Southern Seas, Los Mares del Sur by Manuel Vázquez Montalbán

Manuel Vázquez Montalbán, los mare del sur

Los Mares del Sur bu spanish thriller writer Manuel Vázquez Montalbán

Los Mares del Sur, Southern Sea, by Manuel Vázquez Montalbán is a beautifully crafted novel  which is dripping in atmosphere and Spanish feeling.

Spanish detective Pepe Carvalho and former communist investigates the murder of an influential businessman, Stuart Pedrell, who disappeared a year earlier only to turn up dead on a Barcelona construction site. He had been brutally stabbed to death.

Pedrell’s wife hired the shrewd and tenacious detective to find out who did it. On his path the reader is given a taste of Spanish cuisine and literature.

While trying to unmask the killer, Carvalho must deal with former anti-Franco left wingers.

A lovely read by an interesting author on a rainy day in the damper parts of the world. It makes you want to live in Spain and to study Spanish.  After reading it I don’t understand why Spanish people would leave Spain.

After a few months in London a Spanish friend of mine has been living  in Cambridge, in the UK for several years now and loves it. She did a course to learn British Council English and is very happy here now. For me – I prefer the Spanish sun, wine and food….and of course the people!

Los Mares del Sur, Mar del Sur, de Manuel Vázquez Montalbán es una novela bellamente elaborada que gotea en la atmósfera y el sentimiento español.

El detective español Pepe Carvalho y el ex comunista investigan el asesinato de un influyente hombre de negocios, Stuart Pedrell, que desapareció un año antes solo para aparecer muerto en un sitio de construcción en Barcelona. Había sido brutalmente apuñalado hasta la muerte.

La esposa de Pedrell contrató al detective astuto y tenaz para averiguar quién lo hizo. En su camino, el lector recibe una muestra de la cocina y la literatura española.

Al tratar de desenmascarar al asesino, Carvalho debe lidiar con los ex izquierdistas anti franquistas.

Una hermosa lectura de un autor interesante en un día lluvioso en las partes más húmedas del mundo. Te hace querer vivir en España y estudiar español. Después de leerlo, no entiendo por qué los españoles abandonarían España.

Después de unos meses en Londres, un amigo mío español ha estado viviendo en Cambridge, en el Reino Unido, durante varios años y le encanta. Hizo un curso para aprender inglés del British Council y está muy feliz aquí ahora. Para mí, prefiero el sol español, el vino y la comida … ¡y por supuesto la gente!

On Her Majesty’s Secret Service by Ian Fleming

On her majestys secret service by ian fleming

On her majestys secret service by ian fleming

Who could talk of a spy novel or thriller without mentioning one of the best writers in the genres, Ian Fleming.

On Her Majesty’s Secret Service by Ian Fleming is one of the most famous of his works.

James Bond, United Kingdom secret agent with a licence to kill, had been involved in hunting down the SPECTRE organisation and Ernst Stavro Blofeld, the boss. They had hijacked nuclear devices in order to blackmail the governments of the West. Bond had a disagreement with the British Secret Service in the running of the matter and he writes a letter of resignation to M, the head of the service.

Bond saves a beautiful Contessa by paying the gambling debt she cannot fulfil but they are captured by criminals. Her father is Marc-Ange Draco, the boss of the Unione Corse crime organisation.

Draco tells Bond that Blofeld is in Switzerland after which Bond returns to England to filter fact from fiction. The College of Arms in London discovers that Blofeld has taken on the persona of Comte Balthazar de Bleuville to mask his identity.

Bond pretends to be a member of the College of Arms, Sir Hilary Bray. He visits Blofeld face him and to ascertain his right to the title, finding that Blofeld has undergone surgery to cover up his identity.

Blofeld has been brainwashing women into carrying biological warfare agents to destroy the agricultural economy of the British Isles. Bond escapes by ski from Piz Gloria, as he believes he has been uncovered.  He is chased and kills some of his pursuers. Exhausted he reaches the local town where he is helped by the Contessa.

Draco’s Union Corse help Bond to attack Blofeld’s clinic. The clinic is destroyed and Blofeld escapes. Flying to Germany Bond marries the Contessa. They drive away on holiday only to be machine gunned by Blofelds team. Bonds new wife dies.

James Bond, otherwise known as 007, is probably the most famous spy to have worked on behalf of the Queen and the Union Jack flag.

A classic spy novel from one of the worlds finest writers. I am looking forward to the next film with Daniel Craig, No Time to Die. The Queen’s best agent and a real Made in England hero!.

The Mask by Dean Koontz

The Mask by Dean Koontz

The Mask by Dean Koontz

The Mask by Dean Koontz is completely out of the norm for me. I’ve never been one for scary books or movies. Watching Boris Karloff in the film The Mummy as a child, really did finish me off! Actually, if you ever want to see a true classic, way ahead of its time, then I can thoroughly recommend it for a fright night! But given the  current Covid-19 virus obsession with ppe such as gloves and face masks, I thought that I would give it  a go.

Also, I really enjoyed The Eyes of Darkness, again by Dean Koontz, which is eerily close to and some would say foretells the current Wuhan virus pandemic.

An enigmatic teenager with no family or discernible past suddenly appears amid busy traffic right in front of Carol’s car. She seems to have no memories.

Paul and Carol, feel an intense connection to the girl who they call Jane. They had no daughter and she filled an empty void in their lives.

But all is not as it seems!

Horrifying sounds in the night-time, gripping fear and a blood covered face in a mirror add to a terrible sense of dread and a sense of being haunted by something or someone!

Who was this girl, was she a victim in need of their protection or was there something darker in the terrible chain of events!

As I said, this scary genre is not for me, but for those wanting something to make the hairs stand up on the back of their necks then Dean Koontz is a writer par excellence and The Mask is well worth the read! Especially in this surreal time of people who buy and are wearing protective face coverings, face masks, gloves and even in one case a plastic bin on their head- but frankly – who could blame them! In this time of empty cities and scared people, it seems so very like a Hollywood virus film, but one we would rather not all be starring in!

For me however, I’ll stick to Koontz’s other works within the genres I prefer or I will try a Tom Clancy or a Lee Child novel for a change of scenery. Happy reading!

The Eyes of Darkness by Dean Koontz

Dean Koontz The Eyes of Darkness

Dean Koontz The Eyes of Darkness

Dean Koontz is a highly prolific and readable American author who has used many other names to write under. In fact he wrote this thriller novel in 1981 under the name Leigh Nichols. He has sold over 450 million copies of his works and was ranked in the top ten for highest paid world authors.

A camping trip in the mountains turns into a nightmare for one mothers son who is called Danny. Despite having gone on similar trips many times before, on the final occasion and with no explanation everyone dies. Finally the mother accepts the inevitable, that her son is gone.

However, she soon begins to receive threatening and cryptic messages about her son. They say that Danny is in fact, not dead. With the help of, Elliot Stryker, the mothers friend – she starts to try to unravel the mystery around her sons apparent death.

Many have said that there are striking resemblances in the book The Eyes of Darkness with the current world pandemic of Corona virus which began in Wuhan, China. This has led to renewed interest in, what is, a very well written and insightful thriller novel from the early 1980’s by Dean Koontz.

The Guns of Navarone novel by Alistair MacLean

The Guns of Navarone by Alistair Maclean

The Guns of Navarone by Alistair Maclean

I’ve just re-read the Guns of Navarone novel by Alistair MacLean.

Alistair MacLean wrote his classic adventure novel, novel The Guns of Navarone,in 1957.

The book was also made into a wonderful film, which I have watched many times. You’ve probably seen the film already, but the book is well worth the read.

A crack team of allied soldiers are tasked with destroying an impregnable German fortress on the Greek island of island of Navarone in the Aegean Sea.

The two powerful guns in the fortress have to be destroyed to protect Allied naval ships, from being sunk.

On the nearby island of Kheros 2,000 British soldiers are cut off. The motley crew who are assembled to destroy the guns are all experts in their wartime fields.

Tensions between the team and their pursuit by the Germans add to the intrigue. The tension is further heightened by the time pressure which is brought to bear on the team

The book, The Guns of Navarone, by writer Alistair MacLean, is a superb novel by a master of his craft.

Flight of the Intruder by Stephen Coonts

Flight of the Intruder by Stephen Coonts

Flight of the Intruder by Stephen Coonts

Flight of the Intruder by Stephen Coonts

Flight of the Intruder is a fantastic novel from the great Stephen Coonts. Written by Coonts in 1986 it spring-boarded his career into being a top selling writer.

The story details United States Navy flyers of the A-6 Intruder. Not the most glamorous of planes but a real workhorse that has the look of a bulldog. It’s a two-man, aircraft carrier-based strike aircraft used heavily during the Vietnam War. Jake ‘Cool Hand’ Grafton, is a naval aviator and the main character and also a real man’s man. He also appears in later books also.

The novel was also made into a movie starring Danny Glover and Willem Dafoe.

Flight of the Intruder is a great read and a super film from one of America’s top thriller writers – Stephen Coonts.

Flight of the Intruder es una novela fantástica del gran Stephen Coonts. Escrito por Coonts en 1986, su carrera se convirtió en el escritor más vendido.

La historia detalla los folletos de la Armada de los Estados Unidos del A-6 Intruder. No es el avión más glamoroso, sino un verdadero caballo de batalla que tiene el aspecto de un bulldog. Es un avión de ataque de dos hombres, basado en portaaviones, que se utiliza mucho durante la Guerra de Vietnam. Jake ‘Cool Hand’ Grafton, es un aviador naval y el personaje principal y también un verdadero hombre de hombre. También aparece en libros posteriores también.

La novela también se convirtió en una película protagonizada por Danny Glover y Willem Dafoe.

Flight of the Intruder es una gran lectura y una súper película de uno de los mejores escritores de suspenso de Estados Unidos: Stephen Coonts.

The Hunt for Red October by Tom Clancy

The Hunt for Red October by Tom Clancy

The Hunt for Red October by Tom Clancy

The Hunt for Red October was the first techno-thriller novel by Tom Clancy. It was published in 1984 by the Naval Institute Press and the U.S. President, at the time, Ronald Reagan said of it, that he had enjoyed reading the book. I’m not surprised, it’s a real page-turner.

It’s a clever plot, with a lot of detail. Russian Naval Captain Marko Ramius, who is of Lithuanian descent, is at sea with his nuclear submarine. The sub is called Red October, hence the books name, and it is bristling with state-of-the-art ballistic missiles. The submarine utilises a silent propulsion system called the caterpillar drive. This means that audio detection by passive sonar is near impossible – this is deeply concerning for the Americans.

He appears to have gone rogue.

We first see a name, Jack Ryan, which we all know now. Jack Ryan works for the Central Intelligence Agency as an analyst. Jack has a theory.  He believes that Ramius is intent on defecting to the United States.

Ramius kills the boats political officer, Ivan Putin, in case he tried to prevent him from defecting. He lies to the crew telling them that they are going to Cuba, but by this time the Russians are in hot pursuit having been notified of his plans by Ramius. The letter arrived after he had set sail.

The Russians pretend that they are on a search and rescue mission, but they will sink Red October if they have to.

As the Red October passes by Iceland whilst making its escape it comes close to the USS Dallas, a Los Angeles-class submarine. The American crew hear an unusual sound, the caterpillar drive, but they don’t initially think that it is as a submarine.

The Americans suspect the motives of the Russians and crews are on alert.

On the Dallas submarine the crew analyse the sonar tape again. They realise that what they heard was the new propulsion system of the Red October.

Jack Ryan then begins to work his magic.

Tom Clancy wrote many fantastic books in his career, but The Hunt for Red October has always been my personal favourite of his.

Buy the book or Audio of The Hunt for Red October by Tom Clancy from Amazon
.

Or buy the DVD from AMAZON

Where Eagles Dare by Alistair MacLean

Where Eagles Dare by Alistair MacLean

Where Eagles Dare by Alistair MacLean

Alistair Maclean died in 1987, but what a legacy he left behind.

Alistair MacLean wrote the novel, Where Eagles Dare, at the same time as he wrote the screenplay. The 1968 film was shot on location in Bavaria and Austria. Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer produced this classic film with stars such as Richard Burton, Clint Eastwood and Mary Ure. Both the book and the film were a major success.

Out of interest, the title comes from Act I, Scene III in William Shakespeare’s play Richard III: ‘The world is grown so bad, that wrens make prey where eagles dare not perch’.

The plot has various twists and turns. During the winter of 1943 to 44 U.S. Army Brigadier General George Carnaby is captured by the Germans. He is said to be a chief planner for the Western Front. The Germans take him to Schloß Adler to be interrogated. The castle can only be accessed by cable car or by helicopter.

A British Major, John Smith and a U.S. Army Ranger Lieutenant, Morris Schaffer (Clint Eastwood) are instructed on their mission by Colonel Turner and Admiral Rolland of Britain’s MI6. They are to be parachuted into Germany disguised as German troops with a team of commandos. Their mission – to rescue Carnaby before he can be interrogated.  They are dropped by a captured German Ju-52 transport plane. Smith secretly contacts agents Mary Ellison and Heidi Schmidt. The other commandoes do not know of their existence. Heidi gets Mary a job as a secretary at the castle.

Two of the commandoes are killed in suspicious circumstances, though Smith decides to continue the operation. He works closely with Shaffer and informs London of what is happening.

The commandos surrender to the Germans and Smith and Schaffer are separated from the enlisted men. Smith and Schaffer quickly kill the Germans who are guarding them and then get their escape route ready. They ride on top of the cable car and then climb up a rope, lowered by Mary, into the castle.

Carnaby is being interrogated by General Rosemeyer and Standartenführer Kramer. When the three captured enlisted men arrive, they identify themselves as German double agents.

The plot then gets quite tricky to follow. But it is worth staying with it as it is ingenious.

Where Eagles Dare by Alistair MacLean is a fantastic read and the film is a classic and one to watch over and over again. He is a great author in the style of Desmond Bagley and Hammond Innes.

Buy Where Eagles Dare from one of the worlds greatest authors and you will not be sorry.

The Firm by John Grisham

The Firm by John Grisham

The Firm by John Grisham

 

The Firm, by John Grisham, is a cleverly plotted work of legal fiction written by John Grisham and published in 1991. It was immensely successful and was then, in 1993, made into a film with Jeanne Tripplehorn, Tom Cruise, and Gene Hackman. The Firm also spawned a television series in 2012.

This was Grisham’s second work, following A Time To Kill which was published in 1989. After The Firm’s success his first book then came to prominence and was also hugely successful, being made into a film. The film A Time To Kill starred Matthew McConaughey, Ashley Judd, Sandra Bullock, Samuel L. Jackson, Kevin Spacey, Kiefer Sutherland, Oliver Platt, Donald Sutherland and Patrick McGoohan.

The name of the main character, Mitchell “Mitch” McDeere, must be ingrained into the minds of all lawyers and prospective lawyers in North America and beyond and especially to tax specialists.

The novel has terrific pace and great character development as it races through its cerebral path and cat and mouse chase.

John Grisham is one of the heavyweights in the written fictional word and rightly so.

McDeeres graduated with a top degree in accountancy and then went on to graduate, third in his class, from Harvard Law School. He had two brothers, one died in Vietnam and one is in prison, a fact he would rather keep quiet.

He is married to a school teacher, Abby.

Mitch gets a superb financial offer from a law firm in Memphis, Bendini, Lambert and Locke, a small tax law firm based in Memphis. After joining he is under great pressure to study and pass the bar exam. Mitch is assigned to the maverick partner, Avery Tolar.

Shortly before McDeere starts, Marty Kozinski and Joe Hodge, two of the lawyers in the firm are killed in the Caymans Islands, in a scuba diving accident. Mitch goes to the funerals and then finds out that three other lawyers who worked for the firm also died. His suspicions are aroused and he contacts a fiend of his brother, Eddie Lomax. Lomax is a private investigator and he agrees to start working the case.

Suspicious, he hires a private investigator, Eddie Lomax, an ex-cellmate of his brother Ray, to investigate the deaths of the attorneys.

Lomax is killed, but not before he warns McDeere to be careful. He had found out that the other three lawyers had also died suspiciously.

McDeere is targeted by an FBI agent, Wayne Tarrance. He finds out that the FBI are watching the firm.

McDeere goes to Washington, D.C. on a business trip where he is informed by the FBI that the firm is a front. It looks after the financial affairs of the Chicago Morolto crime family.

McDeere’s work has been honest thus far, but the lawyers are gradually enmeshed in the criminal side of the firm including tax fraud and money laundering operation.

The lawyers, once drawn in cannot leave, if they try to then they are killed.

Mitch finds out that Kozinski and Hodge were in contact with the FBI when they were murdered.

The firm’s security chief, DeVasher, becomes suspicious that he is getting involved with the FBI.

McDeere agrees to assist the FBI in return for 2 million dollars and his brother, Ray’s release from prison. Tammy Hemphill, Lomax’s secretary, helps McDeere to copy thousands of incriminating documents at great personal risk.

A leak in the FBI leaves McDeere exposed and he escapes stealing 10 million, as he does so, from one of the firm’s Grand Cayman bank accounts.

The FBI indicts many of the present and former members of Bendini, Lambert and Locke. They also indict a large group of suspected members of the Morolto family. The charges range from money laundering to, the not so sexy, mail fraud.

Mitch, Abby and Ray then live a contented life in the Caymans, living off the money.

John Grisham is an American attorney, politician and novelist specialising in legal thrillers. In an interview on the Charlie Rose show in 2016, Grisham said that his favorite author is John le Carré. The New York Times said of the book, ‘Mr. Grisham, a criminal defense attorney, writes with such relish about the firm’s devious legal practices that his novel might be taken as a how-to manual for ambitious tax-law students.’

John Grisham is one of my favourite authors and The Firm, one of my top picks for a holiday read.