It does not happen very often but I seem to be going back to Ken Follett again and again. I am probably finding it difficult to start a new author and Follett is still keeping me interested. “Eye of the Needle” is very typical world war II fiction story that seems very plausible and has all the elements of fast paced thriller. A German spy in England with whole might of MI5 behind him, Hitler waiting for most important information from the spy and Churchill waiting to make sure that information is not delivered. He almost succeeds in his mission but for the courage of lonely woman on storm island.
It is a story of ruthless German spy Henry Faber who has managed to evade MI5 for a long time and this time manages to get the most crucial information that could jeopardize final attack from allied forces. He is on the run with MI5 behind him and manages to reach “Storm Island” where Lucy lives with her crippled husband and son. Lucy is attracted to him but eventually realizes the truth and acts as hero in saving the war for England. In any such spy thriller chase, it is always lots of hard work for police forces but there is also a lot of coincidence and good luck that ends up working in their favor. Of course everybody likes a good ending.
I have not read this kind of thriller for some time and it reminds me of authors like Alistair Maclean, Frederick Forsyth and Tom Clancy. This is the first book of Follett I have read that is not steeped in history but is pure fictional thriller. It is quite enjoyable for a change but I think I like him more when I read historical fiction from Follett. Looks like a movie was also made based on this book and I should see that one. The book reminds me of Indian movie “Fanaa” as well.
I normally like books that come with lots of details about the story and the plot. But Frederick Forsyth’s books have too much of details and sometimes you feel that it may not be worth reading all of it and it will be better if the story could move a little faster. “The Dogs of War” is one such book. It starts off very well and I liked the way story was unfolding but then it started to drag on and on and was difficult to finish in the end.
The story is about one British Industrialist who gets the knowledge of huge platinum deposits in a small African country that has allegiance to Soviets. He devises a plot to overthrow the regime in that country with the help of mercenary soldiers and install a puppet government so that he can get all the benefits of mining. The group of mercenaries do succeed in overthrowing the government but they make sure that a fair person is chosen to head the country who is not a puppet in the hand of industrialist.
The details of planning the coup in African country are long and comprehensive. It starts from getting the right people, equipment, ammunition, ship and all the associated planning to achieve the objective in hundred days. I liked the details in the beginning but then it dragged on and on and I had started to lose interest. Thankfully, the execution of coup is fast and quick and with some twists that bring excitement to the story. I was reading somewhere that the author was able to provide so many details due to his own involvement in some such activity. Who knows whether that is right or not?
We read so much about kidnapping and then associated negotiations to get the hostages rescued but rarely we get to know what exactly happens during negotiations. Frederick Forsyth has brought that aspect of negotiations in this book “The Negotiator” with all the details in his usual style. On the face of it the book is a usual thriller that involves peace treaty between US and Russia and the evil enemies trying to destroy the treaty for their financial gains and secret services working overtime to find the truth.
What I found interesting in the book was the role of the negotiator. In the story, American President’s son is kidnapped and Quinn is called in for negotiations with kidnappers. Quinn is described as the World’s most skilled negotiator. There is the usual dilemma where negotiator wants a free hand but secret service agents are unwilling to do so and end up creating more problems for the hostage in trying to help. The details about how Quinn tries to play on the psychology of the kidnappers by trying to win their trust and playing against his own Government are really great.
I liked the way he wins the trust of the kidnappers while fooling the secret service who was trying to follow him or tap his phones to reach the kidnappers. In another incident, he records his own sounds of sleeping and uses them to dodge spies who were keeping watch on him. The idea that kidnappers and kin of hostage are both scared and will be ready to use force but negotiator has to play a role to keep the situation from going out of hand is portrayed very well in the book. The story does take an ugly turn and then it is regular chase of criminals and finding out the truth in the end but the crux of the book for me were the parts where negotiations take place.
Frederick Forsyth is known for his thriller books with lots of background research. “The Cobra” is his latest book that I read recently. This is not his best work but since I have read it few months ago, I will start by writing about it first and then write about his other books later. This is a book about international cocaine trade controlled by Columbian drug-lords. In this story, US president gives a free hand to ex-CIA agent Paul to eliminate the source of this problem and use US military help as well as help from other countries.
As usual, the author has done lot of research and that reflects in the story very well. Paul does his homework for a long time and figures out that the best way to destroy the trade is by targeting their supply routes. Along with his team, he starts destroying cocaine carrying ships and airplanes and does it with such secrecy that drug-lords do not realize it till the situation becomes very difficult for them. He also uses misinformation campaign against them to weaken them and then breaks into their ranks to get a complete list of their agents in customs and law enforcement across countries. This starts a brutal gang war between international drug cartels resulting in violence on streets and many innocents also loosing lives and eventually he is asked to abandon his operation.
The story is really gripping from beginning to end and opened my eyes to such a deep-rooted problem which has destroyed more lives and families as compared to all the terrorist attacks that have taken place in past decade. Indian connection in the book was also interesting. The old grain carriers are converted into warships at Indian coast at ship rebuilding facility.