“The Agent Runner” by Simon Conway

Another book read. Another author appreciated. This time the book is, “The Agent Runner” and the author is Simon Conway. The book has an intriguing current theme with the characters being from Pakistan, the United Kingdom, and Afghanistan. Conway served in the British Army, in the Black Watch and in the Queen’s Own Highlanders no less, so he knows based on his own experience all about clandestine warfare, sniping, terror attacks, bomb blasts and the works. This is the first book by Conway that I read but I hear he received a lot of acclaim including the CWA Steel Dagger Award in 2010. Continue reading ““The Agent Runner” by Simon Conway”

Death, Be Not Proud!

When we were in school, I remember studying the famous sonnet, “Death Be Not Proud” by the English poet, John Donne (1572-1631) . I must have been around 13 or 14 then and this poem made a big impact at an impressionable age. The first lines remain etched in my mind though over 50 years have flown by since I first came across them. “Death, be not proud though some have called you Mighty and Dreadful, for thou art not so…” Donne mocks death and says it is not something to be feared as it happens to everyone. He concludes by personifying Death, predicting that one day Death too shall die! ” Death shall be no more. Death, thou shall die.” Continue reading “Death, Be Not Proud!”

“India After Gandhi” by Ramachandra Guha

Although this book was published in 2007 by ECCO, an imprint of Harper Collins Publishers, I must confess rather sheepishly that I just read, “India After Gandhi” by Ramachandra Guha-in October 2016. The by line is an apt description of the book, “The History Of The World’s Largest Democracy.”

The hard bound edition ( which my friend Divakar Kaza said would improve my biceps before I was done with this tome) runs into 759 pages, followed by nearly 100 pages of well-researched notes.  The cover flap says, “massively researched and elegantly written, India After Gandhi is at once a magisterial account of India’s rebirth and the work of a scholar at the height of his powers.” I would agree. It certainly is extensively researched and most elegantly written though I would have said, “height of his prowess” speaking of the author’s talents rather than his “powers.”  Continue reading ““India After Gandhi” by Ramachandra Guha”

“The 7th Canon” by Robert Dugoni

Peter Donley, a San Francisco lawyer, is the main protagonist of  “The 7th Canon” by the best-selling author, Robert Dugoni.  He worked for a law firm run by his uncle, Lou Giantelli in the Tenderloin District. A heart attack sends Giantelli to a hospital bed and Donley is swamped with more cases than he had bargained for. This story begins with the arrest of Father Thomas Martin whom once the San Francisco Examiner had called, “The Priest of Polk Street.” Father Tom was the antithesis of your conventional priest. He wore blue jeans with holes in the knees, had a shaved head, tattoos and a diamond-stud ear-ring. He now ran a shelter for boys which was approved by the Church.  One stormy night, as he is shutting the shelter Father Tom finds the body of Andrew Bennett, a boy who had signed in the shelter and seemed to have checked out.  He has been viciously stabbed to death. Father Tom who was the first to see the body is soon arrested as his killer by Detective Dixon Connor.  Continue reading ““The 7th Canon” by Robert Dugoni”

“The Woman in Cabin 10” by Ruth Ware

I had heard of the author Ruth Ware and her debut novel, “The Dark, Dark Wood” but hadn’t got down to reading it. I was therefore delighted to get this opportunity to read and review another thriller by her called, ” The Woman in Cabin 10.”

Laura “Lo” Blacklock is a journalist with Velocity a travel magazine. She is thrilled when she is assigned a task she seldom gets, to cover a luxury cruise on Lord Bullmer’s private cruise ship, “Aurora.” Ordinarily, her boss Rowan Lonsdale would have made the trip. However, her pregnancy came in the way of this cruise and the opportunity fell, as it were,  into Laura’s lap.  It couldn’t have been better timed because she was under tremendous stress following an argument with her long-standing boyfriend, Judah Lewis. She had also undergone a traumatic experience when a burglar had crashed into her apartment when she was having a shower. The cruise along the Scandinavian coast promised to be a most welcome change for Laura.

Everyone knew that Bullmer had the blue blood and the title but the money came from his wife Anne, the Lynstad heiress. The others on the cruise were largely his personal friends, moneyed and sophisticated, making Laurar feel a bit diffident on how she could hold her own in their midst. Fortunately for her, another passenger happens to be Ben Howard who had earlier worked with her in Velocity. Welcomed warmly aboard, Lo is assigned Cabin 9, the Linnaeus Suite, which is as charming and luxurious as the rest of the ship. The trip promised to be incredibly exciting.

The trip turns out to a terrible experience for Laura when one night she sees the body of the woman being thrown overboard from the balcony of the adjoining Cabin 10. What makes it worse is her seeing so much blood on the deck which suggests the woman must have been killed and thrown into the sea. The nightmare becomes progressively worse when no one believes her story least of all Nilsson the Security Chief of the Aurora. He and the others take pains to impress upon her that neither the passenger list or the staff roster has a woman matching the description of the one in Cabin 10 Laura gave to anyone who would listen to her.

Ware deftly carries you through the twists and turns in the fast paced story. The plot is interesting and the characters believable but one I feel that Lo Blacklock was too bitter towards everyone in the world, even when there was no need for her to be so. The story reaches an unexpected climax and leaves you totally satisfied with the read.






“The 9.45 to Bletchley” by Madalyn Morgan

Set in Britain during the early years of the Second World War, Madalyn Morgan’s, “The 9.45 to Bletchley” is an interesting book which has elements of suspense and leads to a fitting climax. Ena Dudley is a young woman who works in the engineering firm called Silcott’s. She is engaged in top-secret work and knows that the products manufactured by their firm are contributing to the war effort, though she doesn’t quite know how all the pieces fit in. Much of what they do is governed by the war-time Official Secrets Act. Her boss entrusts her to transport her output, which he usually used to carry himself, to the secret defence establishment at Bletchley. Continue reading ““The 9.45 to Bletchley” by Madalyn Morgan”

“Sam Giancana: The Rise and Fall of a Chicago Mobster” by Susan McNicoll

If the beginning of a book has to be good enough to grab your attention,  “Sam Giancana: The Rise and Fall of a Chicago Mobster” by Susan McNicoll has such a start. The six-year-old Sam is beaten periodically by his father, Antonio Giancana. He is tied to an oak tree in the backyard and whipped with a razor strap until he bled. McNicoll writes, ” the beatings at the oak tree were gruesomely regular, from then on but perversely, this abuse spawned in the boy a ferocious driving force. There was nothing he could not withstand, there was nothing he could not do. And the world paid heavily for the man that boy became.” Continue reading ““Sam Giancana: The Rise and Fall of a Chicago Mobster” by Susan McNicoll”

“The Unexpected Son” by Shobhan Bantwal

This was the first book I read by Shobhan Bantwal and I must say that I enjoyed her , “The Unexpected Son.” The story begins when a letter written in the old fashioned way, by ordinary mail, is delivered to Vinita Patil who has made the United States her home for the past few decades. In these days of electronic mail, this in itself was an oddity since there weren’t too many people who would write to her like this from India. Her surprise turns rapidly to shock when she reads the letter addressed to her by name by an anonymous well-wisher. The letter, in brief, informs her that her son in India is suffering from leukaemia and is not expected to live much longer. He desperately needs a bone marrow transplant which just might save his life. Continue reading ““The Unexpected Son” by Shobhan Bantwal”

“She Walks, She Leads” by Gunjan Jain

She Walks, She Leads” is in my opinion a somewhat misleading title for Gunjan Jain’s outstanding book profiling 24 of India’s most famous ladies of recent times. If not for the by line, “Women Who Inspire India” one might wonder what the book was about going just by the title. I would have opted for, “Trailblazers: 24 Women Who Inspired India” or something to that effect.

Be that as it may, this 520 page book published recently by Penguin-Viking is a trailblazer of sorts. I can’t readily recall anyone having catalogued so succinctly but in such an interesting manner the lives of 24 women who achieved great success in contemporary India, almost always struggling against great odds. Without exception all of them have become household names in India, a country where there is a huge need for role models. This book provides an intimate glimpse of the lives of these women. Continue reading ““She Walks, She Leads” by Gunjan Jain”

“The Escape” by David Baldacci

I seldom read two books by the same author in quick succession. This time there has been an exception as after “The Hit” by David Baldacci, a couple of weeks later, I read his “The Escape.” This features the Military CID Investigator John Puller. I was coming across this character for the first time but I understand he has featured in two other books by Baldacci in the past. The book starts with a bang, as all thrillers should. In a first time ever event, a notorious captive escapes from the ultra high security United States Disciplinary Barracks in Fort Leavenworth. The man who escaped did not merely vanish into thin air but left behind a body of someone whom nobody had seen before at that prison. What makes the plot more intriguing is that the escaped prisoner was a brilliant man, an expert in nuclear technology and cyber security who had been a Major in the United States Air Force until his conviction. He happens to be none other than John Puller’s elder brother, Robert. Continue reading ““The Escape” by David Baldacci”