The Maltese Falcon by Dashiell Hammett

The Maltese Falcon by Dashiell Hammett

The Maltese Falcon by Dashiell Hammett

American writer Dashiell Hammett wrote the classic novel The Maltese Falcon.

It was originally serialized, like many of Charles Dickens’ works, in the Black Mask magazine in 1929 to 30. The book was made into the classic film of the same name with actors Humphrey Bogart, Mary Astor, Gladys George, Sydney Greenstreet and incredible Peter Lorre.

Sam Spade is the main character and practises as a private detective, in partnership with Miles Archer, in San Francisco.

A glamorous beauty, Miss Wonderly, hires them to follow a man called Floyd Thursby, who she says has run away with her sister. Archer sets off to follow Thursby, but winds up dead that night. He’d been shot. Next Thursby gets himself killed and the police suspect Spade.

Miss Wonderly is unmasked. She is actually called Brigid O’Shaughnessy. It transpires that she is  on the hunt for a very valuable black statue of a falcon. She is not the only one. A shady Greek called Joel Cairo and Casper Gutman are also after the falcon. Gutman has in his service, one Wilmer Cook, a young, volatile, gun-totting thug. O’Shaughnessy will not spill the beans to Spade, though she is desperate for his help.

I can’t tell you the rest as it would spoil such a wonderful plot.

It is a story which is full of mystery, intrigue and thrills set off with a touch of the exotic.

Dashiell Hammett wrote this best seller novel, The Maltese Falcon, while living at 891 Post Street in downtown San Francisco. He is one of the worlds finest writers of detective novels and his work endures.

Papillon by Henri Charrière

Papillon by Henri Charrière

Papillon by Henri Charrière

Papillon, was a bestseller when it was published in 1969 and who among us will not remember the Hollywood film of the same title which starred Steve McQueen and Dustin Hoffman. Papillon, the French for butterfly, was a nickname that was given to Charrière and it also referred to his tattoo. It is a novel about the recollections of Henri Charrière and it describes his conviction, incarceration on and subsequent escape from a prison on Devil’s Island, which was a French penal colony off the coast of French Guiana.

The author, Charrière claimed that all of the events that he wrote of were true but this was later called into question. Though some of it clearly is true it is thought that some of the scenarios and adventures may have been distilled from the lives of his fellow inmates.

The book opens with Charrières conviction in France for murder of a pimp named Roland Le Petit and following a period in prison in Caen he was sent by ship to South America and onward to the notorious Devils Island. Papillon met a fellow inmate Louis Dega who had previously been a banker prior to conviction for counterfeiting. Papillon liked Dega and protected him from other inmates. The book spans a period of fourteen years of Papillon’s life up to 1945 and covers his hardships and various escape attempts.

Papillon a fascinating tale, particularly if it was all true, and gives a real insight into the brutalities of the time and the incredible tenacity and will power of Charrière. Well worth reading, even if you have seen the film which differs in part.

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The Kill List by Frederick Forsyth

The Kill List Novel by Frederick Forsyth

The Kill List by Frederick Forsyth

What can I say about Forsyth!….a giant of a writer who’s meticulous research just oozes out of the pages. I live in expectant anticipation for each new novel. Frederick Forsyth is a true master of the thriller genre.

The Kill List is highly topical, scarey and cleverly plotted. A terrorist who delivers online radical sermons and who has come to be known as The Preacher has incited some Muslims to carry out assassinations. A retired US Marine general is one of their victims, but his son is a terrorist hunter.

The terrosit hunter enlists the helps of a teenage computer geek with Asperger’s Syndrome. The young man never leaves the loft of his family home though he is a genius when it comes to the internet.

The novel races between the USA and Somalia with detailed subplots involving warlords, pirates and special forces.

Forsyth has an intense knowledge of all he writes of which is ever evident.

Frederick Forsyth is at his best in this novel and shows the true mastery he has attained through skill and exceptional hard work.

Don’t miss out on this one.

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The Quiller Memorandum by Adam Hall

The Quiller Memorandum by Adam Hall

The Quiller Memorandum by Adam Hall

This is one of the first adventure / spy novels I read and I became a firm fan of Quiller and Adam Hall.

The Quiller Memorandum which was also known as The Berlin Memorandum was written by Adam Hall in 1965.  Hall introduced Quiller in this book as a British intelligence officer in the very secret body known as ‘the Bureau’. Quiller was also said to have been in the secret services during World War II. The Bureau is a shady organisation whose purpose was originally to prevent any possible increaseo in German militarism, such as a fourth Reich.

Quiller was a specialist in Nazi clandestine organizations such as the ‘ratlines’ which were used by Nazis to escape trial. The book is set in the mid-sixties where Quiller is seconded by the Bureau to give secret intelligence information to the Z Commission which is West Germany’s war crimes investigatitive agency. Quiller is persuaded by the bureau to investigate the plans of a secret Nazi secret. He readily does so, as the Nazis have killed one of his friends.

Adam Hall was a wonderful writer of fiction. A classic read that is sure to enthrawl.

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The Gold of Malabar by Berkely Mather

The gold of malabar

The gold of malabar

The Gold of Malabar was written by  British author, Berkely Mather, in 1967 Berkely Mather was a Nom de Plume for  John Evan Weston-Davies, whose family emigrated to Australia shortly before World War I.

He published fifteen novels and a book of short stories whilst also writing for radio, television and for films.   Mather enlisted in the Royal Horse Artillery but failing to gain a commission he next joined the Indian Army where he became a sergeant at the outbreak of World War II. Serving under Slim in the Iraq campaign he finally ended the war as an acting lieutenant-colonel. After Indian independence in 1947, he rejoined the British Army, entering the Royal Artillery and eventually retiring in 1959. The Achilles Affair Mather’s first novel, was published in 1959 and was a minor best-seller. His second novel ‘The Pass Beyond Kashmir’ written in 1960 received high praise from Ian Fleming and Erle Stanley Gardner and it did even better. It is said that Ernest Hemingway owned copies of these two novels

A desperate adventure starting with a prison escape in search of gold. A thoroughly exciting novel which traces its way across India. While banged up in a prison in Goa Mike O’Reilly speaks with a dying Dutch prisoner called Rokkjer. He gives O’Reilly a gold medal asking him to bring it to a Buddhist monk called Nu Pau in Bombay and to say, “Rokkjer said to keep faith.” Rokkjer also gives a mysterious quote of, “Pythagoras, northeast, and the word is try, try, try…”  O’Reilly escapes into a dangerous world of greedy looters all looking for the secret map that will bring them to the hidden cache of gold………………

This is a classic adventure written by a skilled author who clearly knew India. Unputdownable…..if that’s a word!

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Plum Island by Nelson DeMille

Plum Island

Plum Island

An NYPD homicide cop John Corey who was wounded in the line of duty is convalescing in a rural part of Long Island.  A young couple he knows are shot and killed on the family patio. They had previously worked as biologists at Plum Island, a research site which was said to be an incubator for germ warfare.

This double murder has terrifying global implications – and forces Corey and two incredible women into a perilous search for the secrets of Plum Island.

DeMille himself, has had a very interesting life spending three years as an officer in the First Cavalry Division of the United States Army. Between 1966 and 1969 he saw action as an infantry platoon leader during the Vietnam War eventually being decorated with the Bronze Star, the Air Medal and the Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry.

Plum Island by Nelson DeMille is gritty and atmospheric and I would thoroughly recommend it.

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The Salzburg Connection by Helen MacInnes

The Salzburg Connection by Helen MacInnes

The Salzburg Connection by Helen MacInnes

The story begins near to Salzburg, Austria, when a photographer called Richard Bryant dives into the Fintersee Lake, high in the mountains, to retrieve a large chest that had lain there for many years. Unknown to him, he is observed by others. This sets off a deadly chain of events.

Sometime later a lawyer, called William Mathison, to Bryant’s photography shop to ask about a photo book of the Austrian lakes that is said to be commissioned by Bill’s client, the publisher James Newhart. Anna, Bryant’s wife gives Bill correspondence from Eric Yates who previously claimed to be Newhart’s representative. Soon after Bill leaves, Anna’s brother Johann Kronsteiner is told, by family friend Felix Zauner, that Bryant has been killed in an accident. Bill finds that he is being followed. A desperate tale involving Austrian Intelligence, Mossad, Chinese Communists, CIA, Nazis and the KGB ensues. The secrets that lay hidden in the chest since the war were explosive.

This novel, by Helen MacInnes is one of my favourites. The start of the novel is very evocative and the suspense continues throughout the book. The story was written in 1968 and took inspiration from true life events. It had been suspected for many years that, near the end of the war, elite Nazis had trekked into the Austrian mountains and had hidden gold in the depths of many of the remote lakes. The most famous lake being Lake Toplitz which began to give up some of it’s secrets in the late 1950s as divers searched its depths.

A novel of high intrigue, spies and Neo Nazis and a very good read – particularly on a European skiing holiday on a dark night.

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