Posts Tagged ‘Spy’

Are You Afraid of the Dark? by Sidney Sheldon

June 19, 2014

Are You Afraid of the Dark?Sidney Sheldon,  known as a legendary storyteller, novelist and screenwriter until his death in 2007, was the world’s top bestselling author who has won an Oscar, a Tony and an Edgar award.  He was the creator of TV’s classic hit programs like: The Patty Duke Show, I Dream of Jeannie. The Guinness World Records 2004 heralds him as the most translated author in the world. All his novels have such gripping plots; you just do not want to put the book down till it is finished.

All around the world people are reported missing or dead. In Berlin a woman vanishes from the city streets. In Manhattan a body washes ashore, in Denver a small plane crashes into the mountains without any reason, In Paris a man falls from the Eiffel tower. At first the police think they are random incidents. But soon they discover that all four victims are connected to the largest think tank in the world: Kingsley International Group (KIG).

Two main characters of the story are Kelly Harris and Diane Stevens. They are recent widows of two of the victims. Diane is the elegant artist, who just testified against a Mob boss, and Kelly is the gorgeous model from Paris.  They meet in New York when they come to meet Tanner Kingsley the head of KIG. Tanner assures them that he is going to do his best to find out who is behind the murder of their husbands. Tanner’s brother Andrew is a genius who wins the Nobel Prize for science while trying to guide KIG into saving Third World countries from their various disasters. Tanner prefers to use the think-tank to become a world power and to become the richest man on earth. But in the meantime someone is intent on killing both women. Diane thinks it must be the Mob boss who is trying to kill her because she testified in court against him.

Initially both women do not like each other. They just tolerate each other since they are forced together for protection to stay alive. As the story progresses we see that both women have unusual talent to avoid being captured. They have to use their wits at every corner to keep alive.  It looks like the whole world is out there to kill them. They cannot trust anyone, not even their old friends. The story is full of suspense and plot.

If you like an entertaining, quick read, then read this book. And if you do like this Sidney Sheldon’s book, you will continue to read all his bestseller books because you will be hooked. Another author, Tilly Bagshawe, continues the Sheldon drama now, writing sequels to some of the original novels, but they don’t quite have the master’s touch or style like the Sheldon originals.

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The Intercept by Dick Wolf

June 12, 2013

Jeremy Fisk is a detective in the NYPD, on special assignment with the Joint Terrorism Task Force or JTTF. JTTF is a joint operation consisting of most of the government agencies involved in foiling plots against the United States. It has been live since 09/11 and is concentrated in NYC because everyone thinks NYC is Al-Queda’s main target. And this is how we are introduced to Jeremy Fisk in Dick Wolf’s literary debut, The Intercept. Many of you are familiar with Wolf as the creator of all the ‘Law & Order‘ programs on TV.

Initially, Jeremy and the task force stop a plot by one terrorist to set off a bomb in a NY subway. On his team is Krina Gersten, also a NYC police officer with some special skills that Fisk feels will aid his team. It is now several years later and events are breaking fast because of the killing of Osama Bin Laden.

Bin Laden has been killed and the various agencies are trying to examine all the data that may have been hidden in his residence. Some of the computer experts discover what may be messages hidden in innocent looking pictures. The science of finding these messages is called Steganography. Now it becomes a race to decipher the hidden messages and perhaps prevent a new and larger attack.

An event aboard a SAS jet bound for NYC sets the team in motion. A single terrorist is foiled in his attempt to bring down the jet. The passengers and stewardess who helped stop the terrorist are being treated as celebrities in NYC, as well they should be. However, something doesn’t sit right with Fisk. The foiled incident was too easy and Fisk is sure that another passenger on the plane has bigger plans for NYC. He convinces the team that they must locate another passenger who has disappeared off the ‘grid.’

This fast paced novel created out of today’s headlines will keep your attention. Please enjoy The Intercept by Dick Wolf.

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The Charm School by Nelson Demille

April 29, 2013

A new television series called ‘The Americans’ …about embedded spies in the United States reminded me of a favorite book from 25 years ago ….Nelson DeMille‘s, The Charm School.   So I picked it up and started reading it again. And it still is just as captivating!

Gregory Fisher, an American visiting Russia, goes off the main road leading to Moscow and discovers something he shouldn’t find. He stumbles across an American prisoner, Major Jack Dodson . He relays this information to the American Embassy , but before he gets to meet an agent from the U.S…..he disappears!!

The ‘Cold War’ may have ended on the pages of the world’s newspapers but in reality, the situation in Russia has not changed very much. Lisa Rhodes is a Foreign Service Officer attached to the United States Embassy and Colonel Sam Hollis is the American Air attaché assigned to the Embass.  Lisa is going to assist Hollis in following up on Fisher’s phone call but Fisher has disappeared! If what Fisher has relayed to the Embassy is true, there may be a hidden prisoner-of-war camp holding Americans captured during the Vietnam War.  The Embassy is informed that Fisher has had an untimely death in an automobile accident and is asked to pick up his remains. Rhodes volunteers to accompany Hollis in retrieving the body and soon they will find themselves in the middle of this mystery. Getting back to Moscow may even prove their undoing.

DeMille has maintained his expertise in capturing the reader in his world adventures and this book is as much fun as it was 20-odd years ago.

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The Double Game by Dan Fesperman

November 6, 2012

The time has arrived when we can do a more balanced review of the spy activities of the United States and it’s enemies, post-WWII. And Dan Fesperman is up to the task in his latest thriller The Double Game, the perfect mixture of fact and fiction. Journalist Bill Cage wants to know about master spy Edwin Lemaster who turned into a master writer of spy novels after he left ” The Company”. Since his interview of Lemaster, years ago, he is more intrigued than ever. Bill’s Dad, Warfield, worked for the State department and during his years of service came in contact with people working for the CIA.

As a child, Bill read all the best spy novels which his Dad had accumulated, and he knew them backwards and forwards. John Le Carre, Len Deighton, Graham Greene, Ian Fleming. But now someone seems to be sending Bill cryptic notes that reference some of these books and the time period when he was growing up in Berlin. Is someone playing a game with Cage or are these clues supposed to lead him to some answers about the “spy game”? One thing he knows almost immediately is that the clues seem to be pulling him back to Vienna, where his Dad still lives.

So off he goes in search of some answers to these clues. One of the first persons he sees in Vienna is his first love, Litzi Strauss. Remember, it is now 37 years later, but he has never lost his infatuation with Litzi. But things are getting more complicated as Bill tries to figure where Litzi figures in all this intrigue and his Dad is petrified that Bill is about to involve himself in some very bad things.

For the lover of spy novels, Fesperman has found the perfect blend of old and new, cold war intrigue and buried secrets. It’s the perfect mixture for all you fans of foreign intrigue. With one additional feature–Fesperman has also included just the right mixture of mystery and humor.

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Portrait of a Spy by Daniel Silva

March 30, 2012

Gabriel Allon  is back…one of  literature’s most popular international agents. Some have compared him to Ian Fleming’s James Bond. Allon is not on assignment with Israeli intelligence at present and is in fact rumored  to be retired.  He and his wife, Chiara are living in a small house on the coast of England. He has returned to his first love, the restoration of works of art.

World events, however, are not going to let him stay in his peaceful surroundings. Explosions in Paris and Copenhagen announce the return of Islamic fanatics and there is now fear that London is next. Chiara and Gabriel return to London and are entering Covent Gardens when Gabe notices a very suspicious person bearing all the telltale signs of a bomber. Allon is armed and is ready to follow his suspicions and take down the bomber, but before he can shoot the man, he is taken down by English agents just as the bomb goes off. Gabe is brought to Scotland Yard and after he proves who he is, he is released and warned in no uncertain terms that he is to do nothing about the incident.

But you and I know that is something that Gabriel Allon will never obey!!
Back in his house in the English countryside, he is visited by the head of Israeli intelligence, Uzi  Navot.  Gabe is being asked to report to Adrian Carter , one of the CIA’s highest intelligence agents. He is going to be given intel on who the United States  believes is behind the bombings — one  Rashid al-Husseini. The embarrassment of the entire situation is that the US trained Rashid to work with our government to infiltrate Al-Quada…not very successful.

A team is to be assembled in Washington that will combine their talents in trying to bring down this latest threat. I am not at liberty to  give you more of the plot for fear of taking away your fun in reading Daniel Silva’s latest international thriller !!

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Dark Star by Alan Furst

March 29, 2012

Europe, 1937. André Szara is a Jewish, Polish-born foreign correspondent for the Soviet newspaper Pravda (“Truth”), and considering his job it is not surprising that NKVD approaches him (NKVD being the People’s Commissariat for Internal Affairs, the public and secret police that was the root of the Committee for State Security, or KGB). Just like journalists, security organizations are in the business of data and information, and surely Szara is willing to share the facts he is digging up, is he not?

Over time, the assignments get more involved and eventually the journalist finds himself drawn into deep espionage as he is obtaining information on German steel wire production, which can easily be linked to the German military build-up.

The plot evolves but it does not necessarily unfold. Much like a soldier in a big maneuver Szara lacks an overview of the big scheme of things, and the structure of the tale reflects this: order is added to order and task is added to task as Szara travels from one city to another, not always understanding the reasons for the trips, and unaware of what the powers that be – in this case especially Adolf Hitler and Joseph Stalin – are involved in.

The perspective is strictly street view: European city streets in darkness and rain, men and women living in decrepit hotels, having their meals in cheap restaurants and cafés, Paris gloomily anticipating another great war, and Berlin oppressive and unsettling under the iron fist of a totalitarian regime.

Alan Furst’s novels are heavy on ambiance and less concerned with action, graphic violence, and fast-paced adventures. His books could perhaps be described as existential spy novels. They are filled with contemplative reflection and deal with people who are trying to do the right thing in a world going horribly wrong. They are characters in novels, but – as Furst points out – “people like them existed; people like them were courageous people with ordinary lives and, when the moment came, they acted with bravery and determination.”

Follow them in Dark Star.

The Information Officer by Mark Mills

March 19, 2012

A little known fact:  The island of Malta was the most bombed piece of land during all of WWII. Malta’s position in the Mediterranean made it an important refueling spot for the Allied shipping and it was continually under attack from Germany and Italy because of this. The island was still a British territory in the 1940’s, but the islanders also had close ties with Italy.

Max Chadwick is the British Information Officer for Malta.  His job is to filter the news coming into the island so that the local population will continue to support the British side in the war.   Britain had already rounded up islanders that it believed to be loyal to Italy and interred them in Africa, which did not help relations with the locals. When Max discovers the murder of a local woman he is concerned about the islanders’ reactions.  Then he discovers evidence that another British officer may have committed the crime, and that the murder may only be one in a string of similar crimes.  Max knows that this information could seriously damage support for the British war effort, so he sets out to find the killer on his own. His unique position makes him ideal for the investigation since he knows most of the British officers and families stationed there.  However, the situation is getting critical.  The island is being regularly bombarded and the threat of German invasion is also rising.

The atmosphere and setting of this book were incredibly detailed.  I felt like I could see the island shrouded in fog and dark, with shadows creeping around old stone passages.  In, fact, I think it would make an excellent movie.  I would recommend this book to anyone who is a fan of Raymond Chandler or Alan Furst.

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Cinderella: From Fabeltown With Love by Chris Roberson

January 7, 2011

“Everyone knows my story.  I get dressed up.  The clock strikes twelve.  I lose a shoe.  And it’s all downhill from there.”  So begins this excellent stand alone / spin-off story from the world of “Fables” created by Bill Willingham.  And trust me, you don’t need to have read all (or even any, really) of the other Fables books before reading this one.  All you have to know is that our favorite fairy tale characters have fled their own homelands and are now living in our own mundane (“Mundy”) world, hidden amongst us.

Cindy’s fellow fables simply think of her as a flighty fashionista with a beef against her ex-husband (Prince Charming), and who’s always jet-setting around the globe for one social event or another.  However, in reality, she is Fabletown’s greatest super-secret spy.  The sheriff of Fabletown, The Beast (as in “Beauty and”), drops into Cindy’s shoe store (named, what else? The Glass Slipper) to send her on her next assignment – to find out who has been trafficking in illegal magical objects, and even worse, selling them to the mundys.  Not only is someone arming for some sort of revolution, but their plan will also expose all of Fabledom to the humans in the rest of the world.  Cindy has to leave immediately, and while on her latest mission, she leaves her shoe store in the hands of Crispin Cordwainer, who thinks that he can run the store better than his gad-about boss.  As you might guess, this doesn’t quite work out the way Crispin thinks.

Meanwhile, in the Middle-East, Cinderella is undercover, searching for any information on the trading of magical items in exchange for mundy weapons.  She is soon attacked in her hotel room and finds herself face-to-face with another operative working on the same case, Aladdin.  Now, East meets West in a culture clash that must be put aside in favor of tracking down the bad guys.  Cindy and Al use their cover identities to infiltrate a high society soiree, where they are naturally exposed and must make a quick getaway and follow their next lead.  We see both these spies use magical means to assist them in their work, and along the way we’re given glimpses of some of Cindy’s relevant past cases in quick flash-backs.  The bad guys are not at all who I thought (a good thing) and the twists and turns kept me guessing all the way to the end.  The full-page covers from each comic book issue throughout the book are works of art in themselves.

The really great news is that Cindy’s spy adventures will continue as the first comic book issues of “Cinderella: Fables are Forever” hit newsstand and comic book store shelves in Spring of 2011.

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The Unexpected Mrs. Pollifax by Dorothy Gilman

December 30, 2009


The Unexpected Mrs. Pollifax is a spy novel but Mrs. Pollifax is unlike any spy ever encountered in literature.  Mrs. Pollifax is a widow with two grown children. She leads a quiet life in New Brunswick, NJ with her collection of outrageous hats.  She is an avid gardener and volunteers for lots of different organizations.  However, during a routine doctor’s visit, Mrs. Pollifax discovers she is bored with her volunteer work and needs a new hobby.  She thinks back to her childhood dream of being a spy and decides to go for it.  What does someone her age have to lose?   She travels to Washington, DC for the sole purpose of going to the CIA and volunteering to be a spy.  Never mind, that one just doesn’t waltz into the CIA and volunteer to be a spy.  Instead of a spy mission the CIA sends Mrs. Pollifax on a three week vacation to Mexico City as a courier, just a simple safe job – or so the CIA thinks.  Things go wrong when she is kidnapped on the appointed day to pick up the package.   Mrs. Pollifax  ends up in, of all places, Albania.  In Albania, Mrs. Pollifax uses her charm and wiles to stay one step ahead of her kidnappers.  How will Mrs. Pollifax make it back to New Brunswick, NJ?  Mrs. Pollifax is a charming, delightfully eccentric senior citizen, who is not afraid to think outside the box when needed.  The sequel is the The Amazing Mrs. Pollifax and there are twelve books that follow in the series.

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