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Human Love
Human Love
par Andreï Makine
Edition : Broché
Prix : EUR 10,55

5.0 étoiles sur 5 Dramatic Love Story during the Cold War, 15 janvier 2013
Ce commentaire fait référence à cette édition : Human Love (Broché)
Andreï Makine's novels deal with real persons living through dramatic times in Soviet history and the new Russia. This intriguing novel is about three persons: the Angolan professional revolutionary and spy Elias, Russian Anna, daughter of survivors of ice-cold, harsh Siberian re-education camps, and the story teller himself, a nameless Russian writer and war correspondent not unlike the late (Polish journalist) Ryszard Kapuscinski. It covers decades of death and suffering of innocent Africans against the background of the Cold War and exploitation of their natural resources...
When Elias flees the Portuguese colony of Angola at the age of 15, he has witnessed plenty of violence and injustice. In the Congolese province of Kivu, he sees his father being killed and also how Ernesto `Che' Guevara failed in his efforts to start a revolution... Next, Algeria, Moscow, Cuba, Moscow again, where Elias is trained and primed to become an asset in the struggle against imperialism. He is brilliant learner, but has his own doubts: what is missing in Marxist ideology and its Soviet practice, is respect for common people. As everywhere else.
In Moscow, the still young Elias is assaulted by a racist gang. He is saved by Anna, who tells them off in Gulag-slang. Later, they tell each other about defining, magical moments in their lives and recognize in each other feelings that set them apart from the rest of the world, which slips into mayhem and disaster due to a systemic, inborn lack of love and compassion. Anna takes Elias to Sarma, her home village in Eastern Siberia in mid-winter, a week's journey by train and other means. Sarma's inhabitants, all camp survivors welcome Elias warmly as if one of their own. Elias will never forget Sarma or Anna. They meet again, very discreetly and platonically in the decades to follow, wherever he and she are assigned to places where her husband is a diplomat and where Elias' task is to help or organize regime change.

The thought of the simplicity, tranquility and warmth of living one day in Sarma permanently with Anna, despite winter temperatures of up to -60 C, gradually become Elias' last hope of survival, realizing the SU he served so long is about to collapse and will have no further use for his services. Returning to Angola would mean instant death. A dramatic showdown follows in Mogadishu in 1991... Finally, the most interesting character is the storyteller. He goes far beyond what other, more politically-correct novelists dare say about African politicians, writers, development experts and their involvement with foreign companies dealing with oil, diamonds, today perhaps in fertile farmland.

Highly recommended novel, which will reverberate in readers' minds for a long time.


The Scarecrow
The Scarecrow
par Michael Connelly
Edition : Poche
Prix : EUR 7,95

5.0 étoiles sur 5 Who guards the Guardians?, 27 décembre 2012
Ce commentaire fait référence à cette édition : The Scarecrow (Poche)
Imagine someone busy pressing buttons to isolate you totally: your cash card and mobile phone die. You cancelled your credit cards yourself and also transferred your bank balance to charity. Your recent outgoing e-mails were deleted and your employer's intranet is compromised and wide open to further abuse. This happened to LA Times journalist Jack McEvoy, days after he was fired as number 99 from a deathlist of 100. He was offered 2 weeks extra pay to prepare his cheaper successor Angela to succeed him. But she is found cruelly murdered only days later...

Ten years ago Jack and FBI agent Rachel Walling nailed the Poet, a serial killer. Jack wrote a bestseller about the case and bought a house from the proceeds. Rachel was exiled to South Dakota for 5 years. They meet again in this case: Alonzo (16) is accused of the murder of a drug-addicted stripper found in the boot of her own car. He admits having stolen the car, but nothing else. His grandma phones and challenges Jack to look into the boy's case. Whereupon strange things begin to happen with Jack's data carriers. But mainly after Jack hits on another, identical murder in Las Vegas...

MC writes perfectly-researched thrillers with multiple story lines. This tale is also about the ongoing decline of newspapers and serious journalism and the ascent of sound bite-driven news reporting on TV, internet and social media. More recently, Jon Talton wrote another passionate defense of solid journalism in Seattle in his thriller `Deadline Man'. Thirdly, it is about 'cloud computing', whereby many large and more smaller companies, such as law firms producing vast amounts of daily-changing data, believe their data are cheaper and better guarded in anonymous bunkers than on their own premises...

But as an ancient saying goes,`Who guards the Guardians?'. Scary thriller about blind faith in the internet and its services and some men's abilities to commit uncharted types of crime.


Avenger
Avenger
par Frederick Forsyth
Edition : Broché
Prix : EUR 10,70

4.0 étoiles sur 5 Almost perfect piece of 'faction', 20 décembre 2012
Ce commentaire fait référence à cette édition : Avenger (Broché)
Frederick Forsyth (FF) dedicated this thriller to the `tunnel rats' of the Vietnam war. Fans of Harry Bosch, the alcoholic hero of many of Michael Connelly's novels, know he was one of them, long ago. In this deftly-composed and well-documented thriller, Frederick Forsyth (FF) explains in graphic detail what their work entailed. Because, deeply hidden under plenty of action and loads of background, this thriller is about two former tunnel rats, who worked as a pair decades ago, trusting each other blindly...
This thriller covers half a century and stops at the eve of 9/11 2001. It has several story lines: (1) the search in Bosnia for the grandson of a Canadian mining tycoon who disappeared in 1995 and later, for his killer; (2) the life and career of a 51-year old small-town lawyer, who lost his wife and daughter and avenged their deaths, and trains his body and mind to take a `fishing holiday' to apply justice again, when requested; (3) the struggle between the FBI's strait-laced Presbyterian Colin Fleming and the CIA's Jesuit-educated Paul Devereaux, who runs an ultra-secret program to blot out Osama bin Laden. Who moreover, because of his upbringing, has more flexible standards: should a (Serbian) pawn be punished harshly for his horrible crimes (Colin), or be used and protected at all cost to serve a higher aim and help prevent an impending, much greater disaster (Paul)?
FF has been writing high-quality thrillers for over 40 years. In the 1970s, his novels `The Day of the Jackal', `The Odessa File' and `The Dogs of War' became successful films. But the list of books and stories by FF turned into movies continues to the present day, because this creation,`The Avenger' has been made into a film too. Readers enjoying action and violence within a credible plot and context, should read FF's books. They are superbly plotted, have `flow', i.e. read pleasantly and are always well researched. Or, when persons are concerned, well made up. Or, in case of the brutal, fictitious nation of San Martín (`Spanish Guyana'), wedged between Suriname and French Guyana, another enjoyable invention.
Not a word out of place. Well done and to be enjoyed by readers who enjoy action against an almost plausible background. Chapeau!


When the Sacred Ginmill Closes
When the Sacred Ginmill Closes
par Lawrence Block
Edition : Poche
Prix : EUR 6,42

5.0 étoiles sur 5 Total masterpiece, 14 décembre 2012
Ce commentaire fait référence à cette édition : When the Sacred Ginmill Closes (Poche)
Hugely enjoyed Lawrence Block`s 2011 novel `A Drop of the Hard Stuff', which was a 2010 memoire of NY around 1982. It was a long overdue resurrection of his hero Matthew Scudder (MS). This 17th novel about this alcoholic NYPD detective/unlicensed private eye, decades later still battling alcoholism a day at a time, glorified attendance of AA-sessions, keeping close contact with 'sponsors'(=coaches), etc., in addition to telling a great tale.

This novel came out in 1986 and deals with the summer of 1975. Over a decade later, MS retells three crimes committed in 1975: an armed hold-up of an illegal after-hours bar; a bloody murder/robbery in Brooklyn and the theft of a bar's true financial records. Hard-drinking Matt became involved in all three events and received a fee to solve two of the cases. There is a hefty reward for solving the third case... Loving MSs comeback, I found a dusty copy of this novel on my shelves. Whilst the 2011 book is an ode to AA and MS's almost religious, decades-long adherence, attendance and abstinence, this 1986 book reads like a commercial for multinational whiskey- and beer brands. MS is divorced with two small sons, lives in a cheap hotel, always eats out and graces 20+ bars with his presence. But only two or three bars are truly significant: they host his closest friends or contacts.

MSs' quest suffers from hangovers, short-term memory loss and missing clues he would not have missed earlier. He realizes he cannot go on drinking how he does, before making one breakthrough after another in the cases under his care... What happens in this book is awesomely-well described, full of a languid, sure-footed kind of `flow', well paced and with great dialogue. And plenty of nastiness, crossing of friends and taking the law into one's own hand.
Do not miss this book. And its latest sequel.


Tripwire
Tripwire
par Lee Child
Edition : Poche
Prix : EUR 7,94

1 internaute sur 1 a trouvé ce commentaire utile :
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Not him, not Tom Cruise!, 12 décembre 2012
Ce commentaire fait référence à cette édition : Tripwire (Poche)
In this truly brutal, early book about itinerant ex-MP Jack Reacher (JR)) first published in 1999, the Twin Towers may play a bigger, more atmospheric role than in any other piece of creative writing; hosting 130.000 workers, its sounds and smells provide a powerful backdrop to what follows. Because on the 88th floor of its South Tower, Victor `Hook' Hobie holds court, an evil money man with a blotted-out past, financier of last resort for heirs of struggling family businesses, desperate to bridge a brief cash shortfall at extortionate rates. Not so with Chester Stone IV, whose firm stuck to making 8-mm cameras when video and other technologies made his company obsolete. Hobie is intent on taking over the entire firm within six weeks...

Meanwhile, JR digs up 4 tons of dirt and stones a day in the Florida Keys, creating swimming pools and works evenings as a bouncer. His work has made him top fit, 113 kg of pure muscle, when he becomes aware of being wanted, first by a NY-private eye, then by a duo of NY-gangsters in expensive suits. He denies being JR on both occasions. When he finds the private eye dead, face ruined, finger prints cut off, he flies, a bit guilt-ridden, to NY for some private inquiries.

This thriller is about two lines of inquiry with a tight deadline in the here and now, but starting 30 years apart. Induction and deduction, contacts in the armed forces (JR was made redundant only 2 years earlier), help him think and crash through walls of silence. This was only the third of a series of (now) 17 thrillers with JR as an itinerant, walk-about former MP major. And one of the best in a great series.

The bad news is that the hero of a Hollywood movie about Reacher's exploits, will be Tom Cruise... Terrible choice. His size (160+ cm) disqualifies him from being an MP for starters. Let alone stepping into JR's large shoes.


Comfort to the Enemy
Comfort to the Enemy
par Elmore Leonard
Edition : Relié

4.0 étoiles sur 5 'Most times when you're late, you're dead', 6 décembre 2012
Ce commentaire fait référence à cette édition : Comfort to the Enemy (Relié)
`Most times when you're late, you're dead'.
Great sequel to `The Hot Kid' (2005) about Deputy US Marshall Carl(os) Webster. Aged 15, he warned twice, then shot and killed a man stealing his cows from 400 yards. A writer from `True Detective' wrote a book about Carl's later exploits in law enforcement that sold well in Oklahoma, Ohio and Arkansas, but not far beyond. This follow-up contains 2 nice short stories and a great novella about young Carl and when he is older.
This review is about the novella, situated late during WW II, when Carl returns to Oklahoma from the Pacific with a Purple Heart and other medals. His wife Louly is still a US Marine gunnery instructor, but wonders after their short, passionate reunion if being shot and hit by 2 Japanese jungle survivors has somehow mellowed Carl, softened his focus. So does Carl's new partner Gary, a dumb ex-bull rider, pining for a write-up about himself. And they are not alone. More people will try to test Carl's reflexes...

The US Carl returns to is dotted with hundreds of POW-camps holding some 350.000 Germans, many still in uniform. Carl investigates an `assisted' suicide and focuses on ex-tank driver Jurgen, once a citizen of Detroit, now a serial run-away (but always returning), indifferent to Nazi-ideology and his hard-core camp committee, hoping he will help him arrest the real killers. Then the plot thickens. A Jewish gangster furious about the fate of Jews in his parents' homeland Poland, starts a private campaign against Nazis basking in cozy camp conditions.

Central to most or all of Elmore Leonard's novels and film scripts is the showdown, the final confrontation. Staring a man down, wearing your hat just the right way, getting an edge by what you say and how, always staying one step ahead, or else `most times when you`re late, you're dead'.
Great read about alpha-male interaction and a neglected piece of modern US history.


The Light of Day
The Light of Day
par Graham Swift
Edition : Broché

1 internaute sur 1 a trouvé ce commentaire utile :
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Crossing boundaries, crossing lines, 3 décembre 2012
Ce commentaire fait référence à cette édition : The Light of Day (Broché)
Slow-moving but gradually disturbing novel written in the I-form about a day in the life of George Webb, private detective, whose life is falling apart. It is about the follies of an average man after a tough 24-years as a policeman, mostly as a plain-clothed detective. He always hated teachers, but married one who then appeared to judge him constantly. His daughter Helen was long an enemy. When George slips up and is dismissed from the Force, his wife Rachel moves out, divorces him. Helen then moves closer to her dad and his cooking hobby. George becomes a private eye specialized in "matrimonial work", providing proof for clients, mostly women, of their partners' affairs. Early on, it is suggested that George has slept with his PA. Later, George admits he also slept with some of his clients.
One morning, strong sun light is shining through his front room window on the knees of a new lady client, Sarah. George is instantly smitten with her and arranges a second meeting to view photos of his quarries. They are her husband Robert, a gynecologist and Kristina, a Croatian refugee they adopted, gave sanctuary in their home earlier. They have an affair. Kristina has to go. George is contracted by Sarah to follow the couple from Katrina's rented flat to Heathrow and observe and report exactly what happens from start to finish, because there are several possible outcomes... A simple job George could have left to his PA Rita. Or rather, should have...
George is not the sharpest tool in the box, but is sensitive enough to see parallels to events he witnessed earlier in life but remained silent about... Swift is an outstanding plotter and a master at playing with the meanings of different words, even making the weather work for him. Highly sensitive and rueful novel.


Djibouti
Djibouti
par Elmore Leonard
Edition : Broché
Prix : EUR 10,55

3.0 étoiles sur 5 A hard act to follow, 30 novembre 2012
Ce commentaire fait référence à cette édition : Djibouti (Broché)
Have read at least half of his books. Found this novel lacking the flow and ease of EL's usual writing and I struggled more than ever with the slang in the dialogues. The opening chapters are OK. The objective is to shoot a documentary about Somali pirates. One learns about the prime movers, white Dara (36) and black Xavier (72), her fixer and cameraman, both from New Orleans, Louisina. Dara is famous: three docs, three major prizes. This one has to become a hit too.
Chapter 5 marks a turning point, when >3 weeks later they are back in a luxury hotel in Djibouti and view and argue about the 12 hours of material they shot. Some 60-80 confusing, tedious, jarring pages follow, full of flashbacks and flash forwards about how to turn what they have into a doc. and what to do next. This part truly discourages further reading. But persistent readers are treated to a mongrel of a book full of strengths and weaknesses about (1) an al-Qaida plot to explode a huge LNG-tanker in a Louisiana port, or in Djibouti itself; (2) a well-connected Texas billionaire testing his model girlfriend, and following the tanker in their yacht; (3) Afro-American al-Qaida warrior James Russell, a.k.a. Jama Raisuli, cornered in Somalia and Djibouti. Etc., etc., because EL is a master of subplots.

What kept me alert and reading was what was brewing between Dara and slim, old, 6/6 tall Xavier, who stakes his fee + expenses on the outcome of a bet with Dara about his virility... The novel improves beyond the halfway point, but loses credibility with EL naming Somalis 'Kwame' (a purely Ghanaian first name) or when the Djibouti Chief of Police starts to talk slang like Xavier. For diehard fans only.


Limitations
Limitations
par Scott Turow
Edition : Broché
Prix : EUR 9,22

1 internaute sur 1 a trouvé ce commentaire utile :
4.0 étoiles sur 5 Morally-challenging tale about a judge, 25 novembre 2012
Ce commentaire fait référence à cette édition : Limitations (Broché)
This novel finds George Mason(GM), a well-respected Appellate Judge in a US state court in a situation prompting soul-searching and perhaps a personal crisis. A shortlist of his worries, in no particular order:
(1) A week ago he lost his mobile. He uses the cell phone of his wife of 30+ years, who is undergoing chemical therapy against thyroid cancer;
(2) He has been receiving death threats via email. The FBI has no idea about the sender; he accepts protection in his workplace, refuses his home guarded 24/24;
(3) He and two other judges will decide shortly about a ruling by a lower criminal court in a complex rape case;
(4) He is under pressure to declare his intention to serve another 10 years as Appellate Judge within two weeks.

The age of 60 is held as the time when long-forgotten memories emerge spontaneously from dark recesses of the mind. GM is 59 when he suddenly sees the loss of his own virginity >40 years ago in a perspective acutely relevant to the rape verdict he is judging. His deep shock is described on p.57. And he soon worries about what became of the girl who released him from his virginity. The rest is for readers to enjoy!

Rich, short study of the dilemmas of a high-minded, steely, rigorously logical, but also imperfect, fallible, occasionally sentimental or paranoid servant of the law. Few authors beat Scott Turow on plotting, background, characters and quality of dialogue, or the ethical perils of practicing law. Once again, beautifully written and well plotted, with convincing characters, albeit seen through the eyes of GM. And one plot line is thriller-like as well. I liked it.


Deadline Man
Deadline Man
par Jon Talton
Edition : Relié
Prix : EUR 18,97

4.0 étoiles sur 5 Fast-paced, alarming conspiracy thriller, 25 novembre 2012
Ce commentaire fait référence à cette édition : Deadline Man (Relié)
I found this book in the library, read Michael Connelly's endorsement on the cover and took it home. Why not? Having read it, I second Connelly's praise: "This is a great read!" Why? It has flow, urgency and no flab with 200, not 500+ pages. Best of all, it has true focus and real passion.

Jon Talton's nameless hero never misses a deadline as a respected and hated, popular business columnist of a serious Seattle daily newspaper with a long tradition of critical investigation. But the paper is about to fold. His life focuses on the 3 deadlines he faces 48/52 weeks a year, and keeping three or four lady friends happy and apart. A high-octane life indeed, but he was a virgin until 21, born poor, spending his formative, murky years in the army. He thinks compensation for lost time is his due.

The hero laments the dearth of critical, investigative news gathering and the general decline of journalism and newspapers in the US. And opines why this happened. As a backdrop to the murders and the decline of critical media, Talton slowly unfurls a mega-conspiracy involving companies benefitting from US wars abroad and Homeland Security legislation and implementation... This reader has read Naomi Klein's `The Shock Doctrine', a very scary and well-researched book indeed about how successive US administrations were successfully lobbied by a variety of corporate and other interest groups, and found the conspiracy sketched in this thriller not far-fetched or silly.

Action wise, JT's `Deadline Man' is on par with the best crime writers' bestsellers. At least 10 people die violently. The first landed on the pavement right in front of the hero, a hedge fund manager he interviewed minutes earlier, pushed from the 20th floor. Later the hero himself uses his old army skills and sends three professional killers to heaven, acting in self defense.

This review underscores the charms and dress code of the hero. In a possible sequel Jon Talton should give him a name and make him use condoms in his pursuit of compensation. Otherwise, a credible, highly-readable page turner with great context and background.


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