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.

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.

Cazar al Capricornio by Francisco Castillo Arenas

Cazar al Capricornio

Cazar al Capricornio

 

Cazar al Capricornio by Francisco Castillo Arenas

General Franco’s closest confident, Carrero Blanco, is murdered by ETA. The killing is a major shock to the state, giving them a real belt.

Then in 2005 a gang of thieves break into the safe of a private company. The theft sends shockwaves through the powers of state. One of it’s greatest secrets is in jeopardy after the theft.
Antonio Alba, a member of the CNI is sent to discretely retrieve the contents. Time is not on his side as the sand slips through the hourglass. He is told that the thieves stole, the Capricorn project. His masters tell him that it is just details of the Spanish attempt to be a space power. Alba is suspicious after seeing how several agencies of foreign intelligence have begun a ruthless hunt for what has become known as, ‘the Windsor secret’. What he has been told is not matching the reality of Cazar.

The thief, who is a former Kosovar Albanian guerrilla from the UÇK, becomes curious to find out what he had been ordered to steal and to cut through the lies. Checking what he is stolen he is shocked to find that it is worth much more than he was paid to do the burglary. Can he give his pursuers the slip. As matters take shape a deadly triangle of intrigue and death play out.

Cazar al Capricornio, por Francisco Castillo Arenas, el más cercano confidente del General Franco, Carrero Blanco, es asesinado por ETA. El asesinato es un gran golpe para el estado, dándoles un cinturón real.

Luego, en 2005, una banda de ladrones irrumpe en la caja fuerte de una empresa privada. El robo envía ondas de choque a través de los poderes del estado. Uno de sus mayores secretos está en peligro después del robo. Antonio Alba, un miembro de la CNI, es enviado para recuperar discretamente el contenido. El tiempo no está de su lado mientras la arena se desliza a través del reloj de arena. Le dicen que los ladrones robaron, el proyecto Capricornio. Sus amos le dicen que son solo detalles del intento español de ser una potencia espacial. Alba sospecha después de ver cómo varias agencias de inteligencia extranjera han iniciado una búsqueda despiadada de lo que se conoce como “el secreto de Windsor”. Lo que le han dicho es que no coincide con la realidad de Cazar.

El ladrón, que es un ex guerrillero albanés de Kosovo de la UÇK, siente curiosidad por saber qué le habían ordenado robar y cómo deshacerse de las mentiras. Al comprobar lo que le han robado, se sorprende al descubrir que vale mucho más de lo que le pagaron por el robo. ¿Puede él dar a sus perseguidores el resbalón? Mientras los asuntos toman forma, se forma un triángulo mortal de intriga y muerte.

El Cazar al Capricornio de Francisco Castillo Arenas es un sillón sin costuras, un paseo en montaña rusa, suave como la seda, ¡que te mantendrá en tu ropa interior!

Cazar al Capricornio by Francisco Castillo Arenas is a seamless, seat of the pants, rollercoaster ride, smooth as silk, that will have you hanging on to your lingerie!

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.

The Altman Code by Robert Ludlum

The Altman Code by Robert Ludlum

The Altman Code by Robert Ludlum

The Altman Code is Robert Ludlum’s fourth book in the immensely popular Covert One series.

A photographer is cruelly killed on the docks in Shanghai, China. His crime? He took photographs of a cargo ship being loaded. The film is destroyed.

The US navy secretly follow a ship mid-ocean – the ship is Chinese, the cargo – believed to be lethal. Aboard are believed to be enormous quantities of chemicals. Chemicals which could be used to create WMD! Weapons of Mass Destruction!

The US President has no intention of seeing these weapons reach rogue elements in the already volatile Middle East.

The situation is immensely delicate.

After years of wrangling with the Chinese, they are close to agreement over human rights negotiations. The President does not want to jeopardise this, or to create an international incident.

Jon Smith, of Covert One, is deployed to find the evidence to incriminate the Chinese vessel. However, vital evidence is lost and an agent is killed. The options are narrowing.

Jon Smith’s mission is imperative and dangerous. The smoke and mirrors hide deadly secrets going to the heart of the powers governing China.

The Altman Code by Robert Ludlum is a thrilling read, as you might expect.

Mr Mercedes by Stephen King

Mr Mercedes by Stephen King. A suprb thriller.

Mr Mercedes by Stephen King

 

The Sunday Express said that this novel, Mr Mercedes by Stephen King, was’the best thriller of the year’.

Stephen King has written over fifty worldwide best-selling books. Mr Mercedes was the first novel of his to feature the character, Bill Hodges.

Several of Stephen Kings books have been made into films such The Shawshank Redemption.

King was shortlisted for the CWA Gold Dagger Award for Mr Mercedes and won the prestigious Edgar Award for best novel for it. Mr Mercedes was also awarded the Goodreads Choice Award for the Best Mystery and Thriller of 2014.

Stephen King has also been awarded the National Book Foundation Medal, the National Medal of Arts and the Grand Master Award from the Mystery Writers of America.

No doubt, like many police officers Bill Hodges, cannot forget the cases that he couldn’t close. One particularly unpleasant case remains at the forefront of his mind. Early one morning at the opening of a jobs fair, eight people in the line-up of hundreds were killed.

They were killed by a madman who drove a stolen Mercedes into them. The deceased just wanted to improve their lives and the lives of their families on that morning and yet, their lives would cease that fateful day.

The horror of that day and the killer at large haunts Hodges. Then one day the fire is re-ignited in him. He receives a letter from someone claiming to be the killer. He says he will kill again.

Bill Hodges had never liked to see a criminal get away with a crime. He was intent that this killer would not repeat his crime, retirement or no retirement, he was going to get him!

Brady Hartsfield is intent on killing again, taunting Hodges just adds some spice to the event.  This time he is intent on killing many more.

Hodges and his buddies will do everything they can to catch the killer before it is too late.

This is a beautifully crafted novel with three dimensional characters and a fast paced, page turning plot from one of the masters of the craft.

Take the time to read this novel, Mr Mercedes, you will not be disappointed.

Mr Mercedes by Stephen King is available at World of Books.