Monday, August 28, 2017

House of Spies by Daniel Silva (2017)

I know, I just finished another of his books, but I had a long trip to cover, and Silva and his character Gabriel Allon always hold my interest. This is the latest and right on target with today's events. 

I was wondering how Allon, who is now the head of the Israeli intelligence, is going to provide me with an action packed tale while sitting behind a desk. Spoiler alert - he does not just sit behind a desk. He wants to get Saladin - who has been masterminding a lot of the ISIS terrorist attacks in Europe. There seems to be a connection with Jean-Luc Martel, a successful French businessman and his beautiful art gallery owning companion Olivia Watson. (Got to get that art in there.) So Allon brings back the female spy from the Black Widow and friend to pose as a wealthy couple to get close to Martel; and Christopher Keller is back from the English Spy. Even though he is from England, looks like there will always be connections between the Israeli and British intelligence. We again find ourselves traveling around the continent between Israel (just as a home base for Allon), London, Saint-Tropez in the south of France, Casablanca and other parts of Morocco. We have another set of bad guys in Morocco dealing with hashish that is sent in to Europe through Libya and provides funds to ISIS. 

Allon is fascinating to me, as he kills a bad guy and then jumps into a waiting car, and hugs his wonderful wife Kiara. He regrets not seeing his recently born twins awake, as he is always out saving the world. It will be interesting to see if he can find the balance between work and fatherhood. (I just read Silva's biography and he too has twins.)

In the author's notes Silva explains that he finished the book on March 17 of this year - depicting two terrorist actions in London, and on March 22, a terrorist actually did run people over near Westminster Bridge. All the activities in Morocco involving hashish distribution in Europe is also based on fact.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Not as Crazy as I Seem by George Harrar (2003)

Just thought I would pick up a random young adult book. This was the story of Devon, who has OCD. We get the story from his viewpoint - relations in school, at home, with the therapist. In his amusing narrative we see how differently the world can be perceived.

Dark Matter By Blake Crouch (2016)

An interesting premise. At every decision point in our lives we split off into parallel universes, to that there are hundreds, even thousands of universes with us in them living out our lives differently. Do I believe in parallel universes? Not really, though I understand that there are some physics principles and astronomical phenomena that claim this is possible and plenty of science fiction stories play off on this.

We have Jason Dessen, a brilliant quantum physicist, who got married to Daniella, an artist, had a son Charley, and now teaches physics at a Chicago college. He gets kidnapped one night and wakes up in a lab where everyone is thrilled to see him, but he doesn't recognize anyone. He escapes, goes to his house, but it is completely different and then finds that he is not married to Daniella, who lives elsewhere as a successful artist. If he is a bright physicist, I'm not sure why it takes him so long to figure out he is in a parallel universe, but...

With the help of a technician at the lab, Jason goes hopping through universes - some incredible horrible, to find HIS Daniella and Charley.

I do like the idea that our lives are made up of thousands of decesions - some small, but some making a huge impact on our lives. What if I had chosen to go to a different university, or not walked into Stache & Little Brothers where I met Bobby that started my Logan, OH phase of life. Or lost my nerve and not gone to visit Paul, who opened the world of TORI to me. Or not see that article in Laiks that had me calling Valdis and led to moving to Kalamazoo, becoming a librarian and so much more. So yes, I could have led a lot of different lives.

But when we get lots of Jasons appearing in the same world, it just got very weird. Kept wondering if we are following the "real" Jason, but it all worked out - sorta. They did leave quite a mess for someone to sort out.

Comfort Food by Kate Jacobs (2008)

I was looking for a "comfort food" type book to balance the thrillers and heavy historical novels I have been reading. This was OK.

Gus Simpson has a show Cooking with Gusto on a New York food network. She lives in Rye and tapes her shows in her own kitchen. She has two grown daughters that she hovers over too much. She lost her husband when the girls were little and has worked hard. Ratings have been slipping, so the network owner insists she do a live show with a young Spanish cook - Carmen Vega. They do not get along, but the tension between them makes for a good show.

There is a cast of characters that I actually did like. Hannah the recluse neighbor that comes over every morning to be fed and befriended by Gus. Troy, the man who has started a company to put fresh fruit vending machines in schools, airports and elsewhere, who still pines for one of Gus' daughters. Oliver, a former successful investment banker, who gave it up to cook and has been assigned to Gus' team. Or Pryia, a fan of Gus' show, who gets to meet her. I enjoyed the retreat they were all forced to attend for team building. I guess I found plenty to like. Not great, but OK.