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2014 50 Book Challenge - Page 40

post #586 of 1896
53. A Perfectly Good Man, by Patrick Gale (2011)

Another impulse pickup from the library. This novel starts with the suicide of a young man whose ambitions have been snuffed out due to paralysis incurred in an accident. The local priest, Father Barnaby, is present and immediately turns himself into the police, so as not to be accused of a cover-up.

The rest of the novel centres on Barnaby and those closest to him. Gale's construction hops around in time, with each chapter describing events that occurred to one of his characters, at a certain age. This allows Gale to present us with outcomes and then later fill in the actions that led to that point.

In the hands of a lesser writer this construction could be confusing, but Gale is at the top of his game and this involved novel remains clear and absorbing throughout. I was surprised that this didn't even make the long-list for the Booker this year. It's certainly better than Swiiming Home.
post #587 of 1896
92. Havana 2003 Stephen Hunter An Earl Swagger book. Earl is hired as a bodyguard to protect an AR congressman on a trip to Havana in 1953. Just a cover for the CIA wanting him to assassinate Fidel Castro. Earl saves the Congressman's bacon a couple of times. He also has his life saved twice by a person he later surmises to be a Soviet spy. He finds out what his true mission is and at first is willing to be a CIA recruit. Until he has the kill shot. on Castro and the Russian but chooses not to make it.. Predictably this turns the CIA against him. He escapes Cuba with the help of the Russian spy and is dropped off in Key West to make his way home. Strains credulity in quite a few places, but still a good read.

Being out of Stephen Hunter books (except for a non-fiction book that looks interesting), the nefarious brother has recommended another writer of thrillers:

93. The Fallen Angel 2012 Daniel Silva A retired Israeli spy with a cover of art restoration is asked by the Vatican to help solve a murder. WHILE he's called back to active duty with the Secret Service. He solves the murder, committed by an international crime syndicate of antiquity looters. He also helps to foil a major Hezbollah terrorist attack.

Silver writes from a decidedly pro-Israeli perspective, but it was interesting for me to learn this perspective.

And of course I believe anything I read.satisfied.gif
post #588 of 1896
Clockwise counting 45/50: Graham Greene - The Power and the Glory (1940)

This is one of the best books I have read this year or any year. The main character is an alcoholic priest burden by sin and fear, roaming the Mexican province of Tabasco. 

In the 1930s, the Catholic church is persecuted by the Mexican government under leadership of violent atheist President Calles and his henchman Governor Canabal and his so called red shirts, a bunch of fanatics. Prayer is outlawed and Mexican priests are given the option to get married and renounce their faith or otherwise face the execution squad. Our alcoholic anti-hero continues to practise his faith, giving mass, performing baptisms and hearing confession, while being hunted by the police from village to village. 

The government is in this novel symbolised by "the Lieutenant", an essentially good and just man with socialist beliefs and a deep-felt disgust for a hypocritical church and its hypocritical priests. The Lieutenant's job is to capture the alcoholic priest, the last one remaining in the province or maybe in all of Mexico.

A fantastic novel which puts its finger on good and evil without providing pre-packaged answers. Together with The Quiet American, this might be Greene's masterpiece. 
post #589 of 1896
54. Death in Breslau, by Marek Krajewski (2006)

This is the first in a series of novels featuring criminal investigator Eberhard Mock. The book is set in Germany in the 30s, as the Nazis are rising to power. Mock is a criminal nvestigator who owes his career to Masonic connections, which opens him up to retribution from the Nazis.

The crime he investigates is the horrific death of a young girl, found murdered and raped, with scorpions inside her. The victim is the only daughter of a baron, one of Mock's political backers, who demands results.

Mock is an unusual character, seedy and depraved. His familiarity with Breslau's seamy side helps his investigation, as does his willingness to adopt any methods necessary.

I liked this book and the main character, but I thought the ending a bit rushed. I'll read the next book before I decide how much I like this series.
post #590 of 1896
94. The Messenger 2006 Daniel Silva Gabriel Allon tries to infiltrate the organization of a super rich Saudi who funnels his money toward terrorist organizations. The girl infiltrator is kidnapped and faces interrogation but the Israeli team finds her and gets her out before she's killed. There's also an art sale and a theft back. An attempt on the Pope and the President- foiled. 2 terrorists are assassinated. Everyone ends up hunky dory, heavily armed and loaded for bear in the end. Silva's stories are based on terrorist threats to Israel that I'm not sure exist. A decent read nevertheless.

Which of those Graham Greenes are on the list and which are the best?
post #591 of 1896
Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve B. View Post

Which of those Graham Greenes are on the list and which are the best?

On the list of all of 2006, 2008 and 2010 editions:
The Honorary Consul
The Quiet American
The End of the Affair
The Power and the Glory
Brighton Rock

On 2006 list only:
The Third Man
The Heart of the Matter
England Made Me

I personally like The Quiet American and The End of the Affair of those. But all Graham Greene are good. I have a couple of Greene favourites that didn't make any of the lists. And why he never got the Nobel prize... a scandal which probably has to do with an influential catholic on the committee at the time (Artur Lundquist). Greene had a very complicated relationship to God and Catholicism.
post #592 of 1896
Quote:
Originally Posted by clockwise View Post

On the list of all of 2006, 2008 and 2010 editions:
The Honorary Consul
The Quiet American
The End of the Affair
The Power and the Glory
Brighton Rock
On 2006 list only:
The Third Man
The Heart of the Matter
England Made Me
I personally like The Quiet American and The End of the Affair of those. But all Graham Greene are good. I have a couple of Greene favourites that didn't make any of the lists. And why he never got the Nobel prize... a scandal which probably has to do with an influential catholic on the committee at the time (Artur Lundquist). Greene had a very complicated relationship to God and Catholicism.

Thank you. I'm planning a Greene and The Honourable Schoolboy for my 99 and 100. Maybe a Coetzee.
post #593 of 1896
Greene and Le Carre, there is a similarity. I am on to another Greene now.
Think I'll make my 50. A Sweden-Hong Kong flight on Monday will help.
post #594 of 1896
Quote:
Originally Posted by clockwise View Post

Greene and Le Carre, there is a similarity. I am on to another Greene now.
Think I'll make my 50. A Sweden-Hong Kong flight on Monday will help.

Well, yeah. Only 5 to go...

Crank it up..

EDIT: Just got word I'll be 17 hours on a plane over Xmas...Over 100?
post #595 of 1896
95. Prince of Fire 2005 Daniel Silva The book is named after its main character, Gabriel Allon. Two more terrorist bombings- one in Paris and one in Rome. Gabriel and his team are unable to stop the bombings, but they are able to catch and kill their perpetrator, tied to the PLO. This one was pretty good, but not as good as Fallen Angel.

Since I started reading these books I've started watching the news. Silva is exaggerating, but not by much.
post #596 of 1896
96. The Secret Servant 2007 Daniel Silva Allon gets mixed up with Bombings in London and a kidnapping of the daughter of the Ambassador to Britain and god daughter of the president. Terrorists get Allon to give himself as hostage to let woman go but they keep her with plans to kill them both. However the CIA and Israeli Secret service save their bacon. Very good book. If you like spy novels.

I guess the current strife in the Middle East began with an Israeli assassination...
post #597 of 1896
97. Moscow Rules 2008 Daniel Silva Finally M. Allon makes it to Russia and thwarts a Russin arms dealer who is selling arms to al Quaeda. Pretty good book- I enjoyed it.


3 to go
post #598 of 1896
Now I can't find my 2010 list online. cloud.gif
post #599 of 1896
98. Portrait of A Spy Daniel Silva 2011 The usual- Allon, restoring art and terrorists. Enlists help of one of his targeted assassinations a couple of books back. Not very credible for obvious reasons. All in all, it's a good read.
post #600 of 1896
99. The End of The Affair 1953 Graham Greene Story of a triangle of lovers during WW II. Except the husband's not aware of the wife cheating on him. The woman and the second man have a torrid love affair, which they break off. I'm not sure if they both did or one or the other. The woman dies of a violent chest cough near the end of the book. The book gives one an unsettled feeling and never resolved itself. I didn't like it at all.
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