is some interest in the interpolated Circus texts, which come in a lean present tense, but they can’t conceal the absence of action in the outer-frame.

Fans will thrill to this, as I did. Le Carré is always a pleasure, particularly with these characters. His is that rarest mix of craft ability and addiction. I wish it were just a bit better, but I am very grateful for it, for him, and complaining seems petty.
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"We don't pay a lot, and careers tend to be interrupted. But we do feel it is an important job, as long as one cares about the end, and not too much about the means."
- John le Carré, A Legacy of Spies
Le Carré's fiction career can be roughly be divided into two broad, angry worlds (if we ignore his brief, early attempt at crime fiction): Cold War espionage novels and post-Cold War espionage novels. 'A Legacy of Spies' bridges this gulf with one of the great characters from le Carré's early works (let's call them his Broadway House books) by placing one of the best characters from the Cold War, Peter Guillam, George Smiley's right-hand man, into his post-Cold War period (let's call these books his Vauxhall Trollop books). By doing this, le Carré essentially sets up a novel where the retired "heroes" of the Cold-War "Circus" are judged by the lawyers of Whitehall/Legoland/Vauxhall Trollop.

If you didn't think a fictionalized account of a bureaucratic, HR nightmare could be sexy, well, think again. Le Carré's cold genius is found in his ability to show the moral contradictions involved in espionage work and also place that into context to the modern world. This book allows le Carré to juggle both the moral difficulties of the past (Ends>Means) and contrast that with the current state of Mi6 in the UK (Means>Ends). In his struggle to discover if the means of the past were worth the moral costs, while illuminating if the bureaucratic efficiency of the now is effective or even moral, le Carré discovers one core truth of the Modern World: the lawyers and the bureaucrats have won.
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An immensely satisfying conclusion to the George Smiley series. The clever plot manages to reference many of the classic Smiley books and plotlines, and also to drag them into the 21st century. This means we learn more about earlier stories and also what happened to some of the characters, not least Karla (in passing).

Although Smiley himself is not physically present for the majority of 'A Legacy of Spies' his shadow touches every page.

Timing-wise this new George Smiley book by John le Carré could not have come at a more opportune time for me. Between February 2017 and May 2017 I read the entire Smiley series...

'Call for the Dead' (1961)
'A Murder of Quality' (1962)
'The Spy Who Came In from the Cold' (1963)
'The Looking Glass War' (1965)
'Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy' (1974)
'The Honourable Schoolboy' (1977)
'Smiley's People' (1980)
'The Secret Pilgrim' (1991)

...and, to varying degrees, each is wonderful. Predictably, having reached the end of the series, I was left with a sense of loss. And then, to my delight and amazement, a new George Smiley book, 'A Legacy of Spies' arrived on 7 September 2017.

I can categorically reassure anyone who loves the character and the series that this maintains the quality and the plotting that readers have come to expect. I savoured every page.

Peter Guillam, Smiley's former right-hand man, and long retired, is centre stage in this novel. As the novel opens Guillam is enjoying life at his family home in Brittany. One day his peaceful life is disturbed by the arrival of an official letter from the Service summoning him back to England in connection with "a matter in which you appear to have played a significant role some years back".

Guillam is apprehensive. He returns to a very 21st century new headquarters by the Thames where a pair of lawyers, the memorably faux-friendly Bunny, and businesslike Laura, during which the veteran Guillam uses all his knowledge to try to outfox this pair of interrogators. They want to know all about Operation Windfall (detailed in 'The Spy Who Came In from the Cold'). This protracted opening scene is John le Carré at his very best and brings Guillam slap bang into the modern world. From then on Guillam is forced to revisit his former life and consider the consequences of what happened.

If, like me, you have enjoyed le Carré’s Smiley books, then this is everything you will have hoped for and wanted. Bravo John le Carré.
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I discovered the best spy thriller writer of all time (and yes, I include Ian Fleming in that group) in the mid 1960s when I stumbled across a copy of The Spy Who Came in From the Cold. I have since read many, but sadly not all, of John le Carre’s novels, but certainly ALL of his Smiley books. Imagine my joy to find George Smiley, Alec Leamas, and Peter Guillam could reappear and that John le Carre had one more bit of behind the iron curtain story to tell us.

Le Carre does what few can do...he picks up the past, plops it into the present, and makes it work. I loved this old spy, called to account for a past that can barely be explained to the little snot-noses who now run the Circus, as much as I loved his younger version. And, to think that these characters could be revived 25 years later and still have the same effect is amazing. Proof, as if any was needed, that John le Carre is the BEST.

Did I enjoy it? You bet. The effect it had on me was to make me want to sit right down and read all my Smiley books over again. I had truly forgotten how much fun it could be to read such an intelligent and twisty story. Who knew we would someday miss the Cold War? Who knew George Smiley wasn’t dead to us after all, just sitting in seclusion waiting for us to need him again?

I was planning to give this 4-stars. It isn’t profound in the way that a classic is or life-altering the way some books are. However, I think it gets an extra point for just the sheer joy it brought me...and hey, these stars are mine to give...so a big, fat 5-stars to you sir, and hopes that this will not be the last wonder that falls from your mind onto paper.
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Awesome book, all Le Carré aficionados will want to read this. 
Long dead characters and plots from his heyday are literally unearthed and desecrated by the righteous anger of the 21st-century establishment, anxious to disassociate itself from its Cold War practices. Enough said. The old Le Carré multi-layered, triple-locked plot is there, the truth always tantalisingly out of reach until the very end (and even then), and the characters continue to suffer from the consequences of what they have done to other people in order to win at the shadowy great game. I can't help thinking the author himself wanted to revisit and perhaps clarify some of the more obscure passages of his earlier and greatest books. Or simply enjoy reliving past glories.
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As ever, Le Carre is the master of narratives of dissimulation and regret at the lies that have fractured the lives of his protagonists. This book is entrancing, lovely even, in it's exploration of the life of a former spy, Peter Guillam, whose actions and sacrifices are being questioned in the post-cold war world, all the more so because his training in secrecy and non-disclosure means he doles out as much mis-information as revelations during interrogation.

Ironically, the spies of the modern era cannot determine what the spies of yesterday were up to behind the operation Le Carre related in his breakthrough book, The Spy Who Came In from the Cold. Will the current government hang Peter out to dry for apparent sins done in the name of fighting communism? How much of the truth can be revealed, and to whom? Is Peter a scapegoat or an engineer of human tragedy that deserves to be punished? As a narrator his prevarications will leave you teetering between these perspectives until the very end. The ending itself is set up brilliantly, but sputters a bit in the final pages -- there are no fireworks, instead a dying away to embers. Fitting perhaps as the Cold War itself dissipated in a moment of euphoria to be replaced with new tensions and new subterfuges that call for different sorts of spies.

The book gains strength in being by read as a companion piece to The Spy Who Came In from the Cold, as well as resonating with Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy: The Karla Trilogy Book 1 (George Smiley. It can be read independently, but will spoil both of the those books for readers who are new to the world of The Circus and George Smiley. Take the time to read the first book, it's short and well worth it, before you tackle this one.

It isn't the best of Le Carre's novels about the men and women, ordinary in so many ways, yet who made extraordinary sacrifices to live hidden and dangerous lives. As always, the sub-text here looks to confront what that battle hoped to gain, was the cause just? Were all of the players entering the game for same ends? It is a question the book leaves to be decided, but the novel itself serves as an appropriate epitaph that speaks volumes to the unrelenting forces of history that always find ways to grind up and spit up people who try to make the world a better place.
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A fine effort by le Carre in his most recent offering. Here we are looking at a situation where the current spy agency is both questioning and trying to undermine Operation Windfall that involved George Smiley and all his fellow Cold War agents. 
Much of this book is seen as a series of flashback as set forth in Agency memos and notes. I really enjoyed the book and it made me a bit peeved at the new political correctness that pervades agencies who do not have a historical perspective to understand and appreciate what their predecessors had to go through during that time period. The book really makes it appear that the British Covert agencies are on trial for "collateral damage" deaths that occurred in the Cold War, while at the same time being blind to the actions and counteractions that were undertaken by the East Germans and Russians.
Not sure if this will be le Carre's last book, but if so it wraps up a lot and allows us to take a look at todays spy agencies in not the most glowing light.
Source: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/34496624-a-legacy-of-spies

The Snowman by Jo Nesbø

The Snowman (Harry Hole #7) by Jo Nesbø


4.04  ·  Rating details ·  66,376 Ratings  ·  5,747 Reviews
 The Snowman (Harry Hole #7) by Jo Nesbø download or read it online for free here
 The Snowman (Harry Hole #7)
by Jo Nesbø
Internationally acclaimed crime writer Jo Nesbø’s antihero police investigator, Harry Hole, is back: in a bone-chilling thriller that will take Hole to the brink of insanity.

Oslo in November. The first snow of the season has fallen. A boy named Jonas wakes in the night to find his mother gone. Out his window, in the cold moonlight, he sees the snowman that inexplicably appeared in the yard earlier in the day. Around its neck is his mother’s pink scarf.

Hole suspects a link between a menacing letter he’s received and the disappearance of Jonas’s mother—and of perhaps a dozen other women, all of whom went missing on the day of a first snowfall. As his investigation deepens, something else emerges: he is becoming a pawn in an increasingly terrifying game whose rules are devised—and constantly revised—by the killer.

Fiercely suspenseful, its characters brilliantly realized, its atmosphere permeated with evil, The Snowman is the electrifying work of one of the best crime writers of our time.

“What is worse? Taking the life of a person who wants to live or taking death from a person who wants to die.”

“I´ve read that it´s the smell some carnivores use to find their prey. Imagine the trembling victim trying to hide, but knowing that the smell of its own fear will kill it.”






Reviews


This is a re-read for me, it is the 7th in the Harry Hole series set in Oslo, Norway. It is now a major film with Michael Fassbender as Harry, I admit to being intrigued to see how this novel translates into this movie! 
We have the usual gloomy and downbeat portrayal of Norway, its weather and its people. A young boy finds his mother missing and goes outside. There he finds a snowman has appeared, adorned with a scarf belonging to his mother. Oslo police have Harry investigate with his new partner, Katrine Bratt. As Harry digs into the case, it emerges there are eleven missing women through the years and not a body to be found. Harry concludes that there is a serial killer on the loose, an analysis that his superiors dismiss. That is until Harry gets a letter from the killer looking to lock horns with him. And so ensues a battle of wits in a macabre story with numerous twists. My re-read confirms to me that this is one of the better books in the series, although The Redbreast is my favourite. Looking forward to seeing the film. Many thanks to Random House Vintage for an ARC.
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I was invited to read 'The Snowman ' by the publisher, prior to its release in cinemas in October 2017, and have given an honest review in exchange.

As a little girl I used to love the first snowfall of winter, and the fun that accompanied it, like sledging down hills with complete abandon and snowball fights, but best of all was building a snowman. Great effort went into making this little guy look good - a borrowed cap and scarf from dad - a few buttons from mum's sewing box - however, the snowman in Jo Nesbo's thriller doesn't have such pleasant connotations, on the contrary, it elicits feelings of abject terror!

November in Oslo, and the first snowfall of the year covers the gloomy landscape. A young boy discovers his mother missing and ventures outdoors to look for her, but all he finds is his mother's pink scarf wrapped around a snowman in the front yard that appeared mysteriously the day before. And so begins Harry Hole's seventh investigation in this extremely popular series.

Investigations reveal that numerous women have gone missing over the years, all of them on the day of a first snowfall, but their bodies have never been found. As even more go missing, Harry receives a letter from the perpetrator wanting to play games, wanting to pit his wits against Oslo's most famous serial killer hunter. Let the games commence!

Harry is up against an extremely intelligent killer, and the tension never let's up for a minute - the depressingly somber landscape only adds to the fear. The plot is complex, clever, and leads to many suspects, each of them perfectly plausible, but all is not what it seems, and there are many twists and turns before 'The Snowman' is finally revealed. Another winner from Jo Nesbo.
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So I can’t remember if I’m watching TV... or maybe I’m listening to some NPR podcast or something, but I hear about this movie called The Snowman directed by the same guy who did Let the Right One In and based on a novel by this Jo Nesbo dude. Hey! Jo Nesbo! I know that name! I’ve seen his books floating around on Goodreads. I’ve seen people I know, love, and respect reading, loving, and recommending his books.

But I found myself in a bit of a dilemma. I started thinking about all the other times I’ve tried to read a mystery/thriller book from a series. Patterson, Coben, that Girl with the Dragon Tattoo guy, Connelly, etc. I always start strong, but those books have never really done it for me. They’re fine, but they never really go beyond fine. I like books that are beyond fine. In fact, from now on, when I really like a book, and someone asks me what I thought about the book I read and liked, and I have a chance to respond, and I also love commas, anyway, I’m going to start responding by saying, “Man, that book was beyond fine.”

Ask me what I thought about Jo Nesbo’s The Snowman. Go ahead. I’ll pause here and give you a chance to ask.

Oh, I’m glad you asked. I thought this book was beyond fine. A solid four stars. I don’t know five stars would be. Maybe extraordinarily beyond fine. Exceptionally beyond fine. Incrementally beyond fine.

The Snowman is beyond fine.

This is the seventh book in the Harry Hole series, and it’s the first book I’ve read, but I never really felt lost or confused. There are some references to prior events and characters, but things are explained well. You can read this one without starting with The Bat. I hear The Bat isn’t all that great anyway. It’s below fine, I guess.

Nesbo weaves together a very intense page-turner with characters that matter and twists that actually make you pause and drop the book for a sec before you can continue. I blew through the second half of the book. In fact, I woke up early this morning just so I could read the end of the story... and I am not a morning person. Thank God for coffee. Can I get an amen?

I’m excited for the movie. I’m excited to read more Nesbo. I was pleasantly surprised by how much I was caught up in this thing, and the ending did not disappoint. Oh, and on a side note, I liked all of Nesbo’s music references. He threw out names like Ryan Adams and Gillian Welch. He’s got good taste. Well, he mentioned Slipknot a few times, too, so maybe not.

Check this one out. Let’s hope the movie is just as good. Or at least beyond fine.
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”Jonas stood up on one of the kitchen chairs and peered out. And, sure enough, there on the lawn in front of the house was a snowman. It was, as his mother had said, big. It’s eyes and mouth were made with pebbles and the nose was a carrot. The snowman had no hat, cap or scarf, and only one arm, a thin twig Jonas guessed had been taken from the hedge. However, there was something odd about the snowman. It was facing the wrong way. He didn’t know why, but it ought to have been looking out onto the road, toward the open space.”

Instead, it was looking at YOU.
Just an odd thing, maybe a joke by the neighborhood kids, but unsettling, nonetheless. They didn’t see anyone making the snowman. When Jonas’ mother turns up missing, he finds the pink scarf he’d given her as a present, wrapped around the snowman.

***SHIVER*** what does that mean, Harry?

A strange case like this rapidly becomes several connected strange cases as more women go missing, and a snowman appeareth. There can only be one guy in Norway who has the experience to take on a demented serial killer.

    Harry Hole

    VS

    The Snowman



Katrine Bratt is Harry’s new partner. I know of two partners he has had since I started reading the series, and they are both...dead. Harry might be at the center of any storm, but the debris always seems to land on those around him. Katrine is intelligent, alluring, and sexy, but more importantly, she really seems to understand Harry, which most of the time Harry has a hard time getting Harry, so there is hope that she could prove useful. Harry explains the job as he sees it:
”’I would guess you’re fairly proud of your investigative talent.’[Katrine asks]

‘You mean the rat-catching gene? The innate ability to lock up people with mental illnesses, addiction problems, well-under-average intellects and well-above-average childhood deprivations?’

‘So we’re just rat-catchers, then?’

‘Yep. And that’s why we’re so happy when once in a blue moon a case like this lands on our table. A chance to go big-game hunting, to shoot a lion, an elephant, a fucking dinosaur.’”

One of the things I really like about Nesbo is that he always works in books, movies, and music into his novels. This conversation that Harry has with his on-again, off-again girlfriend, Rakel, cracks me up.

”’The Rules of Attraction?’ Harry repeated, taken aback. ‘Have you got it?’

‘You said it was on your list of most underrated modern films.’

‘Yes, but you never like those films.’

‘That’s not true.’

‘You didn’t like Starship Troopers.’

‘That’s because it’s a crap macho film.’

‘It’s satire,’ Harry said.

‘Of what?’

‘American society’s inherent fascism. The Hardy Boys meet Hitler Youth.’

‘Come on, Harry. War on giant insects on a remote planet?’

‘Fear of foreigners.’”


Harry always seems to be a half step behind the Snowman. One of the problems with serial killers like The Snowman is there is nothing readily apparent that ties them to their victims, so basically you have to wait until a new victim appears and hope the killer makes a mistake. It becomes all too personal though when Rakel finds a note on her windshield.
”We’re going to die whore!”

We’re? What the heck does that mean? Rakel is moving in her latest boyfriend, a doctor named Mathias, but she keeps ending up at Harry’s apartment warming his bed. One of those situations where she can’t live with Harry, but she also can’t seem to live without raising and lowering his flag either.

She fits the killer’s profile.

Harry is truly up against a diabolical killer this time. A man targeting women who have strayed...but how does the killer know these things about these women? Time is of the essence, and red herrings send Harry and his team scrambling down looping paths that get them no closer to the killer. The case becomes all too personal as Harry’s new partner, Katrine, and Rakel become targeted by…the Snowman.
Jo Nesbo, as always, kept me turning pages. I groaned with frustration when promising leads turned out to be dead ends. In a case like this, nothing can be ignored because the investigators are so desperate for a viable lead. In the end I had to hope that Harry would weave enough clues together to form a noose around the killer. Highly recommend. I can’t wait to see one of my favorite actors, Michael Fassbender, bring Harry Hole to life on the big screen.
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Here's the thing about the recent popularity of Scandinavian writers and if you're a Nordic Thriller aficionado you couldn't care less about the distinction: the novels are depressed, somber, filled with ennui, a lack of humor, with flawed characters if not suffused with a strong tendency towards determinism; in short, whether you're reading Stieg Larsson, Henning Mankell, or Jo Nesbo you are likely reading Literary Naturalism. 
If you live in Scandinavia you might consider this par for the course, ennui is imbued into the populace (as it is also reflected in the works of prominent Russian writers - Anna Karenina comes to mind). Just as we continue to struggle here in the States with our history of slavery and the resulting racial tensions, so do Europe and Scandinavia struggle in coming to terms with Nazism and the Bolshevik revolution (More than a few reviewers have expressed their dissatisfaction with the Nordic writers' pre-occupation with Nazism). And yet, the rise in popularity of these Nordic thrillers here in the States is puzzling given our strong tendency towards literary Romanticism. We like for the good guys to win, we like emotion, we like our heroes (as opposed to anti-heroes) we enjoy free will, and in general consider ourselves in control of our own lives.

Having said that: there is excellence in Literary Naturalism. The above doesn't mean we can't enjoy a well written novel, an intriguing mystery, a flawed anti-hero, a well crafted story written in the style of literary Naturalism. It doesn't mean we can't enjoy the works of Jo Nesbo. I did.

In Jo Nesbo's words: "I come from a family of readers and story tellers." With a librarian mother and a father who sat before the fire and told the kids stories they wanted to hear (each repetition bringing something new to the tale) Jo's foundation was carved in stone. Again, in his own life story we sense the determinism filtering into his life: he wanted to be a soccer star but an injury put a quick stop to this; with a dreadful feeling of fate guiding his life he entered the military in the hopes something would happen (what happened was "Self-Discipline"); thinking he might want to be an economist he entered the world of finance which he abandoned as well; someone told him he could play guitar (he only knew 3 chords) and he formed several bands, Di Derre being the most successful; and finally he wrote (on an airplane to begin with) and he never stopped.

The Redbreast is Jo Nesbo's third Harry Hole (pronounced "Hooleh") novel (the other two not being translated for a US audience as of yet) and is Nesbo's claim to fame. So, this is where we start. Yes, the books should be read in order! For an American audience, Harry Hole can be likened to Harry Bosch; he defies authority, is an outcast within his own organization, is best left alone to do this job (his office is at the end of the hall), is more of an anti-hero than a hero, has trouble with his romantic life, lives alone, has a fierce propensity for justice (as opposed to the Law) and once let loose is like a pit bull with a bone fastened to his jaws. But perhaps the most compelling reason why Harry Hole has such a following is Nesbo's devastating characterization of what exactly comprises a flawed hero. Upon reflection, American hard-boiled writers don't come close to accomplishing the same. This is not too dissimilar to the way Nesbo sees himself.

Bjarne Møller, my former boss, says people like me always choose the line of most resistance. It's in what he calls our 'accursed nature'. That's why we always end up on our own. I don't know. I like being alone. Perhaps I have grown to like my self-image of being a loner, too....I think you have to find something about yourself that you like in order to survive. Some people say being alone is unsociable and selfish. But you're independent and you don't drag others down with you, if that's the way you're heading. Many people are afraid of being alone. But it made me feel strong, free and invulnerable.

And...ah, yes, there is the matter of plot! So how do we justify this decided streak of fate/determinism within the novels with Nesbo's apparent mastery of plot? The two seemingly ought to contradict each other. On the one hand, we have Nesbo's almost Shakespearean tendency to cast characters as marionette puppets on the strings of fate (the very opposite of plot), while on the other hand we are riveted by the very complex actions and reactions made by Harry Hole during his investigations (Nesbo is a master at not adding anything superfluous to his novels). Perhaps it is an unholy marriage between the two that transfixes us. His plots are intricate, very complex, the seemingly irrelevant details exposed throughout the novels become larger than life as the story closes, and they can weave through time, forward and backward, as the story unfolds. But, with a little alacrity, we can remember we are reading Naturalism and so it isn't always Harry Hole making events happen, but rather the reverse, it is the events that move Harry Hole. Again, it is a matter of preference but in Nesbo's case it is done with utter expertise as a writer.

The exposition/setting is often Scandinavia: the weather is somber, the descriptions grey-like, the people absorbed with alcohol and withdrawn, if not bundled and sequestered. And yet, the dialogue and scenes are full of references to other millieus', continents, languages, and cleverly hidden philosophical references that speak to a widely cultured audience (as opposed to American writers of this genre who rarely venture beyond the borders of their land, if not their own State). And as with plot, there are no superfluous details. Everything in the novels matters and Nesbo does not forget even the tiniest detail to which he's made a seemingly furtive reference earlier on in the story. This is one of the biggest reasons why I love Jo Nesbo.

I thoroughly enjoyed Jo Nesbo's The Redbreast and am currently reading the remaining Harry Hole novels. I remain intrigued by events left undone (such as the fate of our undiscovered villain in this and other stories). You'll just have to read the novels to find out more.
Source: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/9572203-the-snowman

Origin by Dan Brown

Origin by Dan Brown


3.87  ·  Rating details ·  19,310 Ratings  ·  2,952 Reviews
Origin by Dan Brown download or read it online for free here
Origin by Dan Brown
Robert Langdon, Harvard professor of symbology and religious iconology, arrives at the ultramodern Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao to attend a major announcement—the unveiling of a discovery that “will change the face of science forever.” The evening’s host is Edmond Kirsch, a forty-year-old billionaire and futurist whose dazzling high-tech inventions and audacious predictions have made him a renowned global figure. Kirsch, who was one of Langdon’s first students at Harvard two decades earlier, is about to reveal an astonishing breakthrough . . . one that will answer two of the fundamental questions of human existence.

As the event begins, Langdon and several hundred guests find themselves captivated by an utterly original presentation, which Langdon realizes will be far more controversial than he ever imagined. But the meticulously orchestrated evening suddenly erupts into chaos, and Kirsch’s precious discovery teeters on the brink of being lost forever. Reeling and facing an imminent threat, Langdon is forced into a desperate bid to escape Bilbao. With him is Ambra Vidal, the elegant museum director who worked with Kirsch to stage the provocative event. Together they flee to Barcelona on a perilous quest to locate a cryptic password that will unlock Kirsch’s secret.

Navigating the dark corridors of hidden history and extreme religion, Langdon and Vidal must evade a tormented enemy whose all-knowing power seems to emanate from Spain’s Royal Palace itself . . . and who will stop at nothing to silence Edmond Kirsch. On a trail marked by modern art and enigmatic symbols, Langdon and Vidal uncover clues that ultimately bring them face-to-face with Kirsch’s shocking discovery . . . and the breathtaking truth that has long eluded us.

“Historically, the most dangerous men on earth were men of God…especially when their gods became threatened.”

“Success is the ability to go from one failure to another with no loss of enthusiasm. —WINSTON CHURCHILL”






 

 

Reviews


     Where do we come from?
    Where are we going?


Yes, it's the new Dan Brown book. Yes, it's pulpy and ridiculous. But I have to say it-- it was really entertaining, too.

The thing about Brown is that he's a mediocre-at-best writer with really fascinating ideas. If you spend too much time analysing individual scenes and sentences, then you're going to start to see the cracks, big and small. Big cracks like world-renowned scientists jumping to ludicrous conclusions, and small cracks like world-renowned scientists suddenly knowing nothing about a subject so that Robert Langdon can inform them (and the reader) of some exciting tidbit.

And Langdon himself must be the stupidest genius ever written. He knows absolutely everything about everything until it's convenient for him to not know something so someone can explain it to him.

BUT, for some reason, Brown's plots and codes and puzzles are interesting enough to... kind of make it okay. At least for me. I love all the information about history, science and religion. I love how you can look up the organizations mentioned and find that they are all real. It's very much a plot over writing book, but sometimes that can be exactly what you need. Mindless, pageturning entertainment.

In Origin, famous scientist and billionaire Edmond Kirsch is about to make a world-changing announcement. His research and technology have led him to make a discovery about the origin of humankind, as well as their future destiny, that will shake the foundations of the world, tear apart religions, and change absolutely everything. He has essentially found answers to the two questions: Where do we come from? and Where are we going?

It's hard not to be drawn in by these universal questions. Then when the announcement event goes horribly wrong and it seems his discovery might be buried forever, Robert Langdon and Ambra Vidal must go on a clue-solving, code-breaking spree across Spain to uncover Kirsch's discovery. Throughout, all I could think was "what could his discovery be?" It would need to be something dramatic enough, something with impact... and, well, personally I loved the reveal.

    Fake news now carries as much weight as real news.


Origin draws on current events and hot topics to make it more relevant to today's world. Brown touches on subjects like "fake news", the advancement of technology and artificial intelligence, and the dark corners of the Internet. He may not be an amazing writer - whatever that means - but he does play on universal thoughts, fears and questions. It makes for a very compelling tale.

I wouldn't recommend this to anyone looking for excellent writing, well-developed characters and a whole lot of sense-making. But if you want to sprint through an almost 500-page novel at breakneck pace and escape from thinking for a while, then it is very enjoyable.
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Dan Brown is back with some of his best work in a while. I was not a huge fan of his last two – Inferno and The Lost Symbol. I think for me they seemed kind of stale after Angels & Demons and The Da Vinci Code. Origin is now probably my second favorite of his (behind Angels and Demons).

Some of the key points:

Religion and Science – this is a big battle in our world today. It is an exhausting battle for someone like me who goes to church but also loves science. I worry that the feeling is starting to be that the two cannot exist together. Dan Brown does a great job of addressing this debate in this book (even though at times I was worried that it was going to end up just being another annoying commentary on the same debate)

Lead Female Characters – Brown amuses me with every new lead female character. It is always a scientist, art expert, museum curator, etc. who just so happens to be one of the top 5 most beautiful women alive (he has 5 Langdon books, each with one of those top 5 ;) )

The Dan Brown formula – I will say that each of Brown’s book has basically the same structure. A mystery starts (usually in a museum, church, famous building). Langdon meets a woman (see above). Langdon and this woman run around trying to solve the mystery. Yes, that formula is here. However, that felt okay this time. The last two books it felt like old hat – almost like he was phoning it in. But, with this one I was kind of glad to get back into the same formula and he developed the plot and suspense well.

If you like Dan Brown – I recommend this.

If you thought maybe the Langdon series had no gas left – I recommend this.

If you want an interesting, thought-provoking mystery with a lot of suspense – I recommend this.
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FIVE STARS and FIVE MORE!!
Nothing is invented, for its written in nature first. Originality consists of returning to the Origin." -Antoni Gaudi

Where did we come from? Where are we going? These are the two most basic, yet important questions mankind asks of itself. For thousands of years man has struggled with these questions and, in an attempt to fill the void where there is no definite absolute, has created stories and gods to explain the inexplicable.

This book, which is one of the most thrilling books I've read in ages, looks at the science behind "the Origin" while taking Robert Langdon and us on a mind blowing trip around Spain! Dan Brown began writing Science Fiction before he started his Langdon series. Origin harkens back to those days when his books were filled with startling scientific data more than religious codes and dogma. While there still is the religious aspect in the book, the sheer volume of scientific data in Origin is staggering - especially if you are fact checking everything as I was doing. I suspect there will be those who find the science in this book too overwhelming and will not enjoy the book as a result. I, however, wanted MORE!

Yes, there is a questioning of blind religious faith. Yes, Brown does once again shed light on extremists within the Catholic Church - as we should on all extremism. Yes, Brown does force the reader to look at fascism in a hard, cold light - AS WE ALL SHOULD!!! This book is one of the most timely, relevant fiction based on fact novels published in a long time. Already there are those who are saying it is "tripe." I daresay that they have not read the book OR it pointed a finger at them and they felt uncomfortable. This is not a "typical Dan Brown tromp." It is far better than that. The writing is impeccable, the characters fully developed and the research is thorough and well sussed. Moreover, it is a thriller that will keep you guessing until the end of the book which is exactly what thrillers should do.

And that, my friends, does not even allow for the surprise twist at the end!! The answer to "where are we going" left me dumbfounded, speechless, flabbergasted!! Yes. YES. YES!!! OMGOSH!!! The entire book is worth reading just to get to that point!! I almost closed the books hen I read it! I was too emotionally overwhelmed - but - the ending is beautiful! This a MUST READ book!! Go. Now. Get this book!!

I leave you with this riddle:
Ampersand phone home
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Origin is not likely to win literary awards nor garner critical acclaim; for what it's worth though, it is darn entertaining.

Ever since I've picked up The Da Vinci Code, I've been hooked on the Robert Langdon books. I admit that I have a weakness for the formula Dan Brown utilises for his thrillers, employing an intoxicating mix of history, art, poetry, symbols, codes, and famous landmarks or architecture. A rousing adventure through exotic and renowned locations that have me reaching for Google search ever so often.

As usual, all the architecture and locations mentioned are real, and again it fuelled the wanderlust in me. This time with Spain as the backdrop, we have the bizarre and breath-taking Guggenheim Bilbao as the opening venue with a fair amount of exposition on some of its more notable modern art exhibits. Robert Langdon will then, of course, find himself heading from one famous location or landmark to another. The narrative becomes info-dumpy at these parts of the story; a little more than usual in this novel, which does make the pacing slower.

It goes without saying that the author went through a lot of research to produce his Robert Langdon series and it shows. This is probably the most critical component of his books which makes them so enjoyable for me. One that overcomes the fact that his stories are repetitive and his prose ordinary.

Nothing has changed as far as his plot structure and characterisation are concerned. It all starts with a murder, and somehow Robert will end up on the run, with a beautiful sidekick (be it a museum director or a scientist or some other expert of sorts), from some national guard or local police as well as an assassin with a tragic past. At the same time, he is also running against time to solve pertinent clues to unwind the mystery, etc. That said, there seemed to be less code-solving in this novel, which was a bit of a downer.

The real history that underscored this narrative highlighted the dark times of Spain under the military dictator, Francisco Franco. With the current political crisis in the same country, I couldn't help feeling that some strange twist of fate is at work here that would have this novel being released around the same time.

Origin will not win any points for originality. It is, however, a real page-turner. Despite not having the breakneck pace of some of its predecessors, I still find myself engrossed and captivated, unable to put the book down.

What I found compelling is the underlying theme which resonated quite deeply with me. It is about creation and destiny, and the vast divide between religion and science in answering the universal questions of 'Where do we come from?' and 'Where are we going?' It deals with relevant current issues around rapid technological advancements, especially in artificial intelligence and wearable technology, and the propagation of sensational or fake news fuelling conspiracy theories through ungovernable internet media.

If you are looking for non-cerebral page-turning entertainment, or if you are a Robert Langdon fan like me who can overlook certain flaws, I will recommend Origin.

To conclude, I'd like to post a quote of relevance to the story, from one of the world's greatest and most renowned scientists, who had been very outspoken about his religious views:

A knowledge of the existence of something we cannot penetrate, of the manifestations of the profoundest reason and the most radiant beauty - it is this knowledge and this emotion that constitute the truly religious attitude; in this sense, and in this alone, I am a deeply religious man.

- Albert Einstein
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 4.Pi to the sixth digit.
4.3141592 to be exact.

Mr. Brown, why dost thou hate the Catholic Church?
I read an article where Mr. Brown stated that he writes what he wants to read. I am certainly glad for that because he writes what I want to read too.
His books have been criticized for being formulaic and I agree that they are to a certain extent. But if I cared enough and had time enough I could list several more authors who churn out book after book that are also formulaic in nature who don't receive the same criticisms and harsh words about it as Mr. Brown does.
Enough of that, here are my thoughts on Origin.
Because the subject matter dealt with comparative myth and religion the story was right in my wheelhouse. I guessed who was behind all the shenanigans at about the half way point but that didn't deter from my enjoyment of the story.
The reason I decided not to rate this 5 stars is because some of the "info dumps" felt like I was reading Wikipedia entries. While learning about famous people, places, and things can be enlightening too much of it took me out of the flow of the narrative.
For example, there is a short explanation of the history of the ampersand (&) which was clever and interesting but on the other side of the coin was the many page exposition on the architecture of the Guggenheim Museum.
When I think about Langdon I can not help but picture Tom Hanks. When I picture Tom Hanks I picture Forrest Gump. Forrest Gump once said, "life is a box of chocolates, you never know what you are gonna get". Well with Dan Brown you know what you are going to get. For me Dan Brown is the chocolate with the caramel inside and I love caramel. Yes it is familiar but that doesn't mean it doesn't taste good.
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YES I HAVE READ THE BOOK ALREADY! I HATE PEOPLE WHO RATE BEFORE THEY HAVE EVEN READ IT!


I called in sick (as much as you can call in sick from your weekly volunteer job) and cancelled a doctor's appt. to be home to get parcel from Amazon/Canada Post.

Sat down .. read it through straight to the end. 6 hours and 22 minute --- or approx. the length of 10 Danielle Steel reads.

Want to know what the book was about? Well ... read the synopsis.

I thoroughly enjoyed it but I now want a honking big glass of Spanish wine AND some tapas.
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Robert Langdon, my dear old friend, thank you for coming back to me!

Okay. So.

Origin is another signature page-turning, heart-pounding, thought-provoking, Dan Brown novel. This Langdon thriller differs, however, in many respects from the previous four. Do you need to read the other Langdon novels to understand this one? NO. Each Langdon novel is very distinct. In fact, the nods to Robert Langdon's previous adventures are so minimal and slight that it's as though Langdon hasn't been involved in almost destroying the world a couple of times. Robert Langdon is like Seattle Grace Hospital (Grey's Anatomy). Why the hell would anyone continue to go to Seattle Grace Hospital? Well, the same goes for Langdon: why the hell would anyone invite Langdon along to, well, anything!? Anyways, I digress.

The main difference for this one is that this one was predictive rather than reactive, by which I mean Dan Brown is tackling the future (for the most part) instead of looking back at history. This may lack some punch for some readers who have become accustomed to Brown tackling controversial issues of human history (think Da Vinci Code, Lost Symbol, Angels & Demons). Here's a further explanation of what I mean:

Sure, Dan Brown does examine history in this novel; I mean, the title of the book literally is Origin . Buttttt, he isn't so much looking back at human history as he is looking back at the history of how life began. Hence, the first major question being asked in this novel: Where do we come from? And the answer Brown offers up is very thought-provoking and intriguing. And although there is a lot of truth (but also some conjecture) you can see how the implications of this finding would be earth-shattering for religion.

That said, the real point of this novel is to come to a conclusion about what happens to humans in the future. Hence the second main question posed in this novel: Where are we going? The answer to this question is purely conjecture (obviously we can't predict the future) but it is also very thought-provoking. I won't give anything away to someone who hasn't read the book yet, but I'll say that there is likely a lot of truth to where we are going...because it's already happening....

As to what I mean when I say this book is more predictive than reactive. Dan Brown incorporates a lot of descriptive art, architecture, and history, to give the illusion that there is a clue-filled historical hunt being undertaken, as was the case with Brown's famous novels like The Da Vinci Code and Angels & Demons. However, this really is just an illusion of an historical hunt. There is nothing of the sort taking place in Origin. In Origin, there are hardly any clues hidden in paintings, hardly any ancient symbols left out for Langdon to solve. In The Da Vinci Code, Brown ingeniously devised a plot out of hundred-year-old symbology in paintings and sculptures, and often the reader was left gasping at these startlingly believable and thought-provoking clues. There is almost none of that in Origin. Mostly, this is just a thriller, through and through. It's a race against the clock, with history and art sprinkled in to give it that nice Dan Brown flavour. But, as I mentioned, those sprinkles are just an illusion. This book predicts the future and uses modern technology to do so, which is what makes it a book of prediction. It uses super-powerful computers to help aid Langdon and his beautiful sidekick through to the conclusion. There is a handy-dandy character in this book named Winston (those who've read this know who I'm talking about *wink wink*), without whom Langdon would have gotten nowhere. Winston is the deus ex machina for this book.

Part of my disappointment with this book was that it felt as though Brown got lazy with his puzzles and clues. His previous books used clever and sometimes ingenious clues. The clues in this one were kind of lazy and easy. I mean, even I knew what BIO-EC346 was... I came to realize this book wasn't so much about the journey as it was the outcome. The outcome ended up being worthwhile, which was a relief.

In many ways, this book is eerily relevant. Kirsch is essentially Elon Musk (who happens to be a good friend of Kirsch). And the central question of where we are going toys with our sense of morality. What do we want from our future? Do we have a choice, even? You will find yourself wondering just how much damage humans are doing with their complacency and ignorance to the power of artificial intelligence. The painful reality is that, for the majority of society (the poor and powerless), we have no choice in the matter of where we are heading.

One thing to caution someone who picks this book up: be patient. The book does get good, but you have to get yourself through the first 200 pages or so, then the action starts.

A few little cool bits I picked up on. Langdon mentions a hotel he once ate at in Spain: Gran Hotel Princesa Sofia - a cute little reference to Princess Sofia from Da Vinci Code. Also, on page 428: the king of Spain tells his son, "And history has proven repeatedly that lunatics will rise to power again and again on tidal waves of aggressive nationalism and intolerance, even in places where it seems utterly incomprehensible.....that light will fade unless we illuminate the minds of our future generations." Probably a jab at a current somebody holding the highest office in America.

Anyway, another great novel and so happy to see Langdon return. Well worth the read, in my opinion! Pick this book up, engage your mind, and have a discussion with your friends. That's the purpose of Dan Brown books, after all.
Source: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/32283133-origin

The Whistler by John Grisham

The Whistler by John Grisham


 4.03  ·  Rating details ·  132,784 Ratings  ·  33,462 Reviews
The Whistler by John Grisham download or read it online for free here
The Whistler by John Grisham
We expect our judges to be honest and wise. Their integrity and impartiality are the bedrock of the entire judicial system. We trust them to ensure fair trials, to protect the rights of all litigants, to punish those who do wrong, and to oversee the orderly and efficient flow of justice.

But what happens when a judge bends the law or takes a bribe? It’s rare, but it happens.

Lacy Stoltz is an investigator for the Florida Board on Judicial Conduct. She is a lawyer, not a cop, and it is her job to respond to complaints dealing with judicial misconduct. After nine years with the Board, she knows that most problems are caused by incompetence, not corruption.

But a corruption case eventually crosses her desk. A previously disbarred lawyer is back in business with a new identity. He now goes by the name Greg Myers, and he claims to know of a Florida judge who has stolen more money than all other crooked judges combined. And not just crooked judges in Florida. All judges, from all states, and throughout U.S. history.

What’s the source of the ill-gotten gains? It seems the judge was secretly involved with the construction of a large casino on Native American land. The Coast Mafia financed the casino and is now helping itself to a sizable skim of each month’s cash. The judge is getting a cut and looking the other way. It’s a sweet deal: Everyone is making money.

But now Greg wants to put a stop to it. His only client is a person who knows the truth and wants to blow the whistle and collect millions under Florida law. Greg files a complaint with the Board on Judicial Conduct, and the case is assigned to Lacy Stoltz, who immediately suspects that this one could be dangerous.

Dangerous is one thing. Deadly is something else.



Reviews



I was lucky enough to be offered the chance to read this short 4 chapter preview of John Grisham's new thriller 'The Whistler'. Well, who wouldn't want to read this excellent author even if it isn't the full book?

Lacy Stolz investigates cases of judicial misconduct in Florida. She has her share of interesting cases but nothing that will set the world on fire, that is until Greg Myers approaches her with the mother of all judicial misconduct complaints.

Lacy, along with her working partner Hugo, agree to meet Myers ( a somewhat shady character who lives on the periphery of society). He claims to have evidence of a female judge being mixed up with the local mafia, and that she's amassed a small fortune in illegal earnings from a casino and its surrounding condos. This case, if true, could become a very dangerous assignment for Lacy and Hugo, and Hugo in particular has real concerns about becoming involved with the mafia, and its possible outcome. This preview certainly gives a strong flavour of what's to come and has left me feeling excited about its release. I realise that 4 chapters doesn't make a book so it's difficult to accurately rate and review but it's certainly whetted my appetite and left me desperate to read the rest of this intriguing storyline. I think John Grisham has written another winner here.
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Who judges the judges? Personally it's not something I've ever given any thought to, but John Grisham has created a unique and exciting storyline based around this very subject.

Lacy Stolz investigates cases of judicial misconduct in Florida. She has her share of interesting cases but nothing that will set the world on fire, that is until Greg Myers approaches her with the mother of all judicial misconduct complaints. Under state law, Myers and his anonymous whistle blower are able to claim a portion of any illegal assets discovered from the investigation, and as investigations go, this one will go down in history.

Lacy, along with her working partner Hugo Hatch agree to meet Myers ( a somewhat shady character who lives on the periphery of society). He is a convicted felon, who lost his license to practice law, but he served his time and has recently had his licence restored. He claims to have evidence of a female judge being mixed up with the local mafia, saying that she's amassed a small fortune in illegal earnings from a casino and its surrounding condos. This case, if proven, could become a very dangerous assignment for Lacy and Hugo, and Hugo in particular has real concerns about becoming involved with the mafia, and its possible outcome. The case is presented to their boss Michael Geismar, and after much deliberation, it's decided that they will take the case on, with Lacy and Hugo being the main investigators.

And so begins the massive investigation to bring to justice the most corrupt judge in US history. It becomes clear that peeling away the many layers of deceit will not be easy, and as their powers are somewhat limited, the FBI are brought into play and work in conjunction with Lacy and the team. Companies and assets are well hidden but the whole team's determination is unquestionable. Of course, anyone who tries to take down the mafia are not in for an easy ride, but it makes for a truly exciting read.

This was an intelligent and gripping storyline, and took me into places I'd rather not go, thankful that I was reading from a cosy armchair, and with the distinct advantage of not being personally involved. The characterisation too was perfect, with completely believable personalities. What a thoroughly enjoyable and compelling read.
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I have read most of John Grisham's novels so I was always going to read this one and so when offered the opportunity to read this preview I had no hesitation. The only problem is as expected the preview only succeeded in drawing me in and left me wanting more. The book is out in October so not too long to wait but I wish it was sooner.

The novel starts with Lacy Stoltz an investigator who works on judicial misconduct cases in Florida. Up to now she has only worked on fairly small cases but suddenly she is thrust into the big time. Lawyer Greg Myers approaches Lacy and her partner Hugo on behalf of a whistle blower who has details of a judge who is mixed up with the local mafia. In combination with the gang the judge has managed to make illegal earnings from involvement in a casino and two of the people who opposed the casino are now dead. Under state law Greg Myers and the whistle blower are able to gain a slice of the illegally gained assets and are in a position to make a lot of money. But they first need to convince Lacy and Hugo that the case is genuine and the danger is worth the risk.

The four chapters I read set the story up and I need to hear more. I am sure this is going to be another John Grisham best seller.
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Quandary time: I really enjoyed this book - in fact, perhaps more than the last two or three from this popular author (if possible, I'd give it 4.5 stars). For openers, there's a noticeable absence of the industry-bashing that's been common of late (much to my dislike), and the focus is almost entirely on legal procedure that's reminiscent of earlier and, IMHO, more enjoyable works.

On the other hand, it struck me as different enough that it may not sit well with die-hard fans. Can I call it, for instance, a "high-stakes thrill ride" as claimed in the description? Simply put, no.

Don't misunderstand; there's plenty of action, beginning the minute Lacy Stoltz, an attorney and investigator for the Florida Board on Judicial Conduct, is contacted by Greg Myers, a lawyer who claims that a Sunshine State judge is the most successful judicial thief in U.S. history. The judge, he reports, for years has been taking huge cuts from a large casino operated by the Tappacola Indian tribe, construction of which was financed by a secretive organization called the Coast Mafia. But there are complications; first, Myers was at one time disbarred, so his reputation is questionable. And, he's representing the whistle-blower only by way of an unknown intermediary, whose name he refuses to reveal (he insists he doesn't even know the name of the whistle-blower). Because of the threat to his own life, he's been on the lam for years (Myers isn't his real name); and he admits his only motivation for coming forward now is that he and his client stand to rake in millions by filing a complaint with the Board of Conduct.

Painfully aware of those limitations as well as touchy jurisdictional issues between Florida law enforcement and Native American property, Lacy and her partner, Hugo, tentatively begin to investigate. Some of the dirt they dig up early on suggests that the FBI should be called in to help, but Myers threatens to back out if that happens. So, the partners set off to learn what they can given the legal restrictions - and from the git-go run smack dab into a hornet's nest that quickly turns deadly.

As I said before, the action is pretty much nonstop after that. So why isn't it a nail-biter? I'm not sure, except to say it's the style of writing. Dialog makes the characters seem real, but everything in between is pretty much a narrative so matter-of-fact that it's almost - but not quite - to the point of bland. This "just the facts" approach keeps the plot interesting as all get-out to me, but at the same time I never felt any particular excitement or sense of imminent danger; in other words, nothing that put me on the edge of my seat. That said, though, I finished the book in a day and a half just because I didn't want to put it down - hence my dilemma in writing a review.

In the end, I come down strongly on the side of well done. But in the final analysis, I guess other readers will just have to decide for themselves. Sorry, guys and gals, but it's the best that I can do.
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One of Grisham's finest in his signature Southern raconteur style, with a big ol' plot that wraps around judge corruption (Grisham gets the legal points just right) and Indian gambling casinos. 
This book, as do some of his others, takes a welcome chance with POV--it is neither limited third nor omniscient, but something in between as readers are taken inside the heads of several characters.

In another refreshing change, the book easily passes the Bechdel test--that is, there are several strong female characters, and several scenes in which the women are talking about a subject other than men.

Many successful books center on family, and there is much in the way of caring, difficult and tragic family situations in THE WHISTLER.
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4 "A Casino, Mobsters & A Corrupt Judge" Stars for the story and 4.5 Stars for the narration!

The Whistler is a tale of the perfect storm of corruption, a corruption so profound and well hidden that it lasts decades and involves an entire Native American tribe, countless of mobsters that have previously evaded law enforcement attention, numerous murders, a corrupt judge, and her attorney, as well as loads of dirty cash. Going deep into how the organization of a Native American tribe and the federal laws that allow gambling on tribe lands work, as well as, the powers of a little known governmental authority whose job it is to investigate judicial misconduct, called the Florida Board on Judicial Conduct, Mr. Grisham's spare no detail account of the inner workings of these various matters are sure to keep the listener entertained and fascinated with learning more about these interesting matters. Moreover, the listener is sure to be glued to the edge of their seat as they work out who the secret mole, or "whistler," and intermediary actually are, as well as the enormity of the grandiose corruption scheme they are blowing the cover on. Moreover, as if the story were not reason enough to listen, Cassandra Campbell's adept narration makes this a great title to experience in audio format.

It all begins with a tip as to a corrupt judge who allegedly is skimming money, along with the help of the little known Coast Mafia, from a casino on Native American land. Although RICO cases and crimes on Native American lands are within the jurisdiction of the FBI, it is Lacy Stoltz, a lawyer who works for the Florida Board on Judicial Conduct, who gets the tip based on a complaint of the judicial misconduct of a Florida judge. It is the informant's goal to earn a large fee under the related whistler statute for providing a tip that leads to the recovery of money from the corruption.

However, Lacey and her partner, Hugo, are immediately presented with several quandaries. First can they believe the informant? A person who refuses to be identified and who has only reached them through an unknown intermediary and the intermediary's counsel, who goes by the very common name of "Greg Myers." Moreover, Myers fully admits that he has a criminal record and was at one point disbarred for his past transgressions. As if that wasn't sketchy enough, Myers also seems to live beyond his means and constantly on the run on his expensive boat. Can Myers be trusted? Even if he can, Lacey's normal line of work involves sanctioning judges who commit small infractions, not organized crime. When she suggests that the Myers take his complaint to the FBI, however, he absolutely refuses. Stating he will never work with the FBI. Just who is telling the truth and who is corrupt in this story? And the deeper Lacey digs the more dangerous the situation gets when it becomes clear that someone wants to silence her investigation. Can she stay safe when she has no formal law enforcement training to guide her?

Cassandra Campbell provides a talented narration that is perfectly suited for a law enforcement drama or thriller. Using expert timing, Ms. Campbell's delivery is easy to follow and allows the listener to sit back and seamlessly enjoy the story.

Ms. Campbell also expertly produces different voices for each one of the various characters allowing the listener to know who is speaking in dialogues without the need to rely on dialogue tags. She even manages to make each character's voice match the personality traits that Mr. Grisham pens for each. For example, Lacey sounds like an inquisitive, energetic, and dedicated lawyer which matches her description, whereas her partner Hugo, who has 4 young kids and is constantly described as sleep deprived, sounds appropriately tired. Even the informant sounds appropriately anxious as the corruption scheme begins to unravel and it becomes a fight to see which side will win: good or evil.

All in all, I really enjoyed listening to The Whistler. As a lawyer myself, I found the description of the Florida Board on Judicial Conduct and how the Native American tribes are organized and self-governed fascinating. I also enjoyed the fast-paced action scenes as the corruption ring slowly begins to be uncovered. Although there isn't a lot of mystery or suspense surrounding this title, it is the action and interrelationships among this wide disparate group of criminals that is the draw of this legal based thriller. It's amazing to see that after decades of great legal thrillers, Mr. Grisham is still one of the best of this genre.
Source: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/29354916-the-whistler