Going back to the author Ken Follett in quick succession after recently finishing “World without end”. Normally I try not to return to same author unless it is a sequel but I guess the mood was not for any new author and “A dangerous fortune” seemed like a good bet. When I started reading, I realized that I had started this book few years ago but stopped when I came across a brutal description of game called “ratting” that involved gambling for the victory of dog versus rats in a closed cage till death. This time I skipped over that portion completely. Other than the ratting part, the book is a great thriller set in 19th century London.
The story is about a banking family and how they go from success to failure due to internal family intrigues and conspiracies. It is a story of good versus evil as most of the stories are. What makes it interesting is the backdrop of banking industry and lifestyle of London in that era. It was great to read about traffic jams in the horse carriage driven era. I liked the character of Maisie who goes from runaway poor child to richest wife in town and then back to finding her own calling.
I thought the book went into lots of details in the beginning but towards the end the author was trying to finish the story quickly. Coming back to the description of “ratting”, I wonder what prompted the author to get into gruesome details in a book that is more or less a pleasant reading.
This title “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” was calling out to me at the book shops for many years before I answered the call and picked it up. As it happens in many of such cases, it was difficult to put it down after that. It is a story of investigative journalist Mikael Blomkvist and Lisbeth Salander and their investigation into the circumstances of missing girl. They not only end up resolving the mystery but discover much more than what they had bargained for.
Of course the investigation itself is very complex and engaging and it has all the correct elements of thriller mystery. That alone would not have made this a great book to read. It is the character of Lisbeth Salander that makes it different and much better than regular thriller mysteries. Stieg Larsson has created the character of Lisbeth that is victim and heroine at the same time. She hacks into computers without any feelings of guilt but she is not criminal. She steals millions of dollars from a corrupt businessman but she is not corrupt. Her moral standards are different from society in many ways but they are strong and good.
She likes to be independent and on her own but she shows true care for people who have been nice to her. In one scene she feels strong affinity for Mikael because he is not judgemental about her like everyone else is. Her conflicts of emotions about people and her methods to deal with unknown are all portrayed in an amazing way. As a reader you feel for Lisbeth from the very beginning once you get to know her. You also realise how wrong it can be to judge people from their appearance or first impression.
I did watch the movie and also read the sequels of this book but that story will need to wait for some other time.
“Dead or Alive” is another on the edge thriller by author Tom Clancy. The cover also says that he has written it with Grant Blackwood but the style and writing is purely Tom Clancy in this book as well. I have now read many of his books and he never fails to impress me with the fast paced and over the edge drama and thriller. His heroes are always American though the face of enemy has changed over the years. In his earlier books fight was always against Soviet Union or IRA or Columbian drug mafia but in past few books he has changed to include China and International terrorism as new enemies of state. That way he is reflecting the current reality of the world as we see it today.
In this book, it is the secret spy organization that was created by ex-President Jack Ryan which is at the forefront of war against terrorism and unknown to the father his own son is spearheading the efforts of this organization in tracking down some of the most wanted men. This book also brings back all the characters that he has created over the years in different books. Many of them join this secret organization and many of them are part of CIA but help in this cause outside the Governments authority.
The story also tries to expose the rift in the political establishment on handling of such issues. It is the battle of practical versus political that has been highlighted in the book. When I read his books, I wonder whether he gets his inspiration from real-life events or whether he ends up giving inspiration to bad men of the world. I hope it is the former.
I love to hate Jeffrey Archer. His ability to leave each chapter at a point where you want to read next chapter makes it difficult to put down any book written by him. But what can you do if he leaves his book at such point and you do not know when the next book in the series will come out. “The Sins of the Father” is the second book in “The Clifton Chronicles”. I had read the first book “Only Time will Tell” last year and waiting for second book was really difficult. But this time the book ends at real suspense.
In this sequel, Harry gets jail term in US for the crime he did not commit whereas his family in England believes that he died on the sea. But Harry’s girl friend Emma travels to US to find about Harry and finally manages to not only locate him but also gets him his due as a writer. This book ends when the question of inheritance had to be decided between Harry and his best friend Giles who could also be his brother.
I have really liked the character of Emma and Harry’s mother Maisie. Both of them are portrayed as strong woman who face hardships and dilemmas in life but their determination, hard work and common sense helps them to overcome all the odds in life. The character of Hugo Barrington is in different league altogether. He is portrayed as real villain doing everything with evil intent.
Most of all, I like the style of Archer’s writing. Each chapter is written from a particular character’s viewpoint and story moves back and forward depending on the time they are living in. The characters do not have grey shades. It is either good or bad. That makes the story very simplistic but the author has used the vast narrative to still keep it very engaging. Now a long wait for the next book to come.