Thursday, 21 March 2019

The Chalk Man - C. J. Tudor, 2018

Every novel has a story behind. Why did we choose that particular book amongst all the rest of novel when we visit our local bookstore? Sometimes could be because we have read a review in Internet or the newspaper (yeah, still there are adults to do that), or maybe because a friend told us about it, perhaps somebody at our local bookstore recommend it, and sometimes is because we spot the book and the novel starts calling our name. 

Now let me tell you what happened to me and C. J. Tudor’s ‘The Chalk Man’. Not a long time ago, two of my mates and me decided to go on a three days breakaway to Edinburgh, a train trip, a little bit more than 2 hours. I didn’t have anything to read in the trip so I rushed to my local Waterstones to see what could I take to the Highlands. When I arrived I started snooping around but nothing caught my eye until I see a black book with a chalk man drawing. I thought ‘uhmmm, this is interesting’, then after checking the storyline I was totally on board. This big boy was coming to Scotland with us. 

When you start reading this novel, the main genre is the typical killing in the middle of nowhere in England, which is appealing for itself. To be honest, I’m a little bit tired that all the time, all the books are based in the same area on LA or Arkansas. I want novels that I can relate and this is one. Then the story flash backed you to the past and some bullying. Then adds some supernatural or shady elements, wow, I’m hooked then add so many twists that my neck is almost broken. The finish product? The Chalk Man.

In that trip, which was amazing by the way, I only could read on the train and at night. I finished it before I get back home. The action is thrilling, you won’t leave the book alone until you finished it. 

When the likes of Lee Child, Stephen King or John Boyne recommend this book is for a good reason.

We can only follow suit and recommend the reading of ‘The Chalk Man’, you won’t regret it and as well, you will think twice to walk alone in the park again...

ISBN - 9781405930956

Penguin books

The Fox - Frederick Forsyth, 2018

Many battles have been won by outnumbering the opponents, by using new weaponry, using geographic advantages – even weather ones – but many will agree with me that likely the most valuable element for a victory is: the surprise.
Recently, whilst working on my own writing, I’ve been researching widely on the Nazi invasion of Crete, during the WWII. To the day, many historians, war specialist and aficionados debate about the merits from the German army and the right or wrongdoings of the Allies in the island. However, nobody will ever argue that one decisive factor for the victory was, precisely, the surprising element of the airborne invasion. The first in the history of warfare.
But those were other times with other technology and resources. Today, war is a completely different concept where, whilst the human resources remain as the main source, high-end technology, informatics, ultra-advanced espionage and telecommunications have become the critical support for operations at any scale.
Having said this, let’s imagine a scenario where your most powerful weapon would not be a nuclear warhead, a biochemical agent or a state-of-the-art air fighter; what if the most effective ever resource would be the brilliant mind of an individual who, by the way, would never want to harm anyone?
Frederick Forsyth returns to tell us a story where he won’t skimp on details about the black ops, the espionage networks, the political decisions taken behind doors, the diplomatic relations and the individual stories of all the characters involved. Could a government be able to sabotage operations and premises around the world without even put a foot on those targeted territories? How to cover any trace? What would it take to protect your secret weapon?
If you are a follower, big fan or just discovered Frederick Forsyth, probably by reading The Afghan, Cobra or The Odessa File –just to mention some of Forsyth’s master pieces -; don’t dare to miss ‘The Fox’. A novel with a plot developed in current times and with lots of accurate descriptions of international conflicts and events that – frame my words – will make you see the world with different eyes on every turn of page.
I am unable to describe further about the plot without giving up details that are reserved for the avid reader. But I won’t stop myself from telling everyone that ‘The Fox’ has reached a place among the top five of my books where Forsyth already holds the first place as well.
For all those readers who enjoy with military operations, international politics, even for those Conspiracy Theorists, this book will not disappoint you and, if by fluke this novel is your first encounter with Frederick Forsyth, well… I promise there’s not point of return.

A must-read
ISBN: 9780593080580

Tuesday, 19 March 2019

The Spy and the Traitor - Ben Macintyre, 2018

Not long ago, I had a conversation with a good friend from my country of birth, Mexico, in regards the terrible situation this wonderful nation is going through: after a long period of right, center-right and hypocrite leadership on the power, the country elected a candidate who, although comes from the same old corrupted school – with Honours-, presented himself as the messianic alternative and, just after 100 days as president, has managed to divide the country - lot more than it was -, create his own army based police, a new long lasting debt, downgrade the qualifications of trust for foreign investment and, by the way, break at least half dozen of his campaign promises - the last happened before he actually took over the presidency. Yet, millions believe, only God and they know why, that he will be the actual change-for-better trigger.

With all these wonderful news, I wondered: How far can we go against the stream and survive before we give up and follow the lead of the masses? How strong our principles can be, to stand before those changes and live our lives no matter the consequences?
Well, for all those Mexicans or from anywhere else in the planet, there is a book that talks about a man who may be a good inspiration: "The Spy and the Traitor".

Ben Macintyre brought in this book, as he always does, a very well documented and detailed story: the life of Oleg Gordievsky. Created and indoctrinated by the KGB, the Soviet spy covered a post in Denmark, when he had the opportunity to get in touch with the Western world. Don't get me wrong, we all know that the way we currently live is unsustainable in several aspects and it is taking generations to change it, but certainly the access to the all cultural disciplines were definitely limited - in the best of cases - during the Soviet regime and the exposure to the music and literature during his post abroad where enough to seduce him to defect.

But we are talking about the Cold War. Thatcher and Gorvachev were not there yet when he got into the espionage business. Later he would be the undisputable responsible to make the relation between the UK and the USSR to run smoothly when the aforementioned leaders met in a time that the market for government secrets, double-agents and propaganda was in bonanza. Risking his life and the lives of his family, Gordievsky did all what he could to spy for those that he considered the good guys in the movie and with that, becoming a traitor of his fatherland.

I won't get into the discussion about ethics here. That is maybe the topic for another post in another blog. Some will consider him a hero, others a villain. As many individuals we are, opinions will be there. My suggestion is: for all those that are passionate for espionage stories, the appealing world of gadgets and conspiracies; for those that love history books and excellent journalism, The Spy and the Traitor will be an unforgettable reading.

A read-before-you-die

ISBN: 9780241186657