Thursday, August 27, 2015

A Couple of Book Reviews

Daniel Silva – The English Spy
I become a Gabriel Allon fan, it has taken me a few of Silva’s books to get here, but after The English Girl and now The English Spy, I’m hooked. In The English Spy, Silva takes us on a tour of nastier underside of Europe (and some of the nice spots as well). From the dark alleys and country lanes of Northern Ireland to the sunny ruas of Lisbon, there are no shortages of touristy stops and dead (as in body) ends. London, Rome, even Corsica come into play as an international terrorist and bomber, who works for the highest bidder, pushes his way back into Allon’s tragic past. All the big players are here: British intelligence, Israeli Mossad, Russia, and the IRA. As usual Silva plays his spy games across the world.

If there is one complaint is that Silva has become more brutal. There seems to be a moral ambivalence seeping into his characters, and sadly Allon as well. There was always a morality and justification to Allon’s assassinations, in this book it seemed to be more about vengeance and retribution, anything goes in trying to find the killer of women, children and possibly the man who killed Allon’s son and destroyed his wife.

As always Daniel Silva leaves the door slightly ajar at the end giving us a peek into the next chapter in Gabriel Allon’s life – as father and head of Israel’s intelligence operations. Boy, is Allon’s life about to get complicated.

I give it a strong recommendation.

Andy Weir – The Martian

Sometime a book just grabs you from the start – and as a writer it make me soooo jealous. Andy Weir’s The Martian is such a book. What would you do if trapped on a desert island: Robinson Crusoe, Cast Away, Lost? That story has been told a dozen times. What would you do if abandoned on a planet that is 70 million miles away from earth, has no air to breath, is colder on a summer day than the most frigid winter in Antarctica? Most likely we would all be dead after whimpering for a few months until the food runs out. Not Mark Watney – so sir, he—in the best MacGyver tradition—literally makes life on Mars bearable and survivable. This is a story of creative destruction, adaptation, politics (yes, there is an Earth component), loneliness, defeat, and great triumph. Heroes abound, there are no bad guys (other than the damn planet that is trying to kill him every second of every hour of every day). The Martian is a great read.

Mr. Weir does a spectacular job with the technical details, while I have no idea if his jury-rigged contraptions are real; I’ve not heard one word from the science community that what he presented wasn’t plausible and possible. You can believe this book; you do believe that this can or will happen someday in the near future.

I also admire Weir’s tenacity in getting this book published, first serialized on his own website, then to Amazon (where it made its mark) then to Crown for a tidy (though I think low) sum. Now it’s to be a Ridley Scott and Matt Damon movie out in October 2015. I listened to this book through Audible – one of the best reads I’ve heard- - it won an Audie Award in 2014. All I can say is great job and I recommend this to anyone – geek or not.

A must read recommendation.

More Later . . . . . . . .

No comments:

Post a Comment